Hear No Evil/sequel to Slipping the Past
Her soul! The fucker took her soul. Nate sat up, eyes wide open. Blood pounded through his veins and his heart slammed against his ribs like a jackhammer, driving the breath from his lungs. A trickle of moisture meandered down his spine. He swallowed, kicked the sheets away, shoved both hands into his hair and pulled his knees to his chest. No!
She didn’t kill herself. All these years—all this time he’d believed she’d committed suicide. He’d never known. Where was she now? Where did Ian put her?
He swung his legs over the bed. His innards twisted. “It was a dream.” He tried to convince himself, but he knew the truth. Why now? Ever since he’d inherited Ian’s body he’d been dreamless. The voices kept REM away and made drifting off impossible.
Tonight that all changed. What had awakened the small bit of the beast? Ian’s soul had been fragmented and destroyed, all but a small sliver that had been missed. It sat at the back of his mind and fed him dark thoughts, but never came forward, it wasn’t strong enough. It had felt like nothing more than an ugly thought.
It reveled in the death of his mother. He felt Ian’s delight. He’d felt his hunger. Nate reached up and touched the brand that now burned. Ian’s energy felt stronger, harder to hold back. God, he was in trouble. He’d no one to talk to that wouldn’t trigger the voices and visions—an anchor to sanity.
Nate froze. Except her. He’d hadn’t heard, seen or felt anything when she’d spoken to him. Well, that wasn’t one hundred percent true. He’d felt something. He’d gotten damned hard and it had taken hours and an ice shower for it to go away. Everything about it was unnatural and if he’d learned anything lately, it was also fate.
He needed to talk. He needed to work through the dream without outside visions interfering. He needed to freaking think. Most of all, he needed to see Paxton.
She’d left her purse in the office. When Jocelyn hadn’t been looking, he’d rifled through it and had taken the opportunity to learn something about her. He should be ashamed he’d snooped, but he wasn’t. She was in trouble and needed help. But she wasn’t the only one. He needed her help.
Nate glanced out the window then at the clock. Three in the morning, a little early to drop by and return her handbag. He could go to her house and wait for her to wake. He sure wasn’t going back to sleep.
“I am not Ian Saefa. I am not a monster.” He eyed his reflection in a large mirror that leaned against the wall. The swelling in his face had gone down and the black and purple had faded to tan and olive. Not pretty, but better than before. They did indeed heal faster than most.
He reached out and touched the mirror’s frame. He kept it to remind him of what resided inside him and what he could become. He hated looking in. It always seemed like someone else stared back, and frankly, it creeped him out. But he had his reasons. Good ones. His gaze traveled to the corner to where a note had been scrawled across the silver surface.
“Know thy enemy.”
First thing when he woke, Nate looked into it and would recite the message over and over. Evil still resided in this body and he wouldn’t allow himself to forget, nor would he become the monster Ian Saefa had been.
“Know thy enemy.” The brown eyes, so dark they looked black, bore into him. Ian. That energy had wrapped him in a stranglehold, filling his head with cold thoughts, urging him to do things he would have never considered doing before—terrifying things—gruesome things—things that made him question if he was no longer sane. “Know thy enemy. Know thy enemy.” Nate leaned in. “Fuck you, asshole.” He stepped back and flipped the mirror on its stand so he could no longer see him.
Ian might have left him a hell of a body, as he was built like an Olympic athlete and not bad looking—but he also had that whole Boogieman thing down. Yeah, Ian had worked that to perfection. It was in the eyes—the windows to the soul, and his windows weren’t any place a sane person would want look. What had looking into those eyes done to Paxton? He didn’t want to scare her. He needed her—more than she could imagine. He rubbed his face again.
She seemed terrified of him, but at the same time he’d seen something else. It went beyond terror, the way she’d looked at the brand, the way she’d studied it. Interest? Curiosity? No, there was more to it. He had to find out what. His cock took notice at the thought and insured he’d be taking another ice shower before the morning was over.
For the first time since he’d inherited Ian’s body, he wanted to get into someone’s head and know their every thought. Funny how the thing he despised so much, was the very thing he wanted most. He wanted to know what Paxton had been thinking about him. No, wanted was too casual. He needed to know.
A ghost from his past once told him that there were greater forces at work in the world than he could possibly imagine. He’d but dipped his toe in the pool and he still couldn’t grasp it all. What if those same forces were at work again? Something brought Paxton to him—the one woman he couldn’t read—the one woman he could be around. He could see the desperation in her eyes, but she’d fled so fast he didn’t get a chance to ask what she’d needed.
Had he scared her away? He had to admit that Ian was the last person most would want to meet face-to-face, but he wasn’t Ian. That asshole was gone—mostly. He had to show her he wasn’t who he appeared to be, that she could trust him.
He ran his fingers along the scar tissue, knowing he couldn’t do anything about the brand. The previous owner of the body made sure of that. A tat could be removed.
Nate rose and strolled to his closet. However, he could attempt to look less scary. What did a reaper wear just to pop in and say hi? He flipped through several shirts and pants to stop on a pair of black dress slacks and a red button up shirt. He yanked them off the hangers and pulled them on.
Yeah, black and red were real calming, no pastels or khakis in his closet, but at least the red shirt didn’t have a picture of the grim reaper flipping the bird, or big bold letters across the front that said “My Best Friend Went to Hell and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee-Shirt.” Not that they were intended to scare, they weren’t. They were supposed to be ice-breakers—jokes, purely meant to ease tension when people saw him.
Nate snorted. Yeah, that’s what his shirts did. Nobody this day and age had a sense of humor. His tee shirts sent people fleeing in terror like Godzilla stomped the city block. One look and they ran, cried or started babbling like idiots.
“Well, Paxton, I hope you like breakfast with your coffee.” He hoped she liked surprises too, because he planned to drop a big one on her. Six foot nine inches of surprise. He’d leave the Louisville. On the streets, there wasn’t anyone badder, and he really didn’t need his bat to prove it. She might be a bit intimidated by it anyway.
The idea was to present a calm, respectable image.