So, it’s picture flash fiction Monday for March and here’s the awesome photo… However…
Here’s the thing. I’ve got nothing. Not a damn thing. My middle kid is in the midst of hockey finals, and I was at the rink for 5 hours tonight. Will be at the rink tomorrow for about 7… and I’m just out of ideas. I’m working on a new book, and all my focus is on that. I know, I had lots of time to come up with something but try as I might, I just didn’t have anything new materialize, so, you can either…
- Jump directly to the other ladies listed as so…
Bronwyn Green | Kayleigh Jones | Paige Prince
2. I’ve reposted the Prologue to GRAVE MEASURES, as it actually fits this scene perfectly. And is actually one of my favorite images in the post. I know… it’s a copout, but I’ve just got nothing. Obviously, my planning ahead to not be stressing over flash fiction the night before hasn’t exactly been a stellar hit, but… I’m trying. Cheers,
Come to me, Daniel. I’m waiting. I’ll always be waiting.
Daniel Cartwright bolted upright, his echoed voice still hanging in the room. Sweat stung his eyes as it dripped down his forehead, his heart pounding against his ribs. He tossed back the thin blanket and swung his feet to the side, the cool press of the hardwood floor grounding him slightly. He stared at his hands until his vision adjusted to the dark, not surprised at the tremor that seemed to have taken hold.
It’d been six months, and he still dreamt of her every night. Still felt the panic of having her disappear. The pain of finding her bloody. Broken. Dead.
He cupped his hands over his ears, trying to block out the voice. Her voice. Not that it’d do any good. She’d simply move inside his head—whisper her siren’s song over and over like a message on a loop. Drive him to the edge only to disappear as the sun peeked above the horizon—the light stealing her power as the clawed away the shadows. But she’d return with the stroke of midnight. Test his sanity one more time…
An image flashed in his mind, the clarity of it stealing his ragged breath. She was dressed in white, her long chestnut hair lifting off her shoulders in the breeze. Those brilliant green eyes had filled with hope as she’d picked up her shoes and turned, walking barefoot along the path. She’d stopped and looked at him over her shoulder, laughing before daring him to catch her. Then she’d taken off, the soft cadence of her footfalls drifting along the breeze.
He’d waited. Given her a head start. Knowing he’d catch her before she’d reached the pond down the trail on the other side of the hill. He’d smiled, already imagining her silhouette flashing in and out of view amidst the trees as the path wove through a small copse—the source of their privacy once they’d reached the cool water. He’d pictured stripping her down—watching her pale skin gleam in the late afternoon sun. How she’d react to his every touch. How she’d feel moving beneath him, her body surrounding him, the slick slide of his cock mixing with the raspy sound of their breath. The way her fingers would clench his back as she climaxed around him.
After months of arguing and separate rooms, they’d decided to give their love one more chance. He’d taken her there—where they’d first made love. God, it seemed a lifetime ago. But he’d been willing to try—to give his heart to her one more time, even though a part of him worried she’d never truly be his. That his job would always stand between them—an invisible wall he’d never be able to break down.
His badge. That’s what it was ultimately about. His shiny silver star and the gun on his hip. Being a cop had been an attraction at first. Full of thrill and intrigue. Then the long shifts and lonely nights had started taking a toll. And she’d pulled away. Used every other excuse to wedge them apart, but he’d known the truth.
I’m waiting for you.
“Shut up, just shut the fuck up!”
He pushed to his feet, grabbing his pants off a nearby chair. He tripped toward the doorway, trying to tug the denim over his hips without stopping. It’d only fuel her power—give her more time to block his escape.
He stumbled into the hallway then headed for the foyer. The bedroom door slammed shut behind him, as the lights flickered on then off, a low buzz filling the air. He didn’t stop, barely registered the noise as he focused on the silver-colored knob twenty feet in front of him.
A chair scraped out from the kitchen table as he passed by, her ghostly silhouette wavering in and out of focus. He didn’t acknowledge her—knowing he’d never get out if he looked at her. Saw the wounds carved into her skin. The bruised pattern around her neck. Of all the bodies he’d faced in the line of duty, none had been that devastating—that gutting—until he’d found her…
He shook away the thoughts. He couldn’t have known. Couldn’t have anticipated that bastard would be lurking. Waiting to steal her away. Take away his last hope at even the semblance of a normal life. That their game would end as yet another statistic. A number on a case file.
You knew what he was capable of. You never should have left me alone.
Daniel bowed his head as he palmed the doorknob, her words stinging as much now as when she’d first appeared to him. The air cooled along his neck, and he knew she was standing behind him—waiting for him to weaken. To turn around.
He twisted the handle, surprised when it actually turned. He’d lost count of the times she’d trapped him there. How many times he’d been forced to relive that night—see her death through her eyes. Shit, he didn’t even know how she did it. If any of this was truly real.
He reefed open the door, staring out at the street. A light rain misted the air, blurring the glow of the lamplight into a wash of grays and yellows. He placed one foot beyond the threshold, willing himself out of the house door, when icy fingers cupped his shoulder.
He froze, the sheer pressure of the invisible touch holding him captive. His stomach rolled in protest, the acid taste of bile burning his throat.
He clenched his jaw, finally glancing back. The tattered remains of her short, white dress hung off her shoulders—the red patches bright against the fabric. As if she were somehow still bleeding. Her once soft hair shot out in a tangled mess from her head like a fuzzy halo of dull brown. But it was her eyes that always took his breath away. Hollow and sad, with more than a hint of bitter resentment shining in the green depths. He’d never thought she could look at him like that. As if he’d been the one to steal her life away.
He blew out a shaky breath, noting the way it misted in front of his mouth. “Isabel.”
She jerked back at her name, and he couldn’t help but wonder if it held any power. If he somehow affected her as she did him.
She recovered quickly, making the remaining chairs around the table shake. “You left me.” Her words bit at what little remained of his heart.
He shook his head, repeating the token saying that had kept him from giving in. From following her into the abyss. “Never. He took you from me.”
“You knew how dangerous he was.”
Daniel could only bow his head. He’d known Jacob had harbored feelings for her. But he’d never thought the man—his best fucking friend… He raised his gaze to meet her icy stare. “I’m sorry.”
“Then prove it. Come to me. I’m waiting for you.”
“You know I can’t.”
“You can’t? Or you won’t?”
“Both, I suppose. Someone has to make sure he pays. It’s my job—”
“Your job was to love me. Protect me. But you didn’t love me, did you? It was over. You were going to leave me. Discard me like garbage.”
Guilt soured his gut, heaving it in protest. “No. You know that’s not true. I was trying to fix things. Fix us.”
“Then why didn’t you follow sooner?” She seemed to hover closer to him, her feet not even touching the floor. “You wanted him to capture me. You wanted me gone.”
She glared at him, this time breaking the glass next to the door. Pieces shot through the air, one cutting his jaw.
He didn’t bother wiping at the blood. “No. Never.”
“Then come to me.”
He set his jaw, firming his hold on the door as he finally turned away. “I can’t.”
He launched himself onto the porch, fighting against the pull of her icy grip. Scratches rose along his neck before he managed to break free—stumble down the three stairs to the walkway. Pain flared through his limbs, a sharp ache stabbing through his heart.
He twisted slightly, staring at the house, his gaze drifting to the glass. Solid once more, it reflected the eerie light of the lamppost, the flawless surface mocking him.
He closed his eyes. He couldn’t live like this. Wondering from one day to the next if he was losing his mind. If anything was real, or if he was caught in some kind of endless loop. Groundhog day from hell.
He drew a quick breath. He needed to stop the cycle. Break free of the guilt. Rid his mind of the memories. The nightmares. Find a way to move forward—do everything he could to put the bastard behind bars.
Bastard. Jacob. He was going to find a way to ensure his best friend never hurt anyone else ever again.
The panicky sensation ebbed slightly, the feel of the cool mist calming him. He exhaled, spinning toward the street as he opened his eyes.
Isabel hovered an inch from his face, those dull eyes burning into black. “I’m done waiting.”
Daniel gasped as his body flew backwards, skidding across the foyer and into the kitchen. The front door slammed shut behind him, the light in the hall flickering again. The glass in the entryway frosted over, blocking out everything beyond the pane except the outline of a handprint as it slowly materialized amidst the white, smearing off to the right.
He scrambled to his feet, darting over to the cupboard as dishes rattled along the counter. A couple lifted up, wavering in the air before shooting across the room—shattering against the far wall. He did his best to block out the sounds—the scrape of her feet along the floor, the wheeze of her breath through her punctured chest—tossing spices and bottles over his shoulder until he found what he was looking for.
He spun, nearly dropping the box of salt as he watched her vanish, appearing several feet closer in the space of a heartbeat. Daniel tamped down the fear, opening the lid then pouring a steady line of white crystals around him—the lopsided circle flashing in and out of view as the lights cut out then popped back on. He had no idea if the token gesture would work. If what he’d witnessed on different television shows held any weight. Hell, a part of him believed he was still in his bed, imagining everything. But fuck if he had any other ideas. And just thinking about spending another night pinned to a wall—watching her die over and over…
Isabel screamed, racing toward him only to stop at the edge of the circle, her body jerking backwards as it hit the salt. She hissed, trying to break through the barrier, again, only to recoil, bits of her flesh curling into smoke. Hard, bitter eyes gazed at me as she swept her arms up, sending all the remaining dishes crashing to the floor.
She bared her teeth—a glimpse of white amidst her graying silhouette. “I knew you didn’t love me. You’ll never be free, Daniel. I’ll never let you go.”
She vanished, the misty remains of her body slowly fading. He drew in a few shaky breaths, trying to calm the staccato rhythm of his heart. In all the times she’d appeared to him, it’d never been this bad. Never his violent.
He waited until the air began to warm again, the icy glass thawing into streaks of dripping water, before gathering his courage. He glanced up the hallway. The light in his bedroom was on again, a strip of yellow shining beneath the closed door. All he had to do was make it outside, only this time, he wouldn’t stop. Wouldn’t look back until the house was nothing but a reflected light in the ghostly fog.
Daniel placed one foot on the outside of the circle, waiting a few moments to see if she’d suddenly materialize. An eerie silence filled the house, nothing but his forceful exhalations registering in the stillness. He gauged the distance—fifteen feet. Maybe twenty. He only needed a few seconds…
He sprinted toward the door, feet pounding the floor as he reached for the knob, gasping when icy fingers wrapped around his ankle, tripping him onto his one knee. He palmed the wood, still reaching for the handle as her nails dug into his flesh, burning lines along his leg.
He kicked at her hold, his foot passing through her torso as she tightened her grip, sending a stabbing pain up his body and into his chest. Black smudges smeared across his skin as a deep cold settled around his heart, the resulting pressure making it hard to breathe.
Isabel’s face appeared in front of him, her smug smile glaring back at him. “Mine, Daniel. Forever.”
He managed to slide forward slightly—wrap his fingers around the handle—when the damn thing turned in his hand. He glanced over his shoulder as the door flew open. A man and a woman stormed through the opening, shotguns poised at their hips. The guy fired, a blast of white power bursting from the muzzle.
Isabel screeched, recoiling in seeming pain before winking out, the pressure in his chest easing. He fell onto one elbow, coughing as he tried to catch his breath, his vision dimming at the edges. A hand cupped his face, tilting it up. He forced himself to focus, stunning green eyes staring back at him.
The woman smiled—a splash of pink amidst the gray. “You okay?”
He furrowed his brow, trying to process the words when she snapped her fingers in front of his face.
“Hey? Detective Cartwright? I asked if you were okay?” She swept her gaze down his body, frowning. “Hey, Jimmy. Our friend’s got lacerations on his ankle. More on his neck. Lots of bruising, too.” She brushed her fingers over the skin on his neck. “Fuck! Pretty damn sure he’s got blotches of ectoplasm on him. That’s a first. And I think he’s in shock.”
“Who the fuck are you?” He cursed inwardly at her amused smile, his voice more than strained.
She cocked her head to the side. “Okay, maybe not as shocky as I’d thought. The names Arrynn. Arrynn Baker. This is James White, but we all just call him Jimmy.”
Daniel glanced at the man in question.
The guy waved at him, giving him a wink. “Yo, Danny-boy. What’s up?”
Daniel opened his mouth, closing it when the girl—Arrynn—cupped his jaw again and turned him to face her.
“Look, I know this is probably a lot to take in right now, but… Trust me. It’s nothing compared to what you’re about to discover.”
He forced himself to swallow, nearly gagging in the process. “About to discover? You mean it’s worse than…” He waved his hand at the interior. “This?”
“Oh, sweetie, this is nothing. You should see what vampires and werewolves do to a kitchen.”
“Vampires?” He shook his head. “Fuck. I’ve gone mad. This is all a dream and I’m probably in some kind of fucking facility, drooling all over myself while a bunch of male nurses feed me colored pills!”
Arrynn chuckled. “Actually, that’s probably the most sane thing you’ll say for a while. Too bad it’s not true. What happened here…” She mimicked his wave. “All real, sweetie. And it’s just the beginning. But something tells me, you’re up for the job.”
“Job? What job? What the fuck are you talking about? How the hell did you even know to come here?”
“We’ve been watching you for a while. Seems your partner was…concerned. You’ve been acting a bit odd. A few of the things you said around him…” She shrugged. “Made him wonder if there was something else going on. Something…paranormal.”
“Paranormal?” He snorted. “Fuck.”
“Hey, be thankful. If he hadn’t called it in, we never would have been watching from across the street.” She whistled. “Haven’t witnessed a spirit toss a guy like that in a long ass time. And when you didn’t come out…”
“This is crazy. It can’t be real.” He leaned against the door. “What do you want from me?”
She winked, slowly straightening. “It’s more what you want from us. I’m talking about a whole new reality for you, Daniel. One that starts with you taking my hand, and us getting the hell out of here.”
She extended her arm, beckoning to him with her fingers. He swung his gaze back to the kitchen, staring at the shards of glass and porcelain before releasing a slow breath. He looked up at her, clasping his hand around her forearm as she helped lever him to his feet.
An easy smile lifted her lips as she motioned to the open door. “Smart choice. After you.”
He rolled his shoulders, limping the few steps it took to reach the porch. An echo of Isabel’s voice sounded inside his head, the pleading words barely recognizable.
You’re mine. Forever.
He took one more step, ignoring the mournful rasp of his name as he turned to Arrynn. “Where are we going?”
“Home. Your new home.” She extended her hand again, this time shaking his. “Welcome to Threshold. This is where things get interesting.”