Read Love Your Entity Online

Authors: Cat Devon

Tags: #Contemporary, #Paranormal, #Romance, #Fiction

Love Your Entity (5 page)

“Why is Hal here?”

“Maybe that’s his punishment. He spends most of his time upstairs. Didn’t you see him up there?”

“No. You’re the only ghost I’ve seen so far.”

“His portrait is up there on the wall. The large framed photograph on the wall. He’s smoking a cigar.”

“Ronan said he smelled a cigar.”

“I wonder why you can see me and not him.”

“I don’t know.”

“How much experience do you have with ghosts?” Ruby asked.

“Most of the spirits I’ve dealt with don’t go back as far as you do,” Sierra admitted.

“What does that mean?” Ruby demanded. “That I’ve been here so long there’s no chance of me moving on?”

“Did you see white light when you died?”

“Was I supposed to?”

“Did you see anything?”

“I saw red. A lot of red. I was stabbed like twenty times. Blood gushed everywhere.”

Feeling faint, Sierra rolled onto her side and tried to catch her breath. It was one thing to write about stabbings and battles, but it was another to actually be speaking to a ghost who had died that way. She quickly sat up again, reprimanding herself for the momentary show of weakness. She was a writer. She should be viewing this as research. And neither the sight of blood nor the discussion of it had ever bothered her before.

Ruby was eyeing her suspiciously “What’s the point of you being able to see me if you don’t have the answers?”

“I never claimed to have the answers to everything.”

“Okay, how about this one question. What are we supposed to do now?”

Sierra countered with a question of her own. “Why did you say that Ronan had to stay or we would all perish?”

“Because he can protect us from Hal.”

“How?”

“I’m not sure. I just sense that he can.”

Sierra had never dealt with a ghost’s intuition before so she wasn’t sure how reliable it was. But she did know that the presence she’d sensed upstairs had been a very powerful one.

“Was Hal murdered too?” Sierra asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Did he die in this house?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Did he die when you did?”

“No, I don’t think so. Can’t you find that stuff out? Can’t you sense stuff?”

“Not really,” Sierra said. “It doesn’t work that way.”

“Then how does it work?”

“I work with the spirit to help them come to terms with whatever is keeping them here instead of moving on.”

“Do all the ghosts you see move on toward the white light?”

“So far, yes.”

“Why did you say it that way? You think I’m different?”

“You
are
different,” Sierra said.

“Because I’m a prostitute?”

“Because you’re a prostitute who died in 1929 and who had ties to Al Capone.” Sierra rubbed her hands with excitement as her inner writer came to the fore. “This has the makings of a great story!”

Ruby smiled and did a brief flapper dance of joy. “That means I get a happy ending.”

Sierra didn’t have the heart to burst Ruby’s bubble by admitting that happy endings were a lot easier to achieve in fiction than in real life.

*   *   *

Feeling frustrated, Ronan went outside to examine the exterior foundation of the house. Was the key buried somewhere in the concrete that bound the bricks together? Was the key even really a key or something symbolic of a key?

Ronan only had until the middle of the month to figure it all out. Not only to figure it out, but also to retrieve the key and hand it over to Voz.

All of which was hard enough to do without having a human getting in his way. Whenever humans had gotten in his way before, he’d either killed them or compelled them, thereby quickly getting them
out
of his way.

He wondered if Voz was behind Sierra’s sudden appearance in the house. He wouldn’t put it past the Master Vampire to pull something like that. But he hadn’t sensed any vampire ties with Sierra. Not that he could always tell. But surely Damon would have checked her out.

Sierra’s inability to be compelled irritated Ronan. Damon had assured Ronan that Sierra wasn’t the first woman to come to Vamptown with that ability. There were two others—Zoe Adams, who lived next door, and Daniella Delaney, who ran the local cupcake shop.

Somehow that information didn’t do much to decrease Ronan’s frustration with the situation. He was still adjusting to nearly a hundred years of being an indentured vampire, sleeping in a coffin during the day and doing whatever his Master Sire wanted during the night.

Now that he was free he should be able to move on and enjoy the rest of his immortal life. But Ronan couldn’t do that. Because he had to save his sister’s soul.

He kicked a shrub along the foundation wall. His vamp strength yanked it out of the ground and sent it flying fifty yards across the street, over the top of a house and into the alley behind it.

“Chicago is known as the Windy City but we don’t usually have flying bushes,” Damon said from beside him. “Or burning bushes either.”

“Vamps and fire do not get along,” Ronan said.

“Right.”

“Sorry,” Ronan said abruptly.

“Is your anger going to be an issue? I’ve heard that indentured vamps can have a hard time making the transition.”

“From human to vamp?”

“From indentured to free.”

“Are we ever really free?” Ronan’s voice was as dark as the night.

“Depends on your definition of freedom,” Damon said.

Ronan didn’t know what his definition of freedom was anymore but it sure as hell didn’t include a female named Sierra.

*   *   *

“So you’re saying that you are willing to give Ronan a good character reference?” Sierra asked Daniella over the phone.

“Sure.”

“How long have you known him?”

“Long enough to know he seems like a reliable kind of … um … person.”

“That seems rather vague.”

“Damon and Nick would not have befriended Ronan if they had any doubts about his character. They are both real particular about that sort of thing.”

“Where does Ronan work?”

“I believe he’s between jobs at the moment. But he’s not broke if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“How do you know that he’s not broke?” Sierra said.

“Nick told me.”

“He’s not exactly an objective person.”

“Sure he is,” Daniella said. “I’d trust Nick with my life.”

Yeah, but would Sierra trust Ronan with
her
life? Holding her smartphone, she walked from the kitchen to her bedroom to make sure there was a lock on the door. There was. In fact, it was a surprisingly strong double lock that looked as if it had been installed recently.

That made her feel better. After completing her call with Daniella, she checked her phone for a nearby Chinese takeout place that delivered.

While waiting for her dinner to be delivered, she printed up an agreement for Ronan to sign.

“You’re responsible for your own food,” she told him half an hour later.

“Not a problem. I’m not into Chinese takeout.”

“High salt content, I know,” she said. “But I am such a sucker for Shanghai noodles, moo shu pork, and pot stickers.”

She set her food on the dining table, took a seat, then opened the white container and used the chopsticks to eat some of the noodles.

“They look like worms,” Ronan said.

“Cutting the noodles would be bad luck since they represent a long life.”

Ronan snickered.

“So you don’t believe in bad luck?” she said.

His expression darkened but he made no comment.

She ate a pot sticker before speaking again. “You never did say what your claim was to this house.”

“You didn’t ask.”

“I’m asking now.”

Ronan sat across from her. “I have a prior claim.”

“What kind of prior claim?”

See, this was why Ronan preferred compelling humans to do his bidding. Because explanations got messy and complicated. He could hardly say that the place had been his family’s home in 1900.

“My family has a claim prior to your family’s.” Ronan made sure to maintain direct eye contact with Sierra as she sat across from him in the hopes that some amount of compelling would work on her.

He wasn’t sure how well it worked because all she said was, “We’ll see about that.”

He’d been telling the truth for once. His family had moved into the house when it was brand-new. He remembered that summer. It had been very hot. He’d just turned ten and his sister Adele was five. Their birthdays were only a week apart in July, which had aggravated them as kids.

Sierra reached for another container of food. “My great-uncle owned this property for ages.”

Ronan almost smiled. He doubted “ages” had the same meaning for her that it did for him. When you were immortal, your perspective about time—and everything else—changed. As for those long noodles of hers representing a long life, again the concept of a long life changed when you had forever.

Realizing she was waiting for him to reply to her last comment, he repeated her words back to her. “We’ll see about that.”

“I printed out the temporary living arrangement for you to sign. I talked to Daniella. She said you were trustworthy. She said Damon and Nick would vouch for you as would a number of others in the neighborhood.”

He made no comment as she slid the agreement and a pen across the table for him to sign. He did so, scrawling his name across the bottom of the page.

“It must be nice to have friends who will vouch for you like that,” she said.

“You say it as if you aren’t familiar with the concept.”

“We moved around a lot when I was a kid. I kept doing that as I got older. So I don’t have many close friends.”

“Is that the only reason?”

“What other reason could there be?”

Ronan noted that she avoided all eye contact. She was hiding something. Shit. He didn’t need more mysteries.

*   *   *

Sierra’s dream started out innocently enough. She was in a large room filled with people all dressed in vintage clothing. Everyone seemed happy.

Then she was in a house with no lights. It was pitch-dark. Suddenly little beady red eyes appeared all around and above her. One of them came closer until she could see it was the burning tip of a cigar held in a stocky man’s hand. He smiled at her before striking her face and trying to burn her eyes out with his cigar.

She screamed and sat bolt upright in bed.

Chapter Five

Sierra wasn’t alone. There was someone else in the darkened room. Fear ripped through her. Was it the ghost with the cigar?

No, it was Ronan.

He reached for her hand. “I’ve got you.”

She wrapped her fingers around his and instantly felt safe. “I thought I locked the door.”

“You must have forgotten to do that because it wasn’t locked.”

“I could have sworn … I guess I was so tired that I meant to do it but didn’t.”

“That must be it,” Ronan said. “I heard you scream. Bad dream?”

“That’s putting it mildly. It was a nightmare about that guy in the photograph upstairs.”

“The one with the cigar?”

“Yeah. Is he a relative of yours?”

“What?”

“You did say that your family had a prior claim to my family’s,” she reminded him

“No, he’s not a relative,” Ronan said.

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you know who he is?”

“No. Do you?” he countered.

She didn’t know how to answer that. She hadn’t had time to do any research on Hal. Ruby hadn’t even told her his surname. Sierra would have to ask her tomorrow. Glancing at her watch, she corrected herself. Today. It was three-thirty in the morning and she was still holding on to Ronan’s hand. She needed to let go and she would in a second.

There. She missed his touch immediately but she refused to give in to the temptation to grab his hand.

Instead she asked, “What do you know about the history of this house?”

“It was built in 1900,” he said.

“And?” she prompted when he fell silent.

“And what?”

“And what else do you know? About the house, I mean.”

“Do you really want to talk about this in the middle of the night?” Ronan said.

She reached out to turn on the bedside lamp. “You’re right. Sorry. Did I wake you when I screamed?”

“No. I was awake.”

“So you’re a night owl, huh?”

“Something like that. I don’t need much sleep,” he said.

There were nights when Sierra didn’t get much sleep because she sensed the spirits around her. That had been especially true during her teenage years. She’d done some research around that time and discovered that teenage girls are often the most frequent recipients of earthbound spirit visitations.

Yet Sierra’s interactions with ghosts had started much earlier than that. She’d never found the answers she was looking for like “Why me?” Instead she learned to accept her talent but to keep her mouth shut about it. In middle school she’d once made the mistake of talking about seeing the ghost of a girl in their class who had died in a car crash.

She’d gotten written up and sent to the principal’s office. Her mom had had to take time off from her waitressing job to come to the school. Sierra never talked with outsiders about seeing ghosts again. But she still saw them. Sometimes they were clear like Bonita or Ruby while other times they were filmy projections of mere orbs of light.

But none had been murdered like Ruby and none had had their murderer also haunting the same place.

“I’m okay now,” Sierra said as much for her own benefit as Ronan’s.

She read for an hour before dozing off again. This time her dreams featured a naked Ronan holding her close and telling her, “I’ve got you.”

*   *   *

Sierra didn’t see any ghosts as she made her morning coffee. She loved her Keurig. Sipping her favorite brew from one of her few remaining mugs, she ran a mental review of her to-do list for today. Number one was returning the rental U-Haul.

It looked cold outside, so Sierra was wearing a warm yellow cashmere sweater and jeans. She checked her smartphone to make sure there were no e-mails from her editor or agent. Nothing. Good. That meant all was well and she could focus on the errands that needed doing before she had to hunker down and focus on her writing.

Other books

Watched at Home by Jean-Luc Cheri
Report from the Interior by Auster, Paul
Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson
An Unlikely Father by Lynn Collum
Paradise Found by Nancy Loyan
Vaccinated by Paul A. Offit
Watson, Ian - SSC by The Very Slow Time Machine (v1.1)