The demented thing is that this evolved from the most sickly sweet, heart-wrenching love story you’ve ever heard. I went to Sully because I just couldn’t get over Jack’s murder. I couldn’t deal.
Iona came to me for the same reason most did: because there was no closure. A love cut too short. She begged me to open the gate between the living and the dead.
We should have left it shut.
This. This is not a love story. This is a possession story. A story of lies. A story of two faces. This is a story of death and violent echoes from the other side.
And there will be no happy endings.
There’s been this look of dread and apprehension in Sully’s eyes since the moment he opened the church doors to find me. It’s been growing into something hard and cold moment by moment. But with my revelation, it solidifies into something heavy as the world.
“Sit down,” he says in something very close to a growl. He points to one of the two chairs set in the middle of the room.
I sit, dread and fear and anticipation climbing in my throat.
Sully closes the door, and locks it.
The huge man stalks around the room, lighting a match to first one candle, then taking it to light the others. The room gradually grows lighter until a dozen of them are lit, and I can finally see more than a foot in front of me.
I rub my hands over my arms, because suddenly I realize that it is freezing in here, despite the roaring fire Sully has kept in the other room.
Deep, slow breathing pulls my attention back to the man.
He stands in one corner, before a solitary, lit candle. His back is turned to me, his hulking shoulders blocking out most of the light, casting him in an eerie glow. His long hair hangs around his face. He breathes, slow, deep. But there’s a quiver to it. Something unsteady.
I want to ask him if he’s okay. To ask what is the matter, because everything in me screams that there is.
But I’m too petrified to open my mouth.
A draft pushes through the edges of the covered window, sending the flames dancing atop the candles. A shiver works its way down my spine.
Sully suddenly steps back from the corner and drops down into the seat across from me. He holds his hands out.
“The watch,” he says nodding to his right hand. “Your hand.” He indicates the left.
I can’t stop shaking. I set the pocket watch in his hand, and trembling, I rest my hand in his other. He closes his fingers around mine, fully engulfing it with his size.
Sully’s eyes slide closed. I watch his face, seeing something come over it. Like he’s slipping underwater, preparing to hold his breath against certain death. His breathing becomes very light and shallow. His entire body becomes very still. The temperature of his hand drops.
The pain in my chest comes to a peak and I realize just how hard my heart is beating. My hands are slick with sweat. I lean forward in my seat, far too close to Sully’s face for comfort.
My breath is held.
“Jack,” Sully says, his voice low and deep. I jump when he speaks, startled, a bent twig on the verge of snapping. “I know you’ve moved on, but I have someone here who wishes to speak to you. If you wish to speak to her, please show yourself.”
Sully is quiet for a long moment afterward that seems to roll into an eternity of anticipation.
“What’s happening?” I whisper, a cloud of breath billowing out from me.
Sully lets out a slow, long shh, his face suddenly going peaceful.
All the blood in my body drops into my feet.
“Iona,” Sully says. There’s something breathy in the way he says my name, something disbelieving and hopeful and so full of everything.
“Jack?” I breathe as tears spring into my eyes.
“Yes,” Sully says, and he suddenly opens his eyes. But they only meet mine for a moment. They shift off to the right, next to the window, by his shoulder.
Goosebumps flash onto my skin as my eyes follow Sully’s.
“Can you see him?” I whisper. I want to shy back, to put some distance between myself and the ghost only he can see. But I’m also dying inside, knowing he is hidden from my eyes.
Keary Taylor is the USA TODAY bestselling author of over twenty novels. She grew up along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she started creating imaginary worlds and daring characters who always fell in love. She now splits her time between a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest and Utah, with her husband and their two children. She continues to have an overactive imagination that frequently keeps her up at night.