Several long nights have passed since he slipped into her dreams for the first time. He hadn’t wanted to scare her, but given the circumstances he had no other choice. Going through her was the only way he could get the truth about his death to come to light. After seeing the fear in her eyes he’d decided to wait a few days before he entered her mind again. There was still so much she needed to see. So much she needed to know…
Sage plugged in the fountain and slipped into bed. Book in hand; she pulled the covers over her body as she settled in for a quick ten minute journey to fantasy land before sleep took over. Smiling to herself, she glanced at desk thankful for such a peaceful way to fall asleep. Who knew one little fountain could make such a difference in her life?
She’d had her doubts about it that first night. A nightmare wasn’t exactly what she expected a waterfall to induce. The dream had felt so real then. Every hit, every stab sliced through her subconscious mind as if she were the victim. The cruel man still haunted her thoughts, though he’s never made another appearance. Honestly, she hoped he never would.
Shaking the memory off along with the desire to read she put the book on her nightstand and turned off the lamp. Once the room fell dark he stepped out of the shadows. The sound of running water would have her sleeping in no time. He was so eager to invade her again he was willing to risk being caught.
He listened to her breathing…calm, steady, rhythmic. Her breath turned into a thick vapor as the temperature around her dropped. Unlike the first time, she didn’t move. Satisfied the fountain had done its job; he placed his hand on her forehead and closed his eyes. He pulled up the memory that had sent his life on a crash course, forcing her to take it in.
Warmth engulfed her body. She felt a hand slid around her waist and pull her closer. Gentle nibbles sent a shiver down her spine. She turned her head to look behind her and found herself staring into the most stunning set of blue eyes she’s ever seen. They looked back at her with love and admiration. Sage wanted to ask who he was, but when she opened her mouth the words that came out weren’t hers. Neither was the soft voice.
“You know you’ll probably catch hell for missing curfew, don’t you?” the soft voice asked. She turned over, snuggling her naked body closer to his. It was the same man from her nightmare. His name came to her as she spoke again. “Roy told you that the last time.”
“Do you really think I care?” Russ asked. He slid his hand down her thigh and smiled. His hand strayed behind her back, gently stroking up and down her spine.
“Sure doesn’t feel like it,” she giggled caressing his face. She loved it when he didn’t shave for a day or two. The stubble made her rugged man look tougher. “We better make this worthwhile then. I don’t see you getting away from the house for a long while once you go back there. He’ll make sure he gives you plenty of work to keep you busy for a month.”
“Let him try,” he said. His hand moved up her side. Goose bumps popped up beneath his calloused fingertips. Sage felt the heat rise in her body. “I’ll get all that and more done by the time he finishes breakfast.”
“Don’t get cocky, Russ. You and I both know he can hurt you. All he has to do is lift his hand.”
“What’d you go and do that for?” he asked, rolling on his back. Sage felt a pang of rejection shoot through her. She propped herself up on her elbow and put her hand on his chest. He stuck his hands behind his head and frowned. “You really know how to kill a mood, you know that?”
“Sorry,” she said quietly. “I’m just worried about you.”
“Don’t be, Julia. I can handle myself. Roy may be mean, but he hasn’t been as strong since he had that last heart attack.” He ran his hand through her hair and smiled. “What would you say if I told you I wanted to leave here?”
“I’d say you were just thinking out loud,” she snorted. “You’re not going anywhere until you can talk your mom into going with you.”
“She’s already gone,” he told her. Sage’s breath caught, though she didn’t know why. He smiled. “That’s right. She left him a couple of days ago. He tried to hit her again and she finally decided she’d had enough.”
“Why are you still there?”
“She needs somebody to make sure he doesn’t trash her things. The house may be his, but he doesn’t own everything in it.”
“You’re not worried he’ll take her absence out on you? I mean he goes nuts when she’s five minutes late coming back from the store.”
“Julia, I’ll be fine.”
He pressed his lips against hers, ending the depressing conversation. Her legs wrapped around his. Sage could feel her heart racing. His hands were everywhere and they felt good. He rolled her onto her back, cocking his eyebrow slightly. Sage smiled up at him, not knowing what to expect. Julia may be used to his ways, but this was new to her. He gripped both her hands in his and held them firmly over her head. She closed her eyes, tilting her neck while his free hand raked over her neck.
Cold replaced warmth. A thud echoed throughout the room. Her eyes shot open. Something darted in front of her. Russ! He pressed her firmly into the mattress, shielding her from something she couldn’t see yet. With her heart pounding, she looked around the room frantically trying to see the thing he already feared.
“Stay down,” Russ whispered.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. Tears were falling and she didn’t know why.
“Roy’s here.” Sage’s body stiffened. Fear took hold. “Whatever you do, don’t leave my side.”
“Well, well. I knew I’d find you here,” the harsh voice from her nightmare said. She struggled to get a look, but the dark shielded him. Damn. “One of these days you’re gonna learn to mind. You’re supposed to respect your elders, not take advantage of them.”
“Respect is earned,” Russ said quickly.
“So I need to earn your respect? Is that what you’re saying?” His tone turned dangerous. Cold chills ran down her spine.
“Don’t answer that!” Sage screamed.
Wait, did she? Her voice was in her head. All the words she’d spoken before had been Julia’s. Sage was only a bystander here. She wanted to shake Russ, somehow get his attention, but she was trapped in Julia’s terrified body. Why couldn’t they hear her in this dream the way Roy had in the first?
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Russ answered.
“How do you propose I do that?” Roy asked. She thought she heard him walk around the bed, but Russ had her pinned down so tightly she couldn’t see anything.
“How about you go wait in the living room and we’ll discuss it on the way home?”
“Sounds agreeable. I’ll give you five minutes then I’m coming back to get ‘cha.” When he chuckled, his voice sounded further away. Russ’s body relaxed. “Better find your clothes quick.”
“Not a problem,” Russ said reaching for the lamp. Sage looked towards the door. She wanted to know who Roy was.
A loud pop rang out. Sage’s body, Julia’s body crumpled. Pain ripped through her chest. Russ dropped to his knees, grabbing the sheet. He pressed it against the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. Her vision started to fade.
“How’s that for respect?”