Streaming sunlight filtered across the room, waking her gently. Incredibly enough, Nick had not graced Naomi with his presence during the night. Nor had she been plagued by nightmares. Who cared why she was given a reprieve, she would take it. After the night she had shared with Bryce, she felt positive about their future. All thoughts of Genna were long gone. The time alone with Bryce was exactly what they had both needed.
“You know what, Nick?” she called out, feeling refreshed. “I’m not afraid of you. We’ll deal with this unfortunate situation and then you’ll leave me to get on with my life.”
She was met with silence. Hm. Where was he? And for that matter, where did ghosts go when they weren’t lurking around?
“Well, fine. I’m pretty sure you can hear me. I have a book to write, and an appointment to make.” Shaking her head slightly, Naomi chuckled as she considered what others would think of her walking around talking to herself.
It was too early to call the doctor’s office, but never too early for a cup of coffee. Coffee first, then she needed to make up for the time she had lost with her writing yesterday.
Words flowed seamlessly as Naomi made the most of her upbeat mood. After practically begging for an appointment with Nick’s doctor, which she had no luck securing on such short notice, she had received a follow-up call stating there was a last minute cancellation for a late afternoon appointment. She would need to figure out the best questions to ask. She couldn’t just come right out and ask what he knew about Nick’s supposed drug problem.
Seconds had slipped to minutes and now Naomi realized she had completely lost track of time as at least a half hour had passed. Nick had invaded her thoughts and interrupted her writing once more. Gone was her carefree mood. Nick, tell me what you need me to do.
It wasn’t that easy and she knew it. Even Maggie’s kind soul had such difficulty conveying her thoughts to Naomi. Maggie had spoken in riddles and then she had eventually pieced together the clues and solved the puzzle of her death. Nick was being a tyrant. He projected his words more forcefully and in a more direct way. Then why the hell couldn’t he just come out and speak to her, tell her what happened?
A chill prickled Naomi’s scalp as she heard a strange noise. She turned around, instantly locating her cat across the room. It was coming from upstairs and it sure as hell wasn’t Zelda making that racket.
With each approaching step Naomi took up the stairs, the sounds grew louder. One of the voices she detected sounded an awful lot like a woman. No, not just any woman, but Maggie. Or rather, a distorted version of Maggie.
Afraid of what she would find when she walked into her bedroom, Naomi tried to steady her thumping heart. She would need to confront Nick and his demons head-on.
He stood holding his head, wailing. She heard Maggie screaming, she heard Ryan, and yes, Nick. What was she witnessing? The only person in the room other than her was Nick. But how was he doing this?
He faced her, eyes black and soulless. Sucking in her breath, she walked backward toward the door.
“Oh no, you don’t,” Nick’s words boomed. “You get to join me in the fun.” His sick eyes gleamed as his hand reached out for her. Sucked back into the center of the bedroom, she fell to the ground with the force of Nick’s spirit pushing her. Now it was just her and Nick, the other voices a play on his thoughts—a trick of the mind.
“No, no . . .” she wailed, crying out for someone to help her.
Beside her, Nick sat on the floor. She could feel him there, but was afraid to look. Heavy arms pulled her into his dark embrace.
And then she saw what plagued his troubled mind. She saw, from his point of view, Maggie and Ryan falling to their deaths from that high cliff, his hand reaching out. He was too late. She felt the depth of his fear, his grief. The images he had shared with Naomi sucked her down into her own place of bleak despair.
Darkness dissipated and her ragged breathing slowed. He had been gone for minutes, she knew that, but she wasn’t ready to open her eyes. He wouldn’t make this easy for her. He would make her suffer, just as he had. Nick would make Naomi feel every ounce of the pain he had experienced, even more if he could muster it.
He could make it so much easier on both of them. She knew he could.
But he wouldn’t.
It was to be a game of cat and mouse. Just how long would he make her suffer?