|UNHACKABLE HEART: Glenn -- Collect Evidence|
Glenn lifted his hand to cup her face. Did he only know how to bring fear into this woman’s life? “I don’t want to be the man that you associate with those ghosts. I don’t want you afraid after you see what happens when sending demons back to hell. Just hack the house, be the keeper of collected scientific evidence. Head up the technical team.”
“What’s your theory that you would like to prove?”
He stroked her soft cheek. “Do you know you have several types of haunts going on in that place? Do you remember when you dug up the pieces of Indian pottery? They had been slaughtered there more than a century ago. How about the forsaken cemetery in the woods?”
“The cave behind your house is a hotspot, a portal so to speak. I intend to prove the connection.”
“Are you gonna blow up the cave or something like that to take down the natural battery for the land?” She laughed. “That’s a good idea. Don’t burn the house down, but blow the cave to hell?”
Cole laughed. “You sure you want her along for the ride?” He shut the connecting door, closing them off in privacy.
Glenn lowered his head so their eyes were on the same level and stared into springtime green eyes with darker green circling her iris. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you need to spend some real-time with Cole. He thinks it’s his mission to make sure you are on the board with the biggest players for your tryouts.”
“Because of what happened so very long ago? What is it; an atonement?”
“You’ll have to ask him. I can only tell you for sure what my motives are.”
“Oh?” She tipped up on her toes, bringing her eyes to a level above his. She grinned, a flash of white straight teeth, as two dimples formed on either side of her lovely heart-shaped face. “What are your motives, Glenn?” she whispered.
“You just got here today. It’s too flipping fast.” He paused to take a breath for courage. “What would have happened if I had come to you while you walked away from here? Was there anything I could have possibly said to change your mind?”
She shut her eyes. “I’m leaving here; you understand that, right?”
“Look at me, Tessa.” When she did, he held her eyes. “I understand you. Understand me.”
“No. More like unapproachable. The motive you see is different than what my motive is. You told me to back off at the point of your gun. Maybe now I’m ready to take you on. It’s your decision to hide; your take on things that you are invisible.”
He pointed at the surrounding hotel room. “This is not where you belong.”
She nodded like she was getting excited about the idea. “That’s right. It’s not. The job isn’t here. This is a land of bad memories, old enemies, where I don’t belong.”
“You had some friends here too.”
“That’s right.” She glanced at her watch and then she unplugged her charging cell phone. “Where did you dig that up? Testimony from court? Damned straight I had two women who stood up to be counted, who knew the truth and shouted it from the courthouse. I keep in touch with them.”
Glenn blew out a hard exhale. If he had managed to make any headway with this woman, she was now programming the firewall around her heart to shoot intruders with no questions asked ever.
One perfectly manicured fingernail tapped against her cell. “Would you like to talk to them? They’ll tell you. Staying here is not in my best interests.”
Glenn walked over to where her iPod sat beside the bed and turned it off. She had a serious connection to music. Just in case the prick of her anger was associated with the song that had been streaming into the room, he shut it off.
He turned and she was only a few inches from him. He groaned and settled his hands at her waist. “You blind me with your light even in the middle of the night, Tess.” He should leave so she would get some sleep. He should go now. He should.
His libido, however, wanted him to stay. He wanted to roll her under him on the bed. Desire arched like a flash of heat lightning from his body to hers.
“Mmm,” she agreed, sliding her mouth over to his ear.
Temptation begged him to taste her, thudding like a brass knocker on his heart. Maybe she would be easier to deal with if she was sated and soft? “I should go,” he uttered with pain.
“No,” she whispered before sinking her teeth into the cord at his neck.
“Okay, you convinced me.” Glenn dropped back on the bed pulling her over the top of him.
His cell chirped out, but it was middle of the night. The next chirp barely registered in his brain.
Pound! Pound! Pound!
He growled at the persistent pounding on the connecting door. “Not now,” Glenn warned Cole.
“Yes now,” came the raised male voice next door.
Glenn swung to his feet and stomped toward another pound on the door. He grabbed the handle and jerked the door open. “I hate you sometimes.”
Cole hitched his thumb behind him. The room was full of men. “Hate them. Your ghost hunting buddies have arrived.”
Tessa swept the hair back from her flushed face and came to her feet off the bed too. She glanced at the room full of men behind Cole and then swung accusing green eyes Glenn’s way. “You were going to hunt the ghosts no matter what I said.”
“I thought I could persuade you to see things my way,” he admitted.
She cast one glance toward the messed up bedspread. “You don’t say?”
She pushed his lower back and then instead of slamming the connecting door, she shut it quietly in his face. “Goodnight, Glenn.”
“Goodnight then, Tessa.”
“Goodnight, Tessa,” Cole added.
“Grrr.” She dropped back on the bed and covered her ears with the pillow to shut out the other male voices she didn’t know calling out a Walton-like goodnight. The rumble of deep male laughter made it past her pillow barrier.
“Love sucks,” she muttered and jerked upright when she realized what she’d said. Tessa did not love Glenn. “No way.” She tossed the pillow on the other bed and groaned. When had that happened? When had she started seeing him differently? She growled again. “Chat. The bane of my existence.”
”Glenn the griefer,” she said as she closed her eyes. Bitten once, flame dead and grown cold, now she was shy of men like Glenn. The knife in her back still gave her phantom pains. No man would get that close to her again.
Shhh slid across her mind like the sandman soothed her, falling back, deeper, caught in a web of slumber. The sandman dropped her down into a place, not her dreams. Her nightmare.
Rusty chains creak as if in protest to the foggy wind pushing a child’s forsaken swing. No trespassing signs display the only fresh paint around carefully tended flowerbeds. Right before darkness fell, the metal screen door stuck and then squeaked open to slam against the chipped front porch. The fog paused at the entrance, beckoning its equally frigid master, before swallowing all the rest of the rural land.
“Where have you been? What took you so long? Are you leaving again?”
The place was trashed inside as well as out. Yes he had saved everything for her to-do list. A month and he hadn’t mowed; the weeds were to her hips. He obviously eaten and had left a month’s worth of not-working couch potato wherever he’d made a mess. He was stoned to the bone.
She should have checked him in right there and right then while she had all the right cards and all the right plays. Hadn’t she come back only to pack and leave for good?
He was in as much despair as the house he had no intentions of leaving. “If you leave me, I will come after you and kill you and then kill myself. I’m gonna kill myself if you leave. You can’t leave me or this house.”
She had to go. She came home to pack and leave. She couldn’t stay stoned for the rest of her life to stay with him.
“You can run but you can never hide,” Sammy vowed. “If it is the very last thing I do.”
Tessa jerked awake. She swiped at the sweat above her lip. Her heart banged against her chest like a five-alarm fire.
On the other bed, on her laptop where she would not miss it, sat Glenn’s truck keys. Notepad was open with the words, Take my truck. I’ll meet you at the house. I have the padlock key.
She glanced at the time, mid-day. She glanced at the hotel door and the Do Not Disturb sign was not there. He must have hung it on her door before he left.
After a shower, Tessa grabbed the keys and drove out to her haunted house.
Glenn was in the side yard, his shirt off, sweat glistening off defined muscles.
Tessa rubbed the back of her hand across her mouth in case she had actually drooled. Although the front yard was filled with men and machines working on landscaping this God-forsaken land into something happy, Tessa walked into the open front door of her house.
“Hi.” Glenn tapped her on the shoulder. “Still mad?”
“There are guys setting up equipment all over, setting up cameras in my house!”
“Crud. Sorry about that, spitfire, but these you will know are here from this moment forward. Did you think I could hunt these ghosts, chase them back into another dimension, all by myself?”
He elbowed her. “You did. That’s sweet. Thanks, Tessa.”
She tried to keep her eyes trained on his, but they kept dropping like with a will of their own to his bare chest. “The yard looks . . .”
“Torn all up like a wrecking crew hit it?”
“Yes actually. It’s a major renovation. Are you trying to wake them up?”
“Hmm.” He caught her staring at his chest and nodded his blond head. “Wanna meet the rest of the team?”
“I’ll introduce myself,” she stated and took a step back to look at the wreckage in her yard. “If you would please be so kind as to try to hurry that up?”
Before he walked out the door, Glenn said, “Just because we are ready does not mean they will come out to play on demand.”
“I know. I know how to entice them to play too. Leave that to me.”
Tessa made the rounds through the dusty house, introducing herself to the ghost hunters, asking questions about each piece of equipment, trying to get a handle on the scientific tools to document the haunt. In return, she told them about some of her experiences, the hottest spots with paranormal activity in this house.
When they left at mid-afternoon to nap before the big night, Tessa walked through the house by herself for the first time since she’d left it. Although she would not walk upstairs in the bedroom where a suicide had happened, did not want a chance encounter with her dead brute of a stoned husband, she called out lowly. “Shadow.” In each room, she called to the big dark shadowman. “Shadow.”
The bedroom door slammed and she jumped a foot in the air.
Glenn walked in behind her. His growl sounded a second before his words. “What are you doing!”
It was not a question but a demand to answer him.
“Enticing Shadow to come out and play.”
It was the first time she could remember hearing him cuss. She winced a little under his silver glare. He looked like he was about to drag her to a fountain of holy water.
“Do you know what dark forces you are playing with?”
Even though the sun had not begun to dip into the horizon, when Glenn stepped toward her some invisible force roughly shoved him back a step from her. “Shit,” he uttered much quieter this time.
“Don’t be angry. Don’t be scared. Shadow feeds off that. He’s probably curious about you.”
Glenn looked like he wanted her hose her down with holy water now. “You are defending it? Did you see what he just did?”
“Yes.” She held out her hand to him. She blew out one slow exhale. “Take my hand, Glenn. He’s seen you before, years and years ago, when you were here often. It’s different now. Take my hand and let’s go until everyone gets here.”
The low rumble around the windowsill, growing in intensity until the windows rattled, stopped the second Glenn took her outstretched hand.
Glenn did not speak until they were standing together in the yard. He slid one finger under her chin and tipped her eyes to his silver regard. “Did that thing ever shove Sammy around like that?”
“Sammy shoved me around like that if things got dry and there was no pot. But Shadow did step in a time or two when things were really ugly.”
One large hand rubbed down his face, but then Glenn tossed both arms up to his sides. “You are not taking any part of this hunt.”
“Who do you think you are?”
“That six-foot shadowman seems to think I’m your boyfriend.”
“I’m staying, Glenn, for the hunt. I’m staying, Glenn, to sell this house. And then I’m leaving, Glenn Reston. I’ll help you prove your theory, but then I ride out of town.”
Stormy silver eyes burned brighter like chrome. His hot disappointment was obvious, but not the reason why.
“What are you thinking?” she asked when he held his silence like he was holding onto his temper by a frayed thread. “What did you think would happen? That you would break out all this equipment and I would help you prove your theory and then . . . what? Stay here to remote into work?”
What will Glenn tell her?