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by Kiernan Kelly
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Justus isn't used to helping people. In his old life, he helped himself, and looked out for number one. As the Knight Shade, though, he has to deliver souls through the Half-World, and when one of those souls touches him deeply, it comes as a big surprise. Trying to help Sally, the young soul who needs his aid, Justus meets Billy, and manages to bring the young man into the Half-World to help him with his task. The two of them face unknown perils to save Sally, and as they work together to solve their problems, they learn to admire each other. Can Justus and Billy complete their quest and find a way to be together?
eBook Publisher: Torquere Press/Arcana, 2007 http://www.torquerepress.com
eBookwise Release Date: December 2007
21 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [75 KB]
Reading time: 45-63 min.
The call came to me in my dreams, as it always does.
It was insistent, like the annoying jangling of a telephone that refuses to fall silent no matter how long you try to ignore it. I tossed and turned, burying my face in the pillow, trying to tune out its strident voice. Eventually though, the ringing hammered its way into my dream, nagging me into consciousness. When I finally awoke, sitting bolt upright on the bed as if doused with ice water, the details of where I needed to go and what I was expected to do were crystal clear in my mind.
I couldn't refuse to answer the summons. The thought alone was shocking, enough to bring bitter bile to the back of my throat and set my heart to hammering in my chest. I had no choice but to answer. It had been that way for three years now, and I have no idea of how long it will go on. Perhaps for the rest of my life--although considering my nocturnal activities that may not be as long as it sounds.
The call is my punishment, my curse. I spend nearly every night seeking redemption for my sins along dark roads and in deep shadows.
There is no telling where I'll be sent next. One night I might be backlit by the bright glow of the lights of New York City; the next creeping through the gloom among the ancient ruins of Circus Maximus in Rome.
That night, the night that changed everything, I found myself walking along the side of a two-lane highway on the outskirts of a small, sleepy town in Texas, just beyond mile marker 152. Gravel crunched beneath my feet, clouds of mosquitoes and gnats swarming around my head.
The darkness was thick there, suffocating. That stretch of road was unlit and the night felt like heavy, oily black fingers stroking my skin, raising gooseflesh in their wake. I was used to the night, and it no longer unnerved me as much as it once did. I don't jump at every shadow, skittish as a newborn colt; not anymore. I've learned that the dark is earthy, a part of the natural order of things.
On the other hand, my adversary is not, and It is far more frightening than anything the night might manage to cough up.
I'd hiked a couple of miles, feeling the pull of the call getting stronger with every step. I was sure that the source was somewhere, close. I could feel it. I took a few more steps before sitting down on the cool steel of the guardrail that ran along the length of the highway. Closing my eyes, I waited for contact.
I didn't know what I'd find there, aside from knowing that it would involve death in some form or other. Might have been a half-buried body cooling in the night air, carelessly hidden under twigs and pine needles, or perhaps it might have been a deep grave, older by far than the asphalt that covers it. Every call is different, every case unique. Some calls come just after death, some centuries later. I have no way of knowing which will be which.
Oh, God, no. The young ones are always the worst. Taking a deep breath, I reached inside the pocket of my leather overcoat. My fingers closed over a familiar, reassuring rectangle of thick cardboard. Its presence reminded me of my purpose, tempered my spine with steel.
"Mister? I'm lost. Can you bring me home?"
Opening my eyes, I turned my head slightly to the right. You can't see ghosts if you look at them--pardon the expression--dead on. On this plane they can only been seen in one's peripheral vision, flickering at the very outer edges of your field of sight like the images of an old-time film, the kind you had to crank by hand as you peered into the viewer.
She was tiny, perhaps no more than seven years old at the time of her death. Fair hair shimmered in a soft wave over her shoulders, golden even in the inky darkness. Her eyes were blue and wide as she watched me, a mixture of curiosity, fear, and hope shining in them. Her skin was so pale; death sapped the rosy flush of life from her rounded cheeks.
Standing, I edged closer, still careful to keep her in my peripheral vision.
"Mister? I don't know where my Mommy and Daddy and Billy went. I want to go home, Mister. I'm cold."