The Ghost and the Graveyard

Chapter 11


I Don't Even Get Dinner First?
Friday was usually my day off, but I'd picked up an extra shift. I was glad I did. Logan had made me breakfast again, but I avoided him. Confused about the kiss and not wanting to broach the subject of my date with Rick, I tossed a quick "Thank you," over my shoulder as I took the scone and coffee he'd made to go, never giving him an opening for conversation.
Similarly, I worked late so that I would be rushed getting ready. I showered and primped, slipping into my favorite little black dress as quickly as possible. The material was the perfect balance of stretch and drape, capable of hiding an array of imperfections while simultaneously enhancing my body's best assets. In other words, it was the perfect dress for another hot date with Rick. I zipped on my favorite knee-high black boots and checked myself out in the mirror.
"You look amazing." Logan's voice startled me, and I turned toward the door to see him leaning against the frame. The botanical print from the hall was barely visible through his cloudy form. Shit. I felt like a teenager caught sneaking out.
"Thanks," I said. "Hey, you're out early."
"I wanted to see you before you left."
"It's good to see you, too."
"Can I ask you something?" He stepped into the room, but in his current form, it was more like he floated.
"I'm kind of in a hurry-"
"If I were human," he blurted, "could you see us, you know, dating?"
I thought about that for a minute. I didn't want to lie. If Logan's ghost looked anything like he did when he was alive, then he was undeniably attractive. I'm sure if I'd met him in the flesh, physical attraction would've been a real possibility. Logan was a kind soul, with or without a body. "I think when you kissed me last night that it was more than a friendly kiss. I think you meant it. Like when a man kisses a woman."
"Yes. I did."
I tucked my hair behind my ear and bit my lip. "I was afraid you might say that. It doesn't feel right to pursue something with you. I'm sorry."
"Is it because I don't have a body?"
"No," I said. "It's not just because you're a ghost. You're a good man, Logan, and I do find you attractive. I'm just not...available."
The expression that rippled through him made his aura glow brighter and the lights blink. "Because of the caretaker." He said caretaker like it was a curse.
"I need to go." I grabbed my purse off the dresser and passed him to get to the door.
"This can't wait. There's something else I need to tell you."
I stopped in the hallway. "What is it?"
"You asked me to talk to Prudence."
"Yes! Will she speak with me?"
He frowned. "Only in the attic. Unfortunately, you'll need a key. The door that opens for me is a metaphysical one. It won't work for you."
"She's come out before. Why can't she talk to me down here?"
"Prudence has different rules. The key is like an, um, pass to speak with her."
"Huh. That's why she was like "find the key" blah-blah-blah."
"Crap. I haven't been able to find it. I'll have to look later. I'm really late." I strode toward the staircase.
Logan rippled next to me. His ghostly hands balled into fists. "You need to ask the caretaker to tell you the truth."
I paused in the foyer. "What would Rick know about any of this?"
"Listen, I can't say any more than I have. But there's something I want you to know."
"The caretaker has a story about how things are and how things will be. I just want you to know that, as far as I'm concerned, you have a choice about how this story ends. You should choose what's best for you."
"What? What choice? What is Rick going to tell me?"
Logan shook his head, looked at the floor, and dissolved without uttering another word.
"That was childish," I yelled at the ceiling. "If you have something to say, just say it. Enough with these cryptic messages." Arms crossed, I stomped my foot. "See you later, Logan. Much later. Maybe then you'll give me a clue what you're talking about."
I tucked my purse under my arm and headed out the door toward Rick's place. Of all the houses in the world, I had to move into the one with some wicked ghostly mystery. If I didn't get some answers soon, I was going to wig out. I mean, I think I'd been more than patient with the supernatural in my life. What was this big secret? Logan said that Rick would tell me, but as far as I knew, Rick didn't even know about Logan. And how did Prudence play into all of this?
Beyond the bridge, I could hear the wind chimes singing in the evening breeze. I stopped in front of the door to Rick's stone cottage but was distracted by a faint glow moving behind the cemetery gates across the street. It looked like someone walking with a candle in the distance.
"Rick?" I called toward the cemetery.
"I'm here," Rick said from behind me.
I turned around to face a work of art in the frame of the doorway. His white shirt stretched across his chest as if the fabric itself enjoyed the feel of him. The denim of his jeans hugged his narrow hips and hung to his bare feet. The material looked silky, maybe something designed in Europe that you'd see a movie star wear. For someone who worked with his hands, Rick was oddly fashionable.
"I thought I saw someone in the cemetery. I thought it was you."
Rick looked over my shoulder toward the gate. His face hardened, his gray eyes turning black and as cold as ice. I blinked twice, thinking it must be a trick of the light.
As quickly as his expression had changed, he warmed again and escorted me into his home. "I am sure it's nothing. Come in and make yourself at home."
As he swept his hand toward his living room, for the first time I noticed how graceful he was. Rick didn't move like a man who planted trees and repositioned headstones for a living. He moved like a ballet dancer, muscles long and lean. I tried not to stare, but the word sexy was an understatement and his cologne, the smell of a walk through the forest, had wrapped itself around me. My reaction was an instant and illogical lust.
"Sorry I'm late. I would have called you, but I didn't have your number," I said, moving into the room.
"I don't have one," he said.
"Huh? You don't have a phone at all? Not even a cell phone?"
"No." He shook his head.
"Isn't that inconvenient?"
He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "I've always found that handling things in person is more effective."
I frowned. No phone. Rick was a mystery.
"May I get you something to drink?" he asked.
"Maybe a glass of wine?"
"Of course."
He disappeared into the kitchen and returned with two glasses of red. I recognized mine as my favorite Shiraz, but his must have been different. It was darker, thicker, maybe a merlot. I took a sip from my glass and sat at a small table he'd set near the kitchen. Candles dripped wax over silver candlesticks at the center. The long edges of the tablecloth draped across my knee.
"What's that wonderful smell?"
"Roast lamb. You said it was your favorite. It will be ready in a moment. I hope you have an appetite."
"Yes. I do." I meant them to be innocent words, but even I could hear the sexual promise in them as they hit the air between us. I was baffled by myself, this uncontrollable desire I had for this man. With deep breaths, I tried to slow my racing heart.
Rick lifted my hand from the table. "Would you like to dance?"
"There's no music."
With graceful strides, he crossed the room and hit the button on a silver box on the bookshelf. The stereo began to play Latin music. I wasn't familiar with the tune, and I didn't speak Spanish, so the meaning was a mystery, but it was the type you would expect to hear in a dance club, perfectly at home with pressed bodies, heat, and sweat.
"Is this to your liking?"
"Sure, but I can't dance. I tried once and almost hurt someone." I was just being honest. If you mapped relative coordination on a graph, I would be way behind the bell curve.
"You won't hurt me." He laughed and offered me his long, graceful fingers. "I'll teach you."
My hand slid into his in a natural way as if we'd held hands for years rather than days. With a short jerk, he pulled me flush against his chest and placed his free hand in the small of my back. His hips pressed against mine, guiding my movements.
Left, together, right, hip, step back, hip, step forward. I had no idea what I was doing. My feet fell clumsily on either side of his right knee, and I tried my best to keep up without tripping. Suddenly, the five-inch heels on my boots seemed like a bad idea. The music pounded in my ears, his heart beat against my chest, and I ineptly followed him, even though I had no idea how to do the dance.
Then the oddest thing happened. One minute I was tripping over his feet, the only thing keeping me upright his hand on my back, and the next minute he was inside my head. Pictures of what he was about to do, how he would move next, slid across my mind and somehow I knew just how I was supposed to react as if he were whispering my part into my ear. I fell into pace with him, my hips gyrating against his in a way I would have never thought possible. We circled his living room, dancing and spinning until the song came to conclusion with two crashing beats and me bent backward in a low dip, panting into Rick's neck.
I tilted my chin up and met his gaze. Whatever connection we'd had while we were dancing was still there, and I knew he would kiss me. He did, long and deep until heat flowed straight to my core. But then I saw what he wanted, a play by play of his fantasy.
Just like the dance, my body responded. My lips crashed into his as I raked my nails over his shirt. Soft fabric over hard muscle teased my fingertips. Without him saying a word, I knew he didn't want me to take it off. I skimmed past the buttons, my hands traveling around his sides and down his back to give the luscious mound of his ass a squeeze. My head felt light, like that day in the cemetery, as if I was a little drunk, but better. Instead of everything seeming fuzzy, each moment was brilliantly clear, every smell and sound more alive.
His fingers twisted into my hair. "Mi cielo."
I unbuttoned his pants and dropped to my knees. His jeans slid to the floor with me. Kneeling in front of him, I had a moment of anxiety. He was erect and gigantic. His shaft was as thick as my wrist and stretched almost to his navel where the darker swell mushroomed at the tip. But my brain was promising ecstasy, and the fantasy played in my head like a favorite tune. Slowly, I slid my lips around him. Intense pleasure bloomed between my legs as if he were feeding his enjoyment directly into my head. I sucked hard, taking him deep inside my throat and moaned.
Pure bliss. I went to work. Anything I did to him echoed through me, spurring me on. I hollowed my cheeks and found a rhythm, sucking and licking, swirling my tongue around the tip. I stroked a finger up his inner thigh, teasing between his legs with one hand and wrapping my other around the part of him that wouldn't fit into my mouth. Harder, faster, around and around.
A guttural whimper escaped Rick's throat, elation crafted into a command that only made me work harder to please him. He cradled my neck as the orgasm rippled through me. I tossed my head back into his hands and felt his release echo my own. Through half-closed eyes, I watched him shiver, then collapse to his knees in front of me.