Drew: Justice Series
Paranormal Erotic Romance
Ryder Mackenzie didn’t remember much about what happened to her. All she knew was she hurt in more places than she could remember. Mac barely remembered going over the falls and hitting the rocks below to save the little girl. But now that she’d been to the other side, the ghosts wouldn’t leave her alone.
Drew Mullins was a haunted man, quite literally. His mother tortured him as a child and seemed bound and determined to continue doing so seventeen years after her death. Drew, being a necromancer, was having a hard time avoiding her because she didn’t know she was dead.
Between Mac having the little girl’s father haunting her and Drew dealing with his mother’s ghost, they both were a mess. But in each other they found what had been missing in their lives—love.
But when the thirst for revenge heats up, can Steele and his group find a solution? At least one where no one else ends up dead?
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Amazon USA https://www.amazon.com/Drew-Justice-Erotic-Paranormal-Romance-ebook/dp/B01M6BR4PY/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478549716&sr=8-1&keywords=kathi+s+barton
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Drew-Justice-Erotic-Paranormal-Romance-ebook/dp/B01M6BR4PY/ref=sr_1_5_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478549836&sr=8-5&keywords=kathi+s+barton
Steele Bennett was born with a gift, but he sees it more as a curse―he can see and speak with spirits. And when he loses his twin sister at seventeen, he wants to turn his back on life―block his heart so that he never has to feel the sharp pain of loss again...The small bar Kari Briggs runs is failing fast. She hasn't seen the owner in three months, past due notices are piling high, and her last paycheck bounced twice. And if she doesn't pay the delivery guy soon, there'll be no more supplies.
She has trouble enough controlling her cat, so the last thing she needs tonight is trouble. But those guys at the bar won't listen and take it outside. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, she is shocked when a tall stranger grips her arms from behind and her cat wants to roll over and purr.
From the moment Steele touches her, she knows he's her mate. And Steele thinks he can just get her out of his system with sex and a lot of it―he won't mark her and she can't mark him―no permanent attachments. But that's not how it works with a shifter, she will die if her cat can't get what she needs from him. She will love him because she has no choice―he is her mate―but that is a secret she is willing to take to her grave...
Nick Stark had known Addison West for quite some time. Although they'd never met in person they shared the same nightmare?both were unwilling participants. However, through these dreams they had formed a bond between them. And a telepathic connection. So when out of the blue, Addie contacted Nick and told him she had seen some things that she shouldn't have and she was next on the killer's list, Nick didn't hesitate to come to her rescue.
Nick had known for some time that Addie was to be his?why else would they share the same dream? But he was in no hurry to form emotional attachments. Never having much in the way of a decent family life, he didn't know much about love. And with the deep emotional scars he bore from an abusive childhood, he didn't want to bring that burden onto another soul?especially Addie.
Addie had her own baggage. Her father had been forcing her to marry an abusive man?he told her it was her duty as his daughter to obey him. Addie wasn't having any part of it, so she ran.... She had been hiding for the last five years.
Nick may not have wanted any attachments but he couldn't ignore the beauty he'd rescued. But there were things he had to tell her...about all of them...about Steele Bennett's group. He wasn't sure how she fit into all this....
Mitch Riley was a haunted man, and being a necromancer didn't have much to do with what haunted him. A troubled childhood left him withdrawn and short tempered, so when he received a summons that he was being sued by the foster parents who had abused him, he didn't take it well at all. And their attorney? None other than a vamp. There was nothing much worse than a vamp in Mitch's opinion.
Victoria Graham, or Vinnie her mother had nicknamed her, wasn't expecting the man her clients were suing to be her mate, and a necromancer. She would have refused the case had she known she'd be walking into a den of necromancers. She had grown up on horror stories that necromancers were the one thing that could kill her kind, and it was clear the man hated her very existence.... But when he touched her, she'd lost control of her magic...and her mind too apparently.
Landon Logan is a man haunted by a tragedy that he blames himself for but didn't do. No one can convince him otherwise--especially his well-meaning Grandda who happens to be dead. Landon is a necromancer.
Dillon Malone has a few abilities of her own. She can "find" things by touching the owner or touching something the owner has touched. This makes her a wanted woman.
Landon is so angry at his good-for-nothing parents that he storms out of their house with their maid in tow. Dillon is happy to leave with this brooding young man and soon discovers that the handsome hunk is her other half.
Dillon's happiness is short lived when her past reaches out to bite her, and she and Landon become pawns in her father's evil scheme. When Dillon's father has Steele's new baby kidnapped, all bets are off.
1. Steele - http://smarturl.it/steele
2. Nick - http://smarturl.it/nickjusticeseries
3. Mitch - http://smarturl.it/mitchjusticeseries
4. Landon - http://smarturl.it/Landonjusticeseries
5. Drew - http://smarturl.it/Drewjusticeseries
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Hello! My name is Kathi Barton and I'm a award winning, best selling author of dark fantasy erotic paranormal romance . I have been married to my very best friend Paul, a potter, for at times seems several lifetimes - in a good way, honey. And together we have three wonderful children and then the ones we brought into the world - Paul and Dale Barton, Jason and Wendy Barton and Danielle and Ben Conklin. They have given us eight of the greatest treasures on Earth. They don't live at home seven days a week! No, seriously, eight grandchildren - Gavin, Spring, Ben, Trinity, Sarah, Kelly, Kian and Bailee
Addie put the phone back on the hook and sat down. Since she’d gotten up she’d been trying to reach out to her friend, Mac, and hadn’t gotten a single answer, or a call back when she left her messages. She was coming here in a few days, to hang out with her and to meet her new friends. But now, trying to get in touch with Mac and not having any success made her worry. Something was wrong, she just knew it. Going to find Nick, she wasn’t surprised to find Landon and Steele in the office with him. Nick stood up when she entered the room and gave her his seat. The man was a constant worry wart, especially since she’d found out she was expecting. She wasn’t sure she could make it the last few months without bashing his head in. “Here, honey, please have a seat. And put your feet up on the stool. Did you get in touch with her?” Addie told him that she’d not as she sat down in his chair, but she didn’t put her feet up. There was only so much pampering she could take right now. “I know that you’re worried. I think you need to call her place of business. Didn’t you tell me she works for some sort of boating company?” “Extreme. And she doesn’t just work for them, but owns the company. Few people know that. I’m pretty sure not even the people that work for her are aware they work for her, not just with her. But, no, I’ve not called yet. I wanted to ask you first. I don’t want her to think I’m over protective of her. She accused me of that in college when we were younger.” Addie rubbed her growing belly as she continued. “It’s not like her to not call me back. I know that it’s silly, but I’m afraid something has happened to her. But I don’t want to feel stupid for calling her work and embarrassing her. Do you understand?” “Call them.” When Steele nodded in agreement with Nick, she thought she’d do it. But later. “No, not later, now. Call them and ask where she is. You know that you’re not sleeping well worrying over this. She will get a good laugh out of it and so will you, but you won’t worry any more. Just go ahead and call and see what might be going on. It might be something simple, like her phone is down or something like that.” Getting up, she went to her own office. If she was going to feel stupid for calling for no reason other than Mac was really busy, she’d rather do it where no one could hear her. Picking up the phone and dialing the number she’d memorized yesterday, she wasn’t surprised when the answering machine picked up. But she was no less worried either. “Hello. You’re going to think this is really silly, but I’m trying to get in touch with Ryder Mackenzie. Mac. She goes by Mac. Anyway, my name is Addie Stark and she was supposed to call me back and—” “Hello? Don’t hang up. Please, just hang on while I try to turn this off.” The woman, she thought it was Sandy Miller who worked for Mac, cursed a few times as buttons were pushed. “I’m not very good at this thing. Mac usually…please call back if I hang up on us.” After telling the woman that she would, the line went dead. Addie sat there for several minutes trying to reason with her fingers to dial the numbers again when it rang. Picking up the phone carefully, she heard more cursing and knew it was Sandy again.
“I’m so sorry. I’m not the office type. Cameras yes, but…I just came in here to pick up the money and heard you. There’s nobody around to help me out on this thing.” Addie told her it was all right. “Mac is…She’s in the hospital, has been since yesterday late. Mac is…I mean she…they don’t really expect her to make it. She took a terrible fall over the falls near where she lives, and…and…poor baby....” The sobbing was what got her. The woman was sobbing so hard that it sounded as if she were tearing her heart out. Addie felt her own eyes fill with tears, then run over as she thought of her friend lying dead. Mac was such a vibrant and full of life woman. Knowing that she was hurt and might not make it…well, Addie knew that she’d feel it forever if she were to pass. Her sorrow became more as Sandy told her what she knew. “She’d told me she was going on home, and I never thought no more about it until I heard the scanner going off and her telling them that she had three in the water. A little kid, she said. They didn’t have any life jackets on them, so…oh, that poor little thing. I turned the cameras around to find her and saw it. Just saw that kayak go right over with her hanging onto that child. I think there was some man trying to help her save the girl, but…well, he died too. Mac said that…she said that she was going after her. I knew as soon as I heard there was a little one involved that she’d go and try and save her. But those falls, even for someone like her, experienced and all, they’re a bit much, especially this time of year. She and that little girl went right over, and I never saw them again until I made my way to the hospital.” Addie was crying hard now, knowing that Mac would hurt herself to save anyone, but especially a little kid. As the story unfolded, Addie could almost see it happening. “Those people on the raft, they were all screaming at the police when they got there. Took them a good five minutes to get them calmed enough to tell them where she’d gone over. By then…well, it was damned near too late for all of them.” “The child, is she all right?” Sandy said that she was broken up pretty good, but was expected to make a full recovery. “And the others, what happened to them?” “Both parents are gone. The mister, Adam was his name, he broke his neck. They think he might have been dead before he ended up on the bottom of the falls, but we don’t know for sure. His wife Cindy, little Becky’s mother, she drowned. Again, they don’t know for sure when that happened. Like I said, them falls, they’re unforgiving if you don’t know how to run them.” Addie wanted to ask about Mac’s injuries, but was afraid to. But Sandy spoke before she could. “Mac was beaten up, near dead when they got to her. Her head was split open by the rocks, and they’re worried about what sort of damage…they’re worried about brain damage. Broke both her arms and crushed her leg. The doctor told me that she’d be lucky if she walked again without a cane. Then he broke down. Imagine that, a doctor breaking down, and he told me that she wasn’t going to live out the night, not the way she was right now. That was…she’s my little girl and she’s been hanging on since. They had to…I won’t let them just let her go. She’ll never forgive me for doing that. Not one to hang on, she told me more than once. But they brought her back for us. The staff there at the critical care, they don’t…I don’t know what I’m supposed to do without her. She’s all I have…I love her like my own.”
“I’m coming there.” Addie stood up, then sat down when she thought of what she had to do. “I’ll be there in the morning if not tonight. Can you find me a place to stay? Please? I need to be there for her.” “Oh honey, that would be wonderful for us. Me too. Yes, that’s good. Yes, of course you need to be here. And I’d like that too. She talked of nothing else but seeing you. It’s why I picked up the machine. And you come on out here. You can stay in her place if you want. It’s a big place, but she loves it. That pup of hers will be more than glad to see someone besides me.” Addie wasn’t sure about a puppy. All she cared about right now was seeing her friend and maybe trying to figure out a way to bring her around. “I’ll have someone pick you up at the hangar. Not much of an airport, but we make due.” Addie hung up a few minutes later, after taking notes on not only where to go but how to get to the house if she ended up staying there. Still not sure what she was going to do once she got there, Addie went to find Nick. She was leaving right now if she could arrange it. ~~~ Drew wandered around the house again, ending up near his own room. He wasn’t sure yet what he was supposed to do with his new house, but he was making headway, he thought. The house was so big that at times he felt smothered by it. Stupid he supposed, but that was the feelings he got. And if he was honest with himself, he wasn’t sure he liked this place. It was…dark, he thought, was a good word for it. Dark and not suited to him at all. Anna, his cook, and right now the only person he saw much of, was in the kitchen for the most part while he was there, and he’d finally convinced her to stay in the pool house instead of driving back and forth every day. Most days they both ate in the kitchen, as he just couldn’t stand the thought of her carrying what food she thought was good for him between the dining room and the kitchen like he was something special. Smiling at that thought, he went out onto the deck that was off his bedroom. It was the one thing he’d loved about the house. The way the deck, all covered and filled with the most comfortable furniture, seemed to invite a person to come and have a seat. Kick off their shoes, as he had done when he’d sat down, and relax. He wondered if the previous owners of the house, Landon’s parents, had ever had an occasion to relax at all between stealing from people and making everyone’s life hard. He supposed that he should have taken the master suite when he moved in. But it was bigger by far than one floor of his other home. Not to mention he had yet to go through the personal things in the room, and Landon had told him there was nothing there he wanted of his parents. He guessed he could hire someone to do it, but he had no idea how to even begin that task. Putting his feet up on the stool that matched the rest of the furniture, he looked out over the wooded area behind his house. The deer came out about now, and he had made it a habit when he was home to watch them. It was relaxing, and he never thought much when he watched them romp and play. Yesterday there had been a small one with them, and he had enjoyed watching it get its feet under it. The buck, a big boy with about a dozen points, just watched him. Drew wondered if he’d learn to trust him soon.
“Drew?” He looked up at the sound of his name, afraid, not for the first time since he’d moved in when he heard his name in such an unfamiliar place. Instead of being his mother coming to haunt him again, it was Anna. “Are you all right, sir? I didn’t mean to startle you like that. I said your name a couple of times.” “It’s fine. My fault entirely. I’m all right, I promise. You just…I was startled, that’s all. What is it I can do for you?” She looked out over the woods then back at him. He knew that she thought him a little off. If she only knew how off he really was, she’d more than likely go running into the woods to get away from him. “I was watching the family of deer that come around. They have a way of making even the worst day nicer with their ways, don’t you think?” “Yes, I think so as well. I saw them as well two nights ago, and slept better knowing they were here for some reason.” He waited for her to continue, and thought perhaps she was telling him she was quitting. “There’s someone here to see you. Miss Vinnie and Miss Addie. They’re in the parlor. I told them you’d be along shortly. I can tell them you need a few moments if you’d like.” “No. I’ll come along now. Thank you. And if you have any cookies, I know that Addie loves them.” She blushed and told him she had some, and some scones too if she was of a mind to try them. “I’m sure that she’d love that. Thank you.” Drew knew that Anna was aware of what they all were. Vinnie was a vampire, and Kari, Steele’s wife, was a panther shifter. Then there were the rest of them, all necromancers with a little extra that came in handy when they worked. As he made his way to the big room, he wondered what they needed. Right now he’d do just about anything to stem the boredom. He’d never been one to sit idle, because the memories invaded even his waking thoughts. And since he was off for the rest of the week, he had to find something to do or go nuts…well, nuttier. Entering the room, he smiled at them as if he had not a care in the world. Addie was adorable with her belly starting to show. She was about four months now, and he could see that she was extremely happy. So was Nick. All he ever talked about was the new baby. Drew was sort of jealous of him getting that experience, as he knew that he never would. “Ladies. Have you come to help me figure out the house? I sure could.... What’s happened?” He could tell by their faces that something was wrong, and he immediately thought of the men that he worked with. He sat down when Vinnie stared to pace. Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to be good. “Nick is going away on a call, as I’m sure you know, and we’re in sort of a pickle. I’ve always wanted to use that phrase. Anyway, we need your help.” He nodded at Addie, knowing from the call this morning that the others were going to be awhile. And they wouldn’t let him go to them. It was a new rotation thing they were doing, so that they could spend more time with families and not be so burnt out all the time. One week off, two on was how it had been set up. Drew hated it. “There’s been an accident with a friend of Addie’s. She needs to go there and…it’s not good.” Drew asked Vinnie what he could do. “I can watch over her in the evenings,
but the day time, I can’t as you well know. Can you come with us? Nick said that he’d rather we both went rather than her be alone during the day.” “You know I’ll do anything for you guys.” He would, too. “When do you want to leave? I’m assuming now. All I need to do is throw a few things into a bag and I’m set.” “Yes, that would be wonderful. We have the plane on standby. I don’t know how long we’ll be gone…my friend, Mac, she was hurt pretty bad when her kayak went over the falls while she was…while she was trying to rescue a little girl. She…the little girl’s parents drowned and…I need to be with her; Mac, not the child.” “I’ll go and pack now.” He stood up and then moved to the door just as Anna was coming in with a tray of cookies and tea. Drew asked them to let her know what was going on as he left them to pack up. Tossing things into his duffel, he thought of the friendship that he had with these people. All of them were family, and he’d do just about anything they asked of him when they needed him. He didn’t share with them most of the things going on in his life as they did. He trusted them, but not with knowing his secret. It was bad enough that he had had to live through what his mother had done to him; he didn’t think he could stand to see their pity when they looked at him. Drew had always been a very private person, and it hadn’t changed much when he became an adult. He wondered if they thought of him as a friend, as someone they could trust, and thought perhaps they did. He worked with the men on the team, and he liked them a great deal. But he was a loner. He didn’t like it very much, but it was all he knew. Keeping busy was what kept him from thinking, and thinking was a dangerous thing for him. His childhood and his life had made him that way. He’d always been alone, and deterred people from asking too many questions. Questions that Drew didn’t want to answer. Then there was the added fact that he was scarred. Not just in his mind, but his body as well. Badly. Mostly the worst of them were on his back and the back of his legs; the ones on the rest of his torso were faded, as they hadn’t been nearly as bad. It was what caused him so much pain when he got up in the morning or after standing or sitting in one position for too long. And long ago he knew that if he didn’t kick the pain pills he’d be as drugged up as his mother had been most of her life. Drew didn’t want to end his life that way. So now, he simply suffered. Andrew? His entire body stiffened at the sound of the voice. It was distant, but he knew it anyway. Turning slowly around the room, he looked for his mother, only to find himself alone in the big bedroom. But he knew as surely as he was standing there, she was close. Andrew, where the hell are you, boy? Not answering her seemed the best way to keep her at bay. Stuffing the rest of his things in the duffle, he tried to think what he had to do to rid himself of her if she found him again. The need to have her banished, kept away from him, nearly took him to his knees. Even after all she’d done to him and continued to do to him, she was still his mother. But even as he zipped up the bag and headed out, he knew he was never going to be able to make his mother go away forever. Because he was still that ten year old little boy.
“Are you ready?” Telling Vinnie that he was, she looked at him oddly. He wondered if she could see his mother, or if any of them could, and that made him feel exposed. He hadn’t thought they could, but with Vinnie, who knew? And he was hard pressed to ask her if she could or not. But Vinnie only turned and went to his front door, met there by Anna. Drew thought about asking Vinnie for help with his mom, but didn’t. Fear and pride made him keep his mouth shut. “I packed some cookies and tea for the trip. I know that your plane must have all these things, but I so worry about you.” Anna gave him the large plastic container, filled to the top with cookies and wrapped scones, and the thermos of tea. “Sugar is there, as well as cream if you need it. Not sure how the rest of you take your tea.” After she hugged Addie and Vinnie and left them, Drew went to the big car that Addie and Nick had only just recently purchased. Since she handed him the keys, he put his bag in the back of it with the other two pieces of luggage and got in the driver’s seat. Just as he was ready to start it up to go, his cell phone rang. It was Nick. “Thank you for doing this for me.” He told him it was no problem, he was glad to help out. “She’s really stressed out about this. If she...this woman, I guess she’s really bad off. I had a couple of the guys here go and check on her, and Addie is going to be devastated when she sees her. I guess they were right in saying she might not make it.” “Addie told me that the secretary said that they didn’t expect her to make it past the first night. Perhaps her hanging on this way, it’s a good sign.” Addie got in the back with Vinnie. It was darker back there, because even though it was nearly dark, the sun still burned Vinnie a little. Being a vampire had some difficult rules attached to it. “The little girl’s parents, should I be looking for them there? I mean, they might want to hang out with their daughter for a little while.” “I never thought of that. But I would keep a look out for them. I don’t know what sort of people they were alive, but we both know that things change when they figure out they’re dead. The little girl is deep in a coma, but I’m not sure if it’s drug induced or just from all the injuries. She is only alive because of Addie’s friend, I guess. They have her head cam and it shows pretty much everything that happened to the two of them when they went over the falls.” Drew wondered if Addie would want to see that, and thought she might be better off not. It had to be pretty horrific. “Anyway, I want you to call me if you need anything. Steele got you guys a nice hotel, and I guess Vinnie has a place she can stay while out there too. There is the woman’s house too. There is a dog; I’m not sure what it is, but he’ll need some looking over too. I can’t thank you guys enough for helping me out.” “I’m glad to have something to do, to be honest.” He put the phone on the holder and stuck his earphones in. One thing he did not do was drive and hold onto his phone at the same time. He wouldn’t even answer it until he pulled over to do so. Drew might not like his life overly much, but he’d not take out others just to end his. “Is there anything else I might need to know out there? I mean for Addie. She’s pretty upset.” “Not that I know of. She’s been talking about this girl for a while now. They’ve met at least once a year since they got out of college. Her family is gone. I think she might only have the people she works with. She owns this company, Extreme. There are several
of them across the United States, so I think she’s done well for herself.” Drew was impressed with that. Not that as a woman she’d done well, but that she wasn’t any older than Addie and was successful. “She’s also somewhat of a loner. Not like you, but pretty close. If she’s not working, then she’s at home. And Addie wanted me to see if you’d take care of the dog. I’m not sure what kind it is, but Sandy, the woman who works for Mac, said he’s all right. Addie didn’t feel right staying at her house. She said it would be too painful.” “I’ll take care of it. And you know I love being alone.” He knew that he’d sounded defensive, but Nick only laughed. “I’ll let you know when we get there. And I’ll take care of the dog too.” “Like I said, I really appreciate this. And should this girl pass, I’ll drop everything here and make it out. I’ve already made some arrangements with Steele.” Drew told him he’d replace him. “Thanks for doing this for me. For us. Hopefully it will turn out all right for everyone.” In Drew’s experience it rarely turned out well. Most of the time, if it could go to shit for him, it did. He closed out the connection and drove them to the airport. Everything was set, and they were up in the air within twenty minutes of getting everything stowed away. Drew thought about what he had now compared to what he’d had as a kid. Since working for Steele and the rest he had a car, credit cards for company trips, and a home. Money enough to spend should he do so carefully. Clothing enough that he was warm when needed. A television that didn’t only work when it wanted to, and enough food in the house that he was never hungry unless he wanted to be. Shirts and pants, dressy when needed or casual when working, were also provided. His personal items—socks, shoes, and other items such as underwear and tee’s—were his own to buy, and he rarely spent much on those. And now, thanks to Landon and his wife, he had a house bigger than he needed, and servants too. He still wasn’t sure what to do with all that, but it was his, and no one else’s. Closing his eyes for the trip, Drew felt himself drift off. As his body relaxed his mind became fertile. His mother was just there, memories of her fighting with his need to vanquish her from his mind. As he drifted deeper into sleep, his mother was welcoming him to her horror. “Do you have any idea how much I despise you right now?” The ten year old Drew whimpered. “Shut up. Just shut up. If I could afford it, I’d end you right now and be done with you.” He never answered her; to speak to her when she was stoned, as she had been, would have been bad. To have done so would have given her another reason to hurt him. And she did enough of that without his help. Instead, he sat there on the floor with his towel under his body, so the blood from his latest injuries wouldn’t ruin the carpet beneath him. His mother wanted to make sure they made a good impression when the welfare people came by to check on him. They did it less and less as he had gotten older, and he doubted very much that any of them cared what sort of state the house was in so long as he was there and still breathing.
She didn’t love him. He’d figured that out long ago. And even if he hadn’t figured it out, it wouldn’t have mattered. She told him almost hourly how much she despised him. He was her means to get what she wanted, whatever that was. Her anger at him was legendary. But this time, she was madder than he’d ever seen her. And getting angrier by the second. He was sure she’d broken his nose. His jaw, on a previous beating, had been bruised badly, but not broken. Now it was painful to move, even if he did want to speak to her. Drew looked at her when she screamed his name. “Pay attention to me, you moron. Or so help me, I’m going to teach you a lesson you won’t ever forget. No one will look at you with pity again, by God.” She had hit him then, his arms tied above his head to her canopy bed. Pain made him sick, dizzy even, as he had no way of getting down. Not until she let him, cutting at the ropes until he just simply dropped to the floor. Drew had hung there before, more times than he wanted to remember. She would tie him there, beat him over a couple of days, then let him down, telling him how it had been his fault that she’d been driven to beat him. Again. As he had drifted off, his entire being worn out, his adult mind tried to tell him to get away, to run, to hide. But it did him no good; what was to come was coming no matter what he did now, even if he could have gotten away. “Drew?” His name, said so softly, startled him. The dream, the memory really, had him in its clutches tightly, and he knew she was coming for him. As soon as he was touched, a small hand to his shoulder, Drew fought, lashed out at whoever was trying to hurt him. When he realized that he’d been dreaming and that his mother wasn’t there, Drew knew that he’d made a major mistake. Staring down at the face under him, Drew tried to think what had happened. How Vinnie had a bloodied mouth, her lip already swelling. Her hands were above her head, palms out. She didn’t move, said nothing as they lay there. It was the voice behind him that had him knowing he’d fucked up, and had done something terrible. He was going to have to explain what he’d done, as if he even knew how to. “Drew, are you okay?” Was he? No. And would never be if he didn’t get over this fear of his mother. “Drew, please answer me and let Vinnie breathe. I’m scared that you’re hurting her.” His hands were curled around her throat. The bruising there was already making itself known to him. Letting go, his fingers loosening even as the grip of the memories did, he felt his heart twist, and his mind begin to work. Fear slid over him as a shirt did when he was fresh from his shower. “I’m so sorry.” Sliding his heavier body off hers, he lay there, curling his body into a fetal position and trying to wrap his mind around what he had just done. “I had a bad dream. I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I’m very sorry.” “Who is she?” He thought of his mother when Vinnie asked him the question. He wasn’t even aware he’d answered her aloud until she spoke again. “Is your mother dead,
Drew? Does she haunt you even now? Is she the person that you were thinking about when you came into the living room today?” “It was her. She never leaves me alone. But yes, she’s dead. And does she haunt me?” He laughed bitterly, knowing that he would have to tell her in order to make up for what he’d done. “Every waking moment of my life, even when I’m not asleep.” Drew didn’t know how long he lay there. He knew that they had landed, the vibration of the engines running now gone. The women spoke quietly, but still he didn’t move. The need to get up, run, and hide had him fighting for some sort of control over himself. After a while, when he knew he couldn’t put it off any longer, he sat up and stared at them. Not sure what he needed to say, he opened his mouth, hoping for something brilliant, when Addie spoke first. “It’s really late, so Vinnie will be with me now. Why don’t you go to the house, Mac’s house, and see to her puppy and rest? I heard you tell Nick you’d help with that. Then in the morning, you can bring me breakfast and hang out with me. Okay?” Drew nodded and waited for either of them to ask questions. When they both stood and went to the exit, he let out a long breath. He didn’t think he was off the hook, but he did buy himself some much needed time. Taking a cab to the address given to him by Addie, Drew knew a new kind of fear. They knew he was haunted, and worse yet, by whom. He wondered what they were going to tell the others, knowing that they would. Drew also wondered which one of them would call him first and tell him he was fucking nuts.