Grayson and Andreanna
High atop the sundeck of his Ocean Alexander Megayacht anchored just off the coast of Key West, Grayson Montgomery smiled as the very beautiful Andreanna Fallbrook walked barefoot to the railing to continue their playful debate with another bottle of slightly chilled Chardonnay from the galley bar.
With nightfall upon them, the warm glow of the tiki lights that hung from the roof of the sundeck, along with the faint sounds of Pat Martino ironically playing, “What Are You Doing For the Rest of Your Life” in the salon speakers below were enough to bring the mood of the evening to a welcoming, less business-like tone.
“How long do you think you can keep going on like this?” he asked with a smile, taking the bottle from her to refresh her wine glass. While he may have been teasing her a bit, he was partly serious.
Taking the glass, Andreanna had heard that question before, but she was curious where he was going with his next line of questioning. Given they already went through one bottle of 2007 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru and they just uncorked another, it was beginning to look like another interesting evening. Innocently enough, she played coy with her answer, “You mean tonight?” She flashed that gorgeous smile as she brought the glass to her lips.
“Oh, I know you can go a lot longer tonight, darlin’,” he played along. “I mean in general. The future.”
She paused to gaze out at the stars, knowing her answer hasn’t changed in all the time since she arrived at this place in her heart. “I believe I’ve already told you, Grayson,” she turned to look at him. “I will continue to follow you around as long as you want me to.” Her flirty smile not only was disarming but was casting doubt on whether or not she was speaking of business or pleasure.
“Seriously, Andi, you know I don’t expect you to produce that silly television show of mine for the rest of your life. I mean, at some point aren’t you going to want to do something more with yours?” While she loved the sound of her name when he spoke it, she loved it, even more, when he called her by her nickname.
“Somebody has to watch out for you,” she didn’t miss a beat. “Why can’t that be me?” Andreanna posed the question playfully; her big, beautiful, blue eyes sparkled as she gave that little sexy smile again that he loved so much. She didn’t want to think about what her life would be like without Grayson in it; after more than a decade working together, she had grown far too attached to the man.
“It’s my curse, not yours.” He added with a stern voice as he poured another glass of wine. “I will never know peace as long as I have it.”
“We’ve gone down this road a hundred times, Grayson. You know how I feel about that. You are not cursed. You have had a wildly successful, syndicated show on the air for five years now. I hardly call that cursed.”
He swallowed a mouthful from his wine glass and let out a long sigh. While oftentimes she could tell what was on his mind, tonight she was unsure what was making him anxious. “What’s bothering you, Grayson?”
He took in a deep breath of the ocean air and exhaled slowly as he looked south, out into the darkness, toward Havana. “I don’t know, Andi. Something is going on. The last couple of episodes were troubling. I’m not sure where it’s going to lead.”
She had come to understand not to pry when he spoke about his spiritual episodes, no matter how vague he tended to be, but she knew it wasn’t just the recent experiences that were troubling him. “You’re worried about the interview Saturday, aren’t you?” She reached her hand out to touch his arm to comfort him.
“Always. Anytime I talk to the media, I get worried.” There were a lot of impressionable nut jobs out there, he thought.
The interview was her idea and while she was well aware of how Grayson loathed the media, she felt it would be a good idea to share a little goodwill and get some positive notes trending in social media for him. “You’ll be great,” she said softly.
“I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about what can go wrong. As soon as I get to talking about myself is when people start getting bad ideas and if it isn’t a media outlet stepping up to the plate to crucify me for being a so-called, product of evil, then it’s some other fool who suddenly becomes fascinated with my gift.” He emphasized the word “gift” with an obviously sarcastic tone – one that Andreanna knew all too well.
“I’ll be there, right by your side, don’t worry,” she reassured. “I already sent the producers our list of questions that are off-limits and the interview is taped so we can always stop everything if it starts to go the wrong way. They also met our condition to conduct the interview away from New York City so you won’t have to worry about any distractions.” Distractions, in this case, meant spiritual activity and New York City was filled with more spiritual unrest than the living population of the city itself.
He sighed again, knowing that he was more than lucky to have her in his life. If he was indeed a cursed man, she was his only blessing.
Grayson Alexander Montgomery was the product of an extremely privileged upbringing with multiple generations of his family making their fortune in the rare gem business and with his father, later forging a very successful career as a master gemologist to the Hamptons, it was almost certain destiny that Grayson, their only child, would carry on the family business. Much to the initial disappointment of his parents, that destiny proved not to be, but nobody could have guessed that his path would have eventually lead to becoming a national celebrity.
Grayson became aware of his gift somewhere around the age of five, while the family was still living in Louisiana. Suddenly he was coming home with different “imaginary friends” every day, each with their unique names and personalities that he would describe to his parents in great detail. What began as a fascinating display of a child’s vivid and growing imagination grew into an issue for which his parents started to have great concern and while the invisible friends seemed to come and go over the years, one “friend” remained consistent – a dog named Jake they could not see but seemingly gave Grayson a lot of joy and supposed companionship over the years.
It wasn’t until his teenage years that he was able to convince his parents that these imaginary friends were actually in fact spirits of dead people following him around. It was almost as if they were attracted to him and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t avoid them. After speaking at length for many years about one particular spirit that kept coming and going by the name of Abraham, Grayson persuaded his parents to go to the cemetery where his imaginary friend was buried just outside of the small town of Lecompte, about two hours northwest of Baton Rouge and nearly three hours from where his family lived at the time in Destrehan. Despite Grayson’s desire to steer clear of cemeteries, he felt it important to endure the trip to prove his ability to his parents. Located about a third-mile down a deserted dirt road off of Interstate 112, Spring Hill Cemetery was an old African-American graveyard overgrown with lush vegetation and filled with neglected vaults and cracked slabs that were left to decay at the hands of time.
At first, the visit didn’t prove to be much in the way of credible proof to corroborate Grayson’s story of this invisible spirit that supposedly befriended him since he could remember, although it was rather peculiar that he was able to guide his parents to this grave when neither he or they had ever been in that cemetery before. His parents were well-to-do people who never drove much ‘into the weeds’ as it were, let alone, trek off the beaten path to a small-town cemetery in the middle of hot and muggy Louisiana. It wasn’t until they arrived at the grave of Abraham McCray when they immediately became intrigued by their son’s story: the cracked and decaying tombstone read that Mr. McCray died on May 5, 1975 – the same day Grayson was born. To add even more hair-raising to the event, he mentioned that Abraham was in the same hospital in Baton Rouge where Grayson was born and when McCray passed, his spirit walked the halls of that hospital, drawn to the newborn wing where Grayson’s brightly glowing aura was beaming. It was at that point that Abraham McCray first befriended Grayson in spirit, becoming aware of his special gift.
According to Grayson, Abraham McCray had the same ability to speak to the dead as he did and over the years Abraham became sort of a spiritual mentor that befriended Grayson and helped him understand his gift. He allowed Grayson to better focus his ability and cut through the noise that was all of the voices of the dead to better serve those spirits when they sought his help.
Technically speaking, Grayson was a medium, a person that could speak with the dead, but as the name of his syndicated television show suggested, he was also a Soul Bringer, a person who attracted souls that were trapped between realms, offering them passage over to the spiritual world.
The curse, as he often put it, started to show its dark potential when Grayson first met Felix, an evil spirit. While Abraham McCray previously warned Grayson of evil souls that existed in the spiritual realm who might attempt to exploit Grayson’s innocent nature and powerful ability, he never spoke about Felix who first appeared when Grayson was seven years old while attending his grandmother’s burial. Even at that age, young Grayson knew that he seemed to be more susceptible to spiritual visits whenever he was around cemeteries, but since this was during a time when his parents didn’t understand, they unknowingly exposed him to the darkness that was Felix.
Felix wasn’t like the other spirits that Grayson had encountered. The others were always friendly, or sometimes uncertain of themselves, but they always stayed just long enough to get to know him before they vanished or wandered away. Felix, on the other hand, was confident and aware of who or what he was and he was very, very angry.
Though he never spoke loudly to Grayson or so much as ever threatened him, he always taunted the little boy with dark and wretched thoughts. Felix even once attempted to coerce seven-year-old Grayson to kill his parents, only to be thwarted by Abraham when he intervened. Like Abraham, what also made Felix different from the other souls is he never seemed to want to cross over to the spiritual world and when he did seem to go away it was never for very long.
As Grayson grew older and the family moved to the Hamptons, he found that as long as he stayed away from cemeteries, Felix wouldn’t visit him. It was almost like the graveyards were doorways for Felix to enter and while there were many times when Grayson could not avoid coming near a cemetery, he did his best to steer clear of them because it seemed Felix was growing darker and more violent with each visit.
Like Grayson, Andreanna Catherine Fallbrook was also an only child. Born to two extremely intelligent Princeton professors and alums - her father from the Department of Mathematics and her mother from the Department of Psychology, it was only fitting that she would pursue one of those disciplines herself when attending the same university where her parents taught, graduating egregia cum laude, the highest honor you can achieve academically, with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. One might suggest that the primary reason why the gorgeous thirty-nine-year-old didn’t get married and have a family was because of the dedication she had to her studies.
Upon graduation, Andreanna was immediately courted by every one of the top one hundred tech companies in the world, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense, only to end up going to work for Grayson Montgomery, a billionaire playboy and media celebrity as what her parents considered as his “assistant”. In reality, Andi’s role with the Montgomery media empire would be more than just her Executive Producer title suggested; she was more his right-hand and information technology lead. She kept Grayson connected to the ever-changing modern world using the latest arsenal of available high-end tech to be sure Grayson and his company were never out of touch with all things digital. To her parents, it appeared nothing more than the end of a surely promising future for their only child and daughter, but for Andreanna, once she learned what he was really about, she was intrigued, astounded and for the first time in her life, overwhelmed. Grayson Montgomery would prove to be the single most challenging problem she would ever put her mind to solving.
As computer technology advanced, Andreanna’s ability to help Grayson did as well. She developed a sophisticated computer program that would sweep a certain radius around him based on his GPS location and check for cemeteries, known locations with violent histories and other potential hot spots that could offer portals for Felix to enter the living realm, such as a morgue or a hospital. When she began with Grayson, she carried a heavy laptop with an onboard database that could only offer limited and usually out-of-date support that would sometimes lead to random and somewhat disturbing encounters with the spirits, but today, she had a custom-built application that ran on a tablet tying into a huge climate-controlled secure network of servers that Grayson paid to keep under tight security twenty-four hours a day. The network was perpetually connected the internet and several thousand other servers, constantly cataloging data about every horrific news and event that involved the loss of lives, while it simultaneously crawled public archives, researching every grave plot in every known cemetery in every location of the world. They now both received alerts on her mobile device anytime the two of them would get within close proximity of a spiritual hot spot.
Andreanna and Grayson had known each other for over ten years and through the years filled with flirting, laughter and memorable evenings, they eventually became a power couple that ruled his media empire. While still not yet man and wife, nights like tonight were bringing that inevitable event closer to reality. One could blame it on the perfect evening with the warm ocean breeze that played a gentle tune in the wind chimes that hung from the roof of his yacht, or maybe it was the two bottles of ridiculously expensive wine they shared as the night went on; or perhaps it was their powerful ten years together, but whatever it was, the evening was making it easier for Grayson to finally commit himself to ask the question. Having just gotten off the phone with his father the gemologist to the Hamptons, he obviously was ready to make this girl an offer he hoped she wouldn’t refuse.
“So, when are you going to tell me about this?” she asked, gently grasping the purple gem that hung around his neck on a platinum metal necklace. Her mouth was very close to his as she looked up from the gem into his eyes. “I’ve noticed you’ve been wearing it lately and I don’t remember seeing it before.”
He smiled and slowly pulled the gem out of her gentle grasp to drop it back into his shirt. “Not just yet,” he whispered, meeting her eyes with his. “I’ll tell you all about it, soon.”
“Oh, are we keeping secrets now?” she said playfully.
“No, I’m just not ready to discuss this yet.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Andreanna muttered skeptically.
The twelve carat Purple Orchid diamond that hung from the heavy chain around his neck was a naturally colored, extremely rare diamond that got its color from an unusually high presence of hydrogen in the stone. The largest stone of its kind in the world, it was priceless and Grayson was wearing it for the sole purpose of attuning it with his ability to see and communicate with the dead. He intended to give the ethereal necklace, the would-be soul stone of Grayson Montgomery, to Andreanna as soon as the gem was fully charged with his astral ability.
“Okay, tell you what,” he said as he placed his wine glass down to fish the metal chain out of his shirt. His impulses and perhaps the moment - and the wine - had gotten the better of him. “I’m going to show you something, but if it gets to be too much, you let me know.”
“Okay,” she said curiously while she eyed the large, sparkling stone as he placed the chain over her head and around her neck.
The purple gem dangled down within her soft cleavage and the expression upon her face immediately changed.
“Oh my God, what is this, Grayson?” she said loudly, grabbing the railing. Her vision suddenly changed, allowing her to see her surroundings differently.
“Give it a few moments for you to adjust to it, Andi”.
“What is happening to me?” She reached for the table, looking around nervously as if she was suddenly losing her balance.
He stood behind Andreanna and wrapped his arms around her. “It’s okay, I’ve got you.” He moved his hands and gently guided her head so she was looking at the floor of the flybridge. Her unsettling feelings immediately dissipate and within moments were replaced with an overwhelming feeling of joy and amazement. “Oh my God, Jake?!” she exclaimed. “Is that him?!”
For the very first time, Grayson was able to finally share with Andi the vision of Jake, his spiritual dog, who was resting on the floor at Grayson’s feet.
She knelt in an attempt to touch the spiritual dog. While she couldn’t physically feel him, the purple gem around her neck gave her a more substantial awareness of his existence that gave Jake more presence to her. “He is so beautiful, Grayson.”
He smiled. “You have no idea what it means to me that you can see him, Andi” Nobody in the living realm had ever seen Jake before except for Grayson and although she knew of his existence, he felt vindicated that he could finally show Jake to her.
She stood and turned to Grayson. “Why have you given me this ability?”
“I wanted you to see the things that I can see. Once that soul stone is fully attuned to my aura, you will be able to see the spirits I see all the time.”
She leaned in to give him a soft kiss on his lips, holding it for an extra few moments. “Grayson, I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything,” he replied, keeping close. “I did it because I love you, Andreanna.”
Looking into his eyes again, she cracked a little smile and kissed him again.