Paranormal Agency BOOK 1 THE SOULLESS

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chapter 6

Josh didn’t call back that night, so Alison made good on her promise to herself. She was going out for once. As much as she loved being independent, having no one to answer to or be forced to compromise with on a daily basis, there was a small part of her inside that did want those annoying little things in her life. Quite bluntly, she missed having a man.

She was surprised that Greg wasn’t around. Normally, he loved ruining normal outings for her by tagging along in public and making her look as though she were constantly talking to herself. She felt relieved for the break.

Straightening her back, she watched her reflection in the full-length mirror. She was wearing dark jeans and a simple black tank top. Her dark hair was pulled up and she was wearing the faintest amount of mascara and lip gloss. She was tall and boyish in frame, with wider shoulders, small breasts and lean arms. She looked like some kind of athlete, which she wasn’t. On the contrary, she was actually quite lazy.

She sighed, pulling herself away. She didn’t look hot. And unfortunately, not only did she know that she didn’t look hot, but she had no idea how to fix that problem. Men, she hadn’t had around since she was twenty-two, but women she hadn’t had around since she had graduated from high school. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d had a real female friend.

Just spirits.

And Greg.

And exorcisms.

All the time.

Pulling out her pack of cigarettes, she placed one in her mouth and lit it. She wanted friends that were alive. She wanted real people to hang out with, not stupid, dead stalkers like Greg. She inhaled the smoke deeply into her lungs.

But being around the dead so much made it hard to relate to normal people. The things she found interesting to talk about weren’t the things normal people found interesting. She couldn’t go into detail about her conversations with Greg, and gossip about how the older man had a crush on her. She couldn’t laugh about the spirit that had tried to kill her on her last assignment or wonder about the dark image that constantly appeared when something bad was going to happen.

She felt like she lived in an entirely different world all together. She saw things that normal people didn’t see and heard things normal people didn’t hear. She knew it gave her more experience in life, to understand both the material world and the spiritual dimension, a broader scope to view existence from. When she solved problems in her head, she had to examine each of those dimensions in order to do it.

Other people couldn’t do that. They saw only the material world, and skewed their answers based on that limited amount of knowledge. They didn’t realize they were only seeing half the picture.

She grabbed her purse, pulling it over her shoulder. She gave up. She wasn’t thinking about this right now. She was going out and maybe some strong, intelligent, and successful man would meet her and want to whisk her away somewhere where she didn’t have to think about this crap all the time.

A quick glance around showed that Greg was still nowhere to be found. Which was a good thing. Dropping the dying butt to the ground, she crushed it heavily with the bottom of her shoe. She felt like a little kid trying to sneak out of the house at night. Climbing quietly into her car, she started the engine, sending a glance behind her. Coast was clear. Good. She pulled her car from the driveway and started to head down the street. A quick turn onto the freeway would take her directly downtown.

She turned the radio on as she drove and began tapping her fingers anxiously against the steering wheel. She really wasn’t terribly used to these big, crowded, social places. They made her nervous. Still, she might as well give it a shot. It might be worth it if she could have some fun for a night.

It was a half-hour drive. By the time she got there it was around one in the morning. She paid five dollars to park in a crowded lot and began making her way down a crowded street. The entire road was lined in night clubs and bars. She couldn’t decide if she was supposed to pick one and stick with it, or hop around each one until someone interesting came up to her.

She decided it’d be cheaper to pick one and stick with it, seeing as there was a charge at the door of each club. She picked one called The Gold Martini because it had the shortest line. She had only been to it once or twice before. A fifteen-minute wait later and she was headed inside.

Ugh it was loud.

The music blared from the speakers. The entire club was almost completely pitch black, with tables and long booths curving around them. Most of them were filled. She pushed her way further inside, her head bobbing almost three or four inches over most of the other young women. Passing the large dance floor, she made an instant beeline for the bar and took a seat on a tall stool. “A Long Island Iced Tea, please,” she called out to the bartender.

An overweight man with a beard leaned over beside her. “Hey, I haven’t seen you around,” he nearly shouted over the pounding music.

Hardly the attractive, successful and intelligent man she had been hoping for. “I don’t come here that often,” she replied, her tone bored.

The bartender dropped off her drink and she handed him several crumpled bills along with a tip. She took a sip from the oversized glass. Mmm, not bad.

“So, what’s your name?” the man continued, scratching at greying hair on top of his head. He was giving her a funny look. It was that funny look old guys gave young girls when they thought they had the opportunity to cheat on their wives for a night.

“John,” she said, starting to get annoyed. This wasn’t why she came out. She stood up, her drink in her hand as she started walking away from the bar and back toward the dance floor. Taller than most of the girls, she noted grimly, and taller than a lot of the guys there too. Being 5′8" wasn’t easy on a woman. Where were all the six foot guys at anyway? She needed six feet and up.

Joshua Hunter had been around 6′2" or so, she noted to herself. Though she wished she wouldn’t. As determined as she was to think of him as just a client and not humiliate herself further by bothering him with her high school crush, it was hard to not think of him in that way. The guy was tall, he was good looking, and he was sweet too.

Hell, she even looked forward to him calling her again. So much so, that it had actually offended her when he didn’t call her back that night, and that went beyond being unprofessional.

She decided she needed to take her mind off Mr. Joshua. Too bad she didn’t have any friends. This would probably be a lot more fun if she had come with a group of some kind, or at least one other female. Her eyes spotted an attractive face sitting at a table and she stepped a little closer. Since no one was trying to meet her, she was just going to have to try and meet them. “Hi,” she said. She felt like she was screaming over the music.

“Hey,” the guy replied. “What’s up?”

“You wanna dance?”

The guy agreed. “Sure.” He stood up. All was revealed. All four feet and eleven inches of his height. Hmmm. Alison frowned. Uh oh. She looked ridiculous standing next to him. He came up to her left boob.

“I’ll be right back,” she said instead, flashing him a strained smile. “I’m going to go put my drink down.” She scurried off into the crowd. Did that make her shallow? She wanted to shriek it. Was it so much to ask for a good looking, attractive, amazing, intelligent, successful young man that was at least six feet tall! Was that really so much to want in life? Apparently it was.

She couldn’t help it. She pulled her cell phone from her purse, curious if Joshua Hunter had called back yet. No missed calls. Maybe he hadn’t gotten the message yet? But then again, what was she so disappointed about? She wasn’t supposed to get mad if a client didn’t call back right away, anyway.

A new guy caught her eye. She raised a brow, watching as he stood against the wall between a crowd of younger men and woman, a cigarette in his hand. Strangely enough, the guy was dead.

She approached him, curious as to what he was doing there. She pulled up along beside him, leaning against the wall and placing a cigarette of her own to her lips. “You waiting for someone?” she asked the spirit finally.

The man nodded, blowing out a puff of smoke. Not a real cigarette. Obviously he was dead. But sometimes the things left on a person right before they died could still be used by them in the afterlife. It wasn’t so much that those things were still real, but that the spirit could imagine them, and make use of those items from their memory. In the same way that spirits are often seen wearing the same clothing they died in, despite the fact that the clothing, as material things, no longer exist. Better than them running around totally naked all the time, she supposed.

“Who’re you waiting for?” she asked in curiosity.

“My girlfriend,” he said.

She took a glance around, noticing that several clubbers had noticed her talking to nobody. They must’ve thought she was crazy. She decided this was more important than what other people thought. She lit her own cigarette. “You think she’s gonna show up?”

The man nodded. “Oh yeah. She’ll show up. She always does.”

Alison turned to look at the man. His clothes were only slightly outdated. He wore stone-washed jeans, extra baggy that sagged at his hips. He wore a denim jacket over a neutral-colored shirt. She pegged him for an early nineties kind of guy. She noticed a bleeding wound showed from his stomach. It looked like a gun wound. “Did it hurt?” she asked.

“Did what hurt?” he asked.

“When you got shot?”

“Was I shot?” he asked, looking stumped.

She gestured to the wound in his stomach. “Looks like it stung.”

He looked down as well, running a hand over the gushing wound. He paused then, not moving at all. It felt as though he stared at it for a very long time before saying anything again. Finally, he turned to look at her, giving her a small smile. “I think I see what you’re getting at.”

“Do you now?”

“I’m dead, aren’t I?”

She nodded, turning her gaze to the dance floor in the distance. She let out a breath of smoke. “Yep. Dead as a doornail.”

“At least I know what was taking her so long,” he said. “Feels like I’ve been waiting here so long. I guess that’s why. She’s not coming then, is she?”

“Don’t take it personal or anything.”

He smiled again, looking down at the ground. “I think I’m going to cry.”

“Be tough about it,” Alison replied. “Real men don’t cry.”

“I guess.” He turned to look at her. “So what are you? Some kind of psychic or something?”

“You could call me that. That’s what I call it.”

“I never thought you people really existed. Was it something you were born with?”

Alison shook her head. “No. It just kind of came at me…. All at once one day.”

“That’s crazy,” he said. He looked up. Alison could see what he was seeing. A glowing light. White and full of warmth. But she wondered if maybe he could see more of it than she could. “I think I have to go now.”

“I’ll see you around then.”

“Yeah. I’ll see you around,” he agreed. “Thanks for that. The wakeup call. I think I really needed that.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied.

So much for reacquainting herself with the living. Even when she went out she got along better with the dead. She noticed a few of the guys were still watching her. They thought she was out of her mind. “Something wrong?” she asked them finally, trying to keep the annoyance from her voice.

“Why… are you like… talking to yourself?” the guy asked, looking dumbfounded.

“I wasn’t talking to myself,” she said, smiling at him. She snuck a hand into her purse and quickly pulled out an earpiece that went to her cell phone. She held it up, giving it a little shake. “See?” she lied. “I was on the phone.” Pretending the idea was absolutely outrageous, she added with a little laugh. “Why? What did you think I was doing?”

“Oh, is that all that was?” the guy laughed. “I’m sorry about that. I just thought it looked kind of strange.”

Strange indeed.

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