“This pastry is delicious. Want one?” Shelly held a cream filled cake in the air. “Oh, I forgot you can’t eat anything.”
“That isn’t nice, Shelly.” Allen wondered why she was being mean. “And stop sneering at me with cream all over your lips!”
“Well I don’t like you making fun of Dr. Lasker while he’s talking to me. I’ll bet he
thinks I’m making up these things you say. I’m sure he didn’t like my laughing at Loco Lasker one bit.”
“Okay. Fair enough. I’ll only make fun of him when he’s not around. Which is like never!” Allen was finding it increasingly difficult to not react to Shelly’s flirtatiousness, or what he thought of as her flirting with every man around her. What the hell is wrong with me, he asked himself, totally thrown by these confusing emotions. Who knew a ghost could feel such weird emotions?
Shelly was frustrated too, but mostly by how difficult and sarcastic Allen sometimes sounded. “Don’t you want him to help you? If anyone can do it, it’s him. Why don’t you like him?” Shelly gobbled up the Danish. “He is the most experienced in this field we’re going to
find here. Last night when I told him how you thought you were murdered, I could tell he felt something. He looked sad, Allen, like he really cared.”
“That guy only cares about himself and his work. He’s an egomaniac who wants to build up his department and his own reputation. He’ll use anyone he can to achieve his goals…human or ghost.”
“So what’s wrong with that? He is ambitious and wants to build his department. Those aren’t bad things. If we help him, he will help us. Allen, we need his help. Something, or someone, has tried to kill me three times already.”
“And I saved you three times.”
“I know, and I’m grateful. But what if you’re not there?” Shelly sighed, aware she had vocalized something she’d been worried about for a while. “Unless we find out who is after me, and why, there may come a time when you are not around and--”
“That’s never going to happen! I will always be here to protect you. I don’t know why but I know that we are linked, destined to be together until….”
“Until I become a ghost too?” Shelly asked. “Never trust a man…or a ghost,” echoed in her brain. “Is that what you really want, Allen?”
“That’s not what I was going to say,” Allen replied, sounding upset. “I would never hurt you.” But he couldn’t help wondering if her becoming a ghost would solve everything? Maybe that is why she was there two days ago? Is that our fate? “I could never wish that for you,” he said softly.
Shelly wanted to believe him, but she had also wanted to believe her father and Jeff. “I believe you, Allen,” she said, but knew she still had her doubts.
Allen felt what she was feeling and wished he could tell her what was in his heart: I would never want her to go through something like this…not even if she could be with me forever. “Shelly, you have to believe me. I am only interested in protecting you.”
Shelly smiled. “But you know someone is after me, and I know it could happen sooner than later unless we figure out what this is all about.” Shelly was trying to be calm, but the
thought that someone wanted her dead was terribly frightening. She wanted to eliminate Allen as a suspect, but trust did not come easy for her. “I’m living on borrowed time now,” she said.
“There have already been three attempts. Who knows what’s next?” Allen was silent.
“Allen, are you here?”
“Shelly, I didn’t think about all this before. I figured I would always be able to protect
“I believe you want to protect me, but if you find out who you are and where you belong, it would not be fair to keep you here just to keep me safe. Please, Allen, please try and behave yourself only for a little while and let’s give this doctor a chance? I’ve changed my major and am moving out of my dorm.”
“You’re what? You can’t do that! It isn’t safe here! I heard all kinds of sounds here.
There’s something weird going on. You can’t stay here.”
“You’ll be here with me. I’ll be fine and soon we’ll have our answers and then we’ll both be free.” Shelly wiped her lips with a cloth napkin, something unheard of in the student cafeteria where they used brown paper towels that felt like sand paper. “We’ll both be free. Isn’t that
“We’ll both be free?” Allen sighed. How free can I possibly be without you, he thought. “Okay. I give up. You are one strong female and maybe you’re right? I will give this Loco Lasker a chance, but only for just so long, and only if he treats you right.”
“Thank you,” Shelly said. “And I promise to do whatever I can to help you find out who you are.”
“Because you want to get rid of me,” Allen said. “No. Because I want my life back,” Shelly replied.
“Don’t you think I want that too,” Allen said. “I’d give anything I ever owned to have my life back.”
Shelly heard the pleading in his voice and immediately felt sorry for him. She wished she could grant him his wish even if it meant giving up something she loved herself. “Allen, I wish I could give you that back. I really do.”
“I believe you.”
“I think you must have been a fine man,” Shelly said softly. “I think you have a very kind and caring heart…when you’re not busting my chops.”
“I wish to hell I knew,” Allen muttered and left the room.
“I bet you had a wife and children who loved you,” Shelly continued, not knowing Allen had left the room.
When Allen didn’t reply, Shelly sipped silently at her coffee and finally called to him. “Allen? Allen?” He either wasn’t answering or he had left the room. In either case, Shelly felt a strange emptiness at sitting alone at the table sipping her coffee. Isn’t this what I wanted, she asked herself.