“I think we should turn off the television,” Elizabeth said. “No respectable ghost would appear while we’re watching Saturday Night Live.”
He smiled. “I suppose not. I brought some work to do. I figured I’d better keep my mind on something besides making love to you.”
Her cheeks flushed as she pressed the off button on the front of the set. So did other parts of her body. “I brought a book. At least we can keep ourselves entertained.”
His gaze ran over her, letting her feel his interest head to foot, and hot sparks glittered in his eyes. “I can think of a lot more interesting things we could do, but I guess that’s not going to happen.”
“I guess it isn’t.” Much to her regret. But last night had been a mistake and she wasn’t going to let it happen again. She pulled the paperback out of her purse, a romantic suspense she wouldn’t have brought if she’d remembered how steamy the sex scenes were. She would skip the juicy parts, she vowed, and settled in to read while Zach pored over the pages of a legal brief.
It was getting late. Elizabeth yawned. She checked her watch, saw that it was nearly midnight. Flicking a glance to where Zach leaned back against the sofa, she saw that his eyes were closed, his thick dark lashes fanned out against his cheek. His long legs stretched in front of him and his head rested on the back of the couch. He was sound asleep, and Elizabeth realized she was equally sleepy.
Yawning, she made her way as quietly as possible into the bedroom. As far as she knew, the vision–assuming there was one–had never appeared anywhere except this room. She lay down on the bed, still fully dressed, plumped the pillow behind her head, and closed her eyes. As tired as she was, it didn’t take long to fall asleep.
She wasn’t sure how long she slept or what awakened her. When she opened her eyes, the first thing she noticed was how still the room had grown, the air thicker than it should have been. An odd creak came from the living room, the same sound she had heard when she was in the house before. A few seconds later, the wind began its eerie moaning. She wanted to rush to the window to see if the breeze was real, but she was fairly sure it wasn’t.
She wondered if Zach could hear it, cast a glance toward the living room, and saw that he sat up very straight on the sofa. He could hear it, too, she thought with some relief. At least, she wasn’t imagining things.
Her pulse beat a little faster as the air thickened even more. She could see Zach on the sofa, his head cocked toward another, different sound rising in the distance, the eerie wail of a train whistle, screaming into the blackness of the night. She could hear the ding, ding, ding of the warning bell at the crossing, then the locomotive roaring down the track through the cotton fields on the other side of the highway.
The track crossed the road just north of the house and the place shuddered as the train drew near. But the tracks had been abandoned years ago. She wasn’t even sure the rails were still there.
A chill swept through her as Zach turned to look out the window, but Elizabeth’s attention swung in another direction. Something cold had crept into the bedroom, something so dense and chilling she couldn’t seem to move. She sat frozen on the bed, her heart beating as if it tried to escape through her ribs. Something was there–she could feel it–and an icy fear began to well inside her. The dense air made it hard to breathe, hard to think, and her mind seemed cloudy, her thoughts far away.
The chill was pervasive now, filling the room, stretching into every corner. Her gaze went to Zach who perched on the edge of the sofa, completely alert, waiting to see what would happen next. The atmosphere in the bedroom shifted. The chill remained, but with it now came the cloying scent of roses.
The smell was disgustingly heavy, dense and putrid, a sickening odor that made the bile rise in her throat.
The fear inside her swelled. Her gaze shot to the living room in search of Zach and it must have shone in her eyes. She saw him come to his feet and start moving toward the open bedroom door. Something caught her eye. A faint, translucent light began to appear at the foot of the bed, a wavering, eerie glow barely visible in the room. But Elizabeth was certain it was there, and a strangled sound of fear came from her throat.
Zach stood in the doorway, his feet braced apart, and the minute he heard the sound, he started toward her, his strides long and angry.
“That’s it! That’s enough!” Storming into the bedroom, he came straight to the bed, sat down on the edge, and pulled her into his arms.
“Oh, God, Zach!”
“Easy, baby, it’s over. Everything’s all right. You’re safe now.” He glanced around the room, searching every corner. “Whatever it was is gone.”
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