I stared at Kenji, mouth open.
“Are you serious?”
“Well, why not?” he asked, sitting down again. “Your ghost isn’t going anywhere, so rather than sitting around twiddling our thumbs, waiting for Pinky, let’s go out and do something.”
I looked at him in silence.
“If it’s the ‘date’ part you’re worried about, we don’t have to call it that,” he said softly.
I looked down at my feet, scraping my shoes against the ground.
Kenji stood, abruptly.
“Okay as in ‘okay, let’s go out on a date’, or as in ‘okay, we won’t call it a date’…?”
“Let’s go out…” I cleared my throat. “…on a date.”
I glanced up at Kenji. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“Okay!” he said brightly, and I felt myself beginning to grin as well.
“So, what did you have in mind?”
“Huh…” he said thoughtfully. “I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”
I gave an amused snort as he frowned, trying to think of something.
“I guess, first of all, we could go have lunch.”
“Okay. You pick a place.”
We walked a few blocks, finally settling on a small place where we ordered grilled sandwiches. We sat in a corner and enjoyed our food while making quiet small talk.
“We haven’t really spent any time like this, just you and me, before,” Kenji said, smiling at me. “It’s nice.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. I looked up, meeting his eyes. The look in them made my heart flutter.
“Can I ask you something?” I said, finishing the last of my sandwich.
“How come you’re not seeing anyone?”
Kenji raised his eyebrows.
“I always figured you’d be dating someone by now, but Matt and Jeff said you haven’t been seeing anyone at all. I’m just curious,” I shrugged.
“Well…” he leaned forward, putting his elbows on the table, and looked me deeply in the eyes. “Why move on when you know something’s worth waiting for? It’s kinda pointless… don’t you think?”
I couldn’t stop myself from blushing.
“I guess…” I said, turning my head away. He laughed quietly.
After lunch we went for a walk, showing each other our favorite stores. I took Kenji to the place where I buy most of my clothes. He bought himself a black leather jacket, in which he looked good enough to eat. After we left the store Kenji showed me an awesome used bookstore called “Alex’s Dungeon”, that specialized in sci-fi, horror, fantasy and graphic novels. I could have browsed in there for hours. I was happy to find a short story collection by Poppy Z. Brite that I hadn’t read yet.
When they saw me, the two guys that worked there started whispering to each other. As I walked to the register to pay for the book, one of them cleared his throat.
“Hey… you’re Ash Lucas, right?”
“Yeah…?” I said, surprised.
“I knew it!” he whispered to the other guy. “I saw you at that exhibition a while back. I love your work. I’m Alex, I own the store.”
“I’m John,” the other guy introduced himself.
“It’s a great store,” I said, shaking their hands. “I’ll definitely be coming here again.”
“Awesome,” Alex said, then glanced at the book I had placed on the counter. “Listen, how about a trade: I’ll let you have that book free of charge if you’ll sign this.”
He rolled out a poster from Grave Dirt, of a woman in a Victorian mourning dress, holding her dead lover in her arms. Next to them is his opened grave, a shovel sticking out of it. One of my best designs.
“You’ve got a deal,” I said. Alex fished out a black marker from a drawer and handed it to me. I signed the poster, shook his hand again, then me and Kenji left.
“It feels really glamorous, going out with a celebrity,” Kenji smirked, nudging my shoulder.
“Shut up!” I laughed.
We walked around for another hour, then we went back to Kenji’s place to drop off our stuff and change clothes, as we were going to dinner and then to the club later. I rummaged through my bag, looking for something to wear. I hadn’t really paid attention to what clothes I’d shoved in there when I packed the bag. I was in luck: I had a nice, black shirt and my best pair of jeans. Not too shabby. I ran my fingers through my hair and went out into the living room.
Once I got a look at Kenji I felt my heart beat a little faster. He had on a midnight blue long sleeved t-shirt that clung to his body, black jeans and boots. His new leather jacket was slung over his arm. He smiled when he saw me and stood looking at me in silence.
“You look great,” he said after a minute.
“So do you.”
I grabbed my wallet and jacket and we left. We had decided to forgo the usual place this time, and had instead decided on a small Italian place. I had mushroom tagliatelle and Kenji had the carbonara. For dessert we shared a piece of chocolate cake and had espresso.
I was really enjoying myself. I was surprised at how easy it was, being out on a real date with Kenji like this. Not once had I hesitated or questioned if I was really ready for something like this. I had thought I would be a nervous wreck, but I wasn’t. I was remarkably at calm.
After dinner we went to the club. We sat down by the bar, and ordered a couple of beers. We sat talking, when someone next to me drawled:
“Well, look who’s here!”
I turned my head and made a face when I saw it was Benny, the guy from the night Ryan attacked me, standing there with an ugly smirk on his face.
You sure have lousy timing. Asshole.
I tried ignoring him but he placed himself between me and Kenji and put his arm around my shoulders.
“What do you want?” I growled, squirming away from his arm.
“Nothing,” he said, leaning in towards me. “Just thought you might be interested in finishing what you started that time.”
“Thanks, but no thanks,” I said, giving him a stiff smile. He snorted and shook his head, then turned to Kenji.
“Hey, buddy, I wouldn’t waste my time on this one if I were you. Worst fucking tease I ever met in my life. You’ll wind up with nothing but blue balls for your trouble.”
Kenji tilted his head a little and looked curiously at Benny. Then, suddenly he laughed.
“Oh, man! You’re in such deep shit!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Even as we speak, your girlfriend is going through your computer. She’s already found several interesting photos of you and a guy in a Darth Vader helmet.” He grinned. “I must say that’s a very creative use of a plastic lightsaber.”
I let out a short laugh. Benny paled.
“How did you know…?”
“If I were you, I’d be more worried about what she’s going to… oh, wait. She’s calling your cell right now.”
“I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but…”
Benny silenced as his cell phone started ringing. He took one shocked look at Kenji, then walked away to take the call. Walking towards the exit, we heard him yell: “No, honey, please!”, then he rushed out of the club.
“I wonder what she said to him.”
“She threatened to torch his collection of sports memorabilia.”
I laughed so hard my eyes watered. Kenji just smiled softly at me. When we had finished our beers he nodded towards the dance floor.
“Would you like to dance?”
He took my hand and led me out on the dance floor. The song playing was a club mix of some sort, but Kenji just put his arms around my waist, pulled me close, and we started slowly swaying to ourselves, ignoring the music.
Closing my eyes, I pressed myself a little closer to him and rested my head on his shoulder. His hands lightly caressed my back and I could feel him nuzzling against the side of my head. I smiled to myself when I realized that he was smelling my hair.
“Ash?” he whispered into my ear.
“I know I was stupid to ask you out that time… I knew deep down that you weren’t ready to start seeing anyone, but I lo… liked you too much to stop myself, and I only ended up hurting myself and making things uncomfortable between us. I was wrong then, to do that…” He pulled back a little to look into my eyes. “…but I don’t think I’m wrong in asking you now if you’re ready to give me a chance?”
I looked at him, that gorgeous man who was gazing at me, his beautiful brown eyes glowing, his lips slightly parted. I ran my index finger over his bottom lip, then leaned over and kissed him, softly pressing my lips against his. As we kissed, one of his hands caressed the back of my neck, and the other softly glided down my waist to come to rest on my hip. Even those innocent touches was enough to make me shudder.
I parted my lips and his tongue slipped inside my mouth and met mine. They glided and twisted together as our mouths pressed harder against each other. He broke this kiss and pressed his lips against the side of my neck, then lightly scraped his teeth against my skin.
“Kenji…” I breathed, holding back a groan, as I pulled away to look at him. “I can’t promise that I’ll never hesitate… that I’ll always feel as unafraid as I do right now… but I want you to know that I trust you… and I’m going to try.”
He smiled at me, looking so happy it made me smile, too. He nodded.
“Okay,” he said softly.
I pressed closer against him again, and kissed the spot beneath his ear as I whispered:
“So let’s go back your place.”
We rode the cab in silence. When we arrived, Kenji unlocked the door and held it open for me. I went inside, and as I was taking off my shoes Kenji’s arms snaked around my waist from behind. He kissed the side of my neck as his hands slid up underneath my shirt. They caressed the skin on my belly before moving higher, up on my chest. I gasped slightly when they brushed over my nipples.
Tilting my head to give him better access to my neck, I reached back with one arm and ran my fingers through his hair. I moaned when he sucked on my neck and brushed my nipples again. He moved his hands out from under my shirt and ran them up over my sides, then started unbuttoning my shirt. He slipped it off my shoulders and let it fall to the floor.
Reaching around my waist again, he opened the fly to my jeans and pulled them down. I stepped out of them, kicking them aside, then stepped on my socks to pull them off. Grabbing my hips, Kenji pressed his body against me. I could feel his hardness through his jeans and moaned as his hand started rubbing mine through my underwear.
His hands on my hips, he walked me into the bedroom, then turned me around and pushed me down to sit on the bed. Wide eyed, I stared as he began undressing for me, first shrugging off his jacket and then pulling his shirt over his head. He took off his boots, then unbuttoned the fly to his jeans and pulled them down. He stepped out of them, then removed his socks.
He approached me where I was sitting on the edge of the bed. I put my arms around his waist and pulled him in to stand between my legs. I leaned my forehead against his stomach, then kissed the smooth, golden skin. I planted little kisses all around his belly button, brushing the skin with my tongue.
Kenji pulled me up and kissed me hard. We fell backwards onto the bed, Kenji on top of me. Kissing furiously, our hands explored each other’s bodies. He abandoned my lips and moved his mouth to the side of my neck and I moaned as I felt little licks, kisses and bites on my skin.
I ran my hands over his back, tracing his spine with my fingers down to the small of his back, then slipped my hands inside his underwear, cupping his ass and squeezing. His breath was warm against my neck as he made a little pleasured noise.
His mouth moved further down; he traced my collarbone with his soft lips, then scooted down a little bit to fasten them around my left nipple. He did wicked things to it with the tip of his tongue, at the same time slipping his hand in between our bodies and inside my underwear, to finally close it around my erection.
“Ah!” I gasped as he started slowly stroking me. His hand felt so good, so good…
“Kenji…” I panted. “I want to see you. Let me see you…”
“I want to see you, too,” he whispered. He rolled off me onto his back. Lying on my side, I propped myself up on me elbow and watched as he hooked his thumbs in his underwear and pulled them down. I couldn’t help licking my lips as his rigid shaft was revealed. It twitched a little as I reached out and ran my finger along its length.
It’s perfect… so hot… so hard.
I sat up. Kneeling on the bed, I stared into his eyes as I pulled down my own underwear and wriggled out of them. Kenji’s eyes glowed as he looked at me.
“You’re beautiful…” he whispered.
I smiled softly.
“So are you.”
Straddling him, I leaned down and kissed him, then began kissing my way down his chest. I briefly teased his nipples with my teeth and tongue, then kept moving further down. I stroked his thighs with my hands, parting his legs so that I could kneel between them. Leaning down, I kissed the base of his cock, then trailed my lips up over the shaft. Taking it in my hand, I wrapped my lips around the head, taking it in my mouth, sucking gently.
“Oh, god…” Kenji groaned.
I ran my tongue over the head, pushing the tip against the slit, then I pushed my lips further down the shaft and, sucking a little harder, I started bobbing my head.
I could hear Kenji moaning, and I could feel him running his fingers through my hair as I moved my mouth on his cock. Looking up, I saw him watching me, biting his lower lip. I let his sex slip from my mouth.
“I want you,” I whispered, licking my wet lips. “I want you inside me.”
“Come here,” he breathed.
I crawled up the bed. He gently pushed me down to lie on my stomach and spread my legs. Reaching into the drawer on his nightstand he retrieved lube and a condom. He smoothed his hands down over my back, down to my ass. I moaned with anticipation, closing my eyes when I felt him spreading my cheeks… and when I felt his tongue licking the sensitive skin around my opening, I grabbed a pillow and pressed my face into it to stifle my groans.
Thrills of pleasure raced through my body as his tongue teased my entrance, pushing and swirling around the rim. When it slipped inside I pushed the pillow away, moaning loudly and grabbing fistfuls of sheet. Then he removed his tongue.
“No…oooaah!” My protest to the loss of his tongue became a moan of pleasure as he quickly replaced it with a lubed finger. I squirmed and panted as he stretched me, adding another finger, scissoring them inside me. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I begged shamelessly for him to take me.
“Please…! Please, I need you! Fuck me!”
He rolled me over onto my back. I watched as he rolled the condom down over his cock, whimpering in anticipation as he lowered himself onto me. He positioned himself at my entrance. Caressing my cheek with one hand, he looked into my eyes as he pushed, and when the head popped inside, he leaned down and gently kissed me. It was such a tender gesture, I felt a lump forming in my throat.
He slid into me very slowly, sucking and kissing my neck and shoulder, until he was completely inside me. Then he stilled, letting my body adjust. I looked up and met his eyes, and the look in them took my breath away.
Then he started moving.
No one had ever made love to me the way Kenji did that night. No one had ever made my body feel so alive with pleasure. And I’ll say this: Kenji may have psychic gifts, but I’m convinced that even if he hadn’t, he would still have instinctively known how to make me feel that good. Just as I instinctively knew how to make him feel good. We were completely in sync.
He moved slowly at first, with long, sliding strokes. I grabbed onto his shoulders, wrapping my legs around his waist.
“Unh!” I moaned when he shifted his angle and found my prostate. Nuzzling his lips against my neck, he started thrusting harder and harder until he was pounding into me. I pushed my hips up to meet his thrusts, and dug my fingers hard into his back. I could hear him moaning my name, over and over:
Sweat broke out on our skin. Our moans filled the room. Heat was building fast inside my body. I whimpered, holding on to him for dear life, biting down on his shoulder. My body trembled… and for the first time ever, I came without having touched my cock.
I screamed and thrashed in his arms, orgasming so violently I almost passed out. I was only vaguely aware of Kenji coming as well, groaning as he held me tight against his body.
We lay still for a while in a panting, sweaty, trembling pile. I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. All I could do was think:
Oh, my god… Oh, my god…
Kenji recovered first; he carefully pulled out of me, and went to the bathroom to dispose of the condom. I could hear the shower turning on, then Kenji returned.
“Come on. Let’s wash off,” he smiled, holding out his hand to me. My legs were still shaky, and he had to help me up, causing us both to laugh. We went to the bathroom and stepped in the shower, washing away our sweat and my release from our bodies, then we dried off and returned to the bed, snuggling up against each other, sharing slow kisses until we finally drifted off to sleep.
* * * * * *
The sound of a phone disturbed my sleep, followed by Kenji’s voice. Yawning, I rubbed my fingers against my eyes, then glanced at Kenji, sitting up in bed talking to someone on the phone. He sounded about as exhausted as I felt.
“…yeah, I would really appreciate it. Okay. All right, we’ll see you later.”
He ended the call, flopped down on the bed with a deep groan. When he noticed that I was awake, he smiled and pulled me into his arms, kissing me deeply.
“Hi,” he whispered against my lips.
“Hi,” I smiled, stroking his hair.
“That was Pinky on the phone. She came back a day early, and she said she’d see us later.”
I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. I wouldn’t have minded staying in bed with Kenji all day long. Kenji laughed softly and nibbled on my earlobe.
“You know… she didn’t exactly specify how much later. She just said not before lunch… so that means we have some time.”
Laughing, I shoved him down, and crawled on top of him, straddling his lap. I could already feel him growing. Smiling wickedly, I wriggled my hips, grinding into him. Still smiling, he made a pleasured little noise deep in his throat, then retaliated by leaning up and bite my nipple when I leaned over to the nightstand to get lube and a condom, making me yelp.
“Jerk!” I giggled. He looked awfully smug. “Fine,” I said. “If you’re not gonna behave…” I rolled my hips, feeling his cock grow even harder, “…then I might as well just sit here…” I rolled my hips again, “…until you do.”
“Cruel,” he half laughed, half moaned. I rolled my hips again, feeling his cock slide against my crack.
“Are you gonna behave…?” I asked. He nodded eagerly.
“I promise!” There was a hint of desperation in his voice. Deciding to stop teasing him (and I couldn’t wait any longer either), I scooted back, releasing his cock. Tearing open the condom wrapper, I rolled it down his shaft. Taking some lube in my hands, I smoothed it over his dick, then reached back and lubed up myself. I moved into position, placing him at my hole, then sank down, moaning and throwing my head back.
When I had him completely inside me I was still for a minute, eyes closed, savoring the wonderful feeling. Then I started moving, rising and pushing down, slowly at first, then more forcefully. Kenji held his hand at my hips, helping me move, and thrusting up into me every time I descended.
I needed more. I moved faster, riding him as hard as I could, tightening my channel around his cock.
“God…!” Kenji panted, “You’re so amazing… feels so good….!”
I was so close. When I suddenly felt Kenji’s hand on my cock I went over the edge and spurt my seed all over him. He pulled me down and pressed me to his chest, my come squishing between us, and thrust up hard into me one more time as he came, filling the condom.
I lay still in his arms for a while, my head against his heaving chest, feeling his heart beat. Then suddenly, I started giggling.
“What?” Kenji asked, raising his head to look at me.
“Nothing,” I smiled. “Just… wow.”
Kenji started laughing along with me.
“Yeah…” he kissed the top of my head. “…wow.”
* * * * * *
Later in the day, we arrived at the apartment building where the mysterious Pinky lived with her husband.
“Remember,” Kenji said before ringing the bell. “Don’t give her any information about what’s been happening in the apartment. She wants to be able to sense everything herself.”
“Okay,” I nodded.
He rang the bell, and I could immediately hear footsteps on the other side. When the door opened, I couldn’t help raising my eyebrows in surprise. I had had many ideas on how this woman may look, but none of them were even close to the actual thing.
She was in her early fifties, still quite beautiful. She was of average height, had a round figure and shoulder-length strawberry blond hair. She was dressed in black pants and a silk blouse, and looked very classy and elegant. So I was utterly stunned when the first thing she did was to point at my neck and exclaim:
“Damn! Check out that mother of a hickey!”
I gasped and covered my neck with my hand. Kenji snorted and pursed his lips, holding back laughter. She giggled and leaned over, pulling my hand away.
“I had a boyfriend once when I was sixteen who gave me hickeys like that” she said as she took a closer look. “Where does the time go?”
She smiled dreamily, then her smile faded a little. She must have noticed the other marks on my neck. Without commenting on them, she held out her hand.
“Long time no see, Kenji. And this, of course must be Ash. Glad to know you, I’m Pinky.”
“Hi.” I shook her hand.
“Don’t you look good enough to eat,” she said with a wicked smile, looking me up and down. “What I wouldn’t give to be able to see what the two of you did last night… Oh, wait! I can!” she said, closing her eyes.
My mouth fell open and my face turned tomato red.
“She’s just kidding,” Kenji laughed. “She pretends like she doesn’t, but she does have some decency.”
“Yeah, and boy, does it suck,” she chuckled and stepped aside to let us in. “Come on inside, kids. I’ll make us some coffee.”
We were seated at her kitchen table, eating cookies as she poured coffee for us. She sat down, and took a sip from her cup.
“Okay, I gotta ask,” I said. “How did you get a nickname like ‘Pinky’?”
“Well,” she chuckled, “this one time in the eighties, the spirit of a fourteen-year old girl sort of latched on to me. She had died in an accident. The poor thing was so sad about things she had wanted to do but never got a chance… so I decided to help her out, like taking her to concerts, things like that. And, something else she always wanted to do was to dye her hair neon-pink. And I couldn’t dye her hair, so I dyed my own. That was the last thing on her list. She crossed over after that, and I became permanently known as Pinky.”
“Wow. A ghost can latch on to someone? I thought they stayed in one place.”
“Sometimes they’re attached to a place, other times it’s a person. A loved one, or simply someone they come across. They want something to hold on to. So,” she said cheerfully. “Kenji said you needed my special services.”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Well, you came to the right place. Give me your hand, kiddo.”
I placed my hand in hers. She closed her eyes; after a minute, she opened them again, with a startled look on her face.
“Damn…” she breathed. Taking a deep breath she closed her eyes again, this time for a little longer, maybe ten minutes. When she finally opened her eyes she released my hand and shook her head.
“Did you see… everything that happened?” I asked her.
“I saw bits and pieces. I will need to visit that apartment. You have a seriously determined stalker, Ash” she said darkly. “Let me just…” she leaned over and traced a finger over the marks on my neck.
“Have you ever seen anything like that?” I asked.
She lowered her hand.
“I have seen a lot of things,” she said. “But no, I have never seen anything like that.”
Silence fell for a few minutes, then Kenji cleared his throat.
“So… how do you want to do this?”
“Well…” Pinky pursed her lips thoughtfully. “I think the best thing would be to go there during the night.”
Kenji looked up.
“Wait a minute, are you sure about that? It could be dangerous. I’ve been there, I felt how strong he was.”
“Yes, so I think it’s best to do this at night. It will be easier for me to get through to him.”
Kenji sat silent, a skeptical look on his face.
“Look, Kenji,” she continued, “I really think this is the best course of action. Trust me, I know what I’m doing. I’ve dealt with many malignant spirits before, and I’ve managed to assist every single one of them to the other side. But I could use your help, if that’s okay with you.”
“What, you’d think I let you go up there alone? I’m disappointed in you, Pinky.”
“Such a gentleman,” Pink said fondly.
“Kenji… If you’re going, then so am I.”
Kenji turned to me, a surprised look on his face.
“Ash… you don’t have to…”
“This issue is not open for discussion” I interrupted him. “If you’re going, then I want to come with you.”
“Then I guess you’re coming.” He smiled softly and laced his fingers with mine. We sat there for a minute gazing at each other, until Pinky’s voice made us both start:
“You two are so damn cute!”
I looked away with an embarrassed smile, but kept holding on to his hand.
“Now,” Pinky stood, and began clearing the table. “I don’t think it has to be all that late when we do this, something like 11 p.m. will suffice. I suggest you two go home and rest. Helping a spirit cross over can be emotionally draining.”
We stood and moved to the door.
“Thanks,” I said, turning to Pinky.
“It’s my pleasure, kid.”
“I hope you’re right about this,” Kenji said, patting Pinky on the shoulder.
“Don’t worry,” she smiled. “I can handle it.”
* * * * * *
When we finally did take Pinky’s advice and got some rest it was because we both passed out from post-coital exhaustion. As soon as we got home we were all over each other. We had sex twice, got a shower, had something to eat, had sex again and then finally fell asleep.
This was new to me. And I don’t mean just being horny for someone. This was more than that. It was like now that I finally had a taste of Kenji I simply couldn’t get enough. When our bodies were joined it was as if every single cell of my body was crying out in pleasure. The feeling was just… perfect.
When it was time to go and pick up Pinky, we reluctantly hauled our asses out of bed, got cleaned up and headed out. We picked up Pinky at her place and drove to my apartment. I wasn’t thrilled about going back there, but I was hopeful that maybe Pinky could fix this and I could have my home back.
As we pulled up outside the building and got out of the car, Pinky closed her eyes and stood still for a moment.
“I can feel him very strongly, all the way out here. Anger… hatred… sadness.”
She opened her eyes and looked at Kenji.
“It’s intense, I’ll give you that.”
We went inside. As I was about to unlock the door I took a deep breath. Kenji placed his hand over mine as I pushed the key inside the lock.
“You don’t have to.”
“I know. It’s okay. I can do this.”
I tried to give him a reassuring smile, then I opened the door. Pinky rummaged through a big bag she’d brought, and pulled out a votive candle in a glass holder.
“Don’t turn on any lights,” she said as she lit it. “This candle will be enough. There’s a reason things like our friend here mostly go bump in the night: they like the dark.”
We stepped inside. Almost instantly the door swung shut behind us with a bang. Startled, we stared at it for a moment, then Pinky handed the candle to Kenji and stepped inside the living room. Like Kenji had done before, she slowly paced around the room, sometimes stopping to touch something or close her eyes in deep concentration.
“You weren’t kidding,” she said after a few minutes, glancing at Kenji. “His energy is so incredibly strong… it’s spread out, into the walls… the ceiling…” She turned to me. “His obsession with you is… I can’t describe it. I can hear him whispering about you. One moment, he’s talking about loving you for all eternity and the next he says that you’re a liar who deserves to die.”
Kenji placed a hand on my shoulder, and at the same moment a framed picture flew off the wall. Pinky turned to Kenji.
“I think it’s best if you don’t touch Ash for now… He doesn’t like it, and he’s already pissed off enough without us making it worse.”
Kenji nodded uneasily, and let his hand rest at his side.
“Yeah… I feel it, too.”
Pinky closed her eyes again, then moved towards the bathroom. She peeked inside.
“Blood came up out of the toilet…” she muttered. “…and you found something. Something that wasn’t supposed to be here… The card… with his blood on it. You found it in the cabinet.”
“I thought it was a dream,” I said quietly.
“No… I don’t think it was. He made it happen.”
She closed the bathroom door and took a deep breath. Then she moved towards my work room.
“He wants us to look in there.”
Kenji and I followed her. When I stepped inside I quietly gasped. Several of my sketches and some completed designs were thrown in a heap on the floor, some of them ripped apart. My drawing table was turned over. On the wall facing the window, was written the word ‘MINE’, in big, black letters.
Looking away from the word on the wall, I stared at my ruined work on the floor.
“Ash…?” Kenji’s worried voice broke the silence.
“I’m okay,” I whispered. “I can do them over again, it’s okay.”
It wasn’t okay. I poured my heart and soul into my work. It hurt like hell to see them lying there like trash. Taking a deep breath, I turned away and we all left the room.
“Okay,” Pinky said, standing in the middle of the living room. “I think that it’s best we got down to business now. I’m going to help him over to the other side.”
Placing her hands over her chest, she closed her eyes with a deep breath. She stood completely still for a long time, almost as if she was asleep standing up. Then suddenly, her face began to twitch and her body started shaking. She made a pained noise in her throat.
“Pinky!” Kenji placed his hand on her shoulder. She opened her eyes. Pushing Kenji aside, she marched up to me, gripping my arms with surprising strength.
“Mine!” she growled. “Get it through your head that you’re mine! I’ll make you pay for deceiving me, for making me think you wanted me. I’m taking you with me, and we will be together forever whether you want to or not!”
Kenji grabbed her wrists and tried to pry her hands away from me.
“Fight him, Pinky!” he yelled. “You can do it! Fight him! Force him out!”
“Get… out… leave… my… body…!” Pinky groaned, and then fell down on her knees, panting.
“Are you okay?” Kenji asked, placing his hand on her shoulder.
“Yeah…” she said weakly, getting up. “He slipped in through my defenses… that’s never happened to me before.”
“Maybe we should stop now.”
“No… I want to give it another try. You help me this time. Hand Ash the candle and give me your hand.”
Kenji linked his hand with Pinky and they both closed their eyes. As I stood there watching them, I suddenly felt a strange feeling inside my stomach… and then I was lifted up into the air, flying towards the work room. I caught a glimpse of Kenji and Pinky’s startled faces, and then I was dropped on the floor of the work room, and the door swung shut.
I stumbled up on my feet, rushed to the door and tried to open it, but it was stuck. Not even the handle would move. I could hear Kenji pounding on the door from the other side.
“Ash! Are you okay?!”
“Yeah, I…” I turned my head. “Oh, shit!”
“What? What is it?”
I’d still been holding the candle when I was dropped on the floor of the room. Somehow, the flame hadn’t been extinguished and the pile of my ruined sketches had now caught fire, fueled by the wax from the candle.
I moved towards the fire to try and stomp it out, but I was thrown against the wall, and hard slaps rained over my face. I fell down on the floor, and an unseen hand closed around my throat.
“No…!” I managed to croak. Then I felt another hand grabbing on to my hair, and my head was banged hard on the floor.
Dizziness flooded my head. Everything seemed to be floating. I was vaguely aware of shouts, bangs… and then a shrill, ringing sound. I could feel heat. The pressure from the hand on my throat. Stinging smoke in my nostrils. I couldn’t breathe. There was an excited growling in my ear… and then I was swallowed by darkness.
* * * * * *
He killed me.
“Ash! Wake up!”
He really killed me this time.
“Baby, please! Wake up!”
Coughing and gasping for air, I opened my eyes. The first thing I saw was Kenji’s tear-streaked face, smiling with relief, clasping my hand. We were outside the building. I was lying on a stretcher in an ambulance, and oxygen mask over my face. I could see firemen and people moving around in the background, and Pinky, hovering anxiously by the ambulance. I weakly raised my free hand and gave a little wave, and she smiled at me.
“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine,” a medic said reassuringly to Kenji who nodded, not taking his eyes off me. I squeezed his hand, and drifted off to sleep.
* * * * * *
“So, what happened?”
It was the next day in the afternoon. I was sitting up in my hospital bed, not in too terrible shape: mild smoke-inhalation and a concussion (again) from when my head was banged on the floor. Pinky was sitting in a chair, and Kenji was sitting on the side of the bed, his arm around me.
“Well,” he said, kissing my forehead, “I managed to break the door down while Pinky pulled the fire alarm. You…” he stopped and cleared his throat. “You were lying on the floor, passed out. I was afraid you… ” He pulled me a little closer. “The fire had spread, to the walls and your drawing table. I picked you up and got you out, and Pinky got the fire extinguisher from the hall and used it on the fire. It was out when the fire department arrived. Your work room is pretty messed up now, but the rest of the apartment is undamaged.”
“Ash…” Pinky stood and moved closer. “I’m so sorry. It’s my fault. I underestimated him. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault.” I smiled at her. “It’s okay.”
She brushed a few tears off her face and smiled.
“So…” I took a deep breath… “Is there nothing that can be done about…?”
“No, I still think I can help him cross over, but I’m going to be smarter about it this time. I have contacts. With their help, it should work. But it’s best if you and Kenji don’t join us this time.”
“Thank god for that.”
Pinky left a moment later. Kenji stayed a little longer, still holding me. I burrowed a little closer to him and leaned my head on his shoulder.
“You know I was thinking… regardless of whether Pinky and her friends manage to get rid of Ryan, I’m going to move out. I can’t live there anymore, I need a fresh start. I was kinda hoping it would be okay if I stayed at your place until I find a new apartment?”
“Weeell, I don’t know… I guess…” he said with an exaggerated sigh. I pinched his nipple through his shirt.
“Ouch!” he laughed. “I’m kidding! You know you can stay as long as you want. If it were up to me, you’d never leave.”
“Thank you,” I whispered.
He placed his hand in the back of my neck and let my hair fall between his fingers as he kissed me.
We were quiet for a minute, then Kenji said:
“Have you realized it yet?”
I looked up in surprise.
“That you’re braver than you thought.”
“Oh, that…” I put my head back on his shoulder. “I don’t know…”
“You were nervous about going out with me, and you did. You were afraid to go back to the apartment, but you did.”
“Well… I wanted to be there. In case anything happened to you.”
“You faced your fears. That’s bravery. Don’t you agree?”
“I guess…” I gave a small smile, then cleared my throat. “Did I ever tell you, that when I gave a statement to the cops about what Tim did to me, one of them… indicated that because I wasn’t a woman I should have been able to stand up for myself if my boyfriend was beating me up. He basically said I had myself to blame for letting him do that to me.”
Kenji tensed up.
“Let him! You didn’t let him do anything! That’s complete and utter bullshit!” he hissed between clenched teeth.
“I know, but… it wasn’t so much what he said, but the look on his face that got to me. He looked at me like I was the most pitiful thing he’d ever seen. The exact same way that Tim used to look at me. And sometimes… there was a small part of me that thought they were right.”
“They’re not…!” Kenji began, but I silenced him with a finger on his lips.
“I know that now. I know they’re wrong. I’ve come to realize that, lately.”
“Because of you. Because of the way you look at me.”
For a moment he didn’t say anything at all, he just stared at me. Then, smiling, he pulled me close and kissed me again.
* * * * * *
In the end, I never did leave Kenji’s apartment. Months passed, and I decided to stay permanently with Kenji. Why would I want to leave? I was perfectly happy where I was, and he was more than happy to have me there.
I had always thought that it would be scary, being in a real relationship after all this time, and that it would take a huge effort to adjust, but it didn’t. It was surprisingly easy. Kenji made it easy. I don’t mean that it didn’t take any effort at all, but it always felt right.
What happened with my stalker ghost after that night when the fire broke out is something of a mystery. Pinky went up to my apartment with three other mediums a few weeks later to assist him to the other side, but except for some lingering energy, they couldn’t sense him. He simply wasn’t there anymore. He was gone. Pinky and her friends couldn’t say why, but the had theories that he somehow managed to cross over himself. I didn’t really care why, I was just happy that Ryan was gone for good.
Matt and Jeff were glad when they found out we’d gotten together, though sometimes they complain that our cuteness level is disgustingly high. This coming from the guys who give each other Eskimo-kisses on a regular basis.
* * * * * *
It was in the morning on a Sunday. Kenji was between my legs, his mouth on my cock and his fingers inside me, making me squirm.
“Please…! Now…” I moaned.
Pulling his fingers from my body, he wrapped my legs around his waist and pushed inside me in one thrust. Crying out in pleasure, I threw my arms around him. He made love to me so slowly it was almost torture. I pushed my hips up and pulled at him with my legs and hands, trying to make him go faster; he just smiled and slid in and out of me with frustrating slowness as he kissed and nibbled the side of my neck. Only when he had built us up both to the point of pain did he begin to thrust faster, and it didn’t take much for us both to explode at the same time, with loud cries.
“Oh… god…” I panted.
“Uh-huh…” Kenji agreed weakly, then pressed his lips against mine. We kissed lazily for a while, then Kenji rolled off me and pulled me into his arms. I was almost dozing off, when Kenji said quietly:
“I love you.”
My eyes shot open and I looked at him in stunned silence.
“I always have. I don’t expect you to say it back, yet,” he whispered, smiling softly at me. “I just had to say it.”
I cupped his face in my hands and looked deeply into his eyes.
I don’t know if I’m brave enough to say it out loud yet, but if you can hear what I’m thinking right now: I love you, too.
His eyes widened, then his mouth split open in a huge grin. He crushed his lips against mine and kissed me practically senseless. Breaking the kiss, he rested his forehead against mine, then flopped down on the bed, still with that goofy grin on his face. And he looked so damn adorable…
“I love you, Kenji.”
Huh… what do you know… I was brave enough.
* * * * * *
How dare they! They’ve ruined everything!
He stood watching, filled with rage, as Ash was taken care of in the ambulance. It had been so close…
He’s mine! He was supposed to be with me!
With a furious growl that no one heard he moved closer towards the ambulance. A couple of firemen passed right through him, but he didn’t even notice.
He deceived me! He must pay!
Then, suddenly, his eyes fell on something and he forgot all about the ambulance. A young man, standing on the other side of the street by a small, curious crowd. Blond hair, slender build, pale skin… He moved over to the boy.
Beautiful… he thought. So beautiful…
He reached out to touch the boy’s slender neck. The boy shuddered, and looked around, bewildered. The boy gave a small shrug, then put his hands in his pockets and started walking down the street.
And Ryan followed.