Cara Michaels’ Picture Choice:
Title: Miss Me, -Kait
“I will never let you go.”
The unexpected intrusion of a man’s voice—and an accompanying morass of obsessive, clinging emotion—startled me enough to break my concentration. The vision of Kait’s world spat me out, leaving me barely standing. I rubbed my arms, trying to wipe away the unhealthy feelings.
Someone had been fixated on Kait. Dangerously so.
Kait’s fear wormed through me, becoming mine.
My whole body shook, out to the ends of my hair. Murray stood right in front of me, hands out, to steady me or shake me out of it, I didn’t know which. I backed out of reach, an ungainly foal on new legs.
“I will never let you go?” Confusion etched lines across Murray’s forehead. “What the hell is that?”
I’d said the words? I fought the urge to vomit. Or wash my mouth out with soap.
“Just—give me a minute.”
We’d done this enough times. My ‘gift’ didn’t cripple me. Generally I could control when I saw things and leave the world its privacy the rest of the time. This vision left me scraped raw on the inside though. They did that sometimes, and I needed a few moments after to restore my balance and my grip on the sight.
So Murray knew not to push, not to touch just yet, lest I take some knowledge, some thought or emotion, he didn’t want me to have. But I saw it in his dark eyes—he almost touched me anyway, and damn the consequences.
He pulled back, hands fisting at his sides.
“What is it? What did you see?”
My heart pounded like the Kentucky Derby.
“Not enough.” Too much. I frowned. “I need more than a picture.”
“I have more.” He dug his hands into the pockets of worn blue jeans. “But not here.”
“I’ll get dressed.”
“Don’t mention it,” I said. “Let’s just get this done.” I meant more than the girl and he probably knew it, but just nodded.
“I’ll be right back.”
By the time I’d dressed in jeans and a light sweater—I couldn’t shake a bone deep chill—I’d seen Kait twice more. Reflected in the bathroom mirror, and again in the bedroom window. She didn’t speak again, but I was still a mess as I emerged, and Murray saw it.
He ignored my personal space, hands framing my face.
“What is it?”
Concern, attraction, uncertainty; his emotions wrapped around me as the warmth of his skin seeped into mine. I held onto my control well enough not to lean into him, but I welcomed the touch.
I couldn’t meet his eyes, focusing over his shoulder. In the glass of my front window, the light framed the shadow of a tall man.
“Oh my, God,” I whispered.
He immediately tracked my line of sight.
“What the shit?”
“You see him?” This all broke any sort of rules I understood about what I could do. People either saw more or they didn’t. The visions I had didn’t follow me around or inflict themselves upon others. “You can’t—you shouldn’t—”
“Tell me about it.” He had his gun in hand and the door open before I even realized he’d stopped touching me. “There’s no one here, Riley.”
“He’s gone.” But Kait’s fear crawled around in my gut. “Something weird is going on, Adam.”
“I’m definitely getting that vibe,” he said, coming back to me. His hands slipped into my hair, massaging the tension. “We’ve done this dance before, Riley, and you know I believe in you. But I’ve never been part of your show. It doesn’t happen like this. What’s going on?”
“I’m seeing her, too.”
“Kait?” His brow arrowed down, his confusion plain to see. “Isn’t that the point?”
“I’m not just seeing bits of her life. I’m seeing her.” A shiver rippled down to my toes. “She spoke to me. She’s following me.”
Murray looked seriously spooked. “Okay, that’s not normal.”
“Not even a little bit.”
“What did she say?”
“You have a better place to tell me?”
“No, that’s what she said. ‘Not here.’ It was almost like she took me somewhere,” I said. “One second I’m at the party, and the next I’m looking at her empty car on the side of the road.”
Murray stiffened. “We haven’t found the car.”
“No, I know,” I said, the glut of emotions running roughshod over me again. “He did.”
“He?” His gaze darted to the window. “Whoever we saw there?”
“Yes.” The empty road, the empty car. Everything empty, and the aging asphalt continuing on its lonely way. I will never let you go. “He wants me.”
“No, whoa. Back the fuck up. Don’t you do that, Riley.” Hard hands grabbed my shoulders, grounding me. “The real world is here, got it? You are not her. You stay here. With me.”
“I’m okay,” I said, automatically trying to pull away.
“Bullshit,” he said. “You’re anything but okay.”
“I’ll be okay, then.”
“Riley.” The barest of touches, so careful, so delicate—he pinched a lock of my hair, letting it slide through his fingers. “Stay with me.”
I shuddered as his emotions rolled through me. He wanted me to be okay, and he just plain wanted me. The vital difference between Murray and the other man wrapped around me like protective arms and I wanted to edge closer.
“Adam,” I whispered. “Please.”
“I’ve got you,” he said softly, easing me into his embrace.
“Don’t let go.”
His arms tightened around me. “I won’t, baby.”
Cara Michaels is the author of the Gaea’s Chosen sci-fi romance series and host of the #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge.