The brush I’d been holding flew out of my grip, a rush of air brushing over my knuckles. I let out a strangled sound and whirled. “Are you going to do this all night?”
“Are you going to stop?” Erick challenged. One infuriating brow quirked. He leaned up against the battered wall. He wore the same outfit he’d worn every day since last Halloween. Long lean legs exaggerated in black pants, matching pirate boots crossed at the ankles. The white billowy shirt disappeared beneath a long black coat with red brocade that stretched over his broad shoulders.
I gritted my teeth, fighting back the emotion clawing up my throat, “No,” I snapped, “and I will super glue this brush to my skin if I have to.” Anger flared in his blue eyes, but I turned back before I could catch the worry in his fidgeting.
Thankfully, I’d packed extra supplies, knowing all too well just how infuriating he could be. We stood in the abandoned house just outside of town with its paint peeled walls and many cobwebs. In only minutes, it would be Halloween and officially the barrier between worlds would thin. Lightning cracked, sending shadows dancing along the walls. The many white and black candles lining my work table were my only source of light.
Ghosts had the annoying ability to manipulate air currents to their will. Like slamming doors, knocking mason jars off of counters, or in this case, tearing the brush from my hands. However, it took an ungodly amount of energy out of them. This having been the third brush that he’d thrown, it merely dropped to my feet rather than clattering against the wall like the first two.
I lifted another brush, confident he was well out of energy. Slowly, I dipped it into my tin can and lifted it, letting the excess blood fall off of its bristles. A life for a life. It was what the ritual called for. I took a deep breath and continued my work, painting the symbol with its many pointed edges as I listened to the howling wind. Erick bristled behind me.
“Daliah, you need to stop this.”
The way he said my name, the way he’d always said my name, sent pleasant shivers down my spine. Just another reason why I needed to do this. Once the clock struck midnight, the witching hour would commence. I had put on the same costume I’d worn last year. A short black dress with pannels of blue sparkling fabric and long sleeves that ended in points over the back of my hands. Black webbed tights, boots, and a witch’s hat perched ontop of my blonde hair. It was a very on-the-nose costume, one that I’d rather burn than ever wear again. But I had to be sure this would work.
My gaze fell, for the hundreth time, to the dark brown splatters on my skirt. I tried and failed everytime not to think of how they paired well with the large stain on Erick’s own chest. My throat tightened.
“I can’t.” The words came out airy, choked. All the anger had escaped me.
I saw more than felt him crouch beside me, “You don’t know if it will work.”
“I have to believe it will.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
Then I’ll die as a witch where I’ll either go to Heaven or Hell. Not to the Mist like him. The Mist was a space between Hell and Heaven where the most hated supernatural creatures lived out their enternity. Usually, it was reserved for the supernaturals that even the Devil didn’t want. However, in Erick’s case, he was cursed. His murderer having done the darkest of magic to send him into the Mist.
A lot of the books had claimed it was similar to Purgatory. But no, it wasn’t even close to the same. At least the souls who went to Purgatory go out, eventually sent to Heaven or Hell. The souls in the Mist stay forever. Or they fade into nothing.
If they’re lucky.
This ritual would turn me into a vampire, since witches weren’t technically supernatural, and then, I’d die and join him forever.
I sniffed. Setting down the brush I examined my work. The wobbly work table was old with water stains and chipped wood, but it worked. The pentagram was perfect. I moved the tiny mortar full of small pieces of charcoal to the middle of the star. As I empied my bag of animal bones and placed them accordingly at the points, Erick laid his hand over mine and said, “It isn’t worth it.”
“Yes. It is,” I said simply. I couldn’t feel him touching me, but I knew that soon I would. Soon I’d feel his hand in mine which had always lit fireworks in my stomach. Soon I’d have my arms around him, feel his heart beat in time with mine. Soon.
“No,” He said, more firm this time, “it isn’t.”
I didn’t answer him. Instead, I picked up the last piece to complete the set up, a small pouch. But before I could open it, Erick whipped back from me and all but yelled, “Damnit, Dal! Would you stop and see reason?”
This made me turn on him, anger spiking once more, “I am seeing reason!”
His jaw clenched. Looking at him like this, so out of sorts with his anger and fear, hurt. I wish I could convince him there was nothing to fear, but he hadn’t seen reason all night. He raked a rough hand through his hair, black strands falling through his fingers like water. He’d always had tan skin but being a ghost seemed to have made him paler.
Those beautiful ruby lips that I’d once kissed, that had once adored me, lifted in a fanged sneer, “I am all alone here.”
I blinked, confused by his words. “I know,” I gestured to the table, “that’s why I am doing this.”
“No,” he growled, “you aren’t hearing me. I am all alone. I haven’t seen a single soul. If this ritual works, whose to say that you won’t be alone too?”
Shaking my head, I lifted the small white pouch in my hands, “I have your DNA, Erick. I’m not just dying, I am tying my soul to you!”
His eyes fell to the pouch and it was obvious in the way he paused that he hadn’t known that to be possible. After a moment of silence passed, I was sure he was starting to see, to understand. But then he shook his head and made a sound between a yell and a growl.
He rushed up to me until we stood so close I would have felt his breath brushing my face if he’d been alive. When he spoke again, his voice was desolate, pleading. He dropped to one knee, then another until he was looking up at me with those magnetic glacier eyes, “Please,” he croaked, “there are so many unknowns in your plan. You got this spellbook from some sketchy, back alley witch. Who knows if it will work. What if you die for nothing? What if it does nothing at all?
“Just, please. At least,” he paused to release a tremulous breath. Glancing to the table he ran a shaky hand through his hair before turning back to me, “At least wait until next year. Do more research and if next year you are sure, do it. One year, Daliah. Please.”
I stood frozen, staring down at him with barely leashed tears. It was true, there were so many unknowns in my plan. This ritual could end up being for something completely different than what I thought. Or it could be exactly what I thought. It could work. Or I could die, not as a vampire but as a witch.
The sight of him, Erick Latsova, who never bowed for anyone on his knees, begging me to wait shattered something within me. He was compromising with me, that’s how desperate and scared he was. One more year in return for the safety of my soul.
His eyes went wide and his hands, which had been gripping my arms, fell away, “No,” he repeated, as if unsure he’d heard right.
“No,” I said, more firmly this time, fists clenched. My entire body was trembling. “You expect me to wait a whole year. Another year, Erick? No!”
I whirled and grabbing one of the many candles linning the table I threw it at the wall with a scream. It crumbled to pieces. “Do you not know what I went through after you were killed?” I shrieked. A strangled cry broke out of my chest as I threw another candle. Lightning struck as it shattered against the wall. “I was empty! I was broken! How do you not understand that? After watching me become a living corpse how do you not understand that I have to do this now?”
He was already up on his feet, coming towards me. I was a mess, my hat having flown off when I’d thrown the first candle, tear streaked mascara racing down my face and my breathing laborous. But the fury within his own gaze made me see red. “Why can’t you just wait if-“
“Because I miss you!”
Silence, suffocating with tension, fell then with my scream echoing around us. The only sounds were my breathing and the thunder outside. He swallowed hard, glaring at the floor. I couldn’t wait. I needed to be with him. Living without him wasn’t living at all.
The horrific images of his death played out for me daily. Me slipping past barbed wire and an iron-wrought gate that squeaked on its hinges, racing up the porch of this very house and finding him dressed in his ridiculous pirate costume, reclined and sipping blood red wine.
“What are you doing here?” Erick said, shooting up from his seat.
“I had to see you.”
He rounded the table, his wine now abandoned, and strode up to me, “You should have waited for me. I have too many enemies, dead and alive, for you to be alone when the barrier is so thin.”
“I know, I know,” I said, “I couldn’t wait. Mom was trying to suck me into some sort of family ritual.”
His lips quirked, “And you didn’t want to join?”
I gave him a flat look, “No. The last time we did the cleansing ritual was when I was eight-“
“Wait,” he said, looking as if he were on the verge of laughter, “she wanted you to do a cleansing ritual? The one that is supposed to cleanse your spirit and mind of any possible preying demons?”
“Yes,” I said, trying not to laugh myself.
“She really doesn’t like me.”
“Can you blame her?” I tapped his two sharp canines.
Something in his gaze shifted, causing heat to stir inside of me. He offered me a wicked grin, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then those ruby lips were brushing my throat, fangs scraping.
A shiver raced through me and I giggled wildly.
He’d swept me up into some dance after that and our laughter had echoed in the empty house. He’d been in the middle of leaning down to kiss me, a slight breeze fluttering in from an open window behind him stirring his onyx strands when it happened.
Neither of us had heard the hunter’s approach, nor saw his cloaked figure standing just outside that window. It wasn’t until the crossbow released and the cursed dagger flew that either of us understood the danger but by then it was too late and Erick’s back was arching, pain twisting his handsome features.
I remember watching him collaspe and seeing the way his eyes glazed over. He’d been dead before I could even scream. No one was supposed to know the location of this house nor that Erick lived in it. No one but me.
I’d found that hunter by the end of the week. It was his blood that I now used for my pentagram.
Rain was pelting the windows now and neither Erick nor I moved. The tension between us, so different from the bliss of our dance, was as delicate as a live wire.
The clock chimed and the sound snapped both of us out of our silence. Erick’s face went impossibly white. “Daliah,” he breathed.
I swallowed. Another chime. “It’s time.”
All air seemed to escape him and he deflated entirely. The sight made me wince. Biting my lip I wiped my sweaty plams down my dress and turned back to the table. With a shaky breath I opened the pouch where inside were two thin strands of hair. One midnight black and one honey blonde.
I entwine thee…
I lifted them out of the bag and began twisting them. Parting my dry lips, I started, “In the name of the three unholy goddesses: of Thine, of Truth, and of Brine, I entwine thee-“
“No!” The cry exploded like a crack of lightning, ricocheting through the walls as a red blur crossed my vision and my table flipped, smashing to pieces against the wall and reverberating through my bones.
I didn’t move, didn’t breathe as I stared at the blood and ash smeared mess. Candle wax puddled, intermingling with the broken shards of the table and mortar. My frozen hands still hovered with the twined strands of hair.
The clock chimed its sixth, seventh, eigth, and so on until finally, its twelveth. Midnight. Still, I didn’t move. Light flared in the windows and thunder rumbled.
It was minutes later, 12:00 o’ clock had come and gone, when I finally found my voice.
“Erick,” I breathed. I turned towards him. My heart was beating overtime and my mind felt electrified as shock coursed through me.
And I saw him. Just as lightning struck, casting him in its white glow I saw him.
He was staring down at his hands in disbelief. At his warm hands. Hands that had just, impossibly so, flipped the table. He shook his head and looked to me.
I couldn’t breathe, gasping as tears streamed down my cheeks. “Erick.”
The confusion vanished from his face and he rushed towards me. I met him halfway, stumbling and falling into his chest. His real chest. With a broken sob he encircled me with his real, warm arms.
“What is happening?” He asked, burrying his face into my hair. I squeezed him tight, the sobs coming harder as I felt him.
A year. It had been a whole year since the last time I’d been able to feel him. I’d never thought I’d smell his pecan and vanilla scent again. The smell of his blood had seemed to stain my memories but now, I breathed him in.
I pulled back only far enough to cup his face within my hands and bring his lips upon mine. Sighs escaped us both. His lips were warm, soft and yet hungry as he kissed me. I dug my fingers through his hair, relishing the silky smoothness of it.
For awhile we stood there, breathing each other in, our minds swimming with confusion, shock, and unabated longing. Tears and breath mingled as we tried to get as close as possible.
“Daliah,” he murmured against my lips, bringing pleasant shivers down my spine, before he devoured them once again.
When we pulled apart, leaning our foreheads together, the impossibility of the situation grew harder to ignore. Breathing hard, I asked, “How is this possible?”
He shook his head, “I don’t know.” Even the sound of his voice was clearer, as if he’d been speaking to me through a tunnel while he’d been dead.
We twined our hands, just enjoying the simple bliss of holding eachother. I caught sight of the mess that was now my table and it clicked. “Oh,” I breathed.
“What?” He said, his voice deep and husky as he nuzzled my neck.
“The barrier. You’re here because the barrier is thin.”
He froze at my words,”It was twelve when I’d flipped the table.”
I nodded. Minutes ticked by. I didn’t want to spend any of those minutes speaking the truth of our situation but in the end it was unavoidable. Seeming to realize it too, Erick sighed. Leaning back he said, “I only have today with you.”
I bit my lip against the onslaught of pain that followed his words, “Yeah.”
“Hey,” he cupped my face in his hands and I looked into his eyes. Again my mind reeled at how striking and clear they were now. Rubbing his thumb across my cheek he said, “We have a full twenty four hours together each year. A day where I can cross the barrier and be with you as a real, living being. Can’t this be enough? Can you please give up on that damned ritual and just be with me every Halloween?”
What could I say to that? This entire year I’d been chasing down a way to finally be with him again, and now here he was. Was it enough, to have only twenty four hours compared to the possibility of an eternity?
It would be three hundred and sixty four days of not being able to feel him, to smell him. His spirit would still be trapped to this house where he could never rest. Could it be enough?
Looking into his eyes, feeling his hands on my face and his breath intermingling with mine I knew my answer.
Yes, it was enough. It was more than enough. I could buy the house and live here with him. I could still see him and talk to him every day. And once a year we’d get a full day of him being corpreal. There were no doubts, no risks of me dying. I wouldn’t have to damn my soul and maybe, just maybe, one of these years I’d find a way to save his.
So with a wobbly smile and tears lining my eyes I said, “Yes. Of course it is.”
A bright grin broke out on his face, relief evident in his laugh as he kissed me. I kissed him back, giddy with his presence. For the first time since that dreadful night, I was happy.Recommended3 Simily SnapsPublished in