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| Category: || Supernatural Fiction |
Posted:|| October 20, 2020 Views: 26|
Chapter 35 of the book THE CURSE
THE CURSE/A Novel of the Breedline series
"The Shadow/Part 3"
Thanks for taking the time to read my chapter. This one is new, so if you catch mistakes, please let me know. Stay safe & enjoy!
Nearly six hours later, Joseph stood nervously outside the door to Carrie’s apartment with one hand behind his back, holding onto a single, long-stemmed rose. Before he reached up to ring the doorbell, he blew out a deep breath and relaxed as best he could. The therapy session from earlier weighed heavily on his mind. Had it been just a coincidence that the officer from years ago was now his therapist? Or could it be some sort of sign? Whatever the case, it had dug up those painful memories he’d buried a long time ago.
“If it makes you feel better,” the Shadow spoke out, “we could eat Dr. Mendoza.”
“No,” Joseph said in a hushed voice. “I don’t want to hurt her. Besides, I have more sessions to go to. And please… give me some time alone with Carrie tonight.”
“Come on, Joseph. Don’t push me out.”
Calling on his inner strength, Joseph pressed the doorbell and waited.
As the door swung open, Carrie’s roommate greeted him with a smile. “Hey, Joseph.”
“Jesssicaaa…” the Shadow said in a sensual, disembodied drawl.
Joseph cleared his throat. “Hi, Jessica. Is Carrie around?”
She nodded and stepped aside. “Carrie…” she called out. “Your date is here.”
The minute Carrie came into view, Joseph nearly swallowed his tongue. She was so lovely. Her hair fell loosely past her shoulders in thick, blonde waves. Due to her natural beauty, and her delicate features, she wore a minimal amount of makeup, and the only jewelry she had on was a pair of tiny diamond earrings. As his eyes ventured lower, the little black dress she had on suddenly brought him to attention.
“Oh, how yummy,” the Shadow said, his words ending in a soft purr.
Joseph tuned out the voice in his head and gazed into her big, brown eyes. For some odd reason, the color soothed him in a way he could not explain.
“Hello, Carrie,” he softly said, presenting the rose he had behind his back.
“Oh, how lovely,” she said, admiring the blood rose that was the size of a grapefruit.
“You look beautiful.”
“Why, thank you, Joseph.”
He smiled. “You’re welcome.”
“Please, come in,” she said, motioning him inside. “I’m almost ready. I just need to get my purse and jacket. I won’t be but a second.”
“Of course.” He bowed his head a little. “Take your time. There’s no hurry.”
As he moved past her, Carrie noticed how handsome he looked. God, he smelled wonderful. A hint of lavender, yet manly and unbelievably sexy. He had on black tailored slacks, a matching belt and a long-sleeve dress shirt. His square-toed shoes were buffed to a shine and his shoulder-length hair was neatly pulled back. In spite of his good looks, there was something about him… something dark and mysterious that made her want to know more. He was like a drug and she found herself becoming addicted.
Moments later, as they made their way to the vehicle, Joseph jogged ahead and waited by the passenger door. He opened it as she approached and said, “After you, my dear.”
She looked up at him funny. “You’re opening the door for me?”
He smiled. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “I guess I wasn’t expecting you to be such a gentleman. You’re actually the first person to ever open a door for me.”
He drew his brows tight. “Really?”
“Yeah,” she said with a slight smirk in her voice. “I didn’t realize chivalry still existed.”
“What can I say,” he said, opening the door wider. “I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy.”
She ducked inside and before he closed the door, she looked up at him and said, “By the way, you look very handsome.”
His smile broadened. “Thank you.”
He quickly moved to the driver’s side and slide behind the wheel. When he turned on the ignition, he glanced at her and said, “Have you ever ate at Corso’s?”
“No, but I heard the food is fantastic. Is that where you’re taking me?”
“Yep.” He nodded. “I was told to save room for their dessert. And since it’s technically Valentine’s Day, I think we should order some after dinner, preferably something in chocolate.”
“Count me in,” she said with a giggle. “I love chocolate.”
He arched a brow. “Well then, we’ve definitely got something in common.”
As they arrived at the restaurant, the parking lot was full. When Joseph escorted Carrie inside, they were instantly greeted by a female hostess. She had a tall, willowy model’s figure and jet-black hair arranged in a long, thick braid. Her green eyes, surrounded by thick, long eyelashes, lingered on Joseph’s face. “Welcome to Corso’s.” Her red-coated lips formed a flirtatious grin. “What is the name of the party?”
“Parker,” Joseph replied.
“Reservations for two?” she asked as if Carrie was nonexistent.
When Joseph nodded, the hostess said, “Please, right this way, Mr. Parker.”
She led them to their table that was close to a window overlooking the patio. The view was breathtaking. It had a five-tier granite waterfall surrounded by lights and landscaped with a variety of plants. The sound of rushing water was tranquil, creating a pleasant atmosphere.
Joseph pulled out a chair for Carrie and said, “Ladies first.”
As soon as they were seated, the hostess presented them with menus and said, “Your server will be with you shortly.” She stepped a little closer to Joseph. “Can I get you anything to drink while you wait?”
He looked across the table, waiting for Carrie to speak.
“What kind of white wine do you have?” she asked.
As the hostess went over the list, Joseph kept his eyes trained on Carrie’s face. Although she wasn’t overly pretty, more like the girl next door, she captivated him to no end.
“I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay, please,” Carrie said.
The hostess faked a smile. “Perfect.” She focused on Joseph and cleared her throat. “And for you, sir?”
Joseph didn’t take his eyes off Carrie. “I’ll have the same, thank you.”
“Are you sure?” the hostess said, trying to get Joseph to look her way. “The Cabernet Sauvignon goes quite well with the Italian.”
“The Chardonnay will be fine. Thanks.”
The hostess took the hint. “Very well.” She dipped her head. “Your waiter will be back with your drinks.”
When they were alone, Joseph said, “So, I’m dying to know. How did work go today? Your boss wasn’t a jerk to you, was she?”
Carrie sighed. “You really want to know?”
“Uh-oh… that doesn’t sound good. If you don’t feel like talking about it…”
“No, it’s fine,” she said, waving it off like it was no big deal. “I guess it wasn’t too bad. But I’m probably going to get a tongue lashing first thing in the morning.”
“When I showed up late today, it didn’t go over too well with her. I was supposed stay after work to make up my time.”
Joseph frowned. “But, it’s Valentine’s Day.”
“Yeah well, Veronica doesn’t give a hoot about my social life or anyone else’s for that matter. Last year, I spent the entire Thanksgiving Day at the office.”
“That’s ludicrous,” Joseph spouted. “What was so important that it couldn’t wait?”
“It was over a guy,” she said.
He looked at her confused. “A guy?”
She nodded. “A few of our counselors quit right before the holidays and it left us short-handed. So, we had to find new replacements. They hired Janey Cook and Dan Whitmore. It was obvious my boss was attracted to Dan. She practically made a spectacle of herself. It was rather embarrassing. The entire office felt sorry for the guy. And boy did she pour on the sugar. It’s not like her to be nice to anyone, especially her own employees. To make a long story short, he ignored her advances and asked me out.”
Joseph chuckled. “I bet she didn’t like that.”
Carrie shook her head. “Not in the least.”
“So, I’m guessing she took it out on you, right?”
“Yep,” she replied. “And I didn’t even go out with him. But still, she does everything she can to punish me.”
“That’s messed up, Carrie. She’s harassing you. Don’t let her get away with that. You need to report her to upper management.”
Carrie sighed. “I can’t.”
“Her father is the CEO.”
“Damn,” Joseph muttered under his breath. “That explains a lot. No wonder she gets away with treating her employees poorly. I’m sorry, Carrie.” His brows clenched. “That type of crap pisses me off. It’s not right.”
“I know,” Carrie groaned. “And I’ve thought about leaving, but I love my job. Other than my boss, all my coworkers are wonderful to work with. I just hate to let one shitty person ruin what I’ve worked so hard for. You know what I mean?”
He reached across the table and placed his hand over hers. “Yes, I know exactly how you feel.” His expression softened. “Hang in there. Remember what I said about karma. You reap what you sow.”
“Yesss…” the Shadow suddenly whispered into Joseph’s subconscious. “And we are the reaper.”
“Thanks for listening,” she said with a smile in her voice. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to be such a Debbie Downer.”
“No, you’re fine.” He lightly squeezed her hand. “You can talk to me about anything.”
“I can’t wrap my mind around why a guy like you hasn’t already been snatched up by now,” she said, blushing a little. “You’re the nicest guy, Joseph. Any girl would be lucky to date you.”
“Well, maybe I just haven’t found the right girl.” He winked. “Until now.”
Carrie’s brows lifted. “Hmmm… maybe.”
They were distracted when a male server came over and placed their drinks on the table. “Hi, I’m Gary,” he said with a high, feminine pitch. “I’ll be your waiter for the evening. Have you had time to look over the menu?”
Joseph removed his hand from Carrie’s and reached for his menu. “Could you give us a few more minutes, Gary?”
“Of course. If I may suggest, the Penne alla vodka is one of our popular dishes,” he said, using his hands to express his words. “It’s one of my favorites. But please, take your time. I’ll give you a few minutes to decide.”
Joseph nodded. “Thanks Gary.”
As the waiter sauntered off, the Shadow cackled. “I think Gary is a little light in the loafers.”
Joseph tuned out the Shadow’s crude remark and said, “I think I’ll try what Gary suggested.” He closed his menu and smiled at Carrie. “It sounds good. What about you?”
“Good choice,” she said as her eyes flipped up to meet his. “I think I’ll have the same.”
He reached for his glass of wine and before he took a sip, he said, “Well, you know what they say?”
“And what’s that?” she asked.
“Great minds think alike.”
“Carrie… what are you doing here?”
Joseph lifted his eyes to meet a pudgy, middle-aged woman wearing a gold sequin cocktail dress that reminded him of a disco ball. Her bleach blonde hair and blue mascara above her eyes made her look like a cheap hooker. Her silicone injected lips were pursed, and she was hovering over Carrie with a menacing stare.
Carrie stiffened in her chair. “V-Veronica…”
The Shadow inhaled sharply, then said, “Now that’s what I call a full course meal. I’ll have her to go.”
Veronica huffed. “Aren’t you supposed to be working late?”
“Um… I-I had a date,” Carrie nervously stumbled over her words.
Joseph instantly got to his feet and extended his hand. “I’m Joseph. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss…”
She took hold of his hand. “It’s Hernandez,” she answered, a smug look on her face. “Veronica Hernandez.”
He felt like a bug under a microscope as her eyes roamed over his face and ventured lower.
Joseph released her hand and said, “Are you a friend or a family member of Carrie’s?”
“Neither,” Veronica snidely remarked. “I’m her boss.”
“Oh, I see.” He raised a brow. “Well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how lucky you are to have Carrie as an employee. From what I clearly see, she’s dedicated to her work and a great person all around.”
Carrie smiled and Veronica said, “Obviously you haven’t known her for long.”
Joseph frowned and Carrie’s smile diminished.
“No, I have not,” Joseph firmly stated. “But it doesn’t take me long to figure out a person’s character.” He glared at Veronica. “I know a bad egg when I see one.”
Carrie quickly covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.
Veronica smirked. “Is that so?”
Suddenly, Gary appeared to take their order in the nick of time.
“If you don’t mind, Miss Hernandez,” Joseph said, “I have a lovely date I’d like to get back to.”
Veronica’s overly plump lips tightened. “Fine.” She looked away from Joseph and stared at Carrie with a scowl on her face. “I’ll expect to see you first thing in the morning.” Her voice dropped deeper. “And don’t be late this time.”
Carrie heaved a sigh of relief as Veronica stomped off, leaving them in peace.
A few minutes later, after Gary left with their order, Carrie’s body shimmered back to life.
“Thank you, Joseph.”
“For standing up to my boss,” she said. “And I have to say,” she arched a brow, “what you said to her was priceless.”
“You’re welcome, Carrie.” He grinned. “And she had that coming. When you said your boss was a jerk, you were being polite. The word I have in mind is far worse. There’s a special place for people who treat others that way.”
“Yah,” the Shadow said. “We’ll be sending her there soon.”
“No one has ever stood up for me like that. I mean, sure, my family and Jessica have always had my back, but no guy I’ve dated has ever done something so… nice.”
“I’m surprised to hear that,” he said, looking at her bewildered. “And to tell you the truth, I’m surprised you’re single.”
“I was dating a guy recently,” she hesitantly said. “But it didn’t work out.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. He must have been nuts to let a girl like you get away.”
“Well actually…” She looked down. “He’s dead.”
“I’m so sorry, Carrie. What happened?”
Her eyes lifted slowly. “H-He was murdered.”
“What?” His eyes rounded. “That’s horrible. And this was… recently?”
She nodded. “I’m sorry. I probably should have told you.”
“No, it’s okay, Carrie.” His eyes softened. “My God. Were you close?”
“No. We’d only been dating a few months. He wasn’t good to me. Last night was the last straw. He’d stood me up and it wasn’t the first time. That’s when I decided to break it off. Then, around three in the morning, he came to my apartment. He was drunk. I refused to answer the door. When he finally gave up, Jessica and I was about to go to bed, and that’s when we heard a car alarm going off. We figured he might have passed out in his car, so we went to check. We found him…” She shook her head. “It was awful.”
“And he was tasty,” the Shadow hissed. “The bad one’s always taste better.”
A sick taste of guilt welled up inside Joseph. He swallowed, forcing it down and muttered, “I-I—”
He was abruptly cut off when Gary suddenly arrived with their food.
To be continued. . .
|The book continues with The Shadow/Part 4 . We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
A reference for cast of characters in the chapter, especially for new readers:
Joseph Parker - He is a freelance journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. At age five, after his father murdered his mother, an evil entity invaded his body. It speaks inside his subconscious, forcing him to kill.
Carrie Randall - She is a counselor for substance abuse in Berkeley California.
Jessica Phillips - She is Carrie's best friend and roommate.
The Shadow - An evil entity that possesses a host who feeds off human hearts to gain their souls.
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