I don’t write about ghosts. Well, not actual ghosts. Though I do have one of those plotted out. Not sure if I’ll ever get around to writing it, though. It was actually an idea that came to me years ago while I was watching a show on Discovery ID(one of my favorite channels back when we had the satellite).
What I do often write about, though, are people’s emotional ghosts. This came up quite a bit when I was writing Chasing the Ghost(book 4 in my Gilbert, CO series). After all, it’s right there in the title. For anyone who has read Duty to Protect, this is Connie’s story(for anyone who hasn’t, there’s at least one spoiler right there).
Jason closed the door of his truck and glanced over at Leo. “Why aren’t you driving yourself? Or hitching a ride with one of the other guys?”
Leo lifted a shoulder, but he tapped his fingers against the door. “Didn’t drive here this morning, and didn’t want to have to depend on one of them if I wanted to leave.”
“You don’t stay on the ranch?”
“No. I have a house less than a mile away.”
Jason nodded but kept his gaze focused on the road. “What about you?” Leo asked as they turned toward town. “I know Brendan gave you the cabin since there isn’t room in the bunkhouse. Are you planning on moving anyone else into it?”
Jason nearly lifted his hand to touch the ring under his shirt, but he forced it to stay on the wheel instead. “No,” he said, his voice gruff. “There’s no one.”
Leo was silent, but Jason felt him watching him. “Was there?” he finally asked, his voice soft.
“Yes,” he said after a moment. “There isn’t now.” There wouldn’t be. He wouldn’t bring someone into his crazy mess of a life.
“You don’t think she’ll ever take you back?”
And there’s Connie’s ghosts:
He reached out and lifted her chin, so she had to look up at him. “It’s not something to be ashamed of. You survived, Connie. That means you’re strong.”
“It means I’m lucky. That’s it, Jason. I got lucky. My fiancé didn’t. That’s why I’ll never have it. The only man I ever loved was stolen away from me. And I…I didn’t even get to grieve for him. I still have trouble remembering he’s gone. Sometimes I forget, and it’s like I lost him all over again.”
He slid both hands along the side of her face, then he bent down and pressed his mouth to hers. Her lips parted in surprise, but he didn’t take that as invitation to take the kiss deeper. He kept it light and soft. He pulled back after a moment. “I know,” he murmured. “I’ve lost, and the pain doesn’t go away. Even when you can remember.”
And some more of what’s haunting Jason:
“I said I wouldn’t ask questions, but I need to know.” Brendan’s voice was strained, as if it pained him to ask. “Is it true?”
Everything inside of him froze. “What?” He had to push the single word out.
“Your wife. Did you kill her?”
Jason shoved up from the bed. He felt cold everywhere, even though his blood burned. “No.” He spit out the word. “I loved her. I loved her with every fucking thing I was. I wasn’t there when she died. I came home to learn my family was dead. How can you ask if it was by my hand?”
He took the picture out of the box and shoved it at him. “I loved them. Why would I kill them?”
Brendan’s hands shook slightly as he took the picture and looked down at it. “You had a son too,” he murmured.
“Adam.” Another tear slid down his cheek. “He was…” Jason sank back onto the bed. “I loved my boy. He was the most precious thing to me, even above my love for her. I don’t care what he says, I never lost my temper with them. I never would have hurt either of them.”
“I can see that, son,” Brendan murmured. “Who says you did?”
Jason blew out a breath. “Her father. He always hated me. Even though the police cleared me, he insists I’m responsible.” He wouldn’t bring up the other things his former father-in-law had done in retribution.
“Why does he have a, what did Garren call him, some sort of private investigator following you?”
“Because he doesn’t believe the police. He’s so sure I did it, he won’t believe anything else.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “You don’t need to worry about this, Brendan. I’ll be leaving. You don’t need my problems.”