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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Power of the Moon by Tina Carreiro

Chapter One

    Knowing when someone was going to die was something Mia had grown accustomed to, and she had just spotted another dead man walking.
  Shit… not Art.
  She focused on him as he rambled through the gas station parking lot, hoping he’d come inside as he usually did. Now that she knew his fate, it weighed heavily on her heart and she had an unusual urge to dig deeper. Uncrossing her legs, she hopped off the counter, tearing her eyes from Art to the approaching customer. “Hello…MEE-ah.” He drew out her name in a taunting gesture. Just what she needed— Russell. It was times like these that she hated working at the gas station. “You know it’s pronounced MY-ah, jerk.” She snatched the bag of chips and scanned the barcode. “Hey! Watch it. You almost touched me, freak. Keep your hands off,” Russell said, as he shoved his thick tongue under his upper lip and sucked. Mia ignored him. After all, she was a freak. Russell had been driving it into her head since elementary school. And at twenty-seven, it didn’t really bother her anymore. Mia giggled as a tiny surge of energy washed over her. Standing next to Russell was the apparition of an old woman with white hair. The ghost was flicking at his ear with her finger, tormenting him to no satisfaction. Mia knew he couldn’t feel a thing. Russell looked around the empty store, then followed Mia’s gaze to the vacant spot next to him. “You truly are fucked up, aren’t you, freak?” Mia looked at the old woman, then back to Russell. “Oh, piss off, Russ. Your grandma’s just a little disappointed in you, that’s all.” “Shut up! My grandma’s dead. Give me my stuff…freak.” Grabbing the bag, he hurried out the door. Whether she liked it or not, Mia’s mind picked up everything, especially the dead. She was like a walking cable box rigged with steal-a-vision; every channel coming in, even if she didn’t pay for it, or want to watch the show. Disgusted by Russell’s teasing, Mia tugged off her nametag, and threw the cheap piece of plastic in the cash drawer. She hated it when people said her name. Working the graveyard shift had its perks— people ignored her most of the time and she preferred it that way. The actions of others had caused her to wrap herself in protective layers, blocking emotion, love, and trust. With two jobs, Mia didn’t have time to notice her lack of friends or social life.
    She focused on Art as he made his way to the door, his aura becoming more defined as he approached. The halo of color reflecting life’s energy was something most people couldn’t see. Mia could. To her, people were like walking mood rings, and the ones that came in late at night mostly had lustful auras. Not that she knew a lot about lust. She made the mistake of trusting a couple of men in the past— boys really. It wasn’t that she didn’t want someone. It was just difficult. As if the images she picked up from her so-called boyfriends weren’t enough, she was also a conductor of negative ones, and those played repeatedly in her mind like a movie preview, making intimacy a nightmare.
    When she dreamed, vivid images of death haunted her, and as much as she tried to block them, they still managed to work their way through. This made spooning impossible. Her solution : no touching , especially men. For five years now, these rules worked well. Highly emotional situations were something she stayed away from, and she was skilled at avoiding them most of the time. “How’ re you doing tonight, Art?” Mia asked, grabbing a pack of Marlboro Reds from the cigarette rack, never taking her eyes off him as he approached. “Oh, fair to middlin’,” he slurred. Art’s tanned skin made his empty blue eyes shine like sapphires. Gray streaked the brown hair framing his face in a messy just-out-of-bed look. A long, brown belt fastened into its last hole kept his baggy pants from falling off his skinny frame. Deep wrinkles and dark, rough patches on his face were evidence of lots of sun, and alcohol. Mia took a deep breath and slid the pack toward Art. She had to break her rules if she wanted to find out why death had marked him.
    Her fingers brushed over his knuckles, and a small current of electricity rolled over her skin as familiar images flooded her mind —t he same images she had witnessed before during accidental touches and the same images consuming Art, making him the man he was. The argument he’d had with his wife replayed in her mind. That fatal night unfolded as Art drove away in anger, ruffled by news of an unexpected baby. He wanted more for their child, a better life than he had growing up. He wasn’t prepared .
  When Art realized he was wrong , he rushed back to his wife with a tiny shirt that read I Love Mommy. On his way back , a teenage driver ran a red light, T-boning another car and ejecting the driver. The teenager’s car spun and came straight toward Art’s, smashing into his front bumper . Art got out of his vehicle. He wasn’t concerned with the teenager, but for the other person hit. Art recognized everything about the crumpled shape lying in the middle of the intersection. His wife. He knelt, and held his wife’s limp body. As she took her last breath, Art’s life ended with hers. He’d never forget the note they found at his house that night. She was coming to find him, to make everything right. He blamed himself for her death and he’d never recovered from the pain of losing his wife and child. Mia yanked her hand away, fighting the tears and avoiding his eyes. .
   She scanned his light blue aura, fading into a whitish silver color. Shit. She wanted to find out what was wrong with him. If she could just get past the death of his wife, maybe she could help. With a touch of irritation, she looked at the computer as it beeped and noted the gas pump number in use. It severed her concentration on Art.
 She looked up just as the chime on the door went off. Wanting to keep him close, she nodded toward the refreshment counter. “Art, go get some coffee and a snack. It’s on me.” “Thank you, darlin’.” While Art was getting his snack, a man ripped straight out of GQ magazine entered the store. He moved so smoothly, Mia swore he was gliding. He wore his light brown hair close on the sides and flattened on top, except for the front, which spiked up and curled back in a loop. Muscles rippled beneath his tight, black shirt, and his legs were as firm as tree trunks. He walked straight to Art, and the old man’s frail frame cowered from the man. Mia felt negative energy fill the room. She focused on GQ’s lips, picking up the conversation from their motion. I don’t think so, she thought , shooting daggers at the threatening man. Her protective nature surfaced. She hit the panic button behind the counter and grabbed the Louisville Slugger her boss kept hidden. Seconds later, she stood in front of the two men with the bat in hand. “Art, are you okay?” she asked, raking her eyes over his trembling body. “Mind your business, girl.” GQ’s menacing voice rolled through the air, jump-startin g her pulse . Her nerves crept into her throat and formed a lump . She tried to swallow, not wanting to show fear. Never let ‘em see ya sweat. The words of her grandmother echoed in her head. If you think they can beat you, they will. The advice of dead loved ones always came at the strangest times.
   “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” Mia tightened her fingers around the bat, raising it, and narrowed her eyes. “Am I your size?” The deep, chilling voice filled the air behind her, and she turned. The doorway framed the man, his bulk taking up the entire entrance. With his mullet style sandy blond hair and muscles stretching the fabric of his clothes, he looked like he was late for a wrestling match. The hem of his black, leather duster hung just below his knees, and dark sunglasses wrapped his face. When he removed them, his eyes seemed to glow from within. Must be a night out for the freaks, Mia thought, but those were cool contacts. “Woman, move aside.” His voice sent a powerful burst of energy toward her, and though Mia’s heart skipped a beat, she stood her ground. Move aside? Her inner rebel stood up, and she shouted, “N o!” As she stared at him, his aura materialized.
   Mia had seen many auras in her life, but never one like his. Metallic silver embedded into the blackness of his aura, and a brightwhite formed the outer crest. It was beautiful, but she had no idea what it meant. Black wasn’t good, she knew that, but the metallic shimmer throughout was a mystery. She made a mental note to Google it later. Mia’s face relaxed. Her head tilted to the side as she gazed at his aura—it was mesmerizing. “Woman!” His tone was firm, but his expression bewildered as she continued to stare at him. Lowering his head like a bull ready to charge, his stare intensified as if he were trying to speak to her with his mind. When he narrowed his eyes, the white glow increased, and a reddish tint took form. A wave of dizziness instantly hit, and her stomach became queasy. She wanted to lie down. When her knee slightly buckled, she clenched her teeth , narrowed her eyes, and glared back at him. Her fatigue faded as she pulled on her inner strength, intensifying her gaze. Glowing Eyes’ aura twitched l ike an interrupted cable signal. What the…? With an intent stare and a raised brow, she smirked. “Are we going to do this all night?” With wide-eyes, his head snapped up and his lips parted in shock as he looked past her to GQ. Okay, I’m officially weirded out now. What in the hell just happened? Mia’s thoughts raced, trying to piece things together.
   Glowing Eyes twitched his head at GQ, shifting his gaze back to Mia. GQ grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to her sides and dropping the bat to the floor. A sharp sound followed by a hiss came from behind her, and it rolled inside her ears, bringing all the hairs on her skin to attention. With his lips pulled into a tight line, Glowing Eyes glared at GQ, shook his head no, and focused on Art. “Art, come,” he ordered. Mia’s eyebrows drew together as Art went past her, his aura twitching and small spaces appearing throughout its crest. It became dimmer the closer he got to Glowing Eyes whose own aura grew brighter with every step Art took. “Art, you disobeyed me. Now, you will be punished. Go to the car.” Mia spoke before her brain could stop her. “Over my dead body. I’m not going to let you take a helpless man out of here.” The faint sound of sirens echoed in the distance as she struggled in GQ’s grip. “Oh…please, Master. She would taste so sweet.” GQ’s voice sent shivers through her. She glanced up at the security mirror. His lips were pulled back, revealing two sharp, pointed teeth, and glazed eyes like a starving man being handed a steak. Fangs? The sirens grew louder as they approached. GQ bent down, and raked his teeth across her neck, nicking her skin. “N o!” Glowing Eyes’ stern voice drew GQ from the love affair he was having with Mia’s neck. His movements froze, leaving his mouth still, but allowing his gaze to trail over to Glowing Eyes who shook his head. “Leave her. We must go. Now!” Before letting her go, GQ flattened his tongue on her shoulder and slowly licked his way up to her ear. Mia felt sick. She swayed forward as he released her to make his exit. She knew for certain GQ wanted to kill her and eat her, but she wasn’t sure in which order.

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