Read The First Chapters Of The Soul Healer

The Soul Healer WordPress

Chapter 1

Journal Entry May 27, Early 2000s.

It’s been two years since the drunk driver ruined my life. As time passes, I remember that day with more clarity. I often wonder what made him get behind the wheel that night. I will never understand it because he died at the accident scene. There are days I wish our fates had taken a different path.

If anyone ever reads this journal and asks why I would say such a thing. Live my life for a day and maybe you’ll understand.

Grateful? That’s what my family tells me I should be. I should live life to the fullest and thank God I’m still alive.

All that bullshit about the sun shining brighter, the birds singing in the trees, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. I should appreciate those little things.

It’s not easy. It’s not the recovery. I’ve recovered. Hell, I even drove again after my initial fear of getting behind the wheel. I enjoy driving again. It’s my source of freedom.

It’s not that at all. Whoever reads this journal long after I’m gone, you’ll doubt my sanity. You’ll think I had lingering brain damage. Nope. All brain scans are nice and normal.

Normal. What is that word? I’m not normal anymore.

The images may say I have normal brain activity, but something inside my subconscious came to life the minute metal rammed metal and the windows shattered all over me. When I woke up from my coma, I knew something inside me changed.

My vision of the world changed to utter darkness. I see things, dark things.

When I was still in the hospital, a lab technician entered my room in the middle of the night. He came to draw my blood for the doctor.

I turned over in bed so he could greet me. He had such a nice voice too. Smooth and boyish. His dark hair slicked back with a nice smelling gel.

It was his eyes that caught my attention. They flickered. It’s the only way I can describe it. They flickered and turned black. Not just the pupil or the iris. His whole eye turned black.

I thought I was seeing things. I blinked a few times, and he became nervous and missed my vein. The stinging pain made my eyes water, but it brought me out of my sleepy state.

I pulled my arm back and looked at him again. That’s when I saw my first shadow. That’s what I call them; shadows. I can’t think of anything better right now.

His human form darkened with each movement as he tried to find my vein. His eyes never returned to their human form. His voice was raspy, and a shadow circled his chest.

I remember screaming. I remember jumping out of bed and pulling out my IVs. I remember crying for help. I didn’t know what this man was. He tried to calm me down, but the more I screamed, the angrier he became and the shadow around him formed a head, mouth, and eyes to laugh at me.

I tried to run out of the room, but my ankle was still in its cast, and I fell against the bed. Nurses and the night doctor on duty came running in, confused about what was happening.

I pointed to the lab technician telling them there was a monster in my room. They thought I went insane. I tried to escape, but they held me down.

The hospital staff sedated and restrained me. The last thing I remember from that night was the doctor ordering a change in my meds.

It wasn’t the pain medications. That was the night I became a seer—not quite a hunter, but a seer. That was the night my life turned on its head.

I’m sitting here waiting for a response from another person like me. I don’t know what to do.

This idiot in this secret place called The Network said that I should be proud of my “gift.”

Sure…

I guess when God was handing out straws about who can contact ghosts, who can predict the future or any other psychic power, I drew the short straw.

Because I’m stuck with this “gift.”

Chapter 2

Present Day, Charlotte, North Carolina

Alison Stark typed away at her desk. She should have been working, but instead, she was answering her mother on Facebook.

Yes, Mom, Alison typed. I’ll fly down next month.

She closed out her Facebook page and sighed. She had four hours before calling it a day. She knew she needed to start her new project for the new company they had assigned to her through the firm, but she wasn’t feeling it today.

This was a huge score for her company and while everyone else was hard at work trying to please the client, Alison played on the internet. She hoped Brian wouldn’t walk by her while she answered her mom.

She strained her neck to look above the dull, gray walls of her cubicle and spotted her manager on the other side of the big room.

Alison turned back to her computer monitor and pulled up the project files for the assignment.

She shifted in her seat when a pair of eyes searched her out. She hated those eyes, but this one was one of the few that were harmless.

Alison learned over the years how to categorize the shadows. Some were benevolent, and then there were different levels of malevolent. There were the ones that liked to play pranks on the humans and then there were the ones that outright murdered the living. She’d seen them all.

Owen was a benevolent one.

“I need to leave this body soon,” he commented.

“Why? Are you bored?” Alison looked back down at her monitor and chewed on her pen.

She quit smoking six months ago and sometimes the cravings became unbearable. Now was one of those times.

The balding, pudgy man made a gesture to his chest. “This guy’s arteries are getting worse.”

“Then take him to a doctor,” Alison answered with a shrug.

“His husband is cheating on him too,” Owen commented.

Alison bit her lip trying to hide her smile. She looked back up at the shadow and waved her hand.

“Owen,” she whispered. “I hate seeing you. You know that.”

Owen looked at himself and Alison caught the shadow disappearing into the meat suit.

“Did you leave his soul in the cage?” Alison asked before she tried to work again.

“He’s there,” Owen said. “Meet me in the parking lot after work.”

Alison nodded without looking back up at the shadow. She hated seeing their true forms. It never failed to make her nauseous even after eleven years.

Alison waited for the clock to tick away while she tried to concentrate on her numbers. She chanced a glance at her personal emails. There wasn’t much there, mostly spam, but sometimes there was an occasional sale that interested her.

She tried not to let her mind wander too much. When she did, it brought back many memories—painful ones. Memories she tried to suppress for a long time.

She moved to North Carolina from Florida three years ago to start a new life and become the most boring person she could think of. She worked her job, went home, ate takeout, had a glass of wine or two, and walked her dog. Then she’d crash in her bed with a book.

If anyone told her she’d be friendless and isolated from other people in the last eleven years, Alison would have laughed at them. She had the time of her life when she was in college. Partying with her sorority sisters, playing sports, and dating hot guys. Her GPA had been phenomenal. Alison was on top of the world until that one moment when Kenneth Holiday stumbled out of a bar without a designated driver and tried to drive home to an empty house since his wife left him.

Alison never saw Kenneth coming. She was on her way home from her current tryst at 12:30 AM when Kenneth lost control of his Ford F-150, jumped a curb and flew into the opposite lane where Alison drove.

Alison never knew what hit her until years later when bits and pieces appeared in her mind.

She never saw that Kenneth had been uninjured, and when he saw Alison slumped over, he thought he had killed her. Good Samaritans were stopping to help when Kenneth stumbled back to his vehicle, grabbed his 9mm pistol from his glove box, and blew the back of his head out right there at the scene.

Alison never remembered that part, and she didn’t know about it until she was well enough for questioning by police officers.

That was the start of her new life, and she despised every moment.

Now, she drifted through life, staying away from potential danger. The less she saw of the shadows, the better.

Alison’s eyes scanned her emails. The usual, back to school sales, an offer from some “Nigerian Prince” who wants her to send money so he can marry her. Nothing new. Alison’s eyes settled on one particular email.

She turned her head both ways to make sure no one was around and clicked on the email. The sender signed the email as Reverend Kyle Ellis.

Alison read the email and froze.

She thought she’d scrubbed herself from The Network years ago. She was stupid and desperate at the time to understand what she was seeing and she put herself out there to find answers.

How did this guy find her?

She leaned in closer to the email only absorbing certain words.

I need help.

I tried, but it didn’t work.

She’s nine years old.

The last words made Alison’s blood run cold.

There was blood everywhere.

Alison clicked out of the email and brought up her files. She closed her eyes trying to slow her breathing and realized her heart was pounding against her ribcage.

“You all right, Allie?” Owen asked.

Alison nodded and glanced at the clock. She realized some time had passed and her coworkers were getting ready to leave for the day.

Alison sat staring at the screen. She shook her head trying to forget about what she read over the email.

Alison blinked several times and swallowed as she pictured what this Reverend Kyle wrote about in his email.

It could have been a hoax she tried to convince herself. She had her share of trolls and nasty people over the years. Those who tried to trick her and make her feel like an outcast. They would discover her information and make her life miserable by telling her to kill herself or she needed to be admitted to a mental institution.

She pulled up the email and read it again. The words seemed sincere, and he signed the email with an official electronic signature from Reverend Kyle Ellis of First Methodist Church located in Wolfpine, North Carolina.

“Where the hell is Wolfpine?” Alison asked out loud and pulled up her Google maps to locate the town.

Alison found the town northwest of Asheville. Right smack in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. She was surprised to find the population had grown over 100,000 when she searched for logistics.

She never heard of the place, but from the Google pictures, she found a growing town that kept its small-town qualities.

She typed in Reverend Ellis’s address and found his church. A tiny place of worship with a small house sitting next to it.

Alison shut her search down. This had to be fake. The little girl probably had mental issues and this was some weirdo pastor who didn’t understand the little girl needed psychiatric care.

Alison checked the time on the wall. Everyone was clearing out. Owen was giving her a knowing look.

Alison gathered her handbag, checked her phone, and told Owen she needed to use the bathroom first.

Alison entered the ladies’ room and threw down her handbag onto the sink. She leaned over the sink taking deep soothing breaths. She looked at herself in the mirror. She received these kinds of emails every few months, but with children, she almost gave in a few times.

Something wasn’t right. She could feel it deep down in her bones. Something was shifting inside her gut after reading this email. Not that she could see it, but she could feel it as the Reverend’s words played over in her mind.

She gazed at her reflection in the mirror and pushed a stray, blonde hair behind her ear.

Not my circus, not my— Alison stopped her thoughts. This was not her problem. He could contact some other hunter. The hunter might have to travel but he could find someone else.

She stopped when Heather—

Alison banged her hand on the sink. She then put her hands over her face not wanting to remember that night. She didn’t want to remember the moment she discovered what was wrong with Heather.

Alison turned on the faucet and splashed some cold water on her face and hung her head over the sink watching the water swirl down the drain to calm her thoughts.

She turned away from the mirror, gathered her handbag, and walked out of the bathroom when other women walked in to do their business before leaving for the day.

Alison didn’t want questions. She didn’t want anyone to ask if she was “all right.” She was never all right.

She walked out of the office area and down the hallway lined with offices to the front doors.

Giving a nod to the night security guard, she exited the building and walked towards her car.

She spotted Owen waiting by his car.

He had a pinched look on his face when she approached him.

“Indigestion?” Alison asked only half-joking.

Owen shook his head. His eyes flickered and turned black. Alison did her best not to turn away from the abnormal sight.

“Allie,” Owen began, “I know you felt it today. Didn’t you?”

Alison let out a breath and fixed her handbag on her shoulder. She didn’t bother to deny it. Owen’s shadow could see right through her.

“What does it mean?” She asked.

“It means one of my own is gaining more power. That’s not good,” Owen answered. He looked at her knowingly. “You might have to go back to work.”

Emotions she thought she’d buried rippled through her body. She dreaded the thought of returning to that life. She didn’t want more heartache and even worse—death.

“I got an email today from some pastor in a small town northwest of here,” Alison explained. “He said a little girl is one of them and killed her mother.”

Owen scratched his bald head. “It’s closer than I thought. It’s your decision, but I would watch your ass.”

Alison nodded while Owen opened his car door and sat down in the driver’s seat. She knew the shadow was ready to leave the human. The real Owen would return momentarily.

He looked at her and said, “I’ve been in this guy for a year. He was fun, but I need to go before I’m pulled into this. I fought long and hard to not become one of them.”

Alison understood. She closed her eyes. The feelings within her stirred to life. It was hard to explain unless you experienced it. People like her were all over the world. She didn’t know she could exorcise the shadows without help from some Bible verses until she touched one for the first time until she trained with experienced hunters.

Her fingers tingled as the electricity pulsed through her body. Her mind was on fire. All it would take is one touch and the shadow with Owen would leave this body forever.

“Be careful, Alison.”

“I always am,” Alison answered.

She leaned into the car and faced Owen. She placed both her hands on the sides of his head. He screamed in pain feeling the burning sensation from Alison’s touch. It never hurt Alison. She never felt the pain the shadows felt when removing them from a human body.

Owen’s skin was turning a deep red, a hissing sound with smoke rose from between her fingers.

Alison let go when Owen leaned his head back and opened his mouth. His eyes rolled back, and a black tar-like substance came flying out of his mouth. Alison heard Owen make some choking noises as the black shadow flew out of the car and disappeared into the air.

Owen slumped over when the shadow was gone and closed his eyes. Alison looked around to make sure no one had seen them and checked the man’s pulse. She smiled, thanking the shadow for letting the man live.

After several moments, Owen blinked his eyes and coughed. He jerked in the seat. He sat up straight and tried to brush off something that wasn’t there, his facial expression showing his panic. He finally turned his head and his eyes widened, seeing Alison standing there gazing at him.

“Alison?” He inhaled deep breaths and put a hand over his chest.

“Are you all right, Owen?” Alison asked feigning concern. “You were slumped over in your seat for a minute.”

Owen ran his hands across his chest and looked around his car. His confusion played on his facial features.

“I—I think I’m okay,” he said.

“As long as you think you’re okay,” Alison answered, putting a hand on his shoulder in a comforting gesture. No burning sensation. The shadow was gone. She removed her hand from his shoulder.

“I don’t remember how I got here, though,” he said. “Do you think I might be sick?”

Alison blinked and smiled. “I would go see a doctor if I were you.”

Alison turned to walk away and leave work, satisfied that Owen was human again.

“Do you think I should?” He asked.

“Yeah, it might be a heart issue,” she said over her shoulder, leaving a confused Owen in her wake.

Chapter 3

Reverend Kyle Ellis gazed down at the buffet table that held fifteen types of casseroles. His stomach lurched while he tried to hide his disgust. He searched the table trying to find a lighter meal, perhaps a salad or some fruit. The thought of eating another greasy casserole didn’t sit well with him today, and the acid in his stomach burned his throat.

Can’t these women ever cook anything besides a casserole? Kyle thought with a roll of his eyes.

Kyle tugged at his collar, wanting to pull off this stupid tie and find cooler air. The community hall at the fire station’s air conditioning had tapped out again, and the heat of dozens of bodies in the room dressed in their Sunday best, a mix of hairspray, overpriced perfume, and cheap cologne was enough to make a man lose his lunch.

But Reverend Ellis had to have the luncheon here. It was the only place he could book at the last minute. He had a problem near the church and he told everyone some pipes burst and he had to keep it closed.

Luckily, no one questioned him about why he hadn’t called a plumber yet.

Thank the good Lord the nearest plumber—Dave something or other—didn’t attend his little church in this part of town. Then he’d be stretching for answers.

Today was one of those hot days that clung to your skin and clothing. The kind that made you stay inside and out of the sun. The sky was a hazy grayish color, not the usual Carolina blue that residents loved to boast about. If this heat kept up, all the lawns and trees would turn brown by the end of August.

The local weather forecaster predicted thunderstorms, but that didn’t mean relief from the stifling heat.

Mrs. Elderson left the potluck early. The heat inside the community hall was too overwhelming for the elderly woman. Kyle hoped others would follow her, but most of his congregation stuck around for the free food.

If Kyle was one of those pastors, he would swear that Hell was reigning fire and brimstone onto the town, but he wasn’t one of those pastors.

Kyle continued his quest for some lighter food while the congregation talked amongst themselves or surrounded their new parishioner.

Kyle turned his gaze over to Miguel Alvarado. He stood in a corner surrounded by women who pretended to care about him and his daughter.

Miguel had been a devoted Catholic until three weeks ago. It was three weeks ago that he lost his beloved wife Luciana. Wolfpine believed the woman died of natural causes.

Kyle caught Miguel’s gaze. The man’s haunted look and haggard appearance were not only from his wife’s sudden death but the way she died.

A death that was now Kyle’s burden to resolve.

Kyle stepped in front of one of the huge fans cooling the hall. His armpits were stained with sweat, just like most of the other men here for the monthly potluck, but he hated to think he was showing how hot he was.

He could see people starting to leave the hall because of the heat. This would be the shortest potluck they ever hosted. He smirked at the thought.

Kyle heard a commotion and walked over to the door to investigate. He heard sighs of relief and excited chatter as a local catering company unloaded their cars. Someone had ordered a bunch of cold food and drinks.

Kyle appreciated the delivery.

He stepped out of the way as people reentered the hall to fill up their plates. This was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Kyle shouldn’t have been aggressive, but he was as desperate as everyone else to cool off. So, he placed himself in line and grabbed a salad.

He spoke with members of his congregation, his part-time receptionist—Miranda O’Neill—not hiding her displeasure about Kyle’s choice for the potluck.

Miranda side-eyed him but didn’t further question her boss.

Kyle scooped salad onto his plate, filled up the plastic cup with ice and water, and sat at a table off in the corner. He wasn’t in the mood to be friendly and engaging today. He sure as hell didn’t want to keep his appointments this week.

He found someone to contact about the problem he was dealing with and he could only pray that this person would answer his call. He sent three emails the past week and nothing. No answer. He followed up with his initial contact and they didn’t answer either.

His frustrations with these hunting people only added to the suspicions he’d been having about this town for years.

“You’re not very sociable today,” a voice said from beside him.

Kyle looked up to see Chief Markus Carter grabbing a metal folding chair and joining him at the table.

Kyle crumpled his napkin in his hand and stared at the chief of police.

The fifty-something man sat patiently waiting for an answer knowing what was already bothering Kyle.

Kyle ran a hand through his chestnut hair and made a disgusted face because of the sweat.

He wiped his hand with another napkin. He adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses and said, “I tried again the other day, but she’s not responding. She sits there and laughs at me. Her father is becoming impatient.”

“What about that person you said you would contact?”

Kyle took a bite of salad. He chewed the cold food without tasting it and swallowed. “She hasn’t answered. I don’t think she will. My other contact bailed, too.”

Markus shook his bald head. His dark brown eyes scanned the crowd. “You don’t know who’s who anymore,” he muttered.

Markus was right, although Kyle knew some. He knew those he did not save over the last five years and now he was failing a child.

“Do you know who brought this food? You know these women only know how to cook meat, more meat, and pasta.”

Markus chuckled, taking a big gulp of water. “I have no clue.”

“We’re not sure either,” another voice said.

Kyle adjusted his collar when he heard the light female voice to his left. He turned and tried to plant a smile on his face. He didn’t think he’d have to talk to her today, but it was inevitable because of the situation the congregation found themselves in.

Emma Leavens smiled her flirtatious smile to everyone around her. Her long, flaming red hair fell softly over her bare shoulders. The woman didn’t sweat, as Kyle discovered some time ago.

She looked cooler than a cucumber and prettier than a rose inside this horrible community hall with the old wood paneling and blinding fluorescent lights.

Her pale skin showed off her freckles and her green sleeveless dress perfectly contrasted her pale skin and lush hair.

Kyle knew Emma all too well. He knew her intimately. He was lonely and bored after his divorce and Emma was his cure.

Emma had grown up in Wolfpine, she won every beauty contest in the state, and came home to marry the rich widower—Donald Leavens. Donald was thirty years Emma’s senior and died months before Kyle’s divorce. Donald was also the church’s biggest donor, and although Kyle and Emma were no longer lovers, he tried to keep up the facade of friendliness towards her for that reason.

Emma was now the rich widow since Donald never had children to leave his fortune to. Kyle found out that Emma had an eye for other men around the time they were seeing each other, and he ended it not wanting more drama in his life.

Kyle was hurt, but Emma never showed regret. Her looking as cool as a cucumber also matched her personality.

“Wonderful sermon today, Reverend,” Emma said with a smile. She turned to Markus and said, “It’s so nice to see you here, Chief.”

Anyone could fall under Emma’s spell. She could turn on the charm quicker than a man losing his toupee in a hurricane.

Markus grinned up at the woman standing over them.

“Thank you, Emma,” Kyle said. “It’s not your food?”

Emma shook her head dramatically, making sure her hair made swooshing sounds. “Not at all, Reverend. I don’t know who brought in the cold food for us.”

Markus and Kyle exchanged looks. No one here expected the air conditioner to tap out.

Kyle didn’t care. He was ready to leave this life and start anew.

He’d lost his faith over the years and with his divorce, he didn’t think he could call himself a Reverend if he couldn’t even keep his marriage together.

He prayed over it for many nights in the past three years and as he prayed he became more resentful. The church committee no longer seemed to care about the state of their place of worship so why should he? Donations no longer came in waves, they only trickled in. The church was badly in need of repair even with Emma’s generosity and Kyle thought he wasn’t really lying when he said the pipes had burst, it was par for the course with the place.

He loved his church, but over the years and many heartaches, Kyle questioned what his path was and at thirty-six he thought he better decide where he wanted to go in life before it was too late.

Kyle heard some whistles and cheering from the crowd and stood up. Emma grinned. She turned back to Kyle with an excited look in her eyes he never saw before even when they spent some passionate nights together.

“I think I know who brought the food,” Emma said.

Kyle strained his neck and glimpsed the person everyone was making a fuss over.

He scowled and wondered why the Mayor of Wolfpine showed up here today.

Markus had already abandoned Kyle to greet the mayor along with the rest of the parishioners.

Miranda pushed her way through the crowd to find Kyle and gave him the look. Be nice, her facial expressions said. Miranda knew how Kyle felt about the mayor. He returned her look as he fixed his collar and shrugged about his sweat-stained shirt and tie to greet the mayor with phony enthusiasm.

She returned to the other side of the hall and Kyle pushed his way through the overheated bodies to see Mayor Samuel Manes greeting the church committee members while holding Joan Baker’s two-year-old daughter in his arms.

The young girl stared at the crowd, cooed, and laughed as she popped her thumb into her mouth. Joan had been trying to stop the little girl from sucking her thumb, and Joan’s face turned a bright crimson when her daughter offered her saliva covered thumb to the mayor, much to his amusement.

“No, sweetie, you keep it,” the mayor said with a laugh from the crowd.

Samuel Manes was not a big man, nor an imposing figure. He was short, with white hair, an average build, with blue eyes. Kyle thought he looked like some kind of bird with his hooked nose and his angular face.

Samuel was not a native of Wolfpine. He moved to the town about five years ago and immediately won the election for mayor.

He said he grew up somewhere in Virginia and ran his own business. No one knew much more about Samuel. You never saw him with a wife and children, or a significant other.

He always dressed in designer suits and ties, even on hot days like today.

Samuel was an enigma, but the people of Wolfpine worshipped him. He turned this town from an oppressed former textile town, into a tourist attraction right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the heart of the Smoky Mountains.

The residents of the town had jobs, money, and could comfortably start families.

Then why didn’t Kyle trust the man who saved this town from failure? Kyle could feel it. He couldn’t see it, he couldn’t touch it, but he could feel a different vibe coming off Samuel.

A feeling was not proof of any wrongdoing. Kyle searched and searched the internet for Samuel after he ran for mayor and found nothing.

But he knew something was off about the man, and he couldn’t do anything about it. He could only wait and see how the town and how this man who came into power out nowhere played out.

Kyle rubbed his eyes as he waited for Samuel to finish greeting other parishioners before he made his appearance. Why would Samuel send food and other cold items to his small church? There were bigger places in town that he could have focused on.

Miranda caught Kyle’s attention after she greeted the mayor and Samuel handed the little girl back to her mother.

Kyle plastered a smile on his face and walked over to shake the mayor’s hand.

“Mr. Mayor,” Kyle said, “On behalf of myself and the church, thank you for your generosity in making our monthly gathering much easier with your gifts.”

Samuel smiled, and Kyle noticed teeth whiter than newly fallen snow. “You’re welcome, Reverend Ellis. I heard about your plumbing problems, and that you could only reserve this place at the last minute. The least I could do is make everyone more comfortable.”

“God shined his light down on us when the food and drinks arrived, Mr. Mayor,” Kyle said. The words left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Kyle noticed a smirk appear on Samuel’s face, but he hid it before anyone else noticed.

“Where is your donation plate or basket? I would like to donate today to your fine church, Reverend,” Samuel said.

Kyle felt Miranda rush past him to find their donation basket. “Looks like my assistant is already on it, Mr. Mayor.”

Samuel’s assistant—Kyle couldn’t recall his name—approached and handed the mayor a checkbook. Samuel grabbed a pen and wrote out the check. Kyle couldn’t see how much it was, because Miranda was already by his side waiting for the donation.

She held out the basket and Samuel dropped the check through the slot. “Hopefully, this will help with the plumbing.”

“Very generous of you, Mr. Mayor, and God bless you,” Kyle said when Miranda grasped the basket like it was a newborn baby and grinned stupidly beside him.

Samuel nodded and smiled. Kyle let the rest of the parishioners have their time with the mayor and air their grievances.

Samuel stayed for another half hour before he apologized for having to cut the time short, and head back to his duties.

“You never liked him,” Markus said to Kyle.

Kyle was now holding Joan’s young daughter, while Joan gathered her things to leave. The little girl fell asleep in Kyle’s arms. Joan’s husband Matt was deployed and she could use all the help she could get with her daughter.

Kyle had hoped for this feeling one day, but it never happened. He doubted it ever would the way his life was heading.

“And I never will,” Kyle commented as he adjusted the sleeping little girl on his shoulder.

“Found nothing on him,” Markus said.

“You never will,” Kyle answered.

Markus shrugged and said, “What about our current problem?”

“I’m meeting Miguel after everyone clears out. I will try again,” Kyle said.

“No answer?”

Kyle grabbed his phone and tapped his emails. Oh, no, he had an answer, and the answer was telling him to fuck off and stop emailing her.

He shook his head, and said, “Nothing.”

“It didn’t work the first time. Why do you think it’ll work again?”

Kyle tried to smile, but it was more out of sarcasm. “My faith. I have to keep Miguel hopeful too or he might do something rash.”

Markus nodded. “Do you need me there?”

Kyle shook his head. “No. I can handle it. I may have to take a drive this week and I might need you to watch her while I’m gone.”

Markus frowned. “Where will you go?”

“To visit this woman,” Kyle said.

Markus blinked in surprise. “Are you out of your damn mind? If she said no, she said no. You going there ain’t going to change her mind,” he scolded.

“She’s the only one who answered and she’s the closest. I’ve got to try,” Kyle said.

“You can try, but I think you’ll come back disappointed.”

Kyle shrugged. He spotted Joan approaching and nodded to Markus.

Markus turned and smiled at Joan as Kyle got lost in his thoughts.

He needed to try. He was trying to save a child.

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