ec556-moonthumbWhy he had to fall for such a stubborn woman he had no idea, Max thought, as he paced his living room. He should be with her, helping her, scratch that, he never should have given her the information.

He’d known deep down she would pull something like this. He thought about her sister Zoë. She was the reason he gave her the information. He paced some more, then glared at his phone vibrating on the table.

“Yes.” He answered tersely.

“Is this a bad time?” Jamie asked nervously on the other end.

“No.” Max let out a deep breath to release some of his anger.

“Good, because we need to talk. Not over the phone though, can you stop by?”

“On my way,” He grabbed his keys frowning.

Work needed to be done. All he could think about was Montana.

Had he done the right thing? Could she handle herself? He shook his head, of course she could she always has.

He was disgusted with himself by the time he arrived at Jamie’s. He’d never second guessed his decisions, and he’d never been a worrier until he met Montana. He unclenched his jaw and rubbed it. The woman moved him, unbearably.

Jamie unlocked the shop door and let him in, re locking it behind them. She was pale and jumpy.

“Is Sam all right?” He knew how much Jamie liked her.

“She’s fine, come in back and sit down.”

Max followed her and sat down at the kitchen table, Sam gave him a cup of coffee. Jamie paced until Max stood up again.

“No, sit back down.” She said, sitting across from him, wringing her hands.

“It’s her!” Sam blurted plopping down next to Jamie. “It’s Montana.”

Jamie looked at Max then Sam and nodded her head. “It’s Montana. Where is she?”

“What are you talking about?” Max asked, getting a sinking feeling. “She’s in Maine.”

Sam sighed, “I’m sorry, Max, she’s the ghost.” She recounted what she saw when they came into the shop.

Max glanced at Jamie, having a hard time wrapping his mind around the declaration.

“Sam, sugar, would you give Max and I some privacy to talk?”

“Sure.” Sam mumbled wondering if she should pack her things and leave now rather than later. She was causing problems, but she couldn’t help it. She was telling the truth

“I’ll be up in a bit and we’ll talk. Okay?”

“Okay.” She stood up nervously. She would wait on packing her bags. She really liked Jamie and wanted to stay.

“This should sound bizarre to you, but you don’t look freaked out.” Jamie examined Max’s blank face.

She glanced at the picture of the ocean. “It’s Sterling!” She blurted, then sighed, “at least I think it is, my tattoo isn’t reacting to him. It should be warm or hot or something.”

Max continued to stare at her.

“I have to think. I don’t remember the story well; to me it was just babble. My parents tried to warn me, but he hasn’t been out for hundreds of years. I never thought he would find a way.”

She waited a beat, watching Max before continuing. “Look all I remember is that he was a very powerful sorcerer pirate who wanted to rule the world,” she giggled, “now we have politicians.”

She added quickly, seriously “Something about Sterling landing on our beaches. My ancestors put him to rest at sea and took the pendant from him,” a long sigh, “which supposedly is the only way he can come back from the land of the dead. We’ve had the pendant for generations now. Nothings happened!”

Max continued to stare at her. Just the thought of Montana in trouble again made his stomach knot and his head spin.

“Look the whole thing always sounded bogus to me. I never did take it very seriously. Now I know I should have. I mean I know a few people with power, and spells, and I can do a few things myself, but still.”

“How does Montana factor into this?” Max replied thinking about the injection she’d gotten and wondering if she’d been drawn in by this Sterling without knowing.

If she did know would she tell him?

Most likely she didn’t, or if she did she was trying to work it out for herself, like always.

“I’m not sure. What’s her story?”

“I’m not at liberty to say.”

“Has she been behaving strange?”

Max knew she’d been keeping something from him, there was also Killer.

“Her dog has been growling at her lately.”

“The dog senses something. Look Max I could be totally off base here, but we should make sure. We need to start following her. Make sure to keep the dog away from her, also look at her reflection in a mirror, if she’s pale and ghostly then Sam’s right.

Jamie’s lips trembled, “I don’t know how Sterling could have gotten to her, but we should at least rule her out. Don’t touch her either, if it is Sterling he’ll know and find someone else. If it’s her we’ll figure something out. When will she be back from Maine?”

Max’s lips thinned, “Soon.”

“Let me know as soon as she’s back. I’ll dig up the story from our archives and figure out how to fix this. It has to be quick though, because everyday he has her in his grip he drains her more. Has she been tired lately?”

“She’s been waking up later than normal.”

“Has she been leaving in the middle of the night?”

Max glared at Jamie. “I wouldn’t know.”

“Ah.” They weren’t sleeping together. That was a good thing at this point.

“Try to get her to stay with you, but remember don’t touch her, and don’t tell her. You could screw her up mentally by telling her. Especially if she doesn’t know what’s happening to her. I need to get the book and talk to Sam. Call me as soon as she gets in.”

“Do you think she has the pendant?”

“I hope so. If she does she needs to keep it until we figure out how to fix this. Would you mind doing some snooping around her house?” She paused. “It would have to be in a safe or something.”

“I can.” Max replied, not looking happy about it at all.

“Okay,” Jamie got up from the table, “I’ll let you out. I really am sorry Max.”

There’d been too much left out of the conversation Max thought as he followed Jamie. She hadn’t said anything about Montana coming out of this alive, and all right. Maybe she really didn’t know what to do, or want him to dwell on it right now, he wouldn’t. But at the same time he’d be damned if he let anything happen to Montana.

At least now he had a place to start looking for the pendant, but if he wanted to win Montana’s trust breaking into her house wasn’t going to cut it, especially if she found out. And if Montana did have the pendant like Sam believed they were in even more trouble than Jamie first thought.

Jamie locked the door behind Max and stood there for a moment wondering how much she could trust Sam. She was almost absolutely sure Sam wasn’t involved, but had only known her a few days. Could Sam be making all this up for attention? Her gut told her no, and she’d learned to listen to her gut over the years. Self doubt and inconsistent thoughts screwed her over many more times than listening to her gut had.

She needed Sam’s help, so she would have to throw her trust to the wind and hope she wasn’t wrong, she thought, walking up the stairs to Sam’s room.

“Please don’t kick me out,” Sam pleaded as soon as Jamie opened the door, “I really want to stay. My mom and dad died a long time ago. I’ve been out on the streets for forever. I don’t even know how long. I don’t remember anything. Please don’t kick me out.”

“Oh, Sam, sugar, I’m not going to kick you out.” Jamie said, hugging her.

“I really do like it here, and I like you, and I’m sorry about Max and Montana, but I had to tell you.” She cried on Jamie’s shoulder.

Jamie held her until she stopped crying. “I’m going to need your help if you stay. I’ll need you to run the shop while I do research, and I need you to be totally honest with me, especially if anyone’s auras change. Can you do that?”

“Anything for you.”

“Staying here could be dangerous, Sam. You need to know that.”

Sam smiled, “My middle name is danger. I’ll help anyway I can.”

“Read the books I gave you and we’ll start fresh in the morning.” Jamie stood. She had some reading to do herself.

“Thank you Jamie. I won’t fail you.”

Jamie smiled as she left the bedroom.

*

Max sat on Montana’s bed staring at the jewelry surrounding him. She did have the pendant, matching earrings, and other jewelry that looked very old, and hadn’t said a thing to him about it.

Why did he have to fall for such a stubborn woman? He asked himself again. Did she know where they were from and what she’d gotten herself into? He didn’t think so. He examined the pendant and the rest of the jewelry again before putting them back into the safe and closing it. He stood up, deciding to search the whole house.

There was nothing else in her house except for a ton of newspapers in the recycling bin. Montana didn’t watch the news, or read the papers unless she absolutely had to.

He located her computer, bypassed her password, and searched her history. She’d been looking for reported burglaries. Relief washed over him. She knew something was going on, but didn’t know what it was. He’d been here the night before how did she get past him? Had she even gone out? Did she really float like a ghost through walls? His head pounded and he felt like he was spinning his wheels, he needed answers yesterday and didn’t feel like he was any closer to getting them.

She was strong willed he reminded himself again, and probably wanted to figure this out for herself, but she still should have mentioned it to him. Would he have helped if she came to him? He balled his hands into fists. Yes he would have helped her, she had to know that.

He closed her computer, locked up the house, and checked his cell phone, no new messages. He was hoping she would call, but he didn’t expect her to. She always felt the need to do things her own way. She had better not get hurt in Maine.

He speed dialed a number. “Chase I need you to catch the next plane to Florida.”

Sterling-A Montana Dayton Novel Chapt.10:2
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