ec556-moonthumbI woke drenched in sweat with my sheets tangled around me, a killer headache, and my scars burning.

“I can’t continue like this.” I mumbled, struggling to get out of the sheets.

I got up, attempting to hold my side and head at the same time, shuffled to the bathroom, and looked in the mirror.

“No wonder.” I grabbed at the three necklaces and tried to yank them off my neck, they wouldn’t break. I took them off separately; next I pulled off the three sets of clip on earrings. Holding them in my hand I marched back to the bedroom and tossed them on the dresser before lying down again.

My head was already starting to feel better along with my scars, but I was exhausted.

Last night drained me way too much, because of the emotional roller-coaster I let in. Thank goodness Max didn’t know I was back in town and thank goodness I’d taken off the earrings he bought me before I left for Maine or they would be gone like my old ones were.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I was drifting off to sleep when the sensation of falling abruptly filled me. I grabbed the sheets and tried to pull myself out of the nightmare, getting sucked in instead.

The next thing I knew it was dark. I was swimming in the ocean with the sharks, a flashlight in my hand. The sharks parted so I could enter the cave I’d seen the other night.

I swam through the cave entrance and looked around, it was beautiful down here. The water was a deep blue, formations of stalagmites and stalactites surrounded me on both sides. I swam by them shivering; they reminded me of a prison cell

Something in my mind screamed for me to wake up, that I didn’t want to go further, didn’t want to know what I would find. I couldn’t stop. I felt like I was being called and pulled along by some invisible force.

Deeper in the cave I spotted an old pirate ship. I kicked harder, another part of me insisting that this was way to cool. I arrived at the broken down deck, tried to put on the breaks, but still couldn’t stop.

I dove into the cabin area and started to freak out, the shiver replaced by an ice cold chill. There were skeletons everywhere. Why couldn’t I stop, I thought, as I kicked harder and kept going. I wanted out of here!

I slowed down as I came to an opening and held my breath. I then realized I wasn’t wearing any scuba gear. Crap, crap, crap, it’s only a dream I told myself as my heart leapt into triple time. You can do anything in a dream my inner voice whispered.

I entered a room filled with sunken treasure. There was gold, jewelry, diamonds, rubies, and all kinds of enticing, glittery baubles lying around. I swam right by them kicking my feet, heading behind the last pile.

*

I jerked awake screaming, my heart pounding out of my chest. I took a few big deep breaths. My body shook hard. I calmed myself and laid back down closing my eyes, trying to recall the dream. I remembered I’d been swimming, but that was all. I hated it when I couldn’t remember my dreams, so I concentrated harder.

Ugh, fine. I sat up blinking the cobwebs from my eyes. I was still so tired, but dreaded the thought of going back to sleep. I kicked my feet over the bed and spotted the jewelry glittering on my table. A memory slid into my mind, through, and out before I could grasp it.

I picked up the necklaces, examining them. A huge diamond hung off of the first necklace, the second held an equal sized emerald, and the third held a big cluster of opals. The same went for the earrings, but instead of big rocks hanging from them they were small and dainty, exact matches of the rings. Another memory of the dream floated to the surface of my mind then disappeared.

I got up and tossed them in the safe with the other jewelry I had accumulating there then headed for the shower. I wasn’t even going to bother looking in the papers today, I was positive the stolen jewelry wouldn’t be there.

“Hand me a towel.” I said before I stepped out of the shower.

Max arrived a few minutes ago, and was making himself comfortable sitting on the tub waiting for me.

He opened the glass door and handed me the towel, right after his gaze raked over my body. He turned around showing me his back. “How did it go?”

“I don’t think my sister will be hearing from him again.” I said with a smirk on my face. “I took the red eye back that’s why I didn’t call you, and I slept in.”

He turned back to face me, his expression said it all. He’d been worried and was upset.

He examined my face carefully. “Get dressed, Chase is here. I’ll go get you some coffee.”

Did he know I was keeping a secret from him? He did. Crap! I still couldn’t talk to him about it right now. I needed more time.

I plastered a huge smile on my face, “An espresso please.”

I was applying makeup when he stepped into the bathroom with my java.

“Thanks.”

Chase bounded in a minute later and gave me a huge hug. He was the little brother I never had, and he was the only person I couldn’t sense well. He could probably sneak up on me if he tried. He was a few years younger than me, and really cute.

“You cut your hair!”

His hair had been long the last time I saw him, and he always had pulled back.

“I did.” He smiled, blue eyes twinkling at me.

Max began to scowl; he had always been a tad bit jealous of Chase. I touched Max’s arm, he stepped back shaking me off.

I frowned. “I have to use the ladies room,” I pushed them out of the bathroom and closed the door, “I’ll be down in a minute.”

What the hell was that about? I sighed, feeling a little hurt. Max had never turned away from my touch.

*

“She’s pale, borderline translucent.” Chase said as soon as they were out of earshot.

Max nodded grimly. It was Montana, and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it. All he could hope for was Montana coming to him before it was too late. He grabbed her smokes on their way out back.

“Fill me in.” Max said handing me my smokes when I stepped outside to join them.

“About?”

“Last night.”

“Oh.” Whew. “I showed Dick the information and told him I wasn’t afraid to put in on the Internet,” I shrugged, “he believed me.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.” There was no reason to tell him I had to break in and threaten Dick with a gun.

“Montana…”

“Look Max, I’m having some major trust issues right now. Give me some time okay.”

His steel eyes bored into mine, it was amazing how often they changed colors. He was leaning against the rail, dressed in jeans and a black tee shirt that did nothing to hide his strong arms and muscular body. His black hair was slightly ruffled from dragging his hand through it, and he hadn’t shaved. The dark stubble on his face made him look even sexier than he normally looked.

My heart constricted, guilt assailed me. I sat down and covered my face with my hands. I was in love with him. I should tell him everything now. I inhaled a quiet breath.

I was too tired right now, and I needed to figure out what was going on so I had a good case to present to him. I would tell him later when I had more information.

I looked over at Chase. “So what are you doing here?”

“I’m here to help Max with this case. I also picked up Killer; he’s at Max’s house.”

“Did they ever figure out what was wrong with him?”

“No, they didn’t find anything, but maybe I should keep him for a while, you seem pretty wiped out.”

I was going to have to find that bottle of B-vitamins I bought, and hide my raccoon eyes better.

“It’s a deal, but only for a couple of days.” One less thing to worry about.

Chase handed me a jar. “It’s from Doc, a new blend to help fade your scars better.”

“Thanks.”

Who cared about the scars? I needed pain therapy. I almost asked if it worked on pain, but bit my cheek instead.

“Chase and I need to head over to Jamie’s. Would you care to join us?” Max grumbled.

“Yes, her shop is perfect for gifts for Rose. Let me get my stuff.”

Good, Max thought clenching his fists; he was having a hard time keeping his hands off her. But he needed to see if there was any change in her coloring since yesterday.

I grabbed my purse and jumped into Max’s truck with Chase. It was a silent ride. As soon as Max parked I leapt out of the truck.

When we stepped inside Jamie’s shop Max veered off towards Jamie while Chase and I looked over her wares.

“Montana, I would like for you to meet Sam.” Max said when we walked up to the counter with a few items in our hands.

“Nice to meet you,” Sam mumbled, staring at Chase.

“And this is Chase.” Max smiled with amusement.

Chase blushed and nodded.

“I am so sorry about the other day. I don’t know what came over me.” Sam replied, shifting her gaze back to mine.

“No problem. I’m glad you’re feeling better.”

“I am,” Her face turned red, “I need to get back to work.” She glanced at Chase again before heading into the back.

I paid then we left.

“Chase and I need to get back to work. I’ll drop you off at your place.”

“Sounds good.”

I waited a beat for the dinner date invitation. It never came, so I closed my eyes, hiding the pain behind them. I’d lost my chance; it was my own damned fault.

As soon as they dropped me off I went to bed. I really needed a nap, my eyes wouldn’t close. The dream I had earlier must have scared me, because I was afraid I would have it again. I lay in bed for a few minutes, got up, and wished I had an IV drip for my coffee.

Sterling-A Montana Dayton Novel Chapt.11
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