ec556-moonthumbMy phone woke me. My eyes opened to slits, I scoured the dresser for it, checked the caller ID then set the phone down. I rolled back over, snuggled under the covers, and closed my eyes. A minute passed before the annoying buzzing ring let me know I had a message. I sighed, I didn’t really care.

There were a ton of blankets covering me again; they made me want to burrow deep into them. I did and slid back into a deep sleep.

My eyes opened to slits again when I felt something really cold on my chest. My phone started ringing again.

I ignored the phone and opened my eyes wider.

“Hey Doc,” I croaked. He was checking my heartbeat with a stethoscope.

I licked my lips, “I promise I’m still alive and in my human form.” I cracked a smile for him.

How sweet, they were worried about me.

“Need coffee.”

He handed me a cup and sat back. Poor guy, the frown lines between his brows were even deeper than I remembered.

It really didn’t surprise me the Doc was here with Max and Chase. I was happy he was. I sat up in bed noticing Chase and Max.

“What gives?”

“It is late in the day and you have not moved.”

I glanced at the clock, 3pm.

“I’m up now.” I stretched, glancing at the guys as I did.

Doc nodded to Chase and Max and they all vacated the room.

Throwing the blankets aside I kicked my feet over the bed. Man it was freezing out here.

I found some pain killers on the dresser, took one with my coffee, and checked the AC before I remembered I hadn’t turned it on yet. Feeling chilled to the bone I stumbled to the shower, and blasted the hot water.

I dressed in jeans and a lightweight sweater. I still wasn’t warm enough. I grabbed my phone, headed downstairs for coffee and a smoke, then found a chair on the patio and dragged it into the sun.

Doc, Chase, and Max gave me a weird stare that I ignored.

A strange thought entered my mind right before my phone started ringing.

“Hey sis,” I said flipping open my phone.

“Where have you been? I’ve been calling all day. Did you get any of my messages?”

I rose from my chair and walked towards the water. My sister sounded so freaked out I wasn’t sure I wanted the boys to hear.

“I just woke up; I’ve been feeling a little under the weather.”

“Oh,” she sighed, “you’re not getting sick are you?”

I laughed. I hated lying. “I hope not, the sleep helped. What’s going on up there?”

“We found him!”

It took me a second to figure out who she was talking about.

“Dick?”

“Yep, good old Dick,” she chuckled, “he’s dead.”

“What! Where did you find him?”

“At home early this morning. We figured we would drop by there and if he was home we would talk to him civilly. The door was slightly ajar, so we went in calling his name loudly, so he would hear us you know.”

She took a deep breath, let it out.

“Only we stumbled upon him on the floor in his living room. I mean almost literally stumbled upon him.”

She let out a big gush of breath.

“He was dead.”

I stopped walking at the edge of the beach, so the water wouldn’t splash on my feet. A chill sprang over my body, causing goose bumps to cover my flesh. I spun around and gazed back up at my house. The boys were standing on the patio watching me. I focused my attention back to the ocean.

“Do you know how he died?”

She giggled, “Yep, it’s the oddest thing, we didn’t touch anything you know, but staring down at him we noticed abrasions around his wrists. Both wrists, like he’d been tied up or something.”

I could almost feel her shuttering over the phone, heard her teeth clatter together a few times, another deep breath.

“I don’t even want to know what he was involved with. Thank God we didn’t bring Charlie with us. Shawn called 911. We had to wait for the cops to arrive, give our statement, blah, blah… Anyway the coroner was fairly certain he died of a heart attack.”

A whoosh of breath, a chuckle, “no more Dick. I hate to speak badly of the dead, but he really did fit his name.”

Wow, I didn’t know how to comment on her story. I mean I didn’t wish death on anyone, but I wouldn’t miss him. And I definitely wasn’t going to comment on “what Dick was into,” she’d be happier not knowing.

“I’m happy you don’t have to worry about that problem anymore. You should run a lukewarm bath, light some candles, and relax. You can focus on your new baby to be now.”

“My thoughts exactly! Shawn’s cooking us dinner right now, then it’s off to that bath. I just wanted you to know everything’s looking up in our world. Get better fast.”

“I will sis, thanks.”

I clicked off and sat on the warm sand with my legs bent and arms wrapped around them, another chill swirled around my body.

These chills weren’t a good sign, and I knew it. It had to be at least 80 degrees out today and the sun wasn’t even penetrating my iced skin.

I had a decision to make, not sure if it would help matters, but I didn’t think it would hurt. If something happened to me the boys could maybe work from what I gave them.

I delved into the memories from last night. I knew what was in the chest. A shiver seized me, making up my mind.

I wandered back to the patio, lit a smoke and inhaled deeply. My hands were freezing, my fingers numb.

I finished my smoke while filling Max in on what happened to Dick, all the while keeping my hands from rubbing on my jeans for warmth. I wasn’t ready to let them know that I might freeze to death by tonight (or something worse).

He raised his eyebrows, but before he could reply I vacated to my room. They followed me as far as the living room.

Once in my room I closed the door, rubbed my hands together, hoping the friction would warm them up, then swallowed two pain killers.

I waited until the pain killers kicked in, took several deep breaths and opened the safe. I scooped the jewelry out, placing it on a shirt, tied the shirt corners, and carried it downstairs.

Chase and Max were where I left them, Doc had left. I dumped out my goodies on the floor. Both of them jumped out of their seats and gaped at the jewelry.

I twirled around and trudged to the garage. The energy from the jewelry had managed to cut through the pain killers and I still had three more deliveries to make. I dreaded it.

When I stepped into the garage I was assaulted with intense raw power. My side and arm flamed up with radiating pain. I closed my eyes for a second, pulled in a shallow breath then headed to the bag of gold. I threw it over my shoulder and hauled it into the living room. Next I brought in the chest of treasure, and finally the last chest.

When I was done there were tears streaming from my eyes and my body was weak. I could have crawled up into a little ball on the floor and slept forever.

Instead I mustered up the rest of my strength and opened the last chest.

Max and Chase hadn’t moved a muscle since I started; now they edged in a little closer.

Even though the chest didn’t appear to be big in size, every skeleton I found at the bottom of the ship was packed into it, creating the effect of a bottomless pit.

Skulls stared up at us like they were watching every move we made, or worse getting ready to climb out.

I heard Chase gulp a few times, like he was trying to keep unwanted stomach fluid from rising up into his mouth.

Leaving the mess with them to mull over I stumbled upstairs.

I still had a hard time believing I was so slow in realizing that I was the vessel. Duh, the vessel, I was the peon helping him bring up his goodies from his ship so he had everything he needed to rule the world. I wanted to smack my forehead, but I was too tired. I wanted to find a way to stop him, but I was too tired.

I barely made it to the bed before falling in. I pulled the billion blankets over me and was asleep in seconds. My last though was, had I made the right decision?

Sterling-A Montana Dayton Novel Chapt.23
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