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New Novel: In That Moment Season 1 Episode 7

Chapter Seven

I’m dreaming again.
As I walk down the aisle of a local church with the morning sun slanting through the windows, I know that I’m dreaming.  I know it because I’ve visited this place a thousand times since my parents died.
The dream is always the same.
Nothing changes.
Because of this, I know that I won’t be able to wake up until it is finished.
I sigh and glance down.
I’m wearing the same black dress that I wore to their funeral.  It is fitted, yet flowing; somber, yet feminine.  It is what I wear each time I have this dream, an endless reminder of that horrible day.
With one black-slippered foot in front of the other, I pad down the aisle.  I have no control of my feet. They are moving on their own accord.  I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. My right foot settles into the carpet, then the left.  Then the right.
Propelling me forward.
Before I know it, I’m standing in front of two caskets, basking in sunlight, at the front of the church. One is white and lustrous, one is black and gleaming.
Good and evil.
When I first began having this dream, I thought this meant that one of my parents had been bad, deep down, and I’d never known about it.  I put a lot of stock into dreams.  I know that they mean significant things.  So this thought, that one of my parents might be a troubled dark soul, weighed heavily upon me for quite a while.  But then I realized that I had the meaning wrong.
Because even though this dream is set on the day of their funeral, my parents aren’t here.  They were cremated. They were never in caskets at the front of a church.
This dream isn’t about them.
It’s about the doubts that were formed in me the day they died, the doubts about the value of life itself.  Life seems pointless if it is all for nothing; if everything ends in a fiery car crash, leaving only sadness behind.
It is one reason I grew so adamant about being an artist.  I wanted to create beauty to cancel out the ugly.  Yin and Yang.  Dark and light.  Good and evil.
My conscious self doesn’t dwell on this stuff anymore.  But my subconscious has issues. And it clearly hasn’t settled them yet, thus the recurrence of this confusing dream.  And to be honest, I haven’t completely figured it out yet.
What I can see so far is that life consists of good and evil, black and white.  And everything in between is a struggle for dominating the other.  Life is a struggle.
And I hate that it all ends with nothingness.  That one day, you simply aren’t here anymore.  No more smiles, no more tears, no more anything.
Lights out.
I sigh and run my finger along the black casket.  The one housing the evil.  It’s beautiful, even as it is bad.  But as my arm moves, I catch sight of something different.  Something that has never been here before.
I have a jagged scar on my hand, right where my index finger meets my thumb.
An X just like Pax’s.
I startle and stare at it, noting how it is old and thick, just like his.  In the sunlight, it seems sinister somehow, although I can’t imagine why.  It’s just a scar.  A hundred different things could have caused it.
But why is it on me?
I turn my hand in the light, rotating it in the sun, illuminating how it is as familiar on me as it is on him, as if I had worn it for years.  As though it is comfortable on me, as though it is marking me for something.
X marks the spot.
I have no idea what it means.  But something in my subconscious wants me to think on it, that much is true.  There is something for me to ponder, something for me to solve.  But I don’t know what.
I shake my head and walk to the white casket.  What I do know is that I have to finish this out so that I can wake up.  So, I carefully open the lid of the good casket, exposing a million glistening sunbeams.
They shoot from the casket and merge with the light pouring in from the window.  The rays are beaming, sparkling, radiant.  I stand in them, bathing in the warmth and the goodness, absorbing the light.
And when I wake up, I know I will feel that energizing radiance for some time to come.  It’s my subconscious way of boosting myself up.  It’s how I coped with the grief after my parents died.
It is how I cope with any kind of uncertainty now.
And judging from the scar on my hand, I’m guessing that it is Pax’s appearance in my life that has given my subconscious pause.  He is what has triggered this dream once again.
While I can’t figure much of this dream out, at least that fact can only mean one thing.
I’m more interested in Pax than I would like to admit. 
With a sigh, I roll out of bed and pad down the hall in my pajamas.  There’s no way I’m going back to sleep now.  Annoyed with myself for allowing a strange man inside my head, I bang everything around as I move around the kitchen.  It doesn’t help my annoyance, but it does serve to wake me up.
Thankfully, my day passes quickly.  After four cups of strong coffee, I venture into the shop and visit with friendly customers.  When business slows down, I work on a new painting…something bright and cheerful.  Like always, a good piece of art lifts me out of my funk.
I am humming as I duck out of the shop to grab a sandwich for lunch.  As I pause to lock the door, I notice Pax’s black car parked on the street twenty yards from my shop.  My head snaps up and I stare at it, my fingers frozen.  He’s not in it.  I don’t know if I am relieved or not.
“Looking for someone?”
Pax’s voice is right behind me.
You’ve got to be kidding me.  This is too coincidental.  I slowly turn to find myself face to face with the very man who has invaded my thoughts.  Pax smiles, a slow panty-dropping grin.
“Are you stalking me again, Miss Hill?” He cocks an eyebrow.
My heart hammers. 
“What?” I choke out.  “This is my shop.”
Pax shrugs.  “And that’s my car.  You were staring at it like you were hoping I would get out of it.”
I’m guilty of that.  I can’t say a word in my defense.  Instead, I stare at him like an idiot.
“What are you doing downtown?” I finally manage, changing the subject.  
“I don’t cook,” he explains.  “I’m making a food run.  The bar down the street makes good burgers.”
“Oh,” I answer dumbly.  “That’s what I’m doing too.”
He lifts his eyebrow again.
“Not the bar,” I add quickly.  “I’m going to the deli, next door to the bar.”
Pax smiles again.  “All by yourself?  Haven’t you heard that there are some bad things going on in Angel Bay?  Just a while back, some dumbass overdosed on the beach.  Apparently, they’re letting all kinds of ass**les in nowadays.  It’s probably not safe for you to walk alone.”
I have to grin now, at his audacity.
“Oh, really?  Wow.  That does sound bad.  Assholes are just running loose on our streets?  I guess I’ll never know now when I’m going to bump into one.”
“How very true,” he answers softly, his golden eyes frozen on mine.  Sweet Jesus.  The man has beautiful eyes.  So bottomless and warm.  Like hot caramel.  I gulp.
“Is this when you take your lunch every day?” he finally asks, breaking the silent stare.
“If I go out,” I answer.  “Are you planning on stalking me again?”
We’re still standing in the middle of the sidewalk, but Pax doesn’t seem to care.  Instead, he grins.
“Maybe,” he answers, before holding his arm out like a gentleman.
“Since I’m here and you’re here and we’re both going in the same direction… I’ll walk you today.  I’ll keep the wolves at bay.”
I stare up at him as I slip my fingers into the crook of his leather covered elbow.
“I thought you were the baddest wolf of them all?”
He grins again, wickedly. It lights up his eyes with a gleam.
“That’s probably true,” he admits.  “Are you afraid?”
“I should be,” I tell him.
But I’m not.
He walks me to the deli’s door and steps away from me.  I feel the absence of his warmth immediately.
“Have a good day, Mila Hill,” he tells me, his eyes flickering up and down the length of me.  “Watch out for those wolves.”
And he’s gone.  He disappears into the bar and I realize that I’m standing alone outside. I shake my head and sigh, going inside to order my sandwich.  I have no idea what just happened, but Pax Tate is firmly in my head now.  And I have the feeling he’s not going anywhere.  My stomach flutters and I realize that I like that thought.
I walk Mila to the deli all week.
I have no idea why.
All I know is…I’m drawn to her.  She’s everything that I’m not and it fascinates the hell out of me.  And it fascinates me that she hasn’t told me to leave her alone.  She seems as entranced by the situation as I am.
So every day, at 11:00 a.m., I roll out of bed and shower, then make my way into town. I park in the same place and wait until she comes out.
Every day, she teases me about stalking her.
Every day, I tell her that she’s the stalker, because she’s choosing to walk past my car.  Never mind the fact that I’m parking directly in front of her shop now.  She giggles and flushes and looks into my eyes and I swear to god, I have no idea what I’m doing.
But I keep doing it.
And she seems to like it.
Yesterday, she mentioned that she was taking today off, just in case I needed to know for my ‘stalking calendar.’  I love a girl with a sense of humor.  And I have to admit, today feels a bit empty because I know that I won’t be seeing her.  She gave me something to get up for, something to look forward to.
But not today.
I woke up early this morning from a restless sleep, roused by my own tossing and turning.  I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac and actually, it’s why I started taking pills in the first place, years ago.  I realized way back then how easy it was, how very easy, to swallow a pill and slip into oblivion.
I had a therapist after my mom died, and even though I can’t remember what he looked like, I can remember that he prescribed me sleeping pills.  It helped keep the nightmares away.
All I remember now about the nightmares is that they were horrible.  Bad enough that I used to sneak down and sleep in the doorway to my father’s room.  He would wake in the morning and find me sprawled on the floor.  And I would wake not remembering my dreams.
My therapist told my father it was my mind’s way of protecting itself from the emotional trauma.  Well, my mind has done a good job.  To this day, I don’t remember the events surrounding my mother’s death.
My phone buzzes on the nightstand. I pick it up to find a text from my father.
You need to come sign your papers.
Fuck.  It’s that time already?
I toss the phone back on the stand, where it skids across the mahogany, coming to rest against the wall.  Every quarter, I have to sign papers for my trust fund, since it is fed by my mother’s family business.  I am technically the sole heir to her shares.  It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s a necessary evil.
I am on the way to the shower when my doorbell rings and I pause.  I’m not expecting anyone.  It had better not be someone trying to sell me religion or they might find their teeth knocked into their throat.
Because f**k that.
Glancing through the window of my door, I see Jill the bar whore on my porch, nervously shifting her weight from left foot to right.  I sigh.  I’m really not in the mood for her, but I open the door anyway.  I guess I feel sorry for the desperate look on her face.  She pretty much always comes to me when she doesn’t have money to buy from her dealer.
A b**w j*b for a line of blow.  It’s our running deal.  And the deal was her idea.  Who am I to pass that up?
Jill smiles as the door opens, revealing grayish teeth.  It’s a sign that she has been using harder shit, like meth.  I cringe.  Even I won’t touch that shit.  It’s the devil, or so I’m told.  One time and even the strongest user is addicted.  I don’t need that.
“In the mood to get your dick sucked?” she asks with a smile, her fingers jittery as they thrum her leg.  She’s agitated and restless, a sure sign that it’s been awhile since she’s used and she’s craving it bad.
“Not really,” I tell her honestly.  “I just woke up.  And to be honest, my dick is a little pissed off that you left me to die on the beach.  A stranger had to call for help.  You ran off like a chicken shit.”
Jill looks stricken.
“Pax,” she whines.  “I didn’t mean to.  I just can’t go to jail, you know?  I’ve got two kids.  I’m a single mom. I can’t be in jail.”
She’s desperate now, whining even louder and I stare at her in surprise.  Shocked horror, actually.
“You’ve got two kids?”
After all this time, a couple years, I didn’t know that.  She’s never said anything, never mentioned them even once.
She nods.  “Yep.  A girl and a boy.  Five years old and seven.”
All I feel is disgust now and I shake my head.
“Then what the f**k are you doing on this shit, Jill?  And hanging out in the bar all day and night?  It’s one thing to f**k up your own life, but it’s entirely different when you’re f**king up someone else’s.  You need to get your shit straight.”
I start to close the door in her face but she lunges inside, clutching at me.  Crying.  Wailing.  Panicked. I grab her wrists and hold them to prevent her from scratching me.
“Please, Pax.  I need it.  I’ll stop.  I promise.  But I need it one more time.  Just one more.  And then I’ll go get help.  I promise.”
Tears are streaking down her face in black streaks from her makeup.  The sunlight exposes the hardened lines on her face, the lines that nighttime hides for her. In the light of day, she looks hard and used.
Because that’s exactly what she is.  I sigh again.
“Fine.  I’ve only got a little.  I’m not going to use for a while.  You can have what I have left, which is probably only one line. And then you need to go get help.  Get your shit straight.”
She’s shaking now, her breath catching in her throat as she waits for me to lead her to the coke. It’s all she can focus on right now, so I shut up and save my breath with the lecture.
I lead her to my kitchen table, and cut up the one little rock I have left.  I drag it into a line and watch as she inhales it in two snorts.  She slumps into the seat and lets it take affect and when she turns to me, she is visibly calmer.
“Ready for that blowjob?”
She’s looking up at me, expectant, familiar.  And for a second, the thought of a blowjob does make my groin automatically react, shifting against the constrained crotch of my jeans.  But I shake my head.
“I’m not really in the mood, Jill.”
I turn around and pad across the stone in my bare feet, toward the living room.  She grabs my arm.
“You can’t give it to me for nothing, Pax.  I don’t feel right about that.  Besides, I feel bad for leaving you the other night.  Just let me pay for it.  Please.”
A woman is begging to suck my dick.  Oh, the irony.  And it’s particularly ironic that I just don’t want it.  My mind has been consumed with Mila Hill lately.  The thought of this bar whore frankly turns my stomach a bit now.
I shake my head.
But Jill shakes hers too, and now she leaning against me, running her hands over the bare skin of my chest, trailing her fingers down to my waist band and unzipping my jeans.  She bends and runs her tongue around my nipple and then she’s got me in her grasp. I’m instantly horny.
I inhale a little as she runs her fingers up and down my shaft, outside of my underwear.  Fuck.  I curse my testosterone.
“Fine,” I sigh.  As if getting a blowjob is a hardship.  I drop my pants and she sinks to her knees in front of me, taking all of me into her mouth.  And as I lose myself in the moment, in the pleasure of her lips forming a vacuum around my dick, sliding, moving, sucking, I stare at the lake.
As Jill’s head bobs, I watch the current and the waves, the occasional sailboat.  I watch the seagulls fly, I watch the sun.  And then Mila’s face forms unbidden yet again in my mind.  Hers is as different from Jill’s hardened face as it can possibly be; fresh and innocent.  I focus on it, then picture her lush tits with the pink ni**les that point to the sun.
It makes me come a lot faster than normal.  I groan and spurt into Jill’s mouth and I don’t even look.  In my head, it is Mila’s mouth.  It is Mila’s hands cupping my balls, lightly squeezing them as I come.
And as I open my eyes, I am horrified to see Mila’s face.
For real.
Staring up at me from the stretch of beach below my house.  She can see perfectly into my home, and can see perfectly that Jill is bent in front of me sucking my dick.
And she looks as horrified as I feel.

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