Touch of Mischief (The Ghost Bird #7.5) by C.L. Stone

Nightmares and Horror Movies

––––––––

I stood on the edge of a dark road, my toes pointed out toward a ravine.

Silas stood on the other side, motioning for me to come to him.

I wanted to so much, but he was so far away. Dark clouds swarmed around us, with occasional flashes of lightning. Lightning that was orange like flames.

A hulking figure rose up behind me. I didn’t have to turn to know it was dangerous and was after us. Its breath was hot and moist at the back of my neck, threatening me with a push if I didn’t jump on my own.

Silas called to me. I couldn’t understand what he said. I thought he was calling my name. His voice was deep. The rumble shook through my bones.

Panicked, I jumped, and for a moment, I flew. Silas was reaching for me.

It wasn’t enough.

I sank into the black of the ravine.

My eyes opened, and the darkness was still around me. I sat up sharply in my panic. I breathed in deeply, my throat scratchy with a smoky aftertaste. I inhaled the cypress and leather and a mix of other scents around me. I clasped the cotton of the maroon blanket, and rubbed the familiar material between my fingers, seeking comfort in being brought out of fantasy and back into reality. Neither the cypress nor the familiar touch of the bed eased the rapid beating of my heart upon waking up after such a frightful dream.

“Sang,” a voice called to me.

I reacted quickly, turning toward the voice. At first, in the dark, after my dream, I had a moment where I thought it was Silas. I even saw his face hovering, his dark eyes, his dark hair, his figure, his Greek features. It was flash, maybe just a strong desire to see it. I wanted to make sure he was safe.

Instead, as I focused and my eyes adjusted, I found Nathan sitting up, turned toward me and rubbing a palm across his eye. “You okay?” he asked. His voice was deep, and with an extra grumble. “What happened?”

It was on the tip of my tongue to lie and say I was fine. I knew better, though, and I swallowed the urge. I pressed my fingers across my mouth, as if that could somehow soften the truth and encourage him to go back to sleep. “Sorry,” I whispered. “It was a dream.”

“Another nightmare?” Nathan asked. His head tilted, and a bit of light from the window crossed over his face, revealing a glimpse of his serious expression. I pictured the vivid deep blue of his eyes and how they drew out my desire to make everything better when he seemed so concerned and worried.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” I said. I checked the clock on his bedside table, which glared red digits: five-thirty. The sun was rising later now that it was fall. It was Halloween. Flashes of what we were meant to do today came back to me. Homecoming. Costumes. Discovering what the other Academy members would really be like.

Silas.

“The dreams must mean something,” Nathan said. He moved to the edge of the bed, putting his feet on the floor and raking his hand through his short hair. “You keep having them. At least when you’re not so deeply asleep that you just pass out completely and wake up still tired.”

“Is Silas okay?” I asked, both out of concern for him and to avoid talking about the dream. “I fell asleep before anyone said...”

“He’s fine,” Nathan said. He lifted himself slowly off the bed to a stand and then did a flexing stretch. In the low light, I could tell he was only in boxer shorts. He wore just those often enough to bed, that on most nights, I never thought twice about it. Right now, though, I stared at him. His shoulders were wide. His build wasn’t as tall or big as some of the other boys, but every inch of him was shaped like a majestic statue. His shoulders and arms curved to show his muscle without much flexing needed on his part. His stomach revealed his defined abdomen in even the dimmest light. Nathan Griffin was every bit male muscled perfection. He reached a hand out, palm up and gestured to me in a ‘come hither’ way.

I knee-walked across the bed, crawling over the messed-up blankets. Before I got to the edge, he reached out for my arms. I had no time to react before he scooped me up draped me over his shoulder. “Oof,” I breathed out.

“No more nightmares, Sang Sorenson,” he said. “And no more worrying about Silas. He’s at home sleeping. He’ll be here later today, anyway. Right now, we’re not going to ruin today for you by worrying about what happened yesterday.”

“Nathan,” I said, squirming on my stomach as I hung over him. I reached down to pat his butt and back. The boys often did things like this, and yet I wasn’t awake enough yet to really wriggle my way out of his grip.