by Kurt Dysan
Genre Paranormal Romance Erotica
Tags ghosts, contemporary, soldiers, erotic, paranormal
Releasing July 10, 2015
Editor Susan Davis
Line Editor Greta Gunselman
Cover Designer Carolina Bensler
Wounded on a Middle Eastern battlefield, Brad comes home. Donna, his fiancé, is waiting to greet him when he awakes. She encourages him to take an erotic journey home, so they can be together. But at the time he was shot, Donna was killed in a car accident back in their home town. As he tries to resolve the reality of her presence in his head with the idea she is dead, he knows she is leading him home.
“So, Brad, how does it feel to be home?”
The question hung in the air. His best friend stood there, waiting for him to answer it, watching his face and looking more concerned than curious. Around them, the group stopped talking and looked at him as if measuring him, wanting to know what he’d say.
“Weird,” he said finally.
He was trying to walk a narrow line. They were all friends, after all, and deserved honesty, but there was no point in telling them things that wouldn’t make sense.
And were they still friends? They had been a lifetime ago. He’d gone through high school and college with most of them before he joined the Marines. But it was a time clouded in a distant haze now, an era before he’d been sent to fight in that strange war and gotten shot. Now he wasn’t entirely sure who these people with familiar faces were.
He could see the ways some of them had changed. Johnny, the one who got them in almost constant trouble, gotten him kicked off the football team, had become a deputy sheriff. There was a certain irony in that. Karma, maybe.
They waited for more explanation from him. It was his welcome home party and unless he said or did something to take away the edge, the party would die.
“I thought...I expected to just fall back into things. It didn’t quite happen. I came back for you guys, but I guess you don’t shake off looking over your shoulder in a couple of days. You don’t stop keeping an ear cocked for sounds that shouldn’t be there.” He didn’t want to say too much, be too honest. And he wouldn’t mention Donna. They’d know he was there because of her on some level, and that was enough. If he could explain the rest, they’d never understand.
“So we make you feel weird,” Bobby Sacks said, laughing nervously.
Brad took the offering and joined his laughter. “That’s because you are a weird bunch of assholes.”
He could feel them all relax.
“Hey, war heroes are supposed to be weird assholes,” Johnny said.
The tension had broken and the crowd drifted off in couples and groups, settling into drinking, chatting and making out.
Being back was supposed to be great, not something that gave him this uneasy feeling. They saw him differently too. He made them uncomfortable. They didn’t know who he was now, this kid who’d gone to war and killed people. Oddly enough, it was being shot and all that went with it that had changed him more than any killing he’d done. Regardless, the fact was the Brad Murphy they’d gone to school with wasn’t the same guy who’d come back. They knew it and so did he. There wasn’t much he could do about it. A distance had grown between them.
They happily called him a war hero. Technically he was, with a medal and everything, but he didn’t have a clue what that meant to them.
One pleasant change in his status he instantly became aware of was the way he’d become a magnet for women. He didn't know what cause it, but the girls he met certainly seemed attracted to him. Most of the girls he’d known in school had moved on, but a few had made the effort to be at his homecoming party. Most of those kept their distance, saying a flirty hello and then disappearing, probably hanging on the arm of a boyfriend or husband who didn’t know who the fuck Brad was. The new ones, those who’d moved to town while he’d been gone or had been too young to pay attention back then, hung on him. They sensed his hunger, but they misunderstood it. He saw no reason to set them straight. They knew he’d fought in one shattered world and come home to another. While he’d been in gunfights in the Middle East, his fiancée had been killed in a car crash right there in Daten City. The only car fatality in the county in something like four years and it had been Donna.
He’d forced himself to memorize the news reports Johnny sent him with only few details of her death. No one could explain had figured out why Donna had been out driving at night or where she was going—none of her friends had a clue. She just hadn’t come home. Her parents sounded an alarm and a fisherman found her car in Miller’s Lake. It had rolled down the boat ramp with the engine off and the windows open. Donna was alone in the car, sitting in the passenger seat. Her blouse was open and she had lost her panties, but otherwise there was no sign of the driver, no indication of who it could have been. It was almost as if she had undressed as the car sank in the water. The windows made no sense either, and her family and friends joined the police in scratching their heads over why she hadn’t simply gone out the window. Donna had been a star on the college swimming team.
Now she was gone, and he was at a party, being toasted and teased and enjoying the company of a sweet-looking blonde by his side. Her name was Polly. Of course things weren’t quite that simple, but he had no idea of how to play things any differently.