READER'S ROCK LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE VOL 2 ISSUE 4 NOVEMBER 2014 Vol. 1 Issue 9 March 2014 - Page 12

Fran Veal I run to escape. I run to get away... My parents have been murdered, will I be next? A twig snapped behind me. Jerked out of my thoughts, I jumped up and spun around. My heart stopped. Before me hair gleaming in the sun, stood an angel. Okay, slight (and I do mean slight) exaggeration. He was tall with muscles that rippled under his red T-shirt. His hair was blond and tousled, with one wave flipped just above his eyebrow. He stood there, staring at me with eyes as deep and blue as the sea. I forgot to breathe. Then the angel frowned. “What are you doing here?” he asked. Okay, so he was also self-absorbed, stern and nosy. My chest started to hurt, and I realized I was holding my breath. It came out in a rush. Who did he think he was, anyway? “What do you mean, 'what are you doing here'? I was here first.” I stood, planning to have it out with Mr. Perfect. “I'm sorry,” he said politely, “Let me rephrase that. What I meant to say is that I've never seen you here before.” His sudden change in demeanor gave me whiplash. I tried to hold my cool under his steady gaze. I struggled to think of something brilliant to say, bu t I was, at the moment, absolutely speechless. The angel seemed to be studying me as if puzzled. Finally, he spoke. “You seem real enough.” He paused, brows furrowed, “I'm… Joshua, but you can call me Josh.” The sound of his voice was soft, lyrical, mesmerizing. He looked straight into my eyes without flinching or glancing away. My anger melted away. I had to shake myself to clear my head. I was torn between being captivated and scared out of my mind. He might look like he'd stepped off the pages of a magazine, but for all I knew, his looks were the only good thing about him. I stepped back cautiously, eyeing the trail to my left. “And you are?” he asked, stepping toward me. “Leaving,” I started to back up, but a strong hand grabbed my wrist. My heart was pounding as I struggled to break free. “Hold up. What's your hurry?” He was so close, I could smell his cologne. Part of me just wanted to stand there and take it all in, but the part that had just experienced major trauma wanted to run away. “Back off,” I warned. “Okay, okay,” he dropped my arm and backed up a step, “I won't hurt you, scout's honor.” He held his hands up in surrender. “I just want to talk to you. Look, I'll chain myself to that tree.” “That won't be necessary. Just back up another three feet, and we should be good.” “Better?” he grinned. “I guess,” I said rubbing my arm. I wasn't completely convinced, but I felt more comfortable with the distance between us. At least I could breathe again. We stood there for a moment, studying each other. I finally broke the silence. I was still a little annoyed, but my instincts were telling me that the guy was basically harmless. “You know, you could try to come off as a little less menacing. Didn't anyone ever tell you that it's rude to go around scaring people like that?” “My apologies,” he said in a southern drawl, “I really didn't think you would react like that.” “Apology accepted.” “It's just that this is the place I usually come when I want to think. When I saw that there was someone else here, I was surprised, that's all.” “By the way, what did you mean when you said that I 'seemed real enough'? That's kind of a weird thing to say.” Josh laughed and shook his head. “I guess it must have seemed strange to a newcomer. It's just hard to tell the physical entities apart from the spirit ones.” Okay, so the guy was a head case. “I don't follow,” I said, inching toward the trail. “You really don't get where you are, do you?” He stepped closer. “Let's see,” I said, heart pounding, “I'm standing in the middle of a clearing, in Summer Cove.” He laughed and shook his head. “I'm not in Summer Cove?” I asked sarcastically. “No,” he said, “You're dreaming.” I closed my eyes and shook my head. “You're crazy,” I said, opening my eyes. I found myself lying on the grass in the clearing. Josh wasn't there. Puzzled, I stood, walking cautiously toward the trail. “Josh?” Nothing. “This isn't funny.” Had I really been dreaming? He deliberately took three steps back. Excerpt