She hung up and went to go grab the black, leather-bound book. Her stomach grumbled and she froze, listening for Darrak’s voice, but it was only her previously eaten donuts settling down in her already upset stomach.

“Hey, Darrak, are you still… here?” she asked the empty room.

Nothing.

She waited with the Bible clutched to her chest, on edge and jumping at every sound.

The front door swung open ten minutes later, the bell above it jingling, and Eden sprang to her feet expecting it to be the exorcist. She’d had her eyes locked on the phone, wondering if she should call anyone else who might be able to help — no one came to mind — so she hadn’t seen anyone approach.

It wasn’t an exorcist.

Detective Ben Hanson stepped inside the office and smiled at her. “Just wanted to stop by and see how you’re doing. Santos said he dropped you off here a little while ago.”

She let out a long sigh of relief. “I’m so glad to see you.”

He raised his eyebrows. “You are?”

Eden walked directly over to where he stood by the door and hugged him tightly. Then she realized what she’d done and backed away with embarrassment. “Um… sorry about that.”

His lips quirked. “That’s definitely not something you need to apologize for.” He glanced at the Bible she tightly held onto. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”

She shook her head. “That man earlier — the — the serial killer.”

“I know that was a very traumatic experience for you. I’m surprised that you decided to come back to your job today.” He glanced around the embarrassingly shoddy office. “You should be taking it easy.”

“It’s not that. Well, it is. But… when he grabbed me he told me that he was possessed by a demon.”

“Yeah, I heard him say that, too. He was completely crazy. Listen, if you want to talk to somebody qualified to handle post-traumatic stress, then I can easily arrange that for you. It’s the least we can do for you after everything that happened.”

“No… I…” What did she want to do? Tell him everything? That the killer had been serious and was possessed? And now she was, too?

“Eden…” Darrak said wearily from inside of her.

Oh shit.

“Can you hear that?” she asked Ben.

“Hear what?”

“It took me a while to recover from losing form,” Darrak continued, “but I’m feeling better now.”

Ben touched her shoulder. “Eden, it’s going to be okay. He’s dead. He’s not going to hurt you again, I promise.”

“I know that.”

“Then why do you seem so scared?”

Scared didn’t even begin to cover what she was feeling. “It’s… it’s the demon he was talking about.”

“Demons don’t exist,” Ben said firmly.

“But—”

“Eden,” Darrak interrupted her. “Are you trying to tell him about me?”

She stopped talking.

“But, what?” Ben prompted. He leaned against the small table next to the front door where they kept the coffeemaker. He unhooked a pair of dark sunglasses from the front of his shirt and placed them down next to him so he could cross his arms over his chest.

“Just look at him,” Darrak continued. “Does he look like the kind of person who would believe you? Or would you tell him that you’re possessed by a demon and he might pat your head, say he understands, and then send for the doctors in white coats who deal with crazy people? Believe me, I’ve dealt with this situation many times before. Humans don’t want to believe that this sort of thing is possible. It frightens them.”

“I can see why it would,” she whispered.

Ben looked confused. “Pardon me?”

“When humans are frightened or they don’t understand, they’ll subconsciously choose to ignore what they see,” Darrak said. “They close their minds off to anything that isn’t within their understanding of ‘normal.’ I guarantee if you tell the cop what’s going on, he won’t believe you and he will assume that you’ve lost your mind.”

Of course he was right. Eden already knew Ben was a skeptic about the supernatural. This was about as supernatural as it got. What proof did she have that she was really possessed? The ravings of a lunatic — or at least that was how it would sound. Ben was already iffy about her psychic abilities. He’d dismissed it earlier as mojo and hocus-pocus, hadn’t he?

She couldn’t tell him. She’d have to handle the situation on her own.

“I’m fine,” she finally replied and then forced a shaky smile onto her face. “Really. I just need a good night’s sleep.”

Ben studied her for a moment with concern. “Well, that’s very good to hear.”

The fake smile stretched Eden’s cheeks uncomfortably. “Was there, uh… anything else you wanted?”

He cleared his throat. “Well, actually there was.”

“See?” Darrak said. “That wasn’t too bad, was it?”

“Shut up,” she murmured.

Ben looked at her. “What did you say?”

“Uh—” Her gaze darted around the room, empty except for the two of them. “Would you care for a-a donut?”

He glanced at the box of pastries next to the coffeemaker that she waved at as though she’d magically turned into Vanna White’s awkward sister. “I thought you just told me to shut up.”

“No!” She laughed lightly. It sounded just this side of hysterical. “I talk to myself sometimes. My inner voice seems to have a mind of its own.”

Literally, she thought.

He moved toward the box of donuts and looked down at them. “I’m not all that hungry. Actually, that’s why I’m here. I wanted to ask you something.”

“You’re romantically interested in the cop, aren’t you?” Darrak prodded. “I can tell. But he’s obviously not good enough for you. If he was you’d be able to tell him all about your problems and be certain he’d believe whatever you said.”

She tried to ignore him. “What is it, Detective?”

“I thought I asked you to call me Ben?”

“Right… Ben.” She felt incredibly angry that what should have been a kick-ass moment was tainted by Darrak’s invisible but very audible presence.

“I know our dinner plans were ruined for tonight, but maybe if you’re not doing anything later this week —”

“I think you should ask him to leave,” Darrak said. “I don’t like the way he’s looking at you. It’s very ungentlemanly.”

Eden sighed with frustration. “Just go away, would you?”

Ben blinked. “Oh. Got it.”

Her heart sank. He thought she was talking to him, dismissing him and his invitation completely. After all, why wouldn’t he think that? There was no one else in the room.

He gave her a tight smile. “Hey, I can take a hint, don’t worry about that. I won’t bother you again.”

“No, wait! Ben—” Eden held up a hand to stop him, but it was too late. Without a backward glance he slunk out of the office and went directly to his car.

She let out a long, exasperated sigh. “I hate you.”

“Are you talking to me?” Darrak asked.

“Yes.”

“Did I do something wrong?”

Вы читаете The Demon in Me
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