Home > Requiem (Providence #2)(2)

Requiem (Providence #2)(2)
Author: Jamie McGuire


I licked the salt from my lips. “I’m okay.”

“That’s the third one this week. I don’t think you’re okay,” Jared said, his face tense. “Same one?”

Reluctant, I nodded. Jared worried obsessively each time he had to wake me from a nightmare. He was tormented by the screaming, the trembling, and the inability to stop it. He watched me for a moment before pul ing me onto his lap.

“Maybe you should talk to someone.”

“I don’t need a shrink, Jared. They’re just dreams,” I said, more to myself than to him.

He pul ed me with him, resting his back against the headboard. I worked to relax. My days without him the previous spring had been good practice when I didn’t want to bother him with my ridiculous human fears and feelings. But I struggled after the nightmares, even after months of perfecting my talent.

I tried to think of anything but the terrifying image of my father being torn to shreds, so that I could settle down and fal asleep. Jared’s feverish chest against my cheek was comforting, and I breathed in his amazing scent. Any other time I would have instantly felt at ease, but after the three- peat of the worst nightmare I’d ever had, it didn’t work.

“I’m going to take a shower,” I said, abruptly peeling off the blankets tucked around me.

“It’s three o’clock in the morning, Nina. You have to get up in three hours anyway for work. Why don’t you just try to sleep?”

I scooted to the edge of the bed, and planted my feet on the floor with my back to Jared. “Have you slept?” I asked him.

After a short pause, he let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes.”

“Then there’s no reason for me to go back to sleep. I don’t want to sleep, anyway. It’s the same thing every time I close my eyes.” I waited a moment, and when Jared failed to argue, I pushed myself off the bed and walked into the bathroom.

The pipes whined when I turned the shower knobs, and I stood in front of the sink waiting for the water to warm. The visions from my dream burst in short, loud scenes. The screeching, the sound of my father’s shoes running up the stairs; it wouldn’t stop. Closing my eyes, trying to focus, I rubbed my hands with my face and then looked in the mirror. My features had changed from when Jared and I first met. Spending much of the summer indoors while my leg healed had left my skin pale and lifeless, and I was sporting a matching pair of purple circles under my eyes.

Our near-death experience in the restaurant seemed like a lifetime away. Aside from the occasional news story about the police department’s finest meeting untimely ends in bizarre and unrelated accidents, our days went by as if Grahm, and Shax, and the book had never existed.

I let my nightgown drop to the floor, and then stepped into the shower, sighing as the stream of water poured over my face.

Jared walked in, and leaned against the sink, crossing his arms across his chest.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

Jared shifted uncomfortably. “It’s you I’m worried about.”

“The fal semester is getting ready to start. I have extra classes, and with my internship, it’s probably just stress.”

“I don’t understand it,” Jared said. “It’s been months since any of… them have come around. This is the least I’ve seen of them in my entire life, and yet you’re…,” Jared rubbed his neck. “It doesn’t make sense for you to be having these dreams now.”

“Jared, people have nightmares al the time without demons present. It doesn’t mean anything,” I said, scrubbing shampoo into my hair.

“That’s what you think.”

I rol ed my eyes. “Oh, c’mon. You’re blowing this out of proportion. If I promise to quit having the dreams, wil you promise to quit freaking out about them?”

“You’l promise to quit having the dreams,” Jared repeated, his voice thick with sarcasm.

I poked my soapy head from the shower curtain, lather dripping down my face. “Okay, I can’t promise, but you’re giving me a complex. Unless you know something I don’t, they’re just dreams.”

Jared smiled, and wiped the line of soap from my forehead, promptly kissing my lips. “Okay. They’re just dreams.”

I nodded in approval, and then closed the curtain. “I have to stop by the office today, do you mind?” I asked, knowing he would.

“You mean more than any other day?”

Escorting me to Titan Mercantile was just another day at work for Jared, but as often as I asked him to come in, it had become an inside joke between us. Every day I asked, and every day he politely declined. For years the hal s of Titan Mercantile were walked by Jared’s father Gabe.

Jared didn’t talk about it, but I assumed his refusal to go in had to do with unresolved feelings concerning his father.

The hours before dawn crept by slowly, and after my shower, Jared and I spent the remaining moments of twilight at the breakfast table. When the morning sun final y poked through the blinds, I smiled at the glowing light painting rectangles against the wal s. I had spent hours staring at those wal s, waiting for my leg to heal. Beth visited infrequently, busy decorating her new apartment, Kim had taken her summer vacation on the road, and Claire was relentlessly eliminating any threat to us. Jared spent much of his time warding off loneliness, and keeping me entertained. We had grown closer, and life had been more normal than ever. The only reminder of the night I almost died was the scar on my thigh.

Jared working busily in the kitchen caught my eye, and I listened to the pan pop and sizzle with our breakfast. He placed omelets on the table along with a smal stack of mail.

“Anything interesting?” I asked as he thumbed through the envelopes.

Jared paused, eyes narrowing as he read over the handwritten address.


“It’s for you,” he said, sliding it toward me.

The top left corner explained Jared’s expression. It was from Ryan.

By Jared’s expression, I knew it wasn’t good news. “You already know, don’t you?” I said, pul ing out a single sheet of notebook paper.

“I have an idea.”

“Something you should have told me by now,” I accused, scanning the letter quickly.

Dear Ni gh, I w anted y ou to hear i t from me, but don’ t k now how to s ay i t, s o I’ m j us t goi ng to w ri te i t. I’ m not c omi ng bac k to B row n. I tal k ed i t ov er w i th an A rmy rec rui ter and I feel that i t’ s the bes t pl ac e for me at thi s poi nt. I k now y ou better than y ou thi nk I do, and ri ght now y ou’ re feel i ng gui l ty. W el l , don’ t. Y ou’ re happy and that’ s al l that matters to me, and that’ s the truth. I’ m s orry y ou hav e to fi nd out i n thi s s tupi d l etter, but ev ery thi ng happened k i nda fas t and I di dn’ t hav e ti me to c al l . Tak e c are of y ours el f, Ni gh. I’ l l thi nk about y ou ev ery day .

Ry an The letter slipped from my hands and fel to the floor, quiet and slow. The numbness was unexpected but welcome; I knew the guilt that would soon wash over me would be unbearable.

“He left.”

Jared touched my hand. “Claire call ed. He’s doing wel .”

“Claire’s gone? ” I wailed, standing up from my seat. Anger was always preferable to pain. Jared took a step toward me, but I stepped away from him. “You didn’t even let me say goodbye to her! To either of them!”

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