Home > Sin & Chocolate (Demigod of San Francisco #1)(11)

Sin & Chocolate (Demigod of San Francisco #1)(11)
Author: K.F. Breene

Kieran’s heart stopped. Only one other Ghost Whisperer had been able to replicate his mother’s tone and way of speaking—the first one he’d sat with. The way she’d mimicked his mother’s speech had convinced him. And now, those two simple words were enough to confirm his mother was trapped in the world of the living, and moreover, she was in the room with him right then.

“Go…life…the place…” Clare moved from side to side, lightly shaking her head. “She wants you to live your life in peace. She’s happy here. She wants you to be happy, too.”

He sat forward and braced his elbows on his knees. “Are you sure? Because the first Ghost Whisperer—”

Clare held up a hand. “Find…the place—there’s the place again—life…peace.” She kept swaying from side to side. “Hmmm. I feel… I feel…” She shook the third bell three times, filling the room with sound. “Find the place. It must be the place where her skin is kept. And life… That could be ‘live.’ Live in peace.”

She was guessing, Kieran could tell. She was one of the better Ghost Whisperers he’d sat with, but she wasn’t as good as the first one he’d met. And she hadn’t been able to tell him all he needed to know.

Clare’s eyes fluttered open. “She is coming through very strongly,” she said, before slightly bending to her right side. She came back with a small silver tape recorder. “Let’s try the EVP recorder and see what we find.”

Kieran’s heart sank as quickly as his hope. This was exactly the same road he’d been down all those other times, and like those other times, he foresaw nothing useful would come of it. If his mother was indeed trapped here, he had no way to break her free. His failure meant her continued suffering.

Just like when she’d been alive.



Something I couldn’t identify dragged me out of a deep sleep. I looked around my small room. The closed curtains hung placidly, lit from behind by a streetlight that barely cast its glow over the backyard fence. No shadows interrupted the plane, indicating there were no trespassers outside my window.

Frigid air caressed my face, but there was no draft to hint at an open door. The shadows lay as they normally did, a murky soup collecting in the corners and draping my furniture.

I took a deep breath. I’d probably been awakened by some nightmare I couldn’t remember. My mind had been playing tricks on me all evening. Every little noise jarred me; every shadow falling across the windows had me looking more closely.

But everything was as it should be in my room. All of it. If the stranger had come back tonight, he wasn’t peeping in the windows.

A wet, barking cough shattered the silence. As it was ending, another vibrated through the walls.

My heart lurched, and I jumped out of bed. My door burst open a moment later.

Huge, fearful eyes adorned Daisy’s thin face.

“Something’s wrong,” she said, emotion choking her voice. “He won’t wake up. He just keeps coughing.”

Chest tight, I wrapped a robe around myself to keep out the chill and rushed to the next room. A small nightlight projected a forest scene in a circle on the ceiling. Daisy still needed a nightlight to keep the memories of life’s beasties away. Mordecai always chose the theme, which coincided with what he was learning.

Soft green light fell on the blanket atop his body. A wet cough shook the pile, as though Mordecai’s lungs were filled with mucus. As though he might soon drown in it.

“Steam,” I said in a harried breath, rushing forward. “Get the steamer.”

“It’s on! It’s right there.” Daisy flung a finger at the old air purifier in the corner, which I’d found on the street in a pile of items set out for donation.

“The steamer,” I repeated, gently laying my palm on Mordecai’s forehead. Clammy. No fever. Thank God.

“Right, right. The steamer.” She rushed out of the room.

I checked his pulse. Slow and steady. At least that was okay.

Another cough racked his body. His eyes fluttered but didn’t open.

Usually these coughing spells would have the whole house awake, starting with him. The fact that he wasn’t waking up…

“Oh God,” I choked out, putting my hands on his cheeks as hot tears crowded my eyes. “Please be okay. Please.”

“Here.” Daisy held out the steamer as she entered the room. Not paying attention, she kicked the post of his bed in her haste. “Motherfucker shit-eating cake fucker!”

I closed the distance and grabbed the steamer, ignoring her swearing. A toe would heal. Whatever was going on with Mordecai might not.

“Come on, Mordie,” I said, barely able to speak through my panic. “Wake up, Mordecai. Wake up.”

“Shit fuck damn. Motherfucker, that hurt.” Daisy limped out of the room.

“Mordecai…wake up.” I shook him softly. Then harder. “Limp back in here and fill this steamer up,” I yelled at Daisy. “I’m going to get him to sit up.”

“I got the cough syrup.” She limped back in, grimacing with each step.

“Turn the light on.”

“Right, right.”

Harsh yellow light saturated the room, making us both squint. Mordecai’s eyes fluttered again, and this time, slightly opened. He squinted, too.

“Good. That’s good.” I handed back the steamer and took the cough syrup. After placing that on his side table, I pulled his ratty old blanket away, unable to help a smile and another wash of tears as I discovered the new turquoise blanket wrapped tightly around his person. He was using it for comfort, keeping his family close.

That meant he was worse off than I’d thought. He only got sentimental when the pain was at the breaking point.

A sob ripped from me. “We have to get more anti-morphing serum, Daisy,” I said, burrowing my arm between his back and the mattress. “He’s…he’s…” I couldn’t say it. I didn’t even want to think it. The D-word.

“How much do we need?” She limped back in with a bleach-white face and fear-soaked eyes. I rarely cried in their presence, so when I did, she rightly thought the world was ending. “How close are we?”

“I’ve got three hundred and two. I get paid on Friday.”

She waited until I had muscled Mordecai to a sitting position before putting the steamer on the edge of the bed. “What about rent?”

“It’s mortgage, not rent, and…the bank will give us a couple months before kicking us out. They always gave my mother a grace period when things were tight. And I’ll try to get some overtime at work.”

“Your boss hates you. He won’t give you an extra dime if he doesn’t have to.”

“Then I’ll sell fake drugs to your friend. We’ll figure it out.”

Mordecai slumped forward. A cough tore through his chest and he hacked on the liquid building up in his esophagus. Air stopped. His chest worked, but nothing was happening.

“Oh God, Lexi, he’s not breathing!”

“Help me straighten him,” I yelled, getting behind him and pulling on his shoulders. “Never mind. I got it. Plug in that steamer. Set it to full blast.”

She knocked over the air purifier in her haste, extremely clumsy from panic. The prongs of the steamer’s plug hit off the wall, then the plastic panel of the outlet, before finally finding the holes and slipping into place.

Wrapping my arms around Mordecai to keep him upright, I sobbed again, this time in relief, when he sucked in a wheezing breath. Daisy fiddled with the settings of the steamer, nearly knocked the thing off the bed, and then straightened it and angled it toward his face. Tears dripped down her cheeks.

Minutes trickled by. I held Mordecai. She held the steamer. Together we cried softly as he labored for breath through the violent coughing episodes. But finally, finally, the wetness of the coughs eased. His breathing evened out.

He wiggled in my arms and coughed some more.

“Oh, thank God.” Daisy flung her arms around him, thwapping me in the face as she did so.

“What happened?” I asked, afraid to let go, lest he slump over and fall off the bed.

“He opened his eyes. His eyes are open!”

“What’s going on?” Mordecai said quietly, his voice scratchy from all the coughing.

“Get him the syrup.” I pushed my captured hand against Daisy’s chest. “Get him the syrup.”

“Why can’t we just take him to the emergency room and pretend we have money until after they treat him?” Daisy asked, unscrewing the cap. “No one can pay upfront. They bill people.”

“They run credit, and I don’t have any,” I said, guilt tearing at me. “I’ve tried.”

“Then fine. I’ve got a new plan.” She wiped her face with the back of her hand, smearing tears across her cheek. “I’m going to find someone with magical medical and marry them. Then I’ll claim Mordie as a dependent, and we can take him to the hospital.”

“Your plan needs work,” Mordecai said weakly, and I struggled to hold my sobs back. He didn’t need to know how much we worried about him. He’d feel guilty for causing us grief. He didn’t need to expend energy on anything other than staying alive.

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