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Dream Under the Hill

Dream Under the Hill by P.G. Forte
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The Spring Equinox falls in the month that nearly all Native Traditions recognize as being one of Big Winds—big changes. And big changes have certainly come to Oberon this spring, along with an ancient evil that must finally be laid to rest.

In a month marked by birth, death and marriage, the inhabitants of Oberon must all come to terms with what’s really important to each of them—important enough to die for.

Only one thing is certain. When the winds of change finally stop blowing nothing—and no one—will be the same.
SynergEbooks; March 2006
415 pages; ISBN 9780744309843
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Dream Under the Hill
Author: P.G. Forte

November One

The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in view of the foolish, to be dead; but they are in peace. Alleluia.

Offertory Prayer
For the Feast of All Saints

Except for the two of them, the playground was deserted. Not really a surprise, Seth Cavanaugh reflected, considering it was the middle of the night. There wasn’t a sound to be heard except for the squeak of Cara’s swing going up and down, up and down– Jeez. Isn’t she tired of this, yet?

As he rocked back and forth on his own swing he shivered at the eerie noise, at the chill fog that had begun to creep across the yard, at the lonely, desolate feeling he was starting to get in the pit of his stomach. He still couldn’t figure out why Cara wanted to come out here in the first place. They were both seventeen, far too old to be playing on swings. Or, so he’d thought.

He sighed impatiently, wishing she would stop goofing around and ask him to take her home. That’s what he should have done in the first place, what he’d wanted to do…

But she wanted to come here, instead, and even though he was beat to shit after everything they’d been through tonight: nearly getting burned to death, nearly watching his sister burn, running through fire, busting through walls––he figured he owed her something. If it hadn’t been for Cara, his little sister would be dead right now. So, yeah, he owed her. He owed her big time.

“Look,” he said, after a minute. “I’m gonna take off now.” Maybe she’d get the hint, he hoped. But, no such luck.

“Okay,” Cara replied, with a careless shrug; not looking at him, not even turning her head, still swinging. It was a pretty good act, but he knew her too well to be fooled. Given the conversation they’d just had, that I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude could only mean one thing. He’d gone and hurt her feelings, again, hadn’t he?

He hadn’t meant to, but what the hell had she wanted him to say? Didn’t he want to go out with her again? No, damn it, he didn’t. What was the point? He didn’t love her––he was never going to love her. That wasn’t her fault, and it sure wasn’t his either.

Didn’t she know he’d give his left nut to have fallen in love with someone who wanted him to? Or, who cared at all about him? Someone who, at the very least, lived in the same town as he did, or who he could even hope to catch a glimpse of, once in a while?

Even as crazy as Cara Matthews was and always had been, Seth wished like hell he could have fallen in love with her instead of with Deirdre. But that’s not the way things were.

And nothing was going to change that.

"Are you gonna be okay?” He glanced around the yard again, frowning at all the darkness. “You sure you don’t want a ride?” There was a real creepy feel to the air tonight. Cara had to be nuts to want to stay here, and, obviously, she was. Although why that should still surprise him was a fucking mystery.

“Nope. I’m fine,” she answered, not being bitchy about it, not being much of anything. Just swinging. Crap.

He stood there for another moment, simmering in his own frustration. He was sure there had to be something he could say to make her feel better or, at least, to make her change her mind and let him drive her home. But nothing came to mind. “Okay, well, I guess I’ll see you around.”

“Yep.” She pumped faster, breathing hard, smiling just a little—as if to prove how much she didn’t care.

Yeah. Right. Like he wouldn’t love to believe that fiction, too.

“See ya, Seth,” she called softly, but he didn’t turn. He didn’t even wave. Long good byes weren’t easier on anyone. They were just longer.

* * *

Cara tried not to watch as Seth walked away. She tried not to cry as he got in his car and drove off. Going home, she supposed. It must be nice to have a home you were that anxious to get to. She couldn’t care less if she never went home again.

What was home, anyway? Just a father who hit her and called her a slut. Just the memory of a mother who’d been too sick for most of Cara’s life to think of anyone but herself. And, occasionally, there were those fun visits with her bitch of an aunt who was paying for her schooling out of some sense of duty, and who never failed to let her know what a colossal waste it all was.

No, Cara didn’t want to go home, even tired as she was. Staying up all night, staying out all night, even going home with someone else, someone she didn’t really know and could care less about—any place was better than home.

She just wished that, for once in her life, something good would happen to her.

“Aren’t you a little old for children’s games?” a man’s soft voice rippled out of the darkness, so close it made her jump. Strong hands reached out and grabbed the swing, and brought her to a sudden stop.

“Shit.” Cara scrambled off the swing. She turned and regarded the stranger warily. Where the fuck had he come from?

Pale eyes gazed back at her, unblinking, ice blue eyes that made her feel all weird inside. He looked old enough to be her father, but he was dressed sort of Goth, and even though it was Halloween night, she knew this wasn’t a costume. The shaved head, the long, black, leather coat, the tats on his knuckles and along his neck––those were real. This was just the way he looked.

“You scared the crap outta me,” she murmured finding it strangely hard to breathe. As if her heart knew something she didn’t and was desperate to escape.

“Really?” The stranger’s eyes lit up as he smiled. “Well, I could do it again, if you like.”

She blinked in surprise. “Do what? Scare me?”

He nodded. “Don’t you like to be scared?”

Not really, she thought, and was about to say. But, as she looked at him, a strange thing happened. “Maybe,” she found herself answering, instead. “Maybe. Sometimes I do.”

“I was hoping you would.” He extended his hand. “My name’s Gregg.”

“Cara,” she replied, extending her own. His hand gripped hers tightly, it was hard, unyielding; almost as though he were made of some kind of stone, not a real person at all. She felt her pulse kick up another notch. Who was this guy, anyway?

“Cara,” he repeated the name after her. “That’s a pretty name. And you’re a very pretty girl, aren’t you?”

And, you’re old enough for that to sound really creepy, gramps. She tried to pull her hand away, but he held onto it and used it to pull her closer.

“You’re far too pretty to be out here by yourself, so late at night. Why don’t you let me take you home?”

“Thanks, but I don’t need a ride.” She shrugged, doing her best to act unconcerned, still trying to pry her hand free.

“Oh, but I insist,” he said, as he pulled her even closer. He clamped his other hand on her shoulder, leaned in tight and whispered in her ear, “Are you frightened now?”

Startled, she glanced up at him. His eyes gleamed. His lips curved. She nodded, barely breathing, “Yes?”

“Good.” He was smiling broadly as he set her free. “You should be.”

“Okay, well, I have to go now.” Her heart was racing as she headed for the gate and the only thing that kept her from breaking into a run was the fear that, if she did, he might chase her. That would make it too real, too frightening. Better to be harassed by a weirdo than stalked by a killer.

Gregg kept pace with her, effortlessly. “What’s your rush? Where are you running off to, all of a sudden? Someplace fun? Would I like it?”

She tossed her head, determined to stay calm. “No. No place at all. It’s late I-I have to go home.”

“Home? You’re right, that doesn’t sound like fun. Why don’t you come out and have something to eat with me, instead? My treat."

“You’re asking me out?” Cara was so surprised she stopped in her tracks and stared at him.

Gregg’s eyes danced. “Isn’t that what it sounded like?”

Cara nodded. “Kinda.”

He smiled in delight. “Then I guess so.”

Well, wasn’t that just her luck? She’d asked for something good to happen, and what did she get? Dracula’s dad, out trolling for a date. If there was a God, He had a sick sense of humor. But, she guessed she’d figured that out a long time ago.

Still, Gregg had a point. Going home would not be fun. Not fun, at all. She looked at him. He was older than any guy she’d ever been with, but still kind of sexy, in a strange, mutant-x kind of way. And those leather coats did not come cheap. Could be dinner wasn’t the only thing she could get from this deal. Sure, he’d likely expect something in return for his time and his money, but even that might not be so bad. It’s not like she hadn’t slept with guys for less than that.

Besides, what could go wrong? She’d already nearly died tonight. The odds of anything else bad happening so soon after that had to be lousy, even with her luck. Not that she had so much to live for, anyway. Now that Seth had taken himself permanently out of her picture, what else did she have going on? “Okay,” she shrugged. “Why not?”

* * *
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