Speak of the Devil
Her breath came out in an icy puff and hovered for a moment in front of her freckled nose before merging with the frozen fog that clung to the grey dirt road she walked along. Sarah Fitzgerald wasn’t sure how she’d reached the road, but she walked until she found something familiar—the rusted iron gates of the cemetery. The foggy world, leached of color, was unsettling, but what had startled her most was the shadowy mass of a man leaning against the gates. As she approached, he came into focus and she studied him from the black Stetson pulled low over his eyes, down his rolled up sleeves that showed the lean muscles of his arms, the tight length of his jeans, to his shiny black boots.
I’m in so much trouble, she thought. What would Mama say?
“Well now, Sarah. I never saw much of your mother.” He smiled, but stayed leaning against the gates.
“How do you know my name?” Sarah stopped walking at the sound of his gravelly voice and the little hairs on her arms stood up. She crossed them tight over her chest so she wouldn’t shiver.
He looked up and met her stare with chilling back eyes. Sarah could barely breathe.
“It’s a small town, miss.”
“Sure is, but I’ve never seen you before,” she countered.
“I’m not generally in the company of well-behaved, church-going ladies like yourself,” he said, the smile now gone from his face and his voice laced with bitterness.
“Mama always says that we reflect the company we keep, sir.”
“And you always keep good company, don’t you Sarah?” he asked with a raise of an eyebrow.
“I do try,” she answered.
He straightened from the gate and sauntered toward her. Sarah managed to hold her ground, but her knees trembled under her grey gingham dress. He stopped a couple of feet away from her, and she had to look up to see his face. He studied her in silence, a frown pulling his full lips down.
He rubbed the back of his neck and pulled his Stetson down. “What are you doing here, Sarah?”
Sarah looked down and kicked the grey dirt with the worn toe of her grey boot. “I … I’m not really sure,” she admitted.
He stepped closer and lifted her chin gently with his fingers until he was peering into her eyes and his breath caressed her cheek. “Do you know who I am?”
“No,” she breathed.
His dark eyebrows came together when he frowned.
“Won’t you tell me, sir?” she asked.
The man shook his head. “It’s better you don’t know, miss.”
Sarah cocked her head as though as would question him further, but instead a tremble racked her body. “I’m so cold,” she whispered. The man look worried as he glanced around the fog surrounding them.
“Will you take a walk with me, ma’am?” he asked as he took one of her hands and placed it on his arm. “We better get you home.”
Sarah nodded her assent and he led her into the cemetery, his hand holding hers against the thick-corded muscles of his arm. The fog swirled at their feet as they walked between the grey stones.
“Do you remember what was happening before you came to the road?” he asked.
Sarah closed her eyes, trusting him to guide her. “I was walking home from Margery’s house … I think.”
She opened her eyes. He was frowning again. Sarah bit her lip.
“Anything else?” he asked.
“No. I was walking home and then,” Sarah paused and the man stopped and turned toward her. “I think someone hit me. I remember pain.”
A dark look crossed his face. “You shouldn’t be here, Sarah.”
The wind blew a piece of her hair into her face, and he caught it and tucked it behind her ear, his thumb lingering on her cheek. Sarah blushed and turned away, looking around the cemetery so she wouldn’t look back at the hunger in his eyes or think about how she could feel the heat from his thighs through her dress. Mama would have said he was scandalously close.
Your mama was a smart woman,” he muttered under his breath. The man started to pull her closer, but Sarah put a hand on his chest to stop him.
“What’s that?” she asked, pointed to a red light across the cemetery.
When he didn’t answer, Sarah turned back to the man. He looked down at her, his eyes lingering on her mouth. Sarah felt her lips open slightly, but she forgot what she was going to say. The man groaned.
“I want you to stay, Sarah,” he said pulling her into his arms, “God damn me forever, but I want you.”
“Would I like it here?” Sarah asked, her wide eyes searching his face.
“No, Sarah. I don’t think you would,” he replied softly, his deep voice caressing her ear as he leaned down to brush a kiss against her temple.
Sarah leaned her cheek on his chest. “I feel like I’m coming apart.”
The man swore as her knees buckled, but he caught her and cradled her in his arms. Sarah’s head lolled against his arm. He swore again and raced toward the red light. If he got her soul back to her body in time, he might be able to save her life. The light was coming from a crypt that had been thrown open. He rushed down the stairs and through a freezing veil that shimmered in the air.
Sarah wasn’t in his arms anymore. She was on a table across the room, surrounded by candles, her blood dripping onto the floor in a bright red puddle. Men, robed in black, stood over Sarah chanting his name over and over.
“This house call will cost you, gentleman,” the dark man replied, his eyes watching Sarah. Her chest rose slightly with a labored breath.
Stay tuned for Jen’s No Rules Friday next week.