Disclaimer: It's all Meg Cabot's (or Jenny Carroll, YMMV) and as much as I and many others WISH we owned Jesse and Paul – I don't.
AN: I'm so sorry this is so short, but I've had a whole bunch of stuff going on, with school, and life. My mom and I were in a car accident today on my way to work, and it really has me shaken up. I've also hit a bit of a block, but pumpkin pie just encouraged me to write out this short little bit. It's moving the plot along, and it brings in someone who I'm sure you've all been missing…
ETA: I'm a dumbass. Thanks aqueela!
CHAPTER FIVE: Heav'n has no rage...
Jesse's brown eyes were opened wide, and I was pleased to note the sound of panic in his voice mixed with an overly cheerful tone. I felt my own eyes narrow in response. People only sound like that when they're trying to hide something. "Elizabeth, huh." I allowed my body to sort of hover over Jesse's, a tactic I found especially amusing if Father Dom slept in too late. I crossed my arms and felt my face settle into an expression of displeasure. Elizabeth was all right, if a little unobservant. I'd looked in on her from time to time over the summer, when Father D was getting particularly ornery about her safety. And I thought that if I had met her when I was, you know, alive, we would have gotten along pretty well. However, now that she was showing an interest in Jesse, I found myself wishing that she was significantly uglier. "Where are you going?"
"Er, Elizabeth invited me to meet some of the students she knows at the university." He smiled a winning smile that almost had me backing off and giving him some space, until I noticed his leg bouncing up and down in agitation. When I scowled more fiercely at him, he clearly got the message that I was upset. "Look, Susannah…"
"No, Jesse. I get it, it's fine." I hate to admit it, but there was a fair amount of pain in my voice. I scowled again, more at myself in annoyance than at Jesse, but he didn't need to know that. "Please, don't let me stand in the way of your social life. Oh, and that mediator business? Completely unimportant, I get that." I quickly willed myself away from Jesse, over to my window seat, where I sat glaring at him.
"Susannah," Where Jesse's voice had sounded pleasant, albeit a bit squeaky, it now had a dark sexy rumble to it. I shivered unconsciously in response. The man has a sexy voice, even if he is a miserable scum bucket.
Ok, so I don't deal well with competition. Sue me.
"Why are you acting so strange? Yesterday you were practically yelling for me to get out of your room." I felt a wave of colour rise to my cheeks – no mean feat considering I don't technically have blood. He sent a very sexy smirk in my direction, and I warred with the temptation to either smack it off his face, or kiss it off. "Could it be that you have actually missed me, Querida?" I felt my heart skip a beat as he said that word, and a knot of tension that had wound itself in between my shoulder blades when he mentioned going out with Elizabeth came undone.
"Miss you? As if." I sent him a playful grin and leaned back against the cool pane of the window. At least – I think it should feel cool. I can't really feel much of anything, haven't since the day I died. "Actually, after you left, I went and investigated some strange vibes from the mysterious beyond." Jesse's playful grin slid off his face, and was replaced by a serious look, one that complemented his dark features superbly. I shook myself mentally in disgust, I was beginning to sound like Debbie Manusco for God's sake. Speaking of…"There was this girl that used to date my brother Brad, Debbie Manusco." I blinked as Jesse gave a start at the name.
"Debbie? It's funny, Elizabeth mentioned that a girl named Debbie disappeared after dating a boy she knows, Tad?" I shook my head, feeling a frown to match Jesse's sitting on my brows. Tad, Tad, Tad … I don't think I'd ever heard of the guy. "She said she thought he was 'creepy'. Does this have anything to do with what you were looking at, Querida?" Again with that name! Note to self: steal Brad's Spanish book to figure out what that means.
"Actually, yeah. She came to see father Dom one night, recently, but before she could say anything she just disappeared." Actually, Father Dom described it more like someone yanked her away from him, but I didn't want to let Jesse in on that fact. It sounded a lot like someone had summed Debbie – and from Father D's failed attempts at contact, exorcised her.
Not exactly a pleasant thought for yours truly.
"I'll try to find out as much as I can tonight – see if anyone knows what could possibly cause Debbie to appear now, and not earlier. Did they ever find out why she died?" Jesse began moving about the room, peeling off his shirt while he went in search of a more appropriate one. I gulped nervously as he brushed by me in his undershirt. The man should have a warning label.
"Actually, everyone assumed she'd gone off to L.A., she used to talk about that all the time. Until Father D saw her ghost, we all thought she was alive and well." I chewed my lip as I tried to remember exactly what happened. It was at the beginning of the summer, in July, and Debbie had just broken up with Brad for the 800th time, when she suddenly hooked up with a new guy. It was a little while later that everyone realised they hadn't seen her in a while. "There's a girl named Kelly, her and Debbie are – were best friends. Try and swing your way over to her at the party, if anyone knows something, it'd be her." As long as you can get her to stop talking about her boyfriend, or her hair…
Jesse murmured his assent and began fiddling with his dress shirt. It was a nice wine red, and had a classy-casual look to it when coupled with the 505s. The man was ten kinds of sexy and it was getting harder and harder to ignore it. I watched him fuss about as he got ready for the party, and felt a pang of longing. I never really was the type of girl who got invited to parties – the gang rumours probably had something to do with that – and I wished I had made an attempt to do it when I was alive. Being a ghost seemed to involve a lot of want and not have, especially of late.
"Susannah-" I tilt my head at the strange sound in Jesse's voice, and raise an enquiring eyebrow. He crossed over to me, eyebrows low on his forehead, more serious than I'd ever seen him. He raises a hand to my cheek, and my eyelids flutter closed as I unconsciously lean into it. Hey, I know what you're thinking, but the guy is seriously hot. I'd like to see you keep your mad on against him. "Susannah, I -" he starts up again, and I find myself wishing he'd say something like 'oh Susannah, I love you madly', but I never hear what he actually says.
Because she's here.
I blinked at the woman who interrupted my conversation with Susannah, simultaneously relieved and annoyed. I don't know what exactly I was going to say, just that the look of abject sadness on her face bothered me, and I felt a strong need to alleviate it. The woman looks… ragged. I remember the stories mi abuela would tell whenever my siblings and I had the urge to run off, La Lorena. Woman in white. She had long red hair that hung in a tangled mass over too thin shoulders, pale skin with dark patches under her eyes. She was screaming louder than anything, and I was cringing from the pitch. For a moment, I wondered why Andy hadn't come running up the stairs, when I realised she had Susannah's arms in a death grip.
"You have to tell him!"
"Uh, Jesse?" Susannah looked over at me with wide eyes, as she unsuccessfully tried to pry the woman's hands from her arms. I shrugged my shoulders. There was really nothing I could do, the woman seemed intent on talking to Susannah, and her alone. Susannah rolled her eyes at me and turned to the woman. "Um, Hi, I'm Susannah." She gave a small grin at the woman, which quickly slid off her face as the woman began screeching again. I covered my ears and winced. The undead certainly get creative when they wish to make themselves heard. This time, my mirror began shaking against the wall, and the lights began flickering on and off. "Whoa! Whoa! Ok, we'll tell him!" The woman stopped screaming and looked at Susannah with such a look of relief, that I wondered what was tormenting the poor soul so much.
"Tell him it wasn't his fault. Tell Red it wasn't his fault." Susannah hastily reaffirmed her promise that 'Red' would get the message; and no sooner were the words out of her mouth, than the woman disappeared. We stood there for a moment, blinking at each other in equal measures of disbelief and confusion.
"Ok, now who the hell is Red?"
"Red… Red… Doesn't ring any bells…" Elizabeth frowned as she made her way over to the exit. We were driving down past the mission on the way to the party, and I had spent the past few minutes segueing my way to the topic of the mysterious Red. Susannah and I had spent the remaining time at the Ackerman's on David's computer, looking around for any information on our impromptu guest. Our search pulled up nothing, and I had to leave, promising Susannah I'd look into her 'strange vibes' on Debbie Manusco. So far my conversation with Elizabeth wasn't enlightening either. I sighed and looked out the window. I'd only been in Carmel for a short time, and already I was having difficulty balancing my life with my duties as a Mediator. "Wait a minute, yes I do. Red Beaumont, Tad's dad. I didn't really think about him at first, cuz we just call him Mr. B… Why did you want to know, anyway?" Elizabeth shot me a confused glance as we came up to a fenced driveway. It reminded me of the overly ornate entryways to the ranch back home, and a spared a sentimental grin before I focused on what she had said.
"A… friend was asking about him."
"Huh, that's funny. Mr. B's kind of a loner, didn't know the guy had friends, besides Tad's uncle." This brought me up short. How could I keep asking about this Red, if the man was supposedly unsociable? Elizabeth was going to start asking questions that I couldn't answer, without saying 'oh yes, didn't I mention that this friend is a ghost?' I prefer staying on this side of a sanitarium, thank you. "Anyway, if Tad gives me the creeps, Mr. B gives me the major wiggins. I once went over there for super, and the guy didn't touch his food, or wine, all dinner long. And we were having sirloin steak; you just don't pass stuff like that up." Elizabeth gave a mock shudder as we made our way up the long and twisting driveway, the security guard obviously recognizing Elizabeth's vehicle. That, and her comment about dinner, made me wonder if she and Tad had ever been an item, and I was annoyed to find that the thought bothered me.
"Perhaps he wasn't hungry, or was watching his weight." I paused for a second, and then grinned at her. "Wiggins?"
"Shut up. Just because some of us speak like we're born in this century doesn't give you freaks the right to make fun of us." She playfully stuck her tongue out at me, and we both laughed as we pulled up to the house. "Whoa." Elizabeth looked around with wide eyes, and I had to agree with the sentiment. Not only was the house large and ornate, but there could have been twenty or thirty cars on both the driveway and the lawns. We eventually found a place to park the sunfire, and we both just sat there for a moment, taking in the sheer amount of people that must be at this party. I broke out of the stupor first, and made my way around the car in time to open the door for Elizabeth, who accepted my help with a bemused smile. "You know, I am capable of opening the door myself."
"That doesn't mean it isn't nice for me to open it for you." I shot her my trademark smile that sometimes managed to melt even my mother's heart. Elizabeth just chuckled and shook her head, though I was pleased to notice the blush that went across her cheeks. I gallantly offered her my arm as we made our way up to the front door, although Elizabeth was having some trouble with her high heels as we crossed the grass. In a big change from earlier in the day, she was wearing a forest green summer dress, with some black high heels that looked quite painful to walk in. My sister Maria would complain endlessly about the blisters wearing such footwear caused, but without fail she would go out with them on. Women confused me to no end.
"Buffy, DeSilva." Tad was there when we finally reached the door, welcoming everyone in. He gave Elizabeth a long once-over which she clearly ignored and backed off when she clutched my arm tighter. "Welcome to my place. Buffy, Kelly was looking for you, I told her you were showing up with a friend." He said the last word disdainfully, but I found myself not caring. This Kelly was the girl Susannah had been talking about, and now I had a perfect opportunity to talk to her about Debbie.
"Hey Tad, thanks. We'll catch you later, ok?" She gave him a big false grin and practically dragged me into the house and towards the swimming pool. There was a large bar area set up, and people were ordering all sorts of drinks, though clearly most of them were under the drinking age. We made our way over to said bar, and Elizabeth swiftly ordered coke for the both of us, before turning to look around the pool deck. "Man, he seriously outdid himself this time; I don't even know some of these people. Man, don't you just wish you had a place like this?" She elbowed me jokingly, and I tamped down the impulse to tell her about my actual home, which was around this size. We chatted for a few minutes as the bartender got us our drinks, and then we moved out into the crowd. "I wonder why Kelly's suddenly so interested; I haven't spoken with her in a while."
"Maybe she found out something about your friend Debbie." We made our way over to a pair in the center of the pool deck. The girl had long blonde hair and was dressed in an outfit I guess was fairly expensive and stylish, while her date was talking to what looked to be ex-football players.
"Buffy! Hey!" The girl, who I presumed to be Kelly, squealed at an unnatural pitch and put her arms around Elizabeth, who had to bend down slightly to make up for the height difference. She looked over at me, and I grew uncomfortable at the strange gleam in her eyes as she looked me up and down. "So, who's your friend?" she too gave a strange emphasis to that word, and it was starting to annoy me.
"Jesse," I extended my hand as Elizabeth introduced me and gave her a polite smile. She gripped my hand tightly and gave me a grin in return. Elizabeth's grip on my arm tightened a little and she continued in what sounded like a strangled tone. "He's staying with the Ackerman's." I was preparing myself mentally for a long conversation with Kelly, when her date suddenly whipped around. He glared at me, with two ice blue eyes, settled into what I suppose is a handsome face framed by curly dark hair. As he looked at my face, I felt a wave of loathing and hatred wash over, such as I had never felt in my life.
"DeSilva." His voice, which made the hairs on the back of my neck rise in disgust, pulled Elizabeth's attention over to us with its tone of malevolence. She shot the two of us a questioning glance, when a name suddenly popped into my head. I felt my hands balling up into fists, tight enough to crush the glass of coke I had held in my hands, as I growled his name.
A/N: Well, there you go folks! Mr. Paul Slater has officially stepped into our story. I hit a point with this chapter where I couldn't type for weeks, and suddenly, I felt an overwhelming urge to just WRITE. I know it isn't the best chapter ever, but it leads into the more exciting parts of the story, where the plot will hopefully inspire me to write more. Let me know what you think!
The Salad is Dressing: Answer your question? Ha ha, I'm not sure if I like Elizabeth yet either – but she does have an important part to play, something that's going to shock a lot of people, well, at least so I think.
Amattsonperdue: That'll be answered in later chapters, but because it's so far away, I'll give a rather small teaser; She's not actually related to Father Dom, and the rest, you'll have to wait on. D
Annabella Darcy: This non-liking of Elizabeth seems to be popular… whoops. Well, she doesn't have to be liked, just serve her purpose. Or no cookies for her. Heh heh.
And plenty of hugs and cuddles to these wonderful folks: Lessien-Elensar, Bloody Vampyre Mistress, LunaTears, yauvanika, and Kates Master!