Chapter 2

Jess

We're still not married.

For some completely Gaylord reason, he doesn't want to tie the knot.

"Too young, too much responsibilities, too much going on around the shop…"

What-the hell-ever.

I'm twenty-four now, and I can practically feel the grey hairs coming in.

Oh sure, he's willing to whisk me off to Morocco, and continuously service me Harley, and have sex with me in public places…no comment.

But we've been engaged for six years, and the stupid bugger won't marry me!

Don't get me wrong.

I'm in love with him.

Really,really in love with him.

I'm so in love with him it hurts, and I can't help but melt when he says, "Mastriani, get your skinny butt off Mrs. Jackson's just-painted car."

But I kind of hate my last name now. Mastriani is so blah, so boring. Jess Wilkins would totally suit me.

Just like my new leather jacket rocks my black jeans with the chains on them from Hot Topic. Never mind that Stu Winston (the bane of my working-girl existence) wolf-whistled before actually noticing who I was.

Never mind that walking through the streets, a girl took out a can of pepper spray from her Prada purse.

Screw that.

I knew I looked hot.

This new "working class hero" bit is also something I'm learning to avoid. Part of me still wants to be a member of our orchestra, but it's an unreliable profession, and I knowshould let those who are better than me have a chance. I don't want to teach music anymore either, I guess because I'm far too jaded to deal with children.

Yes, another thing Rob refuses to talk about. Children. I think he's remembering the heydays of his sister. Eeurgh.

So my job is, currently, the cashier at the local mall Borders. I can'texactly afford the new black True Religion jeans I was admiring on my lunch break (Bloomingdale's. Yessir.), but it's fun reading and reccing new titles, and I get all the free Starbucks I want.

Like this jacket, I'm wearing? I got the money for it from my boss for helping some film staresque person find the Kama Sutra. Hello, instant bonus!

I was admiring my darling new jacket in the mirror when I got a phone call. Managing to tear my eyes away from my handsome visage (er, right) I yelled for Rob to answer the phone.

Another thing about our relationship my parents hated. Rob and I lived together, and there was nothing they could do about it. I loved Rob, Rob loved me, what else was standing in our way? Family, friends, a little barrier I liked to call my hymen? What-frigging-ever. We were in lurve. The thousands of quizzes I'd taken said so. Only problem with being in love was the fact that it hurt, really, really hurt when Rob said he didn't want to get married. Marriage, to Rob, was like Church, I guess. You admired those people who went through with it, but could you everimagining waking up at six in the a.m. on a Sunday to worship? Not Rob, so he didn't bother.

Just like he didn't bother marry me. I'm still huffy.

Like usual, neither of us exactly jumped to answer the annoying "Flinstones! Meet the Flinstones! We're a modern stone age familllyyy" tune that is the Mastriani/Wilkins theme song. I didn't know what possessed me to give that as our ringtone, but here we were, listening to the Flinstones whenever someone dropped us a line.

"'M not get'n it!" Rob yelled as loudly as he could through a mouthful of nails. He was attempting to hammer a "Welcome to Number 65!" sign up at our door, at my insistence. He'd rather no one know where we lived. Me? I'd like Pete the Pizza Guy to deliver my Everything On It hot for once. Instead of cold and cheese-drippy like usual.

"Why?" I yelled back irritably.

"'M doin' some'n," he replied.

"You just don't want to answer it." I said primly.

"Yeah, but mmpf an exsquese," he said, and I giggled. "Hurry up mm ansfer it, before—"

"I've got it, I've got it!" I yelled, rushing to answer the phone, my attire forgotten.

"We'll have a Doo time, a Dabba-doo time, we'll have a gay old—" Please…not the high note, I thought hurriedly as I snapped up the phone.

"OH YEAH!" I yelled into the receiver, momentarily forgetting my place.

"Hello?" A strong, robust voice wafted up through the telephone.

"Oh shit," I muttered, before realising I was still connected. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry, see, I forgot I was connected, and then I did again, and—"

"'S'alright. Um, is this Jessica Mastriani?"

"Please, unless you're a serial killer, call me Jess. What can I do you for? You want to speak to Rob Wilkins? He's the mechanic of this household, he owns—"

"Uh, I was told I should call here if someone's Missing?"

Oh. Immediately, I felt subdued. I have a thing about Missing persons. I try my hardest not to do those anymore. They take a great toll on my mental health, and I'm not the happiest person after I find someone. The war, Sex Tapes, mental images and many other scarring events have sort of subdued the Psychic vibe. These days, I didn't even let (insert guy's name) call me with jobs.

But this girl had got my phone number…home phone. What could she want?

"Where did you get this number from?" I said, somewhat harshly.

"Look, kid, someone told me you'd be able to help me find a Missing person, can you—"

"I believe I asked you a question, lady." I said quietly, totally pissed about the kid. Hello. I am twenty-five. I'm about as much a kid as Rambo.

"You're a Psychic, right?" She said.

"You could say that," I said slowly.

"So you understand about sometimes wanting to keep things, special things, quiet, right?" Her voice became softer, and I had to jam the phone into my ear to listen.

"Jess? Who's on the phone?" Now Rob decides to come in.

"Sshh!" I snapped, waving him away. "Yeah, I understand…"

"Well, not just anyone told me. My name is Susannah Simon, and I work for the Carmel Hills Police Force. I'm calling you because my daughter, Ana Jenny De Silva is Missing, and for the first time, I heard of you. They haven't been coming to me often, but one did today. A ghost, who'd died and heard of you. I'm the Mediator." She said stolidly, and my heart dropped.

"Is this how low the Government has sunk? Getting a girl my age to pretend she's a fucking Ghost Whisperer to have me search for any-fucking-body with a sobstory?" I snapped, disgusted with the lengths that people would go to cause me heartache.

"Didn't you just hear me? I see Ghosts! Do you, like, know how hard it is for me to tell you this?" Susannah Simon was furious, I could tell, that she wasn't going to get her payoff from the Big Shots.

"Look, you can tell Gerry, or Harvey, Lenny, or any other name ending –y that there is no way I'm going to do their Missing work for them! I don't need the pressure!" See Jess yell. See Jess hang up the phone. See Rob enter. See Jess in huff.

"Who was that on the phone?" Rob asked.

"Oh—you know. Telephone companies advertising. Same shit as usual." See Jess lie her scrawny little ass off.

Rob was too tired to do any extramarital stuff, so I spent most of the night awake in bed pondering Susannah S's words. Mediator? What the fuck was a Mediator? I still couldn't believe how screwed up the government was. They were trying to play on my feelings of alienation in society by planting someone with "supernatural" powers? Yeah right. Like I'd believe that anyone with a fake name like Susannah Simon would be able to see ghosts.

Ghosts don't exist.

I'm in retirement.

I don't want to have to deal with freaky ghost shit now thanks!

But I couldn't help wondering…what if she wasn't a Gov. pawn? What if she was just someone who'd lost something important to them? In that case, I was being a total asshole to her. But arrrgh my brain hurt, and I was too TIRED to deal with this right now.

I put all thoughts of Susie S. away for another day. I had bigger things to worry about. Like getting a nice gold band on my finger instead of this Rock.

Stupid Rob…

--a/n. Not sure if I like this part, but I'm trying to distinguish between Jess and Suze. Jess is younger (in my story), and she hasn't exactly lost a child like Suze has. She's also probably not as emotionally mature as Suze is. I mean, Father D's dead, Paul and Kelly are dead, she's lost a child, her Dad, she's been dealing with the Dead for a LONG TIME. So Suze acts her age. Jess, about eighteen. But whatever. They will all grow up by story end.

Peaches,

Anya