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       In My Reality (In My Dreams Book 2), p.1

           Cameo Renae
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In My Reality (In My Dreams Book 2)


  Copyright © 2016 by Cameo Renae

  All rights reserved.

  Cover Design by: Steph’s Cover Design

  Edited by: Victoria Rae Schmitz of Crimson Tide Editorial

  Interior design by: Nadège Richards of Inkstain Interior Book Designing

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  This book is dedicated to all those who read In My Dreams and asked for more.

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Epilogue

  Ramblings from the Author

  Acknowledgments

  About Cameo

  “Lizzy, will I go to heaven?” Annie asked, standing next to my bed, twirling a strand of her long blonde hair.

  I looked into her wide blue eyes and wished I could hold her in my arms and comfort her. But I couldn’t. Because Annie was dead.

  “Of course you will,” I breathed.

  “Then why am I still here?”

  “I think it’s because your parents need to know you’re okay, and you need to know they’ll be fine once you cross over,” I tried to explain. “That’s why you were sent to me. I’m going to help you find them.”

  She nodded, sorrowfully. “Do you think they miss me?”

  “Of course they miss you. I’m certain they’re heartbroken, and wondering what happened to you.”

  Her hands fisted the sides of her frilly pink dress as she twisted side to side. “Do you want to know what happened to me?” she murmured.

  No, is what I wanted to say.

  I didn’t want to relive the gruesome memories that transpired before and during her death. Having witnessed Michael’s death, through his eyes, nearly killed me inside. The thought of what that sick bastard could have done to this beautiful eight-year-old girl made my stomach turn.

  But he was still out there, and if there was any way I could help to put him away, which included witnessing the events which led up to her death…I would do it.

  I accepted her offer, and when I fell asleep, Annie showed me what happened.

  We’re in a parking lot, and I watch as Annie walks next to her mother, who’s pushing a cart full of food. After they load the trunk of their car, Annie’s mom pulls the cart toward a return area, nearly twenty steps away.

  “Annie, wait right here. I’ll be right back,” her mom says, hurrying toward the return stall.

  “Okay, Mommy,” Annie replies, fixing her doll’s dress while humming a tune. She has on the same pink dress she wears as a spirit.

  From the right, a black Ford Mustang GT with dark tinted windows speeds through the lot, coming to a screeching halt next to Annie. The driver opens his door, yanks Annie in, and peels out of the parking lot.

  I’m shocked at how fast it happens.

  Annie’s mom screams, running after the car, but in seconds, it’s gone. She drops to the ground, wailing, before frantically grabbing her purse and dialing 911. The parking lot fills with people trying to console her.

  My body leaves the scene at the parking lot and is thrust forward, until I’m sitting in the backseat of the kidnapper’s car. It’s filled with cigarette smoke, and beer bottles are carelessly tossed all over the backseat and floor.

  Annie is screaming, calling out to her mother, but her cries fall on deaf, murderous ears. The asshole drives into an empty parking lot and threatens her. Spittle flies from his mouth as he screams at her to shut up. His eyes are dilated and bloodshot. His arms are riddled with track marks. He’s obviously a junkie.

  When Annie doesn’t stop crying, he roughly grabs her and duct tapes her arms behind her back, and then her mouth shut. I want to vomit, knowing exactly what she was feeling. I could see it in her eyes. An indescribable fear.

  After binding and silencing her, the man speeds away, down the highway, heading out of Anchorage. He looks young, in his mid-to-late twenties, with clean-cut, jet-black hair.

  I don’t notice any tattoos or piercings, but he is wearing an onyx ring. In the center of the ring is a symbol, outlined in silver. After closer examination, I realize it’s a goat head in the shape of a pentagram.

  He turns down a dirt road and continues to an area concealed by trees, somewhere near Eagle River.

  I woke up, sobbing, my face soaked with tears. The rest of the nightmare had been all-consuming horror. I wanted to kill him, and I wanted to do it slowly. He didn’t deserve to live or breathe the same air that Annie once did. He deserved to suffer horribly, for the rest of his life and then some more in the afterlife.

  “Don’t cry, Lizzy,” Annie whispered, standing beside me. “He can’t hurt me anymore.”

  “I’m so glad, sweetie,” I said, wiping the tears from my face.

  Every time I thought about what that son of a bitch did to her, I started bawling all over again. The only thing that kept me going was Annie…knowing she no longer felt fear, pain, or sadness.

  She had come to me because she needed my help, and I promised her I would find her parents and help locate the murderer.

  Because Officer Cross trusted my gifts, after what had happened with Michael’s murder, the next morning I went down to the police station and gave him every bit of information I had. The type of car, what the man looked like, his ring, and the location of the crime.

  I barely held myself together during the interview, but Annie was with me, urging me to go on. Officer Cross assured me he would look into it, and would let me know if he came up with anything.

  Over the next few days, they located and exhumed Annie’s body from a shallow grave, and began the search for her murderer.

  Officer Cross called Annie’s parents and shared the news. There was no easy way to tell her parents that their child was brutally murdered.

  Her mother took it especially hard and was nearly inconsolable. I could hardly blame her.

  Annie’s family lived in Oregon, and they only happened to be in Alaska for a mini-vacation when it happened. I couldn’t imagine the pain and emotion that must have been running through them, having to return to Oregon without their daughter

  Officer Cross also explained who I was, and arranged for me to meet with them.

  The next day, I was driving down to Portland, and when I arrived at their house, my stomach twisted in knots.

  First, I had to explain who I was—a complete stranger who had specific details on their daughter’s kidnapping and death.

  I was terrified that they wouldn’t understand, but instead, they invited me in and listened. Annie was with me the entire time, standing right beside me, giving me information. Details only she would know.

  The longer I talked, the more I saw the walls of doubt and distrust around them slowly crumble away.

  They had tons of questions and so much they wanted to say to their daughter. And by the end of the visit, both of her parents wrapped me in their arms, tears streaming down their faces. Although their worst fears had come to pass, they now had answers. I was able to give them the one thing they were de
sperately searching for since their daughter’s disappearance.

  Closure.

  I was glad to have been a part of their healing process. Now, they could try and move on, knowing Annie was at peace.

  Annie spent one final night with me. She was afraid of what was on the other side, and I did my best to reassure her it was a beautiful place, filled with light and love. Especially knowing that Michael was there.

  When the time came, and she was finally ready, her grandmother, who’d passed a few years before, appeared to help her with the transition. Before she left, she stood in front of me and smiled.

  “Goodbye, Lizzy. I’ll never forget you.”

  “And I’ll never forget you, Annie.”

  With tears streaming down my face, and my heart aching, Annie finally crossed over. It was a beautiful moment, and I cried for days afterward.

  I couldn’t help but grow attached to the little girl, especially since we’d been together for a few weeks. She kept my mind busy, and now that she was gone, the loneliness weighed heavy again.

  I was exhausted and weak, mentally and physically.

  Being in the presence of spirits was draining, and although I was happy with the outcome, Annie depleted me.

  I wished I was Sleeping Beauty. That I could prick my finger on a spindle and fall into a deep, death-like sleep.

  At least for a month.

  THREE YEARS LATER

  “Get your lazy ass out of bed and start packing,” Emily said, her bright voice blaring through the receiver. “Tyler and I are coming to pick you up this weekend and bring you down to Cali for spring break.”

  “What?” I squeaked, rolling over to check the time and wipe the sleep from my eyes. “No, I—”

  “You know I don’t know the meaning of that word.”

  “And, you know how I am around crowds.”

  “Only since Michael passed, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen my bestie. You need to rejoin society, Lizzy. It’s been three years. Live a little.”

  I pulled the covers over my head and let out a huff. There was no way she’d take no for an answer. Em was more stubborn than an earthbound ghost on a mission.

  “How am I getting home?”

  “You’ll be flying. And before you go all drama llama on me, I’ve already got your ticket and the spare bedroom ready.” She squealed loudly. “I’m running out the door for a quick appointment, but I’ll call you later. Kiss, kiss.” Hanging up the phone, she left me spinning.

  The introvert in me panicked. Spring break in California sounded like an absolute nightmare.

  I pictured a bunch of drunken college students, pressed together, with loud music blaring…and there would be me, desperately trying to claw my way out of the middle, gasping for air.

  Emily had started college at UCSB, which she bragged was right on the beach. Ever since her first day, she’d been begging me to come down and visit.

  Tyler had gone with her, and they’d ended up renting a small three-bedroom apartment right off campus. Although it looked amazing and tempting at times—I knew this from the gazillion pictures they sent me—I felt like if I went, I would be the awkward third wheel.

  I just wanted to spend spring break at home, alone, in my warm jammies, hair up in a messy bun with a hot cup of coffee and a book. Actually, I’d love to spend the rest of my life tucked away with no surprise visits, earthly or otherwise.

  Moaning, I stood in front of the open drawers of my dresser.

  “Oh God.” I had nothing remotely spring break worthy. My wardrobe consisted of sweats, sweatshirts, sweaters, comfy socks, jeans, and T-shirts. My legs weren’t beach appropriate either. They looked like they belonged to a snow-white Sasquatch.

  “Three days?” I sighed.

  The countdown began. I had seventy-two hours before Emily—the death collector—came for me. It was too late to purchase anything online, damn her. I’d have to subject myself to entering the real world to shop. She could at least have given me a few weeks’ notice.

  Later that evening, I jumped in my Jeep and was headed to my mom’s house for dinner. Since my hospital encounter, she’d sobered up and was doing great. It was a really rough ride, but she survived and came out stronger because of it. She even began to sew again, gaining a few accounts which sold her garments.

  About a year ago, she started dating again. Fred, her now steady boyfriend, was one of the doctors who’d treated her. I guess he saw the potential behind the broken, crazed-woman façade. He helped her through the withdrawals and often contacted her to make sure she didn’t regress.

  I liked Fred. He was somewhat good-looking for an older guy, and they seemed so happy together. He doted on her, and she enjoyed his company. There was a lot of laughter between them, which made me happy.

  As I entered the house, the smell of Italian spices and freshly baked bread wafted around, making my mouth water. Fred’s special spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad was on the menu—one of my all-time favs.

  We sat around the dining table and ate until we were stuffed. They discussed their day’s events, laughing most of the time, and on occasion, I caught Fred gazing lovingly into her eyes. She’d blush and return a sweet smile back to him.

  The subtle touches and stolen glances were almost too much to handle. I wanted to be happy for the people around me, but sometimes their happiness reminded me of what I didn’t have—or would ever have again.

  “Lizzy, what have you been up to?” Fred asked, dabbing his napkin to his lips. He’d most likely sensed my negative mood.

  Swirling the last few noodles with my fork, I shrugged. “Same old stuff. Nothing new.”

  My mom reached across the table and placed her hand over mine. “Elizabeth.” She was pulling out her mother-mode voice. Great.

  “We all know you’re still broken up over Michael, but maybe it’s time you stop shutting everyone out. We are here for you, and Emily is coming a long way to see you. It’ll be good for you to get out and have some fun. Please, sweetheart, I’d like to see you make an effort.”

  I was about to bark a remark, but instead, bit my tongue and kept it to myself. She was concerned and knew the shattering pain I’d suffered from Michael’s death, because she’d suffered just as well through my dad’s infidelity and the divorce.

  My dad didn’t die, but his disloyal acts sent her on a heart-shattering, downward spiral. I was glad she pulled out of it. She’d left Booze Land and was happy again. She proved that a heart could be mended, even after it was battered and as long as the heart possessed a heartbeat, there was hope.

  With a half-smile, I breathed, “I know. I’ll try.”

  Try. It was all I could do these days. It’d been three years since Michael’s death, but it could just as well have been three days. Some days were easier than others, but there were too many quiet moments—blank spaces quickly filled with memories of him. It was during these moments, I’d break down all over again. And each time, I had to find a way to pick up the pieces, to fit them back together and start again.

  My life had altered that day in the cemetery. I’d seen things very few human eyes had ever witnessed. The reality of a secret world existing within ours. Angels and demons. Good vs. evil. It was all real.

  And since the day in the cemetery, I’d had no contact with Michael. I knew he was still around watching over me from time to time, but there had been no special visitations like before. No dreams, no visions, no heavenly apparitions. But knowing he had a job to do made it a little easier.

  Sometimes, I felt his presence, especially on days I needed it most. While other days, I felt nothing. But I knew he was still out there. Somewhere. Both of us keeping busy, biding our time until we met again.

  I’d been told, time and time again, “You need to move on, Lizzy.”

  But I couldn’t. No one understood my heart. It belonged to Michael, and I wasn’t ready to give it to anyone else.

  It didn’t help either that everything around me still reminded
me of him.

  On my finger, I still wore the ring he’d given me, and around my neck, the locket. The new car—exact make and model—was sitting in my garage, gifted to me by his parents. Every time I sat in it, a flood of memories overwhelmed me. Which is why I still drove my old, beat-up Jeep. It’d been good to me.

  After dinner, my mom walked me to my car, while Fred stayed inside and cleared the table. I knew she wasn’t finished doling out motherly advice. Her sobriety had kicked it into hyperdrive, attempting to make up for the lost years, and then some.

  “Thanks for dinner,” I said, unlocking the Jeep door. “It was delicious.”

  “Fred is an amazing cook,” she replied, a half smile curled on her lips. “But I did help make the garlic bread and salad.”

  “The garlic bread was excellent.”

  “Thanks.” Her face lit up briefly before her eyes narrowed on me.

  I looked down as she took hold of my hand.

  “I really want you to relax and have fun this week. You need it.”

  My heart pinched. “I know.”

  “Promise me you’ll make an honest attempt to let people in.”

  I rolled my eyes and sighed. “I promise.”

  She leaned forward and kissed my forehead. “Good. Call me when you arrive and when you get back. It’ll keep my nerves at bay. But most of all, just remember to have fun.”

  “I will,” I said, hugging her.

  “I love you, sweetheart,” she said, her eyes tearing.

  “I love you too, Mom.”

  I gave her one last hug before jumping in the Jeep and driving away.

  Having fun took a lot of effort these days. Yes, I’d separated myself from the outside world, but it was because I didn’t want to deal with people. Fake people. And to top it off, I had dead people haunting me, sharing with me their sometimes gruesome deaths, begging me to make things right, here on Earth. It was mentally and emotionally draining, and I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to deal with it for much longer.

  At least I had never run into a poltergeist—those mischievous spirits were known to cause disorder and chaos, physically throwing and touching things. Thank God for small favors.

 
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