The Ghost (Professionals Book 2)(9)

By: Jessica Gadziala

He came back for another two trips, making me feel incredibly guilty for not helping, but knowing I couldn’t pick up anything heavy with the stitches.

The whole reason I was paying the astronomical amount of money I was paying them was so they could take care of me, right? I could let myself be taken care of. Just once. Once in my life. Then I could go back to taking care of myself.

The hours stretched long with nothing to do, no way to keep my mind or body busy.

I wasn’t someone who lazed about at home.

Not in my very admittedly little free time.

I ran errands. Rearranged my closet. Updated my social media profiles for work. Went out to plays or museums.

But even those were rare.

I worked.

I worked from just about when the sun came up until well after it went down again. That was how I had gotten ahead. That was how I had made my dreams my reality.

But with all that gone, with all this time on my hands, I felt strange. Like I was crawling out of my own skin. Like I wasn’t quite normal like everyone else.

Why couldn’t I just sit down and binge watch a series?

Or flip through the magazines in my room, even if they were about home improvement. Maybe I’d learn something.

In the end, I dug through my luggage, finding one of my smaller sketch pads, and taking it with me to the couch, sitting and losing myself in work I knew I would never be able to pursue again, feeling the loss as something sharp and throbbing at the same time.

My work might have been taken from me, but the passion, the dream, the creating of sketches? No one could ever take that from me. I would hold onto it. No matter where I ended up, what I ended up doing. I refused to lose all of myself. I could cling to this, let it be a secret part of me.


I wasn’t exactly unfamiliar with them.

But this would be a whole new level.

Everything I had ever experienced in my entire life would be something I had to keep to myself. Every joy or frustration. My upbringing - no loss there. My education - something I took a lot of pride in. My business - my everything.

How far would it have to go?

Would I have to play dumb about the places I had seen? The concerts I had been to? The art exhibits that had moved me?

I guess if you were going to start over, you had to do it from scratch.

I would have to try new things, learn new hobbies, find a new job.

Daunting, but necessary.

But there would be quiet moments. Much like this one. Moments when my new world was outside closed and locked doors. Where no one could see me.

In those moments, I could be me again.

For a little while.

And as I tucked myself away in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar place, my stitches aching, my head pounding, my soul hurting, that was the only bit of comfort I had left.



The pounding woke me up.

Followed almost immediately by the yell.

“Let’s go, duchess; you’re burning daylight!”

My heart thudded into overdrive, making my skin instantly feel clammy, my throat tight, my chest compressed.

Sleep hung heavy around my brain, making me shoot up in bed, only remembering my stitches when the pain shot through my core. The room dark, it took me a long moment to remember.

Where I was.

Why I was here.

Who was talking to me.

Or, more accurately, hollering at me.


Because I was running away from my life.

Because some vicious drug dealer wanted to kill me.

My hand went to my chest a little shakily, pressing over my heart, willing it to calm down as I rose from the bed, reaching to shift the sheets back into place as I grabbed my dressing gown - pink and silky - and slid it on over my shorts and tank.

My feet moved into slippers as I made my way to the door, wanting to at least greet him and inform him I needed twenty minutes to get myself together.

I was reaching to tie my sash as I broke into the doorway of the common area, finding Gunner waiting there, a mug of coffee in his hand, the smell of it seeming to break through the last bits of sleep clinging to my brain.

Gunner’s gaze went to me, roaming over me slowly. Penetrative, that was what his eyes were. Like he was seeing underneath my clothes and inside my skin. Not sexually, though. Sexually would have been expected. Inappropriate, but not altogether off-putting. But there was nothing there but mild interest.