Home > Nightfall (Grim Gate #1)

Nightfall (Grim Gate #1)
Author: Emily Goodwin

Chapter One

 

 

Well, shit.

I reach for my wine, needing a big sip of Pinot Grigio before I can turn and look at my date, who’s apparently not the man sitting at the table across from me.

“Anora?”

“Yeah,” I reply as soon as the wine goes down my throat. I push my shoulders back and smile, bracing for the inevitable look on my date’s face, because there’s a good chance he’s been standing there a while, watching me have a conversation with a man he can’t see.

In fact, I’m sure no one in this Mexican restaurant can see him…which explains why he didn’t eat a single chip. No one can resist a fresh bowl of chips and house-made salsa. Well, apparently ghosts can. I quickly blink and inhale, forcing the mental shields back up. When I open my eyes, the man across from me is gone.

“You must be Gavin.” The guy—who I know is Gavin because he actually looks like his profile photo—looks at the empty seat across from me for a moment and then glances back at me.

“I, uh,” he starts, probably wondering if I’m too crazy to sit and have dinner with. Then his eyes go to my breasts and he nods. “I am.” Hesitating another second, he slides into the booth across from me. “Sorry if I kept you waiting.”

“It’s okay.” I take another sip of wine. “I got off work earlier than I thought I would.”

“What do you do?” He reaches for the basket of chips and slides it from the center of the table so it’s directly in front of him.

“I’m a vet-tech,” I tell him, certain now that he only looked at my photos on my online dating profile. I proudly have my occupation listed twice, which might be overkill, I know, but it is what it is. “And you work in IT, right?” I did check out this guy’s profile, and then looked him up on social media. I call it being thorough, not stalking. I want to make sure the guys I’m going out with are not psycho killers. Well, not according to their Instagram at least.

“Right.” He pulls the salsa over as well, double-dipping his chip.

“So, um, what do you do?”

“Mostly tell people to unplug and plug back in their printers.”

I laugh. “Technology can be hard, right?”

The waiter comes over, bringing another menu. He eyes me curiously, and I’m sure he saw me chatting it up with a dead man, only to him it looked like I was talking to no one. I’ve been a medium my whole life, able to see and hear ghosts. Most of the time, the ghosts pay no attention to me, stuck in the loop of a memory significant to them for one reason or another. Every once in a while, I run into a spirit like the one I’d just been talking to. They appear corporeal, coherent, and are able to carry on a conversation.

With twenty-four years of experience at this, I’m normally better at sensing them. I get that hair standing up on the back of your neck feeling, and there’s a shift in the energy around me. I’ve tried to explain it, I know it’s hard for people to understand. If they can’t see it, then it’s not real, and I get it. I really do. It’s hard to believe in something you’re unable to see, and even harder when said unseen thing can be scary. People don’t want to believe in ghosts.

When vampires made the shocking coming out a few years ago, I thought people would become more open to the supernatural, but I was sadly mistaken. There are a growing number of people who see vampires for what I know they are: the mysteriously sexy yet dangerous supernatural creatures we read about for centuries. Though there are still a lot who refuse to believe in that, my parents included. With my mother being a doctor and my father teaching physics, they insist there has to be a scientific reason for vampirism. Yet no one has been able to prove scientifically why someone would be able to survive only on blood, not age, and recover from what would otherwise be lethal injuries.

Because it’s not science, it’s some sort of dark supernatural force we’ll never fully understand.

“What are you getting?” Gavin asks me.

“Combination number three. It’s my favorite.”

“You eat here a lot?”

I shrug. “Not really. It’s close to work so we order from here at least once a month.”

“I’ll try it too.” He closes his menu and rests his hands on the table. “Are you a natural redhead?”

“Yeah,” I say, annoyed but used to getting that question a lot. “I am.”

“You’re very beautiful.”

“Thanks.” I set my wine glass back down.

“You look like my sister. I thought you were her when I first saw your profile. I couldn’t swipe fast enough.”

And now I’m picking my wine back up. “Oh. That’s, um, interesting.”

His eyes drop to my breasts again. “She wore green a lot too.”

“You two must be close.”

“We were.” He sits up, eyes narrowing ever so slightly. “But then she got married.”

I finish the rest of the wine in my glass. If I’m going to make it through the rest of dinner, I have a feeling I’m going to need the whole bottle.

 

 

“You were right. I should have stayed home with you.” I shoot the deadbolt in place and let out a sigh, crouching down on the ground to take off my heels but get bombarded with slobbery kisses from Hunter, my German Shepherd. “But the night is young, and we can salvage it with junk food and horror movies.”

As if he can understand me, Hunter excitedly runs from the front door and jumps on the couch.

“Give me a minute to change,” I tell him and pull off my shoes. “I swear, pushup bras are nothing more than modernized medieval torture devices.” I shrug off my purse and reach behind me, unbuckling my bra as I walk through my small brick house.

“Hey, little dude,” I say to my sleeping ferret when I get into my bedroom. Pulling my bra through the sleeve of my dress, I drop it on the floor, topping the pile of laundry I swore I was going to put away yesterday. Romeo wakes up, stretching and yawning as I strip out of my clothes. Someone dumped him off in front of the vet clinic my first year there as a vet-tech, and I’m a sucker for a sad, homeless animal. I change into PJs, refill Romeo’s food and water, and go into my small kitchen.

“Need to go out?” I ask Hunter, who’s sitting by the backdoor waiting for me. My yard is tiny but fenced in, not that I necessarily need it. Hunter is very well behaved, thanks to whoever owned him before. I found him wandering through my parents’ neighborhood five years ago, and after getting him scanned for a microchip—he didn’t have one—and contacting over a dozen shelters and vets in central New York, he officially became mine.

I open the back door, letting Hunter bound out into the night, and stick a bag of popcorn into the microwave. I grab a bottle of pink Moscato from my fridge and pour myself half a glass. I like wine as much as the next twenty-something-year-old-wino, but it’s hard to keep the mental shields that block out the ghosts up when I’ve had too much to drink.

Taking a small sip of my wine, I step outside, standing on the small cement square I call my patio. It’s relatively quiet on my street, and both neighbors on either side of me are in their eighties and keep to themselves. I look up at the sky, watching thin dark clouds slowly roll over the crescent moon.

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