Chapter 1

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A week has passed since we managed to seal the entity away in the Teague Hotel, and I had hoped that in that time my sleep patterns would finally return to normal, but even with the immediate danger gone, the images of the dark creature continue to haunt my dreams.

Breaking free from another nightmare, I jerk awake to an unfamiliar room. My gaze travels around the dark room where cardboard boxes line the far wall next to my dresser—which, at the moment, is the only thing I've managed to organize in the five days since I moved in. My boss, Jonah, made quick arrangements for my new accommodations after the nameless entity had taken out some of its frustrations on my old kitchen. And since the new house is owned by Aicil, it effectively makes Jonah my boss and landlord.

It's a good thing we can manage to get along now.

I lay quietly in bed, the heavy dread from the dream frozen in my muscles and dragging my bones into the mattress. The last few weeks have taken a huge toll, mentally and physically, on me and everyone around me and all I want is a return to relative normalcy.

Not that anything is ever really normal for a paranormal investigator.

Just as my weary eyes begin to drift closed again, a shadow in the corner catches my attention. I squeeze my eyes closed for a moment, expecting whatever it was to disappear, but when I open them again, the shadowed figure steps forward, into the light of the descending full moon.

I recognize strawberry-blond woman from pictures and vaguely from my own dreams—Ida Troyer. Ida's hands are clasped in front of her body, which appears even more slender and frail in the dim lighting.

I have a strong feeling Ida played a large role in our overcoming the spirit attached to the Teague Hotel, but a lot of the details are still jumbled in my mind—a logical result when multiple entities are trying to gain control of your body, I guess. "Isn't it, you know, frowned upon to stalk your son's employee while she's sleeping?"

"I'm merely checking on you, sweetie."

"Mmh," I grunt and readjust my blankets. Even spirits have to realize it's rude to check up on anyone before coffee. Since Jonah's father put in some kind of spirit ward on the house—the details of which I was never privy to, I'm convinced I'm still dreaming. I wait for the dream to shift me to a new location as it had time and time again—expecting, at any second, to see the walls of the abandoned hotel appear around me again.

But the walls of her new bedroom remain solid, and the apparition moves a step closer.

"It was you in the hotel, wasn't it?" I ask.

"Partially. I helped you direct the power to your mother so she could protect you while Jonah figured out how to break your bond with the entity." Ida's light Irish accent rolls through the room with a lulling effect. Jonah, not surprisingly, doesn't share his mother's accent, and for a second, the thought crosses my mind that it's a pity. Instead, his fluctuated between a thick Minnesota accent with hints of his time spent in Alberta and Paris.

"So, it is broken?" I ask, looking for any form of confirmation that the evil entity won't be seeking me out again, leaving a trail of burned rooms and missing bodies in its wake. Even if that confirmation comes from a dream.

Ida remains silent for a few moments. "I need a favor," she finally says.

Ida's obvious refusal to answer the question is disconcerting, but it's a dream after all. Mine seldom go where I want them to. "Favor?"

Ida's head turns slowly as her gaze sweeps around the room, she's in no hurry for whatever she'd come for.

I knot my fingers beneath the blanket, waiting to be dragged into a nightmare, waiting for the apparition to ask for some kind of impossible feat.

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