Excerpt: Possessed (Celeste Files)
Book 5: Psychic CORE
RAW FURY CLAWED at John Kain as another man fucked his wife. Powerless to stop them, he stared out the narrow window of his padded prison cell and let the hatred consume him. Not for Celeste. His wife had no idea the man gripping her hips and sinking himself inside her wasn’t him, but an imposter, an evil soul. A man who’d been dead for over ninety years. Vigo ‘The Wolf’ Donati hadn’t been banished to Hell like he and Celeste had thought. Instead, he’d somehow taken up residence within John’s body, and had taken over his entire life, leaving him a prisoner within his own mind.
As Celeste released a soft moan, John turned away from the window. He couldn’t stomach the pleasure on her face, not when he wasn’t the one giving it to her.
For over two months, he’d been trapped, unable to communicate with the outside world, or warn his wife, friends and co-workers. The only being he could talk to was Vigo, and that prick either ignored him or laughed when John ranted or tried to reason with him. Had Celeste dealt with the same mental anguish when the boat captain had possessed her last year? Though he hadn’t a clue, he doubted it. Celeste was psychic, a gifted medium who could converse with the dead. There must have been a part of her psyche that was able to combat the dead man, something he could never understand. Still, there had to be a way to shove Vigo from his body.
Vigo let out a grunt and the padded room went dark. John rushed from the corner, blindly searching for the narrow window. As long as Vigo was awake and his eyes were open, John could hear and see the outside world. Otherwise, he was caged in a blackened room, sightless, deaf, his only company himself and a thin slice of hope.
“A little selfish, don’t you think?” Celeste asked, just as Vigo opened his eyes. She rolled out from under him, then quickly covered her naked body with the robe hanging from the bedpost. “Don’t worry about me.”
Vigo rolled his eyes, and sighed. “Are you going to do this again?”
She tied the sash. “Yeah, I am. I don’t know what’s going on with you lately. I used to think we had a good sex life. Now it’s all about you. Plus, because you refuse to wear a condom or pull out, I had to go on the pill.”
Her blue eyes narrowed with frustration. “I had to stop breastfeeding Mason and put him on formula. I wasn’t ready to do that.”
“And you know how important nursing is to me.”
Vigo shifted his gaze to her breasts. “And those are important to me. I don’t want to share,” he said with a chuckle.
“It’s not funny, and you’re being a jerk.”
“Come on, doll.” He patted the bed. “Get back over here and I’ll take care of you.”
When she cringed and stared at him with revulsion, John wished Vigo was still alive so he could kill the bastard. He never wanted his wife to look at him as if she didn’t love him, as if she were repulsed by him.
“First,” she began, “I told you not to call me that. Second, I don’t want you touching me.”
“That’s not what you were saying five minutes ago,” Vigo replied, smugness in his tone.
John wanted Celeste to slap the prick upside the head. He hated the way the gangster treated his wife. He had no respect for her, for any woman, and needed to be strung up by the balls. Except, damn it, they were John’s balls.
Without responding, Celeste went into the bathroom, then slammed the door. Vigo rolled onto his back and closed his eyes, plunging John into darkness. Minutes ticked by, then the bathroom door hinges squeaked.
“I’m done in the shower. You’d better get going or you’ll be late for work.”
“I’m not worried about it. What’s Ian going to do? Fire his son-in-law?” Vigo asked without opening his eyes.
The bastard didn’t know Ian Scott, Celeste’s father, and owner of the criminal investigation agency, CORE. If Ian wasn’t happy with his performance, he would take measures. What those would be, John wasn’t sure, and had no intention of discovering them. He loved being a CORE agent, solving cases, putting away bad guys and training law enforcement about crime scene investigation. Even more, he respected Ian, along with the other CORE agents. They weren’t just co-workers, they were his friends. Hell, two of those agents were his brothers-in-law.
The bedroom door slammed shut. A few seconds later, he heard Celeste over the baby monitor as she greeted their infant son with so much love in her voice it made him ache. Vigo rarely held Mason, which had robbed John of so many precious moments he could never get back. The same went for their daughter, Olivia, who’d recently turned three. Vigo didn’t ignore Liv, but he didn’t go out of his way to show her any affection, either. Not that John wanted the bastard holding his children and acting as if he were their father. But he also didn’t want them wary or afraid of him, especially since he had no intention of allowing Vigo to continue to use his body. He just prayed to God that once he was back to himself, he’d still have a wife and children who loved him, a job and his friends.
“What a bitch,” Vigo muttered, and finally opened his eyes. He moved to the edge of the bed. After yawning and stretching, he went into the bathroom, then turned on the shower.
“She’s not a bitch,” John shouted, and hit the wall. “You’re the asshole. Are you trying to ruin my marriage? If you are, then you’re an even bigger asshole than I thought.”
Vigo stepped under the spray. “Why’s that, Johnny?”
John tensed. “Why are you finally talking to me?” he asked instead.
“She’s your wife. She sure as hell wouldn’t be my first choice, but she did free me from the house, and she’s not hard on the eye. You gotta good gig goin’ here. I’m not saying I’ll stick around, but the money you make isn’t too shabby, your house ain’t half bad, either.” Vigo turned off the faucet, then reached for a towel. “Since I’ve already had a wife and kids, I really don’t want yours. But, I’m not ready for her to kick me out. Tell me, Johnny, how do I deal with your wife?”
“I’m not going to help you.”
When Vigo wiped steam from the mirror, John met his own gaze. “So you’d rather Celeste divorce me?” Vigo asked.
The thought of Celeste leaving made him sick inside. He didn’t want Vigo ruining his marriage, but John also didn’t want the bastard to keep living his life. He knew very little about Vigo. In the 1920s, the man had been a small-time gangster, a gambler, womanizer, bootlegger and…murderer. After passing violently, even in death, Vigo’s spirit was just as tainted and evil. Before he’d died, Vigo had owned Hell House, a mini-mansion Celeste’s sister, Eden, and her husband and John’s co-worker, Hudson, had bought about six months ago. For nearly ninety years, Vigo’s spirit had haunted the mansion and those who’d also died there. He’d fed off those tormented spirits until the night Celeste had set them free. In freeing those souls, Celeste had been convinced Vigo had either gone to Hell, or had disappeared into nothingness, especially after Hell House had burned to the ground weeks later.
She’d been so wrong.
John stared into his eyes, held Vigo’s gaze even when it momentarily blackened. He’d seen Vigo display this little trick before, and had even witnessed how Vigo had somehow made his face unnaturally contort. He didn’t fear the gangster, and wasn’t afraid of dying. He was terrified of what Vigo would eventually do to his wife and kids.
“I know you’re in there, Johnny,” Vigo said, lathering his face with shaving cream. “You’ve been wanting to talk to me, now’s your chance.”
“What do you want from me? Why are you in my body?” John asked, his temper rising. “I thought you fed off souls.”
Vigo picked up the razor. “I don’t need to do that anymore. Not when I own yours.”
“Bullshit. If you owned it, I wouldn’t still be here.”
“You’re right. And that’s a big problem. I don’t want you here, and I’m not sure how to get rid of you.” Vigo smoothed the razor along his jaw. “I’ve been giving it some thought. I think it’s only a matter of time before your spirit becomes so weak that you’ll either die away, or become nothing but a tiny mosquito who periodically buzzes around my head.” He shrugged. “Until then, we’re stuck together. You can either help me out, or I can fumble around in your world as I’ve been doing. I really don’t care.” Vigo stared hard at their reflection, his eyes once again blackening. “Know this, Johnny. I’m here to stay. I want your life.”
Outrage tore through John, filled him with so much hatred he couldn’t see straight. Fisting his hands, he punched the padded walls. Fueled by desperation, by hatred and fear for his family, he fought for control of his body. Celeste had always believed the living were more powerful than the dead. Damn it, he was alive. This was his fucking body, and he wanted it back. Now.
Picturing the gangster bloodied and bruised by his fists, John stared at the razor Vigo held and willed his arm to move. “You can’t have my life,” John shouted. “This is my body. This is…” He held his breath, held onto hope as Vigo’s hand trembled and the razor pressed deep into his cheek, staining the snow-white shaving cream with blood. “How does that feel, dickhead?”
Vigo’s eyes watered. “You’re the dick. You’re only hurting yourself.”
“I can’t feel a thing,” John said, dragging the razor down, then away from his face. He held out the razor, stared at it, then slammed it against his neck.
Vigo’s eyes blackened, and his face turned a deep shade of red, just as a small smile curved his mouth. “Do you really think you can kill us like this?”
“No, but given the chance, I’ll take suicide before I allow my wife and children to be subjected to a lifetime of you.”
Vigo gained control of his hand and arm and dropped the razor into the sink. Chuckling, he used the towel to wipe the blood and shaving cream from his face. “I saw a commercial for an electric razor. Looks like I’m going to have to buy one.” He cocked his head. “You know, Johnny, this doesn’t have to be hard. I’ll tell you what. I’ll even make a deal with you. If you just shrivel up and die, I’ll leave. I’ll walk away from the wife and kids, then go about my business.” He pressed his hands against the bathroom countertop and leaned toward the mirror. “You do know what kind of business I used to be in, don’t you?”
John wished he could put his fist through the mirror. This piece of shit ghost would not ruin his life. “Prohibition is over, so you’re not going to make any money bootlegging. You’re also going to have a hard time running a casino and brothel in this house.”
When Vigo smiled, John stared at their eerie reflection. Though it was his face in the mirror, that wasn’t his smile, those weren’t his eyes.
“The ‘20s were a lot of fun,” Vigo began, his eyes sparkling with malice. “But your time, your job, offers me opportunities I’d never even considered. Buddy boy, I’m John fucking Kain. I can legally carry a gun.” He shook his head and grinned. “And being you means I used to be with the FBI. Ain’t that the fucking cat’s ass? Me, a former FBI agent. See, I have big plans that don’t include you. So like I said, I’ll walk away from the wife and kiddies…once I’m established, then you just need to go away. Deal?”
Hell, no. “Just like that?” John asked, wondering how much time Vigo needed to establish himself. If he’d been able to make his arm move, what else could he eventually do? Warn Celeste? Even if he reached her, could she help him? Right now, he didn’t need a psychic, he needed a damned exorcist.
“Just like that,” Vigo repeated. “Stay out of my business, help me…facilitate things with your wife.”
Panic gripped John. “You mean, divorce her.”
Vigo shrugged. “I looked into your worth. Johnny. This house was a bad investment. What were you thinking?” He sighed. “It doesn’t matter. Your divorce laws would require me to give up half, right? With what I have coming, that won’t be a problem.”
“You’re not just giving up half of what I have with my wife,” John said, wondering what I have coming meant. “There’s also alimony and child support.”
Vigo rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I read about that, too. Who gives a shit? I saw on one of those talkie shows about deadbeat dads. I don’t have a problem being one of ‘em. She’s got the bakery, right? Fuck it.”
“But you’re screwing with my reputation. My family, my—”
“Johnny, you’re not getting it. You don’t exist. It’s just me.” He stood tall. “I’m a man of my word, and I don’t go back on a promise, unless the other party doesn’t keep their end of the bargain. I’ll walk away from your family and leave them alone. But only if you stay out of my head and leave me to my business.”
“And if I don’t?”
“I’ll kill your wife and kids.”