Getting Ghosted - Midwest Monsters Book Six
“It was just a dream,” I complained, crossing my arms over my chest and glaring at Astrid. “Don’t you get bored listening to people whine about their problems all the time?”
“Well, no. If I did, I wouldn’t have become a therapist,” she teased me. “Dreams can be important. And it obviously bothered you, so we should discuss it. That is why you’re here, isn’t it?”
Actually, I wasn’t. I’d moved to Fayshore a few years earlier. When I found the tiny little town, I’d instantly fallen in love with its charm and small-town feel. Then, out of nowhere, at the local Halloween festival, the entire town “came out” to us humans as being a safe haven for paranormal creatures.
Our mayor is a werewolf, who’s married to a witch. There are demons and ghouls and vampires running around everywhere. It’s actually kind of cool. Hell, I got to meet the actual Santa Claus. Totally wild.
But…well…it was a lot for my mortal brain to take.
Luckily, Astrid James had opened a therapy practice in town and was running specials to help the “normals” as they call us, adjust to life in a town full of monsters.
Astrid was a sort-of-psychic psychiatrist. Though I’d never seen any magic ability from her in the eight months since I’d met her. She claimed that she wasn’t allowed to reveal any psychic visions, because it gave people the opportunity to change their behavior, which would then affect the future.
Personally, I thought that would be the point of visions. To warn people. But what do I know? I was just a bookkeeper for the local library.
“Earth to Ruby,” Astrid said, smiling gently as I refocused on her. “You get lost?”
“Just wondering how I ended up here,” I admitted. “Do you really need to hear about this?”
“Yes,” she insisted. “You don’t get to decide what’s important in here. I do. You walked in here completely agitated then immediately brought up a strange dream. So, let’s unpack it.”
“Fine.” I huffed out a breath and leaned my head back, staring up at the ceiling as I tried to recall the details. “I was walking down my basement steps, but at the bottom was a door, which isn’t actually there. I opened it and when I stepped inside, I was in a bar.”
I closed my eyes and replayed the dream in my head. It wasn’t difficult once I started. The whole thing came back to me as if watching a movie in my mind.
“But it wasn’t a bar. Not really. It was dimly lit, full of smoke and people laughing. They were dressed super old-school, too. The men wore suits and hats, and the women were dressed to the nines in…almost…period costumes.”
“Do you know what time period?” Astrid asked softly.
“The twenties or thirties maybe.” I shrugged. “Even when I looked down at myself, I wasn’t wearing my pajamas, I was in a dark red beaded flapper dress, with heels and jewelry. It was actually pretty badass.”
In my head, the smoke seemed to clear, and my gaze zeroed in on a man. He was leaning against the bar, a drink in his hand and his eyes were locked on me.
“Stay with me,” Astrid said, her voice floating above the din of sound that had become background noise in my memory.
“There’s a man at the bar,” I continued. “Very cute. Tall, dark and handsome type. He’s wearing a gray pinstripe suit and a newsboy cap. His eyes are blue. Bright, bright blue.” I reached up and ran my fingers behind my neck, trying to smooth out the small hairs that had risen to attention at the memory. “I walk over to him and without a word, he takes my hand in his and leads me onto the dance floor.”
I fell silent again, lost in the remembrance of being held in that man’s arms. It was like nothing I’d ever felt before. Though, to be fair, the last time a man had touched me in any way was at senior prom and you could have fit a Bull Mastiff between our bodies on the dance floor. Not exactly a night to remember.
“What exactly about this dream is troublesome?” Astrid asked, pulling me back once more.
“Nothing,” I lied.
“Is that a psychic thing?” I asked, opening my eyes again to glare at her.
“Knowing when you’re lying to me?” she asked with a laugh. “No. That’s a doctor thing. Plus, you’re a terrible liar. Come on. What is it?”
“It just felt so real,” I admitted. “The weight of his arms around my body. The warmth of his skin. The whiskey on his breath. When I woke up in bed I was a little shocked. It really seemed like I’d been transported somewhere else.”
“Is this the first vivid dream you’ve ever had?”
“This vivid? Yes. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
“I’m still a little confused as to why it bothered you so much.” She slid forward in her chair and clasped her hands in front of herself. “You’re skipping something.”
“I was sad,” I whispered.
“In the dream?”
“No. I was sad when I woke up and it hadn’t been real.” I felt heat creep up my cheeks at that admission. “It’s stupid.”
“Your feelings are not stupid,” Astrid insisted. “All feelings and emotions are valid.”
“Blah, blah, blah.” I rolled my eyes.
“Ruby.” Astrid’s tone was warning but it just made me laugh.
The woman was smart, funny, gorgeous and psychic. But she was also the sweetest person I’d ever met. In fact, I was pretty sure that tone was the loudest her voice ever got. She was just…cotton candy. Sweet and fluffy and harmless. Not scary. Not threatening.
“Alright,” I said. “I told you, it was just a dream. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Maybe it does,” she argued. “Maybe it means that you’ve isolated yourself to the point that your mind has to make up men for you to date.”
“Hey! I could date if I wanted to.”
“Of course, you could,” she agreed. “So, why don’t you want to?”
“Why do you think I don’t want to?” I shot back at her.
“I think you’re afraid of getting hurt. I think you believe that in a town full of monsters, there’s no one here that’s safe for you.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa there lady,” I snapped. “Are you saying I wouldn’t date a monster?”
“I’m saying that you haven’t,” she countered. “In fact, you haven’t dated anyone since you moved to town.”
“Exactly!” I pointed at her and narrowed my gaze. “Even before I knew about monsters I didn’t date.”
“Let’s unpack that,” she said, her tone triumphant as she sat back against her chair and picked up her notebook.
“Damn it, Astrid.”
She really was good. She’d gotten me exactly where she wanted me, and I’d walked right into it.
“Do you like being alone?” she asked, her tone softening.
“I’m used to it,” I said. “I don’t really think about it, to be honest.”
“But you do think about it,” she challenged. “In fact, now you’re dreaming about finding a man. In another time, another place, in an unattainable situation.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Obviously this bar was in another time. You were wearing an outfit that you described as badass, which I assume means you liked it. You locked gazes with a man you’d never met before…wait. Did you see his face?”
“Clearly,” I said. “Every chiseled line and piece of stubble.”
“Interesting.” She started writing furiously on her notepad.
“Why is that interesting?” I asked, leaning forward to try to peek at her chicken scratch.
“Because our minds are unable to invent faces.” She shifted the pad of paper out of my view. “Every face we see in a dream, is a face we’ve seen before. It could have been in passing somewhere, even ten years ago. So, this man that you dreamed about, it’s someone that you’ve seen.”
“That’s not possible,” I argued, shaking my head. “I would never have forgotten seeing this man. He was stunningly handsome. Almost painfully hot. I’d have noticed if I walked past a man like that on the street.”
“Our minds are funny places,” she said, dropping her pen and notepad, face down, onto the table next to her again. “I’d like you to start keeping a dream diary next to your bed.”
“Oh, God,” I groaned.
“Look, we forget details from our dreams. If you make notes as soon as you wake up, it might help clarify what your subconscious is trying to tell you.”
“Or, it’s a bunch of crap and you just like charging me by the hour,” I teased. I held up a hand to stop the argument I could see forming behind her violet eyes. “I will do as the doctor ordered.”
“Good. Our time is up. I think we made good progress today.”
“I think you’re full of shit, but you already have my credit card on file, so what am I gonna do?” I grinned at her. “Are you still meeting us for drinks tomorrow night?”
“Have I ever missed girls night?” she asked. “I’ll be there with bells on.” She tilted her head and studied me for a minute. “Off the record?”
“Say what you want to say,” I said with a small sigh.
“I think you’re lonely.” She slid forward and took my hands in hers. “Ruby, we’ve got to get you laid.”
“I don’t know if friend Astrid or Doctor Astrid is worse,” I said, pulling my arms back and getting to my feet. “But I like them both very much.”
“They both like you, too.” She got to her feet also and pulled me into a tight hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Being best friends with your therapist is both the best and the worst. But I wouldn’t give up Astrid for all the hot guy dreams in the world.
As I drove home, I thought about what she’d said to me at the end of our session.
Was I lonely? I wasn’t sure how that was possible. I had great friends, including her. I worked with amazing people. I was hardly ever alone. So how could I be lonely?
But when I walked into my house and shut the door behind myself, the quiet hit me like a slap in the face. Here I was alone. When I ate meals, when I watched television, when I played Candy Crush and when I went to bed. There was no one around me when I was home.
So yeah…maybe I was a little lonely.
Stupid psychic therapist.