“I want everyone to know I’m ok, and I’m so sorry…” Jahil’s voice echoed on the wind, through the darkness of the night.
Simone opened her eyes, brushing her long black hair from her face. It had started to become curly again, flowing down her back in waves. The youngest member of ‘Take Three,’ she left the now broken girl group and followed Angel (Jahil’s nephew) back to the Dominica Republic. “Did you hear that?” Simone whispered as she laid resting in his arms.
Angel opened his eyes, looking out the window at the night sky. “No, Simone.” He kissed her cheek. A cool breeze brushed through the room, hitting a set of old wooden wind chimes in a rhythmic fashion. It almost sounded like a marimba beat. “Go back to sleep, baby.”
Cassandra opened her eyes. She had been sleeping in one of the research labs of the library’s headquarters when she heard the unmistakable sound of Latin music. It was coming from the transport door. She checked the log book; there were no records of any supernatural events or people in need of her help. Examining the door itself, she noticed that the location program wasn’t set to any particular coordinates, it simply glowed with an ethereal light.
Cassandra opened the door without hesitation. The young red-head and her team had been to hell and back, there was literally nothing that could frighten or even surprise her. The area appeared to be in the mountains of Peru. This was strange since the transport door usually connected directly to an existing door; a front gate, a bedroom closet, even a restroom. But this door just appeared, like a hole in the fabric of time and space. A man was sitting on a rock, leaning forward as he played a vintage guitar.
“Hello?” she said softly. “I’m Cassandra.”
The figure turned. The tall, Hispanic, man had the kind face of a father. But his eyes were filled with sadness. “I’m called Jahil. Or at least I was.” The guitar vanished from his hands as he stood up to look out at the mountain range. “I think I’m dead.”
“I never met anyone who died.” She walked closer, her hand reaching for his. “I’ve met vampires and ice giants and…” Looking into his eyes she could feel herself blush. “That’s not important.”
Jahil smiled at her. “You’re sweet. Are you an angel?” He shook his head, answering his own question. “This doesn’t feel like heaven.” In all honesty, when I passed away I feel like I left a lot of things unsaid. You know what I mean?”
“Like maybe you’re stuck?” Cassandra asked. “You don’t seem like a bad person.”
Jahil chuckled. “You didn’t know me.”
“I’d like to.” The words were so soft as they escaped her lips.
“To get to know me?” Jahil raised an eyebrow. Though out his life he had a difficult time trusting people and getting people to trust him. Perhaps this was some kind of a cosmic gift.
“Yeah,” Cassandra shrugged. “It’s kind of what my team does; we help people.”
“Sure, I mean it’s worth a shot. What do I have to do?”
Cassandra turned around. The glowing door was still present. “Are you able to walk through that door?”
“I’m willing to try.”
She took Jahil’s hand. His skin felt cold. But then he squeezed her hand, with nervous energy. He suddenly felt warm. Hand in hand they stepped through the door, to the shock of the rest of Cassandra’s team.
“Where have you been?” asked a tall older man with white hair. Jenkins was their leader. An immortal knight he was usually the one manning the door and searching the news for any supernatural incidents that needed their attention.
“Peru?” Cassandra replied. “I’m not 100% sure. But, this is Jahil. Jahil this is Jenkins.”
Jahil reached out to shake his hand but Jenkins just took a step back.
Cassandra turned to the other three members of her team who had all been uncomfortably awoken from sleep. “This is Eve, our combat leader.”
The elegant supermodel blonde shook Jahil’s hand. “You can call me Colonel Baird.”
“Colonel?” Jahil bit his lip as his eyes glanced down her body.
“Yes, Colonel,” Eve said as she wrenched his wrist.
Jahil flinched in pain. “Quite a grip you’ve got there.”
“Eve… I mean Colonel Baird is our combat expert,” Cassandra said sweetly. “Moving on, this is Jacob.”
A rugged cowboy stepped forward. He raised his chin to try to look intimidating but at 5’10” it had little effect. It was only then Cassandra noticed how tall Jahil was. 6’2″ if she had to guess. “Jacob is our historian, the academic brains of the team.”
Jahil held out his hand.
Jacob only nodded.
Cassandra shook her head. It was not uncommon for her team to be suspicious of strangers. “And finally we have Ezekiel, our superstar master thief.”
Ezekiel shook Jahil’s hand. “And social media expert. I know who you are.” All eyes turned to the young Asian-Australian thief. “You were one of the managers tangled up with all of that mess in Atlanta. the girl group ‘Take three’, the two male singers, ‘Angel and Anthony.’ And Angel was your nephew, right? Sorry, mate I was more of a fan of the girls. Whatever happened to the fourth one?”
Now Jahil looked nervous. “A lot happened. A lot happened with a lot of people. that’s why I think I’m stuck here.”
“In Portland?” Eve asked.
“No, mate, he’s dead.” Ezekiel pointed out. “If I remember the article, it was a gunshot wound to the kidney. You might have survived if you didn’t have pre-existing damage from years of drug addiction.”
“What article was this?” Jahil asked.
“I figured, but where did you find it? Who wrote it?”
“That’s easy.” Ezekiel took out his phone. “Let’s see, it was posted to the front page of Midtown Sound news page, by Ayanna Floyd.”
“Ayanna Floyd,” Jahil muttered as he ran his fingers through his hair. “That’s a surprise.”
“Why is that?” Cassandra asked.
“We didn’t leave things on the good terms.”
“Maybe she’s the key!” Cassandra said excitedly. “We need to find Ayanna Floyd! You need to speak to her, to make things right!”
Jenkins cleared his throat. “I hate to express the obvious. But our new friend will not be able to leave this room if he is, in fact, a ghost.”
Cassandra touched Jahil’s cheek. Her hand passed through. “I have an idea.” Using her powers she scanned his form. She knew what he was, who he was. and with one kiss they became one.
“Atlanta.” Cassandra’s voice was a strange mix of male and female. “Set the door for Atlanta, Georgia.”
Cassandra opened the door. As usual, the Library’s transporter door opened to an actual door. She hoped it was one of relevance. It was a hotel janitor closet. “Ok, I can work with this.” She threw on a uniform and started to walk the halls. “Jahil Rivera, are you here?” she asked out loud. Cassandra had a unique power. The young redhead’s mind worked on a different level, creating imagery that only she could see. As a member of the Librarians, she used her power to solve mathematical puzzles. She could also map out entire buildings (so she could easily find her way out.) But Cassandra needed to know if the ghost of Jahil Rivera made it through the portal with her. “Do you know this place?”
“I think I do,” his voice was deep and masculine but with a sense of innocence and confusion. Jahil appeared next to her, his ghostly form was transparent, much like Cass’s usual visions.
“This is where Ayanna Floyd stayed when her father first kicked her off the record label.”
“Oh, perfect,” Cass replied happily. She was about to take a step into the hallway when she felt a solid arm tackle her.
“Cass!” It was her teammate Jacob. The Oklahoma born cowboy had always been like an overprotective big brother to her. “Seriously?”
“I didn’t see any volunteers,” she said sweetly.
“Because you darted out the door!” Jacob growled. He looked around, there were more than a few security cameras at the upscale hotel. “We need to get out of here and make an actual plan.”
Cass had to admit he was correct. Unless… “Did Ezekiel come with you?” If the team’s tech expert was there, their quest to locate Ayanna Floyd would be much easier.
“No, he’s back at headquarters,” Jacob sighed. “We don’t even know where we are.”
“Jahil does,” she pointed out. “He’s here!”
Jacob’s demeanor did not change. “That doesn’t change the fact that we need a plan.”
Suddenly the elevator opened and a team of three armed security guards started to look around. “According to the camera footage, that redhead girl should be around here someplace.”
Jacob uttered a swearword before pulling Cass to the fire exit. They made it to the side alleyway, before casually walking to the sidewalk.
Cass ran straight into a tall girl with long black hair.
“Oh, God I’m so sorry,” the girl said, as she tripped, dropping her bag.
To Cassandra, this girl seemed shy, timid but undeniably beautiful. “My fault entirely.” Cassandra locked eyes with the girl and smiled. “Simone?”
“Do I know you?”
The word had not come from Cassandra but from the ghost of Jahil as he passed his hand through her. He took a step back before speaking again. “Simone is my god-daughter. But she probably thinks you know her name from her work with Motown records.”
“I’m an old friend of Jahil Riveria and I’m such a huge fan of your work, Simone,” Cassandra said.
Simone to smiled. “Jahil, he was a good man. Are you here to visit him?”
“Yes, I am, my name is Cassie and this is Jacob, my-” Cass paused with a smirk, “my bodyguard.”
Jacob rolled his eyes. “Cassie is kind of a big deal.”
“Oh, ok,” Simone said with a nod. It was clear she was trying to think of an excuse to walk away from the awkward interaction.
Jahil whispered in Cassie’s ear. “Ask her about Angel.”
“How’s Angel?” Cassie blurted out a little too casually. She could already see Simone’s pained expression.
Jahil’s ghost touched Cassie’s shoulder. “My nephew’s gone?”
Cass knew he wanted to meld with her, to speak to this Simone girl using his own words. But in his current state, there was a real possibility she would lose control of the situation. And since she was not used to channeling the dead, that was not a risk she was willing to take. “I’m so sorry. When did that happen?”
Simone walked to a nearby wall since there was no place to sit. She looked to the sky as if to pray. “I don’t want to talk about my husband.” It was clear by her expressions that wave after wave of memories were flooding her mind. Simone sank to her knees, holding her head in her hands like someone with a migraine headache. “I mean, I don’t even know you.”
Cass took a seat beside Simone while Jacob stood to the side. She was always better at the emotional stuff. “That’s not the main reason, you don’t want to talk about Angel,” Cassie’s voice went soft as she reached for Simone’s hand, “When Jahil died, you were there. Weren’t you?”
“Angel wanted to say goodbye but he was too late.”
“Are you a psychic?” Simone asked with a laugh.
“As much of a psychic as the ones who make it on TV are.”
“Well, you’re good. Whatever you are,” Simone chuckled. “When Jahil died there had been issues. Mainly one issue; keeping Angel under contract. That was the music industry; contracts that keep musicians like trading cards. But thing is, Jahil was cutting his people loose. He wanted to do the right thing and…” Simone blinked tears from her eyes.
“And?” Cassandra asked.
“And I don’t know, I just don’t know. Over this past few months, I’ve been through some shit. I can’t help but think back to happier times. Jahil was a conman, a liar and an addict but he worked his ass off to make me and my sister’s dreams come true. I can’t help but think about what would have happened if Jahil had survived that bullet. Would he have changed? Would he have gotten clean? Even with Ayanna Floyd…” Simone’s lips parted into a genuine smile at the mention of the name.
“You were close friends with Ayanna Floyd,” Cassandra said out loud as more of a statement than a question.
“Jahil told you that?”
“He told me a lot of things.” Cass only then realized that she never explained how exactly she knew Jahil during his life.
“So, you knew Jahil from rehab or something?” Simone asked.
Cassandra’s eyes lit up. With her experience in the medical field (and mental institutions) ‘rehab’ was a story she could roll with. “Yeah, something like that.”
“Jahil Rivera and Ayanna Floyd; they were two broken, really messed up people. But sometimes, under the right circumstances, fate can take two things that are broken beyond repair and combine them to make something beautiful.”
“I guess the world will never know the kind of man Jahil could have been.”
Simone nodded sadly. “It’s a real shame.”
“Do you know where I can find Ayanna Floyd?” Cassandra asked. “I kinda want to meet her.”
“Start by finding Jahil,” Simone said as she stood up, “the legendary Miss Floyd won’t be far.”
Jahil’s grave; that was the plan.
story continues at fanfiction.net