I wake up again back in my bed. I look around. How did I get here?
I hear dad talking to someone on the phone. "No, she doesn't know. Well, why else do you think she's late? I'm letting her sleep in. No, it'd be better if she heard it from me. I don't care what you say, she's my daughter and she'll do better if it's…I don't care! Yes, she'll still be at school. Is it a crime for her to be late? Look, let me handle this, okay? Fine. Bye."
The door opens and dad walks in.
My stomach sinks. "Dad? What happened?"
Dad sighs and sits on the bed. He says nothing and thinks, like he's choosing his words carefully.
My stomach sinks further. "Dad, what is it?"
My dream flashes back into my head and my heart starts beating faster.
Dad closes his eyes. "Nikki, there was an accident last night. Ryan was riding his motorcycle and he ran off the road."
Even though I know what he's going to say, it still hurts. I close my eyes and grab a handful of the blankets as if that will help with what he’s about to say.
"Nikki, Ryan's dead."
The words are like a physical blow. I feel like I'm in a vacuum in space and everything is being sucked apart. I hurt all over, like I was run over by a steamroller. My heart races, then almost stops.
“Nikki? Say something.”
I gasp for air. I feel like I’m drowning.
Dad reaches for my hand. “Nikki, I saw Ryan’s ghost enter the supernatural side. There was a scent on him, and not the usual scent of the recently deceased. It smelled like…”
“Roses and vanilla,” I say, finishing his sentence. “Like what you smelled when mom died.”
“How do you know that?”
I shrug. “You took me to see her one last time when she died, and she smelled like that.”
He shook his head. “Nikki, how did you know what Ryan smelt like when he passed on?”
I hesitate for a second. “I…”
“Nikki, you went to the supernatural side without my permission, didn’t you? We talked about this, especially after Jack the Ripper. Nikki, you can’t keep taking chances like this, you know that.”
It’s pointless talking to my dad while he’s in a tirade, so I let him rage. As usual, whenever he’s angry, he starts looking more like the Shadow Lord. His hair gets darker, and his eyes turn to obsidian. Shadows start forming around him, his skin gets paler, and his skin starts fading, becoming transparent.
“Dad, I didn’t cross over without permission. I was dragged there. I had a dream about Ryan last night. He asked for my help.”
Dad blinks. “What all did he say?”
I look down at the blankets folded up in my hands. “He said that he’d taken away all the memories I wanted gone, and he wanted my help in return.”
“And then what happened?”
“He told me who he was and I fell off a cliff.” I shudder at the memory.
Dad’s looking at the wall behind me, thinking. With his tempter subsiding, he’s starting to regain his human appearance. His black hair is fading from shadow-black to human-black, and his eyes return to their normal brown. After a minute, he turns back to me.
He sighs. “Nikki, I need to look into this. Very few are strong enough to pull humans through the barrier, let alone the daughter of the Shadow Lord. You’ll be staying here, where it’s safe. I’ll have someone to come watch over you.”
“Dad, I don’t need a babysitter.”
He looks at me. “Nikki, it’s too dangerous for you to be alone. If what I think is true…”
His voice trailed off, and the look in his eyes says he’s not going to say anything about what he thinks.
“So does this mean I still have to go to school?’
He nods, but his mind isn’t on me, or this world. “Everything’s still normal for you. Just no barrier jumping. At all.”
“Okay, I won’t,” I say even though I intend to so I can see Ryan again.
Dad’s eyes snap back to reality. “Nikki, I mean it. It’s too dangerous. No visiting Ryan. At all.”
My heart sinks. “Dad, I at least want to say goodbye. Please?”
He sighs. He knows this feeling, the feeling when someone you love dies. “Alright. But I’m coming with you.”