Drew let me be until snowflakes began to drift down from the sky. “Come on, Chloe. We have to go now.”
With tears still staining my cheeks, I gave my mother‟s grave one last caress and then stood. “All right, I‟m ready.”
Drew took my hand again and led me between the plots as best as we could manage. The air outside had chilled even more than when we arrived. It was cold. Really cold. When we approached the gates, warmth suddenly filled my stomach and spread through my body.
“Oh, my… what the heck?” I clutched my stomach as the tingling spread all the way into my fingertips.
“Are you okay?” Drew asked. “What‟s wrong?”
“I don‟t know.” I shook my head. Tears threatened to surface again. “I don‟t know.”
“It‟s your senses, Chloe, telling you something is off.”
Drew and I both spun around and Drew whipped his gun out from underneath his jacket.
“Who are you?” Drew yelled.
There, sitting atop one of the gravestones, bathed in the green glow of florescent lights, was a woman. Even though it was freezing, she barely wore anything, and what she did have on looked like leather wrapped around her body and a halter top with crude lacing holding it together. Snowflakes drifted down and passed through her tanned skin, dissolving into nowhere.
“How do you know me?” I shouted. “Who are you?”
My stomach was still flooded with warmth, and it made me feel like I had to pee. I wished I had brought my gun.
She clicked her tongue and tossed a wave of dark brown hair over her shoulder. “You do not need your weapons, my children. I do not come to harm.”
She slid off the gravestone, and I watched her bare feet sink into the snow. They left no footprints.
“Who are you?” Drew demanded again.
She moved forward slowly. “I am your mother, many times over.”
This chick scared me. Was she a ghost? I moved backward a few steps as she approached, using Drew as a shield, since he had the gun.
She smiled, her dark eyes intently focusing on Drew. “Andrew, lower your weapon. You cannot harm me.”
As if under a spell, Drew lowered his arms and his gun came to rest by his side. “What do you want?”
“I am here to help, Chloe.” She nodded at me and smiled. “You need the help of your ancestors. Your mother cannot help you, so I have come to give you guidance.”
The warmth in my stomach turned into fire in my heart. I can‟t explain it, but I felt the connection with this apparition. I moved out from behind Drew.
“Who are you?” I whispered.
She lifted her chin arrogantly. “I am Sostrate, the daughter of Artemis, and as I have told you already, your mother, many times over.”
“Why are you here?”
“I have come to give you the guidance your mother cannot give you. It is my duty.”
“Are you a ghost?”
She only shook her head and gave me a crooked grin. “I am a demi-goddess. I gained immortality from my mother. I do not come as an apparition, because I cannot die.”
“Holy shit.” Drew actually dropped his gun in the snow.
I moved forward, not afraid anymore. I knew she was who she said she was. As we approached each other, I stretched out my hand, wanting to touch her. She also extended her hand and as my gloved fingers connected with the solid fingertips of hers, I gasped. “You‟re real.”
She nodded. “Of course.”
“Sostrate,” I pulled my hand from hers, “How can you help me?”
“Chloe, it is time that you think with a clear head. Revenge has taken over your heart and your soul, taken over so much of you that you cannot possibly win this battle. It takes more than thinking with your brain. You must fight with love,” she pressed her fist against her heart “not only hatred.”
“I don‟t understand,” I told her.
“Wars are not won because of hatred for the enemy; they are won because of love for what is being defended.”
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