Ghost Walk Page 51

Brent put a hand on his shoulder. ’’It's all right, Owen. Really.’’

Massey groaned again.

At the cemetery, he stood guard as day ended and dusk fell.

Hand in hand, Nikki and Brent entered. ’’Huey?’’ Brent called.

Nikki saw the old man as he came out to greet them. ’’Hey, there, Injun boy. And you, miss,’’ he said to Nikki.

’’I came to thank you, Huey,’’ Brent said. ’’And I hope that, if I need you, you'll be around.’’

’’Well... I don't think I will be. I've just been waiting on you comin'around again,’’ Huey said.

’’Oh?’’ Brent said with a frown.

Huey gave a broad grin. ’’You wouldn't believe... that pretty young gal came around again. Marie.’’

’’Old McManus's descendant?’’ Nikki asked.

Huey nodded. ’’She done found that I have a great, great... well, I don't know how many greats. But I got me a pretty descendant, too. A little girl just as sweet as can be. And Miss Marie McManus, well, she brought the girl to the graveyard with her momma, and she showed her about where I'm supposed to be, and they were talking, and the momma, she's pretty poor, but that Marie girl wants to be her big sister and pay for piano lessons.’’

’’That's nice, Huey. That's really nice,’’ Brent said. ’’But... ’’

’’Well, you see, late at night, after the ruckus, I was pretty proud. Felt like I'd stopped some bad stuff from hitting the streets. And I reckon I was right enough to feel proud, 'cause I saw this passage prettiest passage I ever done see, living or dead. It was like I was beckoned to follow, only it just wasn't right yet. Today, after seeing those girls... it's right. I'm going to be looking for it. Looking for the light.’’ Huey tilted his chin, indicating that they should look behind themselves. ’’I'm thinking as how your friends there are ready, too.’’

Nikki spun around, as did Brent.

She knew, however, who she would see.

Andy. And Tom Garfield. She wasn't surprised, and she wasn't frightened. She wasn't even disturbed by the cold when Andy came over to her and she felt the strangest hug. There... but not there. Cold. And yet so very warm. Andy kissed her cheek. ’’Thank you,’’ she whispered.

’’Andy... ’’

She felt tears rising in her eyes. ’’No,’’ Andy told her. She winked. ’’That passage Huey is talking about... well, you can't imagine. And... ’’

She flicked her hair back, wickedly winking. ’’I don't have to go alone.’’

The ghost of Tom Garfield reached out a hand to her.

Andy took it.

Nikki never actually saw any of them go down their magnificent path.

They were just there, and then they were gone.

And then Brent whispered to her softly. ’’It's time for us to go now, too. We have a different path.’’

She took his hand, and they left the cemetery together.

They took Massey and Joulette for drinks that evening, then went back to Nikki's. Alone in the house, they made love, then made love again, the act made special by the simple fact that it was so physical. They couldn't help but feel so grateful and so alive.

Later, Brent rose while Nikki slept. He walked out on the balcony.

New Orleans. Home.

It was a great place. A wonderful place. It was his heart. Nikki had become his heart.

Um, yeah, it was full of ghosts. But they were great ghosts.

It was also full of history, art, music, and wonderful memories of the past.

And with Nikki in his life, it held a future full of hope.

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