Dorran’s father is supposed to be dead.
But he’s not.
Dorran is finally settling in—things with Eli’s parents are going well, even though Eli’s mom is still uncomfortable with their relationship, and Eli seems to be more accepting of Dorran’s ability to see ghosts and Francis’ presence in their life.
Then Dorran opens his door to find his father, Angus, on the other side.
Dorran grew up thinking his father was dead. That’s what his mother told him, and Dorran never doubted her. He clearly should have, though, and now he’s confused and unsure whether or not he wants a relationship with his father.
But when Angus is arrested for the murder of his mother-in-law, Dorran can’t abandon him. Angus might have done exactly that when Dorran was three, but that’s not the kind of man Dorran is.
Dorran knew what would happen the second he noticed Francis. He knew Francis well enough by now to understand. He just hoped Charlie wouldn’t freak out as much as Eli had in the beginning and still did sometimes. Charlie wasn’t like Eli, though. He didn’t find what Dorran could do horrifying. He didn’t want him to stop—which was good, because Dorran couldn’t stop. He wished he could most of the time, but that wasn’t happening. Carole had been clear. Dorran was never getting rid of his gift, and he needed to deal with that. That was why he was working with her to learn control, but it wasn’t something Eli seemed to understand.
Charlie was different, though. He was Dorran’s best friend, and he had been for years. More importantly, he thought that Dorran’s ability to see ghosts was fun.
Dorran wouldn’t say it was. He had to admit he enjoyed being able to see Francis and talk to him.
“May I?” Francis asked. He always asked when he wanted to use Dorran’s energy to appear to people who didn’t have Dorran’s gift. He’d done it without asking a few times in the beginning, but he and Dorran had talked, and they’d come to an agreement.
Dorran didn’t like being used, but this was Francis. He was part of Dorran’s family, even though he was dead.
Dorran kept his focus on Charlie, who was talking about Theresa and their upcoming wedding. He hadn’t noticed anything odd yet. Francis was still invisible to him, but he wouldn’t be for long if he took Dorran’s energy to appear.
Dorran nodded at Francis. Francis beamed, and Dorran rolled his eyes. Sometimes, he wondered what Francis would have done if Dorran hadn’t had this gift. He loved talking to people, which usually meant Dorran, but now that Dorran knew what he could do and had a better grasp on how to do it, Francis could talk to more people. He didn’t have a large group of friends, since Eli was wary of Dorran’s gift and tended to ignore it rather than using it, but Carole visited often, and it looked like Charlie was about to be introduced to Francis officially.
“You’re distracted. I understand wedding stuff isn’t that interesting to you, but maybe you should start thinking about it,” Charlie said.
Dorran blinked at him. “Start thinking about what?”
“You know, weddings.”
“I got that the first time you said it, but I don’t understand why I should.”
Charlie poked Dorran’s thigh with his socked foot. “Are you and Eli doing okay?”
Dorran scrunched his nose. “Yeah, but we’re not ready to think about weddings, that’s for sure.”
“No? You won’t try to beat Theresa and me to the altar?”
Dorran grabbed one of the pillows from the couch and hugged it to his chest. “We’re not even living together yet.”
“I thought you guys were waiting until after the wedding.”
“Why do you think Eli and I are going to get married? I’m sure he never mentioned anything like that to you.”
Charlie shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, you and Eli have a history together. You’ve known each other for what, twenty years?”
“Less than that.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I do, but it’s not like we were together for all those years. We broke up when we were eighteen, remember? And we didn’t see each other again until recently. We’re not the same people we were at eighteen, and even if we were, I’m nowhere near ready for marriage.”
But Dorran couldn’t deny the idea sparked something in him. Would he and Eli ever get married? He didn’t want what he and Eli had to disappear, but he wasn’t sure. They’d had their problems, especially lately. They were working through them, and things were better now, but still. Dorran knew Eli wasn’t happy about his gift and that he was still having a hard time accepting it. He knew that Eli’s family didn’t like them being together, even though they hadn’t said anything to Dorran’s face.
But they were trying, both Eli and his parents. So Dorran and Eli might not be ready for marriage, but they were ready for something more than what they’d had up until now. Dorran was still cautious, but he was hopeful.
“Holy shit!” Charlie yelled. He climbed onto the couch with both feet and pressed himself against the back of it.
Dorran chuckled and winked at Francis, who was sitting in his favorite armchair. “I thought I’d mentioned it. Charlie, this is Francis.”
“And that’s how you say it? Are you serious? He’s dead.”
“You already knew that. I’m not sure why you’re surprised.”
Charlie slowly slid down the couch, his hand pressed over his heart. “I guess I’m not. I just didn’t expect him to appear like that. I thought we were alone.”
Dorran chuckled. “Never think that. Francis has a habit of haunting his apartment. Again, you already knew that.”
“I guess I was just surprised.” Charlie cleared his throat. “What do I do now?”
Dorran rolled his eyes. “Francis, please put him out of his misery.”
Francis raised a hand and wiggled his fingers at Charlie. “Hi there. I’m Francis.”
Dorran felt Charlie relax, even though he was still pressed against Dorran’s side. “Hello, I guess.”
“Look, it’s the first time I’ve talked to a ghost. I didn’t even know I could.” His eyes widened. “I have the same gift as you?” he asked, turning to look at Dorran.
Dorran shook his head. “No. Francis is using my energy to make himself visible to you. You wouldn’t be able to see him otherwise.”
Charlie’s eyes stayed wide. “You mean like a leech?”
“Who are you calling a leech?” Francis asked.
“Shit. I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m sorry.”