Ghost of a Chance
For Padraig, finding himself face to face with the man he’d loved and lost a lifetime ago is the biggest thing on his mind.
Padraig Monaghan has a problem. Most would consider dying in a bar fight ten years ago upsetting, and existing as a ghost wandering the world might be thought a real predicament. They might deem a second chance at life through a chance encounter with a dying man a serious dilemma. But for Padraig, finding himself face to face with the man he’d loved and lost a lifetime ago is the biggest thing on his mind. Gareth Reilly stops at O’Toole’s for a drink before he heads home. Tomorrow’s going to be another lonely birthday for him until he’s approached by a stranger. There’s something about Padraig’s bright green eyes and Irish accent that reminds Gareth of a man he once knew. Unable to resist, Gareth breaks his cardinal rule and invites Padraig home. On St. Patrick’s Day, when Irish magic is strongest, it’ll take a belief in the impossible and help from a grateful elf to give Padraig and Gareth another chance at love.
The sound of scuffling drew Padraig’s attention, and he drifted over to an alley. One slender guy was struggling against two bulkier men. He’d seen enough robberies in his time to know what was happening there. Curiosity drove him closer, even though there wasn’t any way he could help the poor sod getting his ass kicked. Sometimes being a ghost sucked.
He couldn’t make out much in the shadows cast by what little light the street lamps threw down the alley, but he caught the glint of a knife, and he started to shout out a warning. Too late, Padraig remembered no one could hear him.
Gasping, their victim sank to his knees. Padraig was afraid it wasn’t going to end well.
“Shit.” One of the assailants whirled on the other. “Why the hell did you do that?”
“I didn’t stab him on purpose. You pushed him into me.”
“Fuck. It doesn’t matter. We need to get out of here before anyone sees us.”
He didn’t move as the two assailants rushed toward him. They shivered as they passed through him. Padraig had to let them go. Being invisible made it impossible for him to do anything, really. Concern drove him closer to the body on the ground.
Crouching down, he looked at the man dying among the garbage in the alley. Even if Padraig had been human, he wouldn’t have been able to save the man. Blood pumped from the man’s stomach and pooled under him. Padraig reached out, knowing he couldn’t offer comfort to the victim, but needing to make some effort.
He gasped as his hand touched the warm liquid surrounding the wound. The dying man’s eyelids fluttered, and Padraig jerked when those eyes opened and focused on him.
“Are you an angel?”
He shook his head. He’d never been accused of being angelic, even when he was alive, just being scary and creepy. “You can see me?” Padraig glanced over his shoulder, wondering if anyone was going to come help this man.
“Yes. Am I not supposed to?”
He coughed, and Padraig grimaced at the wet sound in the man’s lungs.
“No one except crazy people and dogs have been able to see me for ten years.” He shrugged. “And now it seems that dying people can see me. I’m Padraig.”
“I’m Steven. I’m dying, huh?” The effort to talk strained Steven’s voice.
There was no point in lying to the man. “I’m afraid so, Steven. I can’t help you, and it doesn’t look like anyone else is coming.”
A slight lift of Steven’s shoulders caused the man to groan. Padraig tried removing his hand from the wound but couldn’t. Blood stuck to Padraig’s hand like warm glue. He tugged and his hand sank in deeper. It was like he was being sucked into Steven’s body.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered, wondering what the fuck was going on.
“Do you see a light?” Steven’s unfocused gaze went over Padraig’s shoulder.
Fighting the urge to look, he grimaced as he slid up to his elbow in the gaping wound. “If I saw a bloody fucking light, I wouldn’t be here.” He rolled his eyes.
Steven’s lips moved, but nothing came out.
Padraig struggled, pulling away as he tried to free himself. What the bloody hell was happening to him? Was he suddenly going to Heaven or Hell, whichever place the higher power chose to send him to? It was like sticking his hand in quicksand. Every time he tried to get free, it sucked him deeper in. There was no way he could get out, and he slipped farther into Steven’s body.