The ghosts take an interest in Gloria.
Ellis picked me up on Wednesday night and we rode around the countryside for a while before stopping at a small village inn. It was quiet in the bar and we seemed to have the place to ourselves. Neither of us mentioned Sunday night, and I think we were both waiting for the other to bring up the subject.
After an awkward silence, Ellis began to speak to me about the incident. He tried to give the impression he thought it as serious as I did, even though he said at the time I over-reacted. "I know it's only been a few days Gloria, but I've really missed you and because of the way you had a go at me, I've been worrying you might want to finish with me. I know you were right and I realised then, as I do now, that I was wrong to try it on like that."
"I've missed you as well. I kept wishing that I said Tuesday instead of Wednesday, or even Monday, and I certainly don't want us to finish. As for Sunday night, I don't think you'll try to take liberties like that again."
"I don't know why I did that and after we had such a good day as well."
"I do, it's because you're a lad." I laughed as if to let Ellis off the hook. "But it's in the past, so let's forget about it, and I still want to thank you for going to church with us."
We smiled at each other. Ellis took hold of my hand and kissed it. "Have you heard from the soldier?"
I pulled my hand away. "What?"
"It's Gordy, he seems to think you might still have feelings for him."
"Well Gordy should mind his own flipping business. And what else does Gordy seem to think?"
"He reckons you're going with me on the rebound."
"And is that what you think?"
"Of course not, I'm just saying what he said."
"I don't care if I never see Simon again, and that's a fact. I'm with you because I want to be with you, so can we please drop the subject." There was a noticeable silence for a few seconds before I continued. "I suddenly don't like this boring place, it's depressing me. Shall we go for a ride on your motorbike again?"
Ellis gave a laugh. "I'm all for that."
We set off and Ellis bypassed the town and stopped at a meadow near the edge of the woods by Carver's Hollow. He put his coat on the grass for me to sit on.
"I don't know why you wanted to come here," I said, "but if you've got any ideas about indecency, mister, then you'd best forget them."
"My intentions are honourable madam," he said, "and anyway I know you won't let me go too far, will you?"
"That's right," I said while sitting down on his coat.
He sat beside me and put an arm around me. "I just thought it would be a nice way to finish off the evening, sitting out together in the moonlight. You must admit it's romantic, isn't it?"
"Yes, I suppose it is." I smiled at him as he moved towards me and I welcomed his kisses, returning them with the passion of our youth.
The spirits of Rachel and her companion were not far away, watching the courting couple. "Auburn-haired. You can take her Rachel."
"No, I do not think I have the strength yet."
"You might not need much. She may be weaker than the flower picker. If you appear before her the hideous sight might stop her heart."
"I do not know so much. She seems a strong girl and even if she did die, it is a bit early. I might lose her, her spirit may pass straight over and her mortal body would perish for nothing. And the fire, how can we burn her here?"
"Fire, fire, fire, who needs it? You can do it without fire. It is easier to extract her spirit from the flames it is true, but you can succeed without the fire if you only but try."
"There is the other one. I would have to see to him as well. If I appear to both of them, they will give strength to each other, they will become scared, but they will flee. It is all too much."
"You can nastify him first. You used to be good at that. Nastify him and it will weaken their attractions. You have to try. Too bad if it does not work, but you cannot let a chance like this pass you by. It will be good practice anyway and if she dies and bypasses us you still have Rosie."
"I don't think I am not strong enough yet. If I could just get her on her own and frighten her a bit first. It depends how strong their love is. I can nastify him, but he will not abandon her if the power of his love is stronger than me. I suppose it is worth a try, but if I cannot split them up then we will have to forget it."
I suddenly felt a chill and came over with goosebumps. I was startled by insect noises that seemed to come from the grass around us and I broke away from Ellis's embrace. "Can you hear all them grasshopper things?" I said.
"Oh yeah, terrific," he replied. He laughed and began kissing me again.
His hand was fondling my breast as his breathing became more excited and heavy. He could thank Simon for that concession. If Simon had not pestered me into giving in, this would not now be happening with Ellis. But he didn't seem as caring and emotional in his embrace as he usually was. He became a bit rough and started shaking like a cold shiver. He was somehow making me nervous and I used the insect noises as an excuse to push him away. "I don't want them getting on me."
"Don't worry, they won't come near us." He looked into my eyes, staring almost and forced a hand up under my blouse.
"Oh no you don't," I said and pushed his arm away. "Keep your hands out of my clothes. I don't want to have to tell you again."
"Come on, Gloria. We've been going out for nearly two weeks and you won't even let me touch you properly."
"I've heard it all before, Ellis. What, do lads think it's all right to whip a girl's bra off because they have been going out together for two weeks?" ."
Ellis's expression worsened, his whole manner had changed as is he were a different person. "If you loved me you'd let me do it."
"Oh don't be so sodding childish. If you loved me you wouldn't try to get your hand under my blouse when you know I don't want it, you'd have a bit more respect for me."
"What like your ex you mean, the soldier. Gordy's told me all the stories…."
"Gordy again. I think I should have a sodding word with Gordy. And you believe everything that he tells you, do you?"
"No, but he told me about your ex humiliating you in public, and other people have said it too."
"You want to do the same, do you? Is that what you think of me?"
"Get one thing clear, Ellis. Yes, Simon used to humiliate me, but he's gone now, and I don't care. I cried no tears after splitting up with him, but I thought you were different. I think so much more of you and if you don't have any respect for me then it will hurt me so much more than Simon ever could."
Ellis gave a sarcastic laugh. "Bullshit, and I'm supposed to believe that, am I?"
"Oh, you please yourself. Anyway, I've gone all cold, can you take me home?"
"It seems you're always cold where I'm concerned." He stood up. "I'll take you home if that's what you want, but perhaps we should finish for a while."
I was not expecting that. "What! Why are you saying that? Are you feeling all right? You are acting strange and you are starting to scare me."
"Scaring you, scaring you huh! You are not scaring me though, you are annoying me. I think we need to give ourselves some time to think about what we both want from this relationship."
"What is it with lads? Why do you all come out with that same old rubbish? Do you really think I'm gonna drop my knickers just to stop you sulking?"
"No, I'm not sulking. I'm serious."
"Why have you started talking to me like this? Is this how it's going to be just because I won't have it off with you."
"No, it's because you don't love me."
"I do love you, Ellis, you should know that by now." I looked into his eyes and they looked glassy and piercing. "You want to finish with me, well that's up to you, but don't blame me for it. You're the one with the split personality, you're the one who's got the problem here."
Ellis got on his bike and started the engine. "The only problem I've got is your lack of interest. Get on, I'll take you home."
"It's all right, don't sodding bother, I'll walk."
Ellis kept selecting a gear as if he were going to pull away, then he deselected and looked at me. He kept repeating the actions as if he were continually changing his mind. He still had that strange piercing look in his eyes which I found a bit scary.
I turned and took a few steps away and then stopped. It was dark and a long way back to the town. I knew the ordeal of walking home along the country road would be unnerving for me. Despite our argument and his strange actions, I knew Ellis had no intention of abandoning me there. I gave a sigh and then walked back over and got on the pillion. Ellis hesitated and then gave a shake of his body like a wet dog.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah, just felt a bit weird for a moment, a bit dizzy, must be the drink or something. Did something happen?"
I shook my head but as I was behind him he couldn't see. It was more of a puzzled gesture from me than a negative. We rode off without another word between us.
"Damn, damn, and blast!" Rachel cried out. "He has a powerful spirit and he drained me in minutes. He would make an ideal partner for someone; they would be able to feed off his strength. I should have looked for someone like him instead of choosing you, you useless old poacher."
"He made a fool of you and made you look weak. You have little control over him."
"Little control over him, you imbecile. I will continue to nastify him and I will turn him into as nasty a piece of work as you are, you see if I do not. I will get him to destroy the will of Gloria, leaving her to cry gallons of tears, and then I will take her. I will take her instead of Rosie. I will show you just how strong I am."