Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)
Author: Jackie May

It always starts with a tingling sensation on the back of my neck that runs down my arms, leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake. It settles heavily in my stomach—a thick feeling of dread—and I just know: Someone bad is coming. The premonitions are vague, simple warnings of approaching evil or danger. They’re feelings I’ve learned to listen to.

I glance around the city bus and see who I think is the problem. Aside from the few people on their way home from a long day at work, there’s a group of gang members being rowdy near the back. That’s typical for public transit in Detroit, so I didn’t think much of it when I got on the bus, but I’ve caught the attention of one of them. He’s staring at me rather hard, and when he catches me looking his way, he gives me a nod. “Hey, baby, why don’t you come back here, and we can get to know each other a little?”

To respond, or not to respond? Which would piss him off less? “I have a boyfriend, sorry.” It’s a lie; I don’t date. But it’s the easiest way to reject the man in front of all his gang buddies.

I quickly look away, praying he isn’t one of those determined guys, or one who will feel the need to get his friends involved in harassing me.

“Aw, come on, baby, don’t be like that. I don’t see your boyfriend here. You ever had a taste of dark chocolate?”

Great. He’s not going to leave it alone. Oh well, I’m almost home. If I can just get off the bus without trouble, I can hurry the one block to my apartment and lock myself in until whatever the danger is passes.

My phone dings as the closest person I have to a friend texts me.

SorcererX: P? You there? Where’d you go? You okay?

P is short for PsychoPsychic. It’s my online handle on a few of the paranormal message boards X and I both frequent. We don’t know each other in person, so we just call each other our screen names. I’m P, and he’s X.

PsychoPsychic: Fine. Just getting harassed by some guy on the way home. No worries, though. He’s being mellow, and mine’s the next stop.

SorcererX: Be careful. If he follows you when you get off, call the police. And message me when you get home safe.

I smile at that.

PsychoPsychic: Will do.

As the bus nears my stop, the guy in the back quits trying to get my attention, but the feeling in my stomach intensifies. I’m still in danger. I take a deep breath and fight to keep my heart at a calm pace. Panicking won’t do me any good. If he follows me off the bus, I’ll need to have my wits in place.

“Hey, are you okay?”

I glance up from my phone at the new voice. The guy who’s been sitting across the aisle from me since we both left the library at closing time is watching me with a concerned expression. I’ve noticed him before. He’s cute, in a nerd-chic way. He’s tall and lean, a year or two older than me—twenty-five at the most—with a head of wavy light-brown hair and beautiful amber-colored eyes. I’ve seen him three or four times a week, since I realized I needed to avoid my current living situation as much as possible, and started spending all my free time after work at the public library. Still, we’ve never spoken before.

“I’m fine,” I say.

He smiles at my reply and brushes his bangs out of his eyes. “I’m Oliver.”

I nod but don’t give up any further conversation.

He tries again. “I’ve seen you around the library.”

I narrow my eyes. Why has he chosen this moment—right as my premonition hit—to be so chatty, when he’s spent the last few months only sneaking glances at me and trying to work up the nerve to say hi? Could he be the person my gift is warning me about? I don’t want to believe it, but I can’t rule it out.

I force a brittle smile and nod again. “Sure. Computer near the water fountain. I’ve been debating for weeks if it’s online college classes or a World of Warcraft addiction.”

My response shocks him. It doesn’t match the stay-away-I-bite vibe I generally give off. I’m a loner who avoids people like the plague, yes, but I’m not inherently bitchy. It’s just hard to hide my gift from people when I’m thrown into their heads every time I’m touched. I don’t know why I have the gifts I have, or how I got them, but they’ve been saving me most of my life, so I don’t complain. Lonely is better than dead.

My friendliness gives Oliver a boost of confidence. His smile widens just a bit, and his eyes light up. “Criminal justice courses.” Smirking, he adds, “And Dragon Quest X. Not World of Warcraft.”

I laugh once. I can’t help myself. Despite my wariness of his sudden desire to strike up conversation at the same time my premonition hit, his answer makes me chuckle. “Nice. I’m Nora.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Nora.”

The bus turns a corner onto my street, and the feeling in my stomach explodes with intensity. I pull in a long breath through my nose and let it out slowly.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Oliver asks. “You look like you’re going to pass out. Do you want me to walk you home?”

The question raises my suspicions again. Oliver seems innocent enough, but I know exactly how deceiving appearances can be, and the premonition is only getting stronger.

My body is screaming at me to protect myself. My hands are trembling now, and a light sheen of sweat breaks out along my hairline. “This isn’t your stop,” I say with a shake of my head.

He shrugs. “Mine is the next one. It’s not that far. I’d feel better knowing you made it home all right.”

Now he’s making me nervous. I need to get off this bus alone. “It’s only half a block. I can make it. Thanks, though.”

The hope in his eyes dims a little. “Okay. If you’re sure.”

He looks genuine, but without touching him, I can’t be certain. “I’m sure. Thanks.”

The bus rumbles to a slow stop, and the feeling of dread seizes my chest so hard that I can barely breathe.

Gang Dude is still watching me—frowning at me—and now Oliver is watching me closely, too. I can’t tell which one of them means me harm. I need to get out of here. I’m so anxious that I stumble a little as I get to my feet. Oliver jumps up as well. “Please, let me help. You’re really pale.”

When he reaches for my hand, I catch a quick glimpse of his thoughts. He’s imagining us walking down my street together. He wants to get me home safely. He’s worried about me. He thinks a woman like me shouldn’t be alone on the streets of Detroit ever, much less after dark.

The image of me in his mind is practically glowing. I’m tall and slender. I don’t really have many womanly curves to brag about, but he thinks I’m beautiful anyway. He likes my sea green eyes even though they look haunted, and he thinks my long, shiny brunette hair is commercial worthy. He’s never seen me smile, but he’s sure it would be radiant if I did, and he wishes I would do it. He’s kinder to me than I am. I don’t think I’m as pretty as he sees me.

He’s a nice guy. I feel terrible for thinking he could have been the monster my gift is warning me about. This is why I can’t have friends. I would suck at being one. I pull away from him, needing to escape his mind. He takes my rejection the wrong way and sits back down, muttering, “Sorry.”

Part of me wants to let him walk me home, but there’s no point. No friendship I’ve ever had has lasted long. It’s better to keep to myself. “I’ll be fine,” I assure him again. I lean closer and lower my voice. “But if any of those guys follow me off the bus, call 911 for me, okay?”

Oliver’s frown deepens, but he nods reluctantly. “Be safe,” he says.

I give him a small smile. “You too. It was nice meeting you.”

Shouldering my backpack full of my grease-stained work clothes, I make my way off the bus. Each step takes so much effort it feels as if I’m wading through waist-deep snow. The second the bus pulls away from the curb, the reason for my premonition becomes clear. I let out a soft curse. I should have let Oliver walk me home. Should have stayed on the bus. I was an idiot for only thinking the trouble was with me instead of possibly lying in wait for me. I should have known better.

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