Taylor turned his eyes to Dave, a smoldering, half-lidded gaze. "Everything," he said. "I remember everything."
Because she was on the wrong side of him, Alison could not see the look Taylor gave to his friend, but Jordyn could. Her husband was right. Taylor was completely on board with the foursome thing.
"Except a few short moments of amnesia," Alison filled in. She squeezed Taylor's hand lightly and he looked at her. "Right?"
"Right," he said, and gave her a kiss.
When the eye contact was broken, Dave let out a breath he'd been holding. Yes, Taylor remembered everything... except? "Wait, there are things you don't remember?"
"Yeah. They all happened in the house, except one."
That was encouraging, wasn't it? "Tell us about them."
"Well... most of what I experienced while being possessed by Nicky was like a dream. I could see out of my own eyes but I wasn't in control of my body. Someone else was speaking with my mouth. There were times when I could do what I wanted, but only when Nicky also wanted to. Or when he would let me. For a while, I didn't know what was happening. I had a feeling that something was very wrong, very, very, wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was.
"I'm not sure why a ghost needed to sleep, maybe he was actually recharging or whatever dead people need to do, but there were times when Nicky slept and I slept too. During those times, I had wonderful dreams of some of my best memories. But there were other times when I was asleep, and Nicky was awake." Taylor shuddered, any trace of a smile fading from his face. "He would put me in this nightmare world where I was present for memories of his crimes. I could hide my eyes, but I couldn't close my ears." Falling silent, he stared off into space with a sad, disturbed look on his face. Alison stroked the hair at his temple behind his ear. "I didn't have anything there, I just had to wait until it was over. Nothing but - "
"But the cat," Dave said. "Munchie the cat. He kept you company."
"Oh yeah, you were there that one time."
Dave and Taylor met each other's gaze. Something unspoken passed between them, as it had a million times before. It was that connection they had, a connection both Jordyn and Alison knew that no matter how much their husbands loved them, they would never be able to rival.
The moment passed, and Taylor continued. "When I was stuck in this nightmare world, I don't know what Nicky was doing."
"How many times did it happen?"
"About six, seven times. Usually, when I came back, Nicky was still in bed, or cleaning something, or that night he got drunk, drinking too much. These times, I think he was just playing with me. Torturing me. But there were other times when I think... I think he was trying to hide what he was doing from me. So I wouldn't... wouldn't scream so much. He didn't like my screaming. At least not then." Taylor shuddered again.
Alison, stroking his hair and shoulders, asked, "Honey, what do you mean?"
With a hard swallow, Taylor tried to explain. "Nicky seemed to like it when he put me in the nightmares and it drove me to scream. But any other time..."
Obviously, Taylor hadn't said this much when he was just speaking to Alison, because she exclaimed, "Oh, Taylor," and hugged him.
Dave got up. "Tee, I'm so sorry - "
"No! Not yet!" Taylor pulled his wife's arms from around him and laid them aside as gently as he could. He put up a hand to tell Dave to stop, and motioned for him to sit back down. Dave did as he asked. "I can fall apart later, right now I've got to get all this out. We have to make sure Nicky didn't have any time to hurt anyone else."
Alison couldn't help it; she still stroked Taylor's hair, close to tears now. He tried not to look at her, because he knew it would make him break down.
Dave cut in with a question. "So, all these times it happened in the house, it started in my house and when you came back, you were still in the house."
"Yeah," Taylor confirmed with a nod. "Those times, the only people he hurt were you and Chris."
Dave shifted in his chair like he was uncomfortable. "What do you remember about Chris being there?"
"Well, none of it's good, since he ran off to Hawaii to be with his family."
"He really wanted to be here, and he told me to tell you that he wants you to get better soon, but yeah, he went to Hawaii to be with Cara and the boys. Nicky really shook him up, man," Dave explained.
"I can understand that, and I don't blame him. I wish we were all in Hawaii instead of this damn hospital." With a frustrated sigh, Taylor pounded his fist on the bed rail before continuing. "What I remember is Chris coming over and Nicky beating him up before handcuffing him to the railing in your art room, where Chris was lying on the couch. I was screaming that whole time, 'Leave him alone, let him go, stop hurting him!', but of course, Nicky didn't listen. It bothered him when I did that.
"Soon after, Nicky's trying to get Chris's phone out of his back pocket and he's practically groping him and all, 'You got pretty eyes,' and I started yelling again, telling him to leave Chris alone, and Nicky threw me into the nightmare for a while. When I came back, Nicky was heading out to my car to run errands."
"What else do you remember regarding Chris?" Dave asked. As soon as the question was out of his mouth, he regretted it. Either Taylor remembered the blowjob or he didn't, and either way could be a minefield to navigate.
"Um... I remember Chris hiding himself against the back of the couch, like he hoped Nicky wouldn't notice him anymore, and heading over there to... I'm not even sure what Nicky had planned. He put me in the nightmare world," Taylor replied.
Oh shit... Taylor didn't even know.
Alison's eyes darted back and forth between Taylor and Dave. What had Nicky done to Chris? Did her husband really not remember it? "Tell them what happened on errand day," she said.
"Oh, yeah," Taylor agreed, nodding. "Nicky went to a drug store, and then drove into Los Angeles, to the Arts District. To something on Mateo Street. As soon as we turned, he sent me into nightmare land. Next thing I remember is getting back in the car. Nicky was giggling to himself for half the trip back."
When he mentioned Mateo Street, Dave and Jordyn looked at each other, a bit alarmed with how this was shaping up. "The gallery," Jordyn exclaimed.
Dave looked at Taylor and Alison and filled in, "The gallery where we bought the statue is on Mateo Street."
A knowing but shocked expression came to Taylor's face. "Then this really was done to you. Someone trapped Nicky's soul in the statue and then steered you toward buying it. Whoever it is, Nicky knows them. I bet he went to visit them."
"Before, I might've said let's not jump to conclusions, but yesterday, Nicky told me he made a deal with someone to make this whole thing happen. It's someone from the gallery," Dave declared. "It has to be."
"The witch?" Jordyn suggested.
"Oh God, what if our witch did this whole thing? We need her help to send Nicky back to Hell. If she's in league with him..." Dave shook his head.
"What is this about now?"
Taylor had been in surgery and out for the night when they got this part of the story. Dave explained about the witch and her spell.
"What would happen if we exorcized the statue without her help?" Taylor asked.
"Nicky could go free."
Alison put a hand to her head. "This is all so crazy."
Pulling her in for a hug and a kiss to her temple, Taylor said, "I know, baby. I know."
"Don't worry," Dave said. "Kurt assured me he would bring me a dream that would reveal everything. I just have to wait for it."
"Well, let's hope the witch isn't Nicky's little friend. Or we could be really screwed," Taylor added, and sighed.
The group fell silent, lost in thought. Jordyn looked over at Dave, and he instantly knew where she thought the conversation should go next. "Alison, can I speak with Taylor alone for a few minutes?"
He rubbed Alison's shoulder. "Hon, you haven't had anything to eat yet today. Why don't you and Jordyn go find the cafeteria?"
A little wary, Alison looked from Taylor to Dave and stood up. What was causing that hesitation that fluttered in her stomach? "Okay." She picked up her purse. Jordyn smiled at her, and it made her feel a little better. After bending to give Taylor a kiss, Alison followed Jordyn toward the door. "We'll be back in half an hour or so."
Taylor gave her a nod. Once the door closed behind them, Dave moved to the side of the bed, sitting in the chair Alison had occupied. "I wanted to speak to you alone so I could find out how much you told Alison... about us."
"Jordyn knows." Dave put his forearms on the bed rail and looked down at the bed, unable to meet Taylor's eyes. "Where do you want to go from here, Tee? What do you want?"
Tapping one of Dave's arms, Taylor said, "Put the bed rail down."
"Now come closer." Taylor grabbed the front of Dave's shirt and slowly pulled him toward him.
Dave closed the distance between them. They came together in a long, passionate kiss. Arms encircled each other, and they took their time, not coming up for air until they really had to. "We gotta slow down," Taylor whispered. "I just had surgery. But I want you so bad. No ghost, no threat of death, just you and me, together."
"Do you still want the foursome too?"
"Oh yeah, baby."
"Do you think Alison will go for it?"
Shrugging, Taylor replied, "I'm not sure. She was pretty upset after what happened with Shiflett. Since then, I've been in the doghouse more times than I expected to be. I'd say our odds are 50/50." He took his arms from around Dave's neck and picked at his nails, suddenly fidgety. "I know Nicky did something to Chris. There's no way he didn't. When he went over there, it was right after we, ah... well, I was naked at the time, so I'm sure me and Chris didn't play checkers."
Dave rubbed his bare shoulder, trying to get him to relax a bit. "It wasn't you. It was Nicky." Sighing, he told him what Nicky had done. "He held Chris down and gave him a blowjob."
Taylor put a hand over his eyes. "Oh God. Poor Chris. No wonder he ran off to Hawaii."
Dave rubbed his shoulder again. "Shiflett will be okay. Just give him time." Trying to approach the next question delicately, he asked, "Did Alison tell you about the discrepancy, the eight versus eleven people?"
He nodded. "I don't think he ever had time to kill and dispose of three people. I mean, yeah, Nicky threw me in the nightmare world at times, but it didn't feel like I was ever in there for the time it would take to do something like that." Taylor laid his arm over his eyes now, sighing deeply. "I hope. I just hope I didn't miss something."
"Don't second guess yourself." Dave took hold of his arm and lifted it off his face, kissing the back of Taylor's hand. Then he gently placed the arm by Taylor's side. "If Nicky did kill someone, you can always plead insanity. Everyone thinks I'm insane when I tell this story."
A small laugh escaped Taylor at first, but then suddenly, he began to cry.
Alarm in his eyes, Dave pulled Taylor gingerly into his arms. "Hey, I'm sorry. It was a bad joke. Why are you crying?"
Taylor wrapped his arms around Dave and sobbed into his neck. "I'm not crying because of your joke. It just came over me because of what Nicky did to my life. The only good thing is finding out that you feel the same way about me as I do about you. Everything else... I freaked out Shiflett, I may've killed three people - "
"Tee, stop it. You didn't do anything. Nicky did it."
"But will the police see it that way? Will Chris?"
"Stop. Whatever happens, it will all work out." Dave stroked his hair.
Instead of making him feel better, this seemed to upset Taylor more; he sobbed harder. Dave asked him what was wrong. "I can't stop seeing it. These scenes keep playing in my head, over and over. I keep hearing their screams, the sound of the electric saw he used to cut up their bodies... I keep hearing them pleading to be let go, 'I just wanna go home, please let me go home!' I tried to shut it out, I buried my face in the cat's fur, but I still knew what he was doing to them. Why did Nicky hate me so much? Why did he show me those horrible pictures?" he cried.
Tears pricked at Dave's eyes. "Nicky hated you because I love you, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't become you. He thought if he killed your will, he could keep your body, but you were too strong." Dropping a few soft kisses on the side of Taylor's head, Dave continued stroking his hair. "Oh God, Taylor, I'm so sorry. So very sorry he put you through that."
They cuddled, Dave gently rocking him and singing to him, until Taylor's sobs calmed to sniffles. Dave watched him wipe his eyes and then leaned in for a comforting kiss. "Are you okay?"
Lying back on his pillow, Taylor got a tissue and blew his nose. "It will take some time." Sheepishly, he added, "Once I get out of here, will you go to the pound with me and help me pick out a black and white cat?"
Dave had to laugh a little. "Like Munchie?"
"Will it really make you feel better to have a cat that looks like Munchie?"
Taylor nodded again. "To help me sleep."
"Okay, no problem." Dave hugged him once more, and they held each other, trying to make up for lost time.
When Jordyn and Alison returned from the cafeteria, the first thing Alison noticed was that her husband's eyes were red, like he'd been crying. She wondered what he'd been talking to Dave about. "Hey honey. We're back. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
Dave stood up and offered Alison her chair back. "Thank you," she said, and took it. "Did you two finish your conversation?"
"Pretty much." Dave looked at his wife, then cleared his throat. "Alison, we have something to speak to you about."
Taylor put up a hand to stop him. "Dave, let me handle this." He took Alison's hand, stroking the back of it with his thumb. "Baby, stuff kinda happened while I was possessed by the ghost." He also cleared his throat. "Sexual stuff."
She tensed up, and frowned, but didn't take her hand back. "Like what?"
"Uh, although I don't remember it, apparently Nicky gave Chris a blowjob. That's why he threw me into the nightmare before he went over to the couch. He knew I would start yelling at him to stop if I was present." Taylor searched her face for a reaction. "Chris didn't want it, and I didn't want to do it. This was completely different from... well, from before."
Taking a deep breath, Alison said, "I'm not going to get mad. I saw Nicky Kelly with my own eyes. I believe that this possession thing really happened. Part of me wants to call this cheating, and believe that the whole thing was an elaborate setup so you could get yourself another piece of Shifty, but... that's even more ludicrous than the idea you were possessed." She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "It wasn't your fault."
A nervous grin came to his face. "Hold onto that attitude for the next few minutes."