widow is very handsome. All the more so for owning a house, eh?”
“She is, though I fear she abides my company because she believes me to be a music master. A mere clerk is not invited to fancy balls, you see.”
Noah sat at the table, slapping a hand upon the documents before him. “Make sense of this, lad—show me profit—and I shall be able to host such affairs and invite you.” With a laugh, he took up his own pint and touched the drink to his lips. “So, good sir, shall we commence my music lesson?”
Downstairs, I found the front door wide open, left that way by Beth Ann, no doubt. I didn’t stop until I was over the threshold and cold air slapped my cheeks, knocking sense into me.
What was I running from?
I looked back over my shoulder, as far up the stairway as I could see from where I stood. Muted gray light from the window above bathed the landing. Nothing there a coat of fresh paint couldn’t fix.
I felt like a complete idiot.
Luckily, no one had noticed. Out in the street, Foot was maintaining that a tourist trap like Williamsburg ought to have more than one taxi serving the train station on any given afternoon. And that he should be compensated not only for the half hour he’d waited at the station, but for having to share the cab, wasting yet another fifteen minutes dropping off an elderly couple at a motel way up on Capitol Landing Road.
Horse was paying off the driver, who was whining that he had to get back to the train station. Glad was trying to placate everyone with a lot of “Now, now”s and other useless utterances. Beth Ann stood back from the group a bit, hands still in her pockets. I couldn’t see her face, but her body language wasn’t happy. Not that I blamed her—Foot was putting a damper on the Christmas spirit.
Glancing back into the house, I recalled what I’d heard that afternoon about the place being haunted. Were my panic attacks courtesy of Nick’s trick-playing ghost? “Nothing scary,” he’d said. Ha! Or is this what Zela meant by “feeling ill”?
At any rate, this wasn’t like any haunting I’d ever experienced. My prior spook sessions had never been frightening—at least, never in the sense that I’d felt personal danger.
It dawned on me that settling the question might be as easy as going back inside, up the stairs to that first room, and closing my eyes. This was my way of politely introducing myself to any fleshless residents. If, in my mind’s eye, I “saw” some piece of the past, then yes, I was dealing with a ghost. If not, I had out-of-control hormones.
But I didn’t move, thinking instead of my promise to Hugh that I’d say no to the paranormal. I now embraced that promise. With it, I didn’t have to admit I was chicken.
I heard footfalls come up the wooden steps behind me and Beth Ann passed by, bound for the doorway.
“Where are you going?” I squeaked out, suddenly afraid for her, too.
She swung her head around, eyebrows rising into that Are-all-adults-this-stupid-or-just-you? look she gets. “Inside. It’s, like, cold out here?” She rolled her eyes, breathed out a “Duh,” and proceeded into the house.
I cast a glance at the street. The taxi was pulling away and Foot was wheeling his suitcase toward the curb. “And if that imbecile cab driver weren’t bad enough,” he was saying, “all the way up here on the train the woman next to me was jabbering to someone across the aisle. I was trying to speak to my secretary on my cell phone and could barely make myself heard. When I asked the woman to keep her voice down, she said she couldn’t hear her friend because of me.”
I suppose I should have stayed to be formally introduced to him. Instead, I followed Beth Ann inside, not wanting her to be alone in the house. Sure, she could be exasperating, but I cared about her enough that if the danger I’d sensed upstairs materialized, I’d throw myself between her and it.
To my great relief, Beth Ann headed through the