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“Oh, right. It will be super-busy,” she said. She noted that David was barely listening to her; he was watching Danny Zigler.

He didn’t look happy.

“Anyway, I’m going to have a busy week no matter what,” Pete said. “I think I have a runaway stripper, and I’m pretty sure she’s the one who took off with that man’s wallet last night.”

Liam laughed. “A runaway stripper? Is there such a thing? I mean, a stripper is free to come and go as she chooses, right?”

“Unless she’s wanted by the law for being a pickpocket,” Pete said grimly.

“But did you see her?” Liam asked, frowning.

“No, I didn’t see her. But lately, we’ve only had one girl in trouble for helping herself to gents’ wallets, instead of waiting for the bills in the garter-or whatever,” Pete said.

“How do you know she’s missing?” David asked, suddenly turning his attention to Pete.

“She works at the Top-O-The-Top, and when I went to try to talk to her-warn her that I’m on to her at the least-she hadn’t shown up for work. One of the other girls told me that it was unusual. She likes money,” Pete said.

“Well, it is a Sunday night,” Sam commented. “Who knows? Maybe she heard about some better pickings up the islands.”

“If I don’t find her by tomorrow, I’ll put out an APB,” Pete said.

“Pete, can we prove anything?” Liam asked.

“I’ve got the kid’s report-hell, yes, I can put out an APB. Anyway, good night, all. I’m heading out,” Pete told them.

The college kids were having a good time, and they did so without being smashed or obnoxious. Katie kept the music going longer than she had intended.

Even so, David waited for her.

“You know,” she told him, “I’ve been walking myself home for a very long time.”

“Alone?” Bartholomew said.

She didn’t look his way, but she added, “Physically walking my mortal self.”

David seemed bemused by the comment. “But it is late and I am here. Do you mind?” he asked her.

“No. I’m glad.” She waved good-night to Clarinda.

“Zigler is gone,” David noted.

“I guess he took off early.”

“Started late, and took off early. Interesting,” David said.

“You’ve been looking at him with daggers in your eyes all night,” Katie commented.

“I followed his tour around tonight,” David said grimly.


“After what I heard on his tour, I’d be scared of me,” he said.

“Danny is a good guy, though,” she said. “And I guess there’s no way to keep the tour guides from telling a story, especially if they can conjure a good ghost.”

“I wonder what he does with all his money,” David said.

“Well, he isn’t working jobs that set you in the upper stratosphere of income,” Katie pointed out.

“Still, he eats where he works, lives frugally… He must have some kind of a pastime.”

“Maybe he hides all his money in his mattress. Wasn’t there a crazy person who did that once?” Katie asked.

“Crazy. Umm. There have been a lot of crazies down here. It must be the sun,” David said.

They reached her house. He stood on the porch while she found her keys and fit one into the lock. The key turned and she looked at him. It seemed that she had no voice. She wanted to speak; she wanted to sound casual.

“Would you like to come in?” she asked. Oh, God, she sounded as if she was applying for a job as phone-sex girl.

He smiled and leaned against the door frame, not touching her, and yet looking at her in a way that made her feel as if he could send out rays of static heat.

“If I come in…well, it might be dangerous, you know.”

“I don’t think you’re dangerous,” she said.

“No, I meant it really might be dangerous. I’m torn- I want to be with you, but I’m not so sure you should be seen with me.”

“Oh. Oh,” she murmured and blushed, feeling incredibly awkward. She started to step past him but he blocked the way and she met his eyes again. They were deep royal-blue, a navy color that could be so dark it appeared black in the shadows. “I would love to come in, if the offer still stands.”

She paused, feeling as if the night could change everything, and then feeling foolish, as well. Sex. So many people fell into it so easily. She’d never been able to play that game, she’d never wanted something that didn’t mean something. This felt like more. It was sex…it was intimate. Natural. Biology, something that happened between people. But she meant something to him; she knew it. She cared about him, equally.

“I…I want you to come in.” Ah, there she was, sounding like the phone-sex applicant again.

But he reached out, stroking a finger along her cheek and smoothing her hair back. “I didn’t want to want you, but I do,” he told her.

“I think…well, they do say there’s just something that attracts certain people.”

“Think we should make love and experiment?” he asked.

She shook her head slowly. “No.”

“Well, we are still on the porch.”

She smiled, suddenly feeling sure of herself, and at ease. “I like the idea best of us both knowing that we wanted…one another from the start.”

“Actually, I really disliked you.”

“Come to think of it, I loathed you.”

“Let’s get in,” he said huskily.

They stepped inside. Katie closed and locked the door and wound up pinned against it. David leaned into her, and their lips met in their first kiss, something that seemed to ignite into an instant passion. It was a kiss, just a kiss, but hungry, wet, all over, openmouthed and so sensual that Katie heard a sound and realized that it was herself, it was a moan, but it was aggressive, and her hands were cradling his jaw, feeling the structure, holding him to her.

They broke breathlessly, staring at one another.

He kissed her again with a whisper, a brush of restraint and tenderness, and his eyes met hers and his lips formed hard and seeking over hers once again and their tongues filled one another’s mouths.

She heard a groan. It wasn’t him and it wasn’t her.

“Oh, good God, woman, you’ve got a room, go to it!” Bartholomew said.

She started and jerked back. Bartholomew was leaning against the counter, appearing irritated and disturbed by the entire scene.

“Room!” he said, waving a hand at her. “Go, go!”

“What?” David said. “You can pull back at any time, Katie. I swear, I’ll leave at any time. Now, if that’s what you want. You’ve got to be sure.”

She glared around his head at Bartholomew and pulled David back to her. But she practiced restraint. She kissed him, running her fingers over his shoulders up to his nape, and into his hair. It was so thick and rich. Touching his hair was arousing. She was in sad shape.

“Katie, go!” Bartholomew said.

“You go!” she whispered over his shoulder.

David backed away. “All right. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“No, no!” She caught his hand and headed up the stairs. She ran, pulling him behind her, then stopped suddenly.

Ghosts. Ghosts kept interrupting her life. Victims who wanted to speak to her…

Ghosts who needed her.

But not tonight!

“Katie,” David began.

She stopped him. “I’m sorry. I’m scared. But don’t leave. I want you, I want this. It’s just…the last time was Carl Waverly and I dated him all through college but then he wanted to get married and move to Seattle and I knew that I had to come home and that was…that was it and a long time ago, but don’t worry, I won’t make more out of it than it is…oh, God, way more detail than you needed, right?”

He smiled and laughed with a husky sound, and his eyes were dark and yet alive with a brilliance that seemed to be warmth or tenderness. “It was great detail,” he assured her, and he pulled her against him and lifted her from her feet, sweeping her off them. Soft light came in gentle streaks where the drapes weren’t completely closed and dust motes seemed to dance in a fantasy world. He laid her on the bed, and he came down beside her, kissing her as he began with the buttons of her blouse. For a second she was still, then it seemed the whole of her was on fire, and his movements weren’t nearly fast enough. She writhed against him, finding buttons herself. She pressed her lips against his throat and his collarbone, working at his tailored shirt. Hers was slipping away at last, her breasts were free and her flesh was against his. Shadows made it easy, the glow of light made it beautiful. She felt his lips against her breast while his fingers found the belt buckle of her jeans, snap and zipper, and his fingers played erotically over the silk of her underwear while she shimmied from her jeans, tugging at his while she did so. She felt his muscles tense and ripple where she touched him, felt the crush of his mouth against hers, again the thrust and plunge of his tongue, deep and evocative. Somehow their clothing was gone, shed, a part of the tangle of coverlet and sheets on the bed and their hands and lips were everywhere. His mouth slid down the length of her, teased and tasted, while his fingers stroked up her inner thighs. There was a wonderful sense of power and strength about him, he was gentle and vital and vibrant. He seemed to know exactly where to touch and then kiss and caress, a slow burn started that seemed to flare out of control.

She felt herself explode within, and the feeling was growing again. He was over her, his eyes touching hers, and he moved into her, thrusting in a way that seemed to fill her completely and then stroked, moving with greater power and speed, reaching higher and higher, slowly, beginning again, leading her once again to a point where she exploded cataclysmically, shuddering and shaking in his arms, so sated that she felt she could die. She seemed to fall down in a field of clouds, except the clouds were sweaty and sleek, and it was amazing to be held against him with such a contrast of sensations filling her flesh and mind.