“Dad,” Jude explained. “Hey,” he called back. “In here.”
“Do you want company?
“Dad, come on in. We’re thinking aloud with each other. Another mind won’t be a bad thing at all,” Jude said.
Andrew was still a little hesitant when he came in the room.
“I never mean to interrupt,” he said.
“You’re not interrupting at all,” Whitney replied, grinning.
“Dad, sit, do you want a sandwich?”
“I—I heard voices. I was just checking to make sure that it was you,” Andrew said. He shrugged to Whitney. “That’s the best you can do when you live next door to your son. Stay away when you should, check up on his interests when you should.”
“And you do a great job of it,” Jude assured him.
Whitney thought that his affection for his father was real and admirable. They did treat one another as equals, even though the parent-child connection existed as well. Their bond was tight, and she was only sorry that it made her like Jude Crosby even more. He was really far too easy to like.
Jude set down the papers he’d been looking at and shook his head. “But, if you heard voices in here you didn’t think were mine or a friend’s, you needed to stay on your own side and dial 911.”
“Son, I was patrolling the streets when you were still in diapers, remember?”
“So, okay, Dad. Do you have anything for me?”
“Yep, yep, I do,” Andrew said.
“And that would be…?” Jude asked.
“Blair House!” Andrew announced with pleasure. “I have a book that lists as its sources a number of books at the NYU library. In the history section there’s a copy of a ledger that’s at the Pierpont Library. The family who owned Blair House from the 1860s to the 1890s was in financial trouble by the end of the century. They kept the place as a boarding house. And guess who stayed there?”
“Jonathan Black?” Whitney asked.
Andrew stared at her again. He nodded, mesmerized anew. “How did you know?”
“There’s a signature—Jonathan Black—of a man who signed in as a guest in March 1891. One month before the murder of Carrie Brown. So, before he wound up at the House of Spiritualism, Jonathan Black checked into Blair House. That had to be one really bad, creepy dude. I wonder if he watched the people over at the House of Spiritualism, and then moved in on them!”
As they listened to Jude’s father’s announcement, Whitney’s phone began to buzz. She quickly looked down at the text that had come to her. It was from Jackson Crow. As usual, he was brief. “Have arrived. Settling into Blair House.”
“What is it?” Jude asked her.
“My team has arrived,” she said. She thought that something passed through Jude Crosby’s eyes. Was it regret? Something just a little bit sorrowful? She felt something of a strange regret herself.
She’d liked working with him. They’d begun to…bond, after a fashion.
“Well, Jackson is just the man who can really add experience to the investigation,” she said briskly.
“We need to finish up here then. I have my own agenda,” Jude said. “There are five from the film I want to interview personally—the two stars, Blanco and Walden, Samuel Vintner and the girls who saw Virginia Rockford last, Missy Everett and Jane Deaver.” Jude paused, looking at Whitney. “I don’t give a damn where the Ripper might have wound up. I’m certain Jonathan Black, Jack the Ripper or whoever the fellow might have been did not arise from the grave to start murdering people!”
“But,” Whitney said, “Jude, we do need to know who researched Jonathan Black and the murders that happened in that age. It is obvious now that someone is repeating them. Checking the library records at NYU and Pierpont might help us find out who.”
Jude took a deep breath, staring at her.
“Yes,” he said. “It does seem apparent now.” Disgusted, he shook his head, and leaned toward her, his tone like solid steel as he said, “One thing, however, is true. Jack is not back. There is a killer out there, and I swear, this time, he’s not going to become a mystery for the ages. I’m going to find the bastard.”
“Come on, clue me in on everything,” Angela said, and walked down the hallway and through the door to the kitchen. There was a little table in the breakfast-nook area. She poured herself a cup of coffee and headed toward it. “I want more of a feel for what’s going on.”
Ellis had made the trip to the airport to collect the rest of the team—and all their equipment. But he left them to settle in with Jude after they stopped by the station to introduce the team around. Whitney wasn’t sure about her own feelings toward Ellis. He always appeared weary and tired. But Jude seemed to believe in him. And if Jude believed in him, he had to be one of the good ones. He was different, though. He didn’t seem to have much of an open mind regarding anything that wasn’t hard evidence. He was a cop who worked by the book. He would be methodical and thorough, she thought.
“Tragic, scary events,” Whitney assured her, but she poured herself a cup of coffee and walked over to join Angela at the table.
“Well, I know that. But, you believe that whatever’s going on calls for our skills set? I was surprised that Jude whisked Jenna away with him to the autopsy, but she might bring out the answers about that death,” Angela said.
As Whitney had suspected, Jude and Jackson had hit it off immediately. They were both no-nonsense and determined, low-key and yet as steadfast and persistent as a pair of bulldozers. When Jude left with the two agents, Jake Mallory paired off with Will Chan to set up the equipment as she had determined it should be.
“The cops seem to be treading water—all we have to go on is the similarity to the Ripper and a possible link to that movie,” Whitney told her.
Angela nodded. “Whatever the reason, I’m glad to be here. The house is quite beautiful, and it’s amazing that it has remained as untouched and pristine as it has all these years, what with the continual progress and rebuilding in a city the size of New York,” she said.
Whitney was glad to see Angela, as she had been glad to see the rest of the team. They had come to a point where they worked wonderfully together; they knew one another, and they were actually something of a family. And, of course, if they were a family of any kind, Angela was the matriarch even if she was in her early thirties. But she’d come from law enforcement, and despite her lovely and fragile blond appearance, she was tough as nails, and wasn’t afraid of her talents dealing with the past—including the dead.
“If I’m reading and understanding all the information correctly, it’s the property next door that is so notorious. And still, Blair House has been here forever. It must have some salacious history somewhere in there!”
“It might all be connected, you know. Jude’s dad was a cop, and he’s an amazing researcher. He has a library you wouldn’t believe. Anyway, he found a copy of a ledger kept at the Pierpont Library—the family took in boarders…among them, Jonathan Black.”
“Interesting,” Angela said. “We’ll need to get to the library and see what we can find out. But Blair House itself doesn’t have a history of terrible violence or the like.”
Whitney shook her head. “Not that I’ve discovered yet.”
“Have you come across the unusual?” Angela asked Whitney.
“Not what we would consider unusual,” Whitney told her. “But…” She thought Angela Hawkins the most intuitive in their group. If there were spirits—or energy—left behind, Angela was the one who could usually sense them first and open her mind to the pain and loss of the past, drawing them out.
They’d all learned quickly to respect one another’s talents. Jackson was still the one to insist they find the flesh-and-blood truth in any situation, and he tended to be quiet when it came to his belief in his own intuition, but he respected the opinions, feelings and intuitions of his group.
“Ah! You do know. You just doubt yourself,” Angela told her. She shivered. “Though, it’s really strange down here—with that…abyss next door. I can only imagine the night, the darkness, the loneliness… I might imagine a thing or two myself. What did you see?”
Whitney laughed ruefully. “I tried all night, speaking aloud to any ghosts that might be around, and they totally ignored me. But when I woke in the morning, there was a woman looking at me. She never seemed solid—when I blinked, she was gone. She was in late-Victorian attire, and if I had to guess, I’d say she’d been around in the 1890s. So, I might have wanted to see someone so badly that I imagined her, or she was someone who does haunt this house.” She hesitated a minute. “And, I saw a dog—her dog, I imagine.”
“A dog?” Angela sounded curious. “How interesting!”
“We’ve seen animals before,” Whitney reminded her. “Civil War soldiers on horses.”
“I’m not doubting you at all,” Angela assured her. “It’s possible your vision might have died by violence, and that the dog might have died first, trying to protect her.”
“Well, they both disappeared quickly,” Whitney told her.
“Hmm.” Angela ran her fingers through her mane of blond hair thoughtfully. “Sometimes, as we know, ghosts are shy, terrified of the living, or they don’t know how to communicate, even when you’re open to them. When we can get closer and closer to the reason they’ve remained, we can coax them out… I’m going to spend the early part of the afternoon just getting to know the house. Later, maybe before sunset, we should explore the property next to us—en masse, of course.”
“Have you felt anything about the house?” Whitney asked her.
“I’m not sure yet, either,” Angela told her. “Places this old always seem to speak to something inside us—give us an inner awe—whether they’re inhabited by spirits that can’t move on or not. They’re filled with history and time. But I can’t say that the local ghosts ran out to meet me,” she said, smiling. “Patience is needed. And, as we’ve all learned, we don’t know why certain people…communicate with other people. Dead or alive,” she added. “Where do you feel we’re going to be as a team? I liked Crosby—very much. And he seemed perfectly willing to have the team on his task force.”