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He was surprised when Adam looked at him with a pleasant smile. “Come back again, Mr. Braden. I enjoy our conversations.”

“Thanks. I will.”

Christina still didn’t even glance his way.

Jed walked down the stairs, furious with himself. Dammit, he was getting sucked in. There were no such things as ghosts, he told himself. There were only memories. Memories that plagued and haunted and hurt. But somewhere inside he was beginning to believe he was wrong, had been wrong his whole life, and there were ghosts after all.

And maybe someday, when this was all in the past, he could even learn to let his own ghosts go.

“Thank God you’re all right. You really scared me,” Christina told Adam once Jed was gone.

A moment later, before Adam had a chance to say anything in response, Genevieve arrived at the doorway, Ana right behind her.

Adam looked over at them and grinned. “Wow. All these beautiful young women. I should feel a little woozy more often.”

“Are you okay?” Ana asked, coming in and sitting on the foot of the bed.

“I am absolutely fine,” Adam assured her.

Ana looked at him for a moment before she spoke again. “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but Josh…Josh was your son, right?” she said softly.

Christina started; you could have heard a pin drop in the room, it had gone so silent.

“Yes,” Adam said.

“And he’s been…gone a long time,” Ana went on.

Adam smiled reminiscently. “Yes.”

“It was like you were him, you know?” Ana said, simultaneously certain and questioning.

Again everyone else stayed silent, watching her as she kept speaking.

“I didn’t see Beau Kidd, but I could have sworn I saw your son. That…that he was real.”

Adam reached out and touched her face. “He is very real, thank you. He had the gift. And he died young. I never had the gift, but I do believe in it, and I’ve been able to gather people around me who have the gift and the courage to use it.”

“Do you think I have a gift?” Ana asked.

Christina grimaced. “If you don’t, you’re welcome to mine,” she said dryly, breaking the tension in the room. Everyone laughed.

“Perhaps,” Adam said gently to Ana.

“Let’s let Adam get some rest,” Genevieve said firmly.

They went downstairs. Katherine and Jed had gone, and Christina suspected he would be going home after he’d dropped her off. It was obvious that the night was over.

“I’m going to head on out,” Ana said.

“We’ll walk you to your house,” Tony said.

“I’m okay. I’ve walked from here to my house a thousand times,” Ana assured them, smiling.

“Yeah, but not tonight,” Dan said. “I’ll walk you over.”

“We live right next door,” Ilona reminded him. “It’s easy for us to do it.”

“And deprive me of the pleasure of the midget’s company?” Dan teased.

Ana groaned.

“I can walk you home if my brother is being a jerk,” Mike told her.

“Oh, let the jerk do it,” Ana said. “Good night, Christina. Thanks for the barbecue. And the séance. That was…cool.”

Dan gave Christina a kiss good-night, waved to the others and headed out with Ana. Ilona and Tony left next, and Mike was right behind them. Christina was left standing in the doorway with Genevieve and Thor.

She was disturbed by the sense of loneliness that swept over her. She didn’t remember feeling quite so forlorn in a very long time. “You know,” she said softly, “I really thought…I thought Gran or Granda, even my mom or dad, might show up. If only for a minute,” she said.

She felt Thor’s hand on her shoulder, gentle, reassuring. “They didn’t need to stay behind,” he said. “They loved and were loved. Their lives were full.”

“But my parents were so young,” Christina said, all the remembered pain in her voice.

“They still lived their lives as they were meant to be lived,” he offered.

Christina nodded. “Well…I’m going to bed, I guess,” she murmured. “Thank you, both. Though I’m not sure we really got anywhere tonight.”

She was startled when Adam suddenly called down the stairs, “We’re all in and the house is locked up for the night, yes?”

“Yes. Unless Jed thinks you meant for him to come back tonight,” Christina replied.

“He will or he won’t,” Adam said, sounding unworried either way. “Just make sure this place is locked up tight, okay?”

“Will do,” Thor promised, suiting his action to his words, then said he was going to go watch TV for a while. The women decided to go up to bed. A minute later, Christina closed the door to her room and slipped into a thin flannel nightgown, washed her face, brushed her teeth and started brushing her hair, waiting.

She felt Beau’s presence as soon as he entered her room.

“The guy is a jerk,” he told her.

She grinned. “Jed?”

“Yeah, Jed. You know the type. Hell, I know the type. I used to be the type. All macho bravado. But you need to cut him some slack. He’s afraid, only he doesn’t know how to be afraid. He knows what it’s like to lose someone he loves, and he doesn’t want to go through that again, so…he’s afraid.”

“Thanks, Beau.”

“I’m here, though. I’ll watch over you.”

“Thanks again.” He looked troubled, so she frowned and asked, “What is it?”

He hesitated. “I think I’m starting to understand why I’m here,” he said quietly. “I think I showed up because…because the real killer was in this house,” he told her.

What do to? Jed wondered.

He dropped Katherine off at her house, watching her until she was safely inside. She waved from the doorway, then closed—and, he assumed, locked—the door behind her.

During the ride, he had once again stressed to her that she was an attractive redhead and needed to watch out. She had only smiled and said, “Now, there would be an irony. Beau Kidd’s sister killed—by the real Interstate Killer.”

“How about just being careful, and avoiding all irony?” he’d suggested.

A part of him wanted to rush right back to Christina’s, but another part of him wanted to go home and look at his files again. The second part won out, so he put the car in gear and drove to his town house.

The minute he entered, he realized how barren his home was. Of course it was. He had made a point of it. He hadn’t been able to stand looking at the pictures, the knickknacks, the souvenirs of laughter shared, of…life.

There was no personality here, while already the house Christina now claimed as her own was full of individuality.

He smiled to himself.

Hell. If he were a ghost, that was definitely where he would go if he had to pick a place to haunt, he had to admit. The house was steeped in personality. It held a whisper of the music that had been her grandfather, and the homey atmosphere that had always surrounded her grandmother. There were pictures everywhere…. Christina’s mother as a child, as a teenager, posing with her date for the prom, her wedding…

He gave himself a shake, walked over to his desk and impatiently spread out the files. He found the notes Larry Atkins had made after interviewing Beau about Janet Major. According to Officer Kidd, they were not heavily involved. The officer said they had met at O’Reilly’s, off International Drive. He kept reading, but the words began to jumble on him.

He picked up another file, the one on Grace Garcia. Again Larry Atkins had written the notes.

“Miss Garcia worked part-time at O’Reilly’s,” Atkins had written. “Her manager, Peter Hicoty, was in tears when I spoke with him. ‘We all loved her,’ he said. ‘We all loved her here.’”

Jed set down the file. He glanced quickly through the rest of them. He’d read them all before, but he hadn’t realized what he was looking for then. O’Reilly’s.

He couldn’t find a connection in every file, but given where the dead women had lived or worked, it seemed likely that, at the very least, they had all stopped in at O’Reilly’s to eat or grab a drink.

How had everyone missed the possibility?

He immediately called Jerry, even though it was late.

Jerry immediately asked, “You got something?”

“Maybe. O’Reilly’s.”


“Yeah, it’s a pub down near International Drive.”

“I know it,” Jerry said.

“Check it out. I’m not suggesting that anyone at O’Reilly’s is the guilty party. But I think it’s where the killer chooses his victims,” Jed said.

“It’s something,” Jerry told him. “I’ll get a car out there.”

They rang off. Jed looked around his town house. The emptiness, the coldness, weighed on him. He glanced at his watch. It wasn’t really that late, he told himself. He went out, got in his car and drove back to Christina’s.

He parked out front, then sat in his car and looked around. Only two cars remained in the driveway: Christina’s, and the SUV Thor, Genevieve and Adam had driven up in.

The house looked quiet. He told himself that he should just drive away, but he hesitated. He had said that he would come back, even if he hadn’t said when.

He exited his car and started up the walk. Before he could knock, Thor opened the door. “I thought I heard a car.” He smiled. “I see you decided to come back tonight after all.”


“Well, come on in.”

Together they walked into the living room, where Thor had been watching a movie.

“So what did you think about tonight?” Thor asked.

Jed shook his head. “I’m not sure. When Adam and I were talking earlier, he was about to say something, but then we were interrupted. I suspect he’s sleeping now, though.”