“How are we all now?” Sean asked after a moment.
“Well, I guess we look all right for people who’ve been running around in a basement filled with graves,” Tyler muttered.
“Good enough,” Madison said.
“And showers are in order. We’ll meet the others back at the hotel,” Sean decided. “When we’re out of here, I’ll call Logan and tell him what’s going on.”
“The studio’s supposed to reopen tomorrow,” Madison said.
“That’s actually a good thing.” Sean told her. “We’ll get to see the natives in their habitat, and that may give us more to go on.”
“But you’re convinced it’s not a casual employee,” Madison reminded him.
“I’m willing to bet the killer will show up tomorrow. He’ll want to know what’s going on,” Sean said.
“For now, let’s get out of here,” Tyler said. “I’m itchy all over. I’m imagining bugs—spiders, ugh—crawling all over me.”
“And that from a Ranger!” Sean couldn’t help grinning.
“Hey, I can deal with enemies in human form,” Tyler said. “I’m not so big on creepy crawlies. I’d rather wrestle a rattler than a brown recluse or black widow any day.”
They stepped into the elevator, and exited on the first floor, passing by the mannequin displays in the small circular areas that separated the offices and the elevator.
For a moment, it seemed to Sean that the years were whisked away as the three of them walked by the young werewolf, a beautiful witch, a chilling vampire and the cop robot who hadn’t done so well in his fight. They passed the zombie and it didn’t bother him at all. But when they passed the girl from the slasher flick, all he could think about was poor Jenny and how she’d died. The one remaining blue eye in the mannequin-girl’s head seemed to stare at him reproachfully.
We will find your killer, Jenny. I swear we will, he vowed silently.
Of course, Jenny wasn’t there. He didn’t know where Bogie had taken her; he just knew that neither of the ghosts was with them.
Leading the way, he stopped at reception and the guard station. “Hey, Colin,” he said. “We’re leaving now.”
“I’m off pretty soon, too, Sean,” Colin Bailey said. “Nash is coming in. He and I are doing twelve-hour shifts, like we do during lockdown. Now it seems especially important that one of us is here to keep guard.”
“That’s great, Colin. Just hope it doesn’t wear you two out.”
“Did you find anything down there?” Bailey asked.
“A lot of dirt!” Sean said with a laugh.
“Well, I’m not sure what else you thought you’d find in a basement,” Bailey told him. “Bye for now.”
Behind him, Madison said good-night and Tyler politely echoed her words. They left the studio for Sean’s borrowed car.
Tyler took the wheel while Sean made a call to Logan, and Madison sat silently in the backseat. They reached the hotel, where they hurried through the lobby and up to the third floor.
“Showers. What then?” Madison asked.
“Movie night,” Sean said.
“We’re going to see a movie?”
“Don’t want to be all work and no play,” Sean said, but judging by her expression, she wasn’t amused. He touched her chin, still smudged despite the repairs they’d attempted. “Like I said this morning, I think we should enjoy a viewing of Sam Stone and the Curious Case of the Egyptian Museum.”
“Oh. Well, the only place I could imagine seeing that film is at the Black Box,” Madison said.
“Precisely.” Sean smiled at her. “Your hair looks gray.”
“So does yours.”
“Any of the three of us would fit right in with those mannequins in the halls,” Tyler said. “Sean, I’m going to take a shower, go down to the police station and see if I can interview some of the people who still need to be questioned. Then I’ll brief the others and meet you two at the Black Box. Call me when it’s been arranged and we’ll be there whatever time you say.”
“Good plan. I’m going to get on the computer and see if I can come up with any references to the original Claymore and his son, the studio and anything that might’ve been going on at the time,” Sean told him.
They parted and went to their own rooms.
* * *
I’m not afraid of cemeteries. I’m not afraid of the dead!
Madison silently chanted the words in her mind as she scrubbed her hair for the third time. Probably useless, because she’d end up back in the strange catacombs beneath the studio again.
Tomorrow would be a workday for her, a time to return to the world of The Unholy and the specialized costume that would be worn by Oliver Marshall—and his stunt double. Of course, they’d all be feeling awkward, not sure what to say to one another, and there might still be a police presence on-site. No, there would be a police presence on-site.
Finally, she rinsed her hair, poured on conditioner, rinsed again and got out of the shower.
Wrapped in one towel, with another wound around her hair, she wandered back to her room. She had the television on and was gratified to see a police spokesman on the news. He was saying that although Alistair Archer had been arraigned for the murder of Jenny Henderson, new leads were causing police and FBI to delve further into the case.
The spokesman told reporters he couldn’t give them any details as that information might jeopardize the case. While still being harangued by dozens of questions, the stern middle-aged man lifted his hand and said, “That is all at this time.”
Surrounded by officers, he went back into the station.
Madison was only dimly aware of the reporter as he spoke to the anchor back at his studio, reconstructing the “bizarre” case once again.
She glanced at the bedside clock-radio and saw that it was just after five. She felt as if she’d lived a lifetime that day. They hadn’t had lunch, although breakfast delivered to the room had been filling. She was getting hungry, though, and besides being hungry, she was alarmed at the way she felt so alone.
But she did feel alone. More alone than ever. Maybe because she usually spent so many hours working. Maybe because she lived with a ghost much of the time. Except it wasn’t just alone that she was feeling. Because her sudden loneliness had everything to do with Sean, with missing him, although she’d left him only forty minutes ago….
She got dressed, determined not to think anymore.
But when she’d donned jeans and a sweater, she was still restless—and alone. Sitting on the foot of her bed, she began to feel as if the hours, the fears and the discoveries, were weighing on her. She couldn’t just sit there any longer.
Everything in her life had changed with Alfie’s call on Monday morning. She’d liked her life; it was a good one. And she was lucky—incredibly lucky—to have her job. But everything was based on work. Great work, with wonderful coworkers. She was proud of her associations, and outside friends were often envious because she dressed stars like Oliver Marshall and spent hours on movie sets. She’d never recognized until now how much she’d allowed herself to overlook in life. She’d blamed Bogie for the fact that she hardly ever brought a date home, but it wasn’t Bogie’s fault. Well, maybe it was a little bit. But she hadn’t gone out in forever, and the real reason was that she hadn’t met anyone she wanted to spend time with, or even one night.
She stood; she couldn’t stay where she was.
She wasn’t sure what she was doing or why, but she left her room, walked across the hall and knocked on Sean’s door.
“Just a second!” he called.
A minute later, the door opened a few inches. Sean stood behind it, looking around its edge. “Sorry, I was waylaid by the computer,” he told her.
“It’s okay,” she said, not moving. The scent of his soap seemed to waft into the hallway.
He must have realized she wasn’t going away. He frowned slightly, but arched a brow. “I’ll be ready soon.”
“May I wait with you?” she asked.
He was silent for a few seconds, then opened the door the rest of the way. “I’m sorry—I’m not quite decent.”
“You’re decent enough for me,” she said.
He still hesitated. “Sure, come in. It’ll take me a few minutes to throw some clothes on. I’m a little behind—I ended up on the computer. There’s soft drinks and probably something harder in the suite’s work area.”
She walked past him, heading toward the connecting door. It was closed and she turned back to him. He’d been reaching for a neat stack of clothing to bring into the bathroom with him but he paused, his frown deepening as he looked at her.
“Madison, you all right?” he asked.
“I—I don’t know,” she admitted.
He smiled suddenly, as if he understood. But she knew he didn’t.
“It was an interesting day. There’s something eerie about those catacombs, even after being in the morgue for an hour.”
“It’s—it’s interesting all around.”
“You must feel terrible. And I’m honest-to-God sorry. I never knew we’d have to worry about your safety.”
“I’m fine with everything that’s happened,” she said. “We’ve already proven how it was done. As you said, we just need to discover who.”
He nodded. “The who, and the why.” He frowned again. “Is there a reason you’re looking at me like that? Are you hungry? We’ll eat on the way to the Black Box.”
“Yes, dinner will be nice, but…”
“I was thinking of…spending a little time together. Not in the company of ghosts or in a crypt or a graveyard.”
He offered her a slow half grin, his head angling to the side in a questioning manner. “I’d almost think you came here to proposition me, Madison,” he said softly.