Page 39

Somehow, the day, which had started out with the threat of rain, remained bright and cloudless after the first hours of the morning. They were able to work without once being disturbed by thunder and lightning.

It was well past six when they brought the boats back in at last. Despite the lack of any discoveries, everyone seemed happy. He realized that, despite where they lived, Father Bellamy and Helen didn’t often get out diving, so they were especially pleased about everything they had seen that day.

As they neared the dock, he heard Genevieve speaking softly to Brent Blackhawk. “Do you think she’s at rest?” she asked softly.

“I don’t know,” he told her. “I’m sorry.”

It was an exhausted group that came off the boats. Helen hurried off to write her story; she wanted it ready to run in the Sunday paper. Father Bellamy had promised to meet with an elderly couple who were renewing their wedding vows, so he left quickly, as well.

Adam Harrison was waiting for them at the docks. He eyed Thor as they appeared, hauling their equipment from the boats to be hosed down.

“How was it?” he asked.

“Fine. You didn’t join us,” Thor replied.

Adam shrugged. “I had some research I wanted to do.”

“Did you discover anything?”

Adam shrugged. “Maybe. I need to do some thinking.”

“I see. In other words, you don’t intend to share your information.”

“I can’t share it until I have it,” Adam said serenely. “I’ll be at the tiki bar,” he said. The man walked away, straight as a ramrod. He was wearing a short-sleeved cotton shirt with palm trees on it and khakis. Thor had to grin, watching Adam. He might try to blend in, but no matter what, the man looked like the retired fed he was.

Genevieve seemed cheerful, Thor realized. She kissed him on the cheek, her eyes bright. He was glad to see her happy.

“I’m done. I’m going to your place to shower. See you at the tiki bar,” she said.

Strange. And sad. They were on a treasure hunt, but the days she had discovered treasure, she had been depressed. Today, no treasure, but she was radiant. Saddest of all, he understood.

She walked away, turning once and offering him a brilliant smile. He smiled back, but wondered why he was feeling as if their boat had sunk. He wanted this chapter in the hunt over.

He just didn’t believe it was.

By the time he had finished rinsing down the boat, half an hour had slipped away.

He put in a call to Sheridan. “You won’t believe what we’ve got!” Sheridan said excitedly.


“No,” Sheridan returned impatiently over the phone. “Something better. Letters. We’re moving carefully. There was some erosion, even to the silver. But they were wrapped in a pig’s bladder, and we’re working to read them without causing any damage. This is a remarkable find.”

“Great news.”

“And today?” Sheridan asked.


“Ah, well, you’ll be back out tomorrow.”

“Yep.” He hung up.

By the time he reached his cottage, Genevieve was gone. He showered and changed for the night.

It was already getting dark by the time he neared the tiki bar. Jack was playing chess with Alex, while Lizzie and Zach looked on.

Victor had stepped away and was on the phone.

Genevieve was sitting beside Bethany, with Adam on her one side, Audrey next to him. Nikki and Brent were at the table, as well.

“Thor,” Audrey said, and he thought it was almost as if she were announcing his arrival.

Silence fell, and the others looked up.

“We were about to order burgers,” Brent said. “You in?”

Thor nodded, then sat down next to Brent. “So where do you come from?”

“New Orleans.”

“Lots of reefs around there,” Thor murmured dryly.

Brent smiled slowly, using his thumb to rub the condensation off his bottle of beer. “Not everyone lives where they dive, you know.”

“True. What kind of Indian comes from New Orleans?”

He knew Genevieve was frowning. He was certain the question was rude.

“If you’re asking my background, it’s Dakota. Irish mom,” Brent said.

Nikki was staring at him icily. “I’m straight from New Orleans,” she told him. “I was a Du Monde. Would you like to see our passports?”

He shook his head. “I’m sure every document you possess is in perfect order,” he said softly.

Brent started to rise; Adam lifted a hand.

Genevieve wasn’t about to be stopped by Adam. “I’d forgotten what an asshole Mr. Thompson could be. Excuse me, will you? I have a phone call to make.”

She walked away. He watched her with concern, fingers tensing on the arms of his chair. He should have been more careful. But he just couldn’t shake the idea that he was being played.

It was either that or he’d had breakfast with a ghost.

He stared at the remaining group. Bethany and Audrey were both staring at him, wide-eyed. Adam was wearing a tired but accepting smile.

“Attack me, if you want, Mr. Thompson. Not my employees,” Adam said, then looked around at the group. “My associates and I work in the field of the unusual, the unexplainable—the otherworldly, if you will.” He turned his attention fully upon Brent then. “You see ghosts, right?”

“Yes,” Brent said flatly.

“And when did that start?”

“When I was a kid.”

“And you?” he asked, zeroing in on Nikki.

“I’ve always sensed them. Since a particular incident, I’ve been able to communicate with them, as well.”

Thor shook his head apologetically. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m looking for facts, that’s all,” he said softly.

“You’re looking for a black-and-white world. Something you can control,” Adam said. “That’s not reality.”

“What’s reality is the body of a woman that was discovered on the beach,” Thor said.

Audrey frowned. “But, Thor, I don’t see how her death can relate to the dive. Or to any of us. She was a prostitute. Prostitutes never know the men they pick up.”

“Do any of us really know anyone?” Nikki asked softly.

“Do you want a drink?” Brent asked. “I was going to go up to the bar, order our burgers, just put them on the tab. I can get you a beer while I’m there.”

Thor had to admit he liked the guy. He had acted like a jerk, but it would be worse if he was taken for a ride by these people.

“Yeah, I’ll have a beer, thanks.”

He kept an eye on Genevieve, who wasn’t far away; she was on her cell, speaking intently.

To whom?

He realized that Nikki Blackhawk was staring at him, smiling.

He arched a brow to her.

She laughed softly. “You really are a good guy.”

He lifted a hand, puzzled.

“You’re watching out all the time,” she said. “You’ll be great—once you learn what to watch out for.”

“And that would be?”

“We all learn as we go.”

Bethany drew his attention before he had a chance to ask Nikki what she mant. “Thor, did you hear anything more about the little box? Was it silver? Was it filled with gold or emeralds and rubies—”

“Letters,” he said.

“Letters?” Bethany said with disappointment.

“Letters?” Audrey was intrigued.

“Sheridan is pleased,” he said. As he spoke, Brent returned and handed him a cold beer. He nodded his thanks. “I was just saying that the box Genevieve dug out a day ago contains letters.”

“Oh?” Brent was intrigued. “Were they badly damaged?”

“They were packaged in a pig’s bladder,” Thor said.

“Ugh,” Audrey murmured.

“Hey, pig’s bladders and other organs were the first condoms, too,” Nikki offered cheerfully.

“Okay, that is gross,” Bethany said.

“Imagine, though,” Audrey offered, “if you were a working girl back then.”

“I thank God for my century,” Bethany said.

Genevieve was back. She was behind him, but Thor knew she was there without looking.

“Speaking of centuries,” Audrey said thoughtfully, “do you think ghosts from one century might hang around with ghosts from another? I mean, suppose you died in the 1700s and you met a ghost who died in the 1800s. Or last week, for that matter. What would you have to talk about? Are there ghosts who are stronger than other ghosts? Are there rules? Is there a way to learn how to be a ghost?”

Brent lowered his head, smiling. “A lot of it goes to simple belief,” he said. “Most of the world’s peoples hold some form of belief. Most religions find counterparts in one another, no matter how far apart they seem to be. Some worship one god, some worship several. But most believe human beings are something more than flesh and blood. That there is an energy within us, our spirit. It makes me me, and you you, more so than any compilation of DNA. The general belief is that flesh and blood dies—earth to earth, ashes to ashes—but the spirit, or soul, moves on. It’s generally accepted that ghosts are spirits who, for whatever reason, have not moved on.”

“The way you explain it,” Genevieve said, “things make sense.”

Thor was startled to feel a stab of jealousy. Well, sorry, I’m not a ghost hunter, he thought, and realized he was almost bitter.

He wasn’t accustomed to feeling like this. And he didn’t like it. He gritted his teeth, fully aware that the power to change was his, and his alone.

But what change was he supposed to make?

“Do I think they communicate?” Brent asked Audrey. “Sometimes. Is there a book of rules? Probably not. Is there more in the world than science has yet explained? Definitely. Will we ever have all the answers? Probably not. Faith is as important to life as bald facts.”