“What? It’s not like I think Victor did this,” she protested.
“No, it wasn’t Victor,” Alex said.
“No way,” Jack agreed.
“You guys don’t have any answers?” Lizzie asked, staring at Brent and Nikki.
“If we had them,” Brent said, “trust me, we’d be sharing them.”
They all nearly jumped sky-high when Thor’s cell phone rang.
“Thompson,” he said briefly.
He rose as he listened to the speaker, pacing toward the front of the house.
Out of earshot, Genevieve thought.
He snapped his phone shut after a minute. “I’m going to see Professor Sheridan,” he said. “I’ll be back. If anyone hears anything…”
“We’ll call you right away,” Lizzie promised.
Looking at him, Genevieve nodded.
She was surprised when Brent stood. “Mind if I go along?”
She was even more surprised when Thor studied him for a minute, then shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He turned to the others.
“See you soon,” he said to the room in general. Then he hesitated, before looking back at Genevieve. “Let’s take a ride somewhere later tonight, huh?”
“All of us?” Bethany asked, frowning.
“I meant Genevieve,” Thor said.
“Bethany, they want to be alone,” Alex said.
“Oh! Of course,” Bethany said. But then she frowned. “Now? In the middle of all this?”
“If Victor is delayed, Bethany, you can room with Brent and me,” Nikki said.
“I can get you a room at the hotel,” Adam said, sensing her unease.
“Thank you, but I’m sure Victor will be back.” Her words carried more conviction than her tone.
“Adam, want to come along?” Thor asked, really stunning Genevieve.
“I’ll keep watch here, thanks,” Adam said. “In fact, I’m quite capable in the kitchen. I’ll throw something together for dinner.”
“All right. We’ll be back,” Thor said.
Genevieve watched him go with growing concern. Audrey was missing. Marshall was still a no-show. Victor was down at the police station—and their group had now discovered two corpses.
She didn’t know what was going on, but she knew it sucked.
“That was Sheridan on the phone?” Brent asked as they drove.
“And…? This have something to do with the murders?”
“No. He’s started working with some of the letters from the box Gen found. He’s treating them with something—I don’t really understand the preservation of paper—and he’s been translating them from Spanish into English.” Thor shrugged. “He’s…an oddball. The type who feels you live by the sword, you die by the sword, and those women were living by the sword due to their profession. The present never interests him much. His biggest feeling seems to be irritation that the murders are disrupting the dive.”
Brent lifted a hand. “Some people are like that.”
There were several long moments of silence before Thor turned abruptly to Brent. “You know a lot about…ghosts, right?” he asked, unable to keep his tone from being slightly dry.
“I know this is really hard for you. That you aren’t the type to believe in anything except what you see and touch yourself.”
“You just made me sound completely closed-minded.”
Brent grinned easily. “I didn’t mean that. It’s a tough world. You’re a pretty tough guy. I wouldn’t expect you to believe in the occult. You’re a man who makes his living in the real world. It wouldn’t do a lot for your reputation if you went around talking about pirate ghosts.”
“I try not to spend my time protecting my reputation,” Thor said.
“We do that to an extent. How do you think Adam has acquired his contacts and his ability to slip his people in wherever he chooses?” Brent asked.
“Okay, you’ve got a point. But what the hell good is any of this doing? Genevieve sees ghosts—but I don’t think it’s any ghost murdering those women. So where is any of this getting us?”
“I’m hoping what Sheridan has discovered might be of some help,” Brent said.
“I hope so, too. Though, realistically speaking, I don’t see how it can solve the current problem.”
“I’ve never claimed to have all the answers,” Brent said.
“No, you haven’t,” Thor murmured. He bore a grudging admiration for the other man that continued to grow. He had an ability to hold his temper and still stand his ground.
“Tell me more about Adam Harrison,” Thor said abruptly.
“Adam? The last of the great gentlemen?” Brent said gruffly, his affection for the man evident. He lifted his hands. “He was born on a working plantation in Virginia to a family with a long history in politics. His wife died soon after the birth of their only son, and his son was killed in an accident after his high school prom. He was kind of like Harry Houdini, I guess, desperate to believe there was life after death.”
“To the best of my knowledge, Houdini spent most of his life unmasking charlatans,” Thor commented.
Brent smiled noncommittally.
“And he never made it back himself?”
“I have no idea.”
“So you can’t summon up whoever you choose?”
“No, actually, you don’t, and you don’t need to humor me. I don’t really care if you believe in an afterlife or not,” Brent said. “I’m not trying to argue. I just know what I can and can’t do, and your opinion isn’t going to change it any.”
“So Harrison Investigations is completely on the up-and-up?” Thor murmured.
“I’m sure you know it is. I’m sure you used some of your own contacts to check.”
“Of course I did.”
“But you still don’t really trust us.”
“You’re ghost hunters.”
“We’re not con men,” Brent said.
“I’m still trying to figure out what the story is with my seeing a boy claiming to be Josh Harrison,” Thor said.
“You probably did see Josh,” Brent told him casually.
“Yes, a ghost.”
“Josh Harrison, son of Adam, ghost,” Thor murmured. “I guess you’re going to tell me you’ve seen him, too.”
“I’m seeing him right now.”
“Excuse me?” Thor demanded, his brow furrowing.
“He’s in the back seat.”
Thor turned around.
He nearly drove off the highway.
Brent was telling the truth.
The boy was seated in the back seat, right behind Brent.
“Shit!” Thor gasped.
“Maybe I should drive,” Brent said.
“All right,” Jack said, rising. “I can’t do this. I can’t just sit around. Anyone want to join me? I’m going to hit some of the bars and find out myself if anyone has seen Audrey anywhere, or if she said anything to anyone.”
“I’m going to try Audrey’s numbers again, just in case,” Genevieve said. She pulled out her cell, since she felt the need to pace while she talked.
All three numbers rang until Audrey’s recorded voice asked for a message.
Genevieve flipped the phone shut, shaking her head.
“So we look for her,” Jack said.
“If she had her phone…if she were reachable…she’d answer. She’d call me,” Genevieve said. “I’m so worried.”
“C’mon, she’s a brunette, not a blonde. Just like you, Gen,” Alex pointed out.
“And she’s a quack, not a hooker,” Jack reminded them cheerfully.
“I’m still worried,” Genevieve said.
Jack walked over and gave her a hug. “We all are. And I’m restless. I know she’s probably not barhopping, but we’re not doing any good, all of us sitting around here, just waiting. We’ll see if she did run into someone else. Who knows, maybe there’s a relative somewhere we don’t know about who suddenly called because they needed her. Maybe she had to go to the aid of one of her clients. Maybe she really conjured up a ghost or…well, who the hell knows. But maybe, just maybe, we can find something out. Anyone want to join me?”
Zach rose, reaching a hand down to his wife. “Sure. Though we don’t know the locals like you do.”
Alex rose. “Yeah, we need to do something.” He looked at Genevieve ruefully. “I think I need to move, too. I’m going to go with Jack, too, if you’re okay.”
“I’m fine. But I’m going to hang in here until I hear from Victor or Thor.”
Bethany laughed. “I’m staying with my new best friend,” she said, indicating Adam.
“We’ll call you if we hear anything,” Jack promised as he and the others filed out.
There was silence for a minute after they left. Then Genevieve picked up the plates. Adam had concocted an interesting hash out of the leftovers from the barbecue, and everyone had eaten heartily. “I’ll just put these in the kitchen,” she said.
Nikki rose with her. “I’ll help. Move it along.” She glanced at Adam. “Actually, Gen, there’s something we’d like you to try.”
“Hypnosis,” Adam said, rising.
Genevieve nearly dropped the plates she was carrying, staring from one of them to the other.
“Past-life regression, or something like that,” Bethany said.
Adam hesitated. “I don’t know exactly what we’ll discover. But I can question you while you’re under, and maybe…. Don’t be worried. We choose a safety word before you go under. That word will bring you back to the present, wide-awake, if you find yourself under duress.”