Authors: Audrey Claire
Tags: #Mystery: Paranormal - North Carolina
|Audrey Claire - Libby Grace 02 - How to Blackmail a Ghost|
|Libby Grace |
|Audrey Claire (2014)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Paranormal - North Carolina|
Mystery: Paranormal - North Carolinattt
How to Blackmail A Ghost
(A Libby Grace Mystery – Book 2)
How to Blackmail A Ghost
Copyright © April 2014, Audrey Claire
Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting
No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express written permission from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.
This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, or any events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story line are created from the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.
I had spread a blanket out on the grass. A huge oak provided shade against the sun, and Clark Givens, the chief of police, sat across from me. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually out on a date. Me, a ghost, or the closest thing to it. After all, a couple weeks ago, I had lost my body and as yet, I hadn’t found it. Funny, I make it sound like a missing sock or mislaid keys. The truth was, it terrified me at the beginning. Monica, my best friend, and I speculated I could be in a hospital somewhere, in a coma. That might be why I still had the tie to life. I wasn’t quite dead, but I couldn’t be described as living either. Not in my current state.
Looking down at my hands as I worked the lid off a bowl of homemade potato salad, they appeared solid, but not so long ago, I couldn’t even hold a solid form. I was proud of myself now. I stayed visible most days for two hours, as long as there was no stress to interfere with my concentration.
All around Clark and I were the citizens of Summit’s Edge, my small town, and countless tourists. They laughed and ate and played games at the various booths. Children ran about chasing each other. In fact, my little boy, Jake, was among them. I didn’t worry about him. I knew friends and neighbors would look out for each other’s little ones. Besides, Jake would stop by as soon as his belly needed fueling.
“Thanks for joining me,” Clark said, hands curled into fists on his thighs and cheeks red. “Although it’s not exactly what I had in mind, what with some many people around.”
I chuckled. “It’s a date no matter what. Let’s pretend it’s just us.”
Clark was handsome with his cocoa brown eyes and dark hair in need of a cut. The gruff but kind attitude and the muscular build except for a slight paunch at his belly area made him an ideal man. Sexy but not perfect. A good solid man who would protect the ones he loved with his life. All of that was wonderful, but it wasn’t why I had said yes to his invitation.
Clark had an old scar on his cheek and the right corner of his mouth. The two gave him character and even more appeal for the woman who loved a rugged man. They weren’t that noticeable though unless one stood rather close. I hadn’t been that close, well not while Clark knew it. I’d stared into his face while invisible many times, but my gaze was always drawn to the reason I would from now on look out for Clark.
On his forehead, beneath the overlong bangs, was a mark. Human eyes could not see the mark, but I could as a ghost and I guessed other supernatural beings as well. The mark might not be visible with physical eyes, but it was sealed to Clark’s physical body. The Mark of Death meant Clark would die within two years or as long as ten years from now, a man who was only thirty years old, like me, and it was all my fault.
I had come to terms with my mistake that had changed Clark’s fate in so cruel a way. Rather I had stopped crying constantly about it and cringing in pain every time I thought of him. Instead, I had vowed to be by his side, looking out for him, and helping him with whatever case he had from now until he passed on. This vow did not mean letting the man fall in love with me. After all, I still had the little problem of being spectral in makeup. I had figured one date couldn’t hurt anything, so here we were.
“We’re having fun, aren’t we?” I asked Clark, judging his mood. Other than nerves I wasn’t sure if he regretted asking me out. I had a plan to excuse myself every now and then if I needed to renew my concentration or take a break and go invisible.
Clark’s eyes softened. “Of course.” He reached out to touch my cheek, but before he could make contact, Jake appeared with a friend. Clark curled his fingers into his palm and snatched his arm back.
“Chips,” Jake chirped. He grabbed an empty sandwich bag and held it at the ready for a serving.
I grinned at the love of my life and ruffled his hair. I couldn’t feel the silky threads beneath my fingers, but doing so gave me satisfaction. “Did you sense me opening the bag?”
“Yes.” He answered with an expressionless face and voice, and I shook my head. Too much influence from a certain vampire. Jake had taken to spending as much time as possible at Ian McClain’s house, my next-door neighbor and I guess you can say vampire guide. Whenever I needed advice and knowledge about my ordeal, Ian knew the answer, and yes, he was one of the undead. Who knew such creatures really existed.
“You should eat more than potato chips, Jake. Do you want some too, Brian?”
“Yes, please,” the little boy who was also seven and in Jake’s class at school, bobbed a blond head. I filled a sandwich bag for him as well.
“Later, Mom. We’re going to try to win a goldfish,” Jake explained. “This time for sure.”
I sighed. “What do you mean this time for sure? We had five of those things last summer.”
Jake waved goodbye as he ran off, mouth full of chips and boundless energy. Oh well, at least it didn’t get him down too much when the fish didn’t last beyond a month. My guess was he loved the thrill of the game more than the prize itself.
“Libby, about us,” Clark began.
I busied myself filling a plate with food for him and shoved it into his hands. “I hope you like it.”
He appeared irritated at my interruption but took the hint and sampled the food. Monica had helped me prepare what I had made. While there were booths for food on sale at the festival, I liked to prepare my own. It cost less because prices were always extra high for tourists.
“Mm, delicious,” Clark murmured around a full mouth.
“Thanks.” I warmed at the compliment. I was not a bad cook if I do say so myself, but that was Mama’s influence. She was the best in Summit’s Edge in my opinion, but her specialty had been baked goods. No one could beat her.
“Clark, what’s happening with the discs?” I asked as a way to distract him from talking about us as a couple.
Previously, Ian had erased Clark’s memories of me knowing about the discs, recordings of many people in our town in their personal lives, but Clark had later told me of their existence himself. I’d known of course because I had been there in ghostly form when Clark found them. I worried about the discs for Monica and others’ sake more than myself because I already knew from experience electronic devices did not last around me. I gave off some type of interference, and when I became too upset, the devices themselves didn’t last long. I had almost destroyed my own television that way and now practiced staying calm.
Clark frowned while biting into a piece of fried chicken. “Still haven’t found them, and that worries me. We lucked out in getting a confession, but who else could have taken the discs except one of my guys? I want to trust them…”
I patted his hand. “Nobody else had access to the evidence lockers, right? I know you want to trust your officers, but—”
“Oh don’t worry,” he groused. “I searched their homes myself and grilled them until they pleaded for mercy.”
I could imagine. Clark was sweet, but when angry, he bellowed until your ears rang. I knew his men probably pleaded with each other for one of them to come forward with the truth.
“I hand chose each one of them, and I don’t regret it. They’re strong, good men who love the law, but I’m also not a fool. I will tear them a new one if they screw up or get in my way.”
“This isn’t about you being caught on tape doing something shameful, is it?” I teased with a smile.
Clark reddened, obviously insulted. “Of course not! I want justice, Libby. The people of Summit’s Edge deserve their privacy. It’s their right.”
I held up my hands in surrender. “I was joking. Of course. I feel the same way.”
Thinking back to that night in the police station, Ian’s eyes blazing with intensity and his voice so authoritative, I felt sure if I were in my body, I would obey his every command, I shivered. Still, it had produced nothing. We didn’t know where my body was. We had no clues and no answers. I didn’t know which direction to take next or where to look. However, if there was even a slight chance one of the discs held evidence of what happened that night at the hardware store, then it behooved me to help locate them.
“I’m sure you’ll find the discs soon, Clark,” I said, “and all of our questions will be answered at last.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but spindly legs appeared next to him, and I looked into the eager, wrinkly face of Sadie Barnett, town busybody. A groan escaped me before I could catch it, and she glared at me before turning back to Clark. The look was the extent of what she intended to offer my existence, I assumed.
“Chief, where is the mayor?” Sadie demanded. “I have something very important to tell her.”
My curiosity peaked. “The mayor is always swamped with obligations during one of these festivals. You know that, Sadie. I’m sure the chief can handle whatever it is you need.”
want to talk to the mayor,” Sadie insisted. “What I have to say is important.” Then she hesitated, looking at Clark. Her lips moved with no words coming out, and she fiddled with her fingers together. At last, she drew up to her full—if diminutive—height. “No, I’m going to share this with the mayor herself.”
In other words, Sadie had gossip she thought warranted an audience with our leader. Clark while chief of police didn’t make Sadie feel important enough, and to be able to get a legitimate meeting with Olivia Walsh, well, she obviously couldn’t let it slip through her fingers.
My curiosity grew all the more, and I could see Clark’s had as well, but neither of us felt like giving Sadie the satisfaction of having us beg. Clark spoke in a cool tone I had seen him use while questioning suspects. He would offend the person enough to make them blurt out what he wanted to know, and he knew the right time to reveal his kind side to lessen the threat. I admired him, but Sadie wouldn’t crack, darn her.
“I’ll just keep looking,” she said and whirled away to disappear into the crowd.
“What do you think that was about?”
A furrow appeared in Clark’s brow. “I wonder. Unfortunately, knowing her, I’m sure it’s not a small matter. Since she can’t keep quiet about anything, I assume we will find out soon enough.”
I agreed. Standing up, I brushed crumbs from my sundress and experienced the slightly uncomfortable feeling of wearing layers of clothing. I had not figured out how to appear without the clothing I had left my body in, and it was the one thing so far Ian couldn’t help me with. In fact, he wasn’t sure if it was possible. I had no special powers and no magic, so my last state was how I appeared. In order not to cause suspicion among those around me, I had to balance other clothing on top of my solid form, clothing that would not reveal the ever present outfit beneath. The process grew tedious, and I recalled it each time I thought I could go on forever in the state I was in now. The clothing issue, and the fact that I would never age.
“I need to go to the little girl’s room,” I told Clark as he stood as well. “Will you excuse me a minute?”