Claimed By Blackstone - Page 3

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Inwardly, Kayla recoiled but she held her composure. She couldn’t crumple every time Roger’s name cropped up. Besides, the best revenge was indifference. “Really? I don’t care. I’m not going to let him ruin my good time.”

“Oh good,” Lola exclaimed, relieved. “Because at first I was worried that when you heard he was dating Holly, you might freak out.”

He was dating Holly Richards? She forced a shrug even as her heart spasmed a little. “Maybe I ought to send her a condolence card. She has no idea what she’s getting into.”

“Yeah, once a cheater, always a cheater, right?”

“So they say.”

“Good for you, taking this so well. I really was worried about telling you.”

She smiled for her sister’s sake. “I’m not made of China. I won’t shatter. Besides, I’m happy to be single right now so I can focus on our business.”

“Good plan. Good short-term plan, anyway. If you don’t find time to mingle eventually, you might end up that eccentric old lady with the houseful of cats.”

“I mentioned getting one cat, not a houseful,” she said, exasperated. “I think I have a mouse.”

“Eww. Mice are gross. They carry diseases,” Lola said, wrinkling her nose. “Well, I suppose one cat would be okay.”

“So glad I have your approval,” Kayla retorted, causing Lola to chuckle. A moment passed between them before Kayla asked her sister something she probably didn’t want to know the answer to. “Do you believe in ghosts?”

“Ghosts?” Lola repeated, blinking as if she’d never really thought about it before. “Hmm, well, I don’t know. Maybe. I think it would be cool if they existed but only the nice ghosts, not like the kind that tear your face off and wear your skin like a meat suit.”

“Oh dear lord,” Kayla murmured, horrified. “Yes, that wouldn’t be good. I mean, nice ghosts, I guess.” The kind that leave roses and play Bing Crosby at odd hours. “Why do you think that ghosts, if they’re real, hang around? Why don’t they move on?”

“Well, the prevailing wisdom is that they have unfinished business,” Lola answered with a shrug. “Why?” Suddenly, she straightened, her eyes wide. “Oh my God. Does this house have a ghost? I knew it! It’s just too creepy and old not to.”

“For the last time, it’s not creepy. You have no appreciation for the classics,” she told her sister, instantly defensive. “And, no, I didn’t say there was a ghost here. For the record, I don’t believe in ghosts. I was just curious to see how you felt about them.”

“No, I don’t buy that,” Lola said, shaking her head. “Something’s happened, hasn’t it? Tell me. I want to know. Did something go bump in the night? Did mysterious orbs float in thin air? What exactly is an orb, anyway? I’ve always been confused by the weird lights and balls that ghost hunters post on their websites. Seems like a camera malfunction to me.”

Kayla waved away Lola’s tangent. “There’s no ghost. I was just making conversation.”

“Sure you were,” Lola said wryly. “But, okay, if you don’t want to share, I understand. Nobody likes to have their entire belief structure challenged. I get it.”

Kayla gave her sister a sidewise glance. Was that it? If she admitted that there was something hinky going on, would she have to reexamine everything she knew to be true? Perhaps. She released a short breath and decided to come clean. “Okay, maybe there have been a few odd occurrences…but I’m not really ready to admit that there might be a ghost rambling around in the halls. Honestly, there’s probably a scientific explanation for the things I’ve experienced.”

“Well, the only way to know is to share. So what happened?”

“Um, well, one morning a single red rose was on the kitchen counter, still wet from the morning dew. Did you bring it in?” she asked, almost hopefully.

“Why would I bring you flowers?” Lola asked. “No, I didn’t bring you a red rose. I’d chalk that up to officially weird. Either you have a stalker or…a ghost with a romantic streak.”

“Yeah, not sure which option I prefer,” she admitted. “Okay, the other thing is that the old record player was playing a record I’ve never seen, from an era that I wasn’t a part of. The 1940s to be exact. Bing Crosby, which I learned from Estella was Archibald Blackstone’s favorite singer.”

“Creepy. Definitely creepy. And you’re still staying here, why?”

“Because I’m not about to walk away from my life savings over something that likely is totally explainable.”

“Maybe someone is messing with you.”

“The only person I can imagine would do that, is you.”

Lola looked affronted. “Well, it isn’t me!”

“Okay, then. I don’t know what to think anymore.”

Lola gathered up her trash and threw it away. “Look, maybe there is something logical to the things that have happened but what does your intuition say? Are you creeped out?”

She thought about it for a moment and then realized she wasn’t. “No,” she answered slowly. “I mean, I would’ve thought that I would be, but, I’m not going anywhere. I love this house and besides, I can’t abandon it anyway. Everything I own is tied up in this house. It’s a part of me. If I walk away…I’m screwed.”

“Then, I guess you’d better make peace with whatever is going on. I mean, if it is a ghost and it’s leaving you roses and playing romantic music…that’s far better than a ghost that’s throwing pots and pans and screaming at you to ‘Get out!’”

True. Her wacky sister made a fair point. “It’s not a ghost, though,” she said, deciding to drop it. “And we have clients to meet. Make sure you take those burnt sienna swatches over to the execs over at Washu Bank. I think it’ll really pop against the white wainscoting.”

“Sure thing, boss. Oh, and if by some chance it is Archibald Blackstone and he’s moonlighting as a dream lover, send him my way. I’m down with sampling a little of what he’s giving you.”

Kayla gasped and tossed a leftover grape at her sister, suffering an odd twinge of jealousy. “Get your own dream lover.”

“Hey! I can’t help it, I’m in a dry spell. I’m not like you. Celibacy does terrible things to my brain!”

Kayla laughed and Lola scooped up the swatches before letting herself out. Kayla cleaned up their lunch fixings and then returned to her study for an afternoon filled with work but in the back of her mind, a question lingered…what if everything she’d been experiencing was the real deal? What if Archibald Blackstone was actually haunting her? And if so, why?

***


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