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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Troubled Spirits: Part 4

As I stood there in my ever deepening embarrassment, the saleswoman gave a little laugh and put a hand on my arm.
"Sorry," she said around a giggle, "I couldn't resist.  The look on your face."
"I can imagine," I tried to smile back.  Apparently I failed because she began to laugh anew.
"My name's Felicia.  How can I help you," she asked as she regained her composure with a Cheshire grin.  I was about to answer but my brain turned to jelly as it let my eyes take in her outfit.

She was wearing a very snug bodice that fit her petite frame and curves.  Over that she wore a mostly see-through sash that clung lightly from her shoulders to her waist.  Her lower extremities were covered in a very tight pair of jeans, or maybe they were jeggings.  These days I can't tell anymore.  Her auburn hair flowed in tight curls that hung to her hips.  She had mocha skin and wild green eyes that made the smile she wore all the more alluring.

"See something you like," she purred as she cocked a hip and planted a fist on it.  That pulled my mind from the gutter, but only just barely.
"I'm sorry," I stammered, "but I'm not here to shop or browse."
"You seem to be doing a good job of the latter," she said with a wicked smirk.  "If you're not here to shop, may I ask what you are here for then?"
"I'm a detective," I could feel the heat of another blush rush over my cheeks.  "I was following a... well... a person and I didn't want to be spotted."
"Oh," her eyebrows rose a bit as she moved closer and leaned against me to peek out the window.  "Who's your mark?"
"Well," I was having a lot of trouble concentrating as her perfume flowed over me.  It smelled like lavender and honey.  "The... um... the mark... well, I'm not really working a case.  It was more of a curiosity thing."
"Ah," she said as she continued to gaze out the window, "you're a stalker then.  So who's the lucky lady?"
"Well," I had to focus on my words as they were painting a very bad picture at the moment, "she's not a lady, per se..."
"Oh," she leaned a little further and grabbed my arm to keep balance.  "Who's the lucky fellah then?"
"Wait," that was the bucket of ice I needed to clear my mind.  "No, it's not a guy either.  She's a ghost."  Felicia stepped back from the window but didn't move away from me.  She just gazed up at me with a quizzical look.
"Come again, string bean," she said with that adorable smirk.
"She's a ghost," I was starting to get lost in those eyes again but gave myself a mental shake to keep my thoughts straight.  "She's my partner."
"And you're following her because," she raised an eyebrow.
"Because," I sighed, "she's infuriatingly vague about her personal time and I wanted to see what was so important."
"Oh," she nodded, "so when you said partner, you meant you two were a couple."
"What," I asked a bit shocked.  "No.  She's my business partner with the agency.  She helps me with cases.  We're just friends."
"That doesn't sound like something a friend would do, if you ask me," she grimaced.
Nor I, said a sharp and icy voice from over my shoulder.  Shit.  She caught me.
"Hey Gladys," I said as I spun to face her, "fancy seeing you here."
"HA!" Felicia barked out the laugh and followed it with a tiny snort.  "Busted."
And I was.
I turned back to Felicia.
"Sorry to browse and run," I wasn't blushing anymore, in fact I was quite certain I had gone quite pale.  "Rain check?"
She let out a full throated laugh, patted me on the shoulder, and walked into the lacy store, laughing all the way.
Jackson, I could feel the icy glare of Gladys boring into my back.  I think we need to talk.  She floated out the door and up the street towards the office.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Troubled Spirits: Part 3

As I passed by Gunther's store he gave me a nod and started heading into the doorway, but then stopped for a second with a strange look on his face.  He began to turn towards me to get a second look, but I moved in front of a group of pedestrians and did my best to be inconspicuous.

It was at that moment that I realized how much space I had gained on Gladys in doing so.  I was less than five feet behind her.  If she turned or looked over her shoulder, my cover would be blown.  I scanned the street and ducked into a little alcove next to a pastry shop and gave her a few seconds lead on me.  As I waited and counted to ten hippopotamus, the scent of freshly baked bread and sweets wafted over me.  The mix of cinnamon, vanilla, and yeast smells set my stomach to rumbling.  It almost overpowered my brain as I took a couple of steps towards the shop, but caught myself in time to make a quick turn and continue tracking my prey.

I gathered my bearings and found Gladys' trail again and was on the move.  I passed several more store fronts along the street that I had never taken the time to notice before.  One of the shops was a little fashion boutique filled with frilly skirts and "distressed" jeans.

Can I just stop for a second and ask, why would anyone want to buy a pair of already worn out jeans?  Isn't that half the fun of owning them?  I mean if they had been worn by someone famous or in a second hand store, sure, that makes sense to me, but brand new jeans with rips and holes in them?  Le sigh.  I digress.

Another shop was a butcher shop with a large goat's head over a pair of axes as the sign.  Stenciled beneath the image were the words Billy Gruff's Meat Market.  I stole a peek in the front window and was expecting a troll to be manning the counter, but instead, there was a little, elderly man with a white smock, a pointed white cap, and a grin behind the register.  He gave me a wave as I passed by and I gave him a nod and a smile.  You had to admit, it was some good marketing on his part.  I mean, who wouldn't have to have a look after seeing that sign?

As I turned the corner on the block following the trail, I spotted Gladys near the other corner floating about twenty feet off the ground.  She was perched in front of a window looking in at the residents.  Whether she was chatting with them or just peeping, I couldn't tell from this distance, but with her at that height, it left me too open to being spotted.  I ducked into the first doorway that was open and stepped in to watch out their front window.  After a few minutes, Gladys hadn't moved and I continue to watch but my lurking was interrupted by a small voice behind me.

"Can I help you find anything, sir," a soft female voice asked as I stared out the window.
"Just browsing," I didn't take my eyes from the window.  "I'll be out of your hair in a minute or two."
"Is there anything you are interested in from the window," she persisted in her quiet voice.  "Maybe something for your, um, special lady friend?"  That got my attention.
"What," I asked as I turned to look at the salesperson.  As I did the rest of the shop came into view.  I came to an awkward and spine tingling revelation.  I was surrounded by lacy, silky, and oh so tiny garments.  I was standing in a lingerie shop, and a very scantily one at that.  I could feel myself turning a very bright shade of red.
"Or maybe," the woman that now stood before me was not as meagerly attired as her mannequins, but it was a close thing.  She stood about shoulder height to me and she was standing very, very close.  "Maybe you are more interested in something for... yourself?"  She smiled and gave me a very slow and sly wink.  Her grin was all shades of mischief and seduction.

I swallowed, audibly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Troubled Spirits: Part 2

I'm not usually a nosy guy.  Well I am, but that comes with the job.  What I mean is, I'm not usually one to go prying into the private lives of family, friends, or co-workers, but her habit of disappearing from time to time, sometimes for days or weeks, piqued my curiosity.  So I gave her about a five minute head start and then headed out after her.

Being as close as I am to her and working with her day in and day out has given us a kind of bond and, as a psychic, I was able to get a good idea of knowing where she is if she is nearby.  So when I exited the front of the building that held our office, I could easily track which way she went.  She was heading downtown and I was soon on her trail.  I focused and could almost see a little path where she went and could just make her out about a block and a half ahead of me as she weaved her way among the people out on the street for the night.

She turned a corner ahead on 36th Street and when I went to turn the corner I had to stop short and quickly hop back around the edge of the building on the corner.  She had stopped to look in the window of a local used book store that catered to old literature collectors in town called Spines and Wine.  I had seen it a few times but never went inside as my reading habits usually consisted of mysteries and fantasy novels.  Surprise, right?

She was standing near the doorway talking to what looked to be the owner of the establishment, an older African American man wearing a very old and very worn sweater with honest to gods leather patches on the elbows.  He also wore a pair of fine, gold rimmed glasses that were connected to a similar golden chain.  I could only just make out their conversation over the street traffic and the passersby on the street.

"And it is a lovely surprise to see you tonight, Gladys," the owner said with a very wide smile on his face.  "What can I help you find or read tonight."

Oh, Gunther, she warmed with a blush, it is always such a pleasure to have your company.  So few people are as accommodating when it comes to the spirit bound literary community.  But I'm afraid I was just stopping by tonight.  I have some other plans, but wanted to be sure to come by and thank you for the wonderful reading you gave to our spirit reading group last week.

She had a book group?  Who knew?  Well, apparently this Gunther guy, but I mean, I didn't even know that was a thing.

"Oh," it was his turn to blush, "you don't have to thank me.  It is always such a pleasure to have you and your friends come by.  Gives me a chance to catch up on my reading and brush up on my presentation skills."  He laughed and I could feel the tinkling like little bells of Gladys's laugh.

You are always such a pleasure, Gladys sighed, but as I said, I can't really stay to enjoy your company tonight.  I have plans with, well, you know.

"Indeed I do," the man said with a nod.  "You go on and have yourself a grand time tonight.  I'll catch up with you next weekend."

Count on it, Gladys beamed and made her goodbyes.

So she could share her plans with this Gunther fellow but not with me.  Now I was really intrigued.