Thursday, Simtember 8, 2416 | Silverton Family Estate | Bay City, Califorsimia
“Oh,” I groaned as I stepped out of bed and tried to find my footing. The floorboards were cold on my bare toes. The house was definitely drafty. I’d have to do something about the heating system unfortunately.
I shuffled to the window, trying to get my bearings. I’d been downstairs watching the football game. Edgewater Saints won. I was eating pizza and drinking Bernish root beer.
“Mmm,” I mumbled incoherently.
That would explain my grogginess. Must’ve been some strong alcohol Brendon found. Brendon! Oh shoot! I instinctively covered my chest, feeling awkward in my lingerie set… from… my… boss… What was I thinking? I rubbed my temples. This had to be one of the stupidest things I had done yet.
The view from my window was pretty – beyond the dilapidated walls of the yard. A delightful wooded glen. Pristine green grass. And the wide blue expanse of the Simistral Ocean at the distance. I couldn’t see the shoreline but I figured it had to be below the grassy hill drop-off. Maybe great-grandma’s estate extended to a private beach. The thought of warm golden sand between my toes and cool seawater on my aching back sounded refreshing. The ocean already had a soothing effect on my nerves. The sound of the waves had lulled me to sleep last night, not that I had trouble falling asleep. The alcohol had helped tremendously. At the thought of alcohol, reality came roaring back in.
A weird blue light sparked my attention and suddenly a woman dressed in all black appeared on the lawn.
“Oh heavens!” I shrieked, covering my eyes in humiliation.
When I dared to peek out the window again, the woman was gone. I sighed in relief. Perhaps I was imagining things. Maybe I just needed breakfast. I could smell something frying downstairs. Brendon must still be here, I figured as I walked across the room to my suitcases. Just in case the woman “appeared again,” I decided to get dressed in the bathroom and put on something more appropriate for greeting Brendon.
Brendon was not at the stove when I entered the kitchen. Instead, an elderly woman with a beehive of blue hair and a pretty purple blouse was hunched over a frying pan of buttery goodness.
Brendon must’ve had the same idea because he appeared in the kitchen virtually at the same time. Even first thing in the morning, I had to admit, he still looked handsome.
Boss, Kass, boss! I reminded myself through gritted teeth.
He was still dressed in comfortable grey sweat pants and a navy blue shirt. He was still in his bare feet. I wondered when he had time to bring a change of clothes. Maybe they had been in his car. But no, he’d drove my car yesterday. I frowned. Who was the strange woman in the kitchen?
“Oh,” the woman at the stove turned in surprise.
“You must be Ms. Honey,” I said, taking a step forward and trying to ignore Brendon.
“Bea Honeywell, please call me Bea. And aren’t you a vision! Oh you poor dear,” the woman exclaimed, walking toward us. “I heard about your awful accident. Did they catch that terrible shooter?”
“Uh… I don’t know…” I frowned as the woman gave me a welcoming hug and I reluctantly accepted it.
“Kassiopeia, isn’t it?” she said with a perky smile. “Oh I’m so glad you’re here. I have such wonderful plans for the estate and I’ve been waiting for someone like you to come along… young and fresh eyes… and give me even more ideas.”
“Umm…” I stammered.
“Where were you yesterday?” Brendon interjected.
“Oh I went to visit my sister in Sunset Valley. She had quite a fall Sunday evening and I just had to go help her,” Bea clasped her hands together. ” I didn’t get back until early this morning. Are you okay? I left you here all alone. Did you settle in all right and everything? And aren’t you going to introduce me to this fine young man of yours?”
“Oh,” I blushed. “Um… no… he’s not mine… I mean, my man… he’s uh… well…”
“Brendon Shore of the Bay City Buzz,” Brendon said smoothly, recovering nicely for me as he held out his hand.
Bea’s dyed blue eyebrows rose into her hairline. “A reporter here? At the house? And you stayed here last night? Whatever for?”
“Uh… he’s a friend of mine… just a friend…” I added, still feeling dumb.
“Oh I see,” Bea puzzled, and then quickly broke into a smile. “Oh my pancakes! You must try them! Do you like strawberries, dear? Actually…” she walked over to the stove and turned off the burner. “I don’t know if we have strawberries, but Brandon? Be a dear and get the raspberries from the top shelf in the fridge.”
“Brendon,” I corrected.
“Absolutely, ma’am,” Brendon replied, kindly ignoring the misnomer, stepping over to the refrigerator. “I hope you don’t mind but we drank some of your Bernish root beers last night.”
“Oh no mind,” Bea waved her spatula in the air over her shoulder.
I frowned, and walked toward a chair. I still felt too weak to stand for long periods of time. Bea finished with her pancakes within moments and brought piping hot plates of buttermilk pancakes with a raspberry garnish over to the table.
“Looks delicious, Bea,” Brendon commented as he took a seat diagonally from me.
I had to admit – the stack did look appetizing. My stomach rumbled as I reached for my fork.
“Wow, these are so fluffy,” I said between bites.
“Heavenly,” Brendon rolled his eyes happily and patted his stomach.
“I’m glad you approve,” Bea said appreciatively as she placed a plate of leftovers in the refrigerator.
“Did you sleep okay last night?” Brendon asked, addressing me.
“Oh yes, like a baby. You?”
“Uh huh… though it was a bit cold on the other side of the house.”
“That’s the dang furnace, Ignatius. Mr. Butterworth didn’t do a very good job of keeping it maintained,” Bea called to us from the sink.
“I’ll call a repairman,” I remarked. “At least get a quote. Aren’t you going to come eat with us?”
“Oh no, I already ate,” Bea said cheerily, turning on the faucet and humming a happy tune.
“But you set a plate,” I remarked.
Bea continued humming. “What dear?”
“A plate… you set a third plate?”
“Oh yes, that’s for the ghost.”
Brendon and I exchanged weird looks.
“The ghost?” I repeated, my voice slightly hitching.
“Oh yes, dear, this big old estate, there’s always ghosts in places like these,” Bea called to us. “And ghosts have appetites just like we do.”
I rolled my eyes. “Ghosts!” I whispered loudly. “That’s rich!”
Brendon shrugged. “I’ll eat the extras. These are so good. They’re going to ruin my waistline,” he slid over one seat and began eating the “ghost’s” plate. “So did you enjoy my gift last night?”
I froze, feeling incredibly awkward. How’d he know?
“I bet you looked hot in it. Am I right?” he grinned between bites.
My eyes widened. “I…”
Bea cut me off. “I can give you the name of our usual repairman, Kassiopeia. I’m sure he’d be able to come over soon. He has a fairly flexible schedule.”
“Thank you,” I called over my shoulder and glared at Brendon.
“What?” he smirked.
I kicked him under the table.
“Listen,” he coughed. “Kass, this has been fun. But I’ve gotta get home and shower and change for work. I left the receipt for you-know-what on the hall table. Don’t feel obligated to keep it. You can return it or exchange it for something more appropriate. It’s up to you,” he wiped his mouth on his napkin. “Your parents? What time do they get in?”
Without skipping a beat! “Their flight gets in at two.”
“Well enjoy their visit,” he stood up from the table and walked over to the sink. “Bea, I’ve never had better pancakes in my life. You simply must give me the recipe sometime,” he gave her a hug.
She gave a delighted little “oh.”
“Bye Berns,” Brendon waved and stepped from the kitchen. “Take care of yourself.”
“Bye,” I said softly.
Well that was anticlimatic! Oh come on Kass, what were you expecting? A kiss? I flushed even at the thought. I guess it was nice Brendon left the receipt. I still hadn’t decided. I wondered if the store would let me return the items already worn.
“So your young man is nice,” Bea was saying.
I froze. Bea’s interruption brought my thoughts back to reality and the awkwardness of the situation.
I grimaced. “He’s not my man, Bea. He’s just a…” A what, Kass? “A friend and co-worker.”
“Well, he seems so nice,” Bea smiled, scrubbing the stove top. “So what are your plans today? I heard Brent say your parents are coming?”
“Brendon!” I corrected. “And yes… my Mamma and stepfather will be here this afternoon.”
“Oh how wonderful! I’ll make sure we have extra linens and fresh towels,” Bea said excitedly. “This old house needs more love in it, and more company besides the ghosts and me, of course.”
“Bea, I’m sure there aren’t any ghosts,” I laughed. “And the ‘rents will appreciate the efforts.”
“Oh don’t you be so sure, dear,” Bea said, her tone sounding grave. “I’ve seen ’em with my own eyes. They don’t take kindly to being dismissed.”
“Okay, sure,” I shrugged and smiled. “I’m going to go take a hot bath. Thank you for breakfast.”
“You’re welcome,” Bea waved a sponge in the air at me and began humming again.
Ten minutes later I was ready to step into my bath. The steam rose fogging up the double gilded mirrors. The tub’s paint may have been peeling, but I didn’t care. The hot waters would be soothing to my aching body. I hadn’t been able to shower when I was at the hospital, save a sponge bath. I laid my cell phone down across the room, pressing the play button on the music app. The sweet strains of my favorite jazz music flooded the room. I let the lavender bath cube slip from my fingers. The soap dissolved instantly as it hit the water.
I kicked off my sneakers, and shed my Legacy College sweatshirt, red tee shirt, and sweat pants. They were beginning to smell anyway. I would have to ask Bea where the laundry room was. I slipped between the frothy bubbles, breathing in the heavenly fragrance. This was just what I needed, I thought as I audibly let out an “ahhhhhh!” I soaked for about fifteen minutes.
My relaxing bath was interrupted by the loud cracking. Suddenly, water began gushing out of the side of the porcelain. I jumped to my feet in horror and stepped from the tub. Mortified, I realized the aging tub had broken, probably from the weight of being occupied again after a long time of disuse.
“Llamas!” I howled and reached for the fluffy white bathrobe on the nearby dresser.
There was nothing I could do while the water and bubbles flooded the tile floor. Even my clothes were soaked. I tried to mop it up as best as I could without pulling my stitches. I used every towel I could find. I wiped my brow and sighed in frustration once every last drop had drained. I would have to tell Bea what happened.
“Argh!” I grunted.
Suddenly I got the creepy sensation I was being watched again. I whirled and looked out the window. The same woman dressed in black stood across from me on the lawn below. I let out a yelp and nearly tripped over myself on my way out of the bathroom.
“Bea!” I exclaimed, out of breath, when I ran into the kitchen below.
“Land sakes! Are you okay?” Bea exclaimed, setting down the plates. “I heard the loud crashing and your shrieks upstairs. Is everything all right?”
“The… bath…tub… cracked…” I gasped between breaths.
“Breathe child, breathe,” Bea said worriedly. “The bathtub? Oh I should’ve warned you about old Henry.”
“Henry?” I said, my hand flying to my heart, and my other hand on my knee. “You name… your bathtub?”
“Yes, of course, Henry,” Bea laughed as if I should somehow accept this as common practice.
“And I suppose the dining table is called Holly?” I tried to laugh.
“Nonsense, Dinah,” Bea shook her head.
“Do you see… her…” I pointed out the window to the lawn.
“See who? Dinah?” Bea frowned. “She’s right here where you left her.”
“No… no… no…” I wheezed.
“Darlin’ sit down,” Bea helped me to the chair. “Let me get you some water. Did you run down the stairs? With those stitches in ya? Poor girl. You’re going to give yourself a heart attack.”
“Uh… umm… okay…” I sighed, accepting the glass of water.
After gulping down the liquid, I felt my heart rate slow. Maybe I was imagining things. I nervously stretched my neck to see out the window. The woman wasn’t there. But that was the second time I saw her.
“Is there a woman that lives around here?”
“What do you mean child? Our neighbors down the street are two brothers.”
“Yeah, well, I… okay… I mean a woman though…”
I must’ve sounded stupid.
“Um… short blonde hair, dressed in all black.”
“Oh you must mean Heather Danvers.”
“Yes, Heather is one of the ghosts.”
“Um… Bea… I’m talking a live-flesh-and-bone woman. I’ve seen her in the yard twice now.”
“Yes, that’s Heather.”
“Heather? And you’re sure?”
“Absolutely. Now do you want some tea, dear? Before I call the plumber to check on the pipes… oh! and the repairman for the furnace. You have a busy day ahead of you with the repairs and your parents coming.”
“I guess,” I shrugged and stood up. “I should at least go put some clothes on.”
“Good idea,” Bea smiled and patted my head. “It’ll be all right dear. The ghosts are friendly.”
I shook my head. Crazy Bea! But something told me I should turn around and look one more time. And I was glad I followed my hunch because the ghost… Heather… whoever she was… was in the yard again.
2.8 Coming Soon!
- Will we learn more about Bea Honeywell and the reason she replaced the former caretaker?
- Who are these ghosts Bea keeps referring to?
- How will Kass’s parents visit be?
Author Changes: What’s different?
- Date changes
- Changed Bea’s sister living in Oakland to living in Sunset Valley.
- Gave a name to the furnace, Ignatius.
- Changed “across the street” to “down the street.”