Kandy’s fingers wrapped around the sword handle. “Does it look like I need help?”
When faced with a threat, one should respond to such a question with a shake of a head, but Peter had another thought. Whatever trouble Kandy was in, it was obvious to him that she needed something. And he needed rid of her strange ghostly interruptions. This was his restaurant, and he wasn’t about to let some possessive, confused Itoril wreck his business.
“I have your blood,” said Peter. He didn’t actually have the blood or the serum since the canister had been stolen, but he didn’t want to anger Kandy any more than necessary. Anyway, he intended to get the canister back.
“Get out of my home, Peter Gray!”
The sound of the sword ringing free was cut off by a crushing silence, and Peter fell back in his chair. Kandy lunged through a churning fog filling the room, and the desk became pale. The walls paled as well until he could see through them. The room was a ghost except for Kandy and himself. His chair crashed onto the floor flipping him sideways onto the nearly transparent floor. His eyes bulged at the sight of apparitions within the dining room below.
Peter glanced up in time to see the blade flashing into ethereal blur, and the sword wielder melt away into dark fog. As Kandy disappeared, the room returned to its normal color. Sound burst into his ears; clamor from the dining room and the booming laughter of a man.
Feeling like puking his guts out, he climbed to his feet.
Standing in the doorway, arms folded, Tara sneered on the verge of laughing. Her cruel gaze pierced into Peter with a pang to his heart. On the side of her face, just under her hairline, blood slid down forming a trail to her her cheek. Like a valve gradually opening, the stream widened, dark crimson splattering onto her blouse.
Peter’s jaw dropped open. Tara didn’t seem to notice her injury and began to laugh.
“What’s the matter, little brother?” said Tara. Head rolling back, she laughed sharply. “Cat got your tongue?”
“Tara,” said Peter. Stomach churning, he coughed and held his gut. “What the hell happened?”
Tara cackled, the crisp laughter fading away into a silent mime. And then she faded, too. The pale ghost stood there, shoulders shaking and belly jiggling, until a white wisp curled around in the air in her place. A second later, the wisp was no more.
Taking a deep breath, Peter willed his body into motion. He ran down the stairs. “Tara can’t be a ghost,” he said. “She just can’t be.” He galloped to the front, darting around Laura carrying three full plates in her arm, and raced to the group photograph hanging on the wall. He counted everyone, the entire crew, all except Tara whom had taken the photograph from beside the bar.
Nine fell in beside him. “What’s wrong, Peter?” Her voice cracked with worry.
“Tara took the photo,” said Peter. He met Nine’s concerned gaze. “Remember? On opening night. Tara took the picture with Beth’s phone.”
“No, Peter,” said Nine. Slowly, she shook her head.
“She had too! We’re all here.”
“Beth propped her phone on the end of the bar,” said Nine.
Peter shook his head. He couldn’t have imagined Tara taking the photograph.
“She set it to timer,” said Nine, “so we all could be in the picture.”
Arms crossed, Laura crept closer flashing a curious gaze between Nine and Peter.
“What about my sister?” He recalled how Nine had ignored Tara earlier outside the office, but his thoughts turned back to opening night. Hadn’t anyone spoken to Tara. Nine had been right there with the coffin. “Tara was there an opening night. She was with us.”
Face growing long, Nine shook her head. “I’ve never met your sister, Peter.”
He glanced at Laura, and she immediately shook her head. No one in the restaurant had ever spoken to Tara, but him.