Disclaimers: The characters are mine. The sheets are mine. The toilet is yours . . .
Thanks: As always, to my own two action heroes, GreenMoon, Warrior Master - Beta, and her trusty side - kick, Brenda the Battling Beta, who let me go out and play in the sandpit while they did grownup Beta stuff.
© October 2006
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The lace curtain in the attic fluttered. Two sets of pale eyes watched curiously as a silver SUV pulled up in the driveway of the house. "She's here . . . "
The sound of the lock releasing echoed through the empty house. Priory McAllister stepped over the portal of her latest acquisition. This particular piece of real estate she had claimed as her very own, a turn - of - the - century three - storey Victorian manor complete with elegant lead glass windows. She had no idea why she had the sudden urge to live in suburbia but here she was.
"Come on! I don't pay you to just stand there! Get your butt into gear." Jacey Ryder was getting a little sick and tired of her boss always putting her down. If it wasn't for that friggin' astronomical salary that the nasty heifer paid her she would have been so outta there months ago. Jacey could barely even see the house let alone where to plant her feet, her vision obscured by a large cardboard box, one of many she would be moving on her day off.
"Put it down anywhere." Her assistant started to drop the box. "Easy, will ya!"
"Yes, Ms McAllister," she muttered. Jacey had been working for this viper for a year and she still wasn't considered good enough to call her by her first name. 'Turkey Buzzard' was the nickname the office gave the woman because she was a scavenger. Priory considered herself a corporate raider. A rather good one, or so she thought. The rest of the world knew that she was nothing but a glorified guppy in a tank full of great whites.
"Well, are you waiting for the spirit to move you or what? Start moving those boxes in here!"
"Yeah well, why don't you get that ass of yours moving . . . " Jacey muttered as she went outside to grab another box.
"What did you say?" came the booming reply.
"Ah, coming Ms McAllister." All her little happy plans for Halloween had gone right out the damn window when she came into work on Friday. She could have said 'no' but the look in McAllister's eyes told her she probably wouldn't be coming into work Monday. Damn it! She had bought all that candy and everything. Maybe she could just leave it by the front door for everyone. Nah, the dogs would get to it long before the kids ever did.
Juggling a couple of smaller cartons, Jacey stopped short in the doorway. There in front of her was her boss, leaning over on the staircase to pick something up, her ass stuck up in the air. Good God! The damned woman has these long luscious legs and this simply spectacular ass . . . and the manners of a friggin' harpy! Now if the harpy part just keeled over everything would be perfect.
"What?" Jacey hadn't noticed that Priory had turned around and was watching her vacant expression.
"Errr . . . nothing." What is there to say? 'I've got the hots for you but you are such a bitch you've got no chance in hell.' Yeah, Jacey, good one. Ha, ha! Score one for the home team.
"I've got a run in my hose or something?" Bright blue eyes dropped to the backs of her legs. Priory just couldn't put on a pair of jeans in front of her assistant. She was an executive and executives always wore power suits. Didn't they? Now that she thought about it, it was a ridiculous notion. She was gonna pay big time if she continued to go up and down these stairs in these damned heels she was wearing. Still, she was getting some interesting looks from Jacey. Why hadn't she noticed that before?
"You know, Ms McAllister, it might have been a lot quicker just to hire a mover to do all this." Jacey held her breath for the backlash.
Ah, screw it. "Call me Priory, Jacey. Since it looks like we're gonna be spending the weekend together . . . "
Jacey's heart skipped a beat. Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Priory? Who are you and what have you done with my boss?
"Help me find the box with my jeans in it, will you? Of course, if you tell anyone I even own a pair I'll deny it." It didn't feel half bad to be herself and let her hair down. Speaking of which . . . . She reached to the back of her head and pulled out the clasp holding it up, allowing the dark locks to cascade down over her shoulders.
Jacey gasped. It was . . . wow! The transformation was instantaneous and... dramatic. The woman was actually... smiling? Jacey didn't know she could do that, having only seen the constant scowl that was tattooed on her face.
"Wow . . . " she whispered.
Priory blinked. "Ah, thank you . . . " She muttered back.
"Huh? Oh God . . . " Did I say that out loud? Jacey did an about turn and ran out of the house, losing her embarrassment in the mass of packing boxes in her SUV. "I can't believe I said that . . . " Her blonde hair covered her reddening face as she felt her boss move up along side her.
"Nothing . . . " Grabbing another box, any box, Jacey strode quickly up the path to the porch steps, wanting to put as much space between the two of them as she could.
Something had happened. Jacey wasn't quite sure what, but the dynamics between the two of them had shifted. Priory even helped a little. Maybe she was just eager to find those jeans that she didn't own.
"Found them!" Priory was becoming seriously uncomfortable in the ridiculously hot suit and the crippling high heeled shoes. "Now where are my damned tennis shoes . . . " She continued to rustle through the boxes until she found a suitable ensemble to wear. Her eyes slipped over to her assistant, sliding over the compact body bending and stretching with movement. Hmmm . . . nice. Very nice indeed. She toyed with the idea of coming onto the young woman but somehow that wretched morality streak surfaced, warning her not to play that game. She knew if she wanted to play it was going to have to be for real.
Priory put aside the thought and staggered up the staircase to find the bathroom to change. She had the house cleaned before the furniture was moved in. Banisters were slick and the floors shiny. All evidence of its neglect had been removed. The house had been on the market for a while, and before that possession changed hands quickly and frequently. She wondered why that was. Sure, it had all the problems any old house would have. In a moment of madness she had signed on the dotted line anyway and became the final owner in a long line of many owners. Still, it was a bit curious.
She opened a couple of doors before locating the bathroom and she felt like she had stepped back in time. Light brown terra cotta tiles covered the floor surrounded by floral tiles as a border. Under the frosted lead glass window was a claw tub, its gleaming surface glistening in the muted light.
Priory ran her hand over the clean surface, her mind enjoying the image of having a long hot bubble bath in it. Her eyes rose to the ancient porcelain taps hovering over it. The plumbing, however, will have to go. She was aware that both the plumbing and the wiring would need replacing but that didn't faze her. The architecture was a work of art and more than made up for the lack of modern facilities.
She stepped out of her shoes, a sigh escaping her lips as toes came into contact with the cool tile floor. What in the name of God had possessed her to wear high heels to a house moving? Long, tapered fingers reached behind to undo the button and zipper of the tailored form fitting skirt, allowing the material to slide sensuously down her long legs. Mmmmm....
It was turning out to be an interesting weekend. Not what she expected at all. Priory moved to the mirror, watching the woman looking back at her. All paint and polish. She stepped forward to take a closer look, taking in the small lines and indents that now marked her, remnants of a stressful business environment.
As she was staring at herself in the mirror her left cheek started to suddenly ripple, slowly running down her face to hang like dog saliva to her chin. Frantically, she tried pushing it back in place, the skin feeling soft and pliable like dough. What the hell . . . ? As she watched, her eyebrow shifted upwards to a comical degree, twitching like a demented centipede. This was not happening. She covered her face, dropping her head towards the wash basin. "I'm going nuts . . . Yeah, that's it. Too much stress at work." She splashed cold water onto her tingling skin, looking up at the final result and screaming.
The sensations assaulting her face were strange, almost like someone poking her. She looked like a Picasso. Not only was her cheek dented and her eyebrow hovering up near her hairline but the strands of her hair were standing straight up on end. Her hands rose to cover her face, her mouth expelling an agonized cry.
"Hey, are you alright up there?" Jacey's muted voice rose up the staircase.
"Oh God!" she squealed.
The blonde was at the doorway in a matter of seconds, two hands clutching the doorframe for support. "What? What? What's wrong?"
"Don't look at me! It's horrible!"
"What's horrible? What's going on?" Whatever was horrible didn't include Priory's body. That spectacular ass was on full display and shot up to number one with a star on Jacey's list of pros for her boss.
"My face. Oh God, my face!"
Jacey moved over, grabbing her boss's hands. Those fingers were so warm and strong. The hands were added to her mental list as a positive. She gently pulled, increasing her pull as Priory resisted the move. "Come on, show me," she chided gently. She had never seen her boss flustered before. She liked this human side to her, becoming another addition to the positive list.
The blonde studied the face in her hands. "Now, what's wrong with your face?"
"Huh?" Priory wrenched herself away from her assistant, stepping once more in front of the mirror. "But . . . but . . . my face was all over the place! My . . . my cheek was hanging off my chin!"
"Ewww, gross." Her boss had some imagination. The list came out again. On the con side she put an asterisk against harpy and added mental instability. Why was it that all the gorgeous ones were nuts?
Priory looked again, leaning forward to study each and every pore on her face. She opened the medicine cabinet sitting behind the mirror as if expecting to find the meaning of life there. The mirrored glass closed and the brunette shook her head. "Well, it has been a tough week," she muttered.
"Tell me about it . . . " Jacey whispered, earning her a heated glare from the woman in the mirror. "Well, it was . . . " What an understatement that was. One foreclosure and two takeovers, and on top of that was this move that had destroyed any possibility of a sleep in. God, sometimes she hated her job.
"What do you think you are doing?"
"Huh? You were in here screaming . . . "
"Well, I'm not now! Get out!" Her hands swiveled over her body, vainly trying to cover the semi - nakedness. All it managed to do was to draw Jacey's eyes over her. "Go! G'wan, scat!" Priory made a shooing motion, shuffling the small woman out the door. She returned to the mirror, again checking for any sign of her nose sliding off her face, finally shaking her head and dismissing it as a random act of madness. You need a vacation girl . . .
That was a bit immature, don't you think?
I'm just getting started . . .
Five minutes later, Priory stepped out of the bathroom, her business suit looped over her arm and feeling a hell of a lot better. The weight on her feet had now shifted and her toes were thanking her profusely for the relief. Hesitating at the top of the stairs, Priory watched her assistant work, now that she was leaning over to reach into one of the boxes. Hmmmm . . . she was seriously tempted to go after the woman but her voice of reason pointed out all the reasons not to. She absently swatted her shoulder, as if squashing her little voice of reasoning's incessant blabbering.
At that precise moment, Jacey's emerald eyes caught her standing there, a gentle smile touching the young woman's lips. Why had she never noticed her before? She knew why. She was too busy playing big business to notice what was in front of her face all along. "Better?" Priory hoped for a positive response.
"Much." The cherub - like face broke into a grin, exposing dimples that had been rarely seen.
The brunette couldn't help but smile back as she descended the stairs. Things were looking up. That little voice was still buzzing around in her head but she paid it no mind. "Let's get to work, okay?"
"Okay." Seeing her boss in soft denim and delicate cotton made her heart skip a beat. The jeans gently molded to the long legs she had come to love, showing them to good advantage. She now waited in anticipation to see that ass, a mental red marker ready to go berserk on that list of hers.
She held her breath. Oh yeah . . . come on . . . come on....that's it....turn . . . just a little . . . oh, oh, oh . . . She strained her neck as the object of her lust was coming into view. Oh Sweet Jesus! Hallelujah! Yessssssss! Jacey struggled to keep her whimper inside as her boss proceeded to bend over into a deep box. She looked at the little red tag still on the back pocket. You lucky bastard . . .
Her mind started singing, Ooooooo yeah . . . Ooooooo yeahhhhh . . . Then she suddenly became aware that blue eyes were watching her every move. Jacey could feel the blush start again. "Uhhh . . . " Clearing her throat, "Need help there?"
"Ahh, no thanks. I'm fine".
Yes, you most certainly are. Damn.
Lustful thoughts were put aside for a while as they worked quickly and efficiently to unpack the boxes, finding somewhere to put most of the homeless knick knacks. All the heavier items had been moved in earlier in the week, so it was just a matter of cleaning out the day - to - day stuff from her apartment.
"One more trip should do it for today." She looked around the house, pleased to see touches of her life scattered around. "Yeah . . . " Suddenly, this seemed like a good idea. After impulsively buying the house she had some doubts about the acquisition. Now it seemed the best decision she had ever made.
Jacey looked up. Did she still have a chance of getting home for Halloween? "Will you need me after that?"
Disappointment flowed through Priory. She had hoped the woman would have wanted to stay on, but it looked like she was spending the night alone. Like always. "Can I talk you into having dinner with me . . . you know, for helping me out and all?"
"I mean . . . You gotta eat, right?" She was back - peddling and she knew it. Rejection always made her defensive and right now she didn't want to appear lonely and needy. "Never mind. If you have plans then don't let me stop you." With those few words she turned her back, physically ending the conversation.
Jacey's mental red marker went haywire. Damn. That ass again. Ah God, that ass was outlined so perfectly in soft denim, swaying gently as the tall woman walked away. Why was she doing this to herself? Come Monday, the buzzard was back and she was the carcass. Before she could stop herself, she replied, "What did you have in mind?" There the hell goes Halloween . . .
Priory stopped in mid step. A gentle smile touched her lips before she swiveled to face her assistant. She looked at the other woman leaning into a large box, her collar gaping open and giving her a most enticing view of the swell of her breasts. Priory mentally slapped herself at thinking such thoughts, and knew she was changing the rules between them if things went further. Could she look at her assistant the same way come Monday?
At that moment, there was a loud gurgling sound coming from upstairs. "What the hell was that?" Priory took the steps two at a time, her long legs making short work of the staircase. "It seems to be coming from the bathroom . . . " her voice floated away as she moved steadily down the hallway.
Jacey stood at the bottom of the stairs, trying to make out what her boss was saying. "I think it's the plumbing . . . " There was silence for several moments before her boss spoke again, the volume getting steadily louder as the tall woman strode back up the hallway to the top of the stairs. "Nothing to worry about, the toilet's acting up. I knew there were some plumbing problems."
Toilet... Toilet??!! Hey! That was a damn good moan! I got her toilet right here!
Never mind, honey. Next time you'll do an even better one.
Don't pout dear.
I don't pout...
"Now what were we talking about? Oh yeah, dinner. Would . . . would you have dinner with me? Here? Tonight?" Priory thought for a moment. "Oh damn, it's Halloween, isn't it? And . . . and you had plans . . . " She could see that she had hit the mark. "I'm sorry."
Jacey was stunned. First an invitation to dinner, now the woman used the word 'sorry'. She didn't think her boss knew the word. "That's okay. I just had a small arsenal of candy for the kids. I guess I'll be making dentist appointments for the next few months."
Another gurgle, this time even louder, echoed from the bathroom and down the hallway, sending a nasty shuddering rumble flowing through the entire house like flatulence. "Damned pipes. Looks like I'll have to call the plumber on Monday." Priory turned her attention back to the woman at the foot of the stairs. "No, it's fine. I can manage here. Can . . . are you able to help me tomorrow?" Please . . . please . . .
"Sure." Now why did she say that? She had the perfect opportunity to get out of it tomorrow and she just committed herself to working another day. "So . . . what's next?"
"Okay, so...you mind grabbing the next load from my apartment?" The brunette descended the stairs, heading straight for her purse. She extracted a set of keys and a security pass. "Here's everything to get into the apartment and the underground parking garage. If you have any problems just call me." Jacey took the keys and turned to leave, halted by long fingers wrapping around her wrist. Green eyes riveted on the hand on her and her heart beat tripled. What was this woman was doing to her?
"Thank you." The dark, deep voice of her boss flowed over her, filling every crack and niche it could find. Her boss was certainly finding a new vocabulary today, the last two words she was sure had been lobotomized from the woman's brain. But it didn't stop her responding in same. "You're welcome . . . boss." She accompanied the word with a smile, before walking out the front door.
Plumbing? She said . . . plumbing?
Sweetheart, it was a wonderful moan. I think it might have been your finest ever.
She . . . said... plumbing.
Plumbing can be a very dangerous thing, sweetie.
Plumbing... This means war!
Priory stepped out onto the front porch, watching the tail lights from Jacey's SUV disappear around the corner at the end of her street. She looked around her new neighborhood. It sure was different. She had never lived in suburbia before, family homes replacing the nameless doors of her neighbors in her apartment block in the city. These were people with faces, with names and with families. She wondered if it was too late to get involved in this Halloween thing. Maybe a quick trip to the store to grab a few bags... yeah, sounds like a pretty good idea. Certainly couldn't hurt . . .
She had barely stepped back inside the house when the door slammed behind her. Reaching for the knob she tried to open it. Again it slammed shut. She held tight to the ornate knob and pulled, feeling resistance as she tried to move the door. The door opened and closed, see - sawing one way then the other in a battle of wills. "What the hell is going on?" Her deep voice rose to a high - pitched squeal. "Stop it, dammit!" With one final yank, the door swung open with a thud, letting Priory slam against the wall before sliding to the floor in a jumbled heap. She shook herself to stop the little tweety birds flying around her head. The door then slammed shut with a shudder, as if making a final statement to her.
Dylan, this is just childish.
She started it!
She could have gotten hurt!
I didn't touch her! She fell all by herself!
Pffftt. Not my fault she's clumsy...
Time went slowly as Priory arranged the house to her liking. She had moved the furniture around several times. She'd unpacked dishes and books and everything in between while she was waiting for Jacey's return. That damned toilet had acted up again, rattling every pipe in the house. Priory was getting seriously pissed off. How in the hell was she supposed to get any sleep with that obnoxious thing discussing the properties of waste management every few hours?
She's ignoring it! Like there ain't nothin' happenin' here!
Dear, maybe you should just try something else. That obviously isn't working.
Yeah! Well! I'm working all by myself here! I don't see anybody else helpin' any!
Oh... geeze... fine. Stand back. I'll handle it.
Priory carefully unwrapped a Tiffany lamp. She had bought this specifically with the house in mind, hoping to add a little touch of the Roaring Twenties to the décor. Enjoying the moment, she plugged it in and switched it on. A myriad of color burst forth from the stained glass lampshade, bringing a genuine smile to her face. It had cost her a pretty penny to buy but now she saw its value in that one shining moment.
A faint humming seemed to emit from the lamp, echoing through the house, varying in intensity and pitch. "What have I got to do to have something go right?" She had taken special pains to get it delivered, and now it was broken?
The light flickered as the power was cut off but the humming persisted. Unscrewing the warm bulb she checked the filament but nothing looked wrong. Maybe it was the power point. The last thing she needed right now was to hire another contractor besides a plumber for that damn chatty toilet.
She bent her ear towards the ground to listen. Nope. Dammit! Straightening her long frame, Priory stared at the lamp. The noise was getting louder and weirder, rising to match her frustration. Where the hell is Jacey? Now, that woman would find the problem in a flat minute. After all, that's what I paid the woman such a high salary for, wasn't it? To take care of me . . . errrr, to take care of things for me? Yeah!
There she stood in the kitchen doorway, her balled fists planted on her hips. The noise was really starting to piss her off. Was it the gas? A mouse caught under the fridge? Her own imagination springing a leak?
Suddenly the pipes started shuddering upstairs, traveling down to the kitchen and leaving through the tap with a loud pop. The fridge immediately answered back with a high squeal. "I friggin' don't believe this!"
Opening the fridge door, she peered inside hoping that the action would solve the problem. Not knowing whether to be happy or not, she finally settled on the 'not'. "Grrr...Damned fridge . . . " she snorted, slamming the door before stomping back to the front room and her unpacking. Where is Jacey? Shouldn't she be back by now?
Refrigerator, Rhea. You know, the icebox.
Ahhh. A refrigerator? I should be insulted. Phfftt.
Uh huh. Now will you let me take care of this?
Oh, please. Be my guest. Hmm, nice lamp.
The problems just seemed to be piling up beyond Priory's realm of control. For the tenth time she looked at her watch. Where is that damned woman? She needed her and she needed her now. Suddenly the house seemed too big for just one person. It needs the sounds of life like kids . . . or a partner, not like it's going to happen any time soon. Maybe some goldfish? Why was her life not as rosy as it had been this morning?
Still seething over the conversation taking place between the toilet and the fridge, Priory thought it safe enough to unpack some magazines. Unpacking anything breakable at this point would be just that... breakable. The way her day had gone thus far had made her a bit tense. A massage would be nice. Yeah, like that was gonna happen either.
She laid the glossy publications on the stylish coffee table, arranging them in a neat pile. Nervously, she grabbed the top copy and sat down to flip through the color pages. This was no good. Work was what she needed to pass the time. She leaned over to replace the magazine and stopped. She had put them in a neat pile, didn't she? Tidying up, she turned away to sort through a box of knick knacks, taking out a small antique cigarette box and turned back to place it also on the table top.
Okay now. What the hell? The magazine pile was again scattered over the table. She was sure this time that she had stacked them. Suspiciously, she looked around the room for the culprit. What was she expecting? Jacey to jump out and scare the crap out of her?
As she stood there staring, the pages of the magazines began to flip as if blown by a light zephyr that couldn't possibly be there. Priory slowly placed her hand on the publication, closing it and replacing it on the pile.
She turned her back on it, but the sound of shifting paper made her turn around. Wide eyes looked around. "Okay, that's not funny. Who's there?" Not that she was expecting an answer. "What's going on?"
"Get outta my house!" came the booming reply.
Well sugar, you know what I meant. Our house, okay?
Uh huh. So, did you think that is going to send her running and screaming out of here?
It worked before.
Priory collapsed into the large wing - backed chair, the color slowly draining from her face. Her eyes darted back and forth as white - knuckled fingers grasped the arms of the chair. The ensuing silence grated on her nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. She had to get out of here. Ever so slowly, she found her feet, moving carefully across the wooden floor to the door, panicked eyes flickering around in anticipation of the unknown.
Just when she thought she was home free the front door flung open, slamming against the door frame, rattling its hinges. Priory cringed as the glass door made contact with the wall, expecting the glass to shatter. Storm clouds slowly began brewing in her eyes at the blatant disregard for her property. "Hey! Just hold the hell on here! You almost broke my goddamned door!" She examined the wall for a dent. "Who the hell do you think you are? I paid good money for this house and no one or no... THING... is gonna kick me out of it . . . " She screamed at the ceiling. "You listening to me? This house is mine!"
So much for that.
Just.. just... never mind. On to Plan B. Yeah, Plan B!
Yeah. Plan B.
Why do I think Plan B isn't going to be pretty?
The battle lines had been drawn. Priory thought long and hard about what she was going to do. A ghost in the house... in HER house... was most certainly not in her plans. The situation needed rectifying immediately. And she was just the girl to do it! Her eyes widened in delight as an absurdly ridiculous idea popped into her head. Grabbing a sugar bowl, she took off out the back door.
Well, that was easy. See! No need for Plan B now. Ha!
Ya think so huh?
You don't think you're being a little optimistic dear?
Look! She just took off, right out the back door!
And she's running away... with a... a sugar bowl?
Yeah. So she's weird?
Pfffftt. Oh dear...
I said, yes dear.
Half an hour later Priory returned, the sugar bowl filled to the brim with water. When she left the house she had given no thought about getting back in if the ghost decided to lock her out. To her surprise, the door opened easily. Tentatively she stepped inside, carefully balancing the sugar bowl full of water. Immediately she looked up for a bucket of water hovering over the doorway. Now if it was her, the house would be booby trapped. Oops . . . She better not give it any ideas . . .
Looking quickly to the left, then the right, a slow grin began to appear. She strutted forward a bit, a devilish gleam touching her smiling eyes. "Now, smart ass, your keister is mine . . . "
Why didn't you just lock her out?
Where's the fun in that?
Ah, so we're having fun?
Well, sure. Besides, I want to see what she's up to.
Ah, I see now. You want to beat her!
I'm gonna beat her! Cuz I'm better than she is!
Better.... at.... what exactly sweetheart?
Just... just... BETTER.
You are better. To me.
The corporate executive was pacing the upstairs hallway armed with her grandmother's old family bible, a small cross attached to rosary beads and the sugar bowl of water. Firmly clutching the bible to balance the sugar bowl, she began flicking the water around the hall, splashing liberally onto the walls and floor.
"En the num ov gud leev thif hus!" The rosary beads tumbled from her mouth to land in a puddle of water on the floor. "Shit.....ahhh... I mean crap."
What is she doing?
I think... God, I think she's trying to exorcise us.
What? That's crazy. What do we need exercise for?
No, no... watch. I think she is trying to EXORCISE us, you know, like a priest would get rid of a pesky demon.
A PESKY DEMON?! Where?! We have a pesky demon?!
OR... a ghost or something like that.
Ohhhhh, okay. Don't scare me like that! Hmm. Well, she ain't doing it right. And I don't think a padre would say shit either!
"What..... ahhh... what are you doing?" Bright blue eyes opened to see Jacey standing at the top of the stairs. "What is all . . . this?" Jacey's mental list had a bright red mark over the mental instability. She changed it to downright nuts.
"I'm exorcising the ghost in this house!"
"Ghost? There's a ghost in the house? Heyyyy, you know, this is an old house. There are bound to be a few creaks here and there."
"A few creaks?! Yeah! Add the demon possessed toilet and the wailing refrigerator! And the two of them getting together for a party!"
"Wailing refrig....? Okay... wait... hold up a minute. The refrigerator. What happened to the refrigerator?"
"I'm plugging the light in, then there it goes! WHHHAAAWWW! WHHHEEEEEE! WHHHHAAAWWW...."
"Okay, okay! The light is making.....sounds?"
"No! The fridge!"
"Then the fridge and that goddamn toilet start going at it! Together!"
"When did all this happen?"
"After the magazines were all going pfft pfft pfft pfft . . . " Priory's hands spun in an animated fashion. Jacey thought it looked like her boss's thinking.
"I get the picture."
"And of course the front door opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and . . . "
"I hate to tell you boss, but that's what a door does."
"Don't be a smart ass, Jacey. It did it by itself."
"Okay, what exactly is your proof positive that this place is haunted?"
"Well I think the 'GET OUTTA MY HOUSE' was a pretty good sign."
"So what is in that...that sugar bowl...that you are flicking around everywhere?"
"On no, you didn't."
"I sure did." Priory beamed with pride. She had done good.
"You mean to tell me you went down the street, knocked on the door of the church and said, 'Hi, I'm a new neighbor. Can I borrow a... a sugar bowl... of holy water?' " The smile slowly faded on her boss's face. Yep, that was precisely what she had done.
Jacey was flummoxed, without a doubt. Her boss was normally so level - headed, a bitch, yes...but a level - headed bitch. And yet... and yet, here she was trying to exorcise the hallway, or whatever. Mumbling or maybe talking to herself, while flicking water everywhere, rather flicking HOLY WATER everywhere. Flicking Holy Water from a SUGAR BOWL. Where had things gone so wrong?
"There really is a ghost, you know."
"Ahhh....yeah. Right." And she had some prime vacation real estate in the Everglades she'd like to sell the woman. "Come on, let's get some coffee. Okay?" Anything to get her out of the hallway.
"I know you don't believe me." Priory could see that Jacey thought her marble bag had begun to unravel.
"Noooo. I mean yeah! " Oh yeah.
The executive reluctantly left the bible and rosary beads on the top step with a deep sigh, carrying the bowl back to the kitchen. She sat at the table while Jacey made them coffee. "Ahhhh, well.... have you thought any more about dinner?" Maybe a change of topic was in order.
Was she game to have dinner with a crazy woman? Jacey looked into those azure eyes but could see no madness there. The woman truly believed there was a ghost in the house. But there was something else too. Something that was drawing her to answer.
The sound in Jacey's voice bolstered Priory's hopes. "Ahh..Sure! I don't have much here to cook with. What are you in the mood for?"
"Well, it's All Hallow's Eve. Anything goes!"
"Hallow's Eve? Oh damn, I forgot!"
"I was gonna go get some candy . . . " She could see the look of smirking disbelief on her young assistant. "Don't laugh. I figured since I've got to live in the neighborhood I better do something. Looks like I'm too late." Jacey stood and left the kitchen, making her way to the front door. "Was it something I said?" Priory yelled to the empty house.
Several moments later Jacey returned, a large plastic bowl filled with little plastic pumpkin bags in her hands. She deposited it in the middle of the table. "Ta da!"
"So? Is this going to be twenty questions?"
"Go ahead. Look."
Priory shrugged. She was just too emotionally worn out to play games, so she did as she was asked. "I stopped by my apartment and picked up my supplies." Jacey answered before she was asked. "There was no point in letting it all go to waste... or to MY waist for that matter!"
"So you were going to stay all along."
"Well . . . " Pale green eyes looked down shyly at the seated woman. "I wasn't going to but . . . well . . . I changed my mind."
"Changed your mind, huh?"
Jacey continued to make the coffee, placing one of the mugs in front of her boss before taking a seat opposite her. Anything she said at this point was going to get her in trouble, so she said nothing at all.
"Thank you." The two words touched her, hanging gently in the air as if floating.
"You're welcome . . . Priory." Jacey waited for the woman to respond but got nothing. "Priory . . . hmmm."
"What? You don't like my name?" The thought that Jacey disliked her name kind of concerned her.
"No, it's not that at all. It's just so unusual. How did you get it?" She saw her boss hesitate. "Sorry, it's none of my business . . . "
"No . . . no, that's alright. My mom and dad were in England on vacation. Just touring around the countryside. Mom went into premature labor. I was actually born in a Catholic Priory. It's my mom's idea of a joke."
"So you're BRITISH?"
"Nooooo, just born there. I've lived here all my life." Priory hesitated. "If . . . if you'd rather, you can call me by my nickname."
She has a nickname? That surprised Jacey. Priory didn't strike her as a woman with a nickname. "What is it?"
"Abbey?" What's the connection?
"You know. Priory. Abbey. Both are a convent. Kind of stupid, huh? My mother... the comedian."
"Two names for two different people."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Priory for the boss. Abbey for the woman who doesn't own blue jeans. I like it." Jacey showed her dimples again, expressing her happiness.