Giving Up The Ghost
Gabbie returned to the den with a mug of tea, which she placed on the table beside the telephone. She’d no sooner sat down and opened THE GREAT GATSBY when a male voice said, “Looks like you’re settling in nice and comfy.”
She leaped up. The book went flying.
“Who’s there? Where are you?” she demanded, her voice croaking as her eyes swept the room.
At first she saw nothing, which was terrifying in itself. Then, in the far corner by the sliding doors, she caught a flutter of movement. She spun around in time to watch the figure of a man grow more solid until it appeared almost, but not quite, a three-dimensional living person.
“No, it’s impossible!” she moaned sinking into the chair, where she huddled, mouth agape, watching him slowly cross the room.
“Cam!” The name escaped her lips as if it had a life of its own.
“That’s me, all right. Cameron Franklin Leeds. In the spirt if not the flesh.” He leaned against the edge of the desk, his arms crossed in a casual pose.
Mesmerized, Gabbie stared at the ghost of a man whose striking good looks outstripped her imagination. Khaki shorts and a short-sleeved rugby shirt showed off his lean, athletic build. Black hair framed a square face of even features that reminded her of Warren Beatty in his heyday.
He flashed her a grin. “Hey, relax. I’m one of the good guys.”
She frowned. “That’s good to know, only I wish you weren’t here.” She shook her head. “You aren’t here. You can’t be here.”
She closed her eyes, praying she was in the middle of a dream and he’d disappear. But when she opened her eyes again he was still perched against the desk, waiting patiently for her attention.
She feared she was losing her mind. No, she was hallucinating – creating the image she thought she could see, because of what she’d been told about the man who had died while living in this cottage. Except that wouldn’t fly. Last night, when she’d sensed his presence and heard his voice, she’d known nothing about Cameron Leeds. How bizarre and unnerving. But at least he showed no signs of being hostile.
“Are you a ghost?” she finally ventured.
“I suppose. Or we might use another term if you prefer: phantom, wraith, apparition, specter. All euphemisms, wouldn’t you agree?”
Gabbie shrugged, refusing to get caught up in his semi-flirtatious banter. She remembered what Lydia and Darren had said about his reputation with women and mentally agreed that any susceptible female might fall victim to his charms.
Yes, she was shaken by his ghostly appearance, but totally impervious to his appeal! This knowledge broke the spell that had rooted her and she was free to move.
“I’m going to make myself a cup of tea,” she declared as she strode out of the room.
“You have one on the table,” he called after her. When she didn’t answer, he said, “Please come back.”
She caught the urgency in his voice and spun around. “Look, I need to be by myself.”
“But I have to talk to you.”
Oddly enough, he made no attempt to follow her, but stood hovering just inside the den.
“At least tell me your name,” he shouted.
“It’s Gabbie. Gabbie Meyerson,” she answered.
And then it dawned on her. He couldn’t follow her! He could only manifest inside the den! Though Cam continued to call to her, she didn’t respond. Eventually he fell silent.
In the kitchen she braced herself against the sink and breathed deeply to regain her equilibrium.
“There’s a ghost in the den waiting to talk to me,” she said aloud to get some sort of grasp on the situation.
It sounded weird. It was weird. She’d heard of people who communicated with spirits and with the dead, but certainly no one she’d ever known. Yet, beneath the trauma and strangeness of it all, she sensed exhilaration. A barrage of questions arose in her mind, questions that demanded answers.
However, it took considerable effort to return. She’d had enough excitement in her life these past eighteen months to last a lifetime. She longed for peace and a quiet life. But her curiosity, her need to know, finally impelled her to the den. Gabbie hoped he’d been gone, hoped she’d fallen asleep while working and had an unusually vivid dream.
But she hadn’t been dreaming. Cam stood in front of the bookcase. Was it her imagination or was he more transparent? At any rate, he was eager to see her.
“I’m glad you came back, Gabbie. I need to talk to you.”
“Why? You don’t even know me.”
He waved that away. “I know you now. And I can tell you’re intelligent and resourceful as well as a stunning, sexy woman.”
“No personal remarks,” she warned, “or I’m out of here. Don’t tell me I’m the only person you’ve made contact with.”
Cam sighed and nodded. “You are. I wasn’t about to scare the women from the cleaning service half to death.”
“But you didn’t mind scaring me,” she said wryly.
“Only because I desperately need to talk to you.” To emphasize his urgency he moved closer, chilling her. Gabbie leaped back and upset the table beside the recliner, spilling her tea.
“Sorry,” he apologized. “I don’t mean to frighten you.”
“It’s the cold,” she said, hugging herself.
“I’ll try to remember. This is so weird for me.”
“That makes two of us,” she murmured. “But what did you need to talk about? Why have you come back?”
“To find out who murdered me.”