Affairs of the Dead
Help ghosts, stop a thief, and try not to die…
Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she’s bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible—if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene’s partner, didn’t pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan.
But when the whole mess puts Selene’s life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan’s body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don’t follow the rules…
Chapter OneI was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid, which was challenging but not impossible. It was just extremely taxing on the necromancer extraordinaire (me) who had to channel energy into the ghost to make her corporeal enough to entice one of the stripper boys. Technically what I was doing was illegal, but it was my job to help ghosts settle their affairs so they could move on to eternally ever after, and Julia’s unfinished business was that she’d died a virgin. I’d made it as easy as I could for her by starting at a strip club; if she couldn’t get some here, I wasn’t sure how much lower I could scrape the barrel.Julia’s prolonged virginity was an enigma to me, even though she told me that she’d been waiting for her soul mate. I just didn’t understand why that meant she couldn’t hit up a bar; get drunk; and have a fun, regret-filled weekend that included the walk of shame. At least she’d have been in better shape once Soul Mate came around.“What do you think about him?” I asked, pointing at one of the three oiled-up men who were gyrating for the benefit of all the screaming women. He had blond hair and green eyes and wasn’t overly muscular. Julia looked at him, then quickly looked away. I took that as a sign of approval.“I think this was a b-bad idea,” she said.“This was a fantastic idea,” I said. “And it will work, don’t worry.”“No, I mean, I don’t think I can do this. I waited my whole life for my soul mate and now you want me to just…” She stole another quick look at the stripper. “I don’t think I can do this with some random…stripper man. It’s so indecent.”I rolled my eyes. “Julia, you’re a ghost; you no longer have the option of being discerning. And if you don’t wrap up what’s keeping you around, you run the risk of turning into a monster. Then it’s an even bigger pain in the ass to get rid of you. So let’s call our efforts here at Bump and Moan choice A, and murderous monster choice B. Which choice would you like to make?”“A,” Julia said, but she didn’t sound happy about it. I smiled and grabbed a couple of drinks off the tray of a passing waitress. I set them down in front of Julia.“Drink,” I said. “This will help.”“I’m a ghost,” she said. “I thought I was unable to eat or drink.”“You can feel the effects of the alcohol since you’ll be working off my energy, so drink up. I’ve pegged you as a lightweight so I think two drinks will be enough.”“But how is this supposed to help?” she asked, frowning.“Because its job is to help,” I said. Julia sighed, then picked up one of the glasses and took a tiny sip, after which she wrinkled her nose and attempted to put the glass down. I stopped her.“Drink it fast. I literally don’t have enough energy to sit here all night while you sip.”It took a bit of persuading, but I was able to get her to down both glasses in about fifteen minutes. Since she was using my energy, I felt the effect of the alcohol too, but I was far from a lightweight. Julia, however, was now gaping at the men with a loopy grin on her face. I urged her to use dollar bills to try and entice blond boy over, and she did so willingly. When he bent down so she could slip the money into his thong, he jerked back after feeling how cold her fingers were and stared at her with wide eyes. I stood and pulled Julia up with me. She stumbled against me and giggled.“G-ghost?” he said, looking from Julia to me.“That she is,” I said. “But a pretty ghost, wouldn’t you say?”The photo I’d seen of Julia when she was alive was of a petite woman with auburn hair and light blue eyes. In death, she looked like a washed-out version of herself, and as with all ghosts, there was a white glow ever present around her body, though with me thrusting my energy into her, the glow had faded enough that it was barely noticeable. Still, she was a pretty ghost. Stripper boy frowned, then slid his eyes back to Julia.“She’s…a little creepy.” He flinched as Julia languidly ran her finger down his bicep. “Is she drunk?”“I like a man who’s perceptive,” I said. “I’ll cut to the chase. How would you like to have sex with Julia?” If his jaw could actually detach and hit the floor like in cartoons, it would have. He gave a nervous laugh.“You…you’re joking, right?”I took out my badge and held it close to his face so he could see it in the dim lighting. “My name is Selene Vanream, and I’m a necromancer with Affairs of the Dead. I’m sure you’re aware of what businesses like ours do in regard to ghosts that hang around after their physical bodies die, correct?”He nodded.“Great. Well, Julia happened to die a virgin, and in order for her to float on to the afterlife, she has to resolve her unfinished business. Therefore, I was hoping you…I didn’t catch your name by the way.”“Justin…”“Justin, I was hoping you’d be willing to help Julia by taking her to one of the private rooms and”—I leaned closer—“showing her a good time.” I finished with a wink. Justin didn’t lose his frozen, jaw-dropped expression. I gave him a moment so he could let it sink in, and Julia continued to paw at him. Finally, Justin closed his mouth and attempted speech.“I, uh, I don’t think I can. I mean she’s not…she’s not real, so how would I even…you know. I mean…”“Well, Justin, I’m currently sharing energy with Julia in order to make her tangible. She’s touching you, isn’t she?”He looked down at the touchy-feely ghost and moved out of her reach.“And I can up the ante and make it so she doesn’t feel quite so cold,” I continued. “So you see, other than the fact that you know she’s a ghost, it would feel just like sex with any other girl. Well, maybe a little better, since she’s untouched and all.”Justin shook his head and straightened, taking a few steps back. “I’m sorry, this is just too weird. I can’t…I can’t do that to a ghost. That’s wrong, it’s totally wrong.”“I can understand the aversion,” I said. “But I would hate for Julia to turn into a beastie because she didn’t tie up her loose ends. So many lives could be lost…”“No, no way,” Justin said, backing up some more and almost bumping into one of the other men. He looked around as though he’d forgotten he was half-naked on a stage surrounded by dollar throwing women. His gaze returned to me. “I’m sorry, lady, there’s just no way.”Time to play my ace card.“I’m willing to pay you five thousand dollars,” I said, holding up a stack of bills I’d fished out my handbag. Justin’s eyes dropped to the money, then up to my face, then over to the drunk ghost hanging off my arm. Finally, he closed his mouth, hopped off the stage, and walked past us.“I know an empty room we can use,” he said.I grinned, grabbed my bag, and towed Julia after him. I knew my best bet for getting her laid would be in a strip club where money came first and dignity was a distant second.