Hecate’s social life is looking up. Her sister is getting married, the new brother-in-law-to-be is a really good guy, and his family is helping Hecate fill in the gaps of her knowledge of what the hell she is.
Her grandfather’s ghost is convinced that she needs to become a ghost hunter in her family tradition. She has attempted to tell him that her way is more appropriate, but it is hard to get a new idea into the minds of the deceased.
When her grandfather’s assistant arrives, Hecate is in for a shock. Not only is he pale as marble, but he is also as solid as the stone as well.
She doesn’t have time to deal with the new arrival. Her sister’s wedding venue has had a disaster strike, and the search is on for a new one. Hecate goes with them when they locate a prospective replacement. There is only one problem. It is the most haunted building in the province. It’s a good thing that Hecate has cleared her calendar for the week before the event. She has some work to do.
“You are not serious enough about this, Hecate.”
She looked at him through narrowed eyes and yawned. “About what, Grandfather?”
“About your role as a ghost hunter.”
“I am not a hunter. I am an expediter, extractor, or remover. I don’t hunt them; I go when I am called.”
He muttered, “You should take an interest in breaking the family curse.”
She groaned and sat up, swinging her legs out from under her blankets. “Right now, I have an interest in a carafe of coffee and some hot breakfast. Is it even dawn yet?”
He blustered and got out of her way as she walked through her house and into her kitchen. Making coffee on automatic was something she had been doing for years.
She put pastries into the toaster, verified the setting, and pushed the lever down.
“You do not have a good diet. You consume too many calories.”
She gave the form of her grandfather a dark look as her coffee began to emit its life-giving scent. “I burn eight thousand calories on a day when I work. My body is constantly in a battle to keep itself heated and functioning. Being half-ghost and half-human is not something that comes with a lite grocery bill.”
She poured a coffee and took the cup out to the deck, where she watched the eastern sky turn pink.
In the last fourteen days, she had taken care of a jealous poltergeist that she had almost forgotten about, met her grandfather’s ghost, and been invited to the rehearsal dinner for her sister’s wedding. There were a few more ghosts extracted and released and the daily routine that never seemed to stabilize, but she was getting better at juggling.
“You need a structure to build on your strengths. Your instinct for your skills is tremendous, but there is never an excuse to reject education.”
“I will gladly welcome education. I just need materials to study.”
“Domerik should be here shortly. I don’t understand the holdup.”
She sipped at her coffee and muttered, “I think he had to hire a truck.”
“When you made it clear that he was arriving with the furnishings, I knew that he had to bring them properly, at least for this community. I called Domerik back and explained things, so he was transporting stuff over and hauling it here in a purchased sea container. This community is small, and if something simply appeared without any means of approach, people would talk.”
“Ah. What did he say?”
“He would be driving in this week.” She smiled.
Ulysses was shocked. “I didn’t know he could drive.”
Hecate gave her grandfather’s ghost a stare. “I thought he was your driver.”
“No, he is a butler, assistant, and archivist.”
“Oh. Well, your question is answered. He’s about five minutes out. I just heard air brakes from the highway turn.”
“How do you know it is not for someone else?” He crossed his arms.
“You don’t understand how small this town really is. I would have heard if there were any other shipments coming in.” She smiled and headed in to get her toaster pastries and more coffee.
Four minutes later, a semi made its way down her drive with a forty-foot sea container hitched to it. She smiled, got up, and walked in front of the slowly moving vehicle, waving it on to the site that she had prepared for it.
The driver got out, and they discussed the placement of the doors. He made a slow loop around and then backed up until he was in front of the site. The bed the container was on tipped, and the sea can was gently eased into place, settled down with a thud, and when Hecate signed for the receipt, he handed her the keys.
All of the chains were unhitched, the transport bed was locked back in place, and the semi made its way off her property, leaving only the sea container behind.
Ulysses looked at the metal box. “It is most unseemly.”
“This is the country. And the new world, for that matter. Practical wins until I can arrange to have a proper outbuilding built for it.” She flicked through the keys and went to the unit, figuring out which way the key went in the lock before popping the first of three of them.
“How do you even know how to open it?”
She paused and turned to him with a frown. “Unsettled ghosts were often killed in this kind of container. I needed to get in, so I learned.”
Once the locks were off, she lifted the vertical posts that locked the doors into the base of the container via their handles. The metal moved with a hard squeak and a screech. She hauled the door outward, and it swung open and to the side.
Her grandfather stepped toward the door, and he called out, “Domerik!”
A figure stirred in the darkness of the stacked boxes. “Do I hear your call, Wakeman?”
Hecate was standing right in his path with the light blazing behind her. “You hear your old master, and you hear my voice once again. It is good to see you in person, Domerik.”
He stepped toward her, and he was a match to the deep voice that she had listened to over the phone. “Miss Wakeman? You have your grandfather’s eyes.”
He bowed low and looked up with bright, twinkling green eyes. The rest of him was more suited to a Nordic bodybuilder than a librarian. His blonde hair was tied neatly at the nape of his neck, and he smiled brightly when he stood straight in front of her again.
“Miss Wakeman, I stand ready to serve you as I have served six generations of Wakemans before you.”
Hecate stepped back. “Uh...”