The continuing adventures of Lizzie Bell, semi-retired ghost hunter and reluctant exorcist. When last seen, Lizzie had just banished a spirit that seemed to have something sinister up its sleeve…(part 8) (from the beginning)
Caroline Lawlor soon joined us in the living room.
“Emily’s asleep,” she said. The sight of us slumped in her (beautifully upholstered) armchairs with a bottle of red wine open on the coffee table hadn’t even given her pause — she fetched a glass from the kitchen and poured herself a generous amount.
“She’ll probably sleep a lot in the next few days,” I said. “Possession takes it out of a girl.”
“You shouldn’t be alarmed if she’s disoriented or withdrawn,” Father O’Leary added. “Those are common side effects. She’ll be back to normal in a week or so.”
“If she’s not, let me know,” I said.
Caroline sighed. “I don’t even know how to thank you.”
“Really, you don’t have to.” I could feel a flush creeping up my neck, though that might just have been the wine.
“I do. You –both of you — saved my little girl.” She was tearing up. “There has to be some way I can repay you.”
Father O’Leary set down his glass. “Please, Mrs. Lawlor. This is part of my job.”
She turned to me. “And you, Elizabeth? Can I –”
“No.” I shook my head. “I’m here as a favor to a friend. No payment necessary.”
I set down my wine glass. Its bottom clinked loudly against the painted ceramic coaster. “How about instead of arguing about payment, we try to figure out how this happened? What’s Emily’s usual routine?”
Caroline frowned. “School started a few weeks ago; either my husband or I drop her off in the morning, and her nanny picks her up in the afternoon. Three days a week she has a ballet lesson; Wednesdays are her piano lesson and Fridays are free for playdates.”
“And nothing’s changed recently? Any new objects entered the house?” Caroline was shaking her head. “Anything at all out of the ordinary?”
“No, I don’t think so. I’m sorry — I just want this to be over.”
I sighed. “I understand. Believe me, I understand. But the fastest way to put this behind you is to get to the root of the problem.”
Caroline brushed her hair behind her ear, her brow furrowed. “I don’t understand. You banished the ghost. Didn’t you?”
“I heard that Emily had been possessed multiple times.”
“Well, yes, but I thought you were supposed to be some kind of expert.”
I suppressed my laugh; no need to be cruel. “Never mind,” I said soothingly. “I’m sure it’s gone. But I’d like to make absolutely certain this doesn’t happen again.”
“No, certainly not.”
“Can I come back and talk to Emily? After she’s fully recovered. Maybe she noticed something unusual that she didn’t tell you about.”
Caroline bristled. “Emily would have told me if something was wrong.”
“It might have appeared innocuous. Please, Mrs. Lawlor.”
Father O’Leary leaned forward. “Elizabeth is trying to help.”
Caroline sighed. “All right. All right.”
I didn’t stay much longer; I had a packed class schedule the next day and a lot of work to do. Caroline Lawlor tried one more time to pay me, and I turned her down again, though she talked me into taking $20 for a cab ride home. I shot Corinna a text as I rode the elevator down: Situation normal. Heading home.
Seconds later my phone vibrated in my hand. “That was fast,” I muttered, swiping across the screen. But it wasn’t a reply from Corinna.
Hey Lizard. No call? I’m hurt. I know you know I’m in town.
Devon. I ignored the text.
Moments later, another buzz. Don’t be an ass. Grab dinner with me tomorrow?
Brothers. He’d harass me until I gave in — Devon wins the Stubborn Olympics every time, hands down.
I walked out into the lobby; the doorman stepped into the street to hail me a cab. Fine, I texted. Dinner tomorrow. Metro Diner. I got a smiley face with its tongue out back.
“Good night, ma’am,” said the doorman, holding open the cab door.
I forced a smile. “Thanks.” I got in the car, gave the cabbie my address, and settled back with my eyes closed. Exorcism took it out of a girl, too.
I mentally reviewed the upcoming week’s schedule. Dinner with Devon, an interview with Emily, research for Henry…”Shit!” I swore.
“All right, miss?” the cabbie asked.
“Yeah, fine.” I growled, a noise of pure frustration. “I just remembered I have an exam on Tuesday.”
And that’s why I “retired” in the first place. Henry was going to owe me big time when this was over.