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The Gold Digger : A Contemporary Novel

Tammy Williams had spent over a decade doing research on Chris Shea. She knew everything there was to know about him: what motivated him, what made him happy, what made him angry, what kept him going. The only thing she didn't know was how to bring him back to life. Because Chris had been dead for a hundred years.

And then, there he was, standing before her, living, breathing, with an impossible grin. Now she knew why most of men in Skagway, Alaska had voted for this charming saloon owner, not once, but three years in a row. And, God-alive, it looked for all the world as if he wanted to kiss her. How could she possibly say no to a look like that?

This will be easy, the man who thought of himself as Chris Shea thought as he hugged the clinging woman to him, her eyes closed. He kissed her forehead without thought or volition. She looked and felt far better than he had ever dreamed. This is much easier than I thought it would be. She wants me badly, and I find myself wanting her. This plan goes far better than I ever anticipated. He smiled and watched the returning beam on her face as she opened her eyes. I’ll bet it won’t even take three months.

By Cate Duncan 

 

If you are a publisher or an agent interested in

THE GOLD DIGGER

please contact Catherine at

montdawn@msn.com


[excerpt]

FOREWARD

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 1986:  Tammy Williams adjusted her grip on her mason’s trowel and started scraping away a thin layer of fine, dark silt away from the corner of the five foot by five foot square excavation in which she sat. Her fingers felt cold. Hell, everything felt cold, even though she dressed right for the temperature. Sitting under an eighty-eight-year old saloon in Alaska in March, no matter how much wool and down wrapped around one’s body, had to be chilly. She was crazy to do archaeology this time year. Crazy, with the passion of a historian who cares more about truth, knowledge and the pursuit of…

 “Whoa, what’s this?” she breathed aloud, as the trowel caught the rounded edge of something soft. Not glass or metal. Bone or wood, she guessed. In very good shape for something organic. A deer or sheep long bone, probably, she thought, with the rounded ball sticking out. But as she carefully scraped the dirt away from around the object, she saw that the shaft attached to the rounded end possessed an elegant, symmetrical curve unlike any natural bone she’d ever seen.

It took her only a moment to uncover the item, a wooden spoon, delicately carved, with a perfectly shaped globular bowl and a rounded, elegant stem. It was only about five inches long. She grabbed up her notebook made of water-proof paper and a tape measure, and took a few measurements from the nearest string lines to pinpoint the spoon’s location. She backed away from the spoon carefully, and then went in search of the camera that the excavators used to take the record photographs. When she found it near Cassie, she grinned.

“I win Artifact of the Day,” Tammy announced, importantly.

“Hah! I just found an 1895 Canadian twenty-five cent piece. Silver. Beat that!” Cassie, another archaeologist, working nearby, sniffed. It was a joke. No serious archaeologist looked for “goodies,” neat stuff, treasures. They all contented themselves with ordinary broken trash. Deep down, whether they would admit it or not, they still liked to find unusual things.

“Mustard spoon. Exactly like the one in the 1897 Bartender’s Supply Catalogue in Bart’s library,” Tammy shot back.

Cassie scowled back, but couldn’t keep the expression for long. “Cool,” she admitted. She backed out of her square and crawled over to Tammy’s excavation unit with her. Tammy saw Cassie sitting on her hands as she took the required photographs.

“Well?” Cassie asked, as Tammy laboriously wrote all the locational information on the outside of a clear plastic bag.

Tammy grinned at her boss. “Patience, my dear. I’m working as fast as I can.”

Archaeologists Tammy Williams and Cassie Mitchell both worked for the National Park Service. They and a couple of assistants were excavating under the Mascot Saloon, built in 1898 during the Klondike gold rush in Skagway, Alaska. They had to do this exciting job in March because in April, their federal employer would start putting new foundations under the old saloon building, destroying any and all evidence of the gold rush period saloon. Cassie, who had hired her old friend to help out on the job, had promised Tammy that she’d get to do all of the artifact analysis and write the report, something Tammy loved to do almost more than the excavation.

Finally, Tammy finished taking the pictures and drawing her map of the spoon’s location. She knelt down next to it and took off her leather gloves. She knew she ought to put on some white cotton gloves. If the park curator knew she was about to pick up this wooden spoon with her oily hands, they’d hear the screaming all the way to Anchorage. Tough. For some reason, Tammy needed to feel this item with her own fingers.

She touched the spoon and then picked it up, balancing it lightly on three finger tips. She didn’t touch the bowl, leaving it and its contents for later analysis, if she and Cassie thought it was necessary. She smiled at its smooth finish, even after being buried in the ground more than eighty years. She knew it was purely her imagination, but she thought the thing vibrated ever so slightly, just for a moment. She liked the sensation.

“What’d you go and do that for?” Cassie demanded, shock on her face.

Tammy glanced up at her boss, not sure what she’d done wrong.

“The gloves, you ninny!” Cassie scowled. She, like a good archaeologist, had slipped on the cotton babies and stood ready to receive the latest addition to their collection.

Tammy handed it over, sheepishly. “Sorry. I…I guess I just forgot.”

“Not like you, Tam.” Cassie shook her head, but had already started examining the little spoon, letting it slide. Tammy knew with Cassie’s quick-sliver mind, it would be forgotten in another minute.

“Called a mustard spoon, but used for just about any kind of condiment. Served with the free lunches in the saloons any time between 1902 and 1906 in Skagway, the height of the free lunch wars. Lunch was served just about any time of day,” Cassie informed her already-knowledgeable audience. “The breweries paid for the food. Al Reinert, who owned this saloon, used the Rainier Brewery in Washington. They supplied his free lunches.”

“So we know who touched this spoon,” Tammy muttered, almost to herself.

“Who’s that? I mean, besides the guys who ate lunch at the Mascot?” Cassie asked.

“His bartenders. The ones who worked between 1902 and 1904. Because this area was all covered up in 1904,” Tammy pointed out as she swept her arm around the crawl space they all crouched in.

“Yep. You know who they were?”

Tammy nodded. “I’ve got it in my notes somewhere. I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

 

That evening, after dinner, Tammy booted up her computer. She’d been reading the Skagway newspapers between April 1898, when the Mascot Saloon was first built, and 1904, when the last area was encased under the saloon. She’d taken copious notes and had copied every article that mentioned the saloon. She went to the file she’d labeled “bartenders.” This one listed every story that had mentioned the name of a bartender at the Mascot Saloon.

There, the first one was dated January 6, 1903. It read, “Chris Shea, the popular night bartender of the Mascot, will go South on the Amur for a month’s vacation.”

Tammy’s heart skipped a beat. She didn’t know why. Shea, she thought. I know I’ve read that name before. She pulled up another file, this one the file of notes she kept on all of the newspaper articles she’d read over the years she’d been doing work in Skagway. She hit “control F” and typed in the name, and then tapped “enter,” setting her computer on the task to finding every mention of the name “Shea” in this file of notes.

Tammy Williams did not get to sleep until very late that night.


CHAPTER TWO

THE GRAVE

 

 

SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 1996. Tammy woke to her usual ache and loneliness, the dream leaving her unusually bereft. Damn Chris Shea. She didn’t know what was worst, the nights he came to her as a lover or the nights he died. This morning she relived that last chapter of her novel about him. She had seen it so clearly in her mind when she had first written it, believing with all her heart that she had captured the essence of his last hour, if not the details exactly as it must have happened. How could she have known that she would dream of it every time she returned to Skagway, as if his ghost invaded her mind and stayed with her as long as she lived and breathed within walking distance of the place he was buried.

The other dream, she understood. It came from her desires, not an imagined version of reality. In it she lived on the Kenai Peninsula in 1912, and he would come to her, making love as only a man of his passion could. She thought this fantasy would fade eventually, but it only seemed to be recurring more and more frequently of late. Chris Shea just became more insistent as time passed, not less. One night, he’d bring her to climax in her dream, a ghost making mad, fiery love to a living woman as she slept. It would be the only way it could happen, of course. A dead man could never give her the satisfaction she demanded, so she was doomed to eternal frustration.

Chris. Whenever she came to Skagway, all she could think about was Chris.

No. Tammy knew she fooled herself. Any more, she thought about Chris all of the time. Who fell in love with a man who had been dead for over ninety years? Only historians. Only crazy, romantic, unrealistic, stupid historians.

A weak ray of sunshine slashed across her bed. That’s what woke her from the dream. She walked over to the window and caught the sun disappearing behind a large cloud bank, turning the morning into the gray, misty day typical of Skagway this time of year. She’d actually been surprised to see the sun. The dimmer light and softer color seemed more natural for this time and place. No rain at the moment, and no wind, either, which meant there would be rain soon.

After showering, shaking out her long mane of unruly, light brown curls, dashing a little mascara and eye-liner around her soft brown eyes, dressing and eating some muesli, she grabbed up her Gortex rain jacket and a plush vest. Shrugging into them, she stepped out into the cool air. Her heart still ached from her the dream, and the air vibrated with restlessness. The dream wouldn’t leave her.

The old Pioneer Cemetery was north and west of town, out towards the ghost town of Dyea, across the river. It was a good walk from the little house she rented from Jim Johnston. It would give her time to clear her head, maybe figure out what she was going to say to Chris when she got out there. She liked the cemetery, quiet and full of the names of people she’d grown to know over the last twenty or so years of digging in archives. She felt like she was among friends there. She’d become familiar with so many of them since she had last been to Skagway, it would be interesting to see where they lay now, and to think of each one as she saw his or her marker. She knew not many living people would be at the cemetery. No cruise ships were due into the port until late afternoon, and most people avoided cemeteries. She thought it strange. She found only history in a cemetery, a place of names and dates and memories. She wished, sometimes, she could believe in ghosts, so they could talk to her when she went to visit.

If she did, she could talk to Chris. Tell him to leave her alone. Whenever she came to Skagway, she went to visit him, but she knew he wouldn’t say a word to her. Not in the cemetery.

The walk up Main Street did little to ease her mind, so she tried to think of something else. She couldn’t keep focus on her work, the archaeological excavations she was going to oversee here in Skagway. The job would be far too routine, despite the subject, a brothel dating to the second decade of the twentieth century. Tammy had done the definitive history of prostitutes in this little coastal town, and as one of the community’s seasoned archaeologists, she was the natural person to do the work. She jumped at the chance, but it wouldn’t be a challenge. She had everything ready to go this coming Monday and nothing more to worry about at this point.

Sam. Now there was something that could put a cold damper on anyone’s party, especially Tammy’s. Sam was a topic she avoided habitually. She’d sink into a permanent funk if she dwelt on that subject more than fifteen minutes. She glanced at her watch. Okay. Fourteen minutes, and then something else.

That no good, rotten, sonofabitch. She started all of her ruminations about Sam the same way, her Asshole Husband Litany, Cassie called it. Tammy admitted calling him a bastard certainly did a major discredit to his mom, who wasn’t all that bad. She should have dumped him fifteen years ago, before she found herself pregnant. God, was I naïve and stupid and young and innocent and taken advantage of, she chastised herself for only the eleventy billionth time. How could I have been such a world class chump? Why couldn’t I see through that, that, that bastard’s façade? Intense blue eyes. I’m a sucker for intense blue eyes. That’s the only explanation. That and steely pectorals. Oh, yeah, and tiny, tight asses. I’m as bad as a man, letting my sex hormones make life decisions for me.

He’s not even good looking any more. Lost his hair, lost his tone, got jowly, still thinks he’s a stud, and never did respect my opinions or my feelings about a damn thing. The only good point he had was he didn’t care what the hell I did and let me do whatever I wanted as long as it didn’t interfere with whatever he was up to.

Alex, now that was a surprise. Claimed all along he liked kids until one showed up. Then, all of a sudden, the man couldn’t seem to get a day shift or weekends off. Never around for school events. Couldn’t help with the homework or running Alex to school and back, or watching the soccer games. But who had to stay home when the kid was sick? Who had to work overtime every time there was an in-service day at the school, or a school holiday, or parent-teacher conferences? Oh, sure, he bragged up his son down at the station all the time. Alex makes great grades and his team wins at soccer all the time. But Sam only knew because we told him. He never went to a single game.

“Well, I’ve had enough of the creep,” she growled out loud. “I met with my lawyer, Sandra, last week, right before I left. She’ll serve the divorce notification as soon as the paperwork is all finished up. I’m giving him a generous settlement, one even such a greedy SOB ought to be pleased with. Alex is old enough to understand. Jeez, at fourteen, he can see through the bastard’s tricks by now anyway. He’ll be just as glad to be rid of him as I am. In fact, it’s probably a good idea he’s staying with his dad this summer. Get good and tired of him that way.”

Tammy glanced at her watch again. She had six more minutes. She grumbled all the way to the bridge, letting her anger bubble up to audible levels from time to time. Exactly at fourteen minutes, she stopped, took a deep breath, switched her brain to nothing and looked up to the top of AB Mountain, searching for the “B.” It was always hard to make out, even this early in the year. Everyone could see the “A,” clear as day, but the “B” formed by the natural cracks and folds in the naked stone that caught the snow left something to the imagination. She thought she could make it out. Even as she gazed at it, though, the clouds closed in over the peak. She chuckled at her typical undependable luck and started to foot it across the bridge.

Twenty minutes later, Tammy entered the dark and quiet of the Pioneer Cemetery, off the road to Dyea, Skagway’s sister gold rush town. She had managed to occupy her thoughts with the natural beauty around her on the way up the road instead of dwelling on erotic dreams of dead heroes and vicious thoughts of unfaithful husbands. She’d never had any luck with men. Too bad she liked them so well.

No, she wasn’t going there again.

She had wandered among the wooden grave markers for about an hour before she found herself by his gravestone. It drew her like a magnet, and she knew she’d end up there. The first time she’d discovered it, she had been totally unprepared. She had thought Helen had buried him in Ketchikan, near where he died, or taken him back to Seward, where they lived, or maybe on to San Francisco, to be with his family, not back here to Skagway, the place he loved so well. At the time, Tammy wondered why she hadn’t thought to find out where he was buried, and then she knew she was afraid to know, because then she would have to go visit his grave. She would not be able to stay away. She had not thought that Helen would take him to Skagway. His wife would have had such bad memories of Skagway.

“Christopher C. Shea, 1872-1913,” she breathed, the words barely audible, her breath making a little cloud of moisture in the cool air. “Our Hero.” It had become her rite, the ritual she underwent every time she came to his grave.

She dropped to her knees before the stone, only one of a handful in this old cemetery. Most were made of wood, repainted every few years by the local Friends Group. This one, though, was of dark gray granite, with a polished white stone inset for his inscription, a lasting tribute to a strong man.

Tammy thought she felt a jolt of electricity surge from the ground, like that vibration she had noticed in the air all morning, that uneasiness she had sensed in the marrow of her bones. It came from here, from his grave. It had called to her, brought her here, to him. He was so close, what remained of him, his bones reaching to her bones, from only a few feet away. She smiled wryly, amused at the games the human mind can play on itself after suffering nights of sleep deprivation brought on by dreams of unfulfilled lust.

Her fingers traced the letters of his name, fingers trembling with emotion, the tears trickling down her cheek. She felt silly, but no one saw her, and being so close to what remained of him always made her feel so sad. But she did this only once at the beginning of each trip to Skagway, indulging in a cleansing rite of … what? Self-pity? Grief for a man she never really got to know and had wanted to? Whatever.  Crying it out usually got it over with, then she could go on with what she had to do. Maybe this would banish the dreams.

When Tammy finished outlining Chris’s name and the dates, she took a deep breath, knowing she had to trace the epitaph. It was always hard, what with the message being so personal. She skipped the “our.” Those people were gone. Tammy said the word “My” and traced that invisible word instead before touching the “H.” The stone vibrated. She could only attribute it to her intense emotion. She didn’t see the “O” as her finger followed it, because she had closed her eyes against a new flood of tears.

When she had followed the last groove, she slumped forward, her forehead against the wet stone, still weeping for a man who had died more almost a hundred years before. Now she could shake her head at herself. It was crazy to cry for a person who would have died of old age by now, even if he had fulfilled all of his grand potential. Why mourn the death of a man born in 1872?

She knew the answer to that question. He died at the age of forty, little older than she was, and all of his great work had been forgotten. Even now, even after she had published her articles and books about him, so few people understood what he had done, what sort of man he had been, what kind of hero laid beneath this patch of earth.

Wearied by the fitful night, the early rising, and the emotional drain to which she had just subjected herself, Tammy lay down on her hero’s grave. Cradling her head in one arm, she curled up for a nap. Thinking about him now gave her solace. It didn’t matter, not in the long run. Get over it, Williams. He’s dead. Life goes on.





 

CHAPTER THREE

THE GHOST

 

When Tammy awoke, she looked directly into the brilliant blue eyes of a face that had become as familiar as her own. She had never seen their color before, had come to think of them as gray because she had only seen his likeness in black and white. When he came to her in his dreams, his eyes soft with love, they peered at her through shades of gray.

Not now. Intense, vibrant blue in a mobile face. How the cameras of the early twentieth century had been able to freeze that countenance not just one moment in time, but eight, seemed somehow miraculous. No wonder they sometimes looked like different men, depending on the angle of the camera and the expression on his face. As these thoughts passed through Tammy’s mind, his look changed more than a dozen times. She recognized all of his feelings, curiosity, puzzlement, intrigue, interest, and other thoughts less tangible and more elusive. Both his eyes and his mouth moved constantly, little twitches and motions that bespoke a man of high energy and passion.

For all of that being outside the realm of what she expected, he was otherwise exactly the Chris Shea she knew from the eight photographs she had so meticulously hunted down through the years. Dark, curly hair, with only a few strands of gray, a broad forehead, thin lips, a well-defined jaw, big ears and a sharp nose. When she had found that first photograph, she had been disappointed, wanting him to be less skinny, less angular, and more handsome. Through the years, Tammy had come to love the way he looked, first because as she ordered better quality copies of his photographs, she found that he was forcing back a smile in almost every one of them, an expression that spoiled his looks, and second because she began to realize that his features matched his character. He was an ordinary man who made himself different, a man who could be extraordinary, but hiding his charm so well that no even a camera could quite capture it.

Now, lying atop his grave, watching his mobile face in living, moving color, Tammy felt bombarded by his charisma. That, more than anything else, convinced her that she was not dreaming. His face had always stayed fairly calm, homely and gray-eyed in her dreams, including the one she’d awakened from this morning.

“So you’re not a new addition to the group,” he observed. His voice was deep, undeniably male, undeniably rich in tone, a mild Irish brogue tamed by a neutral California intonation. She smiled at it. Nope, not a dream. He had had a higher pitched voice in her dream and no Irish accent, more of a New York clip.

“The group?” she asked, puzzled.

He sat up and waved a hand at some of the nearby grave markers. “Occupants. Deceased. It’s been a good thirty, forty years since anyone’s been buried here.”

Tammy chuckled as she, too sat up, running her fingers through her rumpled curls and straightening out her Gortex jacket. She suddenly felt awkward meeting her hero as she lay on the ground, sleepy from a mid-morning nap. She climbed to her feet.

“So you believe in ghosts?” she asked.

“Don’t you?” he asked by way of a reply.

Tammy smiled at that, looking at a man who was the spitting image of Chris Shea and wishing with all her heart that such entities as ghosts could exist.

“Wishing for something doesn’t make it happen,” Tammy replied, looking away from him, “not for something like bringing a ghost to life.”

His mouth widened into a sudden smile, exposing white teeth. His ordinary, angular face took on all the charm of a boyish imp, eyes sparkling with combined mischief and challenge. Still not quite handsome, he became suddenly irresistibly attractive. Tammy found she couldn’t breathe.

He took a sudden step close to her. Oddly enough, she could feel neither the heat from his body nor smell his breath, which she should have been able to do. “Who do you think I am?” he demanded.

“I know who you appear to be,” Tammy managed to stammer, taken by surprise. “If I didn’t know better, I would say you are the man on whose grave we stand.”

He grinned wider, his attractiveness growing. Tammy felt drawn to him like a magnet. “And what’s to argue against it?”

“It’s crazy. Shea died ninety-three years ago. And I told you, I don’t believe in ghosts.”

He back off a step, the smile dimming only a little. Tammy thought the air stopped sizzling around them, and she took a deep breath.

“So who am I?”

She frowned a little, not quite liking this guessing game, but intrigued nonetheless. “Some descendent. I thought I looked everywhere, but I lost track of Shea’s daughter, Nellie. She must have had children after all. You’re a grandson or great grandson.”

“There’s only one that I know of, and he’s not me.  You stay away from that boy if he ever comes hunting for you. He’s a disgrace to the Shea name. Thank God, he doesn’t have it. Nellie had one daughter, and she married an O’Brian. Sean O’Brian, they call the boy. The kid’s rotten to the core. If he shows up on your doorstep, run, don’t walk the other direction. He’ll con you out of everything you have. Emma’s bad blood’s come back to haunt me with that man. First thing I’m gonna’ do when I leave Skagway is find that boy and give him the whipping he should have had when he was four years old. Start pounding some sense into him.” The man with Chris Shea’s face stared off into space, his fists clenched. Tammy startled back from his ferocity.

“You’re trying to tell me you’re Shea’s ghost?” Tammy couldn’t help but smile as she said it to the man’s back.

He turned to face her, a quizzical look on his face. For the first time she noticed what he wore, an old-fashioned double-breasted suit jacket with big buttons, a white shirt with a large collar, a pale-yellow vest, into which he had tucked a blue silk tie with some geometrical figures printed on it. Both his coat and wool flannel pants were faded and thread-bare. A hat with a modest brim, commonly worn by hunters in the early twentieth century sat on top of his head. She recognized the entire ensemble from a photograph taken in 1912, of the founding members of the Seward Gun Club, a bird hunting organization. Too dressy for the Twenty-first century Alaska, it was no doubt perfect for a middle class businessman in an up-and-coming town of the early twentieth century.

“Put your hand out,” he said abruptly.

Tammy complied with some amusement.

He stepped forward and reached for her hand as he asked, “Do you think Sean O’Brian could do this?”

His hand passed entirely through Tammy’s. She felt a mild tingling, like the shock from an electrical charge, but not so unpleasant. Impossible to deny his physical presence, neither could she explain the fact that he could not clasp her hand. Not believing the proof he had set before her, he reached for his upper arm. Although she saw her closing hand  disappearing into the wool of his jacket, she felt no substance beneath her fingers. She closed her fist on a vibrating column of air.

“Chris,” she whispered, wanting, but not yet daring to believe.

He nodded, bringing his hand up alongside her face, as if to caress it. His startling blue eyes suddenly grew soft. “I can hardly believe it myself. And I had preparation.”

Tammy backed up, leaning against his gravestone for support. “Preparation? What do you mean?”

He looked off through the forest, beyond the grave markers and into the underbrush beneath the dense trees at the cemetery’s edge. He settled back on the heels of his well-worn shoes.

“For ninety-three years I have  existed in a state of consciousness that had less and less to do with this world and increasingly concerned with the thoughts and feelings of others with whom I was associated. Shed of our bodies, we have no corporeal concerns, but a great social network of some importance to everyone in it.”

Intrigued, Tammy nodded.

“And then, several years ago – exactly how long I don’t know, we really don’t keep track of time where I was – I began to be, well, bothered by … nudgings from here.  It must have been you, intruding on my peace. Of late, it has become almost unbearable. I couldn’t escape the constant bombardment of corporeal thoughts. My unhappiness affected others in the network, and so a … person of power came to me. He – I’ll call him a he, I guess – said that sometimes it was possible to come back, under the circumstances that had now occurred, if I wanted to do it badly enough.”

“Come back?  A resurrection?” Tammy gasped.

The insubstantial apparition that looked like Chris Shea nodded.

“You’re trying to tell me that you are Chris Shea’s ghost? That you and I can have a regular conversation and that you’re on the way to coming back to life? And you expect me to believe that?” Tammy scoffed.

The phenomenon that called itself Chris Shea gave a quite believable shrug and took on a sheepish look. “I admit it sounds a bit far-fetched.”

Tammy stared, wanting, in spite of her rational self, to believe him.

He walked around the gravestone, as if to collect his thoughts, and stopped behind her, setting his hand on top of hers where she braced against the cool granite. Tingling sensations flooded her hand and swam up her arm.

“Look, why would I make all of this up?” he asked.

Tammy met his eyes, brilliant blue, piercingly deep, not like anything she’d ever dreamed before. She knew as soon as she said the words that they were false.

“You’re a figment of my imagination.”

He grinned. “You don’t believe that.”

Her eyes slid away from the seductive power of his. “Cassie’s playing a joke on me. She put you up to this. It’s not funny.  I’m gonna’ kill her.”

He laughed, the sound enchanting her, making her heart pound in her chest. If women could vote in 1906, he would have won that election by a landslide.

“I take it Cassie is a friend of yours,” he chuckled.

“The best, I thought. Why she’d tease me like this, I don’t know,” Tammy grumbled.

“Don’t know any Cassies,” he avowed, holding one hand over his heart and the other palm up to his side, as if swearing an oath. “I’m what I say I am, and you can ask me questions for the next three months if you like. I’ll prove it.”

“Three months?” Tammy eyed him skeptically. “Why three months?”

“That’s how long you have to make me fully corporeal, return me to life.”

 

 

 

 

 

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