An idea occurred to me, and I borrowed Hadrian’s phone to search for Edith’s name on social media. No Facebook or Twitter, but Edith’s name turned up on Instagram, and I started scrolling through her feed, unaware of the way Tristan couldn’t take his gaze off what in his eyes was a floating phone.
Hadrian and Tristan started talking about doing a sweep on Edith’s workplace while I started checking Edith’s story highlights.
I tugged at Hadrian’s sleeve, saying excitedly, “Take a look at this.” One of the stories Edith highlighted featured a pink leather-bound book that she had propped up on an ivory bookstand.
The ivory bookstand was still on her bedside table, but as for the pink leather-bound book…
“Since she has so many books around,” I told Hadrian, “and she is a schoolteacher, I was thinking that a book could be the vehicle we’re looking for.”
Hadrian plucked the phone out of my hold and tossed it to the agent. He relayed my words to Tristan and asked afterwards, “Have you seen it anywhere?”
I tried not to look disappointed at Hadrian’s very sensible question. Shit. That was possible, wasn’t it? I mean, maybe the book was her go-to read when doing the #2, and for all I know, it was just in her bathroom—-
“No, sir.” Tristan’s voice was pensive. “We’ve swept the entire house twice, actually, and that includes all the books in her shelves. None of it looked like this.”
“Can someone in your department trace it? Find out how it came to the victim’s possession?”
“I can make a call to tech support right now,” Tristan offered, “and have this case prioritized.”
When the agent excused himself from the room to make the call, Hadrian bent his head and brushed his lips against mine. “Good job.”
I beamed up at him. “Told you. Perfect Watson.”
I cupped his face and saw his brows arch in surprise as I made him look at me. “You called me your girlfriend earlier.”
“You don’t want to be?”
“But I’m a ghost.”
“You’re really okay with having a ghost for a girlfriend?”
“Not if she’d turn out to be the kind of girlfriend who’d force me to keep repeating myself.”
“Har har har.”
Hadrian gently peeled my hands off his face and kissed my knuckles. “I want you with me,” he said simply. “It’s been a long time, much, much longer than you realize right now, since I last enjoyed being in a woman’s company.”
He nipped my lips. “No buts.”
I took a deep breath. “On one condition then.”
He raised a brow.
“Could you go with me to my ex’s house?”
I was fourteen when I had my first boyfriend. He was two years older, the boy-next-door type, and he taught me how to French kiss. We lasted for five months. I was already in college when I met my second boyfriend. We made it as far as second base, but we also eventually fell out of love when he and his family moved to another state. My third boyfriend was my last, and when I had died in my sleep, it was on the day of our anniversary. Or what should’ve been our tenth anniversary…if I hadn’t caught him cheating.
JASON’S PLACE WAS JUST as I remembered. All dark wood and leather, and he even had his guest room converted into a posh, Insta-worthy man cave: soundproofed walls and a huge TV for watching sports, a pinball machine and two pool tables, and right next to the massive L-shaped couch was the culmination of his dreams: his very own wine bar, to serve as the perfect stage whenever he had ladies to impress with his bartending skills.
The woman he had cheated me with was his girlfriend now, and the noises coming out from his en-suite made it pretty obvious that having a shower was the last thing on their minds. Hearing the sounds they were making hurt, and I had expected this. But what did surprise me was how the pain didn’t turn out to be this huge punch to the guts I had been dreading. Instead, it was almost bittersweet, like a favorite song that I knew I was hearing for the last time.
The pink day bed I had bought on our first year together was still in its usual corner, and I sat down while I waited for the couple to, err, reach the finish line. It took a while, but they eventually came out, both of them already fully dressed.
“I’m heading out first,” Alicia was telling him as she stood in front of the full-length mirror, openly admiring her reflection. “I don’t want to be late for my meeting.”
“Take care,” Jason said without glancing up. He had his watch drawer pulled out, and he was studying the items in it like he couldn’t make up his mind on what to wear.
Pausing by the doorway, Alicia turned to blow him a kiss, saying sweetly, “I love you.”