Lena Alan frowned up at her brother through her oversized sunglasses, grateful for the added layer of protection from the bustle and chaos of Market Street. “It matters. This is supposed to be our case. Our first case. Remember?” So typical. Months of begging Cyrus to let her work with him on something, anything, and he’d gone and invited someone else along.
She didn’t realize she’d grumbled the last part out loud until Cyrus glanced down at her. “I didn’t invite him along, Pee Wee. If you must know, Lee came to me with this job. What was I supposed to do, boot him off his own case?”
“Fine.” Lena scowled. “But how do you know him?”
Cyrus trained his eyes forward again. “We’ve worked together.”
“When? On what? For who?”
He made an annoyed sound in the back of his throat. “Different times. Different things. Different people.”
Lena pulled a face. “How enlightening.”
If Cyrus heard the censure in her voice, he ignored it. “Where’s your backpack?”
“Left it in the Caprice.” Lena blinked at his muttered curse. “What? You said nine times out of ten, these calls are a problem for pest control.”
“Well, sure.” He hiked the straps of his own pack further up his shoulders. “But there’s always that one time.”
“Oh, come on. If The Flood Building was really haunted, don’t you think we’d have heard about it by now?” Lena peered up the sidewalk. “Looks like your friend beat us here.”
Cyrus grinned. “Course he did. Come on, Pee Wee, I’ll Introduce you.” He broke into a jog and closed the distance to the man waiting near the entrance of The Flood Building.
Lena swallowed hard. Her brother hadn’t mentioned his friend was cute. Even from a distance, he had the long, lean build and casual good looks of a surfer. To be fair, Cyrus hadn’t told her about Lee Ellison at all, but still. “He could have mentioned he was cute,” she muttered.
By the time she caught up, the two of them were deep in conversation. Lena arrived mid-sentence.
“…Materialized while the building manager was locking up. Third floor, just like we suspected.”
Cyrus hmmed thoughtfully. “Did it say anything?”
“Nah. Just got all melty, like they do.” Lee’s eyes turned to Lena. “Hello. Who do we have here?”
Lena’s pulse tripped. She opened her mouth.
Cyrus beat her to it. “This is my sister, and she’s off limits. Lena, this is Lee. Lee, Lena.”
Lena pasted a wide, fake smile on her face and mentally promised to kill her brother later. She stuck out a hand. “Nice to meet you.”
Lee’s hand engulfed hers. His smile was wide and teasing. “Likewise. Any sister of Cyrus is a sister of mine.”
Lena felt her face start to crack. Great. Thanks, Cyrus.
Out loud, she said only, “Cyrus says you got the lead on this place.”
Lee rocked back on his heels. “One of the security guards is an old service buddy. He called me.”
Service buddy. Lena looked at him a little closer. Sure enough, it was in his faded gray eyes, so faint she wasn’t surprised she’d missed it: the look of a man used to seeing the world a thousand yards at a time. A look that said he’d witnessed things no one could understand. Things he couldn’t describe, and wouldn’t even if he could.
It was a look she occasionally glimpsed in the mirror.
Lee was still talking. “Apparently the night manager screamed loud enough to wake the dead. The guard on duty found her passed out in the third floor hallway, and called for help.”
“And she says it was a ghost?”
“Swears it up, down, and sideways.” Lee’s gray eyes twinkled. “My buddy says she’s not the hysterical type, so here we are.”
Lena bit back a wince. Maybe she shouldn’t have left her backpack in the car, after all.
As if he could hear her thoughts, Cyrus hefted up his pack again and nodded at the building’s stately, art deco glass doors. “Let’s go catch us a ghost.”