Kane winced as he got out of the shower and grabbed the towel. He had aches in muscles he never knew he had.
“It’s a good sign when you’re stiff,” Gina said. “It shows that it’s getting into the muscles. It will get a little easier as you get used to it.”
Kane glared at the ghost as he hastily pulled his towel around him. “What did I say about clothes?” he said.
Gina waved a dismissive hand. “I’ve seen it all before,” she said. “And it’s not like I can do anything about it.”
“No, no, this isn’t what we agreed,” Kane said. “I am your last client. You get me fit and more assertive and then you feel safe to move across. This did not include you getting a show!”
Gina waved a translucent hand. “Sorry!” she said as she disappeared through the door. “I’ll try and remember. But I was a rugby physio. It’s nothing personal.”
Kane groaned as he rubbed the towel over his hair. He’d passed his test after lessons with a ghost instructor, so why not a spectral personal trainer and at least he didn’t have to pay. He looked down at himself. He seemed to be filling out a bit, so it was probably working. Now all he had to do was summon up some interest in breakfast. He normally never bothered and he never had a kale smoothie by choice at any time of day. He wrapped his towel around his hips and scampered into the bedroom.
He’d scrambled into his socks and jeans before there was an urgent banging on the door. Gina floated in. “It looks like you have a visitor in a hurry,” she said.
Kane stared at her and then flinched at the banging from the door. “It’s not the police, is it?”
Gina tried to take a deep breath. “You need to be more assertive,” she said with authority. “Stand up straight, get those shoulders back and answer the door – and you can tell anyone banging on that door to go to hell!”
Caught up by her command, Kane raced through his small flat and flung open the front door. “What?” he snapped.
“Of course, you could have put a shirt on first,” Gina murmured from behind him.
Kane felt a blush starting as he glanced behind him but then turned back to stare at the visitor. “Mitch! What are you doing here? I mean…”
Mitch Harborne pushed past Kane. “Do you still do that ghost thing?” he asked.
Kane stared at him for a moment. “What?” He could feel Gina behind him.
“Now is a good time to practice being calm but assertive,” she murmured.
“I need you to do ghost things,” Mitch said. He looked Kane up and down and after a brief flash of confusion added, “You can put a shirt on before you leave.”
“You have an appointment,” Gina reminded.
Kane took a breath. Now even the living were trying to steamroller him into submission. “Hello, Mitch,” he said. “Long time no see. I’m doing great, thanks for asking.”
Mitch glared at him. “Hello, Kane. Nice abs. Hope all is peachy here. Are you still doing the ghost thing?”
“He’s right, you know,” Gina said. “You’re getting a lot more definition.”
Kane groaned mentally. He wasn’t worried about definition. He just wanted to be a little fitter and perhaps a little more assertive. “Come in,” he said, accepting the inevitable. “Take a seat if you want but I’ve got an appointment in half an hour.”
“It can wait,” Mitch said, stalking into the living room and dropping into the armchair.
Kane disappeared into the bedroom and then returned with a t-shirt. “It can’t wait,” Kane said. “It’s one of my regulars for the ‘ghost stuff’ and I’m not letting them down.”
“This is important,” Mitch said. “I need you to help me.”
Kane rolled his eyes as he pulled his t-shirt over his head. “Seriously?” he said.
“How do you know him?” Gina asked. “Do you owe him any favours?”
Kane frowned. “What is it you need?” he asked.
Mitch hesitated then stood and started pacing. “I got married,” he said.
“I heard about it,” Kane said. “Nobody got an invite.”
“You know that it’s not that simple,” Mitch said. “And if Auntie Brenda had been here then it could have been different.”
“I see,” Gina said. “He was in foster care with you.” She had made extensive ghostly notes about Kane’s troubled childhood.
“Is your wife getting haunted?” Kane asked.
Mitch briefly closed his eyes. “It’s like this. My wife, Dawn, is a secretary,” he said. “She works for an old dear called Mrs Roberts.” He paced rapidly around Kane’s sofa. “My wife has a soft spot for her, thinks of her as a grandma type.”
Kane looked at Mitch thoughtfully. “Was Dawn in the system?” he asked.
“Mrs Roberts is a nice old bird,” Mitch said, ducking the question. “And she’s taken me on as well as a manager.”
“What are you managing?” Kane asked.
Mitch paused in front of Kane. “Take a seat,” he said.
“I haven’t got long,” Kane warned as he sank into an armchair.
“I’ll be quick,” Mitch said. “It goes like this. Mrs Roberts was married to a right bastard. He made sure that she was on all sorts of committees and such, and that she dressed right, but he kept her on a short lead. You know the sort of thing. He wouldn’t let her go anywhere without him, called her useless all the time, trashed stuff that she liked, kept her away from her family.” Mitch’s lips tightened. “You know the drill.”
Kane nodded, all too familiar with that scenario. “It must have been hard for her,” he said.
“Because of all the hoops he had her jump through and all the social stuff, she had a secretary and that’s how Dawn met her,” Mitch said. “And she’s been lovely to Dawn. Himself was fine with throwing his weight around Edith, that’s Mrs Roberts, but he wanted Dawn to think he was a good guy. And Mrs Roberts never said a word, not to Dawn and not to me.” Mitch looked Kane in the eye. “But we could read between the lines. One of the last things her family was able to do for her was to make sure that she had a property in her sole name, so that she at least had an income.”
“How much of the money did he take?” Kane asked cynically.
Mitch shrugged. “He snuffed it last year. His will said it should all his property should go to Mrs Roberts but her stepson is contesting it.”
“That’s bad,” Kane said. “Is that taking a lot of her money?”
“Wily old bastard must have known that there was something like this coming,” Mitch said with reluctant respect. “He left a massive donation to a big charity as well. Any charity with that sort of clout is going to fight it in court.”
“It’s a legal obligation,” Gina murmured to Kane. “They’re legally required to fight for every penny for the charity even if they don’t want to.”
“Meanwhile, Mrs Roberts is living on what she can make from the hotel that’s in her name,” Mitch continued. “She spent the last of her money getting it refurbished. Me and Dawn are managing it with a bit of help, but it needs a gimmick, something to bring in the punters.”
Kane had a bad feeling about this. “What can I do about it?” he asked.
“That stepson won’t even let her have her jewellery,” Mitch muttered. “He wants it held until she can prove whether it was a gift to her or whether she just borrowed it from her husband.” He waved a dismissive hand. “The hotel is really old. It has to be haunted. We could make a fortune in bookings for ghost tours, ghost hunts, all that sort of stuff. It’s in a great place, on the moors near Hebden Bridge. All we need is for you to convince the spooks to help us out. Surely they wouldn’t turn their back on a little old lady?”
“You don’t need to help him out,” Gina said. “But I can see that it would appeal to you. If Mitch is telling the truth then you’d hate yourself if you didn’t help.” She looked thoughtfully at Mitch. “But you need to assert boundaries.”
“Okay,” Kane said. “I’ll help out if I can.”
“I’ll cover the fee personally,” Mitch said. He couldn’t meet Kane’s surprised gaze. “She’s been good to Dawn and she’s determined to pay our wages when she’s hardly got two pennies to rub together. She’s a proper lady and she doesn’t deserve this shit.”
Kane shook his head. “I won’t take money from family,” he said. “But I’ll work around my other stuff.” He checked his watch. “I’ve got to check in to a restaurant in around twenty minutes, but I’ve nothing else today. If you give me the address, I’ll call in afterwards.”
Mitch looked at him thoughtfully. “You’ve changed,” he said. “Here’s the card with the address in, and if you could pick up any fancy ideas from the restaurant for ghost hunter food, let me know.” He looked around Kane’s neat flat. “You’ve done okay. I’m glad.”
“Thanks,” Kane said. “I’ll see you there.” He watched Mitch leave and then turned to Gina. “I’ve never known Mitch Harborne care about another single soul,” he said. “If he cares so much about Mrs Roberts, she must be something special.”
It’s Day One of the October Frights and that means the start of loads of goodies! Check out the October Frights Giveaway 2023 for some great reads and there are more books at the October Frights Mini Book Fair if you’re looking for more. And that’s not all – on all of these blogs you can find more stories and spooky goings on so feel free to drop in.