Dawn stared at Kane. “What do you mean, you’re here to see Mitch about a ghost?”
Kane leaned against the wall. “I knew Mitch when he was a kid,” he said. “And I’m sort of a ghost whisperer. He thought that this could be a haunted hotel.”
Dawn winced. “Well, you seem to have just encountered the cold spot in the lobby,” she said. “Our cleaners swear that the vacuums won’t work properly there and Mitch is always complaining about random interference on his phone. And a few of the guests have shared stories.” Her shoulders slumped. “But I think that it would have to be a bit more than a spooky feeling to get the people in.”
“That cold spot has gone,” Kane said. “It wasn’t a good thing.”
Dawn looked at him hard. “I thought the idea was to promote the ghosts in the hotel, not get rid of them.”
Kane paused, searching for words, then stopped as voices carried from the Manager’s office.
“This hotel should be mine, Edith,” a male voice snapped. “The will must be invalid. I’m his son.”
“Deacon, the will was clear,” an elderly female voice replied. “And your challenge will get you nowhere. You’ll have all the costs to pay as well.”
“Whatever! This hotel is part of it, though,” Deacon snarled. “It should be held in a trust until afterwards. You’ve got no right here.”
“The hotel was always mine,” Edith said. She sighed softly. “My father bought it for me and put it into my name. It was never your father’s property.”
“It would have been split in a divorce,” Deacon replied.
“But we didn’t divorce,” Edith said. “Your father died. And I’m sorry for your grief, but your father did a lot for you when he was alive.”
“He should have divorced you and married my mother,” Deacon said. “Everyone knew that.”
Kane blinked and caught Dawn’s wide eyed stare. His respect for Edith grew as her voice didn’t tremble.
“I’m sorry, Deacon, but your father had an affair with your mother. He stayed married to me. And that’s all that there is,” Edith said, her voice calm but full of sorrow. “You have no right to this hotel, and you have no right to the rest of your father’s property. Now please leave.”
“I’m not leaving until I get you out of here, one way or another,” Deacon said. “You’ll pack up and go if you know what’s good for you.”
Kane didn’t wait to hear any more but knocked sharply on the door and stepped in. “I’m looking for the manager,” he said, trying to diffuse the situation.
“That’s me,” Deacon said. He was about the same height as Kane but a lot wider and his eyes shone with malevolence.
“No you’re not!” Dawn exclaimed, following Kane in.
Deacon pointed at her. “You’re sacked,” he said before turning back to Kane. “I’m sorry about that. Now, how can I help you?”
Kane paused. An older lady was sitting behind the desk, upright and determined but pale with stress. Deacon was looming in front of him. Dawn was fuming behind him and he didn’t want to let things escalate. This was where he was supposed to be assertive and Gina was nowhere to be found. What was he supposed to do? “I’m sorry, I’m not sure what’s going on,” he said, stalling and looking at the lady behind the desk. “You must be Mrs Edith Roberts. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Mrs Roberts was just leaving,” Deacon said firmly. “Now, what is this about?”
Edith turned to Kane. “I’m sorry, there’s something of a discussion going on at the moment. Perhaps you can wait in the lobby and Dawn will make you a tea or coffee.”
Deacon turned. “You can leave by yourself or I’ll throw you out. That fake old lady thing that you have going on doesn’t fool me.”
Kane breathed a sigh of relief as Mitch flung open the door behind him and marched in. He pointed at Deacon. “You – out!”
Deacon hesitated for a moment. “It’s my hotel,” he said.
Kane stepped forward to stand next to Mitch. “No it isn’t,” Kane said firmly.
Deacon glanced between the two of them and Kane could see him calculating the odds as Kane adjusted his stance to look confident as Gina had taught him. “I’ll be back,” Deacon snapped.
Mitch watched Deacon leave and then turned to Kane, running a tired hand over his face. “Thanks, mate,” he said. He looked at Kane thoughtfully. “I appreciate you standing with me. You never had it in you before, but now…” He shook his head tiredly and glanced at Edith. The elderly lady’s composure was starting to break down. “I’ve got a room set aside for you,” he said. “I’ll give you the key so you can dump your bag while I make sure everything’s okay here.”
Kane nodded. “I’ll wait for you to call me down,” he said. “You’ve got a lot on.”
Mitch waved a hand. “Look around,” he said. “We’ve no guests at the moment so have a poke around find some spooks for us.” He turned back to Edith. “Why don’t I make you a cup of tea and walk you to your room?” he said softly.
Kane looked around the room he’d been given. Mitch was obviously feeling desperate for ghosts and had put him in the older part of the house where they were more likely to be found. Kane crossed over to the window and looked out at the fading sunlight. The autumn sun was setting over the fading gardens and he pulled the curtains over to keep out the chill. He turned back and looked around the room. It was nice. The walls were a neutral soft beige colour and bedcovers, the curtains, the carpets and the upholstery on the small armchair all echoed the same colours of bronze and old gold. The ensuite bathroom was equally elegant and the atmosphere was warm and cosy with a nod towards the old fashioned. It was clean, comfortable and beautifully set out.
Kane looked thoughtfully at the neat tea and coffee tray set on the desk. It looked very welcome after the tense drive and there were also small courtesy packets of biscuits. As he opened his case to unpack he looked back at the biscuits. He’d worked hard under Gina’s guidance and he was definitely feeling the benefit, but it was weeks since he had last tasted a custard cream. He filled the small kettle and turned it on, trying to ignore the biscuits. As he spooned out the instant coffee, he became aware of a presence in the corner and turned, relieved to find it wasn’t Gina checking on him. Instead it was the ghost of a tall, thin man in late middle age who seemed to be inspecting the room.
“Can I help you?” Kane asked.
The ghost started and then turned to Kane. “You can see me?” he asked.
Kane nodded. “I was brought in to speak to the resident ghosts,” he said. He hesitated. Normally ghosts couldn’t wait to tell him everything about themselves whether he wanted to hear it or not. However Gina had been clear and he had to start taking the initiative. He groped for a safe way to start the conversation. “Were you a guest here?” he asked.
The ghost drew himself to his full height. “Not at all! I was the manager here for some time – including when Mrs Roberts first bought the hotel,” he said. “My name is Charles Smedworth. Mrs Roberts may remember me.”
“I’m pleased to meet you,” Kane said. He wondered how much the ghost knew. “Are you following what’s happening with the hotel? Mrs Roberts needs it to keep going.”
“I don’t like to speak ill of the dead,” Mr Smedworth said. “But Mr Roberts was not a very nice man. It seems that his illegitimate son has inherited Mr Roberts’ temperament if nothing else.” He frowned. “But the idea of ghost weekends is, quite frankly, vulgar.”
“The hotel is losing money,” Kane said. “From what Mitch said, it’s quite desperate. And Mrs Roberts will need money for the court case.” He watched the ghost wring its hands. “How many ghosts are there, anyway? And it’s not like Mitch wants a full manifestation like something from a film. Just a few weird cold spots and perhaps unexplained draughts and stuff moved around.” Kane shrugged. “I’ve seen it before. There’s a café in Leeds where there’s just a hint of supernatural to keep the numbers up and it’s all done in good taste.”
Mr Smedworth paced around the room, automatically straightening a crooked brochure on the nightstand with the tiniest gesture and smallest crumb of energy. “There’s a few of us, I admit, and we’re all quite fond of Mrs Roberts.” His face softened. “In fact most of us are quite devoted.” He stopped in front of Kane. “I saw that you banished that poor creature in the lobby. That was a blessing for her and, to be honest, for all of us.” He wrung his hands again. “The poor thing was dreadful to see and it was so upsetting for the rest of us. I have to ask, though, can you banish ghosts? I mean, could you banish me?”
Kane grimaced. “I managed to coax the shade through the veil,” he said. “But that’s the first time I’ve managed anything like that and I’m not even sure that it will stick. Usually I just listen to what the ghosts need. I’ve never banished a proper ghost.”
Mr Smedworth started pacing again. “Then you need to find someone who can absolutely and convincingly banish ghosts,” he said. “As you know, there have been a lot of renovations and workmen are currently working on the corner of what was the stables.” He waved an impatient hand. “It’s something to do with adding an en suite bathroom.” He paced faster. “But there’s a spirit there, and if something isn’t done, it’s going to go terribly wrong.”
It’s the last day 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. And while we’re talking about goodies, my ebook collection of short stores, Whisper in the Shadows, is free until 15th October, so now is a good time to snap up a bargain.