She always made sure she got in before Frank and Benny. Even so, the office was always ‘occupied’.

“Come on, cuddlefish, I waited all night for you,” Harold cooed as she reached her seat. Nora set the hot coffee on her desk, straightened her skirt and sat down, adjusted her chair. It always seemed to just off by an inch or two every morning. She wondered if Harold, on another ghost was responsible. None would admit it, she’d asked. And it wasn’t as if they could move or adjust anything like that. They were just voices. It wasn’t as if anything around here had the heft of a poltergeist haunting.

Nora certainly wasn’t going to allow one of them in here ever again.

“Yes Harold, thank you Harold,” she told him as she got settled, then glanced over. He was pretending to be sitting at the next workstation, where Tasmin would sit ordinarily, her blonde hair just peaking over the cubicle’s half-wall.

Nora felt herself stiffen. For the hundredth time she berated herself for ever letting her sister go back to Africa. Back to Africa with Dr. Burnes. Shit, all this not knowing was killing her. What was happening to them? What was happening between them.

She wanted to shout at Harold, but nothing that was going on in her head was his fault. And there was nothing a disembodied voice could do to change anything.

“How was your night?” she asked absently as she booted up the computer.

“Same as always,” he complained. “You don’t take me anywhere anymore.”

“Now, now,” she said. “I need you here. This place needs you protection. I need your protection.”

He’d been a good repellent for other hauntings. Funny that – ghosts not getting along with other ghosts.

“But who do you have at home?” he wondered voice edging into a whine.

“Nobody, silly,” she told him. “And if you really wanted to go, wouldn’t you leave?”

That shut him up for a few minutes.

She heard voices from the reception room. That would mean her co-workers had arrived. She was glad she’d gotten her cup of coffee early. Frank and Benny were annoying on just a few hours of hardly restful sleep.

Come to mention it, so was Harold.

“Could you just be quiet while I get started,” she asked.

“You don’t want to hear the poem I created for you?” he asked expectantly. “I’ve been practicing all night.

Oh, please no. Maybe it was time to send him on his way. He’d been sweet, but most started out that way. Except for murder victims. They were always psychos.

“Hey,” Frank shouted across the tall divider. “How is our pair in the Maghreb?”

Saved by the living. She checked the emails from the French that had been handling the negotiations. Nothing overnight.

“No calls from the French Consulate,” she replied with a sigh. “Apparently there are some final details that need to be-”

“What?” he complained. “It’s been a month!”

“Isn’t that what they’d said last week?” he asked.

“The tribesman haven’t gotten back about the latest offer,” she told him, feeling as frustrated as ever

“We could do a séance, just in case,” Harold tried. “I always enjoy those. Why haven’t we done one lately?”

She held up a hand.

“Excuse me for a moment. No,” she replied.

“You need to know, don’t you? If she’s crossed over?” he insisted. She did.

“Yes,” Nora agreed.

“When then?” asked.

“Yes. Thursday,” she said to him.

“Why not now?” he suggested.

“I need you to go and check out the new guy,” she told him. She could feel him whispering in her ear. “No I need you to go there and have a look.”

“But the new poem,” Harold started whining again. “You have to listen to it.”

“I won’t if you won’t,” she whispered in a pleading tone.

“You have the lovelies green eyes,” Harold began, whispering in her ear. “And the creamiest milky thighs.”

She jerked her head away from his voice.

“No stop doing that. Fuck!” she Swore. “Stop it! I’m in the office.”

“Excuse me for a moment,” she told frank and waved her hand at him.

“Stop it, I’m working,” she told the ghost.

“Just a few more stanzas,” he insisted, leaning closer to her.

“No,” she told him. Then whispered again, “not now”

“Later?” he whined.

“Yes,” she told him.

“Could you check out the new guy in reception,” she asked. Harold at least would have some utility then, and be out of her hair for a few minutes.

“Five stanzas,” the voice insisted. God, this could go on all day.

Go to Chapter Five

Go to Chapter Seven

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