Monday, July 27, 2009
In Aaron's Wait by Dorien Grey, the second book in the Elliott Smith Mystery series, Aaron Stiles is dead. He’s been dead for four years but doesn’t seem to know it. He’s waiting for his partner Bill to come home, and until that happens, he’s not going anywhere. The trouble is, Bill Somers won’t be coming home—ever—because he’s dead, too. The official verdict was suicide, but...
The last thing Elliot Smith needs in his latest renovation project is a ghost, especially one who won’t let him sell the place until he solves the mystery of who killed Bill. He has John to help with the spectral side of things, but that just leaves him with the quandary of how to get information on the case. After all, he can hardly explain he’s investigating on behalf of one dead man with the assistance of another.
Zumaya Publications, LLC (July 22, 2009)
While he made it a policy to have as little contact as possible with a building’s tenants during the escrow period, he found himself for some reason compelled to talk personally with Mrs. Reinerio regarding her options. He didn’t have her phone number, so he called the Winters to ask for it, and to let them know of his intentions so they’d not think it strange to have him showing up at the building, and as he expected, they had no objections. Mrs. Winters reported that they had found a small condo in a new retirement complex and would be moving within a month of the closing of escrow. He then called Mrs. Reinerio, who said she would be happy to talk with him, and would be home all day.
He drove over after lunch, noting that the weather was definitely turning cooler. Escrow was to close on a Tuesday but, badly as he wanted to get to work immediately, he knew too well that last minute glitches often pushed the close back a day or so, so to be on the safe side he’d made arrangements for the sandblasters to come in the Monday following the official close date. He was fairly sure they could easily complete the work before the weather got too bad, but it was Chicago, and he didn’t want to take any chances.
He was curious, too, about street parking around the new property during the day and was relieved to see it wasn’t too difficult to find a space. He took his time walking up to the building, pausing again to look at its neighbors. He was pleased to confirm his earlier observation that the entire block appeared to be relatively well maintained.
Climbing the steps to the front door, he rang Mrs. Reinerio’s buzzer.
She had opened her door by the time he entered the hall.
“Come in, Mr. Smith,” she said, warmly.
“Elliott, please,” he replied, as he followed her into her apartment, then waited while she closed the door behind him.
“Please sit,” she said. “May I get you some coffee?”
“If you have some made,” he said, taking the indicated chair.
“Of course. I’ll only be a moment.”
As she left the room, Elliott looked around. He’d seen it during the inspection tour of the building, but now had a chance to concentrate on some of the individual items in the room. It was, he decided, definitely a grandmother’s apartment: comfortable, neat, clean, and heavy with an indefinable air of the past.
She returned a minute or so later with a tray on which were two coffee mugs (“I don’t hold much on ceremony,” she said), a creamer, sugar bowl, and small plate with several pieces of coffee cake, which she put on the coffee table in front of Elliott. Waiting until she had taken her own seat across from him, Elliott got right to the point of his visit.
He outlined what he perceived to be her options, emphasizing that he was renovating the building for resale, and that a rent increase under the new owners was almost inevitable.
She sighed. “I was afraid of that,” she said, looking into her coffee cup, then hastily added: “I know it’s not your fault, and that nothing is forever, but I’ve lived here for twenty-five years now, and…”
“I understand,” Elliott said, and he felt he truly did. He then went on to mention one of his own rental properties which had a vacancy at a comparable rent, and that he would be pleased to have her as a tenant. He assured her he would be happy to assist if she needed help with the move itself.
“That’s very kind of you, Elliott,” she said. “Can I have a little time to think it over?”
“Certainly,” Elliott said. “I just wanted…”
There was a knock at the door, which Mrs. Reinerio apparently did not hear, since she showed no reaction to it.
“I think there’s someone at the door,” he said after a moment.
She looked at him and smiled. “Oh, it’s nothing,” she said. “It’s just Aaron. I recognize the knock.”
A shiver ran from the top of his head to his toes.
“Aaron?” he asked. John had already told him, of course, but confirmation from someone with a pulse still startled him
Her smile never faded and there was no change in the casual tone of her voice as she said: “Aaron Stiles. He lives… lived…upstairs,” she said. “He died four years ago, poor dear.”
“So you’re saying…” Elliott finally managed to say.
She put her cup down and looked at him. “Yes,” she said pleasantly, “I’m afraid you’ve bought yourself a slightly haunted house.”
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