"I met these two guys who want to go meet up with me and a friend."Friday night
"What are you doing Friday night?"
"I'm just going dancing. I think."
"I want proof your went, though."
"I don't like this, Kristi," Ayel said. She sat down across the table from her business partner. "First of all, we don't know if these two are involved. Second, I'm not going to be done here until well after ten tonight. If you run into trouble before then, I won't be able to do anything."
Kristi sipped her tea. "Done?"
Ayel crossed her arms. "Yeah, done."
"Good. It's out of your system." Kristi reached out to pat Ayel's arm. "And I won't be alone. I'll have Kieu with me."
"I feel oh so much more reassured now." Ayel tapped the table. "Kristi, you know Kieu better than I do, but she doesn't strike me as being all that tethered to reality. You'd be better off with Ginger there."
"You just don't like Kieu."
Ayel stared at the tawny-haired woman. "Kieu doesn't like me. Because of my hair." She held out a lock of her blonde tresses. "Remember?"
"We'll be fine." Kristi looked at the time on her phone. "If she shows up. Where is that girl."
Ayel never tried to stifle her laughter. "You were saying?"
Kristi glowered at her business partner. "I'll text her." As she started to type in her message, the coffee shop's entrance opened, letting Kieu in. "See?"
"Yeah." Ayel took in Kieu's slinky red dress and matching heels. Light reflected off the sequins on the dress' shoulders. "Kristi, there's a dress store three doors down. It might still be open."
Kristi slapped at the blonde woman's arm. "I am properly dressed." She noticed Kieu's outfit. "Right." She stood up, smoothing out her leather miniskirt. "Hey, Kieu!"
Kieu stomped over to her partners. "Not one word. This wasn't my idea." She plunked down on the bench seat.
Ayel covered her mouth to hide the smile growing on her face. "You look great, Kieu."
"You'll be fine," Kristi said. "Really."
Kieu raised her head. "I feel like a spotlight."
"This isn't the right lighting to really show off the dress." Kristi sat down beside her friend. "The guys will love it. Makes me wish I'd dressed up a little more."
Ayel crouched down to Kieu's height. "Think of it this way - you're going to make a lot of blondes insanely jealous that they don't have your figure."
Kieu brightened, her posture improving. "A lot of blondes?"
"Unless you're going to a gay bar, all of them. If you are, they'll be jealous of Kristi, with you on her arm."
Kristi smacked Ayel's arm. "Don't even go there. We're meeting these two guys from the warehouse."
"Get receipts." Ayel stood up again. "And, Kieu, try to have fun even while getting your 'date' to confess."
"To being the ghost."
Kristi rolled her eyes. "We don't know that, Ayel. I'm hoping to learn more about Antony, really."
"Three guys all at the warehouse? You really do move fast."
"You know about Antony? Ayel, you could have saved us some time."
Ayel sat down across from Kieu. "He drives the forklift. That's all I know."
Kieu leaned back on the bench, dress sparkling as she did so. "And heavy things are getting moved around."
"If Antony's smart, then he'd know he'd be the first one suspected if he used the forklift." Ayel gathered the empty coffee cup on the table. "If he's not smart, then he would have shown himself on that video. He's not our ghost."
Two men entered the coffee shop, one blond, the other dark-haired. Kristi waved to them. "Hi guys."
As the men walked over, Ayel got back up. "I'll leave you two for your fun."
Sean stared as Ayel walked past him. "Does she look familiar?"
Kieu got up. "All blondes look alike." She adjusted her dress.
Kristi held back a sigh. "Kieu, this is Sean and Jared. Guys, this my friend, Kieu. What's the plan?"
Sean smiled. "I was hoping we could get to know each other a little over dinner, then go dancing. Maybe after, see what happens next?"
Kristi hooked her arm around Sean's. "Sounds great!"
The music at Glamour Blue was loud enough to drown out conversation even in the parking lot. The drum beat pounded at the walls. Jared could feel the beat through the door as he held it open for Kieu. Kieu giggled as she entered, then recovered as she tripped over the threshold. Jared reached out. He caught Kieu's elbow before she could fall far. Following behind, Kristi wrapped her arm around Sean's waist. "Let's find a table," she shouted, trying to be heard over the music. In reply, Sean just nodded, not trying to make himself heard. The pair took the lead, heading deeper into the club.
The dance floor blazed with colour, from the overhead spotlights cycling through the rainbow to the floor lights casting long shadows on the dancers. Kieu's dress added to the melange of colour as light reflected off her sequins. The press of bodies made getting to the tables difficult, but Kristi managed to thread a path. She sat down at an empty booth, waving to a waitress wearing denim shorts and a dark blue blouse. Sean placed an order for four draft beers, then watched as the waitress walked away.
While waiting for their drinks to arrive, Jared pulled Kieu out on the dance floor. With encouragement from Kristi, Kieu let herself be led away. Kristi kept an eye on her friend, stifling giggles as Kieu struggled to find the rhythm. The giggles faded as Kieu fell into the beat. Her blue-black hair flew around her, absorbing the light reflected from the sequins on her dress.
"Your friend can dance." Sean shouted to be heard over the music.
Kristi nodded. "She has many hidden talents." She leaned closer to the blond man. "So, what about you?"
"What about me?"
"What hidden talents do you have?"
"Maybe I'll show you some later." Sean winked.
"I'm sure you will." Kristi stroked Sean's arm. "And you work out, too. Go to the gym often?"
"No need. They got me hauling boxes all over the warehouse. Better than lifting weights. View's not as good, though."
Sean laughed. "No babes. Well, there's Ashley, but she won't have anything to do with us guys in back. Doesn't stop Antony, though. He hits on anything. Probably caused the wall to fall."
Kristi blinked. "A wall fell? Was anyone hurt?"
"Nah. Ashley screamed, though. Had to be Antony. No idea how he did it, but, man, did it scare everyone." Sean snapped his fingers. "That's where I saw that barista. She was at the warehouse. With Alex. I was wondering what you were doing outside. Are you there looking into the 'ghost'?" He mimed air quotes.
Kristi fought down the urge to break Sean's fingers. "Guilty. I should have business cards made. But, yeah, that's why I was there. Good thing, too, or I'd never have met you." She squeezed the blond man's bicep.
The waitress returned with the four beers, setting down the plastic cups on the table. Sean picked up the tab, giving the waitress a decent tip. He took a long quaff from his. "What's it like, hunting ghosts? Find any?"
"None, but this is the first real job."
"Gotta start somewhere. Besides, the test run was fun. No ghosts, but I got out into the fresh air."
Sean nodded in agreement. "The only fresh air we get is when we get a delivery. It sucks in the middle of January."
Kristi shivered in sympathy. "How do you stand it?"
"We move real fast. We work up a sweat and stay warm."
Kieu and Jared returned from the dance floor. The dark-haired man downed half his beer before he sat. Kieu plopped down beside Kristi, picking up a napkin to mop her brow. "That was fun!" Her words came between breaths.
"I saw." Kristi grabbed Sean's hand. "Our turn! Or are you too tired from work to keep up?"
"Oh, you are on!"
In Tim Horton's, Ayel collapsed in to her chair across the table from Aidan. She set her Boston creme donut down beside her coffee. "I'm wiped," she announced. "I hate closing Fridays."
"Busy?" Aidan raised his own cup of tea.
"Like you wouldn't believe. All the people heading out to party and grabbing one last caffeine hit." Ayel reached for her donut. "Shouldn't you be at work?"
"I'm working a double shift tomorrow night. Friday nights aren't too bad. People are just looking to blow off steam from work and school. Saturdays, now there's the rough shift. Sandra could use the extra muscle, so I'm her back up behind the bar."
"Thanks." Aidan sipped at his tea.
Ayel took a bite of her Boston creme. "Oh, that is good," she said, her mouth full. She swallowed. "I could have used the sugar rush a couple of hours ago."
"Always the way, isn't it? By the time you get what you need, you no longer need it."
"Ooh, a philosopher, too." Ayel sat up straight, stretching. "So, really, you met Kristi at a gun range."
Aidan nodded. "Like I said when we first met."
Ayel leaned across the table, examining the slim man's face. "I still don't believe it."
"You both don't look like gun people." The blonde woman returned to her seat.
Aidan chuckled. "I'm not. I was there to be checked out for a security job that I never got. I keep it up because someone may need a firearms qualified security grunt someday."
"She's from Northern Ontario."
Ayel blinked. "That's it?"
"Kristi loves the outdoors. I'm sure she carries a rifle when out camping for safety."
"Kristi. With a rifle." The blonde woman shook her head. "I still can't picture it."
"It's the God's honest truth." Aidan crossed his heart with his free hand.
"Okay, okay. And you became friends." Ayel finished off her donut.
"We did." Aidan smiled. "With benefits."
"Um, right." Ayel gave her head a shake. "That might be in the realm of too much information here. And possibly a violation of some labour law I'll have to look up."
The slim man laughed. "We're not about to have a lover's spat that ends in a hail of gunfire, if that's what you're worried about."
"I wasn't, but that's really good to know."
"What about you?"
"I've never slept with Kristi."
Aidan laughed. "How did you meet her?"
"Oh." Ayel felt her cheeks grow warm. "To tell the truth, she approached me for this venture of hers. Apparently I was in her first year Psychology class, but those were huge lectures. Hundreds of us in each section. Popular class."
"You must have made an impression on her."
"No idea." Ayel shurgged, then took a drink of her coffee. "Ooh, still hot. Anyway, here we are, Friday night, waiting for two people out having a good time to let us know the good times have stopped."
"And what would Ms Ayel Lindeman be doing tonight instead?" Aidan arched an eyebrow.
"Tonight?" Ayel looked at the floor to her right. "Probably taking a long bath then listening to music as I fall asleep."
"No friend with benefits in your life?"
"No time." The blonde raised her head. "At least during the school year. I'm not looking for quickies, either. My last relationship floundered because of conflicting schedules and heavy homework. Never try dating someone in Organic Chemistry."
Ayel sighed. "Maybe if the workload this September isn't too bad." She jumped in her seat. "Hang on, phone." The blonde woman retrieved her phone from her pocket. "Hello, Kristi?" she answered. After a pause, Ayel continued, "We'll be right there."
Aidan got to his feet. "What happened?"
Ayel hung up the phone. "Something about Kieu. I couldn't hear over the music. Let's go!"
"I hate pink."
"The fire department is coming!"