"Bladekeeper, you are needed."
"Something is just terribly wrong, like a minion of Old Nick himself stepped through to our world."
"Call the police. Someone died in there."
"You're the best damned Bladekeeper we've had in ages."
The police arrived five minutes after Grace made her call. Brenna had managed to find a washroom before her stomach finally had enough and regurgitated her meager breakfast. The first to arrive were uniformed officers. Three of them entered the office. One had to run back out so he could vomit without destroying the crime scene. Brenna walked over to the cop and held out her hand to help him back up.
"Thanks," he said. "Brenna?"
As the officer stood up, Brenna recognized Matt. "Funny seeing you here."
"I was on patrol. What are you doing here?"
Brenna tugged on her ponytail. "I sorta found the body?"
Matt grabbed Brenna's elbow to pull her aside. The contact sent a jolt through the young woman. "I didn't know you worked here."
"I don't." Brenna gave Matt a wan smile. She glanced at his hand, then returned her attention back to his face. "Please don't ask me to explain it."
"The detectives are going to have questions, Brenna. I hope you can answer those."
"Matt, I'm not a child."
Matt closed his eyes for a moment. "Sorry. I just remember how you were like in high school. You know, shy."
"I know." Brenna patted the hand holding her elbow. "I've gotten better. It has been several years."
"How are you doing? You saw the body and all."
"If I wasn't already a vegetarian, I'd become one now." She pointed down the hall. "Washrooms are over there."
"Thanks." Matt walked in the direction Brenna had shown.
Brenna took a deep breath. She waved to her sister who was talking to the other two uniformed officers. Grace broke off from the questioning to run to Brenna's side. "What's up?"
"I need to go home."
"Yeah, I don't think the cops are going to let us leave," Grace said. "That whole dead body thing. Why? Are you feeling sick?"
Brenna glanced at the officers, then pulled Grace further away from them. "I need to go home. Now. Or things get real interesting real fast."
"Define interesting. It's not the Whedonesque 'we're all going to die' interesting, is it?"
"I'll just wish I was dead afterwards." Brenna mopped perspiration off her brow. "When Mom was training you, did she ever tell about what would happen to you, especially around guys?"
Grace shrugged. "Only that I'd be interested in them. I though she was talking about becoming a teenager."
"No, it's worse."
"Would you start making sense, Bren?"
Brenna closed her eyes to center herself. "Ever wonder why Mom and Dad sent us outside every other weekend?"
"So they could have lots of sex. What does this have to do with anything? Is Mom there telling you something about the afterlife?"
Brenna grabbed her sister's shirt and pulled the taller woman down to her level. "The Blade wants an heir."
"What? You mean right now?"
Grace looked back at the officers. Matt had just rejoined them. "With them?"
Brenna let go of her younger sister. "And you graduated near the top of your class?"
"Quit beating around the bush, Bren."
"The Soul Blade wants me to have children and . . . urges me towards whoever it thinks is a suitable partner. Right now, it thinks that Matt is perfect and it's taking me all I have to not rip his uniform off and do him right where he stands."
"Matt? The one who threw up?" Grace turned to regard the named officer. "I guess." She shrugged.
"Why? What's wrong with him?"
Grace blinked. "You just said you didn't want to screw him. Focus, Bren."
"Sorry." Brenna took a breath. "That's why I need to go home."
"They're not going to let you. Christ, Bren, right now, we're the prime suspects. We wouldn't be here if you hadn't chased something only you can see here." Footsteps on the stairs cut Grace off. She looked down and saw two men in suits making their way up. "Might not be long now."
The men arrived on the third floor. The officers greeted them, then showed them into the office. Matt remained behind, keeping an eye on the floor and the women. After what Brenna felt was an eternity, the men returned to the hallway. One of the officers led Grace over to one man, while the other newcomer walked over to Brenna. He took out his badge and ID. "Detective McCoy."
"Brenna. Brenna Halliday. Sir." Brenna felt her cheeks redden.
"I understand you and your sister found the body, correct?"
"No, sir. I did. Grace was parking the car."
McCoy took out a notebook. "What did the body look like to you when you found it?"
McCoy levelled a gaze at Brenna. "Ma'am, someone is dead. This isn't the time for joking around."
"I wasn't joking, sir. I just misunderstood. Sorry." Brenna forced herself to stop speaking.
"What did the body look like when you found it?" McCoy repeated.
"Broken. Like it was bent all wrong. More like a rag doll than a person, except for the smell and the blood." Brenna closed her eyes. "It was bent around the filing cabinet, but not at the waist."
"Why were you in the office?"
"It's complicated, sir."
"I have the time."
"I can't explain it. It was like a . . . a hunch."
McCoy raised an eyebrow. "A hunch? Do you get these hunches a lot, ma'am?"
"No, detective," Grace said, trying to remain patient. "I don't know how she knew."
Detective Kirk paused in his writing. "You are her sister."
"Yeah, and my sister is weird. Who knows how her mind works?" She glanced at Brenna. "I need to take her home. She's not feeling well."
"Then tell me how she knew where to find the body. Miss Halliday, the average person doesn't go poking around in a strange office on a whim. How do we know you weren't working on a robbery?"
"Oh, sure, I want to blow my chances on getting into law school because I was stupid enough to break into an office in the middle of the day." Grace ran her hand through her short blond hair.
"Law school is expensive."
Grace rolled her eyes. "Are either me or my sister being charged right now?"
Kirk jotted down several notes. "No. However, we will want to talk to you again."
"Fine. I'm taking my sister home before she hallucinates the Edmund Fitzgerald pulling up at a bus stop." Grace spun on her heel and stormed down the hallway. "Bren! Come on! We're leaving!" The two officers who were not Matt moved to intercept the blond. Detective Kirk waved them off. Grace hooked her arm around her sister's and pulled the smaller girl along, away from Detective McCoy.
"Gracie!" Brenna tried pulling free.
"No. We're going home. You're going to lie down until you're feeling better. I'm going to get drunk so I can't drive you around anymore today." Grace paused at the stairs to make sure she didn't cause Brenna to fall. "Understand?"
Once out of sight of the police, Brenna said, "No, Mr. Stanford, don't haunt them. They're just doing their job."
Grace grimaced. "That's right, Bren," she muttered, "keep talking to the Invisible Man."
A small crowd gathered outside, curious about the three patrol cruisers stopped with their lights still flashing. Grace pushed her way through the small throng, dragging Brenna behind her. She let her sister go once they reached her gold Volkswagen. Getting in the driver's side, Grace slammed the door shut.
"It's going to take time for that office to be normal again, Bert," Brenna said to a point just behind the Beetle. "Take care."
Her last nerve reached, Grace snarled, "Get in the fucking car, Bren!"
Brenna opened the door and sat down. "I was coming."
"I thought that was what you wanted to avoid."
Brenna flushed red. "I was just reassuring Bert. I hope you're not like this with your clients when you become a lawyer."
Grace put the Beetle into gear. "At least everyone will be able to see my clients." She smacked the steering wheel. "We're suspects now, you know that? If this affect me getting into law school, I am so hurting you."
Brenna's voice became meek. "Sorry." She leaned her head against the headrest and let the wind rushing past cool her down. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. For what?"
"Getting me out of there. I don't think I could have lasted much longer."
"Just go do what you need to when we get home."
"What do you mean you didn't send him along?" Joni demanded. She floated around her daughter's bed. "Brenna, that is the primary reason the Soul Blade exists! Ghosts need help to get to the next life."
"So says my mother's ghost."
"You know perfectly well what I mean, Brenna."
Brenna removed the damp facecloth from her forehead. "Mom, can't you yell at me later?
"I am not yelling. Brenna, why did you not send that ghost along?"
"Mr. Stanford is harmless. He came looking for me when the body got dumped. That doesn't strike me as the act of a dangerous spirit."
"He could become one."
"And I'll deal with him then. In the meantime, there are other problems to worry about, like what could sterilize a room that thoroughly despite someone dying violently in there." Brenna rolled over on her side and curled into a ball. "And other stuff."
Joni sat down beside Brenna and stroked a ghostly hand through her daughter's hair. "That bad?"
"People don't bend like that, Mom." Brenna sighed. "And Matt was there."
"The police officer?"
Brenna nodded. "Do you know what all I wanted to do while he was there?"
"Oh, Brenna." Joni did her best to give her daughter a ghostly hug. "Call Dr. Womack after you've rested. Maybe she can squeeze you in this week."
"I hope so." Brenna tried to smile. "Mom, thanks."
Joni got up from the bed. "And once you're back to normal, we can have that discussion about what you're supposed to do with ghosts."
Brenna sighed. "Thanks, Mom."
"Remember all the weird stuff that happened around me in high school?"
"Someone needs an early bedtime."
"I have sent the latest offering to you."