“Madam, the DJ wants to know where you would like her to set up her equipment in the ballroom?”
Juniper, hip deep in feather boa’s of every color, looked over her shoulder in surprise at her ghost butler, Lionel. “She can see you?”
“No, Madam. I overheard her talking to Terrence.”
“Ah,” Juniper said, and went back to sorting through the mess of feathers. “Did he tell her where to set up? He already knows, I told him earlier today.”
“I was not aware of this, Mum,” Lionel intoned.
“Well, I didn’t tell you, Lionel, because you can’t exactly relay my instructions to anyone,” Juniper remarked distractedly.
“Of course not, Mum.”
Juniper stopped flinging feathery strangle scarfs around, her shoulders lifting and lowering quickly in a short sigh. That was Lionel’s miffed tone. She’d said something to upset him. Dang it. “Lionel, I didn’t mean—”
“It’s quite all right, madam. You simply spoke the truth. I am dead. There is no denying the fact.” He gave a slight bow, hands behind his back. “If you will excuse me, I must go see how Jacobi and Felicity are faring.”
Instead of slowly sinking through the floor or floating across to the wall, Lionel vanished, and with his disappearance Juniper leaned her head back and gave a great big sigh that she felt to her spinal cord. They were mere weeks out from Christmas and she was feeling a bit jet lagged. All this celebrating was her idea, yes, but lord, she could really use a rest.
And now she had a ghost with hurt feelings to deal with—on top of getting everything ready to go before tonight’s big New Years party. It was moments like this when she wished someone else could communicate with her ghostly staff.
Well…there was someone, but she’d rather not have to deal with old Quackers right now. She had to see him too much as it was. Of course, half of it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t like she could keep people from falling dead or being found dead on her property. Desmond Mallard just happened to be a detective on the Crescent Cove police force and he took his job seriously. Juni helped him out though, on occasion. She figured it was the least she could do, considering how often he found himself out here when he clearly didn’t want to be.
He didn’t want her help, but she gave it anyway. It was her way of giving back.
“Sometimes you just can’t win.” Juniper said to the house cats Ludo, Loki and Finn. All three of them ignored her. Ludo was busy sniffing at the feathers her dainty pink nose twitching. Loki had managed to get tangled in a fascia boa which looked striking against his black fur. Finn was too serious to play with feathers so he lay atop the bed watching this others with a detached air of slight disdain.
“June, you ready? Your guests are going to be here any minute,” Juniper’s god-daughter, Victoria, announced as she waltzed into Juniper’s room without knocking.
Following closely behind was Barclay, her beloved Jack Russel and Chihuahua mix. Barclay’s eyes lit up when he saw that cats playing with the boa’s and he raced over. Ludo hissed and ran under the bed, Loki jumped up onto a bureau. Barclay simply looked around as if wondering why everyone had run away.
Shooting a glare over her shoulder at her god-daughter, Juniper said, hands spread out before her, “Does it look like I’m ready?”
Tori blinked, looking around at the stacks of clothes lying scattered about the room. “Whoa. You having trouble picking out an outfit? I thought you had already decided what you were going to wear.”
“This is from days ago,” Juniper said. “Well, most of it. And I did. It’s on the bed. I’m trying to untangle this pile of feathery horror I’ve collected over the years. There’s a specific one I need and I think it’s in the middle of the knot.”
“Give it here,” Tori said, waving her hands.
Juniper tossed it over without hesitation and got to her feet. “Thanks, Tor. I’ve gotta go talk to Lion-o. I hurt his feelings earlier and need to apologize. Let me know when you’re done!”
“Juniper Holiday, you are not about to leave me to sort this mess myself!”
“I’ll be back!” Juniper said cheerily, giving Tori a big smile before she closed the door behind her, Tori’s irate voice following her as she escaped down the stairs.
She power walked barefoot across the marble floors, ducking into one room after another in search of her long-dead butler, calling his name and getting no response.
Her search garnered more than a few looks from the decorators as they went about their tasks, but Juniper ignored them. They knew the place was “rumored” to be haunted and that she had been caught talking to thin air more than once. If they hadn’t caught on by now that it wasn’t an act, then whatever.
“Juniper, Holiday, tell me I haven’t missed my chance.”
Skidding to a halt in the middle of the hall leading to one of the many living rooms, ...