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Wicked Things: Lesbian Halloween Short Stories

Wicked Things: Lesbian Halloween Short Stories

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Wicked Things: Lesbian Halloween Short Stories

évaluations:
4/5 (5 évaluations)
Longueur:
391 pages
5 heures
Sortie:
Oct 24, 2014
ISBN:
9783955332754
Format:
Livre

Description

Fourteen authors of lesbian fiction contributed otherworldly, thrilling and supernatural short stories that will keep you glued to your seat.

Authors: Andi Marquette; Bridget Essex; Catherine Lane; Cori Kane; Elaine Burnes; Erzabet Bishop; Eve Francis; Lois Cloarec Hart; May Dawney; Orhea the dreamer; Q. Kelly; R.G. Emanuelle; S. M. Harding; Steph Gottschalk

Sortie:
Oct 24, 2014
ISBN:
9783955332754
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Jae grew up amidst the vineyards of southern Germany. She spent her childhood with her nose buried in a book, earning her the nickname "professor." The writing bug bit her at the age of eleven. For the last seven years, she has been writing mostly in English.She works as a psychologist. When she's not writing, she likes to spend her time reading, indulging her ice cream and office supply addiction, and watching way too many crime shows.

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Wicked Things - Jae

Wicked Things

Jae and Astrid Ohletz

Editors

Wicked Things : Lesbian Halloween Short Stories

Copyright © 2014 by Jae and Astrid Ohletz. All rights reserved.

First Smashwords Edition: October 2014

All rights reserved. This eBook is licensed for the personal enjoyment of the original purchaser only. This eBook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this eBook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are a work of fiction or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Spiritquest, LLC By Andi Marquette

A Certain Moon By Elaine Burnes

Walking After Midnight By Lois Cloarec Hart

Moon Dance By Bridget Essex

The Road Home By May Dawney

Hit And Run By Q. Kelly

A Lesson In Magic By Cori Kane

Strega By R.G. Emanuelle

Object Permanence By Steph Gottschalk

Taylor-Made By Catherine Lane

Ghost Lights By Erzabet Bishop

A Winter Story By S. M. Harding

That Day By Orhea the dreamer

Fresh Blood By Eve Francis

About The Authors

Other Books From Ylva Publishing

Coming From Ylva Publishing

Sign up for our newsletter to hear about new releases, read interviews with authors, enter giveaways, and more.

www.ylva-publishing.com

Introduction

In 2013, we published our first Halloween anthology, titled When the Clock Strikes Thirteen. Seven authors of lesbian fiction served otherworldly and supernatural stories. Everybody involved had a lot of fun. We were surprised and happy when a project born out of love for a holiday we don’t even celebrate in Germany (where we live) became a surprising success: When the Clock Strikes Thirteen became a hit with readers and was even a finalist for the GCLS awards.

The decision to repeat the experience wasn’t a difficult one. This time, we bring you fourteen stories about werewolves, vampires, ghosts, lunatics, and other beings that will keep you glued to your seat.

Enjoy the read and never stop dreaming…

Astrid Ohletz & Jae

Spiritquest, LLC

BY ANDI MARQUETTE

She’s a little weird, Mike said.

Mandy looked up from the counter and the video camera she was futzing with. And you’re not?

Allie grinned at him from her pile of extension cords. There is that.

Mike shrugged and took his cigarettes out of the left breast pocket of his shirt. He had a thing for retro cowboy shirts with faux pearl snaps. Today’s was black with silver piping. He had recently changed the color of his Mohawk from green to purple. It made him look like some kind of tropical bird, and with his rangy frame, the effect was even stronger.

There’s weird, and then there’s cool weird. I’m in the latter category. I mean, we don’t even really know where she’s from. He stood and dug a Zippo lighter out of his front jeans pocket. Think about it. She just showed up—what? A month ago?

People come and go all the time in this line of work, Allie said. We’ve taken other volunteers on outings, and some weren’t local.

Yeah, but we usually have a bit more info on them.

She agreed to the waiver. We have all the info we need.

And she knows a lot about the paranormal, Mandy said. I mean, a lot. And she’s up on local history.

Maybe she’s a rival ghost hunter and she’s been sent here to spy on us. Mike flicked the lid of his Zippo toward Mandy. It made a loud clicking snap. Or she’s with the government, and we’re all on some kind of watch list.

For researching the paranormal? Mandy scoffed.

"Look what they did in The X-Files. He waved a hand dramatically. The government is always up to shit. Right, Allie?"

"Don’t drag me into this."

Come on, he prodded. You have to admit, Sky’s kind of mysterious. And strange. She’s got government spook written all over her.

So the government has nothing better to do than spy on some poor-ass ghost hunting operation like this? Allie gave him a skeptical look.

You never know what they’re doing. They spy on everybody. Maybe some crazy antigovernment people are using ghost hunting as a front.

Allie laughed. Dude, you really need to stay off those conspiracy sites on the Net. I know it’s hard to believe, but not everything you read on the Web is true.

This from someone who tries to record paranormal activity, he shot back, though he was laughing, too.

Allie snorted. Why would the government send such an obvious lesbian to spy on ghost hunters?

Um, hello? Mike indicated himself with a flourish and then gestured at each of them. Because we’re the gayest ghost hunters in town. Maybe in the nation. Screw SpiritQuest. We should change our name to SpiritQueer.

That makes us sound like a gay cheerleading squad, Mandy said, laughing.

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. He spun on his heel and with an exaggerated sashay, circumvented the several boxes he’d been digging through in his search for battery packs and left via the back door, giving them both a little huff as he did.

I think she’s nice, Mandy hollered after him. And cute, she added under her breath, though Allie heard the comment anyway.

She raised her eyebrows. You think everybody’s cute.

And? Mandy set the camera aside. What’s wrong with that?

Nothing. But if you’re planning on putting your swerve on her, don’t do it while we’re on the job.

What, like tracking ghosts in dark buildings in the dead of night is supposed to make a girl feel all romantic? She reached for her can of Coke and the sleeve of her baggy sweatshirt caught on one of the video cameras she had yet to check. She carefully disengaged it before she picked up the can.

Two words, Allie said. Jessica Stillwell.

The flush on Mandy’s neck accentuated the olive tones of her skin, even under the fluorescent lights. Whatever, she muttered. That was an accident.

Yes, when people trip on a staircase, they always end up with their lips on someone else.

Fine. That one time.

Make it the only time. Off the job, I don’t care what you do. Allie finished wrapping the heavy orange extension cord around its plastic holder and set it next to the three cameras Mandy had already finished checking and placed on one of the myriad shelves behind the counter, all with neatly handwritten labels signaling what the shelves were for.

She’s not weird.

Allie looked over at Mandy, who had just finished another camera.

She’s just intense. And tuned in. She handed the camera to Allie.

You’re saying she sees dead people? Allie asked teasingly.

I don’t know. But she does seem more tuned in to that, don’t you think? There are people out there like that. Maybe she’s one of them. Plus she is really knowledgeable about the paranormal.

Which makes her perfect for ghost hunting. Allie placed the camera on the checked shelf with the others. Three more for this job, I think.

Mandy murmured agreement and started on another camera. The back door clanged shut and Mike reappeared in the doorway to the storage area. His cheeks were slightly reddened from the cold.

Okay, I figured out the real reason she’s weird, he announced.

Do tell, Allie said without looking up from the inventory sheet on the counter.

She’s intense.

Mandy nodded. I was just saying that. And being intense isn’t necessarily weird.

Please, girl. You’re only saying that because you think she’s cute. He made a dramatic gesture with his hand.

I don’t care how weird she is. Allie gave them both her parent glare. As long as she helps out, takes this stuff seriously, and plays well with others—living or dead—she can hang out with SpiritQuest.

Oh, yeah. Totally. Mike nodded emphatically, as did Mandy. She seems to work best with you, though. And I don’t mind chasing ghosts with Miss Thing, here. Plus, you won’t have to worry about me tripping into a liplock with her. He cut his eyes at Mandy and smirked at her answering glare.

Be glad I kind of like you, she said.

Sweetie, I know you do. Mike fluttered his eyelashes, then turned to dig through a box. So what else did you find out about the latest gig? He directed the question at Allie while he rummaged.

Hold on. Allie left the counter and went to the long utilitarian table against the wall that served as desk space. She picked up the big white binder and flipped through it to the section she wanted. Allie was always organized—to the point of accusations of anal retentive from Mike and Mandy—and she created separate binders for different parts of the state. Within each binder were sections for each of the different locations they’d gone ghost hunting, with photos, full reports, and references to the associated computer files.

Halstead House.

It sounds like it should be totally creepy. Mandy put another camera on the shelf. Gothic. And perfect for our Halloween outing.

Built in 1889 with money Charles Halstead made in the Pikes Peak gold rush, Allie continued. Charles’s adult son Frederick took up residence in 1896. Frederick’s wife was Lillian and their sons were Edward, Charles, and Frederick, Junior. Daughter Lily. Allie flipped another page. Family with money, known around town, doing all that stuff people from the upper echelons are supposed to do.

High class parties, Mike said. Must be nice.

The sons all lived reasonably long lives, Allie continued. Lily, however, did not. Born in 1902, died 1928. She stared at the photo from the newspaper article she’d printed out from microfiche. It detailed the circumstances of the accident that had killed Lily Halstead. In the photo—a professional sitting, taken from the torso up—she was dressed in a dark 1920s-era blouse that must have been the top part of a dress, since women didn’t wear pants much during those years. At least not proper women. She wore a matching hat and her eyes bored into Allie’s even from the crappy print-out, a little smile on her lips that made it look like she knew something nobody else did.

She was mad hot, Mike said over her shoulder. And I don’t even like girls that way.

It’s so sad that she died so young. Mandy had joined them. And now she’s stuck at the house.

So the rumors say. Allie flipped the page to the anecdotes that detailed the strange occurrences at the house, which was now a tourist attraction. Objects being moved. Furniture, too. Especially in what used to be the parlor, which, apparently, was one of Lily’s favorite rooms. She liked to entertain there.

Did she have any boyfriends? Mandy craned her neck to see the page.

No mention of any. She wasn’t married, either.

Sounds les-bish to me. Mike pointed at another photo of her. "I mean, seriously. Not just mad hot. Smokin’ hot. And there was lots of experimenting going on then. All those sassy flappers getting a little somethin’ somethin’ in the back of a neighborhood speakeasy."

Allie laughed. Great story, dude. If only it were true.

Hey, it could be. You never know. The love that dare not speak its name was getting spoken a hell of a lot. And I’m betting Miss Smokin’ Hot here did some talking with the ladies, if you know what I mean.

Mandy giggled while Allie studied the photo Mike had singled out. In this one, Lily stood next to a gorgeous car of the era, her foot placed jauntily on the running board. The car’s driver’s side window was open, and Lily rested her right hand on the door, her expression a grinning challenge with hints of mischief. She was dressed in a light-colored dress that came down to her knees, dark shoes, and a dark coat. A Twenties-era tight cap adorned her head, tilted just so. Allie had written the photo’s date underneath. It had been taken the year before Lily died.

I mean, twenty-five in this photo and back then, if she wasn’t married yet…leaning les-bish, Mike said. Just sayin’.

Mandy smacked him playfully on the arm. Has anybody seen her?

Allie nodded. The current caretaker—remember Mary Clement?—claims she has. Most recently a month ago.

Uh-huh. She only shows for the ladies. Mike nudged Allie’s right arm with his and Allie smiled.

What were the circumstances? Mandy asked.

Allie flipped to the page with the description of the incident. Late afternoon. Mary claims she was checking the downstairs areas of the house after the last tour had gone through and she thought she heard someone talking in the parlor. She says she leaned her head in and looked around and didn’t see anything at first, but as she turned to go, she saw something out of the corner of her eye and she looked back and she says she saw a woman.

So what makes her say it was Lily? Mandy again, leaning in closer to read over Allie’s shoulder, which made her breasts press into Allie’s arm.

Mary says she’s not sure what made her do it, but she said Lily’s name, like she was asking if that was who it was and the woman said yes.

"Mary actually heard her respond?"

So she says. Totally clear.

Then what happened? Mike, leaning in just as hard on Allie’s right.

Lily—if it was Lily—stood there for a few seconds, then disappeared. So Mary says. She was freaked out about it on the phone, and it’s been a month. She flipped to the next page. "There have been other alleged sightings of a woman about Lily’s age around the grounds. All the descriptions say the same thing. Youngish, pretty, wearing 1920s-style clothing.

So why did she stay behind, I wonder. Mandy moved away, much to Allie’s relief. As much as she liked Mandy, she wasn’t too keen on having a coworker’s breasts all up against her arm. And if that is her showing up, she clearly hasn’t reincarnated.

The age-old question my dear, Mike said in an overblown British accent.

"For all we know, everybody stays behind. Allie closed the binder, choosing not to engage Mandy’s latest obsession with reincarnation. Let’s finish up. We need to be ready to go tomorrow afternoon."

Mike sighed heavily and dramatically but went back to his boxes while Mandy returned to the counter. Allie set the binder back on the desk, thinking about Mandy’s question. That was why she did this work, she figured. To find out if there really were ghosts and why they stayed. She went back to the inventory sheet.

* * *

Hi.

Allie practically jumped out of her jeans. Shit. Her heart pounded. I didn’t hear you come in.

Sorry about that. Sky motioned toward the doorway to the foyer. I saw you in here and tried the door. It was open. Got everything under control?

I did, until you scared the piss out of me. She’d have to get on Mandy’s case for not locking the front door before she left. Anyway, yes. We’re good to go. Is your schedule okay to come with us?

Wouldn’t miss this one for the world, Sky said fervently and smiled. From comments she’d made over the past month, Allie knew Sky was really interested in this particular outing. And not for the first time, Allie felt she’d seen her somewhere before she showed up asking to come along on a couple of jobs. She always wore jeans, motorcycle boots, a dark tee, and a black leather motorcycle jacket. And Mandy was right. Sky was cute, in a rakish butch kind of way. Not too tall, not too short. Dark hair and eyes, though sometimes, in the right light, her eyes looked sort of blue.

So what do you know about the Halstead House? Allie’s heart had stopped hammering inside her chest and she leaned on the counter. Sky had provided some great historical information about the last two jobs they’d done.

Sky slid her hands into her jacket pockets. Been there a few times. Classic Queen Anne architecture and design. Frederick Junior lived in it until 1973, at which point he turned it over to the historic trust. He tried to preserve a lot of the nineteenth-century touches, though parts of it were modernized for him. He was a lifelong bachelor. Here Sky gave a knowing smile. Though he had several close gentleman friends over the years. If you know what I mean.

So there was at least one possible strain of gay in the Halstead household. Maybe they should change their name to SpiritQueer and go gay ghost hunting. What do you know about Lily?

Sky didn’t answer right away and instead stared off into space. She died young, she finally said, and Allie thought she detected sadness in the words. Accounts say she was vivacious—the word they used at the time—charming, adventurous, a social butterfly. Engaged in philanthropy, especially for less privileged women and children. Again, descriptions from the times. Sky paused. She liked to drive. Fast. At least as fast as the vehicles of the time would let her. She stopped and stared off into space again for a few moments. When she was killed, she wasn’t driving, though. She was a passenger.

Allie remembered the newspaper articles she’d read.

The driver survived, Sky said.

Rebecca Sanford, Allie supplied.

Yes. She never forgave herself. Didn’t drive for years after that.

Allie shot her a look.

Sky seemed to catch herself. So the accounts say, she added, a little hastily. The whole family was devastated, too.

Allie pulled the cuffs of her flannel shirt over her hands, which had become cold in the past few minutes. I got the impression that Lily didn’t marry or have any kids.

Back then, you’d better hope you were married before you had kids, Sky said with another smile. At least in the upper classes. But in this case, no, she never married. And no, she didn’t have any kids out of wedlock.

Did she leave anybody in particular behind? Allie crossed her arms to help warm up.

Sky regarded her for a few seconds. Rebecca.

Oh, my God. Seriously? Allie felt stupid for saying that at Sky’s expression. I mean—shit, that’s an even sadder situation than I thought. How do you know?

Letters they wrote.

Letters? Where?

Private collections, Sky said, vague. I know a few people.

You’ll have to hook me up with some of these private collections.

Remind me later.

So are there any photos of Rebecca? Allie hadn’t seen any in the newspaper accounts.

Yes. Frederick Junior left a few behind in the house. Pictures of Rebecca with Lily. She raised her eyebrows. Nothing sordid, she said, and it sounded like she was teasing. So I understand that some people say they’ve seen Lily around at the house.

You think it’s possible?

Again, Sky waited a while before responding. Sure. But sometimes people see what they want to see, and there are photos of Lily all over the house. Sky had a tendency to stand perfectly still, almost to the point that it was like she wasn’t even breathing.

Power of suggestion, you’re saying?

Maybe. And if a spirit doesn’t want to be seen, it won’t. If it does, it will.

What do you mean, if a spirit wants to be seen? Allie was sure the hair on the back of her neck was standing straight out and a chill shot up her spine.

People assume that spirits can’t manifest in a corporeal sense and that they’re struggling to make themselves heard or seen. She cocked her head. That’s not the case. Most can manifest physically. They just choose not to.

Skepticism washed the chill away. So what proof do you have of that?

Sky grinned. Research. And a lot of anecdotal evidence, since there’s not much grant money out there for people who want to coax spirits into manifesting and prove that the line between life and death isn’t absolute. She swept her gaze around the dingy, cluttered office space that SpiritQuest occupied as if to emphasize her point about money. At least the front room didn’t look as bad with the overhead fluorescents off. Mike had brought in some floor lamps a few months back and Allie had turned all three on after he and Mandy left for the evening.

So if that’s true, why don’t they want to manifest?

Think about most people’s reactions to seeing their dead relatives or friends walking around in plain sight. It would probably cause mass hysteria.

She had a point, and Allie nodded slowly. Sky leveled her gaze at Allie, and her eyes, for a brief moment in the softer light of the floor lamps, looked almost blue. Some among the living are able to deal with a full-on manifestation. But not many.

Allie frowned. Assuming that it’s true that all these ghosts are out there choosing not to manifest, why do they do little creepy things?

Because the living want to believe. They like not thinking of death as an absolute. The little things are teasers, and keep people engaged in remembering.

Okay. I’ll buy a bit of that. Have you seen a full manifestation?

Again, Sky was silent for a few moments. I like to think I have.

So basically, you’re telling me that ghosts choose to manifest or not but you don’t have any proof of this and you’re not sure you’ve even seen a full manifestation.

Sky shrugged, and the movement seemed exaggerated because she’d been standing so still. If I told you I had seen full manifestations, would you believe me?

Allie laughed. Okay, you’ve got me there. For all the ghost hunting I do, I’m actually pretty skeptical.

I know.

So why do ghosts stay behind and not cross over or whatever it is we’re supposed to do when we die?

That’s a matter of personal spirit preference, she said with a little quirk at the corner of her mouth.

There’s nothing mystical about it? Like they had unfinished business or something?

If they did and they want to stay behind to see how it plays out, they will. So no, there’s not really anything mystical about it.

Okay, then are there any conditions on death? Like, are you tied to a specific place or stuck where you died?

Spirits tend to manifest in places that were familiar in life. Sometimes they’ll connect with a specific living person, usually someone they knew and loved.

So can they go anywhere, at any time?

Depends. Spirits use energy that connects to something or someone that they had ties to in life, even peripherally. Sometimes, they can gain entry somewhere that they weren’t all that connected to in life through a living person. I’m not sure how that works, but it does. She pulled her hands from her pockets. I’ve got to go. I’ll meet you at the Halsteads’ tomorrow.

Okay. We should be done setting up at ten. Come by earlier if you want to watch that part.

Thanks. Not sure, though. Anyway, I’ll let myself out. She turned and went through the doorway into the foyer, which had been constructed in such a way that Allie couldn’t see the front door from her current angle. She exhaled and rubbed her hands up and down the sleeves of her flannel shirt. The chill of the autumn night had managed to permeate the office. And Sky’s creepy theories probably helped with that, too.

Mandy and Mike were right about Sky’s intensity. She wondered if Mandy might also be right about Sky being tuned in. Please, Allie remonstrated herself. How the hell would Sky know what a ghost wanted or didn’t want? Or how a ghost could travel? Next, they’d be SpiritQuest Travel Agency or something. Totally nuts. And there Sky had been, talking like she’d had conversations with ghosts. Like she hung out with them all the time, having coffee or beers or whatever.

Sky was probably a little crazy, Allie decided, but in this line of work, that was generally okay. At least she did her research about the places they were going to visit. A lot of research. She seemed to know quite a bit about the Halstead House. Allie picked her keys up off the counter to go lock the front door, after which she’d text Mandy a cranky reminder to make sure the damn door was locked after hours. She stuck the key in the lock, but something wasn’t right.

What the hell? She turned the doorknob and pulled. The door was already locked. She unlocked it and locked it again, testing it. Sky didn’t have a key. So how—? Wait. Hadn’t Mike said last month that he’d had some trouble with the lock? That was it. She was a little weirded out by Sky’s paranormal talk, and that, coupled with what she at first thought was a locked door, gave her the heebie jeebies. Sky had been right about that, at least. People did tend to manufacture things in their minds. She checked the door again and went to gather her things so she could set the alarm and leave out the back.

* * *

Allie dialed the number Mary Clement had given her first thing the next morning. A man answered.

Hi. This is Allie over at SpiritQuest confirming our appointment for tonight.

You’ll be wanting Mary, then, he said. Hold on. It was a landline, and he set it down on something with a clunk. Allie heard voices in the background, and then the phone receiver was picked up.

This is Mary.

Hi, Mary. It’s Allie at SpiritQuest.

Hi, there. We are confirmed for tonight. And I’m so glad you’re coming. I think Lily was here again yesterday. She said it with some excitement.

Really? What happened? Allie picked up her coffee and sipped as she moved her iPad aside. She’d chosen a table in the back of the café, away from the front door and the counter so she could have some privacy and hear better.

One of our visitors saw her out back, by the gazebo. There have been several sightings of her there, but this one was such that the visitor attempted to talk to her. She was curious about Lily’s historical clothing. Mary laughed a little nervously.

So Lily was—um, corporeal?

Oh, yes, according to the visitor. She appeared to be as solid as the rest of us. That aren’t ghosts, anyway.

What was Lily doing?

Sitting in one of the chairs we keep on the patio by the gazebo. Then she got up and stood by the rose bushes we have back there. I’m told she really liked roses.

Did she respond to the visitor?

She apparently waved and went into the house. The door was propped open. That’s when the visitor came to me. She wasn’t scared, just excited that she saw what she was convinced was a ghost, since she found no sign of Lily anywhere inside, and someone dressed like that would surely stick out.

Did she say anything?

Not that the visitor heard. Most of the sightings I’m aware of don’t mention that. There was one, however, a couple years ago, who seems to have had a full conversation with her. She’s been back a few times.

What? Allie gripped her phone harder. Who was that?

Well, I can’t recall her name. But she was interested in local history and said she was working on a research project about the Halsteads. She was particularly interested in Lily and said she did some ghost hunting as a hobby. I do recall that she had some interesting insights about Rebecca Sanford.

Do you know if she ever completed that project? Maybe it was available in a library somewhere and Allie could track down the researcher. The Halstead House might just require more than one session of ghost hunting.

You know, I don’t. I wish I could think of her name.

Was she local?

I don’t know. She was last here about four months ago.

And you don’t know her name?

Well, she didn’t really say. Let me think about it. Maybe something will make me remember more details.

Okay, Allie said, trying not to sound disappointed. Anyway, Lily’s ghost sounds friendly, at least.

Oh, she was quite the charmer in life, all the sources say. Always friendly and kind. Not one of those overbearing wealthy people. No reason to think she’d be different now, is there? Mary laughed, with genuine amusement this time.

Allie leaned back in her chair and watched as a group of teenaged boys entered, most wearing skinny jeans and skateboard sneakers. I guess not. Speaking of sources, do you happen to know if there’s a collection of Lily’s letters that’s accessible to the public?

Her brother Frederick donated what he had of her papers to the Western History collections at the downtown library. They’re included in the main Halstead files.

Allie hadn’t had time to really delve into the collection. What about Rebecca Sanford? Is there a collection related to her somewhere?

Well, I don’t know. I suppose it’s possible.

Do you know if Frederick ever talked about her?

He may have. I think his journals are included in the Halstead collection downtown.

A little prickle worked its way down Allie’s spine. What do you know about her?

Not much, but she and Lily were very close, the sources say. There were even a few rumors about their relationship being more than friends. She didn’t sound disgusted or judgmental, much to Allie’s relief.

Is there somebody downtown who is really familiar with the Halstead collection?

That would be Gareth Ordwell. He’s usually there weekdays. Just call the main number and ask for him.

That was good news. She liked Gareth. "Thanks, Mary.

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