Renee strode gracefully to the front of the pharmacy. Her shopping basket swung lightly at her side. She was a ballerina whose very walk became a dance.
“Maryanne, I'd like you to meet Renee. She's an instructor at the studio,” said DeeDee.
I shook hands with Renee without saying much. Not much in this world can intimidate me, but high on that short list are confident, artistic women. I'd never told my roommate, Charlotte, but when she was in full prima donna mode she scared the hell out of me.
“What brings you to our town?” Renee asked brightly.
“She's here about the haunted house,” interjected Alayna.
Renee took a step back and looked me over, slowly. “Are you with a reality show or something?”
“What, like Mostly Ghostly? No way. I deal with harsh reality, not fantasy sold as reality.”
DeeDee tittered and Alayna grinned.
“Right,” Renee said with a smile. “So why are you here?”
“Your local priest called me in. I'm here to find a real answer to a real problem.” I nodded at Alayna and said, “I was told you had an experience with the ghost. Care to share the story?”
DeeDee told Renee, “It's okay. I know Maryanne's family.”
In the Panhandle, family connections are worth more than gold and almost as much as oil. “Mom was a Mackenzie,” I said.
“Oh! Are you related to Steve?” asked Renee.
I sighed internally. “Yes.”
“Maryanne's mother was homecoming queen and class valedictorian,” DeeDee remarked.
“Wow,” Renee said. “And I'll bet you're just like her.”
“Oh, no,” I replied quickly. “I've never been queen of anything.” I'd never even been nominated. But if there was a contest for Queen of Attorneys for the Undead and Supernatural, I'd be a contender.
Renee looked around and lowered her voice. “Have you ever seen a ghost?”
“I've lived with one.”
“Well, no one can live with Hank. Not for long. Everytime poor Nora sits down to a meal, Hank't there screaming in her ear. When she isn't trying to eat, he kind of hovers. You can't see him but you know he's there.”
“You tried to eat a meal there. What happened?”
Renee set her basket on the floor and pushed her hair behind her ears. “Nora's a family friend. I knew she wasn't eating well, and I thought bringing over a home-cooked meal might help. So I brought over a casserole.”