Chapter 16

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Jack didn't return for the rest of the day, but that evening, as I sat at my desk trying to focus on my English assignment, a faint tappity tap could be heard from the attic above. I'd been so terrified the first time I'd heard those sounds, but now they were a source of contentment, like snuggling in bed with your favorite fluffy blanket. I was never alone when I was in this house. Strange for someone who was normally fine with solitude to also find the constant presence of another comforting.

The next day, I snuck up to the attic while my parents were eating breakfast, just long enough to let Jack know I'd be gone all day.

"But, didn't you say it was Saturday?"

"It is. And it's also the grand opening of the horribly named but hopefully wildly successful Mazzeria Pizzeria. Believe me, I'd rather hang out with you and watch bad movies all day but I'm not getting out of this one. I've gotta help out, or I'm going to look like the worst daughter in the world. Plus, Kayla will be pissed at me if I don't come."

"We wouldn't want that." He slumped back against the wall next to his favorite attic window. I wondered if he could feel the wood pressed against his back, considering he didn't really have a back. Touchy subject for a reluctant ghost.

"At least I'll be working with her. If we come up with any more ideas on your case, I'll let you know when I get home tonight. Don't wait up, though."

He stared at me with his sad puppy eyes, his lashes appearing twice as long as usual in the shadows cast by the eastern sunlight. "It's nice how hard you work to try to solve, well, to try to solve me. Fix me. Send me to the beyond or whatever. Sometimes I wonder if I'm wasting your time."

"What? No! Never. I want to do this. So does Kayla. And we will, um, solve you. Just give us time."

He nodded and turned his gaze back out the front window. "Tell Kayla I said hello."

#

It wasn't until several hours after my parents and I arrived at the restaurant that I had a chance to pull Kayla aside. Carlo and Becca kept me busy, scrubbing surfaces, setting tables, trying to figure out how to get the admittedly cool maze-themed retro pinball machine set up and operational. While I was doing that, Kayla called venders, ordered more supplies, and made some last-minute changes to the day's specials. "We couldn't get the right assortment of olives. Something about an issue with a processing plant in California. So, that's a no to the anti-pasta salad, which is going to thoroughly disappoint our head chef. Hold on."

She walked into the kitchen and returned a minute later. "Okay, that's taken care of. Turns out Alvin wanted to try out a sundried tomato and mushroom bruschetta anyways, so he was only mildly pissed about the olives. Now talk, Mazie... I've got about three minutes."

Talking at twice my usual speed, I told her I'd narrowed down our dance school options to two.

Kayla seemed happy about my progress. "Let's try the one in Silverdale first, what was it called again?"

"Little Dancers, Big Dreams. There's a tap class this Monday afternoon at four."

"Perfect. Let's go."

"Maybe we won't need to, though." I told her my plan to feign interest in taking classes to Blake when I saw him on Monday.

"Not bad, Mazie. Okay, so why don't we plan on going to the school only if you don't manage to get the information you need straight from Blake. Oh, and you'll probably have a chance to talk to him before school on Monday. I'm sure his family will be here for the opening."

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