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Letter to Readers
Also by Kate Baray
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SPIRELLI PARANORMAL INVESTIGATIONS
This book is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places, and events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used in a purely fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Catherine G. Cobb.
Cover by Viola Estrella, estrellart.com
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.
Jack pushed off from the counter and spun his new swivel stool. “I don’t think you mentioned—why did you move out of your dad’s house?”
Marin didn’t bother to look up. “None of your business. Where did you get this crap? We’ll never be able to sell this stuff.” She pulled out a tangle of colorful plastic beads.
“Not true.” Jack spun around again on his stool. “Mardi Gras.”
“That’s months away, but you’re probably right. These will make great decorations. Or they will after someone untangles them all. And yes, I know that’s me.” She picked at the knotted mess, glancing periodically at Jack. Finally, she said, “Jeez, Jack. Stop it. You’re going to puke.”
Jack spun the stool one more time, just because—why not? When the world around him stilled, it occurred to him that maybe, just maybe, Marin had been right. He didn’t feel lightheaded, but he was pretty damn sure he was hallucinating. “Marin.” His gaze remained fixed on the small creature that had appeared in front of him.
“What?” she snapped.
Without looking away from it, he asked, “Do you see a small, white, furry, uh, something near the office door?”
“Hey, that’s exciting. Your hedgehog is coming out to say ‘hello.’ They’re usually so shy.” The sound of beads clattering on the table muffled her words. “Although you have been feeding him crabmeat.”
Its nose twitched, and its big brown eyes moved from him to Marin and back again. If Jack didn’t know better, he’d swear the thing smiled when Marin mentioned “crab.”
Jack sat as still as he could manage. “That is not a hedgehog.” It looked more like a lab puppy than a hedgehog. But definitely not a puppy. He had no tail, a round body with short, stubby legs, and large brown eyes. It was the big, brown, mournful eyes that reminded him of a puppy.
“He won’t disappear if you blink, Jack. Obviously he wants something.”
In response, the furry creature dropped back on its haunches into a position that resembled a dog sitting.
“See. He’s even getting comfortable.” Marin’s voice was getting closer.
It lay down.
“Uh, I think—this sounds nuts—but I think he understands you.” Jack would swear the creature sighed.
“He definitely understands. Jack, meet your Arkan Sonney.” Marin said, “Sir, may I present Jack Spirelli, as you know, the proprietor of the shop. I’m Marin Campbell. It’s a privilege to meet you.”
The little furry creature stood back up on his four legs and executed what looked to Jack like a very credible bow.
Jack wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say. “Hi?”
“A ‘thank you’ wouldn’t hurt.” Marin poked him in the ribs with an elbow. “This gentleman is the reason your shop is doing so well.”
Rubbing his side, Jack said, “Thank you.” He shot Marin a hard look. He moved out of poking range then said, “I’m not exactly sure what I’m thanking you for—but I have enjoyed having you here. You’re good company.”
Jack couldn’t look the little creature in the face as he added that last sentiment. It was a little embarrassing.
“He says you’re good company, too, and the food’s good.”
Jack shifted his gaze to Marin. “He’s communicating with you? I don’t hear anything.”
“He can communicate telepathically.” Marin tilted her head, studying their new friend. “I didn’t know that. Can I ask why you didn’t speak before now?”
A slow smile spread across Marin’s face, and she nodded.
Jack sighed. This was going to get old fast. “Maybe you could share? Since I can’t hear him?”
“Fuzzface—” Marin’s grin reappeared. “—Bob didn’t have anything to say before.”
Marin crossed her arms. “Bob.”
Awkward. Jack had given the dude a pet name because—he thought he was a rodent of some kind. But Bob?
“Bob, uh, apologies for the nicknames. I didn’t really know what to call you.” When Fuzzface dipped his head, Jack said, “Any chance of you speaking to me?”
Fuzzface’s—Bob’s—furry head turned to Marin.
“He is.” Marin opened her eyes wide, giving Jack an innocent look. “Bob’s a guy of few words. I think he can communicate with me because we both have the ability. You’re probably out of luck. And I don’t think Bob sees any problem with me acting as translator.”
Bob blinked his big eyes at Jack. He seemed to be waiting.
“So, uh, I’m glad to meet you.” Jack rubbed his neck. This one-way conversation thing was gonna kill him. What did the little guy want?
“Thanks for the crab. I like shrimp, too.” Marin’s lips pulled into a smile as she translated. “Arkan Sonney are really good luck. Those mysterious items that always seem to show up when a customer asks, those great finds you’ve stumbled across at garage sales when you’re just picking up random boxes of leftovers…” Marin pointed to Bob.
“Seriously?” Jack whispered to Marin. When she just raised her eyebrows and nodded, he turned back to Bob—and the fuzzy little body that housed some serious raw magical talent. “I had no idea. And, um, sure, shrimp’s no problem. I mean, if you have a list—” Jack looked to see what Marin was getting in response.
She gave a subtle shake of her head.
“Or, you know, crab and shrimp are great.” Jack had experienced some weirdness in the last few months, but this was beyond bizarre. Roll with it, Jack. “I can buy crab and shrimp. Is there anything else?”
“My friend—sorry, Bob’s friend—needs help.” Marin frowned. “Let me close the shop and we can talk about this in the office without being interrupted.”
Bob must have thought that was a grand idea, because he trotted off in the direction of the shop. Jack watched a tiny corkscrew tail disappear into his office then he turned to Marin. “How have you not mentioned this to me before?”