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JD stormed into his suite and kicked the camera’s travel case out of his way. He tossed the power supply on the bed and stood with hands on hips, breath hissing through his nostrils, brows scrunched over his eyes, lips set. He roared and kicked the mattress.
He shut his eyes, breathed slow and deep, and tried to calm down.
He counted. It didn’t work. He worked mathematical algorithms in his head. Better success. In a few minutes, he sat on the corner of the bed and opened his eyes.
He knew what Dillon’s answer would be, could hear it in his head as clearly as if they were together. Dude, it’s a ghost, man! Who else vanishes inta thin air, yo?
JD knew it wasn’t a ghost. Why would a ghost need to elude him? Why wouldn’t a ghost simply dematerialize in the stairwell, without the unnecessary exit to the hallway?
But he couldn’t explain how someone could go through a door and vaporize into the hallway, either.
A pained, disappointed expression fell over his face, like missing the lottery by a single digit, or watching the New England Patriots lose the Super Bowl in the waning seconds on a Hail Mary pass. He dropped his head into his hands and groaned.
“Oh God. I can’t believe I fell for it.”
He’d been duped. The oldest trick in the book, and it worked like a carnival card shuffler’s sleight of hand. He’d fallen for it like an amateur. Like an idiot.
He sighed. He felt like crying but refused himself the privilege. On top of it, he forgot to get the key to the second floor room and couldn’t set up the camera’s power supply.
The phone vibrated against his hip. He checked the incoming number. Wendy. He snapped the phone open.
“Hello?” The lament in his voice was clear.
“JD? Is that you, babe?” Wendy seemed worried.
“Yeah, Wen, it’s me.” He tried to smile. It didn’t work.
“You don’t sound so hot, lover. What’s wrong?”
“Oh … I’ll explain when I see you. I don’t … I’ll explain when I see you. Where are you?”
“I just left Phoebe. Holy smoke, hon. Holy-frickin’-smoke. That poor woman’s in a bad way, JD.”
“I can imagine. It was a major trauma. Is she going to see a doctor?”
“No, not that. I mean, physically she’s fine, mostly. But she’s really … well, I’m on my way back to the rooms now. I don’t want to talk about it over the phone. You know … someone might hear.”
“Good idea. Let’s meet in my room, okay? I have to get into that second floor room and hook up the camera adaptor, but I forgot to get the key from Hank.”
“Oh, okay. We can do that after we talk, I guess. Where is Hank?”
“He didn’t go back to Phoebe?”
“Not while I was with her. I just left a couple of minutes ago. When did you last see him?”
“It’s been a while. He said he was going to check on her.”
“Huh. That’s odd.”
“Yes. Yes, it is. Hmm.”
“Well, I’m going to get a drink at the little store, then I’ll come up. See ya in a few, sweet-cheeks. Love you.”
“I love you too.”
The phone went dead. JD wondered where Dillon might be. Even he couldn’t take so long to connect one adaptor. JD dialed Dillon’s cell phone.
It rang for a few seconds. Then, “Dude, what?”
“That’s how you answer the phone? How’d you know it was me?”
“Aw, man, there’s this miracle stuff — only been aroun’ for, like, ever. It’s called ‘caller ID’? Mebbe you heard of it?”
“Ha. Ha. Funny, har har, hyuck hyuck. Where are you?”
“Right here, dude, where else?”
JD’s jaw muscles danced and he shut his eyes. “Where is here, Dillon?”
“Oh, right. By 3126, dude.”
“Did you hook up the adaptor?”
“Oh yeah, like, ages ago an’ shi — stuff.”
JD paused. “Are you … are you with Danae?”
“You are, aren’t you? What are you doing?”
“Dude, tha’s a nunya.”
“What’s a ‘nunya’?”
“Nunya, dork — as in, nunya bidness.”