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A Ghost of a Chance

Title:  Missing Pieces
Author: Nubiangeek
Summary: Jonathan finds the girl of his dreams and she owns a haunted house.
Rating: PG

    It had been a hectic two weeks.  They had just wrapped up a case involving revenge from a jilted lover.  Both Maddy and Jonathan were exhausted.  In addition to their everyday jobs as magician's consultant and journalist, they moonlighted as detectives of a sort.
    They were relaxing in one of the many coffeehouses that seemed to spring up overnight.  Whatever happened to good old English tea?
    This particular coffeehouse was a regular haunt of Jonathan's.  He often came here when he wanted to think.  This, it turned out, was often.
    Maddy was going on at the moment about how stupid the woman was in their recent case.  Jonathan, on the other hand, had noticed a young woman sitting directly behind Maddy.  He had seen the woman here often.  Sometimes she was alone and sometimes she was with friends.  He didn't know what it was that had attracted him to her other than the fact that she was beautiful.
    "Are you listening to anything I'm saying?"  Jonathan's eyes snapped back to Maddy.
    "I'm sorry.  What were you saying?"  Maddy was angry, but not really.  She was used to her attention-deficit friend.
    "What are you looking at?"  Maddy turned around to see the pretty woman sitting behind her.
    "Oh, so that's your game.  Who is she then?"  If  Maddy was angry because he was looking at another woman, she didn't show it.  They had figured out a while ago that they weren't for each other.  Since then, Maddy had been trying to fix him up with just about everyone.
    "I've seen her here several times," was his only answer.
    "Well, why don't you ask her out?"  The thought of actually asking her out seemed to terrify him somewhat.  And, before he realized what was going on, Maddy was going over to the woman's table.  He couldn't hear what Maddy was saying, and he couldn't even imagine what she was saying.  The next thing he knew, she was motioning for him to come over to where they were.  He didn't know what made him, but he went.
    "Jonathan, this is Shannon.  Shannon,  this is Jonathan.  Enjoy!"  And then, she left.
    Jonathan and the woman, who now had a name, stared nervously at each other.
    "I'm sorry.  She gets like this sometimes."  Now that he was looking right into her face, he saw that she was more beautiful than he had originally thought.
    "That's all right.  I thought that it was charming."  Oh no, he thought.  She thought that I put Maddy up to the introduction.  But, the fear went away when he saw her smile.  It was as if the sun had come out from behind a cloud.
    "So, I can tell you are American.  What brings you here?"  Oh, smooth,  he told himself.  She's going to think you're a real Don Juan.
    "Well, it's kind of interesting.  I inherited, indirectly, a house from my grandmother.  So, I've been here a couple of months trying to figure out what I'm going to do with it."  Jonathan looked interested.
   "Do you plan on staying here long?"  Shannon smiled as she realized what he was getting at.
    "Of course, if I had a good reason to stay, I would."
    Jonathan and Shannon had a nice chat over coffee.  Shannon gave Jonathan her address as well as her phone number and encouraged him to call.
    Jonathan was happy, excited in fact, when he left the coffeehouse.  It had been a while since he felt this way.  It was the sort of feeling he got when one of his illusions was a success.  He wanted to call her as soon as he got home, but he refrained.  He didn't want to make an utter nuisance of himself.  So, he decided to go down to the theater to work for a couple of hours and then call her that evening.  Even though Maddy was trying to be obnoxious, he really had to thank her this time.
    He could hardly keep his mind on his work that afternoon which could be rather hazardous in his line of work.  He was usually so focused.
    When Jonathan returned to the hotel where he was staying while the show was going on, he took out the piece of paper containing Shannon's phone number.  He took a deep breath and dialed her number.  Then, he had a terrible thought.  What if she gave him her number just to be polite?  What if it wasn't even her phone number?  He quickly put the phone down.
    Oh, I'm such a coward, he thought to himself.  So, he picked up the phone again and dialed.
    Shannon, who had been cleaning the house, answered the phone on the third ring.
    "Hello?"  It was she!
    "Hello, Shannon, it's Jonathan."  She already knew that it was Jonathan,  but she giggled as she realized how nervous he was.
    "I was wondering if you'd like to get together tonight."  She smiled.  She didn't think that he would be able to ask it.
     "I'd love to.  Would you like to come to my house?  The kitchen's not ready yet to serve a proper dinner, but maybe we could order in?"  Jonathan agreed and Shannon gave him the address.
    When Jonathan pulled up in front of the massive structure, he saw that it looked like something out of a gothic novel.
    "Hi, Jonathan.  Come on in."  She had been working on the house.  Her hair was up in a ponytail and she had on very tight, holey jeans and a Disney T-shirt.  She looked even more beautiful.
    "I'm sorry that I didn't have a chance to shower and change first.  But, if you give me a few minutes, I'll be right back."  She disappeared into the restroom.
    The thought of her showering in the next room was almost too much to bear, so he decided to take his mind off things by looking around.
    Some of the rooms looked modernized while others looked like they hadn't been touched in decades.  Jonathan had the feeling that whoever had lived here recently didn't use all of the rooms in the house.
    Jonathan was in what looked like an old nursery.  He picked up a doll and then he heard a baby crying.  Jonathan jumped, dropping the doll in the process.  The cy sounded far away.  Jonathan turned around and was startled to see Shannon standing there.  She had just come from the shower, so her hair was still wet and she smelled wonderful.
    "Did you hear that?"  He asked.  She looked puzzled.
    "Hear what?"  Her puzzled look was slowly turning into panic.
    "I thought I heard a baby crying.  At first I thought it was coming from in here, then it sounded far away."  He could tell that he was scaring her.  He hadn't meant to.  If anything, he thought that she would think that he was crazy.
    Shannon started backing toward the door.  All of a sudden, she just turned and ran out without warning.
    "Shannon, wait.  What's the matter?"  He ran after her and caught up with her in the living room.  When he caught her, she was nearly hysterical.
    "It's okay.  I'm here.  You're okay."  He held her.  He could smell the scent of her still wet hair and held her tighter.
    "You need to tell me everything."  There was something she wasn't telling him.  He could feel it.  He guided her over to the couch and they sat down.
    "My wanting to get to know you was somewhat selfish on my part.  I knew who you were even before your friend Maddy introduced us.  I came there everyday hoping to attract your attention.  As I said, I knew who you were and I knew that you solved mysteries.  Jonathan, I need your help.  My house is haunted."  Jonathan didn't normally believe in such things as the supernatural.  He believed that everything had a logical explanation.  But, at that moment with Shannon holding his hand and looking into his eyes, he would believe anything that she had to say.
    "I'll help.  What can I do?"  She smiled and kissed him on the cheek
    "First, let me give you a little history lesson.  My grandmother died in 1952.  My mother was six years old.  The house was in my grandmother's family.  My mother grew up in the house but moved to America when I was born.  The house was given to a distant cousin - a sister of my grandmother.  He died two months ago.  That's how it finally came back to me.  Ever since I came here, I've felt strange.  At first I thought I was coming down with a cold or something because I felt dizzy every time I went into certain rooms."  Jonathan had heard about people with these feelings in cases of precognition.
    "Have you ever had your psychic abilities tested?"  Shannon thought he was joking, but he was quite serious.
    "No, I've never been tested for psychic ability."
    Jonathan looked like he was thinking about something and Shannon thought that he was going to say something about it.  Instead, he said,
    "Well, it's getting late.  What do you say we give this a rest for tonight and order some food?"  Shannon nodded.
    They were seated on the floor in front of the fire.  That had ordered Chinese, not Shannon's first choice, but they had ribs and they were the only place that delivered.
    They were somewhat quiet as they ate.  Every now and then, their eyes would meet.  Jonathan would look as if he could see into her soul and Shannon would turn away shyly.
    When dinner was over, they cleaned up silently and went back to sit in front of the fire.
    "Will you stay the night?"  Jonathan knew that it was not an invitation to bed.  She was frightened and didn't want to be alone.
     So there they slept,  right there in front of the fire with an afghan from the couch.  He held her to let her know that she wasn't alone.  He wanted to make love to her, but he knew that was out of the question.  There would be time for them later.
    The next morning, Shannon awoke early.  She smiled as she watched Jonathan sleep.  Then she went off to fix breakfast.
    Jonathan awoke with a start.  He had been dreaming that he and Shannon were alone together and he felt such peace.  All of a sudden a dark cloud descended and . . . he woke up.
     When Jonathan found that Shannon was gone, he got up quickly and went in search of Shannon.  He found her in the kitchen.
     "Morning. I'm not really good at cooking a proper English breakfast.  Will bacon and eggs do?"  Jonathan smiled because she went through so much trouble for him.
    "This is fine.  Is there coffee?"  The coffee was just finishing as she took it out and poured him a cup.
    "So, do you know much about your grandmother?"  It was if his train of thought just continued from last night.  He ate heartily as he listened to her.
      "Grandma was quite a rabble rouser in her day.  She was very unconventional.  People like her well enough, but she was just different.  That's about all I really know about her."  Jonathan had been listening intently, which was his way.
    "From what I've learned from people who believe in these haunting things, it sounds like she has some unfinished business that she's trying to clear up.  Would you care if I asked my friend Maddy to do some checking on her?"  Shannon didn't mind.
    "Why don't you call her while I go up and change?"
    Jonathan was reminded that Shannon had changed into a long T-shirt that stopped a little above her knees just before they went to sleep the night before.  He watched her legs as she ascended the stairs and sighed before punching in Maddy's number.
    "Hello."  Jonathan told her who it was and Maddy joked a little with him about spending the night with Shannon.
    "Forget all of that.  Can you look up some information on a Victoria Collingswood?" There was a slight hesitation as Maddy wrote down the name.
    "Have you stumbled upon another mystery or is it just the girl that's the mystery?"  Maddy teased.
    Before Jonathan could utter a snappy comeback, he heard a horrific scream.
    "Shannon is in trouble.  I need to go."  He almost threw the phone down as he raced up the stairs taking them two at a time.
    "Shannon."  He called as he started looking in the rooms.
    He found her lying on her bedroom floor in her underwear.  He rushed to her and took her into his arms.  He feared for a moment that she might be dead, but as he held her, she began to stir.
    "Shannon, can you hear me?  What happened?"  As her eyes slowly opened, she looked up and saw Jonathan there.  He was so handsome.  She reached up and placed her hand on his cheek.
   "I started dressing, but then the room started to spin.  I felt disoriented and I kept hearing a baby crying. I -I must have fainted."  She suddenly realized that she was in her underwear.  Jonathan, seeing her embarrassment, grabbed the silk robe that was lying on the bed and put it around her.
    He then pulled her up and brought her over to the bed to sit down.  He stayed close to her so that she could feel his presence.
    "I know that there is something here, Jonathan.  I just know it.  I'm so frightened."  She started to cry then.   Something he didn't think he would ever see her do.  He held her and stroked her hair.
    "I found something - a diary."  Jonathan picked it up and flipped through it.
    "Did you start feeling badly before or after you found the diary?"  He already knew the answer.
    "After.  Why?"  Jonathan didn't have an answer for that, but he thought that maybe the answer would be in the diary.
    He hated to do what he did next.
    "I need to go into work today.  Will you be alright?"
    She wasn't quite sure, but she assured him that she would be okay.
    I want some time to look at this diary."  She put on a brave smile for him.
    "Why don't I take you out to dinner tonight?"  He stroked her cheek and then bent down and kissed her lightly on the lips.  Jonathan was surprised by his feelings for her and pulled away quickly.
    "Well, I guess I'll be off then."  And he was gone.
    Shannon spent the afternoon straightening up the house.  She still couldn't bring herself to touch the closed-off rooms.
    After eating a light lunch and fixing a pitcher of iced tea, she took the diary and a glass of tea into the sunroom.
    She started reading the diary at the very beginning.  The diary had been given as a birthday present to her grandmother from her husband when she turned twenty-five.  In the first entry, she expressed thanks and devotion to her husband James Collingswood.  The next few entries went on to describe everyday life for Victoria.  It included people who came to call as well as her calling on others.  She also commented on the social scene of the time.
    But, at one point, the social commentary ended and something darker,  more sinister began.  Victoria Collingswood began seeing someone other than her husband.
    As Shannon continued to read, the shadows moved across the room and Shannon realized that Jonathan would soon be back to take her to dinner.
    He found herself getting excited as she thought of Jonathan taking her to dinner.  She thought about Jonathan's quirky ways. She thought about how these quirky ways would drive other people crazy, but she found them dear.  The way you could just see him thinking - see the wheels turning.  He was a mystery in and of himself. He was a mystery that she wanted desperately to crack.
    She hurried upstairs to shower and change praying that another incident like this morning didn't happen again.
      Jonathan, on the other hand, again couldn't get anything done.  He just couldn't concentrate.  The image of Shannon's legs as she walked up the stairs as well as the picture of her in her underwear was too fresh in his mind.
    When the work day was over, he hurried home to shower and change.  Then he hurried over to Shannon's.
    "Hi."  He said as Shannon opened the door.
    They kissed automatically.  Jonathan wanted to stop and analyze this reaction, but he couldn't make his mind do that.
    "You look nice."  He commented as she drew him inside.  She smiled shyly as she said ‘thank you'.
    "So, any new developments since this morning?"  Shannon shook her head.
    "No, I've read some in the diary.  It's a little strange, but nothing more to go on really."
    They went to a quiet, casual place that Jonathan knew.  He held her hand as they did a lot of quiet talking.  Jonathan tried to steer her mind away from the house and hey just relaxed and talked about each other.  They talked about likes and dislikes, that sort of thing.
    It was a beautiful evening, and they decided to take a stroll in the moonlight.  Jonathan kept stealing glances at her.  He had never felt this way before and he was still trying to analyze these feelings.  He wondered if, after the mystery was solved, they would continue seeing each other.  He squeezed her hand as he thought about how much he wanted to continue seeing her.
    They didn't know it, but quietly lurking was a figure that had been following them for some time now.  Shannon felt a chill and thought and thought that it was from the slight nip in the air.  Jonathan instinctively put his jacket around her shoulders and nothing more was thought about it.
    When they returned to Shannon's place, there was a message waiting from Maddy.  She had some information, so she wanted to come over and share the information.
    Jonathan reluctantly called Maddy and gave her Shannon's address.  After all, he reasoned, he did ask for the information in the first place.
    "Well, you were right.  Your grandmother was a lively one."  Maddy had arrived at the house some twenty minutes later.  Shannon had offered her a glass of iced tea and they settled down to share information.
    "She was what we would call today a social butterfly.  She went to all of the parties and hosted a few herself.  James Collingswood was a solicitor, so as his wife, she was expected to uphold a certain status."
    Shannon shared that this was consistent with what she had been reading in the diary.
    "But, according to the diary, she started seeing someone else.  The tone of the writing made it sound as if she were reluctant to be involved in this relationship.  It was as if she were being forced."  They looked at each other and thought that this was getting stranger.
    "I guess we can't be lucky enough to have the name of her lover in that book, huh?"
    Shannon slowly shook her head.
    "All I know is that he was someone important and someone that she feared."  Even while saying this, Shannon couldn't believe that her grandmother could be scared of anyone.
    Walter Danzinger was Shannon's realtor.  He came over the next morning for Shannon to sign some more papers.  Jonathan had already left for his work at the theater.  They had a wonderful night together.
    Jonathan had told himself that he would wait until everything was over to make love to Shannon, but he couldn't wait.
    After Maddy left, Shannon continued talking about the diary and her grandmother.  Jonathan couldn't concentrate.  He kept wondering what it would be like to touch her soft skin.  Before either of them realized it, they were in bed together.  The first time was fast and furious.  He simply wanted her.  The second time, he took his time so that they would both enjoy it.  He hated to admit it to himself, but he was falling in love with her.
    "Now Ms. Bonner, I came with the final paperwork for the house.  May I ask, are you happy with the place?"  Shannon was careful not to reveal anything important.  This man looked as if he were fishing for something.
    "Uh - why wouldn't I be happy with it?"  Danzinger was getting nervous.
    "Oh I didn't mean anything by it.  I was just thinking, you know, this is an old house.  There might be interesting things here.  Have you found anything interesting here?"  Shannon looked surprised.  Somehow this man knew about the diary.
    She has found the diary, Danzinger said to himself.  The look on her face said it all.
    "Can I sign those papers now?"  Danzinger looked upset.  He had been looking all around the house since he had arrived as if he  were looking for something.  This gave Shannon an idea.
    When Jonathan arrived at the house that evening, she told Jonathan about how strangely Danzinger had acted.  This time, Jonathan had an idea.
    "Well, our Mr. Danzinger was definitely here looking for something.  So, let's give it to him."  Shannon looked at him strangely.  She knew that his brain had been working, but she hadn't followed where his brain was leading.
    "Why don't we make a big show of leaving and see what Danzinger does?"
    Shannon suddenly looked very tired.
    "Can we do this tomorrow?  I'm very tired.  Jonathan stroked her cheek.  There was no doubt about it.  She did look tired.
    "Alright.  Come on."  
    Shannon felt just like a child as Jonathan tucked her in and kissed her sweetly.
    "Aren't you coming to bed?" She didn't mean it in the seductive way that it sounded, but to Jonathan, it sounded very erotic.
    "Uh - no, I want to do some more thinking.  I'll be in a little later."  He kissed her again.  This time the kiss was on the forehead.
    Jonathan went back out into the living room.  He needed to think.  He felt safe when he was in the world of his own mind.
    He was in love with her.  There was no doubt about it now.  He thought about how he would feel if he ever lost her.  He pushed that thought out of his head.  As soon as this whole thing was over, he would have to tell her,  somehow, how he felt.
    "I guess I'd better figure that out before then."
  When he went up to bed, he wondered if he could ever get used to living with someone else.  When he walked into the bedroom, he saw Shannon standing at the window looking into the backyard.
    "Shannon?" She didn't answer, but just continued staring into nothingness.
    He came up behind her and put his hands gently on her shoulders.  Shannon jumped as if she were being brought out of a trance.
    "Jonathan?"  It was obvious that she didn't know what had just happened to her.
    "The shed.  There's something there - in the dirt."  Jonathan took her hand and they went down the stairs and out into the backyard.  They went straight to the garden shed.  There was a padlock on the door the looked rusted.  Jonathan looked around and saw a brick lying on the ground.  He used the brick to bust the lock apart.
    Once inside, it took a few minutes for their eyes to adjust to the darkness.  He looked around for the shovel.
    "It's here Jonathan.  Right here."  Jonathan began to dig.  It took a few minutes, but the shovel struck something hard.  Jonathan got down on his knees and began pulling away the dirt and produced a skull.
    The next day, the yard was swarming with policemen.  They recovered a full skeleton from the ground. They would wait for verification, but Jonathan was almost certain that it was the body of Victoria Collingswood.
    "So, your grandmother was missing.  Why didn't you tell me?"  This was indeed a strange development.
    "I was always told that she died.  I didn't know that she was missing.  So, now we have a murder mystery on our hands."  He could tell that she was shocked to find out that her grandmother had been missing.
    "Do you think that there are people still around who knew my grandmother?"  It was worth a shot.
    "Let's see, your gran would be in her seventies now . . .    So, we find people around who are in their seventies."  Both Shannon and Jonathan looked at each other at the same time.
    "Mr. Danzinger!"  They both said this simultaneously.
    Later on that day, Jonathan and Shannon put their plan into effect.  They made a big show of leaving the house, knowing that Danzinger was probably watching.  
    "Jonathan, what if he follows us instead of going into the house?"
    The thought had crossed Jonathan's mind.  He was sure that Danzinger had followed them on at least one occasion.
    "I don't know.  It's just a risk we'll have to take."
 They left in Shannon's car and parked around the block and returned on foot.  They watched as Danzinger ran into the house looking for something.  When Shannon and Jonathan came into the house and caught Mr. Danzinger, he stood in the middle of a mess. This was certainly not something that your friendly neighborhood realtor should be doing.
    "So, let's see what your explanation for this is."
    Danzinger started to back away.
    "It's not what it looks like."
   At that moment, the phone rang.  Shannon got up and went to answer it.  The look on her face told Jonathan everything.
    "That was the police.  The body belonged to my grandmother."  They both turned to look at Danzinger, who sprang up as if to run.  Jonathan quickly apprehended him.
    "Why don't you tell us the whole story before we call the police?"
    "I killed Victoria.  I loved her, but she called me over to her house and told me that she was pregnant.  There was no way that she could say that it belonged to her husband.  He had been away in the US for several weeks."  Shannon and Jonathan listened intently as all of the mysteries were being cleared up.
    "So, the baby crying, how did that fit in?"  Shannon wanted to know that she wasn't crazy.
    "I made the sounds to make you think that the house was haunted or that you were going crazy."  This made Jonathan angry.
    "You were trying to get the diary."  He accused.
     "I knew that she had one and that she wrote about me.  I wanted to find it before you did."
    Jonathan went over and called the police.
    "So, now that everything is over, what do you plan on doing?"  Jonathan was trying not to push her.  He desperately wanted her to stay.
    "I need to go back to the States. . . ."  She noticed that his face fell with this statement.
    "I need to settle a few things back there before I move here, permanently."  Jonathan's face lit up something that was a rare thing for him.
    "Does that please you?"  She asked shyly.
   "Very much so!"  Jonathan answered enthusiastically.

http://tammytrent.gospelcom.net/songs/lyrics/withoutyou.html (lyrics)

http://www.gospelcom.net/cgi-bin/ramhurl?f=/tammytrent/WithoutYou.rm (audio in Real Player format)