Aaron's Wait (An Elliott Smith Mystery, #2)(ebook) by Dorien Grey

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ISBN: 9781945447860
Pages: 270

Aaron Stiles is dead. He’s been dead for four years but doesn’t seem to know it. He’s waiting for his partner Bill to come home, and until that happens, he’s not going anywhere. The trouble is, Bill Somers won’t be coming home—ever—because he’s dead, too. The official verdict was suicide, but…

The last thing Elliott Smith needs in his latest renovation project is a ghost, especially one who won’t let him sell the place until he solves the mystery of who killed Bill. Elliott has John to help with the spectral side of things, but that leaves Elliott with the quandary of how to get information on the case. After all, he can hardly explain he’s investigating on behalf of one dead man with the assistance of another.


 On the drive home, he replayed his mental video of the property. That Mr. Wolinski had been a real estate agent indicated the property was sound or they never would have bought it in the first place. And, assuming the ground-floor apartment he’d not seen and the rest of the Wolinskis’ own unit and Mrs. Reinerio’s were in the same basic condition as the empty units, he was, overall, pleased.

There were, of course, innumerable minor things that would have to be repaired or replaced, plus the more substantial changes and alterations he would want to make in order to turn the property into what he already envisioned it could be.

The bricks would have to be sandblasted to remove the white paint and return them to their original condition, which was likely having an influence on his uncharacteristic haste—with winter coming, he’d like to have it finished as soon as possible. He was curious whether the rest of the bricks matched the one he’d seen. The exteriors of many Chicago brick structures had a subtle mottling created by bricks of many different shades. The ornate exterior woodwork needed refinishing, but looked to be in better-than-average shape.

He tried very hard to keep John out of the equation, though he kept coming back to the question of why he had been there. That he had focused on that one particular apartment on the second floor puzzled Elliott, as did the fact that Mrs. Wolinski had seemed a bit reluctant to show the unit to him. After entering and going through it, he hadn’t seen or felt anything out of the ordinary—other than John, of course.

The door knocking was also puzzling, although he knew sounds, by their very nature, could often play tricks. The “knockings” were most likely, as he had first concluded, attributable to some weather-related expansion and contraction of the structure or some minor problem involving the heating system or water pipes—though he doubted the heat would be on at this time of year.

The bottom line was that he truly liked the building and saw a lot of potential. As always, he tallied up the cost of renovation against the to-be-reasonably-expected return it could bring. A building like this one, lovingly restored, could be sold for a considerable profit. And because he relied on his own labor and that of a small team of regular subcontractors, he could bring a project in much less expensively than a larger organization could.

* * *

After dinner he called Steve to report on his meeting with the Wolinskis. He did not, of course, mention John’s showing up, or the unexplained door-knocking.

“That’s great,” Steve said. “As a matter of fact, I was just starting to do my first preliminaries on it. I’ll have to go by and look at it several more times and at different times of day—which is kind of hard when I work all day—but I think I’ll go over there tomorrow as soon as I get home. Do you think you might go for it?”

“I’m leaning that way, and that sort of worries me. It’s not like me to rush into things. The last time I did it was on the Sheffield property, and we know where that led.” He was referring to a project he’d been involved in when he met Steve, and which had turned into a disaster—literally.

“Well, I really hope you’re not letting my enthusiasm for the place influence your decision,” Steve said.

“Of course not, though it didn’t hurt. I value your opinion.”

“Flattery will get you anywhere,” Steve joked. “But if you like it, I hope you’ll go for it.”

“Yeah, well, we’ll wait to see what they come up with for an asking price.”

They talked for a few more minutes, then Elliott spent the rest of the evening watching TV and jotting down ideas and notes on estimated costs for the prospective new property. Not for the first time, it struck him as more than a little ironic that someone as devoted as he was to preserving the charm and beauty of old apartment buildings, and who fought so hard against the “condominiumization”—if there was such a word, which he doubted—of the city, chose to live in a 35th-floor modern condo.

He went to bed right after the ten o’clock news, hoping to hear from John, whom he’d not been aware of since leaving the Wolinski place.

Few things are more difficult than trying to go to sleep, but he realized he’d finally done so when…

It’s a nice building.

Yeah, it really is. What were you doing there?

I’m not quite sure. There’s something…someone…there, I think.

You think? By “someone” you mean…uh…like you?

Elliott experienced the slight tingling sensation that was John’s laughter.

That’s a diplomatic way of putting it, but yes, I think so.

How can you not be sure?

Again the sensation of laughter.

Where I am is really a lot different from where you are, so it’s almost impossible to explain. I’m not sure of a lot of things yet myself. Let’s just say that if someone is there, either he isn’t aware I’m there as well, or he’s preoccupied.

Preoccupied? Talk about an interesting way of putting things. Is he—Is it a he?—responsible for the door-knocking?

Yes, I’m pretty sure he’s a he, and I’d imagine he’s behind the knocking. I have no idea why, of course, but I’ll try to find out more, if I can get his attention.

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