Caroline walked out of the Night Owl confident that the show was now in good hands. Yvonne’s evaluation of the hopeful dancers proved that. The responsibility of the nightly acts was no longer resting on Caroline’s shoulders. It was a good position to be in. The girls would be whipped into shape before the tourist season started. Revenue was sure to pour in. Of course, it would also be pouring out into the construction of the hotel, but that was in the name of progress.
The sun was beginning to sink. It had been a long day. She made a turn and headed to the boardwalk. Caroline walked to the railing and gazed over the rippling waves. In the distance the sky met water in a navy haze. Frank would be expecting her for dinner at Libellule. It wasn’t that she disliked his company, but she felt uneasy about it. He was her best friend’s husband, deceased or not, it felt like betrayal. Caroline sighed and stared down at the sand. The little fluorescent crabs scuttled out from their holes.
“Caroline!” The whisper was so sharp in her ear that she whirled around. There was no one behind her. She was staring at the empty boardwalk. Diners sat inside the soda fountain, but they could not have provoked her and ran inside so quickly. Sitting in the doorway of the shop was a man-sized box. The light within it flickered. Caroline had never noticed it before on her walks past here. With a thump that made Caroline jump again a big dark bird came to perch on the railing and stared at her with its beady eyes. She carefully backed away.
She walked across to the soda fountain to see if any of the diners was someone she knew. Perhaps the voice had been a joke and she had only thought it was right behind her. She didn’t recognize anyone. She glanced at the box again as the light inside flickered. It was a display case with a doll inside. According to the lettering it told fortunes for a penny, Messages from the Great Beyond.
If only it was a direct connection to Margot, Caroline thought. She chuckled and shook her head. She was being silly. You can’t talk to the dead, especially not for a penny. She laughed it off, but she didn’t step away. Her gaze landed on the doll’s shiny painted eyes, the daring smugness of her red lips. Caroline impulsively dug out a penny and dropped it in the slot. She pulled the crank on the side. The doll’s arm moved and pulled a card out of a stack and dropped it down a chute. Caroline pulled it out.
Visit Mdm. Zelda
Caroline scoffed. An advertisement! She should have expected as much. Behind her the dark bird emitted a cawing laugh. She glared at it and swiftly walked down the boardwalk to the supper club. She swept in the front door and the hostess who had been leaning lazily against the wall quickly shot to attention. Caroline ignored her.
“Has Frank arrived?” she snapped. She felt foolish for the bit of hope she felt dropping her penny into that stupid machine. The hostess flipped through her papers on the podium and handed over an envelope addressed to Caroline. She turned away from the hostess as she tore it open.
A situation arose that requires my attention. Let’s postpone dinner until nine.
“May I take your wrap?” the hostess asked. Caroline shook her head.
“No, according to this we dine at nine. I’ll return later,” Caroline told her. She marched back out of the restaurant. The sea had become a darker navy. She started walking along the boardwalk again. She thought about going home and perhaps staying there. Frank could eat by himself. She could go back and leave him a message with the hostess that she had had a long day and was tired. She looked over her shoulder, she had already covered quite a lot of ground. She let out another sigh and rubbed her temples.
When she opened her eyes again, she noticed a flashing light through the alleyway on the next street. In the upper window it read:
Like a moth to a flame, Caroline passed through the alley until she was standing in front of a darken shop and staring up at the second floor windows. The neon light glowed and a little arrow blinked. She walked around the corner of the building to staircase and climbed. She hadn’t given her actions much thought until a bell jingled with the opening of the door.
“Hello?” she called.
Continue this story line: HERE.