River Fae Chapter 7: There For You

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Detective Blu told me to meet her at the beach then hung up on me. Clover and I said quick goodbyes to my family and left as soon as possible. We didn’t speak the whole ride down to the beach, I was too nervous.

She didn’t tell me if Gardenia was dead or alive, but part of my mind knew the former was the case, but I was hoping it would be the latter.

The scene on the beach was the exact opposite of what I was expecting. I was expecting ambulances, police cars, paramedics, officers, etc. But it was pretty much the opposite. The only people on the beach were Detective Blu, my sister, Tulip, and a male officer.

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“Hello, Detective. I got here as fast as I could. What’s going on?” I approached her as she was talking to Fern.

“The station got a call about a strange object that got washed up on shore. When Tulip and her partner came out to check it out, they discovered it was Gardenia Rico’s body.” She explained.

“How come there’s barely anyone here?” Clover glanced around the beach.

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“There’s not much to do. We called the coroner who’s coming to collect the body, and figure out what happened to her. That’s why I called you. I was hoping you could try and contact her now, try and get a few more details.”

“I’ll try, but no promises.” I turned around to face Clover and she gave me a small nod.

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I made my way to the shore and stopped a few feet away from Gardenia.

I had been hoping this wasn’t how the case would turn out. Gardenia seemed like such a nice girl, even if she did have an issue with my girlfriend. She didn’t deserve this, at all. No one deserves to die, especially not her.

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It all felt so surreal. I couldn’t believe I was standing in front of her dead body, when only a few weeks ago I saw her alive. I felt guilty, like somehow this was all my fault. Part of me knew that was ridiculous, but I still had a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I had something to do with this.

I concentrated, trying to contact her spirit, but she didn’t want to be contacted. I didn’t understand why, we had found her body and we knew she was dead, why didn’t she wanna talk to me? Maybe I’d have to try when I’m alone.

To be honest, I’m not sure when I started to cry. But as soon as I realized, I tried to wipe away the tears before anyone noticed. I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t handle this. I could, I just felt guilty.

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“Babe, let’s get you home. You don’t need to see this. You can try again later.” Clover’s soft arms wrapped around me and clutched my arm.

“I have to help.” I whispered, my voice almost non-existent.

“You did. You tried, that’s what matters. I don’t think you’re in any state of mind to help with this right now. Let’s get you home.”

——–

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‘This is all your fault. How could you let her die like this?’ I mentally abused myself as I sat on the floor of my bathroom. I don’t really remember getting home, I just remember dashing up the stairs and locking myself in the bathroom. Clover pounded on the door for a while, but I ignored her and eventually she went away.

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“Pst, hey, Earth to River.” A delicate voice shook me away from my thoughts.

“Tulip, how’d you get in here?” I knew for a fact I locked the door.

“I have a master key set, I had to come in and make sure you’re okay.”

“I am.” I lied. I was not okay at all.

“You’re lying. Don’t you dare lie to me, Fae.” She grabbed my face in her hands and glared at me. “It’s not your fault. None of this is. I know it’s so easy to blame ourselves in situations like this, but please don’t. We’re gonna find out what really happened, and I know it doesn’t have anything to do with you.”

“How would you know that? For all we know it could be all my fault.” She shook my head vigorously, giving me a small headache.

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“Shut your mouth. You have nothing to do with this.” She dropped her hands and set one on my waist while the other grazed my chin.

“You’re right, I guess.”

“I know I am. Now, let’s get you out of this bathroom, it smells freaking awful. We really have to hire a new maid. This one sucks.” She joked as she helped me off the floor.

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“C’mon, we could both use some fresh air.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the bathroom.

——-

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“There has to be something I could’ve done differently, right?” I buried my face in my hands. Tulip and I sat on the bench in our backyard that rarely ever got any use.

“River, please stop thinking about it. What’s done is done, and we can’t change the past. Instead of focusing on what we could’ve done differently, let’s think about what we can do to prevent it from happening again. Well, first we have to find out what happened. So until then, try to keep yourself occupied.”

“I’ll try.”

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“So, how was the visit with your parents?” She asked. It felt like that happened years ago, not this morning.

“I’m an uncle now. My little sister had a kid, his name is Aster. He’s the cutest little kid I’ve ever seen.” I gushed, remembering the adorable toddler.

“That’s great news! I’d love to have a nephew, but my sister isn’t ready yet.” I almost laughed at the idea, Detective Blu doesn’t seen like the motherly type.

“I think you’d make an awesome aunt.” I said, and she beamed.

“I can’t wait. I love kids, but I don’t like disciplining them. I’d rather be the cool aunt that spoils them and drives them home when they get drunk for the first time.” We both laughed, I could totally see her playing that role.

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“Yea, hopefully I can be the cool uncle. Don’t know if I’m cool enough for that though.” She giggled.

“Hey, at least you’re not the creepy uncle.”

“I just hope my sister can be a good mom. She’s always been trouble, and it seems like she’s just getting worse. I hope she gets better before he’s old enough to remember.”

“Me too.” She gave me a sad smile and laid her hand on mine. “Do you ever want kids?”

“I do, but I don’t know about Clover, she’s not very good with kids.” It’s true, she tried babysitting when she was sixteen, and it didn’t go well at all. She freaked out when she had to change the diaper and she called me to help her. I did all the work and she’s the one that got paid, but hey at least the kid didn’t get hurt.

“That’s too bad. I think you guys would have adorable kids.”

“Thanks.”

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“Hopefully she’ll reconsider when the time is right. Are you guys gonna get married?” She asked, her voice strained. We hadn’t talked about the kiss we shared, and I didn’t know how she stood with me. Did she like me? Was she just delirious? How did I feel about her?

“I don’t know. I’m not ready for marriage. Not yet.”

“Yea, getting married young never ends well.” She told me.

“Yea. Hey, are you hungry? I could make you something to eat.” I drank blood, I didn’t need to eat food but I wanted to make her something.

“I think I’m just gonna go to bed. Thanks for the offer though, means a lot.” She squeezed my hand and we both got off the bench.

“Thanks Tulip, I really needed that.” I pulled her into a tight hug.

“It’s no problem, I’ll always be there for you.”

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I don’t know why I did it, but I kissed her. Again. This time I couldn’t blame it on our tiredness. This time I knew it was for real.

I got really into the kiss this time. I lost myself in her, it was like she put a spell on me. I couldn’t think about anything or anyone else if I tried. It was just the two of us.

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I pulled back slightly and she dropped her arms. Suddenly, I remembered that Clover was home.

“Oh god, is Clover home?”

“No, her boss called, asking her to cover a story for him” She answered softly. She and I both knew what the story was, and I didn’t want to think about that right now.

“Oh. Okay.” I bit my lip and smiled down at her. She kissed my nose softly and walked away.

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“Night River.” She called out as she walked away.

I had a lot to think about, but I knew one thing for sure.

I was falling in love with her.

——-

*Tulip*

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“What do you mean you kissed him? Tuli, he has a girlfriend! And she lives with us! Didn’t we talk about this? Neither of us were gonna date our roommates.” Maple was fuming at me. I told him about both of the times River and I kissed, even though I wasn’t entirely sure if the first time actually happened or if it was just a dream. I think it was a dream though, River never said anything about it again.

“I’m sorry okay? It just happened. He didn’t object, he kissed me back!” I knew it was stupid to defend myself in this situation, but I couldn’t help it. I really wanted him.

“God Tuli, you can’t do this. Do you really want to be a home-wrecker?” I shook my head. “I didn’t think so. What the hell were you thinking?”

I started to sob. “I-I don’t know!”

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“Oh god. I didn’t mean to make you cry.” Maple climbed up on my bed and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “I’m sorry Tuli. I’m just freaked out. Clover scares me, I don’t know why but I don’t like her vibe. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“She’s not going to hurt me, because she’s not gonna find out. I need to move out. I’ll find you a new roommate, I’ll try and get a cute boy for you.” I couldn’t live here anymore, not after all the trouble I was causing.

“That’s tempting, but I don’t think so.” He joked, making me laugh through my tears. “Now, you’re going to talk to River about this. You need to know where you guys stand. Then we can go from there.”

“You’re right. We need to talk. I don’t wanna be a home-wrecker, but I also think I’m in love with him.”

“Oh shit. Love? Seriously?” I nodded, and he sighed. “Well, I guess we’re just gonna have to deal with this.”

“I guess so.”

“Now come here, let’s go to sleep.”

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“Why don’t we look into a hot guy roommate anyway? Y’know, for the rent money.” He asked after he clapped the lights off.

“Oh shut up and sleep.” We laughed and drifted off to sleep.

——

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The next morning my sister called and asked us to come into HQ. My partner, Max, and I weren’t entirely thrilled to come in so early, today was our day off. But I came in anyway.

I should’ve known River would be there too. When he came into the backroom, I almost choked on my own spit. Max gave me a confused look but I just brushed him off. I didn’t know why Hydrangea called us in and I didn’t want to make a big scene.

His half-sister Fern came in a few minutes after him. She was obviously grumpy this morning. I usually avoided her though so I didn’t worry too much. I tried to glance over at River a few times, but he kept looking everywhere but at me. It kinda stung.

“Morning, crew.” My sister strode into the room with a tight smile plastered across her face. She’s been super uptight since the Incident, not that I blame her, I’m just not used to this Drea.

“Morning.” We all mumbled in response.

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She stood in front of the white board and crossed her arms. She looked like an angry school teacher, except we weren’t working on silly school work, this was a real life situation.

“I got the autopsy results back this morning.” She paused and glanced at the room. Suddenly everyone seemed to fully wake-up at the same time.

“What does it say?” Max asked.

“Well, I originally thought we’d have a drowning case, or a suicide case, on our hands. But drowning doesn’t give you multiple stab wounds to the chest.” We all gasped.

“That’s right crew, we’ve got a homicide case on our hands.”

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River Fae Chapter 6: Nice to See You

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This case became my top priority, even after what happened last night. Right now my main priority was finding Gardenia and getting her home safely.

Besides, we were both exhausted last night. Neither of us knew what we were doing, so it probably meant nothing. Everything I said last night wasn’t thought through well. I did love Clover, I guess we were just growing apart. But I think I know how to fix it.

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“You texted me, what’s up?” Clover came into my room and leaned against my dresser.

“I did. I’m ready, Babe.” I told her, and moved all my stuff off the bed and onto the floor.

“W-what do you mean?” She cocked an eyebrow at me.

“I think you know exactly what I mean.” I smirked and jumped off my bed. I wanted to prove to her that I loved her, and maybe this would help us get closer.

“Babe are you sure?”

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“I’m sure that I love you.” I wrapped my arms around her waist and kissed her. It wasn’t entirely truthful yet, but I’m sure it will be once the deed is done. I mean, everyone says sex brings you closer, right?

“I love you too.” She beamed, she’s been asking for this for a while now. I picked her up and carried her over to the side of my bed.

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“Babe, are you really sure?” She asked me again. I responded by kissing her chest, up to her neck, then finally stopping at her lips.

“Positive.”

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“I love you, Clover.”

“I love you too, River.”

And well, you can guess what happened next.

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“Wow. That was amazing.” Clover curled up next to me later on. I grunted in response, earning myself a soft kick to the shin.

Honestly, I thought all my problems were gonna be solved by doing that with her. But it didn’t. At all. It made things worse, actually. I did love Clover. But I don’t love her in the way I thought I did. I didn’t love her like I was supposed to.

“We should do that more often.” She giggled. I nodded and kissed her forehead.

I knew I needed to break up with her, but we were living in the same house for a year, it’d be impossible to avoid her. Also her mood swings, I can barely handle it when I’m with her, how would she react if I tried to leave her.

I was in a very sticky situation.

——-

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“All she’s gonna do is ask you some questions, then we can go home, okay?” I led Clover out to the truck, I was taking her to meet with Detective Blu so she could get questioned.

“Okay. It won’t take too long, right?” She groaned.

“Don’t think so.” I held the car door open for her and we drove off.

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“Hey Fern.” I greeted my half-sister when we entered the headquarters. There was no one else there, as usual.

“You can just go right in.” Fern directed, never looking up from her typing.

“I’ll try to wait for you, but I’m meeting with a client soon and I might have to leave. But if I do, Fern said she can give you a ride home.” I told Clover, and gave her hand a little squeeze.

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“I’ll see you later, love.” She walked out of the room and into Detective Blu’s office.

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I brought a random book from Clover’s collection with me, I didn’t know how long I’d be waiting out here for. Detective Blu suspected Clover was involved in the disappearance of Gardenia.  I was slightly offended she would even think of such things, but I guess she did have her reasons. But still, Clover couldn’t even hurt a fly, let alone a grown woman.

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“You’ve got a lot on you’re mind.” Fern startled me, I hadn’t even realized she was next to me. I had been here for quite some time now, and I was getting really into this book.

“How did you know that?”

“I know a lot of things, dear brother. Now, what’s bothering you?” I didn’t want to talk about this, not with Clover in the building.

“Gardenia is missing, that’s what’s bothering me.” That was the main thing, so it wasn’t really a lie.

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“You and I both know that’s not what I’m asking.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Fine, I can tell you don’t wanna talk about it. But I’m still gonna give you advice. Remember what I said to you that night we first met. I really mean it, River.” She sighed, and I tried to remember what she told me that night.

‘Be careful with Clover.’

I remember her saying that, and I thought about it a lot for the first few months afterwords. It still gave me the chills, how could she have known we were dating when we were so careful? It didn’t make sense then, and it still didn’t make much sense now.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything is fine.”

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“Whatever you say.” She giggled. Her cell phone buzzed, and she gasped. “Oh gosh, it’s already five, don’t you have a client?”

“I do. Thanks for reminding me. You can drive her home, right?”

“Of course. Good luck brother, with everything.” She chuckled.

I grabbed my book and my keys and left the headquarters thinking about everything but my job.

——-

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“Hey Kiddo, come on in.” My uncle ushered Clover and I inside my parents house. I decided to stop by and see them, I was really stressed and seeing them might do me some good.

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“Hey Mom.” I came in and she jumped off the floor and attacked me.

“Oh River sweetie its so great to see you.” She said. Clover took a seat next to Dad and they started to chat.

“Oh, who’s this?” I asked, noticing the toddler playing on the floor.

“River, this is Aster. He’s your nephew.”

“Oh Dill had a kid? Why didn’t he tell me I mean I know he’s busy but-” I started to say but my mom shook her head.

“No, this is Poppy’s son.”

“Oh.”

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“Well hey there little guy.” I took a seat on the floor in front of his toy box. He ignored me and tried to shove the cylinder block in the triangle slot.

“Hey, I think it goes in this one.” I offered, and he gave me a death glare. I didn’t even know babies could give death glares.

I glanced at my mom and she shrugged. “He’s a little hostile.”

“He gets that from his Mom.” Dad joked, making us all laugh.

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“Ugh, I thought I heard your voice.” My little sister came out from the bathroom with a scowl on her face.

“Nice to see you too, Poppy.” I smirked, making her even angrier.

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“I’m too hungover for your shit today. I’m going to bed, don’t piss off my son.” My mom sighed, making Poppy roll her eyes.

Poppy stomped up the stairs and slammed her door.

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“She’s been going out every night, getting piss drunk. Dad and I are getting tired of it, so we’ve given her an ultimatum. She has one more month to get sober or we’re kicking her out and taking custody of Aster.”

“Are you guys sure you want to raise another kid? I mean you’ve already had four. What about his father?”

“He’s worse than she is. That’s how they met, both got piss drunk and ended up sleeping together. She’s dating some other loser right now and his father doesn’t wanna be in his life. I can’t understand why, he’s adorable.” She smiled sadly and pet his head softly.

“Oh. Well I hope it works out.”

“Thanks kiddo. How are you? How’s work?” Mom and I didn’t talk often, but she did know I was working on the missing person case.

“It’s going okay. We don’t have any new leads as far as I know.” I said, and Aster threw his block down on the carpet angrily and started to cry. “Oh god, did I do something?”

“Of course not, he’s just hungry.” She picked him up off the floor and gestured for me to stand too.

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“Oh sweetheart, I hope everything works out. I’ve been following this on the news, it’s so strange, how someone can just disappear.”

“Yea, it is pretty weird.”

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“Have you tried talking to her spirit?”

“I have, either she’s not dead or she’s hiding until the body is found. I’m hoping for the former.”

“I think we all are. Have you spoken to Flora?” She asked, and Aster started to get fussy again.

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“Hold on sweetie, Gamma’s gonna get you a bottle in a sec.” She tickled the baby, making him scream with delight. “Anyway, have you?”

“I have, but she couldn’t give me anything useful.” I had to lie a little, I wasn’t supposed to give out a lot of details.

“Yea, they usually can’t.” She rolled her eyes “Darn spirits. It’d make life so much easier.” We both laughed, but stopped when my phone started to ring.

“I gotta get this.” I gestured to my phone. She nodded and headed to the kitchen to get Aster something to eat.

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I barely got a ‘hello’ out of my mouth before she started to speak. “River Fae, it’s Detective Blu, we’ve found Gardenia.”

River Fae Chapter 5: Really?

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“Hello?” My phone rang five minutes after the news reported Gardenia missing.

“Hello is this River Fae?” A professional woman’s voice demanded from the other side of the phone.

“This is him”

“This is Detective Hydrangea Blu. You’re half-sister Fern works for me, and she told me about your gift. I need you’re help with this missing person case.” She cut straight to the chase.

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“Are you sure this is a good idea? Gardenia is my friend, isn’t that a little too close to home?”

“Non-sense. Besides, you’re the only one who can help me.”

“But doesn’t my sister have the gift too?”

“Yes, but she can’t help me. I need you.” She was pushy, no doubt about that.

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“When do you need me?”

“Right now. This is urgent, we need to find her as soon as possible.”

——-

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The place was about a half hour drive from my house, but I got there as fast as I could. I was nervous, I really wanted to help but I didn’t know if I could, or what she wanted from me.

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I entered the building, inside was a waiting room and a receptionist desk next to a large fish tank built into the wall. It was a nice, professional place.

“I’m here to see Detective Blu.” I stated, hoping to get the attention of the receptionist.

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“Well well well, look who it is.” She smiled widely at me and put her hands on her hips. The receptionist was my half-sister, all grown up now.

“Oh gosh, hey Fern. I didn’t even recognize you, you look great!” I complimented her, I felt bad about not realizing it was her.

“Thanks bro. Detective Blu is through that hallway, first door.” She pointed to the hall.

“Thanks. Maybe we can get lunch some time?”

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“That’d be awesome River, but you should probably get in there now. Drea doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” She giggled.

“Noted. See ya later.” I waved her off and headed for the office.

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I knocked on the office door, and the came voice from the phone call called me into the room.

“Hello, I’m River.”

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“Hello River, take a seat. I’m Detective Blu.” She was a very professional looking woman, she had her hair in a tight bun, she was wearing a blazer, a skirt and pantyhose. She was extremely intimidating. Sitting in her office reminded me of being in the principals office in high school.

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“Thank you for coming, Mr. Fae. We could really use you’re help with the case.”

“It’s my pleasure, anything to help find Gardenia.”

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“I do need to ask you some questions about her, it’ll only take a few minutes.”

“Okay.”

“When was the last time you saw Gardenia Rico?” She pulled a pen out of her pen holder and started to write before I said anything.

“Last weekend at the winter fest, I was with my friends and my girlfriend. She came up to us and said hi.”

“Then what happened?”

“Um, she and my girlfriend got into a fight.”

“Was it a violent fight?”

I shook my head. “Just a lot of yelling.”

“Interesting.” She commented as she wrote on her paper.

“What do you mean? Are you saying my girlfriend is a suspect?” I tried to keep my voice down but I was getting angry.

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“Mr. Fae, I have to look at this from all angles. I will need to question her.” Detective Blu explained. I was offended she would even think Clover could be violent. “What is her name?”

“Clover Lyn.” I didn’t lie, I didn’t object. I knew better than that.

“Thank you. What were you doing on the day of her disappearance?”

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“I was with my roommate, we went to the art museum, out to dinner then back to our place.”

“Your roommates name?”

“Tulip Lance.” I said, and her face lit up.

“My sister? You live with my sister?”

“She’s your sister?” I knew Tulip had a sister who was a detective, I just didn’t make the connection.

“Yes, and it looks like I’ll have to question her too.”

“Alright.”

“That’s really all I have to ask you.” She closed her notebook and filed it in her desk.

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“So, what exactly do you need from me?” I asked, I wasn’t sure how my gift could help us.

“You can communicate with the dead, yes?”

“Yea.”

“Well, if Gardenia is dead, you could contact her.”

“And what if she’s not?” I didn’t want to consider the fact that my friend might be dead.

“Then you ask the spirits where she is.”

“I don’t know, they aren’t supposed to tell us things like that. We’re supposed to figure that out on our own. They can’t meddle with the living world.” It was true, I read it in one of the spirit books I found.

“Is there anything we could do to persuade them?”

“There is one thing.”

“What?”

“A seance, in the cemetery, on a full moon. They still can’t tell us everything, but they can give us riddles, so we have a little more to work with.” Another thing I learned from my spirit books.

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“The full moon is next week, we don’t have that kind of time, Mr. Fae.” She furrowed her eyebrows and tapped her pen.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what else to do.”

“Try to get in touch with her spirit. If it doesn’t work, we know she’s alive. If it does, then we have an even bigger case on our hands.”

“I’ll go there tonight.”

“I’ll come with.” She offered. I’ve never communicated with the dead in front of people before. She can’t see them, so I’m gonna look like an idiot. And for some reason, I really didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of her.

——-

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“You do understand that you won’t be able to see her, right?” I asked her for the millionth time.

“Yes, I promise I won’t make fun of you.” She rolled her eyes.

“Okay, just making sure. I’ve only ever done this alone.” I admitted. She started to laugh, but then we heard a large crack from behind us. She jumped up off the bench and looked around the cemetery.

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“What was that?” She looked around nervously.

“Dunno.” I got up and looked around too.

“River sweetie, is that you?” A familiar hollow voice asked.

“Yea it’s me, Grandma.”

“River, is someone else here?” Detective Blu asked. I nodded and looked around for her. I spotted her to my right and approached her.

“Take a seat, Detective. It’ll only be a moment.”

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“Oh kiddo, don’t call me Grandma. It makes me feel old.” She laughed.

“Okay, I know you don’t have much time, and I need to ask you something.”

“What is it dear?”

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“Well, um my friend is missing and-“

“You need my help finding her?” She interrupted. “You know I can’t help you. I can’t meddle in living affairs.”

“I know, I know. I just thought it was worth a try.” I sighed.

“Look, I know it’s not the full moon, but I can give you a little hint, perhaps. It doesn’t interfere with the investigation, just push it in the right direction.”

“Okay, what’s the hint?” I asked anxiously.

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“What you’re looking for is closer than you think.”

“So she close to us? Close to where?”

“I can’t tell you baby. But good luck.” I sighed, I knew she wouldn’t answer but it didn’t hurt to try.

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“Thanks Flora.” I hugged her translucent frame lightly, I was afraid my body would go through hers.

“Be careful.” Was all she said before she disappeared.

I shoved my hands in my pockets and sighed.

“What did she say?” Detective Blu asked, startling me.

“Oh god. I forgot you were there. How did that look to you?” I took a seat on the bench next to her.

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“Quite insane, actually.” She laughed. I felt my face start to burn with embarrassment.

“Oh god.”

“Don’t worry, I deal with insane on a daily basis. What did she say?” She repeated.

“She couldn’t tell me much. But she did give me a hint.”

“What is it?”

“‘What you’re looking for is closer than you think.’ I’m not entirely sure what that means, but maybe you do.” I questioned.

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“That’s a bit vague. It could mean anything.” She glanced at me. “Are you willing to help me? I could really use you on my team.”

“What could you possibly need me for?”

“You can contact the dead. If Gardenia is dead, then you’ll be able to contact her. If she’s dead now, she’s probably hiding until we discover the body. Once we do, she’ll be able to show herself.”

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“I really hope that’s not the case.”

“It could be, we have to look at this from all angles, Mr. Fae. Whether we like it or not, we have to consider it. It comes with the job.” She sighed.

“Call me River, please. And I don’t know if I can deal with it.”

“Well River, she could still be alive. We could try to get more clues from the spirits. It could be the difference between her living or dying.”

“Are you trying to guilt trip me?”

“Of course not. It’s just, I know what it’s like to be in that position. Where the decisions you make decide someones fate. It’s a lot to take on, and I guess I’d understand if you don’t wanna do it.” She sighed again, and I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened.

“I’ll do it.”

——-

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“So you’re really working with my sister?” Tulip laughed from the floor of the living room.

“Yea, why?”

“She’s a bit, uptight, nowadays. Have fun with that.”

“She seems nice enough.” Detective Blu wasn’t necessarily uptight, but she wasn’t exactly the type you’d see at a party.

“Eh, maybe. I guess I wouldn’t know, we don’t talk much.” She sighed and typed something on her laptop.

“Why not?”

“She shut everyone out after the incident.”

“What incident?” She had mentioned something in our cemetery visit, but I didn’t really think much of it.

“It’s not really my place to say.”

“Ah, okay. That’s okay.”

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“Yea, so if you’re expecting to be friends or whatever with her, you’re gonna be let down. She only talks to clients and her receptionist. She might seem tough, but she’s not. If this case goes south too, I’m gonna be worried about her.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s just hope we find Gardenia alive.” She looked me dead in the eyes and frowned. “My sister can’t handle failure.”

“Oh.” I glanced around the room until my eyes landed on the kitchen clock. Five-thirty. Shoot, I was meeting with a client at six, and I really didn’t want to be late. I let Tulip know before I ran upstairs to get my jumpsuit.

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“Bye Tulip.” I called as I headed out the door. She mumbled something without moving from the floor.

*Many hours later*

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When I finally came home from the client’s house, I found Tulip passed out on the couch near her laptop.

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I moved her laptop to the other couch and shook her lightly. “Hey, Tulip. Wake up.” She groaned and covered her face.

“Maple?”

“No, it’s River.” I whispered.

“Oh, hey. What time is it?” Her voice heavy with sleep.

“About three am.” She pulled herself into a sitting position and yawned. “Why aren’t you in bed?”

“I was waiting for you.”

“Why?” I asked, and pulled myself onto the couch next to her.

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“I’m not really sure.” She hesitated.

“Maybe we should get to bed then.”

“Maybe.” She was all jittery and nervous, I didn’t really understand why.

“What’s up? Everything okay?”

“Do you really love her?” She blurted out, then quickly covered her mouth. “Oh god. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that.”

“It’s okay. I guess I do. I don’t really know what love is, I’ve only been with her before.” I admitted.

“If you aren’t sure, it doesn’t really sound like love. But that’s just my opinion, it’s not really my place to say.” She avoided eye contact and twirled her hair around her finger.

“I don’t know if I love her, but do I have to know right now? I’m still young.”

“True.”

“Why are you asking me this?” I asked, and she buried her hands in her face.

“I-I don’t know. It’s late. I’m tired.”

“Then lets get you to bed.” I scooted closer to her to help her off the couch.

“Not yet.” She still had her hands on her face, but now she started to sob.

“Hey, Tulip what’s wrong?” I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to me.

“I w-want to move out.” She gasped between sobs

“What, why? Is it something I did?”

“Not really. I just feel bad, I really like you and you have a girlfriend and she lives here and I just feel really shitty about it. I don’t wanna get between your relationship so I’m gonna leave.” Tulip liked me?

“You don’t have to leave.”

“Yes I do.”

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“No you don’t.” I don’t know why, but I pulled her face up to mine, so close I could taste her breath. I wasn’t thinking, it was late and everything she was saying was going to my head.

“Why not? I just ruin everything.”

“No you don’t. You’re amazing.”

“Do you really mean that?” She beamed, and ran her fingers through my hair, making chills run down my spine.

“I do. I don’t want you to leave. It wouldn’t be the same around here.”

“Okay, I won’t.” She whispered.

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I don’t know which one of us ultimately closed the gap between our lips. But before I could register it, Tulip was kissing me and I was kissing back. Kissing her was so different from kissing Clover. It was almost… magical. It’s like Tulip and I had a connection that Clover and I didn’t. I really liked it.

Clover. Oh god, I’ve got a girlfriend. I can’t kiss Tulip while I have a girlfriend. I promise myself I’d never be that guy.

We both pulled back at the same time, as if we were in sync. I didn’t pull back because I didn’t want to kiss her, I didn’t want to hurt Clover.

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“Oh god.” She jumped off the couch and looked away from me. “River I’m so sorry I-“

“No, it’s my fault.” I interrupted. “Tulip…” I had to tell her I couldn’t do this, at least not while I was with Clover.

“I get it. It’s okay. Goodnight River.”

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She flew out of the room as fast as she could without saying anything else. I buried my face is my hands and groaned.

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I’m screwed.

River Fae Chapter 4: Life’s Too Short

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“Are you sure this is gonna work?” Maple and I were hanging out in my room this morning. He had come up with a plan to get Clover to be friends with Tulip, and I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work.

“Of course it’ll work. It’s impossible to hate anyone at a festival.” He said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“I hope you’re right. Things are getting kinda tense around here.”

“I’m always right.” He fake scoffed. “Get dressed, we’re leaving soon.” He sprung off my bed and left.

That guy really was something.

——-

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“So, whose ready for some festival fun?” Maple cheered. Clover groaned from the backseat and Tulip and cheered too.

“This’ll be fun.” Tulip told Clover.

“Whatever.”

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When we got there, Maple went to park and left me alone with both of the girls.

“So, what’re we gonna do first?” The festival was practically empty, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

“How about a water balloon fight?” I offered. Even though it was winter, Maple said this would be a good idea and I trusted him.

“I call River for my team.” Clover insisted.

“How about guys against girls? It’ll be interesting.”

“I’m down with that.” Tulip smiled at her and she rolled her eyes.

“Whatever.”

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“You boys ready to get slain?” Tulip trash talked from the other side of the arena.

“Yea right! We’re gonna kick your asses!” Maple shouted back. I think they liked trash talking more than they did actually playing.

“Let’s just get this over with.” Clover complained.

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I made a silly face at Clover to try and get her out of her foul mood. She laughed at me, and made a face back. Maybe this plan might actually work.

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“Ahh!” Tulip took the first hit of the night. “Get him Clover!” She shouted.

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Clover nodded and picked up a water balloon and faced me. Uh oh.

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Luckily, I was able to dodge it.

“Rats! Get Maple!” Clover shouted at Tulip. They were actually working as a team.

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The game was pretty intense, but we totally beat the girls team. They were soaked, and we were just damp. It was pretty awesome.

“You guys cheated!” Tulip accused.

“Nah. We’re just good.” Maple laughed and I gave him a high five. She pouted and pulled herself off the ground.

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“Screw them, we did awesome.” Clover hugged Tulip, and Maple glanced at me and smirked.

“Yea we did.” They laughed.

“Hey girls, you guys wanna go to Hogan’s?” I offered.

“Sounds awesome.” Clover replied and ran over to me.

“Oh hey River, funny seeing you here!” A familiar voice said from behind us.

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“Hey Gardenia, how is everything?”

“Everything is great! I wanted to thank you again for the other day, you did a great job.” She remarked, and Clover grabbed onto my arm protectively.

“River, who is this?”

“I’m Gardenia Rico, nice to meet you.” She scoffed.

“What did you do for her?” Clover ignored her and spoke to me instead.

“Just an odd job at her house, why?”

“Are you sleeping with her?” She accused.

“Babe, of course not.”

“Oh, so this is your girlfriend. Nice to meet you.” Gardenia said in a very condescending tone.

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“You’re a bitch.”

“You’re the one making something out of nothing!” I wanted to stop them but I didn’t know if that would make it worse or not.

“How do I know you’re not sleeping with him?” She screamed. I’m glad everyone else at the festival had left.

“Um, maybe you should trust you’re boyfriend a little more, Sweetie.”

“Don’t tell me what to do!”

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“Look, all I wanted to do was thank him for his work. You’re fucking crazy.” Gardenia scowled at her.

“Yea right, you probably want to steal him away from me.” Clover was getting angrier by the second and it was starting to scare me.

“Yea, no thanks.” She retched and turned to me. “No offense, you’re not really my type. This is bullshit so I’m gonna go, thanks again River.”

“No problem.”

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“Don’t come back.” Clover growled.

“I won’t if you’re around.” She laughed and left the park.

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“So, we’re going to Hogan’s right?” Clover asked happily.

“Uh, yea. C’mon guys, I’ll drive.” I called out to Maple and Tulip who were leaning against the ice rink.

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The fight at the festival was completely forgotten by all but me once we got to the diner. Something about that gave me the chills whenever I thought about it.

——-

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“Hey Tulip, what’s up?”  She was outside looking through the telescope in broad daylight.

“Nothing really, why?”

“Well, Clover’s busy today, and I was wondering if you wanted to hang.”

“Will she be okay with that?” She pulled away from the telescope and gave me a quizzical look.

“Yea, you guys are cool now, right?”

“Let me grab my purse.” She laughed and took off into the house.

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“So where’re we going?” She asked as I drove my truck down the street.

“Anywhere you want.”

“Anywhere?” She giggled, and I rose an eyebrow and glanced at her.

“Yes, but then we do what I want later.”

“Okay. Make a left here.”

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“What is it supposed to be?” I asked her a few minutes after we got to the art museum.

She sighed and responded with “River, it’s abstract. It’s not supposed to be anything.”

“I really don’t understand art.” I shook my head.

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“I do, and this is awful. Everything in this place is awful. Look around.” She spun around in a circle with her arms outstretched.

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“I mean look at that, that’s a chair! That doesn’t deserve to be in a museum. This is bullshit.” She pouted.

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“We can go now. This was a bad idea.” We both started laughing, drawing the attention of an older couple on the other side of the room.

“Come on, lets go get some food.”

——-

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“That was fun, River. But we never did what you wanted to do.” Tulip and I had just gotten home from dinner, and now we were hanging out in the back of my truck.

“This is what I wanted to do. The sky is so pretty at night.” I said quietly.

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“It is.” She changed positions, and now she was lying right next to me. “Do you ever wonder what else is out there?”

“You mean in space?”

“No, in the world. All we know is Sunset Valley. But are there other places out there? Or is this all there is?” She asked, her voice light and airy.

“I don’t know.” I whispered back.

“Wouldn’t that be cool? Like, different places to see and visit. You’d never know what you’ll find next. Like a movie or a video game.”

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“There could be, Tulip. We don’t know. Maybe we should try and find out.”

“What do you mean? Like an adventure?” She beamed.

“Exactly.”

“I’d really like that.” She intertwined her fingers with mine. I didn’t even mind.

“Me too.”

“What about Clover?”

“She could come with us. Maple too.” I offered, and she frowned. “What?”

“Nothing.” She sighed and looked away.

“No, what’s wrong.”

“It’s nothing, I promise.” She caressed my hand with her thumb, and I believed her.

“It’s getting late, we should go to bed.” I offered. She nodded, and I helped her out of the truck bed.

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“Night River.” She whisper-yelled in the hallway outside my bedroom.

“Night Tulip.” I replied in the same tone. We both laughed quietly and headed to our respective rooms. I really liked spending time with her.

——-

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“How was you’re day yesterday babe?” Clover was having a good day today and I was avoiding anything that would set her off.

“It was good, I missed you though. How was your day?”

“It was boring. I had to do some articles at work. I missed you too.” She looked up from her book and grinned at me.

“Well you don’t have to work today. What do you want to do?”

“Maybe we could-” She started to say but was interrupted by Maple frantically entering the house.

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“River, put on channel seven, now” He demanded, out of breath.

“What’s going on?” His panicking was worrying me.

“Just do it, please.”

I turned off the video game system and put on the channel.

missing

“-has been reported missing. Sources say she hasn’t been home or heard from for days. Her car has been found outside of her workplace, with her purse, wallet and cellphone. If anyone has seen or heard from Gardenia Rico is the past day, please contact the police. Thank you.” A human news anchor reported from our TV.

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Gardenia was… missing?

River Fae Chapter 3: Who You Gonna Call?

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“Hey babe, have you been feeling okay lately?” Clover and I were watching a boring movie, and I thought now would be a good time to talk to her. She’s been acting strange since we moved, and I wanted to make sure she was okay.

“I’m fine, why?” She narrowed her eyes at me.

“I’m just wondering, you seem a little on edge lately.”

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“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” She frowned at me, looking like a sad puppy.

“Clover, I’m just asking. I didn’t really mean anything by it.”

“You think I’m crazy, don’t you?” She started to sob.

“No, no of course not babe.”

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“I’m fine, okay? You can stop asking me now, okay? I’m fine.” She pouted.

“Usually when a girl says she’s fine, she really isn’t.” As soon as that came out of my mouth I regretted it.

“Are you calling me a liar?”

“Of course not Clover. I didn’t mean it like that. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m fine. Why do you even care?”

“You’re my girlfriend, I don’t want you to be upset.”

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“You don’t care about me!” She screamed and jumped off the couch.

“What? Of course I care about you.” I stood up too.

“If you cared about me you wouldn’t treat me like this!” She was getting hysterical now. I was really regretting bringing this up at all.

“Clover what are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about! If you loved me you wouldn’t share a house with another woman!”

“That’s what this is about? Clover, I told you, I don’t love her. I barely even know her. I only love you, you know that babe.” I tried to calm her down.

“But still! How can I trust you around her? We don’t know her, she could tempt you or something!”

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“Do you really think that? Do you really not trust me?” I trusted her with all my heart, how could she doubt me like that? I’ve never done anything to break her trust, so why doesn’t she trust me?

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“Oh River, I’m so sorry baby. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s not that I don’t trust you, I don’t trust her.” She was now on the verge of tears again. Her moods were changing so fast it was hard to keep track of it all.

“She’s a nice girl, love. We’re kinda stuck with her for a while, so can you at least try to be civil?” I wasn’t asking a lot.

“I’ll try. But she better keep her paws off of you.”

“I think she will.” I smiled at her.

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She practically jumped on me when she kissed me. I definitely wasn’t expecting that, it was like all traces of our fight was gone. Like it never happened.

“I’ve got an interview to do, I’ll be home in a few hours, okay?” She kissed me one more time then ran out the front door before I could respond.

See what I mean?

——-

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“Ugh, I hate this job.” Maple flopped onto the sofa a little while later. I hadn’t really moved since Clover left, I was kind of in shock after the whole ordeal.

“Then quit if you don’t like it.” I offered.

“I caaan’t” He groaned. “It’s an entry position, if I ever want to get anywhere in the film industry I gotta do this stupid job.”

“What do you even do?”

“Everything everyone else doesn’t wanna do.” He groaned again.

“Hey, can I ask you for some advice?” I asked hesitantly.

“Of course. Girl drama?”

“How did you know?” I gaped. This guy was pretty good.

“I can tell. What’s up?”

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“I’m not even really sure. She’s just been acting so moody. No matter what I say, it’s wrong. It’s driving me nuts.” I sighed.

“So basically she’s just being a girl?” He giggled.

“No, she’s never been like this. We’ve been dating for five years, you’d think I’d notice something like this.”

“Is there any chance she could be, y’know.” He nudged my leg.

“What?”

“Could she be pregnant?”

“We haven’t even um, done it yet.” I admitted. It was kind of embarrassing, most people I know lost their virginity in high school.

“Hmm. Maybe she’s jealous?”

“She has been going on about Tulip.”

“That’s too bad, I think they’d be great friends.” He sighed. I turned my attention back to the television, until he hit me in the arm. “Dude, I think I have an idea.”

——-

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The next evening, I came home and was about to crash on my bed when my phone started to ring. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway.

“Hello?”

“Hey River, it’s Fern” My half sister said from the other side of the phone.

“Oh hey, how are you?”

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“I’m doing great. Just got married. But that’s not why I called.” She’s like eighteen, why would she get married so young? Eh, not my business I guess.

“Then what’s up?”

“I met someone the other day who could really use your help.” She explained quickly.

“What? What do you mean?”

“She got an infestation of sorts.” She paused, I waited for her to elaborate but she didn’t.

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“Fern, what are you talking about?”

“Your gift. Remember what I said?”

“I do. What do you need me to do?” I didn’t want my gift to go to waste, like she warned.

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“She has a spirit infestation, and she needs them out. I’ve got the device you need to capture them, all you gotta do is meet with her tomorrow then go over to her place and capture the little shits.” It didn’t sound too hard, I bet I could do it.

“Sure, do you have her number?” I asked.

“She has your address, she’ll be at your house around one. Bye Bro.” She hung up before I could say anything else.

I guess I’ve got some spirits to catch.

——-

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I usually spent my days alone, just me and the video game system for the majority of the day. Tulip had a desk job at the police station, Clover had her journalism job and Maple had his studio job. Today I was doing a spirit job for some woman I’ve never met. Who knows, maybe she’ll be the first of many.

As soon as that thought crossed my mind, the doorbell rang.

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“Hiya, are you River?” A bubbly girl smiled from the porch.

“Yes I am.”

“I’m Gardenia, I talked to you’re sister about my infestation, she said you could help.” She batted her eyelashes and smiled.

“Yea, come on in.”

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“Take a seat. Can I get you anything to drink?”

“No I’m good, thanks.” Gardenia smiled and took a seat on the couch.

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“So, tell me a about the infestation, whats going on?” I didn’t really know what to ask her, but I assumed this was it.

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“Well, my furniture is floating around, shaking, crashing against things. They jump from object to object so I can’t really do anything about it.”

“Okay, sounds easy enough.” I smiled at her.

“Oh, and they only come out at night. Usually around five.”

“Alright, so it’s only one thirty, when should we leave here?” I didn’t mind hanging out with her until then, she seemed pretty cool.

“How about four thirty?”

“Sounds good.”

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“So, do you live here alone? It’s a really nice house.” She looked around the living room with a smile.

“No actually, I have two roommates and my girlfriend lives here too.” I explained.

“Oh cool. What’s it like having roommates?”

“They’re both really cool. My girlfriend doesn’t like them too much, but hopefully she’ll come around.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

“Yea I guess.” We continued to talk for a few hours until it was time to go. She’s a pretty interesting person. She works in the military, Mistletoe is actually her boss! She lives alone, which is why she’s so freaked out about the spirits. She has no siblings and her parents live across the street from her.

Gardenia was quickly becoming a good friend of mine.

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Her house was huge. It was like four stories or something! How can one person live in a house that size all alone? I guess I’m just used to being surrounded by people.

As soon as I stepped onto her property I could sense the spirits. They weren’t angry, but I couldn’t tell what exactly they were feeling.

Gardenia had brought over a jumpsuit my sister gave her, and a weird looking gun thing to catch the spirits.

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She showed me where the first spirit was and I got to work right away. It wasn’t hard to catch, I just wasn’t used to the machine so it took me a few minutes.

She watched me work the first few times, then got bored and wondered off somewhere. I didn’t mind, I was too absorbed in the work.

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I was really enjoying this job. I don’t know what was so much fun about it, but it was too much fun to be work. I really hoped more opportunities like this would come up.

Eventually, I caught all the spirits in her house and all her furniture was back to normal. I was glad I freed her from them, but I was kinda bummed it was over. It was so much fun.

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“Thank you so much River, you’re a hero!” She squealed and hugged me.

“No problem.” I smiled at her.

“Here, take this.” She tried to hand me a wad of cash.

“No, it’s okay. I really don’t mind doing it.” I didn’t want to take her money, it didn’t feel right.

“It’s okay, I have plenty of it.” She giggled.

“Are you sure?” She nodded, and shoved the wad into my hand.  I sighed, thanked her, and headed home.

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When I got there, I put the spirit boxes on my desk. They were so cool to look at, and I knew they couldn’t get out on their own so I wasn’t worried.

I was really liking the ghost hunting business.

——-

A/N Sorry for the random clothing change towards the end, he changed out of his jumpsuit and wouldn’t change back.