Excerpt The otherworldly, electronica beats of Beborn Beton filled Yesterday's Memories -- the antique shop Jamie Smith ran -- from the CD player sitting on the countertop. It had been a slow day, and now it was just after sunset, close to quitting time. This early in the week, Jamie was taking the opportunity to get some of his reading in. The noise from traffic outside was muted in the store, leaving Jamie able to concentrate on his book. His laptop was open beside him, allowing him to occasionally double check the availability of ingredients at his favorite downtown herbal store.
The brass bell over the door jingled and for a brief moment, the hum of traffic and blare of car horns poured inside before the door closed again. A middle-aged man walked up to the counter, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. Dressed in khakis and a dark green button-down shirt, he looked like everybody else who occasionally walked through the door of Yesterday's Memories -- average build, not exceptionally tall but not short, red hair. Overall, nothing stood out about him, except for maybe sunglasses indoors.
"Excuse me, but I'm looking for Jamie Smith."
Timothy, Jamie's spectral companion, drifted from the back room. “Oh, nice vamp. If I had a body, I’d do--”
Jamie closed his eyes in irritation and cleared his throat noisily before Timothy could finish. Whether or not the vampire could see Timothy depended on whether the creature had had the power when he was alive. At the moment, Jamie prayed he didn’t. Ignoring Timothy, Jamie smiled politely and said, “I’m Jamie Smith. How can I help you?”
"I'm looking for this," the man said, sliding a faded picture across the counter. He turned his head toward the far corner, but said nothing before looking back at Jamie. "Have you seen it?"
Jamie started nervously when he saw the picture. He stared at it, hesitating in his answer. Timothy hovered behind his shoulder to get a closer look. “It’s that the piece you don’t like to touch,” the spirit said.
Jamie glanced up at the man. “Yeah, I’ve got it. You interested in it?”
"Yes. It belongs to someone and I've come to retrieve it. Has anyone touched it?"
"Retrieve it?” Jamie scowled, immediately wondering if somebody was going to try to sue him over the thing. “I keep it in a case, so I’m the only one who’s touched it.”
The man cursed under his breath. "Give me your hands."
"Excuse me?” Jamie moved away to the other end of the counter than opened the back of the display case and pulled out the jewelry box. “If you want to buy the necklace, it’s going to cost you two grand. It's genuine pearl.”
The man grabbed Jamie's wrist before Jamie could open the box. "Do not touch it."
"I think you need to back off before I call the cops.” The stranger was really starting to piss him off. “And let go of my arm, now.”
"That might not be--” Agitated, Timothy hovered as close as he could, but he couldn’t do much.
“Timothy, just shut the fuck up, all right?” Jamie snapped.
A spark flickered up through Jamie's arm and the man released him. "Who else has been here?"
"Been here?” Jamie edged away, closer to the phone. “Look, why don’t you just leave? I’m about to close shop, and I’m not in any mood to do business with you.”
"You don't want to walk away from me. I'm willing to pay you -- others won't be."