A bar a brother and a gh.., p.1
A Bar, a Brother, and a Ghost Hunt, page 1
A Bar, a Brother, and a Ghost Hunt
A Deanna Oscar Paranormal Mystery
By CC Dragon
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Bar, A Brother, And A Ghost Hunt (A Deanna Oscar Paranormal Mystery)
Copyright © October 2016
By CC Dragon
Cover art by Coverkicks.com
Edited by Chris Allen-Riley
Proofed by: Jessica Bimberg & M. Witvliet
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
Table of Contents
Note from the Author
Ready for more Deanna Oscar?
A Personal Note from Ivy
About the Author
Whether it was a time warp or just a time jump, Deanna Oscar spent years in Chicago with her brother while he fought cancer and ultimately lost. But even as a ghost, he’s not making things easier on his sister. He’s refusing to cross over.
De heads back to New Orleans to resume her work but her brother fails to show up in Heaven and Gran is in a tizzy. Also De’s friend, Ivy, committed our favorite medium to do a ghost hunt with one of those annoying TV shows. De wanted things to go back to normal—deal with supernatural problems and catch a murderer or two.
But the location for the ghost hunt is very much haunted and she can’t say no when a man sits in jail for a murder he denies he committed while working at a bar that oozes evil. Deanna juggles angels, demons, and Death himself plus a puppy! She’ll probably solve the mystery, hopefully save her brother, and maybe even find a date to her ex-boyfriend’s wedding in time.
Minor Content Warning:
This is a cozy mystery, but there have to be some bad guys. Please note: NONE of this actually takes place during the book or on the page. It’s all handled with the care of the victims in mind and with the goal of stopping the bad guys/ghosts. But there is reference to abuse by clergy and animal abuse. Don’t worry, the good guys win in the end, but if these are major triggers for you, please be aware.
Note from the Author:
This is the third book in the series...and yes, there is a time jump to bring us to current times. I debated long and hard about this. But my own personal life impacted my ability to get this book done. Serious family health issues delayed my writing for a few months.
So I used it in my work I wanted to bring Deanna up to 2016 with us, and I think it works well. I hope you agree and enjoy her next case.
Thank you for understanding and reading!
For all of us who have lost someone far before their time. Too bad we all don’t have Deanna’s skills so we can at least visit.
Gilson’s Family Restaurant had been an institution since the early 1900s. Everyone had their bridal and baby showers there, not to mention the funeral luncheons. It had a wheelchair ramp and wheelchairs to use for the elderly family members, and the food was good. Chicken, perch, or beef...warm rolls and there was always a gourmet, locally sourced ice cream for dessert.
They hadn’t redecorated since the seventies, but maybe that’s why the older generations felt so comfy there. The pink and green paisley made me flash back to countless events in one of the private rooms. As I sat at my brother’s lunch, I reflected on the last ten years, give or take.
My brother, Eddie, had been diagnosed with cancer, and I’d moved back to Chicago to help. I’d traveled back and forth as cases demanded. Eddie’s remission had given us hope, but the damn cancer kept coming back. Then, Dad...well, Dad kept on working, but work and worry had hit him in his heart. Luckily, it’d been just a mild heart attack. His doctor had called it a warning to change, but Dad hated change.
Eddie had fought for years. After his relapses, remissions, and surgeries, the cancer had crept back in somewhere else like his lymph system or bones and weakened him. I’d even bankrolled experimental treatments and drug trials. Whatever the best minds in Chicago wanted to test or try on him, we did. He hadn’t wanted to give up.
Dad’s heart had made me nervous. I couldn’t leave Mom with a sick son and husband, so I’d stuck around more after Dad’s issues, but now, he was stable, and Eddie was gone.
Seriously, women get the crap end of the grueling parts in life. Caretaking was thankless work, and men were the whiniest patients. Nursing was not my strength. Dad, especially, had been such a baby when he was sick, but now, as long as he took his meds and followed his diet and exercise plan, he’d be okay. There was a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel, for me, just not that final light.
Grief had paralyzed my parents, and my little brother Frankie was in shock. I had to keep reminding myself that my life wasn’t over; I had a lot more work to do. Even though we hadn’t been able to save Eddie, that didn’t mean I couldn’t help others. I worked hard to keep others alive and catch murderers. The pull to get back to my purpose had been strong since my brother had passed. Human instinct was to fight death. To stay alive as long as possible. To me, it seemed more fluid, but I could see the dead. I’d been visited by my late grandparents, among others, and right now, I felt guilty. Crossing over and visiting the other side was an option for me; I could pop into Heaven any time, but the rest of my family couldn’t visit my brother.
I needed a drink!
Focusing back on the task at hand, I glanced around the room, hoping to see Eddie. No luck yet. Dad looked a bit flushed as he sat across from me.
“Did you take your pills today?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I’m fine. Go talk to people. You should circulate.”
I knew it was the polite thing to do, but I’d been talking to those same people, in ever dwindling numbers, for over a week. Actually, longer. Some had cared enough to call and check on Eddie throughout his fight, but people had their own busy lives. The wake had been well attended. The funeral mass was nice, as well. There had been a small turnout at the graveside and luncheon for a Saturday.
Maybe I just thought Eddie deserved better. Then again, maybe when someone died young, it was harder for people to face. It had been hard to visit him in the hospital, but
Mom sat next to Dad.
“Do you have his pills?” I asked.
She dug through her purse and slapped the bottle on the table. Dad grudgingly shoved a pill in his mouth and downed it with water.
“Now, I’ll circulate,” I said.
I plastered a smile on my face. I’d gotten good at faking a smile every day so Eddie didn’t feel worse, but none of this had been easy. I wanted to be there for my family but was as helpless as anyone else. Now, Eddie was gone. There wasn’t as much need to hide grief, but I couldn’t find my balance just yet. The exhaustion never ended, no matter how much I slept.
I found Frankie and leaned on him. My baby brother was tall and strong. He was the one person who truly understood how suffocated I felt by our parents, and without Eddie to take the focus, the strain returned.
“Dad forgot his pills?” Frankie asked.
I nodded. “Mom had backup. He’s had two coronary events. He needs to rest. No stress.”
“No stress, anymore. Just grief,” Frankie said. “Good thing Eddie got his crap in order. The lawyer will handle his stuff.”
“Yeah. But losing a child... I don’t think they’ll ever recover,” I said.
“If I get that sick, I’ll shoot myself. No fighting for every false hope,” he said.
I didn’t believe it. “Just make a living will. Fight as long as there’s real hope. Eddie was never one to admit defeat.”
“You encouraged him.” Frankie tensed.
“I didn’t want to lose him, either. You shouldn’t have to bury your siblings until you’ve hit senior citizen status.” I didn’t add the fact that at least I’d be able to see him, eventually. The dead went into a reorientation period when they first passed. It could last days, weeks, or longer. But one day, my brother would turn up in ghost form and visit with Gran. I’d never liked my weird powers more than now. Knowing I didn’t have to wait until I was dead to see Eddie again was a great comfort.
We made our way around to various groups, thanking people and listening to their kind words.
As we headed back to the table with our parents, I spotted two familiar people, one in a black sparkly halter top and the other in a black trench coat and proper suit.
Both crossed the room, Ivy making an entrance that was somber for her, but the glitter from her nails sparkled as she pulled me in. “Deanna Oscar, you need some beignets. Come home, and we’ll take care of you.”
“Ivy?” I hugged my fabulous friend. Her makeup was understated, and her heels were under two inches. It was as subdued as a Latina drag queen could be expected to be.
“You look like you’ve been through it,” Greg said.
I smiled at him and hugged Ivy’s cousin, the ex-priest. He was in a dark gray suit and looked me in the eye.
“What?” I asked.
“You look tired and thin,” he said.
I felt it. My pants were a bit loose, but that was very temporary. People bringing tons of food to the house was nice, but planning a funeral stole your appetite. I’d eaten when forced, but once I got back New Orleans, I knew I’d make up for it fast. The duo had moved in with me after Katrina and then moved out. But during my extended absence, I asked them to move back to the mansion so it wouldn’t be left empty. There were ghosts and haunted objects that needed to be monitored.
“Come on. Have some lunch, and we’ll catch up.” Catching up wasn’t really necessary because we’d kept in touch. We talked once a week, and I flew down monthly to handle the worst cases. Ivy and Greg kept up the mansion in New Orleans and the club that I owned. When they had a big case, I’d slip away, but it’d begun to feel like I didn’t live anywhere. My personal life was my family in Chicago. My work was in New Orleans, and I had a lot more frequent flyer miles now.
My parents had met my friends before, but the other fifty people in the room stared at Ivy. She was used to it, but this sleepy Chicago neighborhood was nothing like the French Quarter. Up in Boystown, Ivy would fit right in, but Chicago had all sorts of suburbs, and most weren’t used to drag queens.
We settled in at the table with my parents and brother and ordered while enjoying a salad.
“You two didn’t have to come up,” I said.
“We had to come. Sorry, I couldn’t get away sooner. The club is hugely popular. We’re open for brunch every day now.” Ivy smiled.
“Brunch? It’s a nightclub,” Mom said.
“We lay out the buffet on the bar, and people love it. Mimosas and a fun atmosphere. Plus, bingo in the afternoons,” Ivy replied.
“Ivy, you’re a genius at making more money at that club.” I sipped a glass of water. Not being gay or a drag queen, I had no clue what the clientele wanted. Ivy knew exactly what to try and how to market it.
Frankie asked about the advertising since it was his field. He and Ivy fell into conversation about radio ads and event hype.
“We’d have been here sooner, but I wanted to stop at the cemetery,” Greg said.
“Thank you. I haven’t seen his ghost yet,” I said.
Greg might be a former priest, but his religious beliefs and conviction remained intense. I didn’t think Eddie needed prayers anymore, but it couldn’t hurt.
“You think with all of Heaven to explore that your brother is going to come back here and watch his funeral?” Greg asked with the hint of a smile.
I sighed. “I would. See who shows up for me. And I know he has to go through reorientation, but seeing him would give me some peace. Just for a few seconds...”
My parents looked anxious, and Greg saved me. “I hope you two are taking care of yourselves. I know this is very stressful, but all of you did everything you could. Now, you need to rest, take care of yourself, and, eventually, get on with life. Eddie would’ve wanted that,” Greg said.
My mom smiled. “Thank you. Now, I just have to look after my husband.”
“You all need to look after yourselves. A lot of people wear themselves out taking care of others and then get sick. Plus, all that time in the hospital—lots of germs there,” Greg said.
“I’m probably immune to every germ out there, now. That’s a plus.” I knew it was a bad joke and moved on. “Mom and Dad, why don’t you come down to New Orleans for a while? Food and rest. No worries. I’ll hire a housekeeper, a human one so the ghost one doesn’t scare you,” I said.
“That’s a great idea. Ivy and I can help entertain you,” Greg offered.
My parents exchanged looks.
“You’re going back?” Mom asked.
I closed my eyes. “Mom, I told you I never moved back here permanently. I flew back and forth to handle things, but I have a career down there. I have a big home in New Orleans.”
“There are more and more murders in Chicago. You could be helpful here,” Dad replied.
“True, but that’s mostly gangs and drugs. And, if there is a big case the police need help on, I’ll fly up here. I’ve done a lot of studying here on demonology that could be useful. I feel normal down in New Orleans. I like it there. Between Eddie and Dad’s heart, I had to be here, and I’m happy to cover the funeral cost and any lingering medical bills the insurance won’t cover. You won’t be taking a financial hit. But nothing we do will bring Eddie back. I have to go home. If you want to visit, you’re welcome. Somehow, I doubt you’ll move down there,” I said.
“Ghosts and all of that won’t help my heart,” Dad said.
Mom murmured in agreement.
“Fair enough.” I turned to Greg. “When are you flying home?”
“Ivy wants to see Boystown, so we didn’t book anything yet. Let’s eat, and we can find a flight that works in a few days.” Greg grabbed a roll and butter packet.
“Has Gran been around?” Ivy asked.
Mom looked around as if people would think we’re crazy.
“No, not yet. I think she’s probably helping Eddie get acquainted with Heaven and his reorientation period,” I said.
That should be a comfort, but only Frankie smiled at my words. Mom and Dad fussed over getting more rolls as the waitresses served our food.
Frankie stepped away to speak to some of Eddie’s friends from college.
“Do you think Frankie wants to come with us?” Ivy asked.
“He has a job,” Mom said.
“There are marketing jobs in New Orleans. Or he could come for a visit. He’s going to show us around Boystown,” Ivy smiled.
I exchanged a surprised look with Greg. Why would Frankie be joining us? Maybe he just wanted to be around people. Eddie had consumed a lot of our time. Friends and romantic ties had all taken a backseat and often drifted away.
“You won’t find it wilder than the French Quarter,” I said.
“But it is one of the first historically recognized gay areas by a government. It’s history,” Ivy replied.
“History with nightclubs and rainbow flags.” Greg chuckled.
“There are bookstores and coffee shops on top of a lot of bars,” I added.
“You don’t have to leave. You can sell that place there and buy a big home here in the northern suburbs. Help people and be near the family,” Mom said.
“I know I can. I don’t want to.” I ate and a chilly silence fell over the table. My old friends and colleagues had stopped by at the wake, but I knew who my true friends were. Even after years of living apart, I was closer to Greg and Ivy
“Your father’s health could use your support,” Mom said.
“Don’t make this about me. I’m fine,” Dad said.
by CC Dragon have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes