Iris had two cases back to back today. Thankfully, both of them were follow-ups, so it probably wouldn’t be a lot of actual work. Most of the time she would be traveling between the sites, which wasn’t bad. First up to Colrain, then back to the Countess in Petersham, then hopefully meeting with Roman, Dr. Degas, and Andrew tonight.
She was sitting at her kitchen table, the remains of her peanut butter toast cold on the plate beside her as she flipped through her planner. Oh, she should invite Olivia to join her for the Petersham case, shouldn’t she? Based on the way Olivia had lost all of her enthusiasm for the case immediately after channeling the spirit, Iris doubted she would want to have anything to do with it again. But the polite thing to do would be to call anyway, right?
Andrew picked up on the first ring. “Hello?”
“Hi Andrew, it’s Iris. Is Olivia there?”
He started to answer, but Iris immediately felt that creeping feeling of being watched again. She whipped around and looked at the window behind her. Nothing. Not even anybody walking by across the street. Just the early October morning outside.
“I asked if you want me to go outside and get her. Is everything alright?”
She shook her head. “Yeah, it’s fine. I just felt…”
“Like you’re being watched?” Andrew finished.
“I’ve had it again too,” he said, his voice lower. “Not in the house, thankfully. But when I’ve been out with Liv and Mia. And quite frankly, it’s pissing me off.”
The feeling had vanished without her realizing it. “It’s gone now, whatever it is,” Iris said. “But it was definitely something.”
She shuddered. “Anyway, yeah, if you could get her. I just have to ask her something.”
“Sure thing, hang on.”
He set down the phone, and she heard him walk away as she silently watched the window for any signs of life. She was so focused that she almost jumped when Olivia got on the line.
“Hi Olivia. Listen, I just wanted to ask if you wanted to come to the Countess to follow up with me today.”
There was a long pause, and Iris didn’t need to be psychic to know what Olivia’s response was going to be. “I appreciate you inviting me,” Olivia began slowly. “And for bringing me last time and letting me try it out. But this really isn’t for me.”
“I understand,” Iris said. “It’s not for everyone.”
“I feel a little bad though,” Olivia said. “Maybe I should have tried a little harder to get used to it though. Like, if I have these powers, I should be using them. Right?”
Iris realized she sounded a little too firm, but she’d seen enough people start heading down that train of thought and it never ended well. “Just because you’re able to do it doesn’t make everything paranormal your problem. There’s plenty of us who actually enjoy the work. You have no obligations to do it.”
Olivia paused again on the other end of the line, and Iris wondered if she’d crossed the line yet again. But then Olivia sighed. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“If you ever change your mind, the door’s always open,” Iris said, then cringed.
This time Olivia laughed. “I think that’s what I’d like to avoid,” she said. “Alright, I have to go. Mia’s ready for breakfast. But I really do appreciate you asking.”
They hung up, and Iris smiled. This wasn’t the end of Olivia’s medium career. She didn’t know anything beyond that one little fact and she wasn’t going to push it on Olivia. But Iris could see she’d be using her abilities in some way or another in the future.
That night, Iris was reluctant to leave The Countess after her final debriefing with Missy and Anna. Maybe it was the October Halloween vibes that place just naturally had. Or it was the chance to spend some extra time in their library. Seeing the Harbinger on the table still gave her a pang of guilt every time she passed it. But now that her obligation to the place was done, maybe she could dive into its resources a little further.
“Iris, before you leave, I have something for you.”
Missy walked into the room in a nicely tailored suit. The Countess was hosting some kind of event tonight. Not a seance, but something along those lines. Iris hadn’t wanted to intrude too much, so instead she simply lingered for a few minutes after their discussion, wondering if it would be rude to flip through a few of the books. But now apparently she’d been busted.
Iris turned to see Missy holding a cloth-bound book. She held it out to Iris, who took it, glanced at the cover, and nearly dropped it.
“It turns out Evelyn Harbinger wrote a second volume,” Missy said. “Anna found it on the shelves the other day after our conversation.”
Iris tried to think of something more professional to say. She opened the cover and ran a finger down the title page. A History of the Town of New Winslow, Volume Two.
“I’m not sure if it’ll hold anything useful,” Missy continued. “But it’s worth a look if your main lead is from the Harbinger volume one.”
“Thank you,” Iris finally managed. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to leave it here and come back for it. I have…a bad history with Harbingers in my apartment.”
Missy’s mouth quirked into a small smile. “Of course,” she said. “You’re welcome to come over any time to use it. Just call and let us know so that we can open the door for you.”
Iris nodded, a giddy feeling bubbling up in her chest. She’d been right, The Countess was going to be the key to solving this.