Sam and JB went back into the little bedroom to finish cutting out the doorway. I climbed a folding stool to mount some brackets for shelving, which would be right above where the changing table would be placed. The tracks for the adjustable brackets were already up. (I had learned how to use an electric drill to mount them, and I was justly proud of myself.) I began counting holes on the tracks so the brackets would be even.

“And there you have it, a solid brace,” I said with some satisfaction. They were mounted too high for the twins to be tempted to climb on them, when they got bigger. They were designed to hold things Tara would need when she was changing the babies, and on the higher shelves would be the knickknacks people had given her: a china baby shoe with a plant in it, a cute picture frame with a photo of the twins, their baby books.

“Good job, Sook,” Sam said behind me.

I jumped, and he laughed. “You were thinking too hard to hear me come through the new closet door,” he said. “I tried to walk heavy.”

“You are evil,” I said, climbing down. “I don’t think I’ll work for you anymore.”

“Don’t tell me that,” he said. “What would I do without you?”

I grinned at him. “I expect you’d find a way to carry on. This economy, there are plenty of women who need a job, even working for a slave driver like you.”

He snorted. “You mean a pushover like me. Besides, you have your own financial interest in the bar now. Where are the shelves? I can hand’em to you.”

“JB cut them yesterday, and he was going to paint them when he got in from work last night.”

Sam shrugged. “Haven’t seen ’em.”

“Tara,” I called. “You up yet?”

“Yeah,” she called. I followed her voice to the current baby room. Tara was changing Robbie. She was smiling down at the baby, but she looked haggard.

“He wants to know where his sis is,” Tara said, freely interpreting Robbie’s googly stare. “I think JB’s got Sara.”

“I’ll track ’em down,” I offered. I stepped into the kitchen, where Quiana was at the stove cooking . . . spaghetti sauce, from the smell. “You seen JB and Sara?” I asked. She was thinking that she didn’t like the idea that someone could read her thoughts. I could hardly blame her for that. I didn’t like the fact that I could, either. I sensed more strongly than ever that there was something different about Quiana, something that chimed in with my own peculiarity. It wasn’t the time to tax her with it, though.

“They went outside,” she murmured, her bony little figure hunched over the stove like a junior witch’s. I crossed behind her to go out the back door.

“JB?” At first glance the fenced-in yard with its minute patio and lone water oak looked empty.

The shelf boards were there, and they were painted, which I was glad to see. But where was JB? And more important, where was baby Sara?

“JB!” I called again. “Where are you?” Maybe because of the high fence, there was not a bit of breeze in the backyard. The lawn furniture sat dusty and baking on the bricks. It was hot enough to make my skin prickle. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, inhaling the scents of town: asphalt, cooking, vehicles, dogs. I searched for a living brain in the area and had just found two when a subdued voice said, “Here.”

I circled the water oak close to the west corner of the yard to find JB sitting on the ground. I closed my eyes in relief when I saw that he was holding Sara, who was making those cute little baby noises and waving her arms.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, trying to sound gentle and relaxed.

JB had let his hair grow, and he pulled it back with a ponytail holder. If you had to compare him to a movie star—yes, he was that handsome—he was pretty much in the fair-haired Jason Lewis mold. Physically. “There’s something angry and sad in the house,” he said, sounding way more serious and troubled than I’d ever heard him. “When we opened the wall and touched the hammer, it got out.”

If I hadn’t had such a strange life, I might have laughed. I might have tried to convince JB it was his imagination. But my friend was anything but imaginative, and he’d never shown a taste for the dark side before. JB had always been sunny, optimistic, and generally along for the ride.

“So, when did you . . . notice this?” I said.

Sam had approached us quietly. Now he knelt by JB. With a finger, he stroked the line of Sara’s plump little cheek.

“I noticed it last night,” JB said. “It was walking around the house.”

“Did Tara see it, too?” Sam asked. He didn’t look directly at JB. The sun set his strawberry-blond hair on fire as he knelt in the yard.

“No, she didn’t.” JB shook his head. “But I know it’s there. Don’t tell me I’m making it up or that I’m dreaming or something. That’s bullshit.”

“I believe you,” I said.

“I believe you, too,” Sam said.

“Good,” said JB, looking down at his daughter. “Then let’s find out how to get rid of it.”

“Who’m I gonna call for that?” I wondered out loud.

“Ghostbusters,” Sam said automatically. Then he looked embarrassed.

“Me,” said a new voice, and we all rotated to look at Quiana. She still had the spoon in her hand, and it was dripping red.

There was what you might call a significant pause.

“I know stuff,” she said, sounding pretty unhappy about it. “I get pictures in my head.”

The pause extended to an uncomfortable length. I had to say something. She was already full of regret at revealing herself, and I could see that clearly, anyway. “How long have you been psychic?” I asked, which was like saying, Do you come here often? But I was clean out of ideas.

“Since I was little,” she said. “But with my parents, you know, I knew not to say anything after the first time . . . they got spooked.”

That was probably an understatement, and I could completely sympathize with Quiana. I’d had the same problem. Having a little girl living with you who could read your mind had been tough on both my mother and my father, and consequently tough on me.

“How does it happen?” I said, since Sam and JB were still floundering through their thoughts. “I mean, do you get clear pictures? What triggers them?”

She shrugged, but I could tell she was relieved that I was taking her seriously. “It’s touch, mostly. I mean, I don’t have visions when I’m driving or anything like that.”

“That’s so interesting,” I said, and I was totally sincere. It was kind of neat to know someone else who was completely human but also wasn’t normal.

She felt the same way.

“So when you touch the babies,” JB said abruptly, “what do you see?”

“They’re little,” Quiana said with surprising gentleness. “I ain’t going to see nothing with them this little.”

Since that wasn’t true, I had to applaud her for keeping her mouth shut. And I was grateful that she didn’t spell out whatever she had seen in her own head, that I didn’t have to see it with her. If anything was worse than reading people’s minds, it would be knowing their future—especially when there wasn’t anything you could do about it.

“Can you . . . You can’t change anything?” I asked. “When you see something that’s going to happen?”

“I cannot,” she said, with absolute finality. “I don’t have a bit of responsibility. But people make decisions, and that can change what I’ve seen.” Quiana’s golden skin flushed as we all stared at her.

“Right now,” said Sam, getting from the bigger picture to the smaller, “do you think you can help us with the problems in this house?”

Quiana looked down. “I don’t know how, but I’m going to try,” she said. “When I figure out what to do.” She looked at each of us questioningly. None of us had a helpful idea, at least not at the moment.

I said, “I’m hoping that the funny feeling in the house will sort of wear away, myself. Sam opened the wall, we’ve found the hammer, so we know Albert did kill Isaiah. Surely that should set it all to rest.”

JB said, “Is that the way it works?” He didn’t seem to have a doubt in the world that I would know the

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