Next chapter ;)
When Leah arrived to her apartment she was tired, her hair smelled like dust and the numbers and letters that differentiated one file from another were still dancing in front of her eyes.
- I need a hot bath, Simon.- she whispered.- Can you fill the bath?
The ghost nodded and went through the wall between the living room and the bathroom. The girl dragged herself to her room and lay down over her soft and big double bed. She took her boots off pushing with the heels and left the sweater and trousers scattered carelessly across the floor. She took her pyjamas from under the pillow and went half naked to the bathroom, where Simon watched the bath’s water.
- Do you need something else?- he asked, attentive.
- No, thanks.
Leah finished undressing herself and went slowly into the bath, filled with almost boiling water. Simon contemplated her from the toilet, silently, but she didn’t care he saw her naked. They had been together for thirteen years and it was long ago she had become accustomed completely to his presence. Simon appeared to be sixteen but even now that she was physically older than he, she still felt younger. Every time she looked at him she remembered the first time she saw him and how big, how terrifying and strange he seemed to her then. In the moment of his death his fair hair covered his ears and his expressive eyes had been green. He had worn a check-patterned blue and white shirt, a bit old and dirty, and trousers too big for him. But now that he was a ghost, all it was left was a version in a grey scale of who had been being alive.
The hot water and the pleasant smell of the gel and shampoo made her feel better. She sank her head until only her eyes were visible. She left her mind blank for a few seconds, but her thoughts didn’t want to be stagnant and they inevitably took the direction she preferred to avoid: Mark Green. Simon was right about one thing: he was a hypocrite. But a hypocrite very talented. During the morning she had spent placing folders and files in the store she had discovered that his name appeared in many cases the Homicides Department had run and most of them were successfully closed. Maybe working and learning from him compensated his injustices.
Leah lingered in the bath until the water turned lukewarm and and her fingertips wrinkled. She wrapped herself in a soft turquoise bathrobe and after drying her body and putting on her pyjamas, she went out of the bathroom with her wet hair over the shoulders. Simon followed her floating silently at her back. The sky was, as usually in that country, covered by grey clouds. Through the windows the city was turning on the streetlamps and the lights were awakening in the neighboring buildings. The night in Edinburgh was very luminous.
- Leah, you have a message.- Simon said.
The ghost was right: the orange light of the phone was flickering.
- Who will be?
A voice that she recognised easily talked to her through the telephone when Simon pressed the button. “Leah Meyer! When were you going to have the decency to calling me, uh? Since you arrived you have giving me the slip, but that’s over! I remember you that I know where you live, so this night I’ll pick you up at nine and I don’t accept a refusal. We’ll go to see a movie and then we’ll drink something, so you don’t need to look absolutely gorgeous. See you!” Leah and Simon looked at each other and said at the same time “Emma”.
- Surely she feels like she must play the host role.- the ghost mumbled.- She’s the only person you know in Edinburgh.
- I don’t feel like going out.- she repied, opening the fridge and taking two eggs and a packet of grated cheese.
- Are you not going?
- She’s gonna pick me up, so I have no option. What are you gonna do?
That question always made Simon smile.
- I’ll go out, too.- he said in a mocking tone.- Edinburgh’s ghosts are known for being fun-loving ones, maybe we’ll be able to frighten someone.
Leah smiled as well. She whisked the eggs and cooked a chesse omelet. The kitchen was included inside the wide living room. As the other rooms of the apartment, it had a high ceiling. The walls of the living room were painted in a soft and warm ocher-colored tone and the floor was made of wood, like in the rest of the flat. It had some still empty shelves, two couchs, a table with four chairs, music equipment and a small television. She turned on the radio and sat down in the couch with the plate over her knees. She had some hours left to relax and rest until Emma knocked her door.
Emma was punctual and the intercom sounded just when she was putting her boots. Simon had left a few minutes ago, so she didn’t have to say goodbye to anybody as she went out of the apartment inside her coat and with the bag over the shoulder. Emma was waiting impatiently for her next to the entrance of the building, and she almost jumped over her shouting and with her arms stretched when she came out. Leah was about to lose balance and fall, but the effusiveness of her friend made her smile.
- Leah!- she exclaimed.- You look great! You seem older. Truly, you look very nice, impressive!
- Thanks, but I think you’re exaggerating.- she answered.- You also look great, Emma.
And she really thought so. She had met Emma five years ago when she had come to Boston as an exchange student and they were in the same highschool. She had changed since then, but she was still beautiful. She worked as a model and earned a lot of many, so she always wore very expensive clothes. But she was a good person and despite the distance and the time they hadn’t neglected their friendship. She gave her a dazzling smile, grabbed her hand al pulled.
- C’mon, quick. I have the car double-parked. And tell me! How are you? Well, don’t tell me now, you’ll do it later, I want details!
Emma’s car was a Honda Civic of bright black parked with the indicator turned on in the corner, in front of the coffee house The Hiding Place. Leah noticed some persons inside the vehicle and when she sat in the co-driver seat, she saw two boys and girl sitting back, laughing. Emma started the car and left her street behind.
- Guys, this is Leah. Leah, they’re from left to right Callum, Stuart and Helen.
Leah waved at them shyly from her seat and they answered with a smile. Emma turned on the radio and the volume up, as she drove fast through the streets of Edinburgh. Leah disconnected for a moment and she just observed the lights of the talls buildings that passed quickly through the car’s window, blurry and turned into less than fuzzy blots. Despite her little predisposition to going out, now she was glad Emma had forced her to.
Emma took them to a cinema in the center of the city, a huge building whose walls had announcements and advertisements in bright colourful lights. The movie was nothing too great, but at least it was entertaining and made her laugh. Emma seemed very happy to see her again and during the minutes before entering the showing room she asked a lot of questions of allsorts. Her friends were really nice and pleasant; they showed interest in what she said and they were surprised by the fact that she had already finished her studies and was working as part of the Police Force. When the movie ended, Emma’s friends left; there was a party in some important discotheque and Emma had given them tickets. Leah exchanged phone numbers and said them goodbye warmly when they took the bus.
- Emma, you can go with them if you want. I don’t care, truly, I can take a taxi.
- I’m not done with you yet, Leah.- she laughed, holding her arm.- We need to spoke at lenght! We’ll drink something, we’ll talk and then I’ll try to convince you to come with me to that party.
- I tell you now that you won’t manage it. I work tomorrow and I must get up early. And I’m tired, too.
- Well, we’ll see.
Emma took her to a close pub where they played jazz music. The walls, tables and couchs were black, but the lights were brightly white as they were also the cushions and de paintings decorating the place. Leah waited while her friend exchanged some words with one of the waiters and then leaded her to a table for two near to the stairs to the toilets.
- Do you like the place?- she asked when she was comfortably sat, tapping her fingers on the table.
- Yeah, it’s great. I see you rembember that I like jazz music.
- I have good memory.- she said, winking.- Do you still play the saxo? You did it great in highschool.
- Yeah... but it’s been a long time since I played it last time.
The waiter who had talked to Emma before approached them with a tray under his arm. He noted down what they were going to drink and asked Emma about her job; she answered smiling and sligthly flirting. Leah had already noticed that her friend had a tendency to flirting when she dealt with the opposite sex and she wondered if she did it on purpose or unconsciously. However, it didn’t matter why she did it, because she obtained efficient results and in a few minutes she got the gintonic she has ordered and Leah her beer.
- Well now, let’s have a long-winded speech.- she said, after giving the first sip to her drink.- What do you think about Edinburgh?
- I like it very much, it’s a beautiful city.- she answered, smiling.- It’s incredible, everything is so impressive... every street, every corner... I don’t know, it’s like magic. You can feel the weight of History over the buildings. But I’m afraid every single American would be as impressed as I am.- she laugh.- The United States hardly has History.
- It has other things, though.- Emma observed.- I’m glad you like it. You must invite me to your flat one day, I’m very curious about it.
- I’m very happy with it and it’s not too expensive.
- Oh, and if you need something... anything, feel free to tell me, okay? Even my parents had offered their help, in case you need money... or whatever.
- I’m very grateful, but you don’t have to worry about me.
- Yeah, yeah, I know you’re able to take care of yourself. It’s something obvious looking at you... policewoman! And you’re nineteen!- she shook her head, smiling.- You’re the one who is really impressive, Leah. I remember that since I knew you, you have always had that obsession with being a part of the Police Force... and I have never understand it, honestly.
- Let’s say it gives me... moral satisfaction, that cath-the-bad-guys thing.
- Do they treat you well at work?
- I guess... so.- she answered, not very convinced. Emma raised her eyebrows.- My partner isn’t very comfortable with my age.
- Do you have a partner?- she asked, eyes wide open.- Why don’t you tell me that before? What’s his name? Is he hot?
Now was her turn to laugh.
- Is that all that matters to you? If he is hot or not?
- Of course not, but answer the question.
- His name is Mark Green.- she sighed.- And yeah, he’s hot. But I don’t know if I like him or not... he had me confined in the store of the Police Station, organizing the paperwork he don’t want to organize. But until we don’t have a case, it’s the only thing I can do. I can’t answer calls or help the citizen because nobody would take me seriously. I know he’s right... but still, he could be more kind.
- Hmm...- Emma pressed her lips.- Is he married?
- Emma! - Well, okay. Has he a girlfriend?
- Do you think that’s the first think I ask someone when I meet him?- she replied.- I don’t know and I’m not interested in knowing it. And I neither I know how old is he, if that was the next thing you were going to ask me.
- Am I that evident?
They finished their drinks while talking of other thinks, fortunately for Leah, less thorny. Emma also told her about her job as a model: the photography sessions, the press conferences, the catwalks and the travelling. She had seen many places and entertained her with curious stories about the cities she had visited. Emma completely obeyed the rule of enjoy to the maximum, live the present as if it was the last day, Carpe Diem. She was thoughtless and reckless most of the time but in exchange she had always anecdotes to tell and advices for situations Leah could only imagine.
When they exited the pub, Emma was loyal to her word and tried to convince her to come with her to the party, but Leah was tired and was wishing to arrive home and get some sleep. It had been an intense day in all aspects and she needed to rest. Also she rejected her friend’s offer to driving her home and after promising and swearing that she’d be okay and that she’d take a taxi rigth there, Emma left. She kissed her, huged her and assured her that she would call again soon and that she would come with her to the next party.
Leah walked to the end of the street, where it was a taxi stop, while thinking what time it would be because she had forgotten her cell phone and watch in the apartment. She wondered if Simon would be home already and if he had managed to scare someone that night. She hoped so. She raised her hand to stop a taxi and hid a yawn with the other. When she entered the vehicle she rested her head on the back of the seat and closed her eyes. She hoped that tomorrow gave her a pleasant surprise.