Parker likes small, enclosed spaces, always has. When she was a kid, she'd hide in closets, under the stairs, tiny spaces for a tiny girl trying to avoid her foster father, the other kids, the social worker. She was the best at hide and seek, used the time the other kids spent looking for her to scout escape routes and other boltholes. She stocked them all with candy and fruit juice, so she'd have something to eat if she got stuck overnight.
So spending time in the crawlspace she's in now is no problem--feels just like home.
This job is a weird one. Evan Langer was a hotshot criminal lawyer who'd never lost a case--up until a couple of years ago, when he suddenly developed an odd aversion to ever leaving his house. He swore that ghosts and demons were after him. He was rich enough that this was played off as an eccentricity, and he had everything--"and I do mean everything," Hardison had said--delivered.
Parker had come in as part of a weekly cleaning crew and hoisted herself up into the crawlspace while the other ladies from Merrie Maids had dusted and vacuumed and polished, murmuring about the spilled salt in every room and the strange black dust lining the doorways. Now they're all gone and she's still here. The house is riddled with secret passages that go nowhere and tiny spaces perfect for a thief her size. She sneaks around setting up the tiny cameras and mirrors Hardison gave her, and then slips back into her comfy crawlspace. When Langer falls asleep in front of the television, she catalogues the items she's going to steal, a little side job Nate will never know about or hold against her.
Langer heads up to bed and she settles in for the night. She checks her watch--the show's not supposed to start for another hour or two, because they need Langer to be muzzy-headed enough to buy that the flickering projections and holograms Hardison has put together are actually a ghost. The ghost of one of his clients' victims, come back for revenge. Sophie had had a lot of fun recording those images, but Parker's the one who gets to run the show inside the house. She slips into the white nightie Sophie gave her, dusts some baby powder in her hair and over her skin, but she ignores the red lipstick Sophie gave her to draw on gaping wounds. She's never been good with makeup.
She wishes she had some Twizzlers and a pouch of Capri Sun. Then she thinks about the mice she might be sharing quarters with, and decides she's better off without.
She snaps alert when she hears footsteps on the stairs, the creak of the fourth step really loud in the silence.
"Jesus, Dean, why not just ring the bell and announce we're here." The voice is soft and annoyed, and it carries in the quiet.
Parker peers out of her hidey-hole to see two very tall guys moving stealthily into the room. They're both holding flashlights, and one of them is carrying something that looks like an old Walkman. He's looking at it like he expects something to happen, though he's not wearing headphones or anything. The other one is holding out his phone like he's going to take a picture.
"No EMF," the shorter one says. "No cold spots. Any orbing?"
"No," the taller one says in the same annoyed voice as before. "I told you this was a waste of time."
"This guy worked for Wolfram and Hart for five years before he bolted, Sammy. He's got real reasons to be afraid."
"I know, Dean, but did you see the salt on the threshold? The devil's trap carved beneath the welcome mat? Nothing's getting in here, and Langer's not coming out."
"Ghost could have already been in the house. That chick from the maid service said she'd heard thumps and bumps inside the walls. Said it gave her chills."
Parker freezes. She'd been a little noisy when a mouse crossed her path earlier, but there had been no thumping and bumping. She's too professional for that.
Wait. Do these guys really believe Langer's being haunted? She has to bite her lip to keep from laughing out loud.
Sam huffs in annoyance. "She was just telling you what you wanted to hear."
"Fine. But tomorrow we're going to the library, check out the history of the house a little more closely."
"I don't see why you care." Their voices are receding up the steps, though Dean doesn't make the same mistake going up that he made coming down. "Those Wolfram and Hart bastards deserve what they get."
She can't hear the rest of the conversation, though she figures the bugs she planted earlier will pick it up. She's just glad they didn't do any exploring.
She pops a piece of gum into her mouth and settles back down to wait.