Sarah walked through the antiques fair. Most of the items were either in poor condition or things her father's warehouse already contained, but there was usually something good to be found at these events. She'd never been to Cape Girardeau; after the business was taken care of, there might be some time to explore.
She came across a booth with several handmade quilts. The vendor perked up at her approach. "They're 19th century, all made right here in Missouri," he said.
"Any restorations?" she asked.
"All original condition, no alterations."
She eyed the bright fabrics, faded only slightly. There was a bit of wear and tear, but no large holes from moths. Some museums or art schools might be interested in them. "I'll think about it," she said.
A young black woman holding a notebook walked by. "I'm a reporter for the local newspaper," she said. "Mind if I ask you a few questions about the fair?"
Sarah shrugged. "Sure, why not?" They strolled down the main aisle, passing vendors on both sides.
"Nice to meet you, then. I'm Cassie Robinson. What's your name?"
"You don't sound local; what brings you to an antiques gathering so far away?"
"It's a business trip; my father owns an auction house."
"I bet you see a lot of interesting items in that line of work."
They paused near a table with glass cases containing Victorian dolls. "Most of the time. You tend to lost interest in some of them after a while." All the dolls looked normal but Sarah still edged away from the display. "I'm not so much into dolls anymore."
"Is it the eyes that don't blink?" Cassie asked. "I've heard that's what a lot of people have a problem with."
"Off the record? It's more to do with them being made with parts of real people, like hair from little girls who murdered their families."
"That happen often?"
"Just the one time, but it involved a cemetery and a fire and other things I probably shouldn't mention in polite company."
Cassie licked her lips. "I have more of a problem with big black trucks—the kind that run people off the road but you can never find them later."
The two women stared at each other. The antiquers moved around them, oblivious to the conversation.
"I used to date a guy who was into that weird stuff," Cassie volunteered.
"Me, too. Well, it was just the one date and the day after. Real tall guy, kind of skinny and puppy-dog eyes?"
"Shorter, and a real wise-ass in an endearing sort of way when you don't want to smack him. His brother's pretty tall, though."
"And they drive a black Impala," Sarah added.
They stared for a moment longer and burst out laughing. Cassie dropped her notepad and Sarah almost fell into a man carrying a very large, very breakable vase.
"You want to get a drink and bond over our horrible taste in men?" Cassie asked, wiping her eyes.
"Yeah, hold on a minute. I just need to finish my purchases." Sarah returned to the owner of the quilts. She wrote a check for two of them and gave him the mailing address. "Is there any place good around here?" she asked.
Cassie made a face. "Not really but there's a bottle of Captain Morgan at my mother's house."
"I'm more of a vodka kind of woman."
"We have that, too."
Still giggling, the women left the building.
Cassie drove them to an old farmhouse.
"Isn't your mother at home?" Sarah asked when she didn't see anybody else.
"She went to visit relatives out of state. I would've gone with her but I had the antiques story to cover."
Cassie pulled various liquor bottles out of a kitchen cupboard. "What's your poison?"
"Do you have any orange juice? I should probably try to justify this by including some fruit."
"There should be some in the fridge. Would you get me a Coke while you're in there?"
Sarah found the pitcher of juice and the soft drink. Their drinks prepared, the two women settled into comfortable armchairs in the living room. "So, how did you meet Sam and Dean?" Cassie asked.
"This isn't going to turn up in your article, is it?"
Sarah propped her feet up on an ottoman. "They were tracking down a haunted item in Dad's auction house that was killing people. I only found out because one of the victims was a friend of mine. It kind of snowballed from there. What about you?"
"I was dating Dean and he told me he saw dead people. I called him insane, we screamed at each other for a while, and he ran off. I didn't see him again until that phantom truck killed my father and his friends."
"It's over with now. At least that damn ghost isn't going to kill anybody else."
"I'll drink to that."
Several hours later and partway through leftover pizza from the fridge, Sarah said, "I think I want to drunk-dial them but I only have Sam's e-mail address and I left it at home."
"I have Dean's number…somewhere. Somewhere that I'm too lazy to walk to."
Sarah laughed. "Can you imagine what they'd do if they heard we met? They'd freak out."
"They might run away. Those boys may be cute but they have lots of problems.
"Amen." Sarah held out her third drink and Cassie clinked hers against it.
Cassie pretended to write on her notepad. "Ms. Blake, if you could give one piece of advice to people wanting to become auctioneers, what would it be?"
"Avoid mysterious objects that come from a string of dead owners. Like paintings with sociopathic little girls living in them. Those are nothing but trouble."
"Any other advice?"
"Not really, just avoid the cursed objects. Everything else pretty much takes care of itself."
Sometime around the bottoms of the liquor bottles or 3 a.m., Cassie was doodling in her notepad and Sarah stretched out on the couch. "You ever wonder what their lives must be like?" Cassie asked.
"Really screwed up," Sarah said promptly.
"Do you think they'll always be chasing after things that go 'bump' in the night?"
"I hope not. I told Dean I didn't think we'd end up together ever."
Sarah balanced her glass on her stomach. "I wouldn't mind seeing them again."
"That might be nice."
Sarah opened her eyes. She lay on her stomach; one arm and leg dangled off of the couch. Early morning sun glared in her eyes. "I feel like crap."
Footsteps approached and a hand waved a mug of coffee in front of her face. "Mama calls this her hangover brew."
"Bless you." Sarah sat up. "How are you possibly less hung-over than me?"
"It's my house."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
Cassie shrugged. "I'll think of something better when I'm not hung-over."
"I have an airplane to catch this afternoon."
"I can give you a ride to your hotel." Cassie picked up her car keys.
"What are you going to write in that article?" Sarah asked during the drive.
Cassie grimaced. "Nothing after the stuff about dolls made from people bits. I have until tomorrow to figure something out."
"Would you send me a copy? I'd like to see what you'll pull out of thin air."
"Sure. Just write down your e-mail address and I'll get it to you."
"I can't wait."
Cassie looked away from the road long enough to roll her eyes. "Don't push it." She pulled into the hotel parking lot.
Sarah got out of the car and stood next to the driver's door. "Give me a call if you're ever doing any traveling; I had fun."
"You're a good drinking partner. I think it helps that neither of us got to the throwing up stage."
"You have a point." Sarah smiled. "I'll see you around."
"Have a good flight." Cassie waved once and drove away.
Laughing quietly, Sarah packed her belongings to return home, where she would await the arrival of quilts that were almost certainly, probably, not haunted.