“Please,” I said to Mr. Riley, with a wave of my hand, “come and sit down, and tell me your situation.”
As he turned toward the threadbare red sofa lurking like a familiar in the corner of the office, the imp spat a swift jet of water in my direction, and I only just managed to dodge it by leaping sideways and slamming my leg right against my desk. The trouble with water-imp spit was how it was only visible to other people once it hit you and tended to be a particularly nasty shade of green. Something to do with their origins in the sea, I believed, though nobody ever knew for sure, and the imps weren’t telling.
As I stifled a swift curse for the sake of professionalism, Mr. Riley’s gaze swung back to me. “Are you all right?”
“Oh yes,” I lied, attempting to smile and rub my leg without appearing to be too weird. “I’m fine. Please, Mr. Riley, do sit.”
“Thank you,” he said with a frown and did so. I joined him. “But call me Aaron. Mr. Riley sounds too much like my father. If he knew I was here, he’d probably kill me.”
“Which wouldn’t be a problem for me, though payment might be trickier,” I said, only half-joking before realizing how off-the-wall it would sound to anyone who wasn’t a detective of the paranormal. “Sorry. I mean I’m sure it won’t come to it.”
Before I could dig myself any deeper into the hole I’d started, Aunt Miranda returned carrying a tray loaded with steaming mugs of tea and coffee, a matching sugar bowl and milk jug, and a vast plate of hobnobs.
Thank heavens for hobnobs. They solved a wide variety of ills.
“Here you are, dears,” Miranda sang out, leaning over to deposit her goodies on the table and almost depositing her substantial breasts in Mr. Riley’s—Aaron’s—face as well. He blinked wildly and veered backward in an attempt to avoid the less-than-buried treasure, at the same time as the water-imp flung himself right on top of Miranda’s greatest assets with a merry cry.
Water-imps were rather partial to breasts. I might have forgotten to mention this, though, as a gay man, breasts didn’t come onto my radar. Miranda couldn’t see what Aaron had brought in—she didn’t have the gift—but she could certainly feel it. She let out a fearsome shriek as the creature scrabbled across her skin and the tray dropped the rest of the way to the table. Somehow, Aaron saved it from disaster, though a large dollop of milk landed with a splash on the floor. I leapt up and pulled the imp away from my aunt’s chest before throwing it across my desk, where it landed with a thump and a furious chattering on my computer keyboard. I only hoped the dryness of my latest financial reports might keep it busy for a while.
Miranda rearranged her front, wiped up the milk with her handkerchief and harrumphed before tip-tapping back to her desk. I smiled as sanely as I could at my potential new client before sitting back down on the sofa. Aaron’s gaze was fixed on mine. “Hobnob?” I asked him.
The Paranormal Detection Agency by Anne Brooke is now available at Amber Allure.
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