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Convinced no amount of cream and sugar could turn this brown sludge back into coffee, Bette held her nose and tried anyway. Running late and her home machine acting up, the office swill from the break room posed her only option. Desperately needing the caffeine rush, she added extra cream and whisked harder, hoping it would help. When the contents lightened to a shade she could stomach, Bette tossed the stir stick in the trash and latched onto the paper cup. She debated the merits of trading a sour stomach for the caffeine, but last night’s broken sleep dictated her reasoning. Better nauseous than dead tired.
She hesitated, then lifted the cup to her mouth. A tug on her arm stopped her.
“You’re not going to drink that, are you?” Eric’s lip curled up on one side. “Only Wilson drinks that machine oil, and that’s because he’s too damn cheap to spring for the good stuff.”
“I wish I had time to stop this morning but—”
“You’re not drinking that.” He snatched the cup from her hand, then tossed it in the round metal trash can stained from years of ill-advised taste-testers. “Besides, Tina just walked in carrying two lattes. If you don’t take it, I will.”
When he turned to walk out, she placed a hand on his arm. “You got a second?”
“Sure.” Eric knitted his brow as he leaned his butt against the counter. “What’s wrong?”
Bette’s expression must have revealed the confusion swirling in her head since she woke up. “Do you believe in ghosts?” She directed her question as much to herself as Eric. Since saying goodbye to Reagan this morning, she struggled to make sense of what happened on her deck.
“Ghosts? You mean like Ghostbusters or Patrick Swayze?”
“More like Swayze. You may think I’m crazy, but I think Avery came to me last night.”
“Came to you? Like in a dream?”
“At first, yes.” Bette tried to find the right words. “Then, I went out on the deck to clear my head. It was cold, so I fished out her sweater from the storage box and the strangest thing.” Going over this a dozen times in her head, she had yet to figure it out. “The sweater smelled just like her. It still had her lavender scent.”