Adelle Terfield picked up the ringing phone and said, with practiced cheerfulness, "Good morning, you've reached Better Real Estate. How can we help you today?"
The voice on the phone was male, gentle, and faintly accented. "Good morning. I'd like to see the haunted house."
Adelle frowned, then smoothed the expression away. "What haunted house?" she asked politely.
"It's an advertisement on Craigslist," the voice said helpfully. "Genuinely haunted house, just an hour outside of town, could be yours for less than half its estimated value. There's a picture -- it looks a bit decrepit and overgrown -- and then it continues: Contact Better Real Estate for details. It ends with this phone number. I do hope it isn't some sort of joke, as I'd very much like to see the place."
Of course it's a joke, thought Adelle. Steve wouldn't... She hesitated. Oh, yes, he would, replied a nasty little voice in the back of her mind. This close to Halloween? While he just happens to be on a two-week vacation in Italy? He absolutely would have placed an ad like this. She sighed. "If it's the house I think it is," she said slowly, "then it isn't exactly a joke. Could you give me a minute or two to check?"
"Certainly, certainly." The voice remained pleasant and courteous.
She found it on her second keyword search. It was the house -- of course it was. Of course Steve would leave her to take care of that house. She punched the button to make herself audible again, and said: "I found it. It's a real property, and it really is for sale, and Better Real Estate really is representing it. More than that, actually -- we're the ones selling it."
"I'd like to see it. Today, if that's possible."
Adelle hesitated. It would serve him right if you closed up the office and took off to show that house to a potential buyer. If you somehow did manage to sell it... "I believe we can manage that. Would this afternoon work for you? Say, 2:00?"
"That would be lovely."
"Then I'll see you there, mister...?"
"Petrovich. Damon Petrovich."
"Adelle Terfield," she returned. She gave him the address and cautioned him to wait until she arrived to open the gates, then hung up the phone. Okay, then... Shaking her head in a mixture of exasperation and disbelief, she went to look for their -- or, for the moment, her -- secretary.