The Barrier: Case Three- Chapter Six

The next morning after having a chance to shower and get ready, Riley felt refreshed and had an idea. The talk of social media posts for Tracy had inspired her.

“I have an idea,” Riley said as she walked into the base. “I think it might give us some information on Tracy.”

“Oh?” Gabrielle replied.

“According to Emily’s digging, she has been friends with a guy named Ted since they were young kids. He works at a local coffee shop. Their history is a bit odd.”

“How so?” Ethan asked.

“Both of them are incredibly intelligent and got into their top choice colleges. Tracy seemed to give up on the notion, and Ted did shortly after.”

“Do we know what happened?”

“No, which is why Mike and I are going to the coffee shop that Ted works at to see if we can’t spark a conversation with him and see if I can pick up on anything.”

“Why Mike?”

“Makes the most sense. I don’t think I should go alone. I think it would be too obvious that I was nervous if I attempted to converse with him alone, and I need someone who could believably be my boyfriend.”

Riley noticed both Emily and Ethan stiffen a bit but chose to ignore it for now.

“If he’s working, will you even be able to talk to him?” Emily asked.

“We’ll work something out once we get there,” Riley answered. “I talked to Mike, and he is a bit uncomfortable but agreed as long as the team thought it was the best course.”

“It makes sense,” Josh said, “At least as long as we have no other real plans. If Tracy is dodging us, then I doubt her friends would be forthcoming in a more formal setting.”

“I agree,” Gabrielle added.

“If we are concerned for Riley’s safety, perhaps one of you could go separately, keep an eye out,” Daniel suggested noticing tension building in the room.

“I can do that,” Josh quickly volunteered.

Ethan considered the plan, it might not work, but Josh was right, they had nothing else at the moment. “Alright, we have to try something. I do not think we will get anywhere demanding Dorothy give us access to her granddaughter, but we need to determine if it is her or not before we can move forward.”

Riley nodded and stood. “Should I take a recording device?”
“No, I do not want the hassle of recording him without permission. I trust you both to remember the important details,” Ethan answered.

The group quickly helped Riley and Mike get ready, and then Josh followed them out of the B&B. Ethan hoped they would get some information or, at the very least, a hint that they were right that their focus needed to be on the granddaughter. Dorothy was so sweet they all hated the idea that it was her own family doing this to her. Still, there were simply no other logical leads at this point.

It didn’t take the three of them long to arrive at the coffee shop. Josh had started backing off about half a block away, and put a few customers between himself and his fellow investigators. After they had ordered, Riley sat down and looked around. The place wasn’t overly crowded so now seemed like the best time to try and grab Ted’s attention. Riley waited a moment, then spilled her drink, making sure to get a bit on her but mostly making a mess, and then she jumped up.

Mike was a bit surprised but caught on and quickly went to talk to the workers at the front for cleaning supplies. Their plan worked, and Ted came over to help clean up.

“I am so sorry,” Riley said. “I didn’t mean to make a mess and make your job harder.” She did actually feel bad about the last part.

“It’s fine. Accidents happen. Can we replace your drink?” Ted asked.

“Oh, it was my fault, I would hate for you to have to do that.”

“I insist,” Ted assured her.

“If you are sure. Luckily we aren’t too far from the B&B, so I’ll be able to change soon.”

“You are staying there?” Ted asked, confused.

“Yes, us and then this other group of people. I am not sure who they are,” Riley said glad when her lie worked, and Ted seemed to relax.

“My good friend is related to the woman who owns it,” Ted said.

“Oh, Dorothy’s granddaughter? Dorothy mentioned her briefly but said she wasn’t around. Small towns, I suppose.”

“I suppose,” Ted agreed. A bit later, he brought a new drink for Riley and some extra napkins to continue to dry her clothes. He was cleaning up a little near the two and seemed to want to say something. Riley watched carefully, unsure how much she should push.

“If you see your friend, you should let her know we are happy we stayed there. I mean, it’s a bit much with the way it’s decorated and everything, but it’s still not a bad place, and Dorothy is just wonderful.”

“She is,” Ted quickly agreed, “Most people don’t agree with you about the place being worth staying at though.”

“Oh? That’s unfortunate,” Riley said. “Did your friend leave for school or something?”

“No, she felt like she needed to stay and help Dorothy. The place isn’t doing well.”

Riley had to stop herself from physically reacting to the sudden wave of Ted’s emotions. He was upset, sad, and guilty. Whatever it was, Tracy was the one doing it, and now Riley was sure Ted was helping. However, it did not seem to be with malicious intent.

“She wanted to leave, honestly should, but it’s a hard situation,” Ted said, then paused. “Not sure why I am telling you this.”

“I’ve always been one of those people,” Riley reassured. “Don’t worry, it’s between us and our drinks,” Riley said, raising her cup.

“Have to admit it is sad hearing that though,” Mike added, realizing his silence was pretty unnatural.

“Dorothy’s granddaughter has tried to help her, but Dorothy has it in her head that she has to do things a certain way. It’s been hard to get them to come together. I hate to say it, but I think it would be best for my friend if the place closed.”

“Must be a hard feeling for her too,” Riley said sympathetically.

“Yeah,” Ted agreed, then suddenly seemed to come to himself. “Anyway, I hope you enjoy it there. Let me know if you need anything else.”

“It’s them?” Mike asked when Ted was behind the counter again.

“Yes,” Riley said sadly, “Although I didn’t learn as much as I would have liked. We should hang out just a bit longer to not be suspicious.”

After they had taken some time, they left the coffee shop. Josh waited even longer before moving quickly to catch up. The three made their way back.

“Ted and Tracy are doing something,” Riley said when they entered the base. “I don’t know what or how, but it is them. Ted has a lot of guilt over it but seems to resent Dorothy a bit as well.”

“I know I was just there as backup, but I think they are trying to force Dorothy to close the place,” Mike added.

“You are capable of observing people Mike, don’t put yourself down,” Gabrielle said, and the group quickly agreed.

“I just got the sense she feels trapped by the B&B. Ted told us that she is only here because she is worried bout leaving Dorothy alone,” Mike said.

“The motivations might have changed over time even,” Josh added. When the group looked at him, he continued. “When the hauntings first started, it helped business a little, but it wasn’t enough. The two may have started with the intention of helping Dorothy turn the place around, but when it didn’t work, it could have shifted to shutting the place down.”

“I can certainly understand feeling obligated to stay and help, just for me, it was an easier choice to make,” Riley said.

“This is all good, and I am glad we quickly found a direction, but we need to find out the how more than the why,” Ethan interrupted.

“One of them must have powers,” Emily said.

“So what do we think last night was then?” Riley asked. She was met with tense silence.

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