CHAPTER ONE: Meeting Claire's Dad
Claire’s phone buzzed during dinner, interrupting a big conversation her parents were having. Kaz, Little John, Beckett, and Cosmo hovered around the dining-room table.
“No, Claire,” her mom said as Claire reached for her phone. “You know the rule. No phones at the dinner table.”
“But it could be a case,” Claire said.
“It can wait,” Claire’s mom said. “Your dad and I don’t take cases during dinner. You don’t need to, either.” She held out her hand. Claire’s parents ran a detective agency out of their home above the library, and held a strict “no work during dinner” policy.
Claire groaned and gave the phone
to her mother.
“You’ll get it back after dinner,” her mom promised. She laid the phone in her lap, then turned to Claire’s dad. “Now, where were we?”
“You were telling me that you used to see ghosts when you were a kid?” he said. “Real, live ghosts.” Kaz could tell he didn’t quite believe it.
“Oh, yes. That’s right.” Claire’s mom twirled spaghetti noodles around her fork. “I started seeing them when I was around nine. Like Claire.”
“And you saw ghosts when you were that age, too?” Claire’s dad asked
Grandma Karen. Grandma Karen was Claire’s mom’s mother.
“Yes,” Grandma Karen replied. “I don’t remember if I was eight or nine. Somewhere in there.” She took another bite of pasta.
“But neither of you sees ghosts now.” Claire’s dad’s eyes shifted back and forth between the two women.
“No,” they said at the same time.
“Not unless they’re glowing,” Grandma Karen added. “That’s what ghosts do
when they want us to see them.”
“I can see ghosts when they’re not glowing!” Claire piped in. “I’m the only one in the family who can.”
No one knew why Claire could see and hear ghosts when they weren’t glowing or wailing. It was a mystery! And no one knew why Claire’s mom and grandma couldn’t see or hear ghosts anymore. Kaz hated to think that one day Claire might not be able to see or hear him. It made him want to work harder on his glowing and wailing skills.
“There are three ghosts in this room with us right now,” Claire added. “Four, if you count the ghost dog.”
“Woof! Woof!” Cosmo barked as he swam in a circle around Claire’s dad.
“I don’t know why all the solids who live here need to know about us,” Beckett grumbled.
“Don’t call us solids!” Claire narrowed her eyes at Beckett.
Claire’s dad looked right through Beckett. “Who are you talking to?” he asked Claire.
“Beckett,” Claire replied, her mouth full of spaghetti. “He’s one of the ghosts here. I don’t like it when he calls us solids. That’s why he does it.”
“Hmph,” Beckett grunted.
Claire swallowed her food. “The other ghosts are Kaz and Little John. Kaz is my age. Little John is his six-year-old brother.”
“Maybe . . . it . . . would . . . help . . . if . . . he . . . could . . . see . . . us,” Little John wailed as a bluish glow filled his body. “See, . . . Claire’s . . . dad? . . . Here . . . I . . . am! . . . Over . . . here!” He waved his arms.
Claire’s dad’s mouth fell open.
“Dad, meet Little John.” Claire nodded toward Kaz’s little brother.
Claire’s dad blinked, then rubbed his eyes and looked again at Little John.
Kaz wished he could glow and wail so Claire’s dad could meet him, too. But he couldn’t.
There was something else he could do to show Claire’s dad he was here, though. He dove down to the table and picked up the salt shaker.
Claire’s dad’s eyes opened wider. Since he couldn’t see Kaz, it looked like the salt shaker was floating in midair.
Kaz had just learned how to pick up solid objects, so he couldn’t hang on to the salt shaker for long. He held it carefully between the tip of his thumb and second finger, then transformed it into a ghostly salt shaker. It floated in the air beside Kaz’s hand, but Claire’s dad couldn’t see it anymore.
“Where did the salt shaker go?” Claire’s dad asked.
“It’s still there,” Claire said. “You can’t see it because Kaz transformed it.”
“Kaz can’t glow or wail like other ghosts,” Claire’s mom explained. “But he can transform things. That means he can turn solid objects into ghostly objects, and he can turn ghostly objects into solid objects. It’s a very rare skill.”
Kaz felt proud when he heard Claire’s mom say that.
Claire’s dad rubbed the back of his neck. “So where did all these ghosts come from?” he asked. “Why are they here?”
“I don’t know where Beckett came from,” Claire said. “But Kaz and Little John used to live in an old schoolhouse with the rest of their family. Then one day last summer, some people tore down the schoolhouse, and Kaz and his family ended up outside. The wind blew Kaz here. For a long time he didn’t know what happened to anyone else in his family. But we found Cosmo when we were out solving a case. And you know that purple house on Marion Street? That’s where the wind blew Little John. The other ghosts who lived there told him there were ghosts in the library, so he came here inside a library book and found Kaz. We don’t know where the rest of their family is.”
“We . . . know . . . where . . . our . . . grandma . . . and . . . grandpop . . . are . . . ,” Little John wailed.
“Oh, yeah,” Claire said. “We found their grandma and grandpa at the nursing home.”
Claire’s dad jumped when Little John’s glow went out. “Now where’d that ghost go?” he asked.
“He’s still there,” Claire said. “He just ran out of energy. It takes a lot of energy for ghosts to glow brightly enough and wail loudly enough so we can see and hear them.”
Claire’s dad rubbed the back of his neck some more.
“I know it’s a lot to think about.” Claire’s mom patted her husband’s arm. “But I’ve been wanting to share our little family secret with you for a while.”
Claire’s phone buzzed again in her mom’s lap. Her mom glared.
“What?” Claire said, throwing her hands into the air. “I can’t help it if someone is calling me. They don’t know we’re having dinner.”
The look on Claire’s mom’s face softened. “That’s true,” she said as Claire’s phone continued to buzz. She turned back to Claire’s dad. “Do you have any questions?”
“Yes. Am I ever going to see the salt shaker again?” Claire’s dad asked.
“Oh!” Kaz said. “Here you go.” He transformed the salt shaker and it “reappeared” in midair, then fell to the table with a thump.
Claire’s dad picked it up and turned it around. Kaz had a feeling it wasn’t just the disappearing and reappearing salt shaker that Claire’s dad had to think about. It was everything Claire and her mom and her grandma had just told him. Plus seeing Little John with his own eyes.
“Don’t worry, Dad. You’ll get used to the ghosts,” Claire said.
After dinner, Claire’s mom returned her cell phone as promised.
“I’ve got voice mail!” Claire said as she skipped up the stairs to her bedroom. Kaz and Little John swam beside her and listened while Claire played the message back:
“Hi, Claire? This is Brynlee Larson. We don’t really know each other because we’re not in the same class. But we’re in the same grade. And I think you’re in my brother’s class. Do you know RJ Larson? He’s here, too.”
Another voice said, “Hi.”
Brynlee continued: “Anyway, we’re calling because we heard you solve ghost mysteries. Is that true? If it is, call us back. Or talk to one of us at school tomorrow. We’ve got a . . . situation we want to talk to you about. Okay, bye.”
“Hmm,” Claire said. “Sounds like we may have a new case! I’ll call her back right now.”