Maryse Robicheaux LeJeune polished off a truly excellent cinnamon roll and lifted her coffee to wash it down. She had just filled her mouth with the hot liquid when Helena Henry walked through the wall of the Mudbug Café and sat in the booth across from her. Before her mind could even process what she saw, her body reacted and she spit the coffee across the table, where it passed right through the smiling ghost.
“Are you all right?” the waitress asked.
Maryse nodded, attempting to look normal. “It just went down wrong.”
“Looks to me,” Helena said, “like it came out wrong.”
Maryse waited until the waitress walked away and glanced around the café to ensure that no one was within hearing distance. Then she leaned across the table.
“This is not possible,” she whispered. “You ascended a year ago. I saw you. We all saw you.”
“I know what you saw. I was the one doing the ascending.”
Maryse’s mind raced with possibilities that might explain the ghost in front of her, but all of them were horrible.
“Is someone going to die?” Maryse asked.
“How should I know?”
“Then why are you here?”
“Because you weren’t at home. I stopped there first hoping to get a glance of the sexy Luc in some state of undress, but you were both already gone. So given the morning hour and knowing your lack of domestic abilities, I came here.”
Maryse clenched her hands and willed herself not to jump across the table and attempt to strangle the ghost, who was deliberately misunderstanding her. “Why are you back on earth, Helena? Why aren’t you in heaven?”
Helena shrugged. “It was boring, okay? And I might have done some things to make it more interesting.”
Maryse sucked in a breath. “What things?”
“That’s not the point.”
“Really? Because it sounds like that’s exactly the point.”
Helena rolled her eyes. “Is it my fault that God doesn’t have near the sense of humor you’d expect? I mean, he did put testicles on the outside.”
Maryse closed her eyes and started counting. Maybe if she counted long enough, she’d open her eyes and Helena would be gone. Maybe if she wished it hard enough, this entire episode could be classified as a temporary mental break that she’d learn to live with.
Please God, don’t do this to me.
“If you’re asking God for help,” Helena broke into her prayer, “I don’t think he’s going to comply if it means taking me back.”
Then something Helena said clicked with Maryse and she opened her eyes, a trickle of fear running through her. “How do you know where I live? We built that house after you left.”
Helena brightened. “Sometimes God let me watch you guys—you know, how parents plop their kids down in front of a movie to keep them out of their hair? Same concept.”
Maryse sighed. If God couldn’t handle Helena, she had no idea what he expected mere mortals to do. “I don’t want you back, Helena, nor the trouble you bring with you. Everything has finally settled down here in Mudbug. People are happy and there hasn’t been a single attempted murder since you left.”
Helena took on her indignant pout. “I did not murder anyone.”
“No, but everything seemed to center around you.”
Helena threw her hands up in the air. “Well, I don’t know what you expect me to do about it. I’m here and I have no choice in the matter.”
Maryse downed the last of her coffee, wishing it were a shot of whiskey.
The peaceful existence she’d enjoyed for the last year was officially over.