Mai looked up from the newspaper on her desk when she heard the door open. She smiled brightly when she saw the guest.
"Masako! Oh thank goodness someone showed up today," she said.
"That's a rather unusual greeting," Masako returned.
"Well, uh, you see, I really don't want to be alone in here ever since...you know..."
"Has he really said nothing about the chocolates?" Masako asked, dropping her voice so it was less likely for anyone to overhear.
"Would you believe me if I said I haven't really given him the chance to?" Mai asked sheepishly.
"Yes, I would believe that. Anyway, I came here to see if you have heard anything about the castle that's been in the news."
"Ah, I was just reading about it actually. I've been following it in case someone comes in about it."
"So I'm assuming you haven't gotten to the part about a disappearance yet," Masako said.
"It's in the article. Read it. I'll wait."
Mai went back to the newspaper in front of her and got back to reading. She flew through the article in an attempt to find what Masako was talking about.
"This only mentions that there was a disappearance," Mai said, confused.
"Yes, but security is strict there. Don't you think it's odd that someone could disappear without a trace?" Masako asked.
Mai frowned at the newspaper. She was beginning to get a feeling that something was off. The feeling settled uncomfortably.
They both looked towards the door when they heard it open. An older man walked in and stopped at the end of the short entrance hallway. Before Mai could as much as open her mouth to ask if she could help him, Naru was leaving his office.
"Fujimoto-san. I appreciate your timeliness," Naru said and indicated for him to follow to the sitting area. "Mai, some tea."
"Ah, I should go then," Masako said.
"No, you may stay. It could prove beneficial," Naru answered.
Lin joined them before their guest began to speak.
"As you are already aware, Shibuya-san, I'm looking for assistance with a property I've recently acquired," Fujimoto-san began.
Naru nodded. Mai frowned.
Fujimoto-san took a sip of tea to bolster himself. "It is likely you have already heard of what has happened, though I admit the greatest cause for concern occurred after I reached out to speak with you. I have recently come into possession of the castle that has been in the papers as of late."
Mai shared a look with Masako, but stayed quiet. The same feeling she got when reading the newspaper was a bit stronger and making her nauseous. She drank some tea in the hopes it would settle her.
"I had not been informed about the unpleasant atmosphere or the occasional disappearances prior to owning the place. Naturally, now it is too late to wash my hands of the situation, so I seek to remedy it."
"What exactly do you expect us to do for you," Naru said, deliberately coming off cold and guarded. The possible publicity still set him on edge.
Fujimoto-san looked down at the cup in his hands and sighed. "There is a constant feeling of being watched or that something is just around the corner. As the castle functions as a museum, it has suffered in that respect. Fewer people have been coming to tour. After the disappearance, we felt it safest to close for the time being."
"That hardly seems like something for us to concern ourselves with," Naru stated.
"It was my son who went missing."
Mai held her breath as she anticipated a cold response from Naru. She bit her lip. The uncomfortable feeling wasn't really getting worse, but it also wasn't going away either.
Naru remained quiet as he studied their prospective client.
"He had been helping me make sure everything was in order. He always said there was nothing there to be worried about. He was doing a final check before we closed for the day and was nowhere to be found."
Mai shivered. Something didn't feel right to her with that explanation. She felt like something was missing from it.
"There is the possibility that your son is not with us, so to speak." Naru watched their client carefully.
"I am prepared for any outcome, but I'm still holding out hope," Fujimoto-san answered solemnly.
Naru nodded. "I shall consider the case. Should I accept, would there be a room we could set up that has a significant amount of outlets?"
"Yes, you would have your choice, actually," Fujimoto-san said. He seemed to be trying to not appear disheartened.
"And I would need space for my team to sleep."
"It would be easy enough to arrange."
Naru nodded. "Then I shall have my assistant call you with my verdict by this time tomorrow."
Understanding that he was dismissed, Fujimoto-san bowed and left.
"Mai, you look ill," Masako commented once the door closed.
"Something's wrong. I think he was hiding something," Mai said.
"Why do you say that, Mai?" Naru asked.
"I'm not sure. I had a weird feeling when I read about it in the newspaper too. It got a bit worse as he was talking," Mai said.
"Admittedly, my producer came forward to propose going there. It was quickly turned down. Supposedly by the owner, but I was not directly involved with the decision process to know for sure," Masako agreed.
Naru was silent as he looked to Lin. They almost seemed to have a wordless conversation before Naru turned his attention to Mai. "I'll give you the phone number. Schedule our arrival for two days from now. And inform the others. I want research begun immediately. It shouldn't be hard to acquire a basic history of such a public location."
Naru and Lin both stood to head back to their offices, leaving Mai and Masako on their own.
"Did they really want you to film there?" Mai asked.
Masako nodded. "There have been rumors for a long time that the castle is home to spirits. There are tales of people seeing a black figure darting around corners and feeling like they're being watched, but there's very little that is consistent between each rumor."
Mai started to clean up the teacups on the table. "How often does someone turn down your show filming?"
"Almost never. It's very rare and has only ever been for safety reasons."
"Did Fujimoto-san give a reason why he didn't want you going through?"
"I don't think it was Fujimoto-san at the time. But regardless, he simply declined."
Mai frowned. She thought it over as she washed everything in the sink. The ball of nausea sat in her stomach as she kept thinking about it.
"Do you think Naru is doing the right thing taking this case?" Masako asked from the doorway.
Mai put her hands on the edge of the sink as the water drained. "I don't know. It just really doesn't feel good, but we at least need to see if we can do anything."
Masako nodded. She stayed in the office while Mai made the necessary calls.