All Hallow's Evil

MacGyver leaned back in his desk chair, his Air Jordan clad feet resting on the edge of his desk as he perused the morning paper. It must have been a quiet weekend as the featured news story was the sale of the large, flawless, and very pricey Carrington Emerald to a local real estate mogul at an auction in Chicago that past Saturday. Mac was admiring the black and white photo of the rare necklace when he felt, rather than heard, Joanna enter his office.

"Did you get one of these, too?" she asked, holding up a square white envelope.

Jo had been back at work for a few weeks and MacGyver was glad that Leroy had seen fit to keep both their caseloads light and free of any field activity.

Mac pulled his feet down and sat up straight. Sure enough. There, on his blotter, was an exact duplicate of the envelope Joanna held.

"Yeah, I did," he replied. "What is it?"

"An invitation to the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce Halloween Costume Ball."

"And I expect to see you both there," Leroy stated firmly, entering the office behind Joanna. "Every year I choose my top two employees to join me in rubbing elbows with the city's finest. With everything you two have been through in the past couple months, I couldn't think of anyone more deserving."

In other words, MacGyver silently decoded, this was Leroy's chance to tout his success among his peers. A high-end dog and pony show. Terrific.

"It says here that guests are encouraged to dress as nobility from nineteenth century England," Joanna observed.

"Ah, yes," Leroy said. "Every year there is a different theme. Evelyn will be accompanying me, so I'm sure she would be glad to help you pick out an appropriate costume."

Although MacGyver was no expert on clothing from that time period, he had seen enough portraits and museum displays to know it wouldn't be anything comfortable.

Apparently noticing Mac's inadvertent frown, Leroy turned his attention toward him. "As for us gentlemen, a well-cut contemporary tuxedo will suffice if you do not wish to appear in costume."

Mac let out a sigh of relief and then chuckled to himself. He never thought he'd see the day when he would be glad to wear just a tux.

"I see you've been reading about the Carrington Emerald," Leroy observed, looking pointedly at the newspaper Mac had just abandoned. Joanna moved to MacGyver's side for a closer look.

"Wow, it's stunning!" she exclaimed.

"I still can't believe Phillip actually bought it," Leroy said, shaking his head in dismay even as a smile crawled across his lips.

"Phillip?" MacGyver asked.

"Yes, Phillip Wainwright. We attended law school together in Chicago. After graduation, he moved to New York and made quite a name for himself before coming back to the Midwest and becoming a big player in real estate. You'll meet him and his wife at the ball. I've arranged to have them seated at our table. If you're lucky, Yvonne will choose to wear the emerald and you'll get to see it up close and in person," Leroy winked before heading out the door.

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Antonio DeSilvo studied the New York skyline from the floor to ceiling window in his high rise corner office. His black hair was slicked back and his designer Italian suit fit like a second skin.

"I want that emerald!" his father, Salvador, insisted for not the first time that morning.

"But Pop, Wainwright outbid you fair and square!"

"I don't care if he outbid me! Once I have that jewel my collection will be complete. Use whatever resources are necessary. That emerald must be mine!"

Antonio sighed. Eight years ago, his father had turned the family business over to him. After countless hours of hard work and sleepless nights, he had finally turned it into a legitimate, respected company with prominent shareholders. He would not risk everything he worked so hard to build for an emerald.

"Do you hear me, Antonio?"

"I hear you, Pop, but we don't even know where the jewel is?"

"I have known Wainwright for several years. He is nothing if not predictable. He loves to flaunt his wealth and show off his conquests. He returned to Milwaukee after the auction. He will surely attend the Chamber of Commerce ball and I guarantee you, the emerald will be there, as well. Send two of your men to retrieve the gemstone. If you fail, you are no longer my son." With that, Salvador turned and strode from the room.

Thirty minutes later, Vito and Tony stood at attention listening to their boss's instructions.

"Here is a photograph of the pendant and Wainwright's wife. Chances are she'll be wearing it." Antonio said. "Do what you must to obtain it, but leave my name and the name of this company out of it. If you mess up, you're on your own."

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Later that week after work, Joanna met Evelyn at a vintage costume boutique. The woman behind the counter, who introduced herself as Maddie, frowned when they explained the type of dresses they were looking for.

"I'm so sorry," Maddie apologized. "Ladies have been reserving their costumes for several weeks already. However," she brightened, "I have two dresses designed for the Regency era available. They are not historical replicas, but they should do just fine."

Maddie went into the corner of her shop and emerged with an emerald green dress for Evelyn and sapphire blue dress for Joanna.

"And now for the fun part…accessories!" Maddie beamed.

The shop owner led the two women over to a large glass display case that held everything from gloves to tiaras. Jo's eyes immediately lit upon a sapphire and diamond encrusted necklace.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Maddie asked, a gleam in her eye.

"Yes," Jo replied wistfully.

"Unfortunately jewelry was kept to a minimum during this period. It would be much more authentic for you to wear a simple strand of pearls, for example," Maddie informed her.

"I suppose," Joanna agreed reluctantly before turning to her friend. "See anything you like, Evelyn?"

"I love this solitaire emerald pendant. It would match my dress perfectly."

"Oooh, that is an absolutely delicious piece," Maddie gushed. "And it's brand new."

Joanna moved in for a closer look. "That looks just like the Carrington Emerald that was auctioned off in Chicago. I saw a picture of it in the paper."

Maddie was already nodding her head. "And you can bet the next woman through that door will snatch it up so I suggest your friend reserve it now."

"Well, then," Evelyn replied, "Please put the dresses and jewelry on Leroy's account."

"Were either of you ladies interested in headwear?" Maddie inquired.

Joanna and Evelyn exchanged puzzled looks.

"We never really thought about it," Evelyn told Maddie.

"I wouldn't recommend it for Joanna since she is younger and demands a simpler style, but I have a lovely turban to accompany your dress, Evelyn."

"A turban!" Evelyn almost laughed.

Maddie retrieved a delicately folded cloth-like hat decorated with a large black ostrich plume. "This would be the perfect addition to your ensemble. They were very popular with the more mature women of the time."

Evelyn looked to Jo for advice who shrugged. "It is a costume ball after all. I say go for it!"

Joanna listened as Evelyn gave directions to Maddie to have their outfits shipped to the Pfister Hotel in Leroy's name for the thirty-first.

"Why did you ask her to send the dresses to the hotel?" Joanna asked as soon as they were outside.

Evelyn smiled. "This is the biggest night of the year as far as Leroy's concerned. He pulls out all the stops. He'll have a room reserved for us to change in as well as to retire to if we get tired of the party."

"Sounds like you've done this before," Jo observed.

"Every year for the past three years. I was hoping to get out of it this year but no such luck. However, it should be a wonderful experience for you and MacGyver. Kind of like Cinderella at the ball!"

Joanna shook her head and laughed as they walked toward their respective cars.

"You've told him about the hotel, right?" Evelyn asked as she unlocked her door.

"No," Jo responded flatly. "You know he doesn't believe in that stuff."

"Well, you won't be able to keep it a secret for long. Everyone knows the Pfister is haunted!"

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The Pfister Hotel bustled with activity the day of the ball. Staff discreetly put the finishing touches on the banquette tables, docents guided groups of thrill-seeking tourists on a haunted open-house, and trucks lined the alley waiting to make their deliveries. Vito and Tony had each grabbed a box of fresh produce from the back of one of the waiting trucks and walked confidently in the back kitchen door, their delivery men coveralls hiding the waiter uniforms underneath. The plan seemed almost too simple. They could move about the guests with ease and, when presented with an opportunity, snag the Carrington Emerald and make a quick escape out the employee entrance and into their waiting vehicle.

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MacGyver sat next to Leroy on the backward facing seat of the limo. For the second time in six months he was wearing a tuxedo. This one with a wingtip collar, no less, but he was beginning not to mind. However, he still felt a pang of jealousy when he looked across to Joanna outfitted in jeans and a comfy sweatshirt. A make-up case was perched on the leather seat between her and Evelyn. Leroy had insisted the women get dressed at the hotel and make an entrance down the grand staircase.

The limousine deposited its occupants at the canopy-covered main entrance, and the foursome entered the sprawling, luxurious lobby complete with a mural of chubby cherubs on the vaulted ceiling. While Leroy made quick work of checking in and passing the room's keycard to Evelyn so the ladies could hurry away to get ready for the evening, MacGyver wandered around the plush common area until he was standing under the portrait of an older, portly gentleman. The subject of the portrait was smiling and well-dressed.

"Ah, I see you've met Charles Pfister," Leroy said as he approached MacGyver. "He and his father were the original owners of this fine establishment. Poor Charles died in 1927 after suffering a paralytic stroke. It's said that his spirit remains in the hotel to this day."

Mac gave his boss a sideways glance. "You don't really believe that, do you?"

Leroy shrugged his shoulders. "There have been a lot of claims over the last half century or so. Very few have been debunked. In fact, the Pfister ghost has been written up in several well-known publications, not to mention the fact that he has scared more than one major league baseball player from his room."

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MacGyver watched the gaily bedecked party-goers with drinks and hors de oeuvres in hand mingle in the lobby as he and Leroy waited at the bottom of the grand staircase for their dates. The older man rammed his elbow into Mac's ribs, causing him to turn and look up to find the two women gracefully making their way down the steps.

Evelyn stood out in her green dress and matching turban which made MacGyver smile. However, his smile vanished and his jaw went slack as his gaze fell upon Joanna. She was clad in a sapphire blue satin gown with a very low-cut neckline, high waist, and long skirt that fell in gentle folds to the floor. A simple strand of pearls encircled her neck and her brunette bob had been coaxed into bouncy curls. And she appeared shorter than expected, a fact not missed on MacGyver as his smile returned. At her natural height, she fit perfectly against him, allowing him to rest his chin on the crown of her head and savor the clean coconut scent of her hair.

"No heels, tonight?" he asked as he reached out to take her hand.

She shook her head. "Ladies of this era wore flat dancing slippers. Besides, if I wore heels my ankles would show.''

"So?"

"It was considered scandalous for proper young ladies to bare their ankles in public," Jo explained.

"So you have to keep your ankles covered but up there," he fluttered his hand at her overly bare chest, "not so much?"

"Yep! Welcome to jolly Ole England," she grinned saucily as she tripped past him.

"No wonder Ole England was so jolly," Mac muttered as he followed her toward the ballroom.

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Evelyn had been right. Joanna did feel like Cinderella. She giggled to herself, wondering if their limo would turn into a Jeep at midnight. She had felt both uncomfortable and pleased at the way MacGyver had looked at her descending the stairs. She had never worn a dress with the neckline cut that low, but Mac's appreciative gaze had given her goosebumps…and confidence. Now, walking beside MacGyver with her hand on his arm, she held her head high as they entered the opulent Imperial Ballroom.

Joanna involuntarily gasped and paused to take in their surroundings. Heavy gold drapes flanked several large windows that overlooked the city lights while ornate, gold sculpted chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Round tables set for six boasted fine linens, expensive china, and delicate crystal place settings.

Guests had begun to form groups and head to their assigned seats as Jo looked around the crowded room for her friends. MacGyver, being taller, saw them first and with a hand on the small of her back expertly guided Joanna across the room to a table near the dance floor where they reunited with Leroy and Evelyn and another couple.

"Ah, there you are," Leroy addressed them as they approached. "Allow me to introduce you to Phillip and Yvonne Wainwright."

Joanna's eyes went wide and MacGyver hid his laugh behind a cough as their gazes lit upon Yvonne. She was wearing an emerald green dress with a sheer silk overlay and delicate trim on the hem, neckline, waist and sleeves. A matching green turban, complete with a black ostrich feather, covered her hair, and of course she wore the famous Carrington Emerald around her neck. Being close to Evelyn's height, the casual observer would be hard pressed to tell them apart.

After polite handshakes and proper greetings were exchanged, Yvonne laughed lightly.

"Before you say anything, it appears Evelyn and I share the same good taste in ball gowns."

"And jewelry," Evelyn added. "Except mine is a cheap imitation."

"Oh dear," Yvonne said in a staged whisper, "This isn't the real Carrington Emerald. Phillip has it locked away in his personal vault."

The house lights momentarily dimmed indicating that dinner was about to be served. Soon everyone was feasting on a Roma tomato bisque, followed by a Tuscan salad and the main course of filet mignon. Dessert was a rich, chocolate concoction sure to satisfy even the most discriminating sweet tooth. As wait staff finished clearing the remnants of the scrumptious meal, everyone's attention turned toward a podium on a small dais where local dignitaries offered short speeches and invitations to enjoy the party.

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Vito and Tony, posing as waiters, stood at the back of the room pretending to listen to the mayor's speech.

"Which one is she?" Tony asked.

Vito pulled out the photo Antonio had given them. "The brunette next to Wainwright."

"You idiot!" Tony scolded in a whisper. "There's a woman on each side of him and their heads are covered!"

"Oh, right," Vito frowned. "What are we gonna do now?"

"We need to stay calm and be patient. When everyone starts milling around, we'll grab both of them and sort it out from there."

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Once the formalities of the evening had been dispensed with, a string quartet and pianist struck up a proper waltz and Phillip and Leroy rose to lead Yvonne and Evelyn to the dance floor.

MacGyver rose and held out his hand to Joanna. "Shall we?"

"We shall," she said with a smile as she put her smaller hand in his.

They hesitated at the edge of the dance floor where several couples were already in the midst of a most properly executed waltz.

"Do you know how to dance like that?" Joanna asked Mac skeptically.

"Actually, I do. Just follow my lead," he replied, summoning his most disarming grin.

Mac cupped Jo's elbow and led her onto the floor. Soon they were turning and swirling as gracefully as the other couples. MacGyver itched to hold Joanna closer, but the steps of the dance demanded restraint.

"How about we get some fresh air?" Mac whispered in Jo's ear after they had been dancing for a while.

"Sounds good to me," she eagerly agreed.

As MacGyver was escorting her out of the ballroom, Leroy walked up behind him and slapped him on the shoulder.

"Have any close encounters with Mr. Pfister, yet?" he asked.

Mac sighed. "There's no such thing as ghosts, Leroy."

"You just keep telling yourself that," the older smiled and walked away.

MacGyver returned his attention to Joanna who was frowning at him.

"What?" he demanded. "Surely you don't believe this place is haunted."

"Let's just say I'm keeping an open mind," she replied. "It's common knowledge around here that a ghost does hang out and annoy some of the guests."

Mac rolled his eyes and led Joanna through the main entrance. He hailed one of the horse-drawn open carriages that had been reserved for tonight and offered Jo a hand up before he stepped into the buggy, settling himself next to her.

"There's a lap blanket on the floor in case you get chilled," the driver offered before slapping the reins and beginning the twenty minute tour of historic downtown Milwaukee.

MacGyver slid his glance toward Joanna. She was tugging lightly at the neckline of her dress. She had been doing this surreptitiously all evening. No one would have noticed, but Mac had been looking at…well, he had extremely honed observational skills.

"I don't think it's your lap you have to worry about getting cold," he quipped.

Without missing a beat, Jo reached down and pulled the blanket over her so that only her head was sticking out.

"Hey, I'm sorry," MacGyver said as he put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, blanket and all. "I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, but you do realize how lovely you look tonight, don't you?"

Joanna's only response was to lean into him a bit more.

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Evelyn and Yvonne had just exited the ladies lounge when a pair of waiters approached them.

"Are you enjoying the party?" the shorter one asked.

"Why yes," Yvonne beamed. "It's been absolutely lovely so far!"

"In that case, I'd hate to delay your return. Just give me the emeralds and pretend you never saw us," the taller one instructed before the men pulled out a gun and discretely leveled one at each woman.

"Just what do you think you're doing, young man!" Evelyn scolded, straightening her spine.

"What does it look like, lady? We're stealing the Carrington Emerald," the shorter one sneered.

"But they're fake!" Evelyn shot back.

"We may not be rich, but we're not stupid," the taller one said. "One of you is the wife of Phillip Wainwright who just bought the emerald. Now hand them over!"

Evelyn reached up and pulled on the pendant, snapping the chain. She then threw it hard onto the marble floor where it shattered into myriad pieces.

"Would a real stone do that?!" she spat, refusing to back down.

"Then she's wearing the real one," the taller waiter said as both men now leveled their weapons at Yvonne.

"Think again, gentlemen!" Yvonne ripped the pendant from her neck and smashed it on the floor as Evelyn had done, garnering the same results.

Both men were momentarily stupefied before the taller yelled, "Grab them!"

Before they could resist, the men spun the women around, pinning their arms behind them.

"Scream and you'll die," the shorter one said as he pushed Yvonne toward the service elevator that would take them to a room on the sixth floor.

Sitting in straight back chairs with their hands tied firmly behind their backs, the two women listened as the men planned their next move.

"What do we do now, Tony?" Vito asked nervously.

"We make a deal. The hostages for the emerald."

Tony grabbed the complimentary hotel notepad and scribbled a message on it before handing it to Vito.

"Go downstairs and deliver this to Mr. Wainwright. Then get yourself back up here before you're seen," Tony instructed.

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The horse-drawn carriage came to a stop in front of the hotel's main entrance. MacGyver climbed out, assisted Joanna to the ground, and gave the driver a generous tip. The couple entered the hotel with their arms around each other's waists and smiles on their lips. While much of the drive had been spent in silent snuggling, MacGyver knew better than to waste the romantic interlude so he made sure he stole a few kisses when no one was watching.

Mac and Joanna found Phillip and Leroy having a very animated, though quiet, conversation in the lobby.

"What's going on?" MacGyver asked when they neared the men.

Leroy pulled the pair aside, his voice low. "Someone's trying to steal the Carrington Emerald. Yvonne and Evelyn are being held hostage until Phillip hands over the gem." He then shoved a piece of paper into MacGyver's hand.

Bring the Carrington Emerald to room 666 at midnight in exchange for the ladies. No cops or the ladies die.

"How did this happen? Who delivered this?" Mac asked.

"Yvonne and Evelyn went to the ladies room. Then this waiter says he has a message for me and handed me the note."

"Did you call the police?" MacGyver inquired.

"The note said not to. I'm not going to risk my wife's life."

"I've been trying to get him to change his mind," Leroy told MacGyver, a desperate look on his face, "But he insists on going through with the exchange on his own."

"Well, he may be doing it without the cops, but he won't be doing it alone." MacGyver looked at Jo and Leroy who both nodded, indicating they would help in any way they could.

"It's ten o'clock now," Joanna informed them, looking at her watch. "Mr. Wainwright, can you get the emerald here in time for the exchange?"

"My office is across town, but traffic should be light. I'll be back in plenty of time." He turned to leave but MacGyver stopped him.

"We don't know how many people are in on this. Take Leroy with you," he instructed.

"Now what?" Joanna asked, looking expectantly at MacGyver.

"Now we find out as much as we can about where and how the women are being held so we know the best way to make the exchange and capture the thieves without anyone getting hurt. From the note, I assume they're in room 666."

Joanna scrunched her nose. "They're really into this Halloween thing, hey?"

MacGyver considered that a rhetorical question and asked Joanna to go into the kitchen and get two funnels and the cardboard tube from a roll of paper toweling. She looked at him skeptically before heading off on her mission.

While Joanna was gone, MacGyver went to the front desk.

"Excuse me," he said to the night clerk. "I seem to have misplaced my keycard. Would it be possible for me to get a copy? I'm in room 664."

The clerk tapped away on a computer keyboard and frowned. "I'm sorry, sir. I'm showing that room to be unoccupied."

Mac willed himself to stay focused. "Perhaps it's room 668. I never was any good with numbers," he laughed.

This time when the clerk looked up from the computer his face was shadowed with suspicion. "That room is listed as vacant as well."

"You know what? I just found it in my pocket!" Mac patted his coat, gave the clerk a smile and walked away, hoping he hadn't just gotten security on his tail.

He met Joanna just as she was coming out of the kitchen with the materials he had asked for.

"C'mon," he grabbed her by the arm and led her to the corner of a secluded hallway.

"What are you gonna do with this stuff?" she asked,

"Make a listening device. Sorta like a stethoscope."

MacGyver slid the narrow end of the funnel into one end of the tube. He pulled out a thin, flattened roll of duct tape from his jacket pocket, tore off a piece, and secured the funnel to the cardboard. He did the same thing with the other end. As he was re-flattening the roll of tape, Joanna quirked her eyebrow at him and he shrugged.

"Okay," he said, "now let's do a little eavesdropping."

They rode the elevator up to the sixth floor, stepping out cautiously when the doors slid open. They quietly made their way down the long, empty hallway until they stood outside room 664. MacGyver reached into another pocket and pulled out his Swiss army knife.

"What are you gonna do with that?" Jo whispered.

"Take the panel off the door lock and cut the wires to disable it so we can get in."

"You're gonna break the lock?" she squeeked.

"You have a better idea?" he shot back in an exasperated whisper.

"Maybe."

Joanna reached into one of the folds of her long skirt and pulled out her own keycard from a hidden pocket.

"Just what are you planning to do with that?"

Jo glanced up at him sheepishly. "Ghosts like to play with electronics and stuff."

"You've got to me kidding me! There's no such thing as ghosts!"

"Well, we'll find out soon enough," she retorted before looking up at the ceiling as if in prayer. "Mr. Pfister, if you're around, we sure could use your help right now."

MacGyver could not believe his ears!

Joanna took a deep breath and slid the card into the slot. In three seconds, the indicator light turned from red to green and the lock clicked open. MacGyver could not believe his eyes!

With a self-satisfied smirk, Jo pushed the door open and hurried inside as Mac closed it gently behind them.

"You know, the combinations to these locks are finite. It's conceivable that one card can open several doors," he pointed out to her.

"Skeptic," she murmured as she turned on a lamp.

MacGyver chose to ignore her comment as he put the large funnel of his contraption against the wall the room shared with the thieves and held the smaller funnel against his ear.

"Do you hear anything?"

"Shhhh!"

"Tony! Someone just knocked on the door!"

"I didn't hear anything."

"I'm sure!"

MacGyver's spine stiffened. Had the thieves heard them?

"Relax, Vito. You're just hearin' things."

MacGyver relaxed.

The room remained silent for a long time and all Mac was certain of was that there were two men. He heard nothing to indicate the women were even there. Of course, they could be gagged. Or worse yet, unconscious. He glanced at his watch. Half an hour until midnight.

"Joanna," he hissed. "Go hide in the stairwell and keep an eye out for Phillip and Leroy and bring them in here."

"What are we gonna do when it's time to make the exchange?"

"I'm working on it," Mac replied as Jo slipped out the door.

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"Excuse me, young man. Could you please turn down the air conditioner? I'm getting a nasty chill," Yvonne asked the man called Vito.

Vito grunted and walked over to the unit by the window and turned the knob. But nothing happened. He turned the A/C to off, but it still blew full force on his face.

"Stupid thing!" he complained.

"Would you leave that alone?!" Tony scolded. "We got more important things to worry about!"

Evelyn was glad the air conditioner stayed on. The cold air blew on her hands, drying the sweat and creating some wiggle room between her skin and the rope. With as little movement as possible, she began to work on freeing her wrists.

Suddenly a loud, rhythmic, pounding noise on the other side of the wall startled the foursome.

"I thought DeSilvo said he arranged for the rooms next door to be empty," Vito said, looking at Tony.

"He did."

"Then who's bangin?"

"Maybe it's the ghost of Charles Pfister," Evelyn offered.

"A ghost? Are you sayin' this place is haunted?" Vito had gone pale.

"Of course it is," Yvonne laughed lightly. "Everyone knows that."

Vito rounded on Tony. "No one said nothin' about ghosts!"

"Would you relax, Vito? They're just playin' with you. It's probably just some old pipes in the wall."

Vito's color began to return, but he still didn't look convinced. For her part, Evelyn was relieved that, ghost or no ghost, their captors' attention was focused elsewhere when she finally managed to release her hands from their bonds and toss the rope behind the dresser.

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At ten minutes before midnight, the gold-clad elevator doors opened and Phillip and Leroy stepped into the hallway. Joanna slipped out from the stairwell and motioned them to the room where MacGyver waited.

Joanna tapped softly on the door and Mac let them in, a goofy grin on his face.

"You're not gonna believe this," he said in a hushed tone as he motioned for the others to huddle around him. "The ladies have one of the guys convinced the ghost is haunting them!"

Instead of being the recipient of smirks and snickers, he was met with three very serious faces. His own smile faded quickly.

"Aw man! There is no such thing as ghosts!" he insisted.

"Never mind that," Leroy spoke up. "What do we do now?"

MacGyver sighed and jammed his hand through his hair. "I say we play it straight. There are only two of them. We can take 'em."

Now this statement was met with looks of disbelief.

"That's your grand scheme? Knock on the door then knock them out?" Phillip asked disgustedly.

"Can you think of anything better?"

When both men remained silent, MacGyver moved the group into the hallway in front of room 666. He counted down the seconds to midnight. When he got to zero, Phillip knocked on the door.

Just as the door swung open, the lights in the room began to blink on and off at a frantic pace, creating a strobe effect. There was a loud crash and groan as Evelyn grabbed a heavy crystal vase and brought it down hard on Vito's head. Then the room erupted with the unmistakable sounds of fists connecting with jaws and elbows being rammed into stomachs. When the lights stopped flashing, both Vito and Tony laid unconscious on the floor. Evelyn was releasing the ropes from around Yvonne's wrists with Phillip's help, MacGyver and Leroy were binding up the thieves with bow ties and duct tape, and Joanna was on the phone with security.

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It was the wee hours of the morning. After giving their statements to the police, Mac and Jo and Leroy and Evelyn had retired to the room Leroy had reserved for the ladies. Phillip and Yvonne had already returned home, anxious to secure the precious gem once again.

MacGyver sat on the bed next to Joanna, one hand in a champagne bucket full of ice, the other holding a cold pack to his jaw. Evelyn administered aid to Leroy's cuts and bruises. Everyone was exhausted.

"So," Leroy spoke up when Evelyn finished her ministrations, "have you changed your opinion of the existence of ghosts, MacGyver?"

"It's not my opinion, Leroy. It's fact. There are no such thing as ghosts."

"And there was a logical explanation for everything that happened tonight, right?" Jo challenged.

"Yes!" Mac countered. "I already explained about the keycard. The rest can be explained by a busted knob on the air conditioner, old pipes in the walls, and faulty electrical wiring."

"Well, I don't care if it was a ghost or not. I'm just glad everyone is safe," Evelyn proclaimed.

A knock on the door startled them.

"Who could that be at this hour?" Evelyn asked.

"Probably security with more questions," Joanna groaned as she got up and looked out the peep hole.

She turned back to the others with a frown.

"There's no one there," she informed them. "Must have been an old pipe or something," she said sarcastically to MacGyver who rolled his eyes before closing them for a brief rest.

Unbeknownst to the occupants of the room, a transparent figure of a portly, well-dressed man stood standing guard in the hallway against all things evil. He would not allow such activity in his hotel.

Author's Note: Dear readers, MacGyver and Joanna are going on hiatus due to the fact that their writer has become desperately uninspired. Please look for 2 more chapters to be publish between now and Christmas. You especially will not want to miss the final chapter! Please feel free to PM me with ideas of where you would like to see the story and/or characters go from here...I will seriously consider all suggestions! Thank you for your loyal following!