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Authors: Lisa Amowitz

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Fractured

BOOK: Fractured
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FRACTURED

Lisa Amowitz

© 2015 Lisa Amowitz

Spencer Hill Press

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

Contact: Spencer Hill Press
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102
New York, NY 10011

Please visit our website at
www.spencerhillpress.com

First Edition: June 9, 2015
Lisa Amowitz
Fractured/by Lisa Amowitz–1st ed.
Description: Two boys with unusual powers to see the dead and the past must race against the clock to solve a murder.

The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: Columbia, Dolby, Duke, Fashion Institute of Technology, Google, Groucho Marx, Instagram, Little League, Pellegrino, Super Bowl, Superman, Teflon, Twitter, Wonder Woman, Yankees, YouTube

Cover design by Lisa Amowitz
Interior layout by Errick Nunnally

978-1-63392-055-2 (e-book)

Produced in the United States of America

To my dad, Gene Amowitz, who left us on May 10th, 2015.

You will be missed and never forgotten. May the fields beneath the wings of your hovercraft be forever green.

1

Bobby

Manhattan, Broadway and 120th Street, Early March

Friday: 11:10 PM

I
stood on the stage beside Gabe, the lights stabbing so hard that even my sightless right eye hurt. Tonight, after the tears and threats to break up, I'd finally agreed to join her onstage for the last of her three songs at Student Review Night at the Smoke and Jazz Lounge. Behind the piano, Gabe was too lost in the music to notice how my guitar was about to slide right out of my sweaty hands, my fingers thick as uncooked hot dogs. I'd played before, but not to this many people. People I could actually see.

It was a rowdy group, mostly Columbia students who'd come to cheer on their friends. Beyond the white glare of the lights, the applause and catcalls of the crowd roared and reverberated like a jet engine inside my head.

We'd taken the bus to New York City from Morton Academy the night before to spend a weekend as guests of the college. Gabe had already been accepted for the fall semester and was trying to sell me on the idea of applying here. But I still had another year left at Morton and wasn't ready to think about leaving Aaron and Dad.

I stood stiffly, my feet nailed to the floor, and tried to shape my face into a smile. I'm sure I looked like a wax figure, but the audience cheered and Gabe was soaking in the glory. The last thing I wanted was to throw her off-balance tonight.

She'd been nervous about playing New York City after such a long absence from the stage. And I'd already caused enough trouble for her, so I sucked it up and did what she wanted.

Muddling through the song, I could barely hear my own voice over the blood pounding in my ears.
Maybe stage fright can be fatal
.

I hoped that if Gabe did happen to glance up at me from her piano, she'd read my blank stare as fear and panic. Though I'd been forced to perform at our school, I still hadn't gotten used to it.

The song seemed to drone on forever. I blinked into the unfocused distance and willed my sight to clear, so that I could make a quick getaway when it finally ended.

Then I saw it.

From within the sea of lights and fog, the chalk-white face of a young guy with hollowed-out sockets stared back at me in weirdly perfect focus.

And I could see the thing with both my eyes
.

I willed my vision to return to its normal split-screen view. But it held steady, high-definition clear in the blurred soup of my faulty eyesight, then wavered and vanished, like the signal had been lost. I don't know how I managed to keep my slippery fingers on the frets and my voice in tune, but I did. I hoped the audience would think I was possessed by a deep passion for the music rather than in the grip of a hallucination.

Finally, the song came to a crashing end. The crowd, already noisy, broke into even louder applause. When I opened my eyes, I found the world had snapped back to my version of normal. The headache had vanished and the awful face was gone.

Gabe flashed me a blazing smile. Strands of copper-gold hair had pulled loose from her topknot and clung to her flushed face in shiny ribbons. I nodded and smiled and, still shaking a little, left the stage to watch the rest of the show from the wings.

Gabe stayed on as part of the next band. I planned to sit at the back of the club and take in the rest of the show. But the club's pulsating closeness started to strangle me. I needed air. Gabe wouldn't even notice if I slipped outside for just a bit.

I thought maybe I'd stretch my cramped legs and take a walk to Riverside Park, which was just a block west. It was a mild night for March and I craved the trees and open spaces of rural Massachusetts, but the streets were dark and deserted and I was a half-blind hick with no depth perception. The city loomed around me like giant concrete jaws, hungry to eat me for dessert. Instead, I settled for the bench outside of the club and tried to slow my pounding heart.

It was happening again. There was no escaping it—the visions that had nearly taken all my sight a few months ago and made me the target of a crazed serial killer were back.

I gulped in the cold air. I knew I should go back inside to watch the rest of the show. Gabe would be upset if she noticed me gone.

I was just about to when a tall kid around my age burst through the club door. Speaking angrily into his phone, he paced the sidewalk with a slightly wobbly gait.

“What did you expect me to do, Marisa?” he shouted. “Prowl the streets while you sit around talking pharmacology all night? This leg can only take so much. It's not made of titanium. I think—wait—
what?

I tried not to look like I was eavesdropping, but the guy was clearly having an argument with a girl and I couldn't help but be curious. The combination of the limp and the lanky athletic build puzzled me.

“Jeez, Marisa. They're not going to serve an underage—yes, yes, I remember the Christmas party. I slipped up—bad memories—but I've been good ever since. It was just a— I was listening to music. That was all. It was—yeah,
yeah
. Smoke and Jazz club. Look it up. You'll meet me where? At the café at midnight? Which café, Marisa?”

The guy stared at his phone, cursed, then whirled around. Sweat pasted his curly brown hair to his brow. Muttering, he tapped furiously at his phone screen.

He was about to push back through the door to the club when his eyes met mine. I tried to look away, but he smiled and stopped, studying me with a keen brown-eyed gaze—shrewd, but not unfriendly. I had the sudden urge to get up and run the other way.

“Hey. You were the kid that played with that amazing redhead. Not bad, man. Not bad.”

“Um, thanks.”

“Not from around here, are you?”

“No. I mean, I'm not, really.”

The guy smiled and extended a hand. “Sorry. Just a little cranky tonight. I came in this morning on an epic bus ride from Duke just to see my girlfriend and she's stuck in a study group with a bunch of other assholes. Oh. I'm Jeremy Glass.” He lowered himself on the bench next to me and massaged his leg. “Too much walking today. Damn.”

I tried to keep my eyes from going wide as the guy lifted the cuff of his black jeans. Instead of an actual leg there was only a hydraulic metal pole.

Jeremy Glass looked at me and smiled. “Veronica's been sticking a little lately. I think I'll have to bring her back to the shop. What's your name?”

I glanced from his face to the metal leg. “Bobby. Bobby Pendell,” I choked out. It wasn't the leg. It was just hard to breathe around him, like he was sucking up my share of the oxygen.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to know how Jeremy Glass had lost that leg, though I was pretty sure he'd be happy to tell me. I thought about bolting back inside the club, but that would be rude.

Instead, Glass said breezily, “You were awesome, dude. Where'd you learn to play guitar and sing like that? Man, all I can do is run.”

I bit back on the obvious response. How could a guy with a fake leg run?

Glass laughed. “Ha! Most people are too polite to ask, but I'm not shy about it. I was a sprinter. Fastest in my school. Until—well, until the accident. But now I've got a Teflon blade and I'm the fastest on the team. Technology is awesome, huh?”

I cleared my throat. Something about this guy was making my skin crawl. Maybe it was his fast talking. Or the way his eyes twinkled but looked steely and cunning all at the same time. I felt like he was silently laughing at me. Like his brain worked two and a half times faster than mine did. He eyed me with one eyebrow raised, as if he didn't actually expect a response.

“Um, it was nice to meet you. But I really should be getting back inside,” I said, and finally got up to leave.

Glass stared calmly back at me. “Who's your friend, then?”

A shiver rolled up my spine. I had to get away. Ever since my last brush with Agent Maura Reston on the Scratch Lake dock, I'd had the distinct feeling I was being watched. Maybe I was just being paranoid, but this guy seemed to be probing me for something.

“What friend?”

His gaze shifted over my left shoulder. “That guy.”

The blood froze in my veins. I pivoted and saw a brief white flicker, a disruption, then empty air.

Glass laughed. “Yeah. You've got to learn to ignore them. They're everywhere.”

“I don't know what the hell you're talking about.”

Glass's smile vanished. “I don't like it any more than you do. But I can always tell when I meet someone like me.”

“Like you?” I backed away toward the club entrance, cold sweat trickling from my scalp down the back of my neck.

“You can see them, too. Things no one else can.”

He pressed a card into my hand. My mouth went dry. The sidewalk tilted. I pressed my palm to the glass of the club window to steady myself.

I didn't have to look down to know what it said.

He'd seen the thing that I'd seen. He was like me.

He was working with Agent Maura Reston and her paranormal goon squad.

2

Jeremy

Friday: 11:35 PM

I
caught the look of shock on the poor kid's face. He was a big flannel fish swimming in the wrong pond. Totally out of his element. And seeing crazy shit, to boot.

Ever since Susannah had come back from the dead, led me on a wild goose chase, and then refused to go back to the great beyond, every lost spirit this side of hell had seemed to seek me out.

It was like a door had been opened and there was no way to close it. The displaced souls of Riverton gravitated around me like homeless people to warm grates. Maybe they just felt comfortable with me. Luckily, at school they mostly left me alone. I'd been freaked out at first, but had eventually gotten the hang of ignoring them.

Most of them had no interest in me anyway—it was if I'd just stepped onto their ghosting turf and triggered their appearance. Occasionally, they became insistent. But the creeper I saw hovering around the Pendell kid seemed inconsequential—like the flotsam of the spirit world.

I'd guess I'd gotten used to the whole crazy supernatural thing.

It didn't look like this kid had.

◆

Last December, the day after the annual Morgan family Christmas party, my four-painkiller hangover and I had sought sanctuary in the Awesome Cow Café.

When that blind FBI agent and her flunky had sidled next to me in the booth at my favorite local haunt, at first I thought they were just your typical tourists from the great beyond on a weekend getaway. It was dead quiet, no pun intended. Marisa wasn't talking to me again, but, as always, the whole town was talking about me, so I was relieved the place was deserted. The owners hovered around me as if their survival depended on my latte intake.

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