Authors: Apryl Baker
The Ghost Files
By Apryl Baker
The Ghost Files - V2
Copyright © 2013 by Apryl Baker. All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: January 2014
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
This one is for all my Watty Fans. You guys made this series and I appreciate you all so much.
Table of Contents
“Go away,” I hiss, trying to ignore the elderly lady staring at me. Her eyes are so clouded with cataracts it’s hard to determine their color. Iron gray hair hangs in stringy waves down her back. The ratty old nightgown she’s wearing has stains on it. Her lips thin at my whispered command.
“Mattie Hathaway, did you turn the air conditioner down again?”
I wince at the anger in Joan’s voice. She’s determined to keep the power bill at or below fifty bucks a month, which means we suffocate in the Charlotte heat. The ghost opens her mouth again and I glare her into silence. Every freaking time one of them shows up and the temperature takes a nose dive, I get blamed for turning down the thermostat. Ghosts are good for nothing except causing me trouble.
It’s not like I can come out and tell her it’s not my fault, it’s the ghost. She’d ship me off to the loony bin so fast my head would spin. I don’t go around confessing I’ve been able to see the little buggers since my mom tried to kill me when I was five.
“Why the hell is it so cold in here?” Joan demands, coming into what she calls the living room, but is more like a corner of a box.
The tiny, cramped apartment looks clean on the surface. The walls hold no decorations and the furniture is plain and utilitarian. The gray carpet has a few spots, but otherwise is clean, but that’s only because I clean it. Busted up hands or not, she makes me work.
Joan Myers, my latest foster mother, does not impress me. She’s in her mid-forties, twenty pounds overweight, and her bottle blonde hair is messy. Her face has a permanent frown on it. As bad as she looks, Joan can’t be worse than the foster mother who turned out to be a serial killer and tried to kill me.
Joan’s voice is high and nasally like she’s on the powder train. I so hope she’s not a hidden junkie. I won’t deal with that ever again. My mom was a heroin addict and I know what that does to a person. I refuse to put up with it ever again. Although most junkies are paper thin, Joan here isn’t afraid to over indulge, so maybe I’m wrong. I haven’t actually found any drugs…yet. I’ve only been here for two weeks.
“Don’t know,” I shrug and flip the page in
. Seems Kim Kardashian is trying to use her kid for even more press coverage. North? Really? Why would she name the poor kid that? I shake my head in disgust. Celebrities.
Joan stalks over to the thermostat and lets out a string of curse words. I’m pretty sure the thermostat is still set on eighty. She starts mumbling about broken things and hauls up the phone to call the building’s super. I feel sorry for the poor man. Joan can be a pain in the rear when she wants to be.
My ghost seems to take offense to me ignoring her and gets right up in my face. I cringe back. I hate it when they touch me. The cold they bring with them hurts, but more than that I can feel what they’re feeling. This old lady is desperate for her son to know she forgives him for what he did to her. Judging by the cigarette burn scars on her arms, I’m not so sure she should forgive him.
“Not now,” I whisper and glance at Joan, who is still arguing with the super.
,” she wails. “
He needs to know that I forgive him
Since I started talking to the spooks a few months ago, they all seem to think I’m their personal messenger. Uh, no. I tried ignoring them again, like I used to, but it’s useless. They know I can see them now. Ghosts are the worst gossips I’ve ever seen.
“If you freaking don’t leave me alone right now, I
contact your son and tell him you despise him and will
forgive him,” I tell her. Not that I will, mind you, but sometimes being mean is the only way to get them to leave me alone. I am not freaking Jennifer Love Hewitt from that stupid show. This is my life and I refuse to be Ghost Girl.
She stares at me in horror and then pops out. There one minute, gone the next. The room starts to warm up the instant she’s gone. Joan stops talking, aware of the change in temperature. I pretend to be engrossed in my magazine, but peek at her. She’s frowning at me. I’m pretty sure she knows something is going on, and it’s my fault, but she’s just not sure what it is.
My stomach growls but it’s not time for dinner. Joan told me my first day here, I was allowed breakfast and dinner. Anything else was off limits. Food’s expensive, she’d said. Evil, selfish woman. How much can it cost for a pack of bologna and a loaf of bread? It’s not like she’s starving herself, either. She stuffs her face all day.
I abandon my magazine and head into the hole that serves as my room. Better there than here staring longingly at the fridge. My room is tiny—barely a closet and empty. There’s a bed, a nightstand, and a dresser. That’s it. My discarded sketchpad and pencils decorate the top of the dresser. I haven’t been able to draw since Mrs. Olson destroyed my hands.
My hands shake slightly as I try to stop myself from thinking of Mrs. Olson. She’d been my foster mother, one of the ones I’d truly liked. She made us all think she cared about us and in her own sick way, maybe she did. Problem was she had split personalities and one of them was a serial killer. She’d killed my foster sister, Sally, and when I was close to discovering the truth, she’d taken me, held me captive, and tortured me.
Sighing, I open my laptop, the one thing Joan couldn’t take from me. I secretly charged the battery up at night under my bed. Thankfully, there’s an outlet behind the headboard. She warned me not to waste electricity on something I could very well go to the library and use. Selfish cow. Not that I have internet, she won’t pay for it.
Yes! Three unsecured networks are available. I love people who don’t know that they need to set up secure networks. I giggle like a blonde flirting with a jock. Rolling my eyes at the image, I piggyback one of the connections so I can at least check my email.
There’s one from my best friend, Meg. She’s got some week long super-secret event planned for my birthday. Joan was not being very cooperative about it, so Meg being Meg, had her dad, the mayor, call Joan. Not that I’m looking forward to it exactly, but at this point, I’m going stir crazy. School is out for the summer and I have nowhere to go except the library, and I stay as far away from there as I can. Too many ghosts. It makes my head hurt when they all bombard me.
I frown as I read her email. She’s being very cryptic, which makes me nervous. What is she up to and why do I need to pack boots? She knows I don’t do outdoors. If she thinks she’s dragging me hiking or camping…
What does the old hag want now?
I close my laptop and trudge back into the living room, where I stop dead for all of 2.5 seconds, then I launch myself at the guy studying Joan with calculating eyes. I can’t believe it. It’s Officer Dan.
He catches me easily and laughs at me. His warm brown eyes are full of warmth. They always thaw out some of the ice that lives inside me. I have never understood the weird relationship Dan Richards and I share, but I value it more than anything else in the world. He’d believed me when no one else would about Sally and helped me to solve her murder. Not only that, but he’d saved my life when Mrs. Olson had captured me.
“Happy birthday, Squirt,” he grins at my scrunched up face at the nickname he’d given me. He knows I hate it, but then he’s not fond of his nickname, either.
“It’s not my birthday until tomorrow, Officer Dan,” I tell him sassily, but refuse to let him go. I missed him so much. He’s been away at Quantico training with the FBI. After all the work he did to bring down a serial killer—Mrs. Olson—he’s gotten a lot of attention at the Charlotte PD. He’s not supposed to be back for another two weeks, though. “What are you doing here?”
“Nancy called me.”
Uh oh. If Nancy called him, it’s serious. She’s been very quiet recently, urging me to be on my best behavior, but I just haven’t felt like being anything but me.
“Mattie, are you going to introduce your…friend?”
I cringed at Joan’s tone of voice. Leave it to her to jump to all wrong conclusions. “Joan, this is Officer Dan Richards from the Charlotte Police Department. Dan, this is my latest foster mother, Joan Myers.”
We both notice the alarm that crosses Joan’s face. Well, fudgepops, maybe she is on the crack train. I so don’t need that. Dan frowns at her and she quickly excuses herself.
“Okay, Mattie, what’s going on?” he asks me, his eyes troubled.
“Nothing’s going on,” I deny. What did Nancy tell him?
“Uh-huh. Care to tell me why you screamed at a five year old?”
I close my eyes briefly and then sit on the stained couch. I can’t believe she told him about that. Mark had asked me to color with him and I’d gotten frustrated when he’d laughed because I couldn’t stay inside the lines. My anger had bubbled over and I’d taken it out on him. Not my finest moment. I’d apologized to the kid, but apparently our foster parents refused to have a “violent” child in the home. It actually wasn’t a bad place. They seemed to be nice folks. That one was all on me. Since getting out of the hospital, I’ve taken my anger out on a lot people who didn’t deserve it. I know that, I just can’t seem to help it.