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Authors: Apryl Baker

The Ghost Files 3

BOOK: The Ghost Files 3
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The Ghost Files

 

Volume 3

 

 

By Apryl Baker

 

 

The Ghost Files
- V3

 

Copyright © 2014 by Apryl Baker. All rights reserved.

First Print Edition:
June 2014

 

 

Limitless Publishing, LLC

Kailua, HI 96734

www.limitlesspublishing.com

 

Formatting: Limitless Publishing

 

ISBN-13: 978-1499393941

ISBN-10:
1499393946

 

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.

 

Dedication

 

For my Dad – who always believed in my silly stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

The quiet of the house felt deep, the only break the soft sounds of a lullaby being sung somewhere. The woman’s voice held warmth and love as she sang her child to sleep. There was also a deep sadness in it, as if she knew this was the last time she’d ever see the babe again. It was hauntingly beautiful.

The nursery door opened and she looked up from where she sat in the rocking chair.
“Is it time already?”

Her daughter’s nanny, Amanda, stood in the doorway, bathed in the soft glow of the hallway lights. She’d been with the girl since she was born and loved her as much as a mother should. Amanda knew what the child’s father was capable of, had seen the lengths he’d go to in order to achieve his goals. Amanda had to succeed.
She had to.

“If we are going to do this, we must do it before he returns,” the nanny reminded her gently. “I have to lock you in your room now.”

She sighed and stood, the baby asleep in her arms. “Are you sure you can keep her safe?”

“Yes, I promise, I will keep her safe no matter the cost.”

The woman looked around the nursery she had decorated, more tears slipping down her cheeks. The soft pinks and greens were soothing and the dark cherry wood crib cried out for her to put the baby in its comforting confines, but it would never house the child again. All she ever wanted for her little girl was for her to be safe, loved, and happy. Amanda would make sure the girl had those things.

With a sigh, she handed her daughter over and turned away, tears in her hazel eyes.
“Please take care of her. I’ve lost one child already and to willingly give this one away is almost more than I can bear.”

“I’m sorry,” Amanda told her.
“I know this is hard, but it’s our only hope. She’ll never know anything about who she is. I’ll keep her safe, even from herself, I promise you.”

The woman nodded. She kissed her little girl one last time and then walked down the hall to her room, closing the door.
Amanda locked the bolt lock on the outside of the door. She slid down the door, her legs buckling. Grief struck her hard and it was all she could do to breathe.

Fingers stroked her cheeks and she looked up into those black eyes.

“You did the right thing,” he soothed.

“Why are you here?” she cried.
“I made no deals with you!”

His smile was full of teeth.
“No, my dear, but a deal was made a long time ago and you’ve finally set its outcome into motion. I wish there was more I could do for you, but alas, there is not. He is going to make you beg for death.”

“Please…”

“Shh,” he said and put a finger to her lips. “Your part is done and if I could, I would help you, but I cannot. Thank you for the gift you’ve given us this night.”

He stood and in a blink, he was gone, leaving her shaking and crying.

“SILAS!” she screamed into the empty room.

Her only answer was silence.

Dear God, what had she just done?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

“It’s not that funny,” I say and grab my carry-on. My travel buddy, Dan Richards, had been indulging in a laugh-fest at my expense since our plane took off from New Orleans this morning. Very few things in this world can terrify me, but flying does it every time. We’d landed in Charlotte a few minutes ago and I’m still thanking God for putting my feet safely back on the ground.

“Mattie Hathaway, scared of flying,” Dan snickers and I quell the impulse to hit him.

“Yeah, whatever, Officer Dan,” I snort. I know what’s waiting for us, and since I still think it’s all my fault, if he wants to laugh at me, he can. “Is your dad meeting us downstairs?”

“Umm, about that…”

My head swivels up. His brown eyes are worried and he’s frowning. “Your dad is coming to pick us up, isn’t he?”

“Well, no,” he admits. “Meg is.”

I stop walking and glare at him. He knows I’d rather walk than go anywhere with the backstabber. She’d promised me she wouldn’t make a play for Dan until I figured out what my feelings were for him and what did my BFF do? She snuck around behind my back and started going out with him. Girls don’t do that to each other, especially not best friends. It’s a violation of the girl code of honor.

“I’ll call Mary and have her pick me up,” I sigh.

“Mattie…”

“Don’t,” I snap, my own hazel eyes blazing. “You know how I feel about this.”

“Is everything that black and white for you?” he asks, frustrated. “She’s sorry, I’m sorry. Can’t we just get past this?”

Dan thinks just because I’m talking to him, I’ve forgiven him? I haven’t. He and Meg hurt me a lot. They lied to me and Dan knows how
much I value honesty. I grew up in foster care and I don’t trust many people. I let myself trust him and Meg and then they went and betrayed me on a fundamental level. He just doesn’t get it and I don’t think he ever will.

“I really don’t want to fight,” I tell him. “I’m tired and I have a nasty headache. I just want to go home and sleep. That doesn’t include a tense ride home with the two of you badgering me nonstop. Mary can come get me. It’s not a problem. She offered last night
, anyway.”

A few months ago, my foster mother turned out to be a serial killer and I’d helped to rescue Mary. She and her mom gave me a home in return, a home where my particular brand of weirdness will be acceptable. Mary remembered everything and
confided in her mom. Mrs. Cross never blinked at the fact that I see ghosts.

“They want us at the police station as soon as we land, Mattie,” Dan says softly. The pain in his voice is unmistakable.
I put that pain there even if I didn’t mean to and he doesn’t blame me for it. “It’s easier if Meg drives us straight there. Mary can pick you up at the station once we’re done.”

“Dan, it really isn’t a good idea to put me and Meg in close proximity right now. I’m cranky, tired, and in a lot of pain. You and I both know she’ll start trying to explain and apologize. What do you think I’m going to do when it starts to get on my nerves?”

He frowns at me. “Mattie, you wouldn’t…”

“Yeah, Dan, I would. I’m going to collect my bags and call Mary. We’ll meet you at the station. Just keep Meg away from me if you don’t want that pretty face of hers all messed up.”

“Well, I guess my face is gonna get all messed up, then.”

I look down. Meg is waiting by the baggage claim area. My blood simmers as our eyes lock. She’s all tanned, leggy, blue-eyed and blonde—perfection compared to my averageness. At the moment, my curly dark-brown hair is out of control, thanks to the Louisiana humidity.
My hazel eyes are probably bloodshot; I’m sporting serious cuts on my face and am bruised everywhere from being slammed into a wall over and over by very unfriendly ghosts. Yep, the Ghost Girl has had a rough week.

Dan yanks me backward at the bottom of the escalator or I would have face-planted into the
floor. How could he wait until
this
moment to tell me Meg was here? I slowly turn to face him and Dan takes an instinctive step backwards. People are staring at us, but for once I don’t care. All I want to do right now is cause somebody some serious harm. Who first, though?

I love Dan, I really do, but even now I’m confused about the kind of love I feel for him. It’s not the getting-butterflies kind of love, but it’s the warm and safe kind of love. Growing up in foster care, I don’t really understand the whole concept as no one has ever loved me before and I can’t say I’ve ever loved anyone
, either. Dan kinda snuck up on me. That’s why his lying hurt more than anyone else’s. I let myself trust him and the first chance he got, he betrayed me.

“Mattie…”

“Not a word,” I whisper, unable to keep the fury out of my voice. “You know how I feel about this and you went behind my back AGAIN and…and…”

“I thought if the two of you just got together, you could talk things out…”

“AGAIN, Daniel Richards! You promised to never lie to me and here you go, lying again! Why did I think I could
trust
you?”

“I didn’t lie!”

“Didn’t we agree that keeping something a secret was lying by omission?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“You knew she’d be here waiting for us, right?”

“Yeah,” he says, his voice worried.

“You knew I didn’t want to see her, right?”

He nods, eyes widening in alarm.

“And
yet
, you told her to pick us up, thinking I’d just go along with it. You lied by omission.”

“Mattie, you’re overreacting,” Meg says from behind us. “Can we just get your bags and go? We can talk about it on the way to the station.”

She so did not! Everything boils over. I don’t think, but turn and swing. My fist connects with her nose and I hear a satisfying crunch. Ahhh. My other fist comes up as she bends over and whacks her in the eye. Dan roars, throws me behind him, making me stumble and fall. Then he picks up Meg from the floor. By now, Security is here. What do I care? If going with them separates me from Dan and Meg, so be it.

“Are you okay?” The female TSA security guard is frowning at my hand. I look down and see a cut running from my finger down through my palm. I tried to catch myself on something as I fell, I guess. Now that I see it, it stings like crazy.

“Do you mind if I use a first aid kit?” I ask her. She’s short with inky black hair and cool gray eyes. She nods and asks someone outside to bring one in. Then she takes care of my hand instead of letting me do it. Probably some kind of rule about that. God knows what kind of weapon I can build out of Band-Aids and triple antibiotic.

An hour later, Mary Cross and her mother finally arrive. They’d needed to speak with TSA before they could collect me. Mary is a miniature version of her mother. Both have blonde hair that looks like warm honey and share the same green eyes. That
’s where the similarities end, though. Mrs. Cross is quiet and reserved whereas her daughter is very outspoken. They’re also my new foster family.

“Starting fights in an airport, Mattie?” Mrs. Cross shakes her head. “What were you thinking?”

“Didn’t Nancy tell you I was a potentially violent child?” I snark back. “You can always send me back to foster care.”

Mattie the Mouth strikes again! I groan on the inside. I seriously sabotage myself when it comes to good homes. My shrink says it’s because I don’t feel worthwhile. He thinks it stems from issues from what my mom did to me all
those years ago.

Mrs. Cross sighs. “Dan said you might try this, but I
’m not falling for it, Mattie Hathaway. Your home is with me and Mary. No matter what you do or say, that’s just the way it is. Doesn’t mean you aren’t going to follow some rules.”

Whatever. I just barely resist rolling my eyes. Mary helps me with my bags and we walk outside to wait on the shuttle bus. It’s warm today. I feel the heat for a few seconds before the familiar cold settles into my bones. Freaking fantastic. I sigh heavily and know without looking
that a ghost is close, possibly right beside me. I won’t acknowledge it. We’re in public and I hate having people stare, thinking I’m talking to myself.

“They said you could help us,”
a female ghost-voice says from my right.

Nope, not gonna do it. Just one day, just one flippin’ day ghost-free. Is it really too much to ask?

“Please, why won’t you help us?”
the voice asks.

“Who’d you hit, anyway?” Mary asks and I blink, grateful for the distraction from the ghost-voice on the right.

“Meg.” I stare straight ahead toward the parking deck across from the bus zone.

“Meg?” Mary sounds confused. “Why was she here? I thought Dan…ohhh…that little…”

“Mary,” Mrs. Cross warns. From the corner of my eye, I catch her disapproving expression.

“She deserved it, Mom,” Mary says hotly. “I can’t believe Meg would show up here after what she did, and that Dan would
let
her!”

I’m loving Mary’s outrage on my behalf. It makes me smile.

“Mm-hm.
I’m
sure Dan was only trying to make peace.” Mrs. Cross shakes her head. “He was being the mature and responsible one.”

“I know you can hear me,”
the ghost wheedles.

“Don’t you dare defend him, Mom!” Mary argues.

“This isn’t the place to discuss it, young lady, so calm down. No!” Mrs. Cross barks when Mary opens her mouth again. She put up a finger. “Zip it.”

“I’m not going away until you talk to me,”
Ghosty continues.

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