Authors: Marley Gibson
R A P H I A
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Boston New York 2010
Copyright Â© 2010 by Marley Gibson
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Graphia,
an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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Text set in Bembo
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
is on file.
Manufactured in the United States of America
DOM 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To my publishing team: Deidre Knight, best agent on the planet, and her fabulous assistant, Elaine Spencer; Julia Richardson, best editor on the planet, and her awesome assistant, Julie Bartynski; Karen Walsh, Stephanie McLaughlin, Barbara Fisch, and Sarah Shealy, the best publicists on the planet; and Carol Chu, the best graphic designer on the planet. And huge thanks to Betsy Groban, the most supportive publisher on the planet.
To my family for their love and unquestioning support, especially when I've needed it the most: Joe and Lizanne Harbuck; Jennifer, Dave, Sarah, Josh, and Stephanie Keller; and Jeff Harbuck. And just because you're listed last, Jeff, doesn't mean I appreciate you any less ... just going chronologically. LOL!
To my paranormal family for their support and encouragement: Maureen Wood, Patrick Burns, Dave Schrader, Chris Fleming, Donn Shy (the real one), Kathryn Wilson, Fran Spencer, Delia Summerfield, Michael and Marti Parry, Bill Murphy, Andi LaFreniere, Bill Chappell, Mark and Debby Constantino, Stacey Jones, John Zaffis, Shannon and Jeff Sylvia, Marlo Scott, and Dawn Epright, who does an awesome Kendall Moorehead impression.
To my legal team: Anna Osterberg and Kelly Reed. Thanks for helping me get through a very trying and challenging time in my life.
To my critique partners: Wendy Toliver and Jenn Echols. Can't believe I didn't use your talents on this one, but thanks for having my back,
To my Bunnies: Melly-Mel, Kristen, Louisa, Maria, Rocki, Kresley, Gena, Jill, and Pamela. Love you, ladies ... wish we all lived in the same area. And to the WACs, Jess and Char: can't say enough about what the two of you mean to me.
Thanks to everyone who's reading the seriesâplease keep it up and let me know what you think!
To William and Alec Burns, my summer travel buddies, and
to their dad, Patrick, for his amazing love and support
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
âEdgar Allan Poe
T'S NOT EVERY DAY YOU HAVE A PREMONITION
of your own freakin' demise. But that's just what happened to me, Kendall Moorehead. It's been almost three months since my dreamâor vision, or whatever you want to call itâof me, well, like, dying. I know. Skeeved me out too.
I mean, since my whole psychic awakening thing after moving from Chicago to Radisson, Georgia, back in August, I've had a lot of strange dreams and seen a lot of apparitions and stuff. I even dreamed about my boyfriend before I met him in person. But to have this precognition thing where I saw myself bruised, unconscious, and bleeding to death ... not exactly your typical day in the life of a seventeen-year-old.
Still, I can't shake the image. And I can't deny that it's rattled me more than a little bit.
Other than the whole wacked dream thing, everything else is going pretty sweet in my life. I had my birthday back on December 22 (solstice baby, as my friend Loreen Woods likes to remind me), and my parents got me a combined birthday/Christmas present (like so many other Capricorns are cursed with) of a brand-new Honda Fit. It looks like a fat blue bullet. Well, the marketing materials from the dealership paint it as Blue Sensation Pearl, but I digress.
My awesome boyfriend, Jason Tillson, bought me this really cool hematite bracelet for my birthday to match the one I had given him for Christmasâwe sort of coordinated the whole thing and special-ordered it since my b-day is the twenty-second. Now we're bracelet buddies (LOL!) and have a forever symbol of our connection, love, and dedication to each other. See, hematite absorbs any negativity and bad energy that's out to get you. Not that Jason totally believes in all of this, but he knows how important it is to me to be protected at all times from the spirits who knock on my door on a daily basis. I haven't exactly told him about this visionary dream thing of my death. He'd totally lose his shit if I did. He's protective enough about his twin sister, Taylor; Lord knows how he'd be if he thought I was in some sort of imminent danger. Still, if something in the universe is gunning for my life, I need all the protection I can get from hematite, the holy water Father Massimo blessed for me, and Jason as my bodyguard. I suppose I'll have to tell him about the dream ... eventually.
I'd rather not think about it, though.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
There. That helps.
So, between hanging with Jason, doing the whole ghost-hunting thing with Celia, Taylor, and Becca, and keeping up with all of my classesâdon't even get me going on how stupid calculus isânot to mention the Radisson High School spring formal, I'm one busy chick.
I don't have time to dwell on, dissect, or otherwise occupy my time with a fleeting night vision of something that may or may not happen to me.
I have to focus on the present. After all, it's the only thing I can control. Besides, it's a nice Saturday and I've got a lot going on today.
I'm walking through Radissonâwhich is starting to grow on me, although I still miss my Chicagolandâon my way to Divining Woman. That's Loreen's store, where she sells all sorts of metaphysical stuff and where she's let me hang out a shingle, so to speak, to do psychic readings and such. I look around me at the bare-limbed trees just starting to show tiny green buds as we come out of winter this February. I've got two people coming in for tarot readings at the store and I'm also going to finish up this online training for energy healing and attunement studies. No, I'm not turning into some kind of freak of nature. It really works.
A cool breeze rustles around me, causing me to pull the zipper of my black hoodie up under my chin. Most of my fellow townspeople are still wearing fleece, wool, or down coats, like they're at some ski resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Not me, the hardy Midwesterner and survivor of many lake-effect storms. It takes a lot more than a stiff breeze to make me dive for the gloves and scarves. A mere chilly day like this is nothing. I suppose at some point I'll grow accustomed to the warmer southern climate. At least I'm starting to be accepted here for the most part, making a lot of friends at school and throughout the town.
Like the person waving at me now.
"Hi there, Kendall," a tiny woman calls out from the garden area in front of the antebellum mansion to my left.
"Hi, Mayor Shy," I say with a wave. "Are you coming into the store for another treatment?"
Donn Shy, a petite woman with long, straight golden blond hair, stands and brushes her hands off on the thighs of her designer jeans. She's one of my newest clients at Divining Woman; she started with a psychic reading, then worked up to tarot, and now, finally, she's taking a whack at my attunement healing.
I learned with my psychic intuition that her name was once Donna Cheyenne, but she changed it to Donn Shy in the early seventies when she was the lead singer of a go-go type band in California. How she ended up in Radisson is still beyond my abilities to understand, as there's sort of a curtain surrounding most info on her. Still, she's standing there with a pair of hedge clippers in her fist and a bag of potting soil next to her. Imagine that, the mayor of the town is outside doing her own yard work and not paying a bunch of minions to do it. Right, like the mayor of Chicago would do that! Not! What a difference between large and small towns.
She adjusts her stylish wire-rimmed glasses on the bridge of her nose. "I'd like to come in and see you if you have the time, Kendall. I'm still having those back pains, so I'll definitely need more energy healing. It seemed to work the last time you did it."
With a nod, I say, "Just lemme know and we'll get it taken care of." It's not every day that the mayor of your town comes to
for help. But then again, Radisson's not your normal city. It's relatively small, an hour east of Atlanta, and it's rich with Civil War history, full of gorgeous old houses from a time long past and a plethora of ghosts and spirits to keep me and my fellow ghost huntresses busy every weekend. Mayor Shy's house is the second-largest and second-oldest house in Radisson, with long, tall columns in the front of the mansion and a wraparound porch complete with white rockers. Of course, my best friend and neighbor, Celia Nichols, has the biggest house in town, since her dad is rolling in dough from owning the Mega-Mart conglomerate.
With a hand on the small of her back, the mayor winces. "I'd best come round tomorrow, if that's okay."
I nod. "Sure thing. We'll work on the specific areas you're having trouble with."
"It's so odd," she says. "I have no idea what I did to cause this."
"Maybe the yard work?" I suggest.
She waves me off with her hand. "I do this all the time. This is more of a pressure, like someone's pressing on my nerves."
I'm certainly no medical doctor and won't pretend to give a diagnosis. I do know that Mayor Shy went to see Dr. Murphy, who my mom works for as a staff nurse, and he couldn't find anything wrong with the mayor. Nothing on the X-rays to show a strain or tear. A follow-up visit to a chiropractor in Atlanta turned up nothing more. That's why Donn Shy called Loreen, who referred her to me. It would be wicked cool if I solved something with attunement activation that the medical community couldn't.
As Mayor Shy continues to tell me about her excruciating back pain, my eye is drawn away from her and up to the top of the mansion. I swear I think I see a woman standing at the small attic window, gazing down at me. I blink hard into the morning sun and lift my hand over my eyes to get a better look. There's no woman there now. However, the curtain moves back into place as if someone had been there. Must be one of the mayor's maids or something. Although I don't think it was. In my world and considering what I see with my gift, when I spot someone I don't always know if I'm dealing with the living or the dead.
"You all right, Kendall?" the mayor asks.
"Yes, ma'am. I just thought I saw someone in your attic."
Mayor Shy harrumphs. "There's no telling what it is. Everyone says this place is haunted. Just like every other building in Radisson. You should know that."
It's no secret that my friends and I have gotten phenomenal evidence of the paranormal in this town as well as helped several lost spirits on to their final resting place in the light. It amazes me how pretty much everyone just accepts that thereare ghosts and spirits here. Like the trees are around us. Like the pavement that cuts through town.
"Maybe my team and I should come investigate the property?"
Mayor Shy flips her long hair behind her ears and then places her hands on her hips. "Anytime you can work me into your schedule, I'd appreciate it. Maybe you can contact Mayer and find out where the hell he left the key to the safety-deposit box before he cashed out on me." Her soft laugh makes me smile.
Her husband, Mayer Holt, was the mayor of the town before my family and I moved here. Yeah, Mayor Mayer. How funny is that? Not very, 'cause he, like, keeled over from a heart attack last summer. The deputy mayor moved his family to Ocala, Florida, so the city council asked the widow to step in. That's how Donn became mayor of Radisson. Not exactly a position she'd sought, but she seems to be handling it quite well.
The hairs on the back of my neck are raised and pricklyâwhich is hard for them to do, since my hair is so long. Nonetheless, something's giving me the willies. I don't know if it's the woman I saw in the window or the general sense of unease on this property. It's like there's something...
... inside the mansion. Restless souls displeased with the current occupancy. Or perhaps still troubled with their own problems that they haven't given up to the light. I'm definitely getting a sense of a stirring within and anxiety for those that live here. Maybe that explains the mayor's current physical ailment. Although I can't be sure until I get my group here to investigate.
I swallow hard at the uneasiness clogging my throat. "I'll talk to the team and see when we can set up something." Celia is so good at fielding requests from people, answering our website e-mails, and booking our investigations. Plus, she's been salivating to get into the mayor's mansion ever since we were walking back from Stephanie Crawford's New Year's Eve party last month and Celia's EMF detector started going off like mad. Yeah, I love Celia, but she is a geek to the core. I mean, taking ghost-hunting equipment to social events? Seriously?
I had mild curiosity at the time when Celia noted the readings, but I've got much more now. With one more sideways glance at the top of the mansion, I see the flimsy white curtain move again. Someone is most certainly up there watching me converse with the mayor.
I say goodbye to Mayor Shy and turn in the direction of Divining Woman, but I lift my eyes to the window a final time. Clearly, I see the face of a woman looking down with a steely glare.
Her emotions rush at me, knocking me a little with the extent of her displeasure.
Just then, my spirit guide, Emily, appears before me, translucent and frowning terribly. Her lips are parted and her brow is furrowed.