Authors: Angel Lawson
Copyright 2014 © by Angel Lawson
Published by Angel Lawson
Cover design by Samantha
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Thanks to Ramona, Coco and Thomas for all the support and minimal complaining about time spent writing this series.
I’m in a bit of shock having finished this three book series. When I started I just wanted to complete one book and the two others were flickers of an idea I wasn’t sure if I could commit to. But I felt there was more to Jane’s story and decided to write it all out. I think she ended up in a good place.
I’d like to thank many people for their support. Kira Gold, my writing partner on Odin’s Murder is always willing to talk and read and help me through sticky spots. Bev Elle has been the most wonderful sounding board on all things books, marketing, ideas and general chatting about the world of writing. AngstyG always has my back when it comes to graphics and covers. And Denise Varnadoe is the most wonderful photographer who always “gets” what I want. Special thanks to my niece, Rebecca, for modeling for the cover of Grave Possession. She did an amazing job.
My trusty editor Anne has helped me with my constant and never ending grammar fail. (She’s going to be really mad I sent this off without approval but the clock is ticking!) Judi at
, the girls at Author 2 Author and Author 101 are a great support system and I appreciate my relationships with each person I meet in the great big world of writing.
A special shout out to my street team (appropriately called Team Angel)! Non Team member yet amazeball supporters include Alicia, Vanessa & Tracie. You guys help more than you could ever know. I appreciate your fangirly-ness.
The buzzing razor grazed over my ear, sending vibrations across my scalp, down to my jaw. Each pass felt like a weight being lifted.
Ava smiled from the chair next to mine, swiveling back and forth. When the next hunk of hair fell to the ground, she gave me a thumbs up. I smiled back nervously, hoping her encouragement was a good thing because I wasn’t facing the mirror and, really, why did I even think this was a good idea?
“It looks awesome,” Ava said the minute the razor snapped off. “Seriously.”
“It really does,” the stylist said. “Ready?”
“Yes,” I said. They couldn’t see my hands under the cape. They were latched to the arms of the chair, fighting off the panic, because holy crap, what had I done?
She spun my chair toward the mirror on the wall and I got the first look of my new hairstyle.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Ava asked. She stood and ran her fingers over the short-clipped hair over my ears. The rest of my hair had been pulled back in a ponytail, giving the appearance of a
I turned my head back and forth to get the best view. I wanted something different and I got it. My hair had grown out over the last two years, since I’d cut it off in a fit of anxiety and panic. It now hung down past my shoulders to the middle of my back, but I wanted something new. Something to start off the next phase of my life.
“You look badass.” Ava’s face popped into the mirror. “Perfect for college.”
I broke into a grin, turning my head side to side, checking out the new look. The new me. “Freshman year is
Phase two involved hot pink hair dye. Just a couple of streaks down the back. Ava left after the bleaching process, leaving me with four copies of
magazine and a lot of questions about who, exactly, picked the Sexiest Man Alive.
“Five minutes,” Suzie the hairdresser said, pulling the domed hair dryer over my head. She left me alone in the drying area, a room painted neon green. Everything had a sickly glow.
A shadow crossed the front window and I looked up in time to see the woman pass by again. It was her third attempt to come inside, but she obviously hadn’t gotten the hang of it yet. I lifted the dryer, ceasing the dull roar of air and said, “Suzie, do you mind if I step outside for some fresh air?”
“Hurry and be careful with the foils.”
I pushed open the glass door and found her waiting. A faint blue light radiated from the crown of her graying hair like a halo. Blue. Safe, but disappointing.
“Follow me,” I said to the woman, leading her around the side of the building. “I only have a minute. What’s the problem?”
She stepped forward and I held up my hand. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll leave and won’t
help you. Just tell me what’s wrong.”
Helping the woman only took a couple of minutes now that I had a system.
“You need to let go,” I told her. “It’s okay. The cancer finally won.”
“But I never got to see my grandbaby. Did my daughter have her? Is she okay?”
Ah. I glanced at my phone and went against my gut.
“Look, I never read the obituaries. It’s too depressing. But I’ll read the names of the survivors and you let me know if it’s there, okay?”
Hope lit in her faded eyes and she nodded.
“Survived by her two sons, Robert and James, and their wives—“
“It’s my daughter,” she repeated. I skipped ahead.
“One daughter, Karen, age 29, and her three granddaughters, Macy, Ariana and Bridget.”
“Bridget. That’s her.”
“Great,” I said, pushing the phone back in my pocket. “It’s time for you to move on.”
“Just one thing,” I said. “Take my hand.”
“What?” she asked, staring at my hand in confusion.
“Take it,” I said, thrusting it toward her.
Tentatively she placed her hand on mine and a surge of energy rushed through my limbs, filling the darkness and pushing the cold that had settled in my bones last year. The relief would be fleeting, but the small hit would hold me over until I could find something more substantial later.
I re-entered the salon and found Suzie waiting for me. She checked her watch. “Don’t blame me if your hair falls out,” she said.
“I won’t.” I settled into the swiveling chair, cheeks rosy in the mirror. “Let’s do this.”
“You hate it. It’s okay,” I said to my mother. She lingered in the doorway holding a bag of toiletries.
“I don’t exactly hate it. It’s just so different.”
“Good, that was my goal.”
She stepped into the room and laid the bag on the bed next to everything else I was packing. “You know, you don’t have to go so far away.”
“Mom, I’m going five hours away. Really, that’s not so bad.”
“It’s a long way for my only child. I’m kind of used to seeing you all the time,” she said. “You know, the university has a pretty good art program and it’s only an hour away.”
“It also has, like, 30 percent of my graduating class attending. No thanks,” I said. “You
know I need a fresh start.”
She sighed and I saw the age lines around her eyes. I was responsible for at least half of those. “I know, honey.”
“I’ll be home a lot. Ava’s going to drive me crazy. I’ve never lived with someone before.” I looked at the piles of clothes on my bed and the stacks of books on my desk and everything else I had littered across the room. “She’s so organized and neat. I hope it doesn’t ruin our friendship.”
Mom picked up several items and packed them into a travel bag. “Ava is a great friend. I think you two can work it out. Plus, I think it will be good to have her close.”
“In case I freak out?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You still think I can’t handle it,” I snapped. “Even after the last year of definitely, more-than handling it.”
My mother dropped the bag on the bed. She gestured for me to sit. I did, reluctantly, on top of a pile of T-shirts. “Honey, I know you can handle it. You’ve grown up so much in the last year. I’m so excited for you. And proud of you. The Savannah College of Art and Design is very difficult to get into and you blew them away. I’m just glad you have Ava there for support. Not just for the,” she swallowed, “ghosts, but for everything else you’ll be going through. She’s a good friend. Even if she did encourage you to do that to your hair.”
She pushed my hair back over my shoulder and grimaced. This wasn’t the first time she hadn’t been on board with my style. Like last fall when I got the extra piercings. I still hadn’t shown her the tattoo. She had put up with a lot over the last 12 months. Beyond heartache and senioritis, I spent the last year figuring out how to deal with this gift and the consequences it had on my life.
I’d learned a lot of things.
“Do you really think I can do it?”
“I know you can. You’re strong and ready. To be honest, three years ago I wouldn’t have believed you would ever live a productive life. I was terrified you’d end up like Aunt Ruth. Institutionalized for half your life. But you’ve fought this and educated yourself and you are so powerful.”
She wiped the tears from the corner of her eyes. “Oh, Mom,” I said, giving her a hug. With her arms around me I felt like I could do anything. The warmth of her arms made the cold inside a little less painful. We’d come a long way.
“Anyway,” she said, after releasing me from her tight grip, “it’s not the ghosts I’m worried about. It’s the boys. College boys are a whole different breed of creature.”
I laughed and focused on my packing. She was right to worry about that. And not just boys. But
Connor would be there, too.
My gift gave me the ability to communicate with ghosts, like the one outside the hair salon. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, I’d been blessed with an extra helping of supernatural power that allowed the spirits to touch me back. I had to be careful to remain in control with spirits at all times by keeping my distance and our contact minimal. A spirit could try to possess me. Like Charlotte had last year.
ghostie-occult world, this ability was called shadow bound.