She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live. – Annie Dillard
ISBN : 9781947649033
Release date: 24 April 2018
Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Twenty-one-year-old Kaelyn has spent half her life hunting ghosts and killing them. But she's not like the other ghost hunters who have to rely on spells and curses to banish ghosts back to where they came from, hoping that they don't come back. When Kaelyn kills a ghost, they stay dead.
But in Mortimer Hall, a behemoth of a house, Kaelyn is about to face the most powerful Twenty-one-year-old Kaelyn has spent half her life hunting ghosts and killing them. But she's not like the other ghost hunters who have to rely on spells and curses to banish ghosts back to where they came from, hoping that they don't come back. When Kaelyn kills a ghost, they stay dead.
But in Mortimer Hall, a behemoth of a house, Kaelyn is about to face the most powerful and life-threatening ghost she ever met, and what she doesn't know is that the ghost has been waiting just for her...
Sunlight peeked through the blinds. I rolled over, pulled the covers up to my chin, and groaned. Then the alarm clock started blaring like a fire alarm. I turned back around, hit it as hard as I could, and slumped back on my pillow.
There was no inch of my body that didn't hurt, and the pain in my head resembled that of a migraine attack coming on. Maybe I had a concussion after all.
I mumbled a series of curse words below my breath as I got out of bed. Ghost hunting or not, no way was I going to miss class just because I felt like I'd been hit by a train, then was dragged along for twenty miles until they dropped me on a bombshell that exploded right after. When I was done yawning so loud that my neighbors could probably hear it, I staggered out of my bedroom.
"Well, good morning, Sleeping Beauty," Mom said from behind the stove. She was holding a frying pan, the smell of pancakes filling my nostrils.
"Pancakes? Again?" I smiled, and my stomach growled, emphasizing how hungry I was. To me, all good things in the world started and ended with pancakes.
"Milk? Coffee? Hot choco?" Mom asked while I sat down at the table. The apartment wasn't spectacular, at all. It had a small kitchenette, a table and two chairs, a stitched-up couch that looked as if someone might've puked over it back in the seventies, and a stained carpet that seemed to come straight from a murder scene, complete with blood spills and all.
You'd think ghost slaying would pay well, but if you wanted to live under the radar, and work solo, it was tough finding cases. Besides, the apartment had all I needed. Apart from the living area, it had a decent sized bathroom, and two bedrooms. One of them had been rat-infested when I first moved in, but I'd finally gotten rid of that problem last week when pest control dropped by.
"Coffee." I scratched my head and yawned again. "What time did I get home?"
"About twelve-thirty." Mom hovered behind the kitchen counter and dropped a plate with pancakes onto the table. She made her way around to me and kissed me on the forehead, almost blinding me with her ghostly glow. "You look exhausted."
"Thanks for the compliment." I snorted, digging into the pancakes. "If you didn't make such great food, you'd be in trouble for that," I said, between bites.
"Eat with your mouth closed." Mom grabbed a cup of coffee and put it down in front of me. "You love being pampered, just admit it."
I shrugged, but we both knew it was the truth. Even though I was twenty-one now, and I could watch my own back when I went out ghost slaying, I loved when Mom made me breakfast, combed my hair, or did whatever the heck moms do. The only real perk about spending my days chasing after ghosts, was still having my mom around â even though she'd passed away.
"Lots of classes today?" Mom slumped down on the empty chair opposite me. With the morning light peering through the window behind her, I could barely make out her shape.
"Yeah." I took a sip from my coffee. "Parapsychology, two hours. Then I've got a study break for about one hour, and another two hours of developmental psychology, followed by an hour of English literature."
"Bah." Mom rolled her eyes. She shoved her chair back, and got up again to get me another load of pancakes. Whenever she was annoyed, she would walk. "I have no idea why you take that class. Isn't it enough you have to deal with ghosts every day?" She was talking about parapsychology, the class she'd insisted I drop from the moment I started going to college.
I shrugged and studied her while she floated about in the kitchen. She wore a long, wide dress, gypsy style, with beads and chains, and an herb pouch around her hips. Her braided hair reached down to her waist. The dress had once been a myriad of colors, from purple to green to red. Her hair had once been dark brown, and her eyes had once matched that color. Now everything was dulled to gray and surrounded by the glow of the dead.
"Are you still grabbing a drink with your friends tonight?" She peeked over her shoulder, an eyebrow arched.
Of course, Mom hoped I'd say yes. She wanted nothing more than for me to spend some time with my friends rather than with the recently or not-so-recently departed. "Yes." The word came out about as unenthusiastic as if I'd announced I needed a kidney transplant. "Although I don't know why you insist on it."
"You need to get out there. Socialize. No need to barricade yourself inside a cramped apartment with your ghost mother. You're twenty-one, for God's sake. It's time you made some friends."
I rolled my eyes before I gulped down another pancake. "We both know that making friends hasn't really been on the agenda." For the last decade, we'd moved from state to state, without settling down anywhere. We went from one town to the next, swiping the entire maleficent ghost population before moving on. Half of the jobs came without pay, and the ones that did barely offered sufficient funds to keep my head above water. But when I saw a case, I couldn't say no, no matter if it paid or not, or whether it was dangerous or not.
"Honey ..." Mom stopped when a shrill sound pierced the room.
I got up, knocking my chair backward onto the floor. "What the ..." Only then did I realize that the unfamiliar sound was the doorbell. I gave Mom a look. We never got company.
She nodded at me and moved to her bedroom.
"Close the door," I mouthed at her.
I grabbed the knife I'd used to cut the pancakes and walked to the door. Nobody ever showed up at our doorstep. Nobody good, anyway. My hand shook when I grabbed the key and twisted it. The knife felt like lead in my other hand, which I'd curled behind my back.
The door squeaked when I opened it. Hesitantly, I moved into the doorway, and my mouth dropped open at the same time I let go of the knife; it fell to the floor with a clattering sound. "What ..." The words got stuck in my throat. My tongue felt like a dozen bees had stung it, making it thick and unable to move.
"Seen a ghost?" The guy standing out in the hall cocked an eyebrow, smirking at me, a smirk he'd obviously mastered through practice. His brown hair, short back and sides, but long in the front, covered his forehead and his left eye. The other one, stark blue like the sky right before a storm, gazed straight at me. He was at least two heads taller than my 5'4". Muscles protruded from under his black leather jacket. He looked like a supermodel who'd taken a break to ride his Harley Davidson. The shadow of a two-day old beard marked his face, as well as a scar beneath his left eye that ruined his otherwise perfect cheek.
"You ..." I spat out the word, almost choking on the nasty taste it left behind in my mouth. "What are you doing here?"
"Not the welcome I was expecting, but all right." He threw an envelope at me. "Payment for yesterday's job."
I caught the envelope and stared at it as if it was the spawn of Satan. "You mean ... you're my employer?"
He licked his lips and conjured up a half smile. "I'd rather pay twice as much to a ghost layer from the other side of the planet than give you a job. Unfortunately, ghost slayers are rare and my client needed help fast."
Even though it had been half a decade, I'd recognize him anywhere. Not just the scar, the leather jacket, the face that had haunted my dreams â and nightmares â ever since I met him. But his voice, that cocky authoritarian voice he used on just about everyone, sounding like he knew all the secrets to the universe, and you were just a dumb newbie who'd never taken on a real challenge. Always challenging, always tempting. That voice, I'd recognize anywhere.
"What do you want?" I put my hands on my hips, and felt the soft fabric of the yoga pants I'd put on before crashing into bed last night. Suddenly eating a pile of pancakes without showering first seemed like the worst idea ever, and I wished I had a genie who could give me some decent clothes in a heartbeat. Tank tops and yoga pants aren't really impressive when you're facing your self- proclaimed worst enemy.
"I came to give you your well-earned money." He shoved past me into my house, stepping over the knife carelessly, invading my privacy without a care in the world.
I clenched my fists, wishing I was still holding the knife, because then I could do some real damage on him. But at the same time, I was glad I'd dropped it as it removed any temptation I might have to hurt him. Although I wanted to do just that, it wouldn't be smart and I'd hate myself afterward. Hurting ghosts was one thing, hurting humans, another â no matter how despicable they were.
"So how was the Main Street Basement Ghost?" he asked, while he slumped down on my chair, in my kitchen, and grabbed one of my pancakes.
Somehow I thought that if we ever met again, my anger would've lessened. That the fury that threatened to overwhelm me last time, would've evaporated over time. No such luck, though. It was back now, fire and flames, pulling at my resolve, setting me on fire, demanding I hurt him the same way he'd hurt me.
I took a deep breath and tried to relax, but my muscles remained tense, prepared to snap at any moment. Without looking away from him, I pushed the door shut. "Easy."
"Well, I should think so. It was an adolescent ghost." He shoved the pancake into his mouth. "Delicious."
"He did kill three people in the last fifty years alone." I grabbed the empty chair, my mom's chair, and sat down. "Again, what do you want? I don't buy your story. You didn't just employ me so I could get rid of that kid. I know you're up to something, Alex."
Author Majanka Verstraete has written more than twenty unique works of fiction. A native of Belgium, Majankaâs novels explore the true nature of monsters: the good, the bad, and just about every species in between. Her young adult books include the acclaimed Mirrorland (YA Dark Fantasy) and Angel of Death (YA Paranormal) series of novels.
Majanka is currently developing a new YA shifter series with a fresh take on fierce female detectives called THE ADVENTURES OF MARISOL HOLMES which will be published by Monster House Books in October 2018.
Her NA paranormal romance series, Ghost Slayer, has been picked up by Fire Quill Publishing. The first volume will be released in 2017.
When sheâs not writing, Majanka is probably playing World of Warcraft or catching up with the dozens of TV series sheâs addicted to.
Amazon Profile: http://amazon.com/author/majankaverstraete
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