Chapter Two

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Take a deep breath. Again. Again.

I let out a scream loud enough to wake the dead.

Omigod. Dead. That's not a word I should say. Ever. Especially about myself.

This cannot be happening. First the shoe and now....

No! This can't be. I cannot be dead...still alive. Someone's made a mistake. This is a joke. It cannot be my body that Lanie is crying over. It's got to be someone else.

I inhale a deep breath of sea salt-and-grease-infused air, the scent heavier than normal. A scream forms in my throat, but it catches and a croak escapes.

I am dead.

Dead. As in gone. As in no more shopping for clothes way out of my budget, no more parties with Lanie, no more bashing our ex-boyfriends while we consume all the ice cream in sight. Nothing.

I stare at the body—my body—lying on the ground and hear some of the terrible things being whispered about it, about me, and I really want to cry at the perception so many of them had of me.

"Not a very nice person."

"Seemed more concerned with her fashion than being friendly, but wouldn't have guessed she'd end up dead."

The word again. Dead.

I bite back tears at the whisperings. With the exception of the guy John, no one else knows me here. They don't know that I'd give the shirt off my own back to someone in need. They don't know that I'm loyal and would take a bullet for any of my loved ones, nor do they know that I'd fight for anyone who was being mistreated, even if that person was not my friend.

And they'll never get to see those sides of me because I am dead. They'll never get to know that there's more to me than a proclivity for designer clothing. And I think that part of it is they know that I simply don't belong here, that I'm not one of them no matter the façade I try to project.

I let out a cry then pinch myself, hoping all this is a nightmare. The black angora of the sweater, along with some extra pounds from Thanksgiving, bunches up between my thumb and index finger. I look down at the skirt, and it's definitely a nightmare, but not the kind that I'm destined to awake from in a cold sweat; it's the one where Mom tells me to make sure I wear clean panties before leaving for an errand because I could be in an accident. Except this time, the dirty panties come in the form of eighties' clothes, and this time, I died, with dozens of people staring at my remains.

A million questions run through my head, the biggest: What am I?

I run my tongue across my teeth. No fangs, nor any desire for blood, so the vampire fantasy is out of the picture. That pretty much leaves ghost as the only possibility, and being dead, all the more real.

But I don't feel dead. You'd think I would feel like death, like I just hit a ton of concrete, but I feel fine. To be honest, I'm better than fine. Okay, that might be a stretch, but I'm trying to stay positive so I don't freak out in front of everyone.

Normally, I wince with each step by this time of night, especially when I've worn the Blahniks. Now my only ailment is the wobbly heel, and that's an easy fix.

I lift my heel to kick off the shoe, but it doesn't slide off my foot. I stoop down to remove the shoe. No matter how hard I pry, it won't budge. It's like the Blahniks have become part of my body. Not a bad thing. Usually. I smile until the realization that I could be stuck in these clothes forever tugs my lips into a frown.

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