Chapter 1

25 1 0


The ticking of the Big Ben clock on her nightstand sounded louder than usual. Every movement of the second hand was like a fingernail tapping on a table. Insomnia was nothing new, but the telltale chill in Carolina's bedroom reminded her she wasn't alone. She pulled the down comforter up to her chin and refused to open her eyes. One night—she just needed one full night of sleep. Was that really too much to ask?

For as long as she could remember, Carolina had possessed a strange ability. Some people would call it a gift, but there were times it felt more like a curse. Like tonight. Carolina knew she wasn't alone in the room, and she even had a feeling who might be there. Mallory Kramer had gone missing. Mallory had been the pretty girl with her nose in the air, the girl who tormented Carolina for being plain and nerdy and a weirdo.

Carolina hadn't spoken a word to Mallory since their high school graduation. They'd been friends in elementary school, right up to the point that looks started to matter. Maybe around third grade. It was then that Mallory realized that she was the pretty one, and that little girls with stringy hair who talked to themselves weren't the kind of friends she wanted.

With her mind racing a million miles per hour, Carolina gave up on sleep and sat up in her bed. She wasn't entirely surprised to see the smiling, dark-haired girl sitting in the chair in the corner.

"Great." Carolina sighed. "I just knew this kidnapping thing wasn't going to end well."

"So, you really can see me?" Mallory adjusted herself in the chair and tucked a long, dark lock of hair behind her ear. "I always thought you were just a nutcase."

"Look, I have no desire to hang out with you and commiserate over the death you probably deserved. So, take a hike."

Mallory didn't flinch, and the evil grin she was famous for stretched across her mouth. "Wow. Who knew that sweet, little Carolina Sinclair could be such a bitch?"

"Fuck you, Mallory. And get out of my bedroom."

"Tsk, Tsk. You don't need to be so catty." Mallory glided across the room and sat on the edge of Carolina's four poster bed. The mattress didn't move or squeak. Mallory's form was solid, not transparent like most people thought ghosts would be. But there was no matter, no substance to her.

Carolina's patience wore thin and her head started to pound from lack of sleep. Mallory had been a thorn in her ass since third grade and last night her perky, perfect face was plastered all over the local news. Mallory's car had been found abandoned in the parking lot of Cookie's Tavern, and no one had seen her for three days. Carolina knew instantly Mallory was dead. But the news anchor who'd been standing in the parking lot of the bar where Mallory had been seen last hadn't known that. The wind blew the woman's hair as she white-knuckled the microphone and pasted a phony smile on her face as if she wasn't reporting about something bad.

Carolina willed Mallory to disappear. Unfortunately, she didn't have telekinesis or she'd have levitated Mallory's ass right out the window and dropped her two stories to the paved walkway below. "Get out," she muttered.

"Not until you help me tie up some loose ends."

"You couldn't possibly have any loose ends besides those in the lower half of your body."

"Ooh, snarky. I like it, Carolina. Remind me why we weren't friends?"

"Because you're an asshole." Carolina fluffed her pillow and dropped back onto it. "It's four o'clock in the morning. How long have you been dead? Did you purposely wait until the middle of the night to come bother me?"

"Don't you want to know what happened to me? Even if only to satisfy your own morbid curiosity?"

"No. I really couldn't care less what happened to you. I want to sleep and that's all I want. So, get out."

When the Shadows Come - A Paranormal Suspense TaleRead this story for FREE!