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Chapter 1

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Penny's Ghost Channel: 6.5 Million Subscribers

5 Million Subscribers

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Whoever said asking for forgiveness was easier than asking for permission was a liar. Penny Reyes sat in front of her camcorder, tears rolling down her cheeks. She wiped them with the back of her trembling hand. She was sitting on a black stool in front of a plain white background, a ring light was to her left. 

"Are you ready?" Mateo Saenz, her bleach-blonde friend and roommate asked. He was standing behind the camera, a wrinkle of worry between his twenty-year-old brows. 

"No," she murmured, "but I need to do this anyway. I made a mistake and I need to own up to it, right?"

Mateo gave a slight nod. "You're the strongest person I know, Penny. We could just cancel the channel and act like this never happened. You know that, right? I mean...not everyone would do this."

"The decent people would."

He flipped the record button and pointed to her, signaling the camera was recording. 

"Hello and welcome to Penny's Ghost Channel. I'm Penny and today we don't have a ghost hunting adventure for you.

Two weeks ago I posted a video about six-year-old Jeremy Wick. He had been missing from his home for two months after last being seen by a teacher at his latchkey program. Normally, I don't do videos about missing people but quite a few of you asked me to bring on one of our mediums to see if the spirit world could shed any light on the situation.

I realize now this was wrong of me. I should never have gotten involved. I should never have believed the medium, Psychic Pearl, and I should never have posted that video.

I'm sorry to all of you who look to me for ghost-hunting adventures. Like, I know some of you just think this is fun but there are quite a few of you, myself included, who truly take this seriously and truly believe in ghosts.

In the future, I will be more responsible for my actions and my words. I know a ton of you are saying I only care about views and I knew the psychic wasn't real. That I didn't care but still posted the video. Like, I wish I could open my heart for you to see everything. I wish I had a time machine so I could prove myself. I truly believed in Psychic Pearl. I didn't want Howard Wick's life to be torn apart. I didn't want him to lose his job or have his wife Debra separate from him. I just wanted to get what I thought was justice for Jeremy Wick.

You may think I'm fake and a liar. You may think I'm the worst person in the world and I don't know...maybe you're right. For those of you saying my subscriber count got to my head, you're wrong. I truly just wanted to help solve the mystery behind Jeremy's disappearance.  I understand why many of you are unfollowing me. I'm going to take a break and think about everything that's happened before I start making videos again.

I've watched the news and obviously, we were wrong. But I'm glad I was wrong because that means Jeremy Wick is alive. The police have caught his kidnappers and I'm thankful for that because it also means his father Howard is innocent. 

My dad used to take me ghost hunting which inspired this channel and it breaks my heart to know I hurt someone else's father. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry and I wish I could take it all back but let's be honest — that's impossible. What's done is done and now we have to move forward. My dad used to say that the worst thing we can be haunted by aren't ghosts...but our regrets. I'll regret hurting the Wicks and you, my viewers, for the rest of my life but I promise there will come a day when I'll redeem myself. Seriously, I promise you. Until next time...happy ghost hunting."

A sob escaped Penny's lips and she shook her head. Mateo switched off the camera. He walked over and squeezed her in his arms, "It's okay, Penny. This will blow over eventually."

She could feel her tears dampening the front of his shirt. She ruined a man's life and despite what people eventually said...she would have to live with that. 

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