Read 44 Online

Authors: Jools Sinclair

Tags: #romance, #thriller, #mystery, #ghosts, #paranormal, #near death, #amanda hocking

44

 

 

44

 

by

 

Jools Sinclair

 

Published by You Come Too Publishing at
Smashwords

 

Copyright © 2011 Jools
Sinclair

 

You Come Too Publishing

 

44

 

by

 

Jools Sinclair

 

You Come Too Publishing

 

Copyright © 2011 Jools
Sinclair

 

All rights reserved,
including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in
any form. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted,
downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in, or
introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in
any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical without
the express written permission of the author. The scanning,
uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via
any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal
and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic
editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy
of copyrighted materials.

 

This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events
or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

 

to C and M…

the best of the best of the best

PROLOGUE

 

I know I’m lucky.

Lucky to be alive, lucky to be able to walk again,
to inhale the juniper-laced air and watch the soft leaves change
into crispy ones scattering in the wind. I can spend afternoons
with Jesse as he plummets down the steep hills around town on his
skateboard. I can watch Barcelona soccer games on satellite, eat
pizza, and even see those dumb reality TV shows late at night.

I’ve been on the other side and I’m grateful that
I’m here. My life is good, most days.

But this morning wasn’t like most days.

The wind had a bite and as I stood at the edge of
the river, ice pellets drilled into my face. The sky was slab gray,
with low clouds pushing down around me.

She was there. Floating under the footbridge,
snagged and hidden in bony branches and moving in a subtle,
unnatural rhythm that the dead dance to when submerged in water.
The river rushed around her, forming small riffles at her feet, as
if she had always been there, belonging like a large boulder or a
rooted tree.

In my vision the night before, I watched her die. It
started soon after I drifted off to sleep. The night was
pitchfork-sharp and her fear radiated in waves through me as she
ran, trying to get away from him. She slipped, falling hard onto
the icy pavement, her screams lost in the hollow, empty night as he
wrapped his arm around her neck until she fell quiet into his
arms.

These visions that started months ago have me
following in the footsteps of a serial killer I’ve yet to see, as
he roams the city looking for his next victim, never satisfied and
always needing.

I stood in the shadows and watched like it was a
scene from a movie. I knew I could do nothing. He picked her up and
brought her to the water, held her head down. Then he sat next to
her, stroking her hair.

But this time, I was ready. I only needed a glimpse.
If I could see his face in my vision, I could find him in reality.
I summoned my courage, forced myself to swallow the bile that shot
up in the back of my throat and followed him as he strolled
arrogantly away.

The moon was bright, beams threading through the
trees, leaving thick shadows. Instinctually, I backed into the
darkness as he suddenly stopped, even though I knew he wouldn’t be
able to see me. His breath leaked out in ghostly wisps as he stood
silent.

Finally, he turned around, his eyes hooking into
mine. He saw me. Somehow he cut through my murky vision and saw
me.

But I saw him too. And now I knew who he was.

He stared a while, still and contemplative, as I
fought my urge to run. But he didn’t come after me. The bastard
just stood there, and then smiled, before stepping away and
disappearing into the lonely night.

CHAPTER 1

Five Months Ago…

 

“Can you get the door?” Kate yelled from the
bedroom. I was sitting on the sofa, watching that show where three
guys lock themselves in abandoned hospitals and prisons and then
videotape each other pretending to see ghosts. Mostly the show
makes me laugh, but once in a while it gives me chills.

It was dinnertime, so I was sure that it was Matt,
Kate’s boyfriend. As I swung the door open and rolled my eyes, I
jumped back. It wasn’t Matt.

“Hi, Abigail,” Dr. Mortimer said.

“Oh, hi,” I said, a little embarrassed. “Sorry, I
thought you were someone else.”

“Well, I’m glad I’m not whoever you thought it was,”
he said, smiling.

He stood on the porch, his thick, black hair full of
soft white flakes. His eyes were bright and as he smiled, small
wrinkles surrounded them, making him look extra happy.

“Please, come in,” I said.

“I was just in the neighborhood,” he said. “Thought
I would check on my favorite patient as long as I was out and
about. If that’s okay?”

“Of course,” I said.

Dr. Mortimer had gotten into the habit of stopping
by a few times a month to check up on me. He worked the night shift
in the emergency room and even though he saved my life and I liked
him quite a lot, I was never comfortable around him. I felt like he
was always studying me.

I took his coat and hung it up on the rack and we
walked to the living room.

“Can I get you a soda or something?” I asked as he
sat on the sofa.

“Oh, no. But I’d take a glass of water.”

I was hoping that Kate would emerge from her room
and join us. She was good at talking to people effortlessly about
anything, plus I was still holding out hope that there could be a
romantic spark between them. Dr. Mortimer was perfect for Kate. He
was young and good looking, ambitious, and had a nice relaxed way
about him that could balance Kate’s intensity. I also knew that he
liked her a lot. I just wished that she would notice him, take an
interest, and forget about Matt.

But she didn’t come out and I was on my own. I
headed back from the kitchen and handed him a small bottled
water.

“Thanks,” he said, twisting open the lid and taking
a long sip.

He looked tired. It must have been all those long
night shifts, stacked one after the other.

“How are you feeling by the way?” he asked.

“Okay,” I said.

He looked around the house for a moment and we let
the silence sit. Eventually his eyes wandered back to mine.

“How are you getting around?”

“Pretty good,” I said.

“And soccer?”

“I make a good mascot,” I said, trying to laugh
casually afterwards. “It’s just not happening this year.”

Initially Coach Wilson and the team were excited
that I would be back. That was, until they saw me run. Or rather my
horrible zombie interpretation of it. I’ll never forget the look on
the coach’s face when he realized that his Olympic Development
player really was gone, along with the team’s shot at the state
title. Now I mostly sat on the bench during the games.

“That’s tough,” Dr. Mortimer said, looking
guilty.

“Naw, I do okay. Really. I don’t even care about it
anymore,” I said.

We stared at the TV, which was still on, but low. I
flipped the station back to the news because I knew Kate would have
a cow if she walked out and it wasn’t on. The weather guy was in
the middle of his forecast, predicting heavy snow.

“It looks like you’ve been working a lot,” I finally
said.

“Yeah. It was hard last night,” he said, leaning
back. “Heart attack and a kid mauled by a dog.”

“That’s terrible,” I said.

He took another sip from the bottle.

“How about your classes? Any progress?”

“They’re okay,” I said. “I still have problems
remembering things for tests and stuff, but the teachers are giving
me a pass, at least for now. That and a few volunteers who help me
study.”

Truthfully, my grades were in the gutter and I knew
it didn’t matter what the teachers thought or did because there was
no way I’d be going to college next year.

“I know we’ve talked about this before Abby, but it
takes time for drowning victims to fully recover. It hasn’t really
been that long.”

I didn’t like the word victim. I wasn’t a victim. I
was an idiot. I was the one who walked out onto that ice.

“Yeah,” I said.

Dr. Mortimer has told me the story at least a dozen
times and I’m always amazed that I can’t remember any of it. Last
winter I fell through the ice at a lake and when the rescue squad
brought me in to St. Charles, I was clinically dead. No pulse, no
breathing. They tried to resuscitate me with no luck. They “called
it,” and told Kate she could stay for a little while with me to say
good-bye. She was by my bedside, crying, when something
happened.

I woke up from death.

Kate was the one who saw my eyes open and she
screamed.

Since then, Dr. Mortimer has carried around a heavy
guilt. He is sure now that the icy water must have shut down my
system, making it appear like I was dead when in fact I was in a
deep hibernation, similar to what happens to animals. And he missed
it.

Kate doesn’t believe that though. She told me she
was there, that she had held my frozen hands and had desperately
tried to hear a beating heart as she sat next to me. She is
positive that I was dead.

“I’m just saying you’re still getting better. You
have no idea what kinds of things you’ll be able to do a year from
now. Your healing is a process, that’s all I mean.”

Dr. Mortimer cleared his throat. He always got so
serious when he talked about my recovery. He took it very
personally, probably because he almost buried me alive.

“I guess we’ll see what happens,” I said. “So is the
kid okay, the one attacked by the dog?”

“Thirty stitches across his face. It’s going to
leave a horrible scar.”

I was relieved to see Kate walk out.

“Oh, Dr. Mortimer! I didn’t know you were here,” she
said warmly, slipping her phone into a pocket. He stood up and they
hugged. The room lit up.

Although I came back from death, I didn’t come back
the same. The biggest change is that I can’t see colors anymore,
that everything in my world is in blacks, whites, and grays. I’m
also super sensitive now to the emotions of other people. If
they’re happy, they have kind of a glow around them. A light
surrounds Dr. Mortimer whenever Kate walks into the room. That’s
how I know he’s in love with her.

“So good to see you. How’s everything?” she
asked.

“Great, really great,” he said.

She walked toward the door and pulled on her
boots.

“Where are you going?” I said, glancing out the
window at the snow.

“The police found a body over by Old Mill. Probably
a suicide, but I need to check it out anyway.”

I sighed. I wanted her to stay and have dinner
because I knew that Matt would be arriving soon. When it came to
dinner, Matt was like the postman.

“Couldn’t you just call one of your contacts or
something?” I said.

“Well, I could. But I need to make sure,” she
said.

“Can I come?” I asked.

“Nope.”

“Probably a good idea to stay out of this weather,
in your humble doctor’s opinion,” Dr. Mortimer said, grabbing his
coat off the rack. “I’ve got to get going too.”

I walked over to the door.

“Abby seems to be doing well, right?” Kate asked,
studying me like I was in a glass case at a museum. I hated when
people did that, but I was getting used to it. It happened all the
time at school.

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