YA Paranormal Romance. Suspense
Released Jan. 23rd / Evernight Teen / 69.5k
Sixteen year old Mimi Alston has company. No less than three ghosts follow her around, and only she can see them. At her last school, she was known as the girl with imaginary friends. Now Mimi’s starting fresh in a new town, where she’s determined to make some real friends and fit in for once. She’s ready for a normal life…except Mimi never counted on her fascination with troubled goth-boy, Drew.
When she’s invited to join the elite Gifted Program, Mimi discovers she’s not the only one at the school with an unusual talent. Maybe being normal isn’t even an option anymore.
“Mimi, would you mind telling us about yourself now?”
I swallowed again. How did she expect me to make a coherent sentence after what I’d just heard? If there was another Mimi, a logical one that could step outside of my own body and look at the situation objectively, she would say: Get a grip, Miette. This is bullshit. These people are either lunatics … or they are playing the cruellest prank in history. But the problem was, logical Mimi had gone AWOL. I believed these kids. Deep in my heart, I knew without a shadow of a doubt they were telling the truth and––whether what they were describing was real or not––they believed in their gifts as fact. Doctor Mayer would have a field day with them.
I heard myself launch into speech and marvelled at how unlike myself I sounded. I heard a Mimi I hadn’t heard in years: excited, happy and relieved. “I’m Mimi Alston. I come from Perry Ridge. I have one brother, who’s much older. He lives in Canada with his wife. I love drawing, especially portraits. I had a nickname at my old school. Mimi-and-her-imaginary-friends.” I couldn’t believe I was telling them this secret … a secret I had been so determined to keep that I’d actually been prepared to fake my whole personality, day in and day out, at this new school.
“It’s because I have company with me, pretty much all the time. Meet my ghosts, Hannah, Albert and Marvin.” I pointed at the chairs beside me and the other kids stared. Even Drew raised his head to look at me in amazement. “Hannah joined me when I was thirteen. She was a kitchen maid. She was nineteen, and she was pregnant with her boss’s child. She died having the baby. Albert joined me when I was fourteen. He was a soldier in World War II. He died on the stretcher after getting a serious shrapnel injury. And Marvin only joined me earlier this year. He was homeless after losing his house because of his gambling debts. He died of hypothermia during a cold snap.”
Patience’s eyes looked like horrified saucers as she stared at the empty chairs beside me. After a moment, Mona let out a shuddering breath and even contemptuous Cassie looked impressed. Gabe sat watching me curiously, as if he didn’t expect quite what he was seeing or hearing.
“You’re a Necromancer,” nodded Ms Deering.
“Necro … doesn’t that mean dead?” asked Mona.
“And mancy is magic, or conjuring,” affirmed Ms Deering. “Mimi calls the dead.”
“I call them?” I couldn’t help exclaiming. “I never called them! I don’t want them around!”
Ms Deering just smiled ruefully. “I don’t think you can help it. I didn’t mean you actively call them––I meant you bring them … attract them. You invite their spirits to make contact.”
“Why?” I asked.
“The million-dollar question,” Mona laughed shortly, dragging her eyes off the empty chairs beside me. “Why do any of us have these gifts?”
“Can you hear them?” Patience asked me, her face still terrified. Great. She was freaked out. Oh, well … at least she didn’t think I was crazy.
“Yes,” I said. “That’s how I know what happened to them.” My mind drifted towards some of the other things they’d said to me and I hastily changed my train of thought. “They used to talk more, but I started trying to ignore them so they stopped being so … chatty.”
Mona cackled at that. I decided I wouldn’t mention the medication I had been taking to help me “ignore” my ghosts. I could feel Drew still watching me, so I looked back at him. I badly wanted to ask him why he looked so stunned. I also wanted to ask him what his gift was. But I couldn’t form a sentence because his face was so painfully beautiful in that moment that I forgot to breathe and just stared.
“Drew,” Ms Deering said in a firm tone. “Please tell us about you.”
Drew snapped out of our little two-way staring contest and cast an angry look at Ms Deering before getting up and shouldering his satchel.
When Drew first meets Mimi (Drew’s Point of View)
Homeroom. Nine a.m.
It had been a bad weekend. I didn’t want to think about it. I buried my face in a book; the Thomas Hardy I’d picked up at the Granary Market book exchange. I was trying to get into that zone where nothing could distract me, but the other kids in Homeroom were being particularly noisy.
No one was talking to me; I’d been liberal with the black and white warpaint that morning, plus I’d put on an extra spiky collar and had even considered some satanic chains; except that Patience always freaked when I wore those. I thought I might get some facial piercings. Most people wouldn’t even look at your face for any length of time if you had piercings there. That could be useful.
There was a new kid in class. I didn’t look at her but I knew it was a girl and figured she must be pretty because Gabe was using his manly, friendly, I’ll show you the ropes voice, and Cassie was being a bitch. Despite my best efforts to shut them out, I could hear them talking about their gifts – covertly, of course, but the four of us in the room who were in on the gifted thing knew what it was about. Gabe joked with Cassie to “call off the dogs,” and then Ms Deering and Gabe had some oh-so-witty repartee about how talent is often accompanied by ego.
I couldn’t deny that. Gabe was evidence of it. But I was pissed off at how blasé Ms Deering was being about it all … as usual. She never tried to check him, or any of the others, when they experimented with their gifts. After what I’d seen on the weekend, I knew with more certainty than ever that these gifts were not to be played with. In fact, I didn’t even think they were gifts anymore. I had started to think of them as curses. I hated that Ms Deering was always encouraging them – us – to use them.
Normally I stayed quiet when they made sneaky comments about their gifts in front of the other kids at school. I tried to take the high road. But because of my weekend, I was feeling raw. I couldn’t resist throwing a spanner into their self-satisfied little chat. Without consciously deciding to do it, and without even lifting my head, I suggested Gabe and Ms Deering should consider that sometimes there was ego even when there was no talent. I didn’t seem to get a rise out of either of them, but Cassie bit, asking me what the hell I meant in that shrieky voice she reserves for me. I pride myself on being able to push Cassie’s buttons – mind you, just about anyone can push Cassie’s buttons.
“Maybe there are some people at Etherall Valley that think they have talent but are actually just royally lame or garden-variety screwed up?” I said. God, that was satisfying.
I hoped Ms Deering was listening. She didn’t like it. She made one of her typical positive values remarks that meant nothing and inevitably got ignored. She didn’t understand that teenagers don’t give a shit about being reminded to use “respectful” language or “show accountability.”
Gabe was quiet. I wanted to catch a look at his face to see if I’d got at him, but when I looked up my eyes didn’t make it past the new girl.
Oh, my god. It’s her.
There she was; the girl whose face had haunted me since I saw it a year or so ago. The perfect fair skin; the dark, almost black hair spilling over her shoulders; and the serious mouth – a mouth that shouldn’t be serious. A mouth so red and soft I’d been fantasising about kissing it and making it smile since I first saw it. Her grey eyes regarded me solemnly as I fought my reaction; tried to hide it. I had to pretend I was neutral – pretend I wasn’t interested in her – and not let her become in the least interested in me. I had to be nothing to her. The battle inside me was physically painful. All I wanted to do was take a long drink at the sight of this living, breathing girl looking back into my eyes across the ordinary classroom desks; and what I knew I had to do was not look, not betray what I was thinking and feeling; not connect.
I dragged my eyes off her and stared down at my book, the words swimming on the page. Meanwhile her heavenly face seared itself across my heart like a branding iron on a bullock’s tender hide.
S.D. Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.
She has been composing literary works since before she could write – at five years of age she announced her first poem in the kitchen, improv-style. Today, she lives in the Swan Valley wine region with her two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens.
The Seventh is S.D. Wasley’s debut novel.
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