Book: It’s a Wonderful Midlife Crisis
Series: Good To the Last Death
Author: Robyn Peterman
Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction
Find It: Amazon
A Paranormal Women’s Fiction with a bit of class, and a lot of sass, for anyone who feels like age is just a number!
Whoever said life begins at forty must have been heavily medicated, drunk, or delusional.
Thirty-nine was a fantastic year. I was married to the man I loved. I had a body that worked without creaking. My grandma, who raised me, was still healthy, and life was pretty damned good.
But as they say, all good things come to an end. I’d honestly love to know who ’they’ are and rip them a new one.
One year later, I’m a widow. My joints are starting to ache. Gram is in the nursing home, and dead people think my home is some kind of supernatural bed and breakfast. Gluing body parts onto semi-transparent people has become a side job—deceased people I’m not even sure are actually there. I think they need my help, but since I don’t speak dead, we’re having a few issues.
To add to the heap of trouble, there’s a new dangerously smokin’ hot lawyer at the firm who won’t stop giving me the eye. My BFF is thrilled with her new frozen face, thanks to her plastic surgeon, her alimony check, and the miracle of Botox. And then there’s the little conundrum that I’m becoming way too attached to my ghostly squatters… Like Cher, I’d like to turn back time. Now.
No can do.
Whatever. I have wine, good friends, and an industrial sized box of superglue. What could possibly go wrong?
All in all, it’s shaping up to be a wonderful midlife crisis…
The author will be raffling off a $100 Amazon Gift Card during the book tour!
“No. Way. Are you freaking serious?” I screamed as I flattened myself against the wall of my laundry room with a thud, trying not to hyperventilate. “There’s a hand in the laundry basket. There’s a hand in the laundry basket. There’s a hand in the damn laundry basket.”
Sliding carefully along the wall so the unattached appendage didn’t jump out and grab me, I eased my way out of the tiny room and sprinted to the kitchen. It had a door that led outside, just in case the hand was up to no good.
Wait. What kind of good could a lone hand in a basket of dirty laundry be up to?
No good. That’s what kind of good a companionless hand could be up to.
“I’m nuts,” I muttered, closing my eyes and pressing my fingers to my temples. Forty was supposed to be the new thirty, according to all the magazines. If this was forty, I was going to take a pass. I’d only been forty for three hours and it was already seriously bad. The solitary hand was the rancid icing on top of a really crappy birthday cake.
Pacing my kitchen and keeping my eyes peeled for more random body parts, I spotted the empty coffee container and almost cried. Handling the ridiculously absurd while un-caffeinated was not going to end well.
“I don’t have the energy for this right now,” I told no one in particular, since I was alone. “Who did I screw over in a former life that I’m dealing with this shit?”
Unfortunately, I’d been seeing semi-corporeal versions of dead people for a few weeks. I’d become the kid from the Sixth Sense except that was a movie and this was real life… and my dead people did not look like Bruce Willis.
Up until now, all my deceased buddies had done was stare and laugh—or so I’d thought. There was nothing quite like being the butt of a cadaver’s joke… that was, if the hand was a joke and not a warning that I was going to be six feet under soon.
“Isn’t it enough that you freaks follow me around? Now you’re leaving body parts in my dirty clothes? For God’s sake, today’s my birthday and this behavior is totally unacceptable. I almost puked. And let me tell you something,” I bellowed to the empty kitchen. “If I’d thrown up because one of you idiots thought it would be hilarious to put a hand in with my dirty panties, you’d be cleaning that mess up. Are we clear here?”
Of course, there was no answer. There was never an answer. They didn’t speak—just silently accompanied me to the grocery store and around my house. They were very partial to reality shows. I’d started leaving the television on all night so they didn’t wander into my bedroom while I slept. Thankfully they hadn’t discovered where I worked yet. However, I had no doubt that was coming soon.
“Come on, you guys. It wasn’t funny.” Maybe reasoning with them would work. Hell, I didn’t know if they were real or if I was imagining them. There was a fifty-fifty chance I’d lost my mind. “I think I’ve been pretty nice about letting you stay here rent-free. I don’t deserve to be given a heart attack at seven in the morning.”
Again, no answer.
Again, maybe I was nuts.
Was there even a hand in my laundry basket? Maybe it was a fleshy, skin-colored winter glove. Since it was October and I lived in Georgia it was doubtful. Not to mention, I didn’t own any fleshy, skin-colored winter gloves. I had a little more fashion sense than that. Until I had my iced coffee with an extra-large squirt of chocolate syrup, I wasn’t going to test the theory.
Pleasant. I’d be pleasant. A nice conversational tone might prevent another gag-inducing prank… or not. “Okay, I’m going to eat and leave the house. Whoever left their hand in the laundry room needs to remove it before I get home or I’m going to…”
What the heck was I going to do with a disembodied hand? Should I put it in the freezer? Should I bury it? Damn it, if I buried it, did I have to do it at the cemetery on hallowed ground instead of my yard? It would suck up, down and sideways if it popped out of the ground during a backyard barbecue. What if I got busted at the graveyard for burying a hand and had to do time in the big house? God, the heinous consequences were endless.
Terrified to open my cabinets, I debated how hungry I was. Breakfast was the most important meal of the day, but if there were eyeballs next to my oatmeal, I’d have to check myself into the loony bin.
From out of nowhere, a partially translucent woman tore around my kitchen, wailing in like a banshee—and ironically, she was missing a hand. Had the weirdos been trying to kill each other? Wait. That made no sense whatsoever. They were already dead. The varying states of decay were a dead giveaway—pun intended.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I shrieked as I scrambled up onto the kitchen table in fear for my life.
Could I make it out the door and into my yard? Crap, I was still in my nightie and it was chilly today. Furthermore, what in the hell was I going to do outside? Call for help to get the handless dead woman out of my kitchen? Not too many choices here.
“Stop,” I shouted in the voice I’d learned to use during my self-defense class at the Y.
The woman was trembling from head to toe. Where her hand should have been was just shredded skin—if you could call grayish papery-looking stuff skin. No blood at all. If she was alive in the normal sense of the word, I’d guess her age to be somewhere in her late sixties. She was attractive in a ghostly way.
“Did you, umm… lose your hand? I asked, not quite believing I was conversing with someone I was fairly certain wasn’t there.
She simply stared and cocked her head to the side.
“Maybe you don’t speak English. Or maybe you were brain dead when you died so it isn’t functioning now that you’re not exactly alive. Or maybe you were mute in life… or maybe I’m insane,” I added for good measure as I cautiously got down off the table.
She came a little closer, and I jerked back. The rules were wildly unclear.
“Stay where you are,” I warned, holding up my hand and hoping she understood sign language. “If you promise not to body snatch me or eat me, I think I can help you out.
Still she said nothing as I carefully made my way to the laundry room to retrieve what I assumed was her hand.
“I’m using a bath towel that’s seen better days in case you’re a disease-carrying zombie.” Never in my life did I think I would utter those words in a sentence. “So, I’ll toss it to you in a sec.”
Surprisingly, my gag reflex didn’t kick in. Dead stuff usually set it off. However, she seemed so upset about her hand, I was okay. Strange. I approached her with extreme caution. I held out her hand, and she held out her stump.
Oh. Hell. No.
Did she want me to reattach it? How did you reattach something to what was little more than a ghost? Her hand felt real, and she looked real enough, even though I could see through parts of her.
“Here you go,” I said as I tried again to give her the towel-wrapped body part.
She wasn’t having it. She simply stood there with her arm extended and waited.
“I’m not a doctor. Not real sure what you want me to do.”
Her eyes were huge in the hollowed-out sockets—watery blue and filled with what I guessed were tears. I was tempted to take her in my arms and hug her, but I still wasn’t positive she wouldn’t take a chunk out of me.
“I suppose I could glue it back on,” I suggested hesitantly. I knew there was some superglue in the junk drawer. I had no clue if there was enough to glue a hand back on. “Superglue can hold a big fat guy attached by his hat to a steel girder, according to the commercial,” I told the woman as I put her hand on the table and searched the drawer. “It might work on your hand.”
Damn, I was a slob. The drawer was full of stuff I didn’t need. However, I did find my eyelash curler, a few tampons, last month’s electric bill and the superglue.
“Mmmkay,” I said, assessing the situation.
I was going to have to touch her to make this work. I was hoping to live longer than forty years, but if my time was up—it was up. Maybe all the dead people were hanging out to let me know I was soon to be a goner. It would be nice if I went out doing something kind for someone. Reattaching a dead woman’s hand wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it was the only one I had at the moment.
“Here goes nothing,” I mumbled as I bit down on my lip and covered the stump with the goopy glue.
She watched in fascination as I then picked up her hand and connected it to her stump.
“I think I have to put pressure on it for at least one minute for it to hold. I’m pretty sure that’s what the guy in the commercial did. But to be safe, we’ll do it for two.
She looked at me. I looked at her. The silence was awkward and loud. If I was imagining the bizarre exchange, I needed some help immediately. Twice I thought I should start a conversation to be polite. I was Southern. It was in my DNA.
“Today’s my birthday,” I told her with a weak smile that I was fairly sure resembled a grimace. I was still hoping she wasn’t going to bite me. I needed to stop watching zombie movies.
The woman kind of moan-grunted in response. Since my life might still be on the line, I nodded and thanked her. Feeling the need to smack myself in the head, I refrained. If I dropped her hand, all hell could break loose.
After what felt like two hours, the two minutes were up. I stepped back and waited for her hand to crash to the floor. It didn’t. She held it up and moved her fingers. I was shocked that the superglue worked on her tendons too. Wait. Attributing normal to the impossible was nuts—like me.
“Wow,” I said with a surprised laugh. “Can’t believe that worked. Does it hurt?
As expected, she said nothing that made any sense, but she did give me a smile before she faded away.
I sat down heavily on the kitchen chair and mentally went over what had just happened. It was outlandish and unreal, and I couldn’t even talk to anyone about it. I was on my own in Crazytown.
I supposed if there was anything to be thankful for, it was that she wasn’t a flesh-eating zombie. She was just a dead person with a problem and I’d solved it for her. Note to self… stop watching horror movies.
The knock at my door pulled me back from my screwy introspective thought. Who was here at seven in the morning? The ghosts never knocked. They just appeared when they felt like it. I peeked through the peephole and audibly sighed in agony.
It was Stan—my latest mistake. Actually, my only mistake in a seriously long stretch of celibacy, but definitely a mistake.
Getting back into the dating scene twelve months after Steve died was too soon. I wasn’t ready for it. However, the bottle of wine I’d consumed at Patsy’s Bar and Grill last night didn’t agree with my assessment—not that it was a date. It was a booty call that never should have happened. Ever. At least I didn’t stay the night. A walk of shame at three in the morning was far classier than when the sun was out.
I’d already done surgery on a dead woman. It wasn’t fair that I now had to deal with Stan.
Happy birthday to me…
“Hi Stan,” I said as I opened my door enough to be polite, but not far enough to invite him in.
“Hello Daisy, you’re looking lovely today,” he said with an overly confident smile on his handsome face.
Glancing down, I realized I was still barely dressed. I hopped behind the door and poked my head out.
“Stan, what can I do for you? It’s kind of early.”
“I’m really sorry about last night, Daisy,” Stan said without any hint of apology in his perfectly cultured voice. I was sure he’d dressed in the pink polo shirt and starched madras pants with painstaking care. “I can usually go longer than that.”
Kill me now.
“It was great,” I lied and gave him a smile that I prayed didn’t look like I was constipated.
Stan was a nice guy with a job. He was extremely good-looking and had the personality of a box of hair. What on earth had I been thinking? Actually, it was the merlot that had done my thinking for me. I was an idiot. Casual sex wasn’t in my wheelhouse. I knew better. And accountants in madras pants didn’t equate to good sex—or even good conversation.
“I was just wondering when we had intimate relations last night… Did you… umm?”
“No. No, I didn’t, but no worries,” I insisted politely while trying desperately to ignore all of the floating entities that had popped up to see the show. Stan had no idea six semi-corporeal strangers were standing behind him watching my mortifying life play out in full color. Far be it from me to clue him in. I knew I was going crazy. No one else needed that info.
“I’d be happy to, you know…” Stan said as he made the peace sign with two fingers and then shoved his tongue between them.
“Good God, no!” I shouted on a gag and then slapped my hand over my mouth as the slightly decaying old man hovering over Stan’s left shoulder laughed like a loon. “I’m good—really. I have to go visit my gram at the nursing home in a bit and then get to work.”
“Can I see you again?” Stan asked as he made sure his meticulously gelled hair was still in place.
“I think maybe we should just be friends,” I said diplomatically, considering all I wanted him to do was leave.
“Is it because I could only go for ten minutes?” he asked with a slightly perplexed frown on his ridiculously pretty face.
“Actually, it was two minutes,” I corrected him. “But it’s not that at all. It was a very energetic two minutes.”
“Thank you,” he replied with a satisfied smirk.
It was all I could do not to roll my eyes. The laughing dead dude rolled his buggy eyes for me and I almost giggled.
“Welcome. However, I’m not in the right place for a relationship right now. It’s not you. It’s me. You’re just too… umm… perfect for someone else. You deserve someone who likes to shop at preppy stores. I, you know, don’t want to hold you back, and I’m not good at math, so… ahh,” I stuttered, searching for more inane crap to spew. He wasn’t an asshole. He just wasn’t for me.
And I wasn’t ready for any of this. It wasn’t Stan’s fault. I had my own intimacy issues. However, it was all kinds of stupid to have gotten drunk and tried to work them out with someone who was less appealing than eating a full bag of plain rice cakes.
“I see what you mean,” Stan said as he nodded seriously then glanced over at me with pity. “While the sex was outstanding, I’m far smarter than you.”
“I’m sorry… what?”
Correction. He was a complete asshole.
The hanging specters didn’t like that one either. They flew around Stan like a freaking tornado. It was difficult to focus on the boring man on my porch with all the hoopla going on.
“Well, I do have two Masters and my CPA license. And you’re just an attractive widowed paralegal with a great rack,” he said in a socially acceptable, pleasant tone, clearly unaware he was an asshole.
There were several ways to handle the situation. One was to kill him, but I had too much going on to spend any time in prison for murder. Plus, I’d never killed anyone. My fortieth birthday wasn’t a good day to start a life of crime. This was a small town and I didn’t need that kind of reputation. The second was to escort him right out of my life.
I knew exactly how to do that.
“Stan, I’m going to suggest you leave before I tell you that you have a tiny penis and I wasn’t exactly sure we were having sex at all. You wear too much aftershave and if you’re going to manscape, you might want to have a go at your back. So, unless you want to hear all that, you’d better sprint your preppy, pencil-pushing ass off my porch.”
“Can I call you?” he asked through the closed door as I slammed it shut.
I didn’t grace the request with an answer. It was embarrassing and unbelievable that I’d spent even two minutes of time I couldn’t get back on a jackass with a mini man tool who thought he was smarter than me.
God, I missed Steve. I mean, we had our problems, but he wasn’t hairy.
I was done dating. Forever. Forty, widowed and single was starting to sound very good.
Now I just needed to deal with the visible to only me weirdos hanging out in my house. However, I had to give it to them. They were very supportive when Stan was talking smack.
After a full two and a half minutes of contemplative thought—which was thirty seconds longer than Stan’s performance last night—I decided to ignore my uninvited houseguests. I was completely out of coffee and the lack of caffeine made me slightly dangerous. I’d just go on with my day and block out the fact I was hanging on to my sanity by a thread.
“Turn it up, baby. Bob Barker mumbles and I won’t get the damn price right if I can’t hear the old coot,” Gram shouted from her bed as I slapped my hands over my ears and winced.
“Pot, kettle, black, old lady,” I muttered with a grin as I handed my beloved grandmother her hearing aids. “Try these. Bob’s on fire today.”
“Hate ’em,” she griped as she adjusted her bed so she was sitting more upright. “With those little nuggets in my ears, I can hear every damn sound in this here prison I’m in. Happy Birthday, my Daisy girl!”
“Thank you.” I kissed her wrinkled cheek and breathed in her sent—Ivory soap and dime store perfume. It was the best smell in the world. “You like the bed?”
“Love it. You’re my best girl,” she said with a wink as she smoothed the wild dark hair out of my face. “The love of my life.”
The bed had cost me almost three full paychecks and the nursing home had pitched a fit when I’d moved it in, but I’d prevailed. Gram called her new home a prison, but I was onto her. I knew she secretly loved it. She played poker several nights a week while lying in her new bed and from what I’d heard from the nurses, she was juggling three paramours at the moment.
The visual of my ninety-year-old grandmother with a man-friend was alarming. I pushed it to the section of my brain labeled don’t go there ever. To reprogram the disturbing images, I started folding Gram’s housecoats.
“The show is rigged and I think Bob’s had him a little nip and tuck. However, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eatin’ crackers,” she informed me and everyone within a five-mile radius.
“I just ate a banana, Gram. Can’t listen to you talking about getting horizontal with Bob Barker,” I said as I nonchalantly glanced around the room and peeked under the bed. Thankfully it was clear—no ghosts and no unattached appendages.
They’d been following me constantly and I wasn’t sure what they wanted. Terrified at first, I’d gotten used to them… kind of. I had no choice really. It was either accept that I’d become a dead-people magnet or buy a straitjacket and commit myself. Hell, I still wasn’t sure they were really there. The only thing I was certain of was that I was losing my marbles.
“Daisy, I can’t do it now cause all my programs are coming on, but I have some stuff you need to know before I become one with the earthworms,” Gram said as she put her hearing aids in and then pulled them right back out.
“You’re not dying anytime soon. If you leave me, I’m traveling straight to Hell and yanking your sorry deaf ass back up here.”
“Hell ain’t so bad. I got a condo with air conditioning reserved.” She cackled with glee until Bob came back on the tube and began describing the final showcase.
I’d had enough of the big wheel and guessing the price of microwaves. The Game Show Network was on 24/7 in Gram’s room. If I had to guess, I’d have to say the episode we were watching was from the 1970s. I had to get to work anyway.
“Gram, I’ll stop by tonight. Make sure you eat today.”
I kissed her forehead. She waved me away as not to miss a second of Bob.
At least she was happy.
I wished I could say the same for myself.
“Happy Birthday, old lady,” Missy said with a grin, handing me an extra-large iced coffee.
My bestie was beautiful, inside and out; tiny with wild curls and perfect mocha-colored skin. Her fashion sense was Boho-chic slash artsy-fartsy slash I’ll wear whatever’s clean, evidenced by the gypsy skirt, combat boots and concert t-shirt she was wearing. Somehow Missy made it work and look fabulous. Her normally dark curly hair was enhanced with purple and pink braids this week.
“Chocolate syrup?” I asked, gratefully taking the cup from her and ignoring the insult. She was forty-two. She’d earned her old lady status several years ago.
“Two squirts for the birthday girl,” she replied, winking.
“Thank you, and I think I’ve failed at life,” I announced as I walked through the piles of red, yellow and orange fallen leaves. The crunch beneath my sensible shoes was wildly satisfying. Being a few minutes late for work was risky, but indulging in caffeine with my best friend was necessary.
The park had seen better days but was still lovely in a small-town way. It was full of old gnarled trees that Missy and I had climbed as children. Rows of purple blossoming mums lined the perimeter and a few hardy marigolds still clung to life, even though an early cold snap had withered everything else. The local ladies club—The Gladiolas—maintained the area. Normally the ladies did more gossiping than gardening, but a few of the old gals clearly had green thumbs.
“You’re forty, dude. You have to fail until you’re at least forty-one and a half to accomplish definitive failure,” said my dearest, if not most supportive friend while sipping her coffee. “It might also help to stop drinking an entire bottle of wine and banging an accountant.”
“Tell me about it,” I muttered with a shudder of disgust. “I’m never drinking again.”
“Until tonight at your birthday party,” Missy pointed out.
“Doubtful,” I said with a laugh. “Definitely no merlot. If I have a glass, I’m sticking to chardonnay.”
“Good plan,” she said with a smile and then turned serious. “Daisy, I’m proud of you for getting out there. I just think you can do a teeny-tiny bit better than boring Stan.”
“Hence, why I’m not drinking tonight.”
“Ahhhh, very good plan.”
“Thank you,” I said with a curtsy.
Glancing across the park at the old country church, I immediately averted my eyes.
They were over there. A line of dead people with sad eyes and garbled sounds falling from their lips, with their papery hands and dressed in Sunday clothes. Getting the hell out of town would be smart, but stupid was my new middle name.
“What are my good qualities?” I asked Missy, wanting to talk about anything to avoid blurting out that we were being observed by a pack of poltergeist.
“Is that a trick question?” she shot back with a smirk.
“Depends on your answer.”
“Your boobs,” she replied with a giggle as she drained her umpteenth coffee of the morning. “You’re going to be late for work.”
“You are too.”
“I own the bookstore, dude. I can’t be late. I’m the boss.”
“I’m serious about the qualities thing. My girls are nice according to Boring Stan of the Hairy Back, but I have to have at least one other good quality.”
“His back is hairy?” Missy cringed and choked on the last sip of her drink.
“Like a hair shirt.”
We contemplated that foul piece of information in silence. Scooping up a few colorful leaves, I stared at them. The texture reminded me of the handless woman’s papery skin. I carefully tucked them into the pocket of my coat and made a promise to myself to check a man’s back before I banged him from now on—not that I was going to bang anyone soon.
Missy bumped my shoulder and smiled. “You’re good, Daisy. You’re one of the truly good ones.”
My return smile didn’t reach my eyes. I took her hand in mine and led her to a crumbling old concrete bench. Her hand was smaller and far warmer. With a quick squeeze, I let go and sat down. Lies really weren’t kind. Even the ugly truth was sometimes less painful than hearing what others thought was the right thing to say.
Most of the past year, no one knew what to say to me. After Steve died in a car accident, people treated me like spun glass. But not Missy, which was why I loved her.
“Fine. I’ll take it. I’m a good girl with a nice set of knockers.”
“I didn’t say you were a good girl. I said you were good. Big difference. However, the knockers compliment stands.”
“Semantics. You know, I don’t think that guy from the bank committed suicide.” I lay back on the bench and shielded my eyes from the early-morning sun. “They’re all saying he was tired and he wanted out. I don’t believe that.”
Missy’s groan was audible as she pushed my legs over and seated herself next to me. “I think you think too much. He died and we’ll never know.” She blew out a long, slow breath and picked at the rim of the empty paper coffee cup. “Why is it even important?”
“I suppose it’s not,” I admitted. “I just want to know.”
“Well my dear, that’s not possible unless you have a direct line to the afterlife, whatever the hell that might be.”
Missy stood, crumpled the cup in her hands and tossed it in the trash. “I have to get to the shop. It looks kind of bad when my employees are waiting out on the curb,” she said, walking away. “And you have to quit going to funerals of people you don’t know. It’s getting seriously depressing.”
“There were only three people there. I felt bad for him,” I protested as I sat up and watched her walk away.
“Uh huh,” Missy replied without looking back.
I kept my eyes on my best friend until she disappeared around the corner and then reclined back down on the bench. Missy was correct. I needed to stop going to funerals of strangers. It was a morbid habit formed early in life. Gram used to do it. Since my husband died, I found myself doing it far too frequently. I’d always thought Gram went to show respect and pray for souls, but as an adult, I realized she was simply nosey. If I had to explain my own behavior, I’d be at a loss. I didn’t pray for souls and I wasn’t nosey.
Maybe I had a death wish.
“I’m a hot mess,” I whispered as the wind blew through the trees and a mass of orange and red leaves floated to the ground in swirling funnels. Vibrant little tornados danced through the park and I watched, captivated.
Peeking at the church steps, I sighed. My secret wish that the wind would blow the ghosts away hadn’t come true.
Sadly, Missy was incorrect with her other observation. I did indeed have a direct line to the afterlife as of a few hellacious weeks ago. It was messing with my sanity, my chi and my social skills. How in the hell did I end up the lucky gal that all the dead folks liked to hang out with?
I glanced back over at the church. There were ten of them in different stages of decomposition, waving hopefully at me. My smile to the dearly departed was forced, but I was nothing if not polite. Sometimes being Southern sucked. I gave a half-hearted wave back to the lifeless gang, stood up and scurried off in the opposite direction. I didn’t have time to hang out with the corpses this morning. If I arrived too late, I could lose my job—and my mortgage didn’t pay itself. Evidently, I’d already lost my mind. Losing my employment would be horrible.
With one last furtive glance back, I wondered exactly how many dead people were in town and wanted to be my friend. The situation was getting out of control.
Furthermore, I was sure a few of the dead who were unaware of the rules would show up for my birthday dinner tonight—a big no-no. I’d probably made a mistake saying I would host my own party, but it was just my closest girlfriends. My old farmhouse was big and comfortable. Well, except that it was loaded with dead folks.
It was really unpleasant to eat with corpses at the table. The ones who were privy to the protocol that dinner was my personal time weren’t real good at sharing the rules with the recently departed. Plus, if I found any more random body parts around the house, I was going to evict all of them. Pretending I didn’t see them was going to be my new modus operandi.
Understanding them was a serious problem. Apparently, the dead had their own way of communicating. It was a mystery to me.
I’d spent a few hours in the linguistics section at the library to see if I could find anything that remotely resembled what I was hearing and came out more confused than when I went in. It was guttural in tone and sounded more like garbled consonants than words separated by spaces. There was a frantic intent, and I knew there was also laughter. The old dude floating over Stan’s shoulder this morning was proof positive of that.
“I’m a whack job,” I mumbled.
I picked up my pace on the off chance they were following me down the street. Normal behavior would be impossible if I had to share my cubicle with decaying strangers.
My mind couldn’t leave the puzzle of my current nightmare alone. Had I cracked for real? Was I really seeing dead people or was I inventing them in my head? Had the movie The Sixth Sense Part Two started filming in my sleepy little town and someone neglected to inform me that I was staring in it?
Again, the best way to handle an un-handleable situation was to ignore it…and that’s exactly what I was going to do.
“I want to make myself perfectly clear here,” Clarissa said, annunciating to the point of ridiculous. “He’s forty-five, single and hotter than sin. He’s mine. If I catch any of you making a move, I will make your life a living hell.”
“Like you don’t do that already,” June muttered under her breath with an eye roll.
“I’m sorry,” the redheaded, overly made-up she-devil snapped at poor June. “Did you have something pertinent to add?”
“No,” June replied as the heat crawled up her neck and landed squarely on her adorable face.
I’d missed the first five minutes of the dressing down by our psychotic team leader, but it clearly had to do with a new lawyer who had joined the firm—it usually did. Every so often we got a live one, and Clarissa’s biological time clock was ticking so loudly we all needed earplugs. She’d hit on everything with male genitalia for the last several years. I was constantly surprised that the firm hadn’t been hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit by one of its own. Two of the partners feigned being gay for a few months just to escape her advances.
I glanced around the small break room and bit back my grin. It wouldn’t do for Clarissa to think I was laughing at her. The sheer amount of work she would pile on me was reason enough to pretend I was taking her seriously. I adored the gals I worked with except for our narcissistic leader. Being a paralegal could be as boring as watching paint dry, but my coworkers made the forty-plus hours a week tolerable.
Truth was, I was the only single gal in the room besides Clarissa and I would never date a lawyer—too shady. Plus, after last night, I was off men for the foreseeable future.
June, the sweet mutterer, was fifty-seven and happily married with four awesome kids. Heather, somewhere in her later thirties, was a vocal lesbian and always in a relationship. Jennifer was sixty-five and had sworn off men after her fifth divorce.
That left me, and I was sure the lecture was for my benefit. However, the viper had nothing to worry about. I was tied up dealing with an army of dead people at the moment. Dating anyone was off my to-do list for the near future or ever. Next time I got horny I was going on a date with my battery-operated boyfriend aka BOB. I’d had my fill or lack thereof with professionals, courtesy of Stan the Two-Minute Man.
Daisy,” Clarissa snapped. “I need you to run some depositions to the courthouse and stop by the Piggly Wiggly to get coffee and filters. Then you can take the rest of the week off.”
“Wait. What?” I asked, shocked. It was only Monday.
Gasps filled the small room, mine included. The firm was in the middle of an enormous amount of cases—all mind-bendingly boring. We’d all had to stay late for the past several weeks. There was no way I would leave my posse unprotected from Clarissa’s wrath and with an absurd amount of work to do.
“You heard me,” she said calmly as she admired her French manicure critically.
When the hell did she have time to get a manicure?
“Clarissa, there’s a lot of work to be done and I need to be here,” I reasoned as neutrally as I could, given the fact that just looking at her made me want to throat punch her.
“Oh, you’ll be working,” she shot back with saccharine sweetness. “Just not here.”
My stomach dropped, and I closed my eyes as I considered how to handle the situation. If I didn’t come to work, it would throw up red flags to the partners and I could lose my much-needed employment despite being ordered to do so. If I called the crazy woman out on her absurd directive, I could lose my job anyway.
Whoa. Was I getting fired right now? On my freaking birthday because Clarissa had aspirations of banging a gross lawyer and wanted all single gals out of the picture?
“Why?” Heather demanded, narrowing her eyes at Clarissa.
Heather was the only one who wasn’t afraid of Clarissa besides me, but Heather had family money to back her up while I needed my job. Actually, Heather wasn’t afraid of anyone, including all the lawyers in the firm or anyone in town. She was a genius and only days away from taking the bar herself. The irony was that she hated lawyers and only planned to practice so she could further her agenda—rights for women. Gay women to be more specific.
Gay marriage had been legalized, but our wealthy, old-money, homophobic little town hadn’t gotten the memo. Apparently, religion trumped the law here. Heather could go anywhere with her brains and drive, but she grew up here, and this place tended to keep its own no matter how much its own wanted to leave.
“Because I said so,” Clarissa replied quickly over her shoulder as she made for the door.
Even Clarissa didn’t like to tangle with Heather. We all watched in silence as she hightailed it out. I was relieved when Heather didn’t push it. As despised as Clarissa was, her job was ironclad. Her father owned the firm. Clarence Smith was as compassionate and kind as Clarissa Smith was mean and horny, but she was his daughter and there was no winning for anyone pitted against her.
“It’s fine,” I said as I put my hand on Heather’s shoulder to stop her from going after the nasty witch. “I can’t afford to lose my job. I’ll just stop in every morning and take a bunch of work home.”
“It’s all because of the new guy,” June said with a snort of disgust. “She’s afraid he’ll see you and go all gaga.”
“I think June’s right,” Jennifer agreed.
“That’s ridiculous,” I said with a shudder, remembering the Stan debacle. “I’m not in the market for a man and lawyers don’t do it for me.”
“It would make my year if women did it for you,” Heather announced with an exaggerated wink.
I laughed and pressed the bridge of my nose. “While I find that wildly flattering, and I really do, I just like penises better than vaginas.”
“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” Heather replied with a friendly shrug. “If you ever switch teams, I’m your gal.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said as I grabbed the folder intended for the courthouse and picked up my purse. “Do you guys really think she doesn’t want me here because of the new lawyer?”
It was mind-boggling. I was forty and a widow for the love of everything absurd.
“Who knows what goes on in her pea brain,” Jennifer said. “Clarissa is batshit crazy. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit. That new boy is supposed to be quite pretty and Old Redhead Ass Spray Tan doesn’t like competition.”
I groaned as I checked my wallet for money. I knew I could turn in a receipt for the coffee and filters, I just wasn’t sure I could cover the cost. Maybe getting fired wouldn’t be so bad. It would force me to get a job with better pay. Or better yet, leave town to find employment in a place where I didn’t see dead people. I’d just take Gram with me.
“If I was known as a man-hungry piranha, I would understand her ridiculous overreaction,” I said absently as I searched the bottom of my purse for a couple of nonexistent dollars. “However, I’m not.”
“Honey, all you gotta do is stand there and the boys fall all over themselves,” Jennifer told me as she handed me a twenty. “When you get reimbursed, pay me back.”
“Thank you,” I told her gratefully. “And men most certainly do not fall all over me.”
“Another reason to become a lesbian,” Heather chimed in with raised eyebrows and a silly grin.
Jennifer grunted and smacked Heather playfully on the arm. “Watch out or I’m gonna become a lesbian. After as many divorces as I’ve had, cohabitating with a woman is starting to sound good.”
“You keep me updated on that.” Heather chuckled as she topped off her coffee and picked up the pile of paperwork scattered all over the table. “I’ll take your old ass with me to the girl bars.”
The thought of Jennifer trolling for women with Heather would keep me smiling for the rest of the day. Heather was long, lean and athletic. Jennifer was a tiny, round couch potato. They would make a motley pair.
“She doesn’t have to worry about me going after a shifty new lawyer—hot or not,” I told the girls. “I do not shit where I eat.”
“Honey, with all that dark curly hair, amber eyes, long legs and those knockers, it doesn’t matter where you shit,” Jennifer informed me as the others nodded their agreement.
“Genetics,” I said dismissively. My looks were hereditary. It was a shell. What counted was what was inside. Inside, I was a disaster. “And that was a really gross analogy.”
My looks were compliments of my long-dead sweet mother—inherited along with her terrible taste in men. With the exception of Steve, I wasn’t the best judge of nice guys. After my mom died, I’d been raised by my wonderfully foul-mouthed Gram, who didn’t have much better luck with the opposite sex than her daughter or her granddaughter.
“If you wanna be invisible to the male species, you’re gonna have to gain fifty pounds and get a haircut like our friend Heather here,” Jennifer announced with an enormous grin.
“I’m going to ignore that,” Heather said. She scrubbed her hands through her very attractive pixie cut and gave Jennifer the middle finger. “I happen to like my hair and you can shove it up your ass.”
“Ladies, that’s enough,” June, the resident peacemaker, chastised with a giggle. “We need to get back to work. But honestly, Daisy, when was the last time you had a date?”
Her question was asked kindly. These women adored me as much as I adored them, but my personal life was mine—embarrassingly awful and mine. They had worried about me for months after Steve died. It had taken me almost a year to decide that my husband would want me to be a happy person and not mope around for the rest of my life.
It was actually a dream… he’d visited me in a dream. Steve had yelled at me for about an hour. It was awesome. He told me to get a haircut with some fun highlights and stop eating donuts for dinner. My best friend in the world forbade me from wearing sweatpants, t-shirts and flip-flops to the grocery and was appalled at the state of my manicure. I took him up on his bossy advice, but dating was not on the table anymore.
After Hairy CPA Stan of the Small Man-junk, I was done. Plus, I now had my deceased houseguests to deal with. Dead people and dating didn’t go well together.
“I went on a date of sorts last night,” I said. “It sucked and I’m taking a break.”
“Good luck with that,” Jennifer commented evenly as she put six sugars in her coffee. “Every time I make a statement like that, I end up with another husband sucking me dry.”
“Holy crap. Why do you have broken blood vessels around your eyes?” Heather asked with concern as she gently touched Jennifer’s face.
“Botox,” Jennifer replied with an eye roll and a laugh. “Got my alimony check from that bastard Scott and spent it on my face. When the divorce settlement from Bob comes in, I’m thinking about getting the fat sucked out of my ass and thighs.”
Jennifer certainly knew how to render a room silent. Heather just shook her head and sighed. Jennifer was on a self-improvement kick that didn’t include exercise or eating right. All she needed was money—compliments of her exes—and a plastic surgeon.
“Shit hasn’t kicked in yet,” Jennifer went on as she added another overflowing teaspoon of sugar to her coffee. “Got it done five days ago. Don’t think it worked. I’m still as wrinkly as Albert Einstein’s ass after a three-hour bath.”
“Dear God,” June said as she watched Jennifer create her caffeinated sugar rush. “You’re going to get diabetes. You need to use the fake kind.”
“Too many chemicals,” Jennifer told her. She added one more heaping teaspoon of sugar just to watch June blanch. “You can get cancer from that crap.”
“You’re disgusting,” Heather informed Jennifer as she looked on in horrified amazement.
“Thank you,” Jennifer replied with a smirk and a small curtsy. “But back to Daisy…”
Damn. I was hoping to get away without any more character assessments or advice.
“You just need to put yourself back out there and maybe date a guy with tattoos,” Jennifer suggested as she took a sip of her drink and gagged.
Pride made her drink the cup of caffeinated sugar. I laughed as I watched her power it down.
“I’ll take that under consideration,” I promised as I headed for the door.
Maybe taking a week away from my well-meaning coworkers would be a good thing.
Or maybe not.
I’d see them tonight at my birthday dinner. My birthday. My rules.
No discussing Daisy’s love life.
Good luck to me.
It was too damn big. It was never going to fit. I bit down on my bottom lip and glared at the problem. The area was tight and the product was large. Would it be better to just shove it in or would easing it in work better? The last thing I needed was to tear it. That would make a holy mess and the repercussions could be painful.
I broke out in a sweat wanting to get the damn deed done before I got caught in the office when I was supposed to have gone home.
Why in the world had I thought buying a ten-pound bag of coffee and a monster-sized box of filters was a good idea? In my defense, they were on sale and it would save the other gals from having to go to the Piggly Wiggly this week.
Unfortunately, I’d gotten stuck in Candy Vargo’s checkout line. She talked about her hammertoe in great detail for ten minutes before she rang me up. I was ready to take a hammer to my own head by the time I got out of there. While my small, beautiful Georgia town had its advantages, it also had its disadvantages… like Candy Vargo and her hammertoe and her bunions and her dental abscess and her earwax build up. Candy’s list was unending and unappetizing.
Whatever. I was back at work and had a new issue. There was no room to store the supersized stuff. Hell with it. Maybe I’d just leave it on the counter and call it a day. I was out of here.
“Coffee and filters delivered,” I announced to the empty breakroom. “Would have loved to have shoved them up your ass, Clarissa, but that wouldn’t be ladylike.”
I froze as the feeling of nervous mice skittering up my spine seized me. Gripping the edge of the worn Formica counter, I took a deep breath so I didn’t have a panic attack or scream. Had the dead idiots followed me back from the Piggly Wiggly? I knew the day was coming when the semi-transparent weirdos would join me at the office, but I was hoping it would be in the future—the far-off future, as in never.
But my ghosts never snuck up on me. So far, they really weren’t scary at all—just kind of hopeless and sad. Of course, I could simply turn around and figure out what made me feel like I was about to be pushing up daisies, so to speak, but where would the fun in that be? If it was an evil ghost wielding a machete with my name on it, I’d rather not know. I’d treat this the same way I treated scary situations as a child. If I couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me. Of course, that never worked, but the idea was creative.
Wait. Crap. Was Clarissa standing behind me? Pretty sure I just announced that I wanted to shove coffee supplies up her ass. When would I learn to stop talking to myself out loud? Putting my foot in my mouth and pulling it out of my butt was becoming a specialty of mine.
The breakroom shrunk to the size small enough for a flea, or at least that’s what it felt like. Fine. If my time was up, I wasn’t going to be a weenie about it. I was going to turn around and smackdown on the dead person for all I was worth. Letting my self-defense classes from the Y go unused would be a real waste in a life-or-death situation.
Of course, if it was Clarissa, I’d apologize. It would kill me deader than the freaks at my house, but my income was necessary.
Pivoting around and preparing for the worst, my eyes grew wide and I forgot how to breathe. It wasn’t my deceased buddies at all and it wasn’t my vicious supervisor. It was a man, and he was probably far more dangerous than the army of dead who’d taken a liking to me.
Why? No clue. I had no plans to stay and find out.
He walked farther into the break room and stood next to the coffee maker with an empty cup in his hand. He stared at me with as much surprise as I stared at him. His eyes immediately narrowed and he watched me as I debated my next move. The man had to be the new pretty-boy lawyer. His looks had not been exaggerated—at all.
He was the ridiculous kind of gorgeous—gray-blue eyes, messy blond hair and a rock-hard, muscular body that was evident even under his expensive suit. To me, he looked more like a surfer than a lawyer, but what did I know? His mouth was just stupid—full lips and even white teeth. And his eyelashes belonged on a damn girl. People that pretty could not be trusted. Add his profession to the equation and he was a catastrophe on two legs.
Breathe. It was simply a low-life lawyer who looked like he’d just stepped off the pages of GQ magazine. He wasn’t armed as far as I could tell. Even if he was, he certainly wasn’t going to kill me in the break room of the law firm that had just hired him.
I’d never laid eyes on him in my life, but I would swear I knew him. My insides clenched as I stared. I was torn between the desire to touch his face or run like the devil was on my heels. Running would have been smarter, but hindsight is twenty-twenty while real life is extremely near-sighted. In my case, probably blind.
“And you are?” he asked in a voice that could melt chocolate.
“One of the paralegals,” I replied tightly. Turning away, I busied myself trying to figure out what to do with the coffee and filters. Leaving them on the counter now seemed like an epic fail. The nagging feeling of danger remained, but the pretty-boy lawyer wasn’t carrying a machete, so I figured I was safe. Safe being a relative word.
If I didn’t make eye contact, I could pretend he was fat, hairy, ugly and smelled bad—which, sadly, he didn’t. He smelled like heaven… all sexy, soapy man with some kind of clean, woodsy aftershave.
“And does the paralegal have a name?” he inquired casually.
I could hear the amusement in his voice and it ground on my nerves. His question wasn’t out of the ordinary for polite behavior. I simply despised my visceral reaction to him. He was absurdly beautiful, but looks could be wildly deceiving. I’d learned that the hard way multiple times. I certainly wasn’t going to test my theory again with an ambulance-chaser—especially one that my supervisor wanted to nail.
“No, she doesn’t,” I replied evenly and went about my business.
“Now that seems a bit odd to me,” he said, leaning on the counter.
He watched me haphazardly shove the coffee into a cabinet that held toner for the printer and the filters underneath the break table.
“Odd? Not at all. Clearly, you’re not from the south. I go by miss or ma’am, and I’ll even answer to ‘hey you’ as long as you say please and thank you,” I replied as I bravely made eye contact and then regretted it.
He could not be a lawyer. This guy had to be a movie actor doing research for a job, or possibly a serial killer. He was far too good-looking to have brains. People like him did not exist.
“Well, I have a name,” he said as he removed the coffee from its incorrect home and placed it next to the coffee maker. “Would you like to know it?”
“Nope,” I replied as I followed suit and quickly plopped the filters next to the coffee while my embarrassment mounted.
What the hell was wrong with me? I was far too jaded by men to let this one fluster me. Plus, he was a lawyer at the firm where I worked. I was a paralegal who wanted to stay employed. Bad behavior was going to bite me in the ass. I had dead people trailing me. If I lost my job, I’d have to spend more freaking time with them.
With a huge internal sigh, I plastered a fake smile on my face and extended my hand. “Let’s start over. I’m Daisy and I was rude. Sorry. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be in the breakroom. Most of the lawyers around here don’t get their own coffee.”
“Laziness is a boring trait,” he commented as he readied the pot to make more coffee and ignored my outstretched hand.
What an ass. “Yep, well, you better find a new profession, buster,” I said, and then slapped my hand over my mouth. I wanted to die—violently. “Oh hell,” I choked out. “I meant…”
His laugh went all through me, and because I was clearly losing my marbles, I desperately wanted to make him laugh again, even though he had no manners and was probably a serial killer. His eyes lit up when he laughed. The man went from plain gorgeous to otherworldly beautiful.
What the hell was wrong with me? I was an idiot to be insultingly entertaining to the rude dude who had the power to send me packing.
“I have to go,” I mumbled as I felt the heat crawl up my neck and head for my face. I forced myself to meet his gaze. “It was… umm… nice meeting you. I’m sure you’ll enjoy working here. It’s a very friendly place usually. I’m the exception. Well, not always—only if people are lawyers. Whoa, whoa, whoa… that was a joke.” I tried to laugh, but it came out somewhat tinny. “A bad joke. I’m just going to leave now before I say something, you know… really stupid. So have a nice coffee and life,” I finished lamely and wondered if I could erase the last eight minutes and start over.
Sadly, life didn’t have a remote and I was stuck having to live with mortifying myself. I squinted my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose. The smartest thing to do was quit my job now before I complimented his ass. However, I needed the salary so I did the second-best thing.
I heard the Greek god call my name as I sprinted through the office toward the exit, but I didn’t look back. Today needed to be over, and I was wildly grateful to be working from home this week.
Maybe Clarissa would get her claws into… I suddenly realized I didn’t know his name. Whatever.
Hopefully Clarissa would nail him this week and he’d be damaged goods. No one wanted anything to do with Clarissa’s sloppy seconds.
Just as I expected, there were eight new ghosts sitting on my porch swing when I got home. Several looked familiar and had definitely been at the church this morning. I was curious how they knew where I lived, but figured there must be some kind of dead people hotline. Otherwise, how in the heck did they find me? I lived in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of town.
“Dead people hotline?” I muttered as I closed my eyes and groaned. Not only had I gone insane, I was rationalizing my crazy.
There were several partially skeletal faces peeking out of the windows of my house. Along with the dead group on the wraparound porch, I’d become a regular morgue.
Planting my hands on my hips and surveying the situation, I tried to figure out how to handle it. Maybe I’d call a meeting. It was my house after all and they were here uninvited. The very least they could do was to follow some damn rules.
“Okay, umm… people. We’re having a meeting. You have two minutes to show yourselves and bring your dead selves outside. Whoever decides not to join us is no longer welcome to squat on my property,” I said, using my outdoor voice so the inside interlopers would be sure to hear the invitation.
Slowly but surely, semi-transparent dead people began to gather on the porch and in the front yard. Holy hell, how many were there? I lost count after forty-two—mostly because they kind of faded in and out of each other. After I realized I’d counted the laughing dude from the Stan debacle three times, I gave up. It didn’t really matter how many had taken up residence at my house. They were here and it seemed I didn’t have much of a say about it.
“Can anyone here speak English… or umm… Spanish? I speak a tiny bit of Spanish and I know a few phrases in French. I took it in high school, but that was a while ago,” I called out and almost burst into hysterical laughter.
What was I doing? These people were dead. Sharing my skill—or lack thereof—of foreign languages from when I was in high school over twenty years ago with dead people meant I was crazier than Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch on national television.
I still wasn’t sure they were real. True insanity had taken over. It didn’t really matter at this point if they were real or I was imagining them. I could see them and I had glued a freaking hand back on this morning. They were real enough.
No one uttered a word. Fine. If they couldn’t speak English, they most certainly could understand it. I hoped.
“Okay,” I said, pacing the grass and keeping a lookout for anyone who might drive up. It wouldn’t do to let the cat out of the bag that I’d lost my mind. “Today’s my birthday.”
I was interrupted by what I could only interpret as some kind of garbled grunting congratulations. Pretty sure a few tried to clap, but their hands went right through each other. The sentiment was nice even if the reality was alarming. I decided to go with my gut here.
“Umm… thank you.” My need to be polite bordered on absurd and definitely embarrassing. “None of you are actually invited to the party. So I think it would be a great idea if you went to the movies or maybe took a walk this evening—a three- to four-hour walk. You know, to the graveyard or somewhere appropriate like that.”
The movies were probably a bad idea and the graveyard comment bordered on bad taste. I didn’t need them getting pissed off. Honestly, I was lonely in the big rambling house since Steve died. Maybe I’d conjured up imaginary dead friends to keep me company.
“I’m crazier than a fish with tits,” I muttered, repeating one of Gram’s favorite phrases.
I was pretty sure some of the ghosts laughed. At least I was entertaining to someone, even if they were dead. Living alone was hard after sharing my life with a partner for so long.
The farmhouse had been a dream of Steve’s and mine. We’d bought it ten years ago and had spent the last decade fixing it up. It sat in the middle of twenty acres surrounded by lush forest. Steve was a far better decorator than I was, but I was a pro with a hammer and a gallon of paint. The hours spent improving our dream house were some of the best memories I had of my husband.
I’d also had dreams of filling our home with our children and dogs from shelters. Sometimes dreams didn’t come true. With our issues, kids were not an option.
And then Steve died. The end.
Pushing the sad thoughts away, I eyed my attentive audience.
“I’m going for a run,” I explained. “When I get back, everyone will be gone. We clear? Oh, and if anyone left a body part lying around, you need to take that with you. While I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who can see you guys, a random nose or foot lying around would freak my guests out. You feel me?
Again, no one said a word. I didn’t expect them to. If they had, I might have fainted. It would mean I’d gone from simply cracked to completely certifiable. I was fairly sure my transparent buddies understood not to leave their appendages lying around, but I’d take a walk around the house before the girls came over, just in case.
Realizing I was an idiot, I smacked my forehead. I had the rest of the day in front of me and I’d forgotten to take any work home. There was no way in hell I was going back to the office. Running into the pretty-boy lawyer was not good for my sanity.
And considering I only had a little of that left, I could take no chances.
“Absolutely not,” I huffed as I began to sprint the last mile of my run.
I noticed a few of them on mile three of my usual five miles. The dead dude who was so supportive when Stan was talking smack this morning led the pack. They floated along beside me squealing with laughter and moving their legs like they were running. They weren’t. They couldn’t. At one point during the uphill part of my run, I was jealous that I couldn’t float like they could. I needed to stop hanging out with people who should be taking a dirt nap.
“You can’t come on my runs,” I tried to explain, swiping the sweat from my face as I increased my pace. “This is my alone time to think.”
Laughing guy winked at me. I mean, I think he did. His eyes were so sunken into his head, I wasn’t sure. Not to mention, I wasn’t exactly positive he had eyelids.
“Seriously,” I complained as I noticed I was now running with at least thirty dead folks. “This isn’t working for me.”
Stopping abruptly and bending over to catch my breath, I placed my hands on my knees and stared at the ground for a long moment. What did it matter if they ran with me? Maybe the exercise was good for them.
Glancing up, I grinned when I noticed laughing dude was in the same position as me.
“Do you have a name?” I asked in a whisper.
He looked at me and moved his mouth frantically. Sadly, nothing he said made any sense.
Sitting down on the ground in the middle of the forest, I laughed when my posse of spirits joined me.
“Would a Ouija board work?” I asked, wondering how I was going to get one of those. There was no way I would buy one in town. People would think I was trying to communicate with Steve. I didn’t need anyone feeling sorry for me. I’d just recently stopped feeling sorry for myself.
I had chosen to live life, not hide behind my grief. The dream I’d had where my dead husband read me the riot act had helped tremendously. I knew it was most likely my subconscious speaking, but I preferred to pretend it was Steve.
Laughing dude simply watched me. No one could clue me in about the Ouija board. I’d just order it online and have it delivered. It might not work, but what could it hurt? I hoped it wouldn’t hurt. If my squatters could communicate, all hell could possibly break loose.
At least it was proactive.
About the Author
NYT and USA Today best selling author, Robyn Peterman writes because the people inside her head won’t leave her alone until she gives them life on paper. She writes snarky, sexy, funny paranormal and snarky, sexy, funny contemporaries.
Her addictions include laughing really hard with friends, shoes (the expensive kind), Target, Coke with extra ice in a Yeti cup, bejeweled reading glasses, her kids, her super-hot hubby and collecting stray animals.
A former professional actress, with Broadway, film and T.V. credits, she now lives in the south with her family and too many animals to count. Writing gives her peace and makes her whole, plus having a job where she can work in her sweatpants works really well for her.
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