Authors: Jayme Morse
Kiss of Death
by Jayme Morse & Jody Morse
Copyright © 2011 by Jayme Morse & Jody Morse
Kiss of Death is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, places, and incidents in this book are products of the
writer’s imaginations or have been used fictitiously. Any
similarity to real persons or locations is coincidental and not
intended by the authors.
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
without permission in writing from Jayme Morse & Jody
When the ninth bell blared at the end of the
day, Austin Graham fled from his sophomore history class.
Once he stepped outside into the rain, he
breathed a sigh of relief. School was finally over for the
As he began walking home, he contemplated
what he would do over the break. Austin was looking forward to
going to the beach with his friends and throwing a few beer pong
parties for the guys on the football team and the cheerleading
squad. He was already getting hyped.
The sounds of heavy footsteps on crunching
leaves interrupted his thoughts. Cars belonging to the senior class
zoomed past him, putting him on edge and a senior jock hooted out
his car window at him. Something hard hit against his back and he
spun around quickly with clenched fists.
Looking up, he realized who had snuck up on
him and suddenly felt embarrassed for getting so worked up.
Dan Nichols, his longtime best friend, ran up
to him and gave him a playful shove. “Wow, tense, huh?” he said,
grinning and laughing hysterically as he scooped up his football
from the slick pavement. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s okay, man. Hey, do you want to play
some ball? I don’t really feel like going home right now.”
“Nah. I would, but I gotta go help my brother
with his car.” Dan sniffed the air, and then said, “You should go
home soon, or your mom will be wondering where you are. I’ll see
“Okay. See you tomorrow,” Austin said and
started walking again.
Austin thought of himself as an ordinary
teenager. He had tons of friends and was invited to all the cool
parties. He got good grades, but most of them were out of
selfishness from the teachers who didn’t want to see the Briar
Creek Cougars lose another season of football.
In his pocket, his cell phone vibrated.
Pulling it out, he glanced at the number that had just text
messaged him. It was from his girlfriend, Mary-Kate.
Groaning, he ignored the text message and
shoved his phone back into his pocket. He loved Mary-Kate, but
lately she was really getting on his nerves. She had been trying to
pressure him into too many things that he didn’t want to do lately.
Austin knew that she was keeping his own best interests in mind,
but he was a big boy. If he wanted someone to make his decisions
for him, he’d ask his mom. And his mom did plenty of that on her
own, without him asking.
As Austin turned the corner onto Crestwood
Ave, he stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. He could have
sworn that he’d heard footsteps following a few steps behind
Finding that there was no one there, he went
back to his thoughts. He didn’t want to breakup with Mary-Kate, but
he had a feeling that it was going to come to that soon. She just
made him feel too damn uncomfortable lately.
Austin crossed through Mr. Abraham’s back
yard everyday on his way home. Mr. Abraham didn’t mind or, if he
did, he never said anything. Today, the brown two-story house
looked dark and empty; the forest surrounding it looked even darker
Looking ahead, Austin noticed a dark shadow
looming over him. Before he could turn to look at the figure that
was perched in the tree, it leaped on top of Austin’s back,
crashing them both down on to the hard ground.
The wind went silent, and all that could be
heard was a sickening crack.
Lexi Hunter watched from across the living
room as her mom, Eileen, stared down in awe at the pink Blackberry
Curve that was vibrating forcefully in her hand.
Her mom managed to pull her jaw back up from
the floor and stammered, “It’s from Briar Creek.” Briar Creek, a
small town in Pennsylvania, was the place Lexi and her mom had left
behind ten years ago, never looking back.
“Well, answer it.” Lexi snapped at her. She
was slightly annoyed that her mom was interrupting her favorite
As her mom hesitantly picked up the phone,
Lexi went back to writing a journal entry for her 10th grade
creative writing class and watching the argument ensue on
television. It was the episode where Ronnie threw all of Sammi’s
stuff outside during one of their many breakups. She wished she
could witness something that exciting in her own boring life.
Okay, her life really wasn’t
It just wasn’t as exciting as she wanted it to be. She got along
with almost everyone at school and she had friends, but she didn’t
really belong to a specific clique, though she wished she did. You
know, the type that coordinated their outfits, always had
sleepovers, and threw parties together every weekend. Lexi had
belonged to a group of friends like that once, but that was back
before she quit her school’s swim team last year. After she quit,
the swim team disassociated themselves from her and she went back
to the measly group of friends (after begging them to take her
back, of course) she had before she joined the team, but things
were never the same between them after that.
Her love life wasn’t much better. She had
dated a guy named Justin, but he had been too busy with hockey
practice to spend time with her. To his dismay, they lasted one
short season before Lexi broke up with him. He apparently wasn’t
over it yet because he still called her from time to time – which
sadly, was the most exciting element of her love life.
Lexi hadn’t told Justin that she was no
longer interested in him as anything more than a friend because
that meant that the calls would stop coming, and even more of her
monthly allowance of cell phone minutes would go unused. Her mom
probably thought she was pathetic enough as it was.
came on, Lexi’s mom emerged from her bedroom. Curious, Lexi
mouthed to her, “What’s going on?”
Her mom shook her head and mouthed back,
“Tell you later.”
“I’ll come out there. When is the funeral?”
Lexi’s mom asked into the phone and crossed the living room to go
into the kitchen.
Her mom grabbed a Pepto-Bismol pink Post-it
note and scribbled something down. “I’m not sure,” she said slowly.
“Lexi has school.” Pushing away a lock of her curly chocolate brown
hair that fell in front of her Peridot-green eyes, she glanced over
at Lexi in the living room. Lexi had always admired her mom’s
appearance; her curvy body and naturally sun-kissed skin could land
her a role on
faster than Lexi’s own shapeless
body, surfer blonde hair, and fair skin. When Lexi was little, she
believed that she was adopted because she couldn’t see the
resemblance between them.
“Okay, I’ll see you then.” Her mom hit the
end button on her cell phone and sat down on the edge of the coffee
table across from Lexi’s spot on the sofa. Lexi peered at her,
wondering what was going on. She wasn’t sure if she should ask or
wait for her mom to say something first.
A long, uncomfortable silence passed before
either of them spoke.
“Austin died, Lexi.”
Lexi released her bottom lip that she had
been nervously chewing on. “My cousin Austin?” Eileen nodded. Lexi
stared at her mom in shock – partly because he was dead and partly
because she hadn’t heard his name spoken out loud in years.
“How did he die?”
Her mom wiped at a tear. “I’m not sure. The
police think it was an animal attack…Probably a black bear.”
Lexi shuddered. She hadn’t seen Austin in
years. In fact, she still pictured him as the strawberry
blonde-haired, freckle-faced six-year-old from her memory. She
imagined the kid version of him being ripped apart by a black bear,
and it gave her the heebie jeebies.
“Isn’t it good to be back?” Lexi asked
excitedly, sliding into a booth and looking around Annie’s Diner,
her favorite place to eat when she was a kid. Even though they were
back in Briar Creek for a bad reason, Lexi was still excited.
“It is,” her mom hesitantly admitted, looking
at Lexi over the menu she was holding. Picking up her Blackberry,
she said, “So, we have about an hour before we can check in.”
“Mom, why can’t we just stay at Aunt
Her mom stared at the glass of water that had
just been placed in front of her by the hostess and circled her
finger around its rim, as though she were more interested in it
than she was in Lexi’s question. She replied hesitantly, “Your aunt
offered to let us stay there, but I didn’t think we should
intrude.” She jumped as a little boy went whizzing past their table
screaming, interrupting her thoughts. Shaking her head, she said
“It would be a little awkward for us too, Lexi. We’ve been gone for
so long, I’m not even sure what I should say to Violet about this
whole situation,” she sniffed, throwing her hands up in
Lexi knew where her mom was coming from. Her
own stomach had been in knots during the entire car ride to Briar
Creek for that same reason. She hadn’t seen Aunt Violet and Uncle
Tommy since she was six. What could she possibly say to comfort
them? That she was sorry about Austin’s death, even though she
barely knew him? She felt somewhat guilty; she wasn’t even that sad
that Austin was gone…just a little freaked out.
When Lexi was a kid, she lived with her dad
and her mom at Grandma Jean’s house. Violet, Tommy, and Austin
lived there, too. That was back when everyone actually got along
with each other, Lexi thought bitterly. Lexi wasn’t sure why her
mom and aunt’s relationship had fallen apart, but it was sometime
after Grandma Jean passed away and Lexi’s dad disappeared, never to
be heard from again. Her mom had packed up and moved her and Lexi
to New Jersey shortly after.
Lexi’s thoughts were interrupted when an
elderly waitress with silver-blue hair came to their table and,
eyes filled with recognition, cupped her hands over her mouth in
surprise. “Well, suga honey iced tea! I heard y’all would be comin’
back to Briar Creek, but I said I didn’t believe it ‘till I saw it
with my own eyes!”
“Well, here we are. How have you been,
Gerti?” Lexi’s mom asked, smiling tightly.
“I’m doing good. Now, if my memory here is
servin’ me correctly, Lexi will be gettin’ her trademark dish, and
Eileen will have herself some coffee, a roast beef sandwich, n’some
fries. Am I right?”
Lexi smiled and nodded.
“Actually, I’ll just take the coffee,” her
“Where’s my head gone? I almost forgot Austin
ain’t with us anymore. Y’all must be too distraught to eat. There’s
too many youngin’s dyin’ these days n’ here I am just waitin’ for
my time to come. It just don’t seem right. I’m sorry for both
“Thank you,” Eileen said, pursing her
Lexi broke in and blurted, “Don’t feel too
bad, mom’s just a vegetarian now.” Gerti’s lips formed into a
“A vegetarian in Briar Creek? Why, that is
just unheard of!” she exclaimed, the disproval obvious in her
voice. A few nearby heads in the diner turned to look at them.
“Honey, how’re ya gonna keep meat on them bones if ya don’t eat
nothin’ healthy for ya?” Gerti said, in a mother hen voice, before
turning on her heel.
“Some things never change,” her mom said
through gritted teeth as she watched Gerti stride with her nose in
the air back towards the kitchen. She huffed, “I’m surprised Ned
still lets her work here.”
“Why wouldn’t he let her work here?” Lexi
asked, confused. It had been years since she and her mom had been
to the diner, but from what she remembered, Gerti had always been
nice to them.
Gerti had always thought it was hilarious
when Lexi ordered her scrambled eggs topped with salsa. After Lexi
ordered it every day for a week, Gerti had suggested that Ned add
it to the menu. Lexi had been surprised to see that it was still
labeled as “Lexi’s Spicy Scrambled Eggs” on the menu.