Read Shadow of a Life Online

Authors: Mute80

Tags: #romance, #thriller, #suspense, #history, #paranormal, #young adult, #teen, #ghost, #series, #modern

Shadow of a Life (10 page)

BOOK: Shadow of a Life
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Wait,” Camille said. “If
you die on Halloween, do you automatically become a

Not necessarily. That’s
just an old wives tale. You
become a ghost if you die on Halloween, but it
isn’t assured.”

Sophia, this really could
mean something. There has to be some sort of connection between you
and Arthur that wasn’t completed.” I was starting to get

I’m starving.” Camille
announced as she spread a blanket on the ground in front of
Arthur’s grave, sat down, and pulled out a granola bar. She was
doing a lot better with Sophia’s news than I expected and in only a
couple of hours she’d gone from hating Sophia to acting like an
adoring fan.

Ouch.” I rubbed a spot on
my head where an acorn had just landed. “Aaggh!” I was hit again.
“I think the squirrels in these trees don’t want us hanging out

Who are you calling a

Startled by a male voice, I whipped
around to see Peter Ashby appear from behind a tall monument a few
yards away.

Peter. Hi. What are you
doing here?” I felt my voice go up an octave and I squeaked like a
mouse. I could hear Camille snickering on the blanket behind me and
I turned around and glared.

I came to put flowers on my
grandparents’ graves.”

That’s mighty . . . uhh . .
. noble . . . of you.”
Why do I always
sound like such a dork around him?

My parents usually come on
Memorial Day, but they’re on a cruise right now and they made me
promise that I’d come out here for them this weekend and leave some
flowers. I think they’re afraid my grandparents will haunt them if
they don’t make their presence known.” He laughed at his own joke.
Camille and I involuntarily glanced at Sophia.

How about you guys? What
are you doing here?” He spied the blanket and basket of food. “Are
you having a picnic in a
? Cool.”

Sophia was the first to respond. “Why
not picnic in a cemetery? Want to join us?”

Peter seemed to notice Sophia for the
first time and he smiled at her before answering. “Sure. I’m Peter,
by the way. I’ve seen you around, but I don’t think we’ve been

My name’s Sophia. I’m a

Camille began choking on her
granola bar and had to spit it out on the ground. I was still
standing a few feet away and I’m convinced that my heart stopped
beating for a short time. I felt the blood drain from my face and I
had to sit down on the ground and put my head between my knees so I
wouldn’t faint.
How could she? She knows I
like him. Now he’s going to think I—we—are crazy.

A ghost, huh?” Peter
chuckled, taking the pronouncement in stride. “Well, it’s nice to
meet you. My name’s Peter. I’m a werewolf.” He bowed mockingly and
stuck out his hand for Sophia to shake.

I finally got control of myself and
caught Sophia’s eye. I glared.

Sophia? Can I please talk
to you for a second—over here?” I asked as nonchalantly as I

She dutifully obeyed and followed me
behind a nearby tree.

What are you doing?” I
hissed angrily. “He was
starting to show interest in me and now he’s going
to think I’m a lunatic.”

Calm down, Jamie. You’re
helping me so I’m going to help you,” she whispered.

How could you
think this
?” I was
squeaking again.

If Peter helps you and me
on our little quest, think how much time you’re going to get to
spend hanging out with him.”

She had a point. There was a chance he
would believe us—after all, Camille did. Of course, Camille could
be kind of gullible . . .

Fine,” I huffed.
be obvious about my liking him.”

She winked and returned to the
blanket. I followed, probably looking like a lost puppy, and sat
next to her. The blanket wasn’t huge and with four people sitting
on it we were pretty cozy.

So, do you picnic here
often or is this a new form of entertainment?” Peter was completely
oblivious to the elephant in the room.

I cleared my throat loudly. If I was
going to make a fool out of myself by telling Peter about Sophia’s
secret, I didn’t want to do it sounding like a mouse. “Peter, do
you believe in ghosts?”

Oh . . . I get it. There’s
a full moon tonight and you guys came out here to tell ghost
stories. This is awesome. No offense, but I didn’t think girls
liked to do stuff like this.”

Peter, I’m serious. Do you
believe in ghosts?” I asked sincerely.

He looked at me and then glanced away,
picking at the blanket as he answered. “I think so. I don’t claim
to have ever seen a ghost, but I’m open to the possibility that
they might exist.”

I turned to Sophia. “Now would be a
good time to do your thing.”

She smiled and rose to her feet. “This
is starting to get kind of fun. I should have started doing it
decades ago.”

She turned and addressed Peter. “Now
you see me . . .” she disappeared into the night just as the sun
sank below the horizon “. . . now you don’t.” I heard her whisper
the last part of the sentence into Peter’s ear, but I couldn’t see
her. His reaction was priceless.

Holy—” he screamed,
covering his mouth before the entire expletive made its way out. He
dove across the blanket and grabbed Camille and I, cradling both of
us between his arms at the same time. If it hadn’t been so funny I
would have liked to stay there with his arm wrapped around me the
entire night, but as it was I let a giggle escape and he relaxed
and let go.

Wait . . . is this a joke?
Are you guys pranking me? That’s what Sophia and you were
whispering about a minute ago.” I couldn’t tell if Peter was angry
as he was yelling or if he thought it was funny. I think he was
still in shock.

It’s true, Peter. Sophia’s
a ghost. I found out just a few hours ago. Apparently Jamie here
has known for a week and didn’t bother to tell anyone,” Camille

Peter looked at me. His mouth was
moving slightly, trying to form words for questions he didn’t know
how to ask.

I don’t get it,” he finally
said. “Is this

Why don’t you ask her
yourself?” I pointed behind him to where Sophia hovered lazily
above Arthur’s headstone.

Oh geez,” he breathed.
“This is crazy. Either I’m dreaming or I’ve completely lost it.
Someone wake me up.

Sophia came back to the blanket,
curling her long legs under herself as she sat down gracefully and
began to tell her story for the second time that day. By the time
she got to the part where she, Camille, and I decided to go to the
cemetery, it was completely dark except for the light coming from
the full moon Peter had mentioned. We’d eaten most of the snacks we
brought and put on our jackets. The nights were bearable, but still
cool at that time of year. A breeze rolled in from the ocean and we
huddled closer together. The telling of ghost stories while sitting
in a cemetery didn’t exactly help to warm us, either.

Are you overwhelmed?” I
asked Peter.

A little. I kind of feel
euphoric, too. Questions that have been asked for hundreds of years
can actually be answered. That’s amazing. I wonder how many times
I’ve passed a ghost on a sidewalk or in a crowded mall and didn’t
even know it.”

For all you know, there are
ghosts that have been following
around for weeks, watching
every move.” I playfully punched
Sophia in the arm.

There is one thing in the
story I missed, though. Sophia, you said you died in 1888 after you
were taken to live as the daughter of Jeremiah and Elsa, right?”
Peter asked.

She nodded.

How did you actually die,
then? You were so young.”

I couldn’t believe it. I’d
been reading and studying and researching everything I could about
the disappearance of the
and the Briggs family in the
previous week and I had never bothered to ask Sophia how she
actually died. My curiosity was piqued.

Sophia didn’t answer Peter
immediately, but sat in silence for a while. Judging by the look on
her face, her death was a sensitive subject. Finally she spoke. “I
guess I better start where I left off before. The beginning of my
death sentence actually started about a year and a half before I


Spring and Fall of 1887



ophia Goodwin was a good girl, but those who knew her often
felt sorry for her. She was a girl trapped by life’s
circumstances—an honest girl born to parents who devoted their
lives to trickery and deceit. They treated her as a servant rather
than their own flesh and blood. People who knew—or knew of—the
family would often ignore the parents and only greet Sophia. She
never had nice clothes to wear, but she kept herself clean and
always wore the most radiant of smiles. Her polite, gentle way of
speaking endeared her to everyone.

Just like she did every morning,
Sophia trudged along the path to the well at the back of their
parcel of land. It was her duty to collect the day’s water. She was
a strong girl, but it was quite a task even for her. She filled the
two large buckets, hauling the water up from the hole in the ground
like she’d done hundreds of times before. Then she attached the
buckets to a yoke which she carried across the back of her
shoulders. It was always a long walk back to the house as she
strained under the weight.

On that particular morning, Sophia was
in an especially pleasant mood. The sun was shining, birds were
chirping, and the wildflowers were beginning to blossom in an array
of colors throughout the meadows. She stopped to pick a bouquet of
those flowers and tucked them into the front pocket of her apron
before she headed back with the water. She would most likely be
lectured for taking too long, but she didn’t care. Spring was her
favorite time of year. It held the promise of new beginnings and
new possibilities.

Just as she stooped to again pick up
the heavy yoke, a young male voice called out. “Let me get that for
you, miss.”

Startled, she jumped back, almost
knocking one of the buckets over in the process. She looked up and
found herself staring into the most beautiful cobalt blue eyes
she’d ever seen. The eyes were set into the handsome, chiseled face
of a boy who was hovering on the verge of manhood. His beautiful
face was attached to a body that was strong and toned, probably
from years of hard work.

Sophia’s heart fluttered and her hand
involuntarily went to her cheek. She knew she was

You startled me, sir,” she

He reached up and took his hat off,
running his hand through his dark brown hair. “I do apologize,
miss. I thought it was better to make my presence known than to
continue to lurk in the trees. I didn’t want to interrupt your
beautiful singing.”

Sophia hadn’t even realized that she
was singing.

My name’s Nicholas
Trenton,” he said, extending a hand to Sophia.

Her hand trembled as she reached out
and shook his. She could feel her entire body tingle as soon as
their palms touched.

Sophia Goodwin,” she
finally managed to say.

Are you by any chance
related to Jeremiah Goodwin? I was hired as his new

Sophia rolled her eyes before she
could stop herself. “He’s my father.”

If there was one thing Sophia knew
about her father, it was that he was always in the middle of some
elaborate scheme to con someone. It was out of his realm of
possibility to try to make an honest living. For as long as she
could remember they had moved from place to place, and he had moved
from trade to trade, always claiming to be an expert at whatever
new thing he started. At first meeting, he was fun and jubilant—a
man that people felt they could trust fully. They never saw the con
coming until they were slapped in the face by it and Jeremiah and
his family were long gone. Two years ago he had purchased a plot of
land on the coast of the James River near Newport News, Virginia.
The James River led to the Chesapeake Bay and out into the open
Atlantic Ocean. Sophia loved it. She had hoped that the purchase by
her father meant he had changed his ways and wanted to put down
permanent roots. What could he possibly need an apprentice for? The
man was a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

What will you be doing for
my father, Mr. Trenton?” she asked curiously.

BOOK: Shadow of a Life
3.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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