This Is Your Afterlife

This Is Your Afterlife

by Vanessa Barneveld
Epub (Kobo), Epub (Adobe)
Publication Date: 21/10/2014

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When the one boy you crushed on in life can't seem to stay away in death, it's hard to be a normal teen when you're a teen paranormal.

Sixteen-year-old Keira Nolan has finally got what she wanted-the captain of the football team in her bedroom. Problem is he's not in the flesh. He's a ghost and she's the only one who can see him.

Keira's determined to do anything to find Jimmy's killer. Even it if means teaming up with his prickly-yet-dangerously-attractive brother, Dan, also Keira's ex-best-friend. Keira finds that her childish crush is fading, but her feelings for Dan are just starting to heat up, and as the story of Jimmy's murder unfolds, anyone could be a suspect.

This thrilling debut from Vanessa Barneveld crosses over from our world to the next, and brings a whole delightful new meaning to "teen spirit".

Romance & relationships stories (Children's / Teenage)
Epub (Kobo), Epub (Adobe)
Publication Date:
Bloomsbury Publishing
“‘Mystic Madam’s Tarot Tales. Learn your fate from eight till late,’” Mara intones close to my ear. The way she reads it, it makes my business sound like a brothel. “What’s that all about?”
“Nothing.” I smooth the flyer against the copier glass and press start. Glancing up at her skeptical expression, I explain, “It’s just this thing I’m doing to earn some extra cash.”
Mara frowns. “I didn’t know you’re psychic.”
“My grandmother was. I’m not. You don’t need a direct line to the other side to interpret tarot cards. It just takes practice.” I straighten the warm pages as they amble out of the copier. 
At the mere thought of Grandie, my throat constricts. I often wonder if she saw her illness on the cards. She taught me everything she knew about the occult, but the one thing she couldn’t pass onto me was her second sight. Whenever we talked about my psychic myopia, she’d tell me glasses for the spiritually nearsighted were just around the corner. “I bet Google’s working on them right now, Keira.”
I miss her jokes.
One thing she did leave me is an antique tarot deck that she named Sophia. Sometimes I hear Grandie’s voice when I deal out the cards. It’s only an echo, nothing but a memory playing in my head. 
But I don’t need any kind of supernatural power to sense Mara’s not herself today. Cautiously, I say, “You seemed down when I walked in. You okay?”
“I’m tired!” Her voice rings out like a shotgun. Mara falls heavily into her chair and rubs her temples. Looking contrite, she says, “I didn’t mean to lash out.”
“It’s fine. I can back off.” I shrug. And print ten more copies. “But if you want to tell me what’s on your mind...”
Her deep sigh is louder than the whirring of the copier. “Someone left a USB drive in my in-box a couple of days ago. Anonymously.”
My fingers hover over the copier keypad. I really shouldn’t stretch the Bugle’s resource budget by printing out more flyers. I gather my pages and join Mara at the desk. “What was on it, a computer virus?”
“Nothing like that.” Her mouth twists. “It was an article about Jimmy.”
She means Jimmy Hawkins. Who else? Dan’s older brother. The Halverston Wolves’ star quarterback. My social circle doesn’t touch Jimmy’s. Doesn’t even overlap. He’s a demigod in this school, in this town. Mr. Perfect. A walking cliché. Even more cliché is the fact that I once had a massive crush on him. 
Jimmy’s famous for having a distinct type when it comes to girls: blonde and perky. Invariably, that means cheerleaders or outgoing athletic types. He and Aimee Barton are practically joined at the lip. I am not Jimmy’s type. I once tried to be, even going so far as to bleach my dark brown hair. After the forty-minute process, my hair resembled raw bacon. Now I have deep-space black tresses with a tinge of cobalt. Perfect for a budding tarot entrepreneur. 
“Are you going to publish the article?” Anything about Jimmy is bound to get a lot of hits on the Bugle website. People can’t get enough of him. Life must be tough for Dan, who at times is practically ignored when they’re together. Then again, Dan doesn’t pay much attention to what other people think. 
Mara hesitates before replying, “No. It’’s damaging. To him.”
“What do you mean? The only dirt you’d ever find on Jimmy would come from a football field.”
She gives me an appraising look before angling her laptop toward me. “I suppose I can trust you, but do not tell anyone what you see here.”
“I won’t breathe a word.” 
Mara narrows her eyes. “I’ll hold you to that. I don’t want this story getting any oxygen. It dies in this room, okay?”
“I promise.” What the hell could it be about? Steroid use? Cheating scandal? Maybe he’d gotten someone pregnant—someone other than his girlfriend.
Mara keeps one hand on the laptop, ready to seize it if I give any indication I might renege. My gaze falls on the article’s title: Career Over for Top Quarterback.
“Oh, no,” I murmur. The article claims college scouts have been lining up to see Jimmy—USC was close to drafting him in to the Trojans. But years of rough play have wreaked permanent damage on Jimmy’s anterior cruciate ligament. His football prospects are in disarray.
This has got to be killing Jimmy. But is the article fact or fiction? If Jimmy is really injured, he’s hiding it well. He swaggers down the school halls. Never limps.
“Who wrote this?” As a subeditor, I can identify our writers from the very first sentence of the work. This one’s different. Crisp writing and full of impact. Whoever it is should be on the paper.
“No clue, but he or she seems to know a lot about Jimmy.”
That doesn’t exactly narrow the field of suspects. Everyone in this town knows him, knows of him, or wants to get to know him. People wear T-shirts with his face printed on them, though I only wear mine as PJs. Jimmy attracts huge crowds at games because he’s a touchdown machine. The guy has an uncanny knack for speeding past defensive lines, no matter how densely packed. An injury like that wouldn’t just devastate him—it’d send our whole community into mourning. 

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