Love is ever near. But trouble is never far.
Nantucket Island is haunted, but only sixteen-year-old Jade Irving knows it. Ignoring the disturbing spirits isn’t an option, because one dwells in the enormous historic home she shares with her newly blended family. Jade is finding it more and more difficult to explain away Lacey’s ghostly, anguished tantrums, especially with Charlie, her gorgeous, almost step-brother, living right across the hall.
When a power-hungry ghost hunter tracks down Jade and blackmails her, Jade’s secret teeters on the edge of exposure, and her entire future hangs in the balance. If anyone finds out Jade can talk to ghosts, her life will be forever changed.
Can she save herself, free Lacey, and hang on to her tenuous connection with Charlie? Or will everything she ever wanted slip through her fingers?
Book Page on RAP: http://redadeptpublishing.com/
A cloudless sky stretches above me. Daisies clutter the field, bobbing their white and yellow heads in a soft breeze.
She strides up the path, her legs straining against the long skirt of her dress. High cheekbones, dark curls, eyes as green as spring grass. Her human face. “Finally, you are here,” she says.
She extends her arms, reaching for me. I do the same. A sense of peace fills me. She wants me. She wants me to be here with her. But just as we’re about to connect, our hands inches apart, she transforms. Her face wrinkles and cracks, chunks of flesh dropping to the ground and exposing her skull. Fear grips my throat like a giant hand. Seizing me. Unwilling to let me go even as I try to get away. To run. To move. Her face is nothing more than a skeleton now. Her pristine dress and lace bonnet shreds into tattered rags billowing around a formless body. I gasp, but my lungs can’t seem to take in any air. I’m tied to a weight, sinking to the bottom of the ocean. The field and the daisies and the sky all melt away, a vanishing backdrop. I’m drowning. Lost. Gone.
Charlie. He’s holding me by the arms. What the hell? And then I know. The realization comes quickly. I’m at Fair-Ever. My first night in my new home. I wheeze and pant and try to bring myself back under control. Was I screaming? I must have been, and it must have been loud.
“What happened?” Charlie asks once I’ve calmed down.
“Bad dream,” I whisper. His hands are hot against my skin, so hot I think he might have a fever. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m burning up with some kind of ghost-induced illness. “Sorry I woke you.”
“It’s okay. I’m a light sleeper.”
Our eyes meet, and I can see he wants to know more—like if this happens a lot and what the nightmare was about—but I’m not going to tell him any of that. Instead, I avert my eyes. Looking at Charlie for very long is a bad idea. We don’t generally look at each other in the light of day—never mind in the middle of the night in my bedroom—because locking eyes is something that could lead to kissing. That’s how it feels to me at least, and kissing would be so very wrong now that we’re going to be steps.
Wrong Wrong Wrong. I have to keep telling myself that, but right now, all my brain seems to be registering is his scent—faded cologne and soap with a tinge of sweat. Middle-of-the-night Charlie smells and looks like a good dream, nothing like the nightmare I just emerged from.
As he gazes down at me, his lips press together, and his jaw clenches. His usually tousled brown hair is extra messy, and he wears only a pair of boxers. I wish I could say I wasn’t noticing his muscular biceps hovering on either side of my prone body, but I most definitely am. And for the record, this is a much better first night moment than Lacey’s ghost-attack nightmare.
“Thanks for coming in,” I finally say, still a bit short of breath.
“Yeah. Sure. Want some water or something?”
“No. I’m good.”
“Okay.” He removes his hands from my arms, stands, and walks out the door.
Once he’s gone, I flounce back on the bed, kicking off the comforter and pulling just the quilt and sheet up to my chin. What’s happening to me? Lacey. That’s what I call the ghost in the lace bonnet living here at Fair-Ever. I knew she was here. I’ve encountered her before, but I didn’t know she could enter my dreams. I’ve never lived with a ghost before—never fallen asleep where one dwelled. Now, it’s unavoidable.
I trace the outline of a stitched circle on my quilt with my finger—the center point of one of the colorful wheels. Violet and Fuschia and Chartruese spinning in a continuous collage. For some reason, touching the bumpy lines soothes me. Grandma Irving made the quilt for me when I was little, and I’ve had it on my bed ever since. Some Grandma quilts are lame, but mine is definitely not.
And then there’s Charlie. Geesh. Half naked and touching me with his giant, hot hands. What the heck am I supposed to think about that? Where do I store that little tidbit of goodness? We learned in freshman biology that girls are programmed to want boys who are strong and tall because we’re really cave women at heart. We perceive they’ll protect us from saber-toothed tigers and make nice babies or something like that, so that’s how I rationalize my crush on Charlie. My hard wiring renders me powerless in the face of his primal charm.
I decide I need that glass of water after all, and luckily, I don’t have to go down the hall to get it. I have my own bathroom here at Fair-Ever. Just call me a spoiled rich girl now because my room at Fair-Ever has everything a girl could ask for—a queen-sized bed, a private bathroom, central air, and wireless internet for the brand new iPad Mom and Mike gave me for my sixteenth birthday last month—my own private palace. Too bad about the ghost clogging it up with her paranormal dysfunction.
In the bathroom, I snap on the lesser of the two lights and see myself in the mirror. Ugh. This look is not what I’d call sexy. My curly brown hair is mounted on top of my head in a very untidy bun. My usually caramel-colored skin looks yellowish, and my hazel eyes droop with sleep. Super hot, right? I shouldn’t be worried, though, because it’s wrong-wrong-wrong to crush on your almost-stepbrother, no matter what your cavewoman brain tells you.
Frustrated, I grab the glass and let the water run. The counter of my bathroom, although less than twenty-four hours under my domain, is a mess of cosmetics and hair and skin products. The water gets cold fast because Fair-Ever has shiny new plumbing. The Dowlers spared no expense in updating the insides and restoring its historic charm on the outside before Mrs. Dowler got sick and died. Too bad they didn’t know about Lacey, or maybe they would have ousted her along with the nasty old pipes.
The fact that my step-family’s house has a name probably makes it seem like I’m some Brontë character who’s going to be swept across England on some gothic journey, but in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Me being here in this million dollar home on Nantucket Island is a strange twist of fate or destiny that started when my mother divorced my dad and took this soon-to-be a step-family turn, somewhere about the time Charlie’s mom died. My mother was one of Mrs. Dowler’s nurses in her final days. The rumor around the island is that Rebecca Dowler picked my mother for Mike, as though she wanted him to be happy and thought my mother was perfect for the job. Weird and creepy but whatever. People love to gossip.
So that’s how I ended up moving into this house today, having my dreams invaded by a nineteenth century ghost, and seeing my half-naked hottie stepbrother in the middle of the night. I guess that does sound sort of like a Brontë novel.
But when I step back into my room, all thoughts of gossip and Charlie and Brontë fly out of my head because Lacey’s waiting beside my bed.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a nerdy New England girl who loved school so much she became a teacher. I was born and raised for most of my life on Nantucket Island. My time away from Nantucket in high school and college made me realize I wanted to be here all the time. Luckily, I fell in love with another islander and got married. Now, we live and work here with our two kids.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
EVER NEAR is about a girl, a boy, and a ghost. Jade, the girl, has the ability to see ghosts but she’s never told anyone. Jade’s mother is getting remarried so she has to move into a haunted house on Nantucket Island. Plus, she has a crush on one of her stepbrothers.
How do you create your characters?
I almost always start with a main character and a vague plot notion. For example, Ever Near started as a YA contemporary about a step family and then I had the ghost idea several months later. Other characters evolve when I start writing the story of the main character. Sometimes, I’ll be writing and a character will just pop into my head and I have to think of a name and a backstory for them on the fly. This usually works great and then during editing I go back and flesh them out more.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
Gosh, inspiration is a funny thing. Usually, it happens when I hear a story on the news or from a friend and I try to imagine what I would do in that situation. Then I might start to make up how that story would go and sometimes it turns into a good idea with plot potential so I run with it. I wouldn’t always call it inspiration though. If it’s a sad story like a murder, I try to imagine what the family must feel. In their shoes, would I plot an elaborate revenge scheme? Dissolve into madness and depression? In this kind of scenario, I would not call it inspiration because it came from a sad event. It’s more of a launch pad or idea.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
Most of the time, my writing happens at a desk in my guest room on my laptop. There, I am surrounded by books and out of season clothes and my window looks out on a cemetery. Maybe that’s why I ended up writing a ghost story. I love writing early in the morning with a cup of coffee but I can’t have any music or other distractions. Song lyrics are very distracting to me. Sometimes I switch over to pen and paper if I am stuck. Something about the process of handwriting helps me get ideas flowing.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
As I said above, ideas are constantly firing in my brain. My brain loves to make weird connections and imagine unrealistic scenarios. I used to fight it and try to be a normal person but now I just go with it. I think that’s why I took up writing again after a twenty year break. I finally was comfortable enough in my own skin to just be who I am and that is a writer.
What do you like to read?
I love reading Young Adult, Women’s Fiction, and Thrillers. I also love a really well written Romance. Some of my favorite writers are Meg Cabot, Gillian Flynn, and Jennifer Echols.
What would your advice be for aspiring authors in regards to writing?
1. Write something every day.
2. Figure out what your weaknesses are and try to improve them.
3. Find a good critique partner online or in real life who will give you honest feedback.
4. Learn about the publishing business so you can make good decisions about what direction to go whether it’s traditional publishing, an e-press, or self publishing.
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