Jenny stood frozen in the hallway just outside Teddy's room, body tense, feet rooted to the floor. The sound she'd heard from downstairs was louder now, and what she'd thought were the bumps and thuds of her little brother playing in his room after bedtime now appeared less innocent. As she gazed at him from the doorway, Teddy lay curled up in his Avengers comforter, eyes closed, chest heaving slow and steady as he slept. Alone.
But Jenny could still hear the footsteps.
Footsteps. Yes, that's exactly what they were. Heavy, plodding footsteps pacing back and forth across the floor of her kid brother's room, slightly uneven with a hiccup between every other step as if the person making them walked with a limp.
Person? Jenny swallowed, her throat parched and raspy. No "person" made these footsteps, unless Jenny had developed a sudden case of cataracts. Her eyes took in the entire length of Teddy's room, illuminated by the dullish blue glow of his night light, and nothing moved. Not even a flutter from the curtains, yet she could clearly make out the steady canter of the limping footsteps. She could actually trace them from left to right across the room, pausing for a split second at the closet door, then retreating to the other side of the room, pausing again at the edge of Teddy's bed. Rinse, repeat. Jenny couldn't pull her eyes away, her brain desperate to see something moving in the near darkness, unable to grasp what might be happening in her house.
Then, as suddenly as they began, the footsteps stopped.
Silence descended upon the house. Jenny continued to stand in the bedroom doorway, sweat beading on her upper li, despite the cold. Jenny realized she was shivering; all the warmth had been sucked out of the house.
That's when she felt it. A bony hand gripping her shoulder.
Jenny swung around and—
Meg dropped her pen on the bed as her cell phone purred from the nightstand. Once, twice, three times in rapid succession. She sighed and closed her writing journal, then reached across a stack of pillows and picked up her phone. Three texts, all from Minnie, and as she held the phone in her hand, debating whether or not she actually wanted to read Minnie's drunk texts from her boyfriend Gunner's Halloween party, the phone vibrated again. More messages.
Meg sighed. Typical.
She swiped her finger across the screen, and Minnie's texts began to scroll.
MINNIE: OMG, I can't believe you're not here. What were you thinking?
MINNIE: And don't give me that bullshit about being sick. What am I, stupid?
MINNIE: The whole football team's here. And half the cheerleading squad. This is the party of the century you're missing!
Meg laughed to herself. There was no place on the planet she'd less rather be than at Gunner's party.
Because if Gunner was there, his best friend T.J. would be, too.
And Meg couldn't handle that.
It was bad enough that Minnie was dating Gunner as a means to get closer to T.J., worse that Meg had been forced to listen to her best friend go on and on and on ad nauseum about T.J. during the last few months. It wasn't that Meg didn't like him. Nope it was much worse than that.
Meg was in love with T.J., too.
She'd been hiding it from Minnie for so long it had become her baseline. Minnie would rhapsodize that someday T.J. would realize she was the perfect girl for him, and Meg would just nod and smile, all the while indulging in her own fantasies about T.J., his gorgeous dimpled smile, how his lips would feel pressed against her own…
In private, she could handle it. She could put on her game face when it was just the two of them hanging out. But at party after Minnie had downed a few beers? No way. Meg discovered first hand that spring just how painful it could be to watch Minnie throw herself at the boy Meg was in love with.
So Meg's coping mechanism? Fake the stomach flu, stay home, and write a new short story.
Buzz, buzz, buzz. Great. Minnie was in rare, needy form tonight.
MINNIE: I seriously have the best costume here. Sexy Alice in Wonderland FTW!
MINNIE: T.J.'s here. Of course. OMG, he's doing like a Johnny Depp pirate thing that is SO FUCKING SEXY.
MINNIE: I'll send you a photo of us, okay? Let me find him.
Sexy pirate thing? Meg dropped her phone on the bed. It buzzed almost immediately with new texts.
Part of Meg desperately wanted to see the photo, a mash up of her love for Johnny Depp and her love for T.J. Fletcher. Then again, did she really want to see Minnie in her sexy Alice dress which barely covered her ass, thigh highs and pushed up cleavage, draped seductively over T.J.'s arm? She wasn't sure she could handle that. Again.
MINNIE: Huh. Can't find him. I swear T.J. was here a minute ago.
MINNIE: OMG, if he took off with that slut Brenda Raines I'm going to kick both of their asses.
T.J.: Are you home?
T.J. was texting her? On Halloween? While he was at the "party of the century?"
A warmth spread across her chest, all stupid and silly and delicious in the way only a text from T.J. Fletcher could make her feel. With a trembling hand, she picked up her phone and typed, "Yeah."
The doorbell rang almost immediately. Meg caught her breath. Could it be T.J.?
Meg's dad stuck his head out of his bedroom door just as she stepped into the hallway. "Trick or treaters?" he said, pushing his thick glasses up the bridge of his nose. "At this hour?"
"I'll get it, Dad," Meg said, hoping her voice didn't sound too anxious.
He shrugged, and ducked back into his room. Thank God. If it was T.J. at the door, the last thing she needed was her dad hovering around her.
Meg reached the door and realized her heart was thundering in her chest. She needed to calm down. It's not T.J., she said to herself. Just a late trick or treater, like Dad said.
But as Meg switched on the porch light, she caught sight of a hat through the beveled glass windows in the front door.
A tri-corner night.
Like a pirate.
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (September 18th, 2012)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardback: 294 pages
Don't spread the word!
Three-day weekend. House party.
White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.
But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
- 1 winner will receive a signed copy of Possess.
- You must be at least 13 to enter.
- Name and email must be provided and counts as 1 entry.
- Extra entries are possible and links must be provided.
- Contest is US Only and ends November 18th.
- Once contacted, the winner will have 48 hours to respond.
- The form must be filled out to enter.
Reminder: If you are interested in the COMMENT CONTEST, remember to include your email address with your comment for an extra entry!
Please read full entry rules here.
Don't forget to check out Lisa's Haunted Halloween post for today!