This is the opening chapter of a novel that I am writing. Rough draft
| “I know you’re closed, but I have an emergency,” the petite brunette said as she forced the door open, allowing a gust of wind to blow through the small store. Some papers rustled behind me, causing a chill to creep up my spine. I hated being in the store alone, but that didn’t mean that I wanted to invite the woman in to prolong my night.
“We don’t sell paranormal romance,” I said, not bothering to hide my annoyance with the late night visitor. We’d been getting a lot of women who were looking for romance novels lately, but the store didn’t sell it. I didn’t understand the appeal of the genre, but that’s probably because I had no desire to be loved by a man who would live forever. I also found it unlikely that he would pick some random woman as a partner. It was more likely that he would have many loves throughout his existence, or maybe his feelings would become dull. Hell, if I were alive for that long the only emotions I’d have left would be road rage and boredom.
“I’m not looking for that,” she said, pushing past me with enough force to knock me off balance. I had to grab onto the wall to steady myself.
I wanted to force her out, but instead I just frowned as I took her in. With her expensive clothes, sleek hair, and freshly manicured nails, she didn’t look like the type of woman who would have set foot in a place like this. I narrowed my eyes at the woman, noticing that she did look familiar, but I couldn’t place her. “We open tomorrow at nine. You can pick up your hocus pocus spells and love potions then.”
“No, I’m not looking for that bullshit. I’m sure most of this crap doesn’t work anyway. I came here to see you, Kenzie. I have a ghost problem,” she said, her face reddening in embarrassment.
“How do you know my name?” I asked. For a minute I thought that my boss may have sent her in as a joke, but then I realized where I knew her from. She’d been my childhood best friend until we got to middle school and she’d decided to join the other students in making my life a living hell. “Never mind, I remember you, Amber,” I said.
“So should I tell you about my ghost?” She asked.
“So you came here assuming that I would help you? Sorry, I can’t. Please see yourself out,” I said, turning my back to her.
I hoped she would get the hint and leave, but I heard her pushing aside some books that had been resting on a lone wooden chair in the middle of the room. I turned back to see her take a seat. I had never seen someone who looked so out of place in the small occult store as she did. She was right, most of the books and powders didn’t work, but that didn’t stop them from making the store look more like a witch’s den than a retail store. The items that did work gave me the creeps, in fact, I hated working in the small store, but I couldn’t be picky since it was the only place that I could talk to myself and not draw unwanted attention to myself.
I could feel Amber’s eyes burning into my back as I returned an Ouija board to its rightful place on the old wooden shelf before me. “I’m sorry about the way things turned out for us, but I hope you can see where I was coming from. You would have done the same thing if you were me. I figured that you could at least give me some insight,” she said.
I shook my head, annoyed that she was trying to justify her actions. Yes she was younger when she picked on me, but she had only come back now that she needed my help. “You can come back tomorrow and get an aura reading or whatever you think will help you, but I’m not going to offer my help.”
“I’ll pay you,” she said.
I shook my head. I had never thought about using my gift to help anyone, and I wasn’t sure how I would help her. I was aware that many people thought of my ability was glamourous, but I wasn’t among them. I would have traded with them in a heartbeat for a chance to live a normal life.
“Do you honestly think I would have wanted this for myself? Look around, I’m stuck working a dead-end job at an occult shop because I happen to have the ‘gift’ of seeing ghosts. A gift that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but it was forced on me because my dad pissed off some cheap fortune teller.” I couldn’t stop my arms from shaking as I tossed another book onto my cart.
“I’m so sorry, I always thought you liked being able to see ghosts. I know you had that ghost friend when we were growing up, Julia or something. You know, if you tried you could probably get a tv deal,” Amber said.
“Not everyone wants to be on tv,” I replied.
Although the woman sitting behind me had been my best friend since first grade, she no longer seemed like the sweet-natured little girl that I’d once known. I’d always assumed that she just couldn’t take the teasing anymore, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe she was just being my friend because of how unpopular she was. Everything changed when she started to grow into her looks. I remembered the last time I’d seen her, there was something in her eyes that looked a lot like disgust. While I had missed our friendship when it ended, I honestly couldn’t care less about seeing her now. As she sat there in her pink blazer and overpriced heels I began to grow more and more annoyed.
“Look, as much as I’d love to hear about your nose job and your struggles as a trophy wife, I’d also really like to get out of here. Just come back tomorrow and pick up a few books on hauntings,” I said, coldly.
Amber looked shocked, as if I had slapped her. It was clear that she wasn’t used to people telling her no, or talking to her so harshly, but she managed to pull herself together faster than I thought she would. “Kenzie, I’m sorry, but you made it hard on yourself. People didn’t want to be friends with the vegan who wore all black and talked to herself. I really wish you would get over this because I don’t think a book will help me. I need your help,” she said, keeping her voice even.
I raised an eyebrow. “Do I look like a ghostbuster to you? You’re lucky I’m giving you the time of day right now,” I snapped.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you,” she said, as she reached for her designer handbag. I thought she was going to leave, but instead she pulled out a hot pink wallet that matched her bag. “I’m willing to pay you to help me. This has made my life a living hell.”
I sighed, one glance down at my threadbare boots and I was already mentally spending the paycheck that she was about to offer me. I may have hated my gift, but I couldn’t deny how much I needed the money. I at least wanted to know how much she would offer to pay me. “How much?” I asked.
“I’ll give you five thousand,” she said.
Five thousand dollars may not have been a lot of money to Amber, but that amount of money had the ability to fix some of the mistakes I’d recently made in my life. Hell, my car was worth less than five thousand dollars. I had never considered using my gift to profit before, mostly because I didn’t get to choose which ghosts appeared to me, but also because I’d seen some awful things when using my gift. I usually kept my gift to myself, since it caused people to distance themselves from me.
I folded my arms and leaned against one of the large shelves that was filled with bargain books, turning my full attention to Amber. I didn’t see a ghost near her, but ghosts often popped in and out of our plain of existence. I wasn’t sure where they went, but I assumed it was a lot like sleeping for them. “I’ll need half of the money up front and I need to know about everything you know about this ghost. When did you first start to believe you were being haunted?”
“I started to notice little things about a month ago, like items being moved, but then it got worse. There was a threat written on my bathroom mirror with my lipstick, telling me to get out and to leave my husband. I started to feel like I was being watched all the time and then I felt an icy hand on my arm. I still have a bruise from it,” she said, rolling up her jacket sleeve to show me a bruise that resembled fingerprints.
“Most ghosts start out weak and grow stronger. It’s likely that the ghost is newly deceased, do you know anyone who recently passed?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No,” she said, but something in her eyes told me she wasn’t being completely honest with me.
“What about that girl that was in the newspaper? The one that kind of looks like you,” I said, referring to a woman who had recently been murdered in the area.
She shook her head again. “It gives me the creeps to think about how much she looked like me,” she said.
Lightening flashed outside, temporarily lighting up the darkened room. It was going to rain soon, and I hated driving in the rain. I handed Amber a card with my name and phone number. “If you think of anything else, please give me a call.”
Her face reddened as she snatched the card from my hand. “That’s it? You’re not going to say some chant and get rid of it?” she demanded. She balled her hands into fists, and for a moment I thought she might try to hit me, but instead she took a deep breath. “I want this handled in a timely manner,” she said.
“It will be, but I’m not magic,” I replied before turning back to what I had been doing.