I promised you all a teaser for A Ghost at Retreat Lake, and here it is! You can check out more on the book, the second novel in the Timeloopers series, here.
“Yo,” said Cory from the doorway, startling her. He wandered in toward her bunk and leaned against her bed frame.
She hurriedly wiped her face. “Let me guess,” she said, her voice poison, “you came to say sorry?”
Or had he come to torment her more?
“No,” he said. “I just want to make sure you’re not going to slit your wrists.”
Torment her more it was.
“Noah said I should apologize to you.”
“Oh, do you not know what the word apologize means?” she said. “Poor baby. Maybe you should look it up in a dictionary. In fact, here, I’ll help you—” She grabbed her Kindle and navigated to the dictionary. “Look, here it is. Verb, intransitive. To express regret for doing or saying something wrong.” She looked up. “Funny, that seems oddly appropriate for this moment—”
“Should I go?”
“—then again you’d actually have to feel regret, which you’re entirely incapable of doing. You know, apologize might be a little advanced for you. Why don’t we start with something simpler, like the word sorry. You ever heard of that one? Here, I’ll help you.” She looked it up. “Sorry—adjective, predicate. Feeling sorrow or regret. Used to express polite regret. Used to introduce disappointing or bad news in a polite way. Polite . . . now there’s a new one for you. Let’s look it up.”
“You done yet?” he said.
“Polite. Having or showing good manners or respect for other people. Wow. This is really groundbreaking stuff, Cory, you might want to read this.”
He backed up. “I’ll go.”
She tossed her Kindle aside and glared at him. “You’re really not even going to say it,” she said in disbelief. “Not even a simple I’m sorry?”
“For what, Iris?”
“For embarrassing me. For insulting me. For making me feel like a total loser in front of all your friends.”
“You could have friends too, you know. It’s not impossible. Even for you.”
“See, you can’t even open your mouth without saying something rude. Why are you in my cabin? There are thirty other brainless little tramps at this lake you can go pester, and you’re in my cabin.”
“Exactly,” he said. “Why would I talk to them when I can hang out with the one girl who hates my guts?”
“Right. I forgot how much you lust after what you can’t have.”
“Seriously, you need to lighten up on your attitude,” he said.
She gaped at him. “Me? I need to lighten up?”
“Last I checked, you’re the one everybody hates,” he said. “Want to know why? Because you’re like ice, you snub them, you think you’re better than them, and that hits them right here—” He thumped his chest, his heart. “That’s why no one likes you, because you’re a snob to them. You’ve always been a snob to them.”
Her jaw fell open.
“I’m seeing a dumb look on your face, I’ll help you out.” He swung around the bunk bed and grabbed her Kindle, tapped the screen. “Snob,” he read, “someone who tends to criticize, reject, or ignore people who come from a lower class, have less education, etcetera. Example—Iris is a pretentious snob who scorns anyone who’s not a genius like she thinks she is.”
“It doesn’t say that,” she said, lunging for the Kindle. “Give it back.”
He held it out of reach. “Iris, they don’t just forget about how you used to be when you show up first day of school all decked out in American Eagle. In fact, you made it worse. Now guys are intimidated by you and girls feel threatened, because all this used to be their territory and you’re walking all over it without even realizing what you’re doing. You went from having no friends to making enemies. Sound familiar?”
“Congratulations. Genius golden boy has it all figured out.” Iris tried to yank the Kindle from his grip, but he held on. She pried his fingers off one by one.
He held on to the last pinky finger, then swooped in with his other hand and dragged the Kindle behind his back, sitting down on the lower bunk to keep it away from her. “Nuh-uh-uh.”
Oh, this fucker. She leapt behind him, but he just handed it off to the front. “You know I’m faster than you. And stronger, and smarter, and—”
Iris looped her arm around his neck and locked him in a chokehold, cutting off the rest of his stupid taunt. She wrenched her other arm tight, clamping her elbow around his windpipe. “Drop it,” she said.
“Iris . . .” he croaked.
“Can’t . . . breathe . . .”
“Drop it, Cory.”
He flailed and scratched at her arms. She tightened her grip, and his struggles weakened. Take that, bitch. At last the Kindle clattered to the floor. She let go, and his limp body fell out of her arms and slumped sideways on the bed, unconscious. Asshole.
“Now get out of my room.” She planted her foot on his lower back and nudged him toward the edge of the bed with her heel.
He didn’t wake up.
“Cory?” she said.
He didn’t move.
A spark of panic flared under her skin.
She shook his shoulders. Nothing.
“Cory . . . Cory . . .” Her voice grew desperate. Oh, God. She’d held on too long, cut off the blood supply to his brain.
What if . . . what if she’d killed him?
Her eyes darted around the room, and a terrified dread settled over her. What do I do?
CPR. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
No way. Forget it.