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Kylie reached out and gently held Della’s arm. The calm emotion radiating from the touch told Della the chameleon had turned fae.
“I didn’t say he killed her,” Miranda said, sounding sympathetic. “There could be all kinds of reasons that she could be mad at your dad.”
“What reasons?” Della asked, Kylie’s calm touch easing her fury, but not her fear. Like it or not, what Miranda said made sense. And Della really, really didn’t want to believe it.
Miranda’s brows puckered. “I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are some. Aren’t there, Kylie?”
“Yeah,” Kylie said, not sounding extremely confident. “But first, we don’t know if the ghost is your aunt. Second, let’s say the ghost is her. We still don’t know if she made the cars go crazy because she’s angry.”
“Right,” Miranda said. “Maybe she wanted you and your father to see each other so you’d make up and stop fighting.” Miranda pulled her arms into her shirt to hide from the cold.
“If he’d caught me riding around with a hot guy in a fancy convertible, we wouldn’t have been making up.”
Kylie brought her other foot up and hugged both her knees. “Maybe she was warning you that he was there and didn’t want you to get busted.” Miranda cut a look at Kylie. “Did you miss the fact that she called him hot?”
Della growled. “It can’t be my aunt. What would my aunt, a teenager who was murdered almost twenty years ago, have to do with Natasha?”
Right then, a breeze so cold it came with tiny bits of ice, moved over them. Little BB-sized bits of hail started clicking against the porch.
Chills prickled Della’s neck and she remembered what happened earlier in the office with the water and the ice. She glanced at Kylie and found the girl staring back, her eyes wide as if trying to tell her something.
Miranda’s teeth started chattering, clicking almost at the same tempo as the ice pinging against the wood porch. “Tell me…” Click, click. “That … this is just a normal storm.”
“This is just a normal storm,” Kylie said, and stood up. Della didn’t even have to try to hear Kylie’s heart registering the words as a lie. The truth, along with fear, reflected in her light blue eyes.
Miranda huddled up in a tight ball and looked up at the chameleon. “You’re just saying that, aren’t you?”
“Yup.” Kylie looked around. Della followed her gaze and didn’t see anything, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there.
“We should go inside,” Kylie spouted, sounding leery. And right then, a bolt of lightning hit the ground a foot in front of the porch. The electrical current vibrated the air. The hair on Della’s arms stood up.
Wasting no time, Miranda bolted to her feet and shot through the cabin door. Della waited for Kylie to follow the witch. With her friends safe inside, Della took a step to do the same. Before she crossed the threshold, the door slammed shut with a loud crack that was followed by another ground-shaking bolt of lightning.
“Shit!” Kylie screamed from the other side of the door. “Della, are you okay?”
Della, feeling the icy fingers of cold fear, but too stubborn to admit it, turned back around and faced the storm and the ghost. “Who are you? Tell me, damn it!”
And just like that, darkness swallowed her. Her arms and legs went numb. Her heart stopped beating. She felt frozen.
The blackness faded and the back of her eyelids turned red. She forced her eyes open and saw it.
Saw her father when he was young, standing over her. Gripped in his right fist, he held a knife. Blood, thick and red, dripped from the blade and splattered on the wooden floor right beside where she lay.
Where she lay … not breathing.
Where she lay … dead.
Sensing a floating sensation, she left the body. She saw the bloody scene again from above. The person on the floor, resting in a pool of blood, wasn’t her. The Asian girl’s long, silky black hair lay fanned around her body; her eyes stood open, staring at nothing, but there was so much blood on her face it hid most of her features. Della saw only her eyes.
So still.
So sad.
But her dad was there.
He stood over the body, knife in hand, murder in his eyes.
“Della? Della?”
She heard Kylie’s voice. Deep and dark, as if she was in protective mode. The sound of a door being forced open echoed in the distance. Then Della felt Kylie’s hands on her shoulders.
Della’s vision faded and the blonde chameleon, a shimmer of brightness surrounding her, appeared standing in front of her. Behind Kylie stood Miranda, tears and fear pooled in her green eyes.
“Are you okay?” Kylie asked.
Hell no!
He had given her life. Loved her. Read Charlotte’s Web to her when she was a child. He taught her to play chess. Helped her with algebra.
He had killed his sister.
Her dad was a murderer.
Everything in her wanted to deny it. But she’d seen it. How could she not believe?
No, she hadn’t seen it. There had been so much blood on the girl’s face, she didn’t know if it was really her aunt or someone else.
“I’m fine,” Della lied. She pulled away from Kylie and ran past Miranda.
Della entered her bedroom, turned, grabbed the doorknob, and glanced back at her best friends. Concern and worry filled their eyes, but Della couldn’t deal with it now.