GENRE: YA paranormal
When I was a little girl Dad insisted monsters couldn’t get me so long as one person in the house loved me. Mom was always more matter-of-fact: she said she’d shoot them before they could make a move. I never believed Dad—Mom packed more credibility since she had a gun tucked against her hip most days.
That was when Mom being a cop was a good thing. These days I worried more about her ticketing me for reckless driving. Believing in monsters was something I’d outgrown, like Santa Claus.
My scooter, a seventeenth birthday present from my parents, buzzed closer to the restaurant where I was due to pick up my best friend Noah. The speed limit was thirty, but I was pushing fifty. The Tern, in all its tourist-attracting crap, popped into view when I turned the corner. Surfboards, old nets, and plastic crabs swayed in the frigid, salt-scented wind. With the first fingers of winter creeping over Long Beach Island, it felt like I’d never get the chill out of my bones.
When I pulled into the parking lot, Noah waved from his favorite position: slumped against the front wall. His twin brother Rick was digging in the trunk of the ancient car they shared.
“Mac! How’s the convent? Feel like home yet?” Noah asked after I’d powered down the engine. Rick slammed the trunk closed at the same time. The sound crumpled over the blacktop. It was a quiet morning other than the squawk of seagulls and rush of waves a block away.
I slid off the helmet. “It’s not a convent anymore.”
“Doesn’t matter. That place is creepy as hell. I can’t believe your parents insisted on moving into it. It’s like living a horror movie or something.”
“Try staying there. I thought I was going to get frostbite. We slept in the living room last night because the place is so dirty. Doni and Kara are helping Mom clean right now.”
“How’d you get out of that?” Rick asked. He pulled on a jacket and leaned next to Noah.
“Dad needs help putting the fishing boat to bed for the winter, so yeah. I’m sure I’ll pay for it, though. I’ll bet Doni and Kara get the good bedrooms.”
Noah laughed. “There are good bedrooms in a convent?”
“I know, I know,” Noah said. He pulled a stocking cap over his close-cropped, dark hair. “It’s not a convent anymore.”
“Well, it’s not.” Even as I said it, I could hear my defensiveness. It was a convent—it looked like one, and it even had a weird, musty smell that reminded me of nuns. Or what I imagined nuns smelled like, since I didn’t know any. And a heavy, awful feeling lurked in the corners. “I guess if you’re going to be a nun, it was a good place to live—right on the bay.”
Noah eyeballed me. “Yeah, in a freaking fortress.”