Alyson Noel Shimmer. by Alyson Nel

ISBN 13: 9780330530385

Shimmer. by Alyson Nel

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9780330530385: Shimmer. by Alyson Nel
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Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a little time-off. But then Riley encounters a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca's sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she's not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, Rebecca is furious about being murdered during the slave revolt of 1733. Her uncontrollable anger is keeping other ghosts, who also died in the revolt, trapped in a shimmering bubble. And when Bodhi and Buttercup inadvertently fall into Rebecca's trap, Riley is the only one who can save them. A suspenseful and heart-warming novel about the great hereafter. . .

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About the Author:

Alyson Noel lives in Orange County, California. She is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of THE IMMORTALS series, she has written numerous teen novels - FAKING 19, ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS, LAGUNA COVE, KISS & BLOG, SAVING ZOE and CRUEL SUMMER - along with the adult novel FLY ME TO THE MOON.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
 
If you think you know what it’s like to be dead—if you think it’s just an eternity of harp music and cloud lounging—well, think again.
Ever hear the saying, Life goes on?
It does.
Long past the point when everyone else thinks it stopped.
Take it from me, I’ve been dead for just over a year, and from the moment I crossed that bridge to the other side—well, that’s when things really got interesting....
2

“Go on, Buttercup—go get it boy!”

I cupped my hands around my mouth and squinted into a blanket of gooey, white haze still hours away from being burned off by the sun. Gazing upon a beach that was just the way I liked it—foggy, cold, a tiny bit spooky even. Reminding me of our old family visits to the Oregon Coast—the kind I sometimes tried to re-create on my own.

But despite the infinite manifesting possibilities of the Here & Now, something about it just wasn’t the same. Sure, you could replicate similar sensations, the way the tiny, pebbly grains wedged between your toes, the way the cool ocean spray felt upon your face, but still, it didn’t quite cut it.

Couldn’t quite live up to the real thing.

And clearly Buttercup agreed.

He sprinted after the stick, running headfirst into a dad enjoying an early morning stroll with his son, before emerging on their other side. Causing the kid to stop and stare and gaze all around—sensing the disturbance, the sudden change in atmosphere, the burst of cold air—the usual signs a ghost is present.

The usual signs kids always tune in to, and their parents always miss.

I shut my eyes tightly, concentrating on mingling my energy with my surroundings. Summoning the vibration of the sand—the seashells—even the haze—longing to experience it in the same way I used to, knowing I’d have only a few moments of this before Buttercup returned, dropped the wet, slobbery stick at my feet, and we repeated the sequence again.

He was tireless. True to his breed, he’d happily retrieve for hours on end. A nice, long game of fetch making the list of his top-five favorite things, ranking right up there with dog biscuits, a warm patch of sun, bird chasing, and of course, his newest love—flying.

Nudging my leg with his nose, letting me know he was back, he stared up at me with those big brown eyes, practically begging me to hurl the stick even farther this time.

So I did.

Watching as it soared high into the sky before it pierced the filmy, white veil and was gone. Buttercup dashing behind it, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, tail wagging crazily from side to side—the furry, yellow tip the last thing I saw before the mist swallowed him whole and he vanished from sight. Leaving only a faint echo of excited barks trailing behind.

I turned my attention to the small flock of seagulls circling overhead, swooping toward the water and filling their beaks with unsuspecting fish, before taking flight again. Vaguely aware of the minutes slipping past with still no sign of Buttercup, I called out his name, then chased it with a spot-on imitation of my dad’s special whistle that never failed to bring Buttercup home. My feet carving into the sand, leaving no trace of footprints, as I pushed through a fog so thick, so viscous, it reminded me of the time I’d flown through a cloud storm for fun, only to realize it was anything but. And I was just about to venture into the freezing-cold water, knowing his fondness for swimming, when I heard a deep, unmistakable growl that immediately set me on edge.

Buttercup rarely growled.

He was far too good-natured for that.

So when he did, it was safe to assume he’d stumbled upon something serious.

Something very, very bad.

I followed the sound of it. That low, gravely rumble growing in intensity the closer I crept. Only to be replaced with something much worse—a horrible snarl, a high-pitched yelp, and a sickening silence that made my gut dance.

“Buttercup?” I called, my voice so shaky, so unsteady I was forced to clear my throat and try again. “Buttercup—where are you? This isn’t funny, you know! You better show yourself now,or you will not be flying home!”

The second the threat was out, I heard him. Paws beating against the hard, wet sand, his quick panting breath getting louder and louder the closer he came.

I sighed with relief and sank down to the ground. Readying myself for the big, slobbery apology hug that soon would be mine, only to watch in absolute horror as the fog split wide open and a large dog jumped out.

A dog that wasn’t Buttercup.

It was—something else entirely.

Big—the size of a pony.

Black—its coat matted and gnarled.

With paws the size of hooves that came hurtling toward me, as I screamed long and loud, desperate to get out of its way.

But it was too late.

No matter how fast I moved—it wasn’t fast enough.

There was no escaping the chains of its sharply barbed collar that clanged ominously.

No escaping the menacing glow of those deep yellow eyes with the laser-hot gaze that burned right into mine, right into my soul....

 

3

I curled into a ball, pressed my nose against my knees, and covered my face as I waited for the impact.

Waited for the push of those paws, the bite of those razor-sharp teeth, the heat of that ominous gaze to sear straight into the heart of me.

But nothing came.

And, really, why would it when there was one major thing saving me from his attack?

One major thing saving me from any attack.

One major thing that I still hadn’t grown used to—or at least not when I was in the middle of being scared witless.

The fact that I was dead.

Dead as a doornail.

Dead and buried.

Dead as ... well, pretty much as dead as it gets.

The irony being that while I may have felt more alive than ever, the truth was that my physical body had died just over a year ago. Leaving me with this new, light and filmy, somewhat translucent version that looked an awful lot like the original, gravity-bound version, except for the fact that things could easily pass through me now, whereas they couldn’t before.

Things like oversize hellhounds with matted black fur and deep menacing growls, for instance.

And, as luck would have it, I’d failed to remember any of that until Bodhi had already caught up with me.

Or, rather, make that Bodhi and Buttercup, my sweet yellow Lab, who’s not only known me for almost all of my life, but who died in the car accident right alongside me, which, all things considered, you’d think would result in some serious loyalty.

But noooo.

There were no loyalties where Buttercup was concerned. He was all too eager to sniff and lick the fingers of just about anyone willing to pet him, feed him, or play fetch with him—including my ghost guide Bodhi. And as Bodhi laughed himself silly at the way I cowered on the sand, all coiled up into my own tiny, blond, ghost-girl ball of fear, Buttercup barked and drooled and tail-wagged happily beside him, carrying on in a way that seriously made me rethink my loyalty to him, and pretty much had me hating Bodhi as much as I did the first time we met.

The first time he pushed me (literally!) into that awful room, where I was forced to undergo a super-embarrassing, completely agonizing life review.

A super-embarrassing, completely agonizing life review where I discovered that my whole entire existence, my brief twelve years on the earth plane, had amounted to little more than a joke—and that the joke was on me.

The whole thing had been a wash.

A waste.

A decade-long exercise in trying to emulate my older sister, Ever, in hopes of being just like her.

Only to result in some seriously ridiculous, seriously bratty, seriously stalkinglike behavior that, in the end, was pretty much impossible to defend.

A super-embarrassing, completely agonizing life review presided over by various members of the Council, who informed me that based on the amount of time I’d lingered on the earth plane—stubbornly refusing to cross the bridge to the Here & Now in order to stay behind and spy on my sister, celebrities, former teachers, and friends (along with anyone else who might prove interesting but was otherwise unsuspecting)—I had a job to fulfill, one where I was expected to “coax and convince” lingering spirits to cross the bridge to their new home, acting as a Soul Catcher, if you will. And even worse, I’d also been assigned a guide/teacher/coach/counselor/boss (or at least that’s how Bodhi likes to describe himself), who I was expected not only to answer to, but maybe even learn from.

Despite the fact that he no longer dressed like the big dork he did then, despite the fact that he’d swapped the nerd wear for some much cooler clothes, despite the fact that he’d let his hair go all shaggy and loose to the point where it curved down into his face in that cool guy, slightly windswept, effortless way, despite the fact that every time I looked into his brilliant blue eyes I was totally reminded of the Zac Efron poster that used to hang on my old bedroom wall, it still didn’t make it okay for him to laugh at me the way he did.

I continued to lie there, every single part of me just wishing he’d stop and move on already. But when it became clear that he wouldn’t, when it became clear that he was trying to calm down just enough, to catch his breath just enough, so that he could make the switch from laughing at me to making fun of me verbally, I jumped to...

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