I was haunting the mailbox. It was already late
March and I should have been receiving an acceptance letter
anytime, at least that’s what I hoped. I had applied to three colleges,
but UC Nightshade was my first choice.
It might seem weird to want to stay in the same small town
where I’d always lived, but my father, through no fault of his
own, had been away from the family and hadn’t been back
home that long. I couldn’t bear to disappoint him by leaving.
Besides, my two older sisters already went to UC Nightshade,
so I’d have the benefit of their advice. And more important,
my boyfriend, Ryan, was applying to UC Nightshade too.
On my way home from school I spotted someone in a blue
uniform standing in front of our mailbox. The postal carrier!
But when I rushed up I was surprised to see it wasn’t our usual
carrier. Instead it was a strange woman with light brown hair
who was standing with one hand in our mailbox.
“Where’s Mr. Johansson?” I asked. He’d been our mail
carrier for years.
The woman turned, startled, and I noticed a purple
birthmark on her face.
“Vacation,” she mumbled, and hurried off.
I was disappointed to find the mailbox empty. The anticipation
was going to kill me. My whole family had noticed my
frequent trips to the mailbox, and Poppy sometimes messed
with me by hiding the mail.
Mom’s car was in the driveway, which meant she was home
already. I walked through the front door and into the hallway.
“Daisy, the mail’s on the kitchen counter,” Mom called from
upstairs. It was unusual to find her home before me on a weekday.
It must be a slow day for crime. Mom was a psychic investigator,
and she helped local law enforcement agencies with
their cases. It made life interesting, since Nightshade’s chief of
police was the father of my boyfriend.
Ryan and I seemed to have inherited their taste for crime
solving, since with his help I’d solved several crimes in Nightshade.
You know what they say: The couple that solves crimes
together stays together. Well, they don’t really say that, but they
I thumbed quickly through the pile of mail. Bills, junkmail,
and a thick envelope for my father, but there wasn’t anything
“Mr. Johansson says hello, “Mom continued.
“The mailman? I thought he was on vacation,” I said.
“What did you say?”Mom hollered.
“Never mind,” I replied.
Just then, my cell buzzed. It was Ryan. “Did you get anything
yet?” he asked.
There was silence on the other end of the phone for a
moment. “Nothing,” he eventually replied.
“Cheer up,” he said. “They’ll be here soon.”
“I’m getting tired of waiting,” I said.
“Me too,” Ryan admitted.
The unspoken tension between us was caused by one question:
What would happen between us if we ended up at different
Not to mention that my boyfriend was a werewolf, which
might be difficult to hide at the dorms. Hiding my psychic abilities
would be comparatively easy. The existence of paranormals
was starting to be known and accepted in Nightshade,
but not everyone in the world had that attitude.
The thought sent me into such a deep funk that I almost
missed Ryan’s invitation.
“Do you want to do something tonight?” he asked.
“I have to work,” I said.
“How about Friday? We’ll make it a special date.” I was
flattered by his insistence.
“Of course,” I replied. “What do you have in mind?”
“I just want to see you,” he said.“You’ve been so busy lately.”
I’d been busy, it was true, but I also had been avoiding him,
using work as an excuse. Everyone said that long-distance relationships
never worked. I didn’t want to get even closer to
Ryan only to break up when we left for separate colleges, or
later, when distance took its toll. If we both ended up at UC
Nightshade, our relationship stood a chance.
I missed him, though, and couldn’t resist temptation.
“I’ll make you dinner,” I offered. “Everyone will be out of
At least, I was pretty sure they would be. Rose would be
out with her boyfriend, Nicholas Bone, and Poppy had a date.
She’d been out with her new guy, Liam, almost every night.
Even my parents would be out attending some faculty
function at UC Nightshade, where my dad now taught
“Why don’t we go out to dinner?” Ryan asked. “There’s
something I wanted to talk to you about.”
Why can’t he talk to me at home? “Sure,” I said. “Slim’s?”
“I was thinking maybe dinner at Wilder’s,” Ryan replied.
Wilder’s? That was a special-occasion restaurant, not the
kind of place we normally went on date night. I once had a few
cooking lessons from their former chef, although the lessons
were more like unpaid labor than a learning experience.
“Okay,” I said after a long pause, “but I thought you were
saving money for college.”
“You’re worth the splurge,” Ryan said. “I’ll make a reservation
We hung up after I realized I needed to be at work in half
an hour. Business had picked up at Slim’s Diner, so I’d been
working a lot, which was helping with my college fund. If I got
into a college, that is.
I went to talk to my sister Poppy about using the car that
night. Both Rose and Poppy still lived at home while they attended UC
Nightshade.My parents were ecstatic at the idea of
me doing the same. Poppy was on the phone, as usual, but she
broke offher conversation to stare at me.
“What?” she said. “I’m on the phone.”
“Can I have the car tonight?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. “My date is picking me up here.” She’d
been awfully mysterious about Liam. We’d met him at an
event on Halloween, but she hadn’t brought him home and
didn’t talk about him at all to us, which was definitely not like
I drove to work, still wondering what Ryan wanted to talk
to me about.
Once there, I went in search of my boss. Slim’s had red
leather booths, the best cinnamon rolls in the county, and a prophetic
jukebox. Not your average diner at all. And the owner
and his sister were far from average, as well. The head waitress,
Flo, was on her cell phone, in the middle of a very giggly
conversation. Probably with her boyfriend. I decided not to
There was no sign of Slim, but since he was invisible, there
never was. I went in search of him to see what he needed me to
do first. I waited tables or helped out in the kitchen, depending
on the day.
The kitchen looked empty, but I knew enough to doublecheck.
“Slim?” I said into the air.
“Hi, Daisy,” a voice said.
“Where do you need me tonight?” I asked.