Find out about the heroine in BJ Sheldon’s Haunting. Here’s an excerpt.
I turned away from the window and began to hang a Michael Bublé poster over my headboard. Across the hall, my sister busily organized her room.
Sadie had taken it hard at first when Dad had informed us we were moving. In overly dramatic style, she had locked herself in her room—for about two hours. I eventually managed to lure her out with tales of how intriguing and exotic a city girl like her would be to corn-fed, Iowa farm boys. With renewed enthusiasm, she changed her tune and began to pack. She’d been between boyfriends anyway.
I held no doubt in my mind that she would be amongst the most popular in our new school, while I would ultimately end up as her lesser-known sophomore sibling. I wasn’t jealous of my sister. In fact, I rather enjoyed blending in with the crowd, flying under the radar as it were. Iowa wouldn’t be any different for me than Florida had been.
Sadie was a typical Dutch girl that one could find all over northwest Iowa—tall and thin, with dark hair and matching brown eyes. I did feel bad for Sadie, though—having to start over at the beginning of her senior year in a new town and a new school—but her penchant for popularity would get her through.
She covered her new walls with posters of male celebrities, sans shirts, showing off their perfect abs. We had wasted many a night arguing whether the pictures were airbrushed or not. Trophies from basketball, track, and volleyball decorated her shelves. Sadie aspired to become a beach volleyball player and make millions in endorsement deals. I was always amazed at her ability to think big and believe even bigger—no matter how absurd the idea might have been.
After Mom had died—I was 4 and Sades was 6—Dad took an interest in Sadie’s natural athletic ability. Maybe it kept his mind off missing Mom, or maybe he saw it as an opportunity to secure his daughter’s future through a college scholarship. Either way, after school and on weekends we kept busy cheering her on—first in city leagues and later in junior high sports. In high school—with her 6-foot frame—she excelled specifically in volleyball and already had college scouts courting her from Florida and beyond.
As the loudest parent in the stands, Dad made it very clear whether or not he was satisfied with Sadie’s performance. I had always found it rather embarrassing, but Sades didn’t seem to mind. Sadie and I were very close—no doubt, a direct result of Mom’s death—but we remained complete opposites in every way. I had played one season of soccer when I was 10. I soon realized, though, that I should leave the athletics to my sister. Instead, I became a wallflower and read everything I could get my hands on. I filled my elementary school years with the literary classics such as Huckleberry Finn, A Tale of Two Cities and The Baby-Sitters Club, but over the past few years, I had become obsessed with more recent fare that involved wizards, witches and vampires.
My birth certificate read Baby Girl Hall, but I was a Vermeer, even if I didn’t look a thing like the rest of the family. I’d always known I was adopted. There was never that “we-have-something-to-tell-you” moment that some adopted kids go through. It never bothered me. My mom had been a wonderful mother, and my dad was the greatest man I’d ever known.
I took a moment from unpacking and looked myself over in the mirror above my dresser. Standing at 5-foot-6, I was far shorter and much curvier than Sadie. I wasn’t ugly or fat by any means, but I didn’t have that tall, athletic type of body that so many girls with a Dutch heritage in northwest Iowa had been blessed with. Part Italian, part Dutch and part pretty much everything else, I had always thought of myself as merely average with considerable potential. There was, however, one notable exception; my D-cups were anything but average, and they always managed to get in the way of whatever I was doing. Jogging, golf, push-ups, and seeing my toes were generally out of the question.
My mind wandered back to the dream I’d had the night before. And the two nights before that. It was eerie and unlike any of the normal dreams I was used to having. Strangely enough, I remembered everything about it, right down to the smell of the dirt and the chill in the air. And, I remembered him. I closed my eyes and saw him clearly: the clothes he wore, the color of his eyes, his haunting presence.