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The world is ending…or so it seems for junior tennis champion Ele O’Neill. How can she face life in a Montana ghost town after Seattle? No tennis courts, no friends, and she’s stuck in a falling down old theatre with a rotten little brother and parents who are acting like aliens. And something’s hiding in Ele’s room, watching her every move, but no one will listen to her.
Steven Douglas is a nineteen-year-old cowboy with one little problem—he’s been dead for over one hundred fifty years. He’s supposed to protect the weird O’Neill family from unimaginable evil lurking in the theatre, but the modern world of tight jeans and outspoken young ladies—namely tall, blonde Ele O’Neill—has his full attention.
Though he seems kind of old-fashioned, Ele soon learns her ghost boyfriend Steven will brave her parents and hell itself to save her—and he’ll have to!
Page Count: 210
Word Count: 52341
Pop! Crack! A center spot exploded, sending out a shower of sparks and glass. The others bathed the stage in a multicolored collage of light. Large canvas flats of old-fashioned scenery leaned against the brick wall at the back. Odd pieces of battered furniture were pushed off to the side and an old upright piano sat upstage. Now that the frightening shadows were shined away, Ele judged the stage a place where she could get some practice hitting tennis balls off the back wall.
“I guess there’s nothing here.” Ele felt silly to be still scared. She just couldn’t shake it. She had seen something. Again.
“Let’s be sure.” Dad poked and moved the curtain on each side of the stage. A huge chunk of the left curtain fell off in his hand. “The material is absolutely rotten.” He examined the dusty rag. “Maybe you saw a piece of the curtain separate. In the dark that might have looked like a man.”
Ele looked from Dad’s hopeful face to Mom’s worried one. “Yeah, maybe.” She felt something behind her and whipped around. Eugene was holding two fingers like antennas behind her head. “Get away from me, you little jerk.”
“Eugene, leave your sister alone,” Dad said and went backstage to shut off the lights. When he suddenly reappeared, a shiver of fear snaked up Ele’s backbone. It was almost like before. Now she was sure someone had been on stage. Watching her.
On the way back upstairs, Ele quietly asked her mother if she could sleep with her. “Or maybe let me have Eugene’s room. He can play rat boy in the attic.”
“Ele, are you still afraid? I thought we settled this. Don’t be scared, sweetie. Your room is the safest. There’s only one way in, and you can lock the door. In fact, did you see? It has a bar you can put across it.”
“M-o-o-o-m…” Ele couldn’t think of anything to convince her mother so she could only whine. It was immature, and it worked every time.
“No, Electra, you’ll be just fine. Your dad’s got the bed all ready for you. And I’ll even tuck you in.” Mom grinned and patted her cheek.
So much for whining. Ele tramped up the stairs to her room. Dad waited for her. He looked happy. Why not? He got to sleep safely downstairs with Mom and next door to Eugene. Nothing would dare come within a mile of that Satan’s spawn!
Ele snuggled deeply into the down-filled sleeping bag. The old bed wasn’t too bad covered with the thin self-inflating ground pad. It was about like sleeping on rocks. That’s where the similarity ended. She was self-imprisoned—she’d barred the door—in a huge creepy attic, trying to sleep on a broken iron cot crammed in a corner under the low sloping tin ceiling. She left the only working light on and the flashlight her dad gave her, too. Ele knew she would never be able to sleep here…but she did.
Ele didn’t know what woke her. Really, she didn’t realize she’d slept until she saw the dark. The lights were out. Her eyes were drawn to the moonlight filtering through the lace curtains and…to the man standing in the middle of the room.
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