Listen to the Ghost
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by Beverly Stowe McClure
Category: Young Adult Dream Realm Award Finalist
Description: A girl's quest to discover the truth not only about her ghost but about herself, as well. The story is set in Charleston, South Carolina, where, according to legend, many old houses have a resident ghost.
eBook Publisher: Twilight Times Books, 2003
eBookwise Release Date: July 2004
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [232 KB]
Reading time: 146-205 min.
"...If you like to try to solve mysteries before the characters do, then this is the book for you! Listen to the Ghost not only has enjoyable characters but it also features twists and turns worthy of any great mystery. The plot is complex, but easy to follow, even when events of the past and present begin to mirror each other. Ms. McClure has given the each character different and distinct personalities, and by the end of the book I felt like I really knew both Jade and Phoebe. Listen to the Ghost is a well-written book that would be a fabulous addition to any bookshelf. One I know I will want to read over and over again."--Amanda Roberts, Romance Reviews Today
"...Author McClure has produced a real page-turner of a read in Listen to the Ghost. Reader interest is maintained from the opening lines when we meet Jade puzzling over the music she hears coming from somewhere in the house. Connection is held fast as we encounter the lighthearted ghost, and is continued past the insistence of the stalker ex boy friend who just will not take no for an answer and right down to the last paragraphs as we all attend Jade's eighteenth birthday party. Listen to the Ghost is not only tense or high-strung activity. Phoebe the ghost is a delight who 'borrows' the girls' jewelry and clothing, paints a mustache and beard on the portrait of the ex boyfriend and lobs veggies and patties at the young people. Writer McClure creates a nicely honed work filled with spine tingling action, clever scenarios, and well fleshed characters in this deftly written narrative. Forceful motivations, precarious twists of story line, first class conversation fill the pages in this exciting read. Sure to please the target audience Listen to the Ghost has a place in the home pleasure reading library.--Molly Martin
"...I am always looking for a book which will ignite and delight the imaginations of my adolescent nieces and nephews. Listen to the Ghost fits the bill. McClure does a fine job of sparking the reader's imagination and creating suspense. She takes you on a roller coaster ride from her opening lines when Jade hears the voice of the ghost through the tense confrontation with Jade's ex-boyfriend, and ends in a successful conclusion of solving Phoebe's mystery of her missing wedding rings and a new romance for Jade. Listen to the Ghost should delight the younger adolescent readers."--Deb Watson, Blue Iris Journal
Jade heard it again, the same musical sound that had kept her awake half the night. Someone was singing. The light, airy tune reminded her of wind chimes, blowing in a gentle breeze.
But that cannot be, she thought. I'm alone. Elaine is in her room across the hall. David is in his. Last night, I thought it a dream, but I'm awake now, and the voice seems real, as real as my own.
"I'm hallucinating," she said aloud, the sound of her own voice comforting. "Nobody here, but me and my wild imagination."
To prove her point, Jade sat up in bed and skimmed a quick look around the room. Early morning light shimmered through the open window. White lace curtains floated lazily over the window seat. Her luggage sat at the foot of her canopy bed where she had piled it last night. She'd been too tired after the long drive from Texas to Charleston to unpack. She made a mental note to do so after she returned from the festival.
Her paintings were stacked against the wall, next to the fireplace. The singing had ceased now. Everything appeared normal. She tapped her ear lightly. "Maybe I should have my hearing checked."
She swallowed nervously. "And what should I do about the prickly feeling on the back of my neck, as if eyes are watching me? Ignore it? Right. I probably ate something yesterday that caused a chemical imbalance in my system. Result--temporary insanity. So stop worrying, Jade Dalton. The festival awaits you."
She slid out of bed, padded to the vanity, her feet sinking in the thick white carpet, and opened her jewelry box. She rummaged through the contents, puckered her lips.
"Great," she grumbled. "My day is going from weird to puzzling to incredible. First, I hear an imaginary voice. Then my initial ring and diamond earrings vanish. Mom is going to kill me. I've got to find them."
She dug through her rings and bracelets and necklaces a second time. She took a deep breath, forcing back panic. "They're not here. Okay. Think, girl. I was wearing them when we arrived. I put them away." She scrunched up her nose. "At least I think I did. Maybe I dropped them."
She knelt, ran her hand underneath the vanity. Nothing. She rose. Her shorts and T-shirt she'd worn on the trip were in the chair. Hope flickered. She ran over, grabbed the shorts and fished through the pockets. Empty. She flung them down in disgust. "I am so in trouble. On top of everything else, I'm talking to myself. I'm in worse shape than I thought. The next thing I know I'll be seeing things."
Her words trailed off. Someone was singing again. And then she knew.
"All right, Elaine, dear former friend, fun's over. I'm not laughing. Show yourself."
The room grew eerily quiet.
"So you want to play games," Jade said, a bit irritated. "Okay, I'll humor you." Under her breath, she added, "Then I'll dunk you in the garden fountain." Jade dropped to her knees and peeked under the bed. No Elaine.
She sprang to her feet and slapped her hands on her hips. "Elaine! Answer me!"
Out of the corner of her eye, Jade caught movement. "Ha! I see you." She swung around. She blinked. She blinked again. She rubbed her eyes and stared in awe at a faint pink mist hovering over the fireplace mantel on the far wall.
Un-uh! I am not seeing what I think I'm seeing, Jade told herself. There is no pink mist or cloud or whatever. It's the sun casting a weird reflection. Even as she spoke, the pink mist flickered then vanished, like a soap bubble that's burst. Jade blinked a third time, needing to find a rationale for what she had seen or not seen. My eyes are blurry, because I didn't sleep well, because... I heard...
"Elaine's radio!" she shouted. Jade jumped up and down, clapping her hands. "That's the singing I heard. And the other noises were David huffing and puffing and grunting while pumping iron. Or the possibility exists that I am totally crazy."
She waved that idea aside. "We'll consider my mental condition later. I've more pressing matters to deal with at the moment."
Jade resumed the search for her missing ring and earrings. They were her favorites. Her grandmother, Nan Dalton, had given them to her on her seventeenth birthday last summer. She wore them everywhere. Jade pulled back the quilt and sheets. She looked under the pillows. She was rifling through her backpack on the chance she'd put them there, when her arms suddenly grew cold. She could not shake the feeling that someone was watching her.
She laughed at herself. What is wrong with me? she thought. I sound like I believe Elaine with her stories of ghosts and spirits and noises in the night. She'd say we have a supernatural being in our midst. Granny Nan would laugh and tell us she's lived in this house for years and never seen a ghost. How I wish she were here now.
When her grandparents had asked Jade and her brother, David, and her best friend, Elaine, to house-sit their Victorian mansion for the summer while they jetted around Europe, Jade had agreed for three reasons: One--Charleston, South Carolina, was half a continent away from Texas and her ex-boyfriend, Kurt Sinclair--emphasis on the "ex." Two--she loved the annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival--the ballet, the music, the crowds, and the art exhibits. Art was her passion. She had brought her best wildlife watercolors and oil portraits to show. Three, and the most important reason--she loved this old house where she had spent every summer of her seventeen years.
David, nineteen, going on thirty, had agreed because he always did what was expected of him. After all, he was Mr. Perfect: straight-A student, star pitcher on the Saxet, Texas, high school baseball team, academic and athletic scholarships to the College of Charleston for the second straight year. How did Jade know he was perfect? Their parents said he was. All her friends said he was, especially her best friend, Elaine Morrow, who had had a crush on David since eighth grade. Elaine had been thrilled when Jade's grandparents included her in the invitation. Jade knew she saw the trip as a chance to get closer to David. She also knew that even though Elaine had turned eighteen a month ago, David still thought of her as Jade's bratty little friend, the same way he thought of her.
David was responsible and dependable, and their parents trusted him. So they made arrangements with Doc Gentry, a neighbor of Granny Nan and Grandpa Jack, to keep an eye on David and the girls. Their parents would join them later in the summer. And Jade had promised to behave herself and listen to her brother.
"Speaking of bratty kids," she said as she made the bed, "I'm about as far from perfect as a person can get. The harder I try to live up to David's image, the more I realize it's impossible. Why do I bother? Dumb question. My parents expect it of me. And I am still talking to myself. I wonder what that means."
Jade was closing the lid to her jewelry box and puzzling over where she might have put her missing ring and earrings when the door creaked open and Elaine swept into the room, every golden curl in place, her navy shorts and light blue shirt molded to her tall, slender body. Jade smiled. Of course. She should have thought of it sooner. One mystery solved. Elaine must have borrowed her jewelry. They wore each other's clothes all the time. That's what friends did.
"Morning, Jade," Elaine said. "I'm ready to go to the park. I've never been to a festival. What's it like?"
"Hectic, exciting. You'll love it." Jade looked in the mirror and ran a brush through her short, cinnamon-brown hair. "May I have my initial ring and diamond earrings back?" she asked. "I'd like to wear them today."
Jade never heard Elaine's answer for the pink mist was back, reflected in the mirror before her. The mist swirled above the mantel, like a spring storm.
Jade gulped. "Elaine," she whispered, "tell me what you see."
"By the fireplace," Jade said, her eyes still on the reflection.
Elaine turned that way, tilted her head. "I see a fireplace. Candles. A painting."
The mist twirled faster, moved toward them, and Jade cried, "Elaine! Look out!"
Elaine spun to face Jade at the same time Jade ducked. An icy wind brushed Jade's face and then was gone. She squeaked, "Did you see that?"
Elaine's gray eyes opened wide. "I saw you scrunch down. Do you feel all right? You want me to get David?"
Jade whispered, "No. It's... I thought I saw...." She blew out a puff of air, straightened her back. "I'm okay."
"You're sure?" Elaine didn't sound convinced.
"It was probably the wind stirring up dust," Jade said.
Pink dust? She quickly dismissed the thoughts rambling in her brain, at least outwardly, and began gathering her paintings. Her hands were trembling so she could barely hold them.