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Four Witches and a Funeral (Wicked Society Book 3) by Daisy Prescott (1)

Prologue

Hanging out in Boston is more interesting than loitering around an empty mansion. I’ve become fond of the little café on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. The owner is a cranky bastard, but the place smells of coffee, warm sugar, and butter. Heavenly. Not that I’d know from firsthand experience.

The cute guy in line for coffee stares at me. After checking no one is behind me, I smile and give him a quick, friendly wave.

He’s adorable with dark hair, dark eyes, glasses, a hoodie, and those skinny jeans all of the college guys are wearing these days.

He acknowledges my greeting with a small curve of his full lips and a nod.

Normally, I keep to myself. Not exactly shy, but not so bold as to make the first move when I meet a guy. Or anyone. I wait for them to initiate contact. Too many times I think there’s a connection, only to be rejected. 

I can’t help it. I’ve always been the kind of girl to wear her heart on her sleeve.

Sweeping my hand over my long, dark hair, I make sure I’m not a mess. I’m glad I chose to wear it down today. With a glance at my vintage dress, I double-check that I’m not flashing a breast or have too much cleavage. Wouldn’t want him to think I’m trying too hard or only looking for sex. It’s been ages since I’ve even kissed a guy. I lost track of how long when days turned to weeks turned to months …

The adorable guy in the hoodie picks up his coffee and strolls in my direction. 

My palms dampen and my heart picks up its pace as he gets closer to my table. The seat across from me is empty, and I say a silent prayer that he’ll ask me if he can join me. I can see the entire scenario play out in my head. We’ll say hi and introduce ourselves and then chat about coffee or coffeeshops. I’ll make a joke about how no one ever talks to each other anymore. He’ll make an astute observation about the lost art of conversation. A few lingering looks will be exchanged. Our fingers will touch when we both reach for our cups or the sugar. Perhaps his leg will bump mine under the table. The first time will be accidental, but the second won’t. 

I’ll touch my hair. He’ll press his fingers to his mouth or lick a spot of foam from the corner of his lips. He’ll catch me staring. I’ll blush. We’ll finish our coffees. He’ll offer to buy me another one. I’ll accept because I want to keep chatting with him, not ready for our encounter to end. He’ll surprise me with a slice of pound cake. I’ll thank him and mention it’s my favorite. He’ll say something about remembering for next time. I’ll make a coy remark about his presumption about a next time. He’ll ask for my number. I’ll give it to him. He’ll promise to call. 

He reaches my table. My heart catches in my throat when he stares at me, silently asking permission to join me. I nod and point at the empty chair. He sets his coffee down before peeling off his sweatshirt and hanging it over the back of the chair.

Tattoos cover his forearm. Most are black ink, but a red semi-colon on his wrist catches my attention.

When he sits, I extend my hand. “Hi, I’m Alice.”

He ignores me. 

Of course he does. This is my life now.

What’s a ghost to do?

My table companion sips his coffee and stares through me, lost in his own thoughts or memories. I can stare all I want. A perk. He reminds me of a man I loved a long time ago.

His mouth is full and dark. He drags his thumb over his bottom lip. Back and forth, slow and methodical. Unable to look away, I wonder if he’s remembering a kiss. Or dreaming of one yet to be.

I miss kissing, especially a first kiss. The magic and promise of the initial tentative contact.

He reminds me of my first and only love. When I take a moment to study him, he doesn’t compare. Not as handsome. Not as polished. The devilish spark I love is missing from his eyes.

My heart aches for the love I’ve lost and the boy who is no longer mine.

How do you know you’re alive?

I ask myself this question every day.

My answer is always the same.

I don’t know because I’m dead.

Insert a rimshot sound here because I’m hysterical and I’ll be here all week.

This is the worst joke ever.

For anyone who has ever wished for the power of invisibility, I advise you to rethink your superpower.

Sure, temporary invisibility might be cool. But what if it becomes your normal? Let me tell you, it’s not as fun as it seems.

Fellow humans are more than a little gross. There’s a lot more farting and nose picking than I ever thought possible. And please, for the love of typhoid, please wash your hands.

An involuntary shudder ripples through my body.

No longer visible or tangible to the living, my body is still mine. Ten fingers, ten toes, and everything in between. Just as it was when I died, for the most part.

Not even in death do I have the perfect body, or the one I dreamed of having.

People have all sorts of ideas about ghosts and spirits. We wear white sheets. We rattle chains. We bring the gifts of truth and self-reflection to assholes. None of these things are true. Not even a little bit.

For the most part, we’re loners. Rarely do I ever hang out with another spirit. Majority of the time, I only see humans who rarely notice me. Most days, I’m not sure they even see each other.

This is my reality. Same Alice as I ever was, and apparently, same as I’ll ever be.

If this is eternity, I’d like a refund.