I breathed a long, contented sigh. Peace… Seriously, I couldn’t remember ever feeling so stress-free. Goddess, it was a gorgeous day. The sun was amazing—all golden and glowy in a sky so birthday-cake-icing blue that it should have hurt my eyes. But it didn’t.

Which was kinda weird. Bright sunlight should hurt my eyes.


Oh, well. Whatever.

The meadow was totally beautiful. It reminded me of something. I started to try to remember, but decided I didn’t want to think that hard. The day was too pretty to think. I just wanted to breathe in the sweet summer air and breathe out all the stupid tension that had been coiled like a slinky inside my body.

The grass was waving around my legs softly, like delicate feathers.


What was it about feathers?

“Nope. No thinking.” I smiled as my words became visible, creating sparkly purple patterns in the air.

In front of me was a line of trees that were filled with white flowers that reminded me of snowflakes. The wind brushed gently through their branches, making music on the air that I danced to, skipping and pirouetting through the grove, breathing deeply of the blossoms’ sweet scent.

I wondered for a second where I was, but it didn’t seem all that important. Or at least not as important as the peace and the music and the dancing.

Then I wondered how I’d gotten here. That stopped me. Okay, well, it didn’t really stop me. It just slowed me down.

That’s when I heard it. It was a zing, plop! sound. It seemed comfortingly familiar, so I followed it through the grove. More blue peeked through the trees, this time it reminded me of topaz or aquamarines. Water.

With a happy little cry I ran out of the trees to the bank of an amazingly clear lake.

Zing, plop!

The sound was coming from around a little bend in the lake’s shore, so I followed it, humming my favorite song from Hairspray softly to myself.

The dock jutted out onto the lake, perfect for fishing. And, sure enough, there was a guy sitting on the end of the dock, casting out his line with a little zing and then a plop! as it hit the water.

It was strange. I didn’t know who he was, but suddenly a terrible panic intruded on my wonderful, beautiful day. No! I didn’t want to see him! I was shaking my head and starting to back away when I stepped on a twig and the snap had him turning around.

The big smile on his handsome face vanished when he saw me.


Heath’s voice did it. My memory rushed back. The sadness knocked me to my knees. He was up and running toward me so that he caught me in his arms as I fell.

“But you don’t belong here! You’re dead!” I sobbed against his chest.

“Zo, babe, this is the Otherworld. It’s not me who doesn’t belong here—it’s you.”

Memory crashed over me, drowning me with despair and darkness and reality as my world shattered, and everything went black.

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