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Authors: Jennifer Snyder

Tags: #Fantasy, #Romance, #Young Adult


BOOK: Hereafter
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Hereafter Copyright © 2012 Jennifer Snyder

Published by Jennifer Snyder

Cover Design by Once Upon a Time Covers

Kindle Edition

This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to peoples either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, and characters are figments of the author’s imagination. The author holds all rights to this work. It is illegal to reproduce this novel without written expressed consent from the author herself.

All rights reserved. No part of this e-book may be reproduced in any form other than that in which it was purchased and without the written permission of the author.





For those who believe that love can transcend anything.





The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends and where the other begins? — Edgar Allen Poe












I felt hollow inside. Complete emptiness swam through me as depression darkened my thoughts. How does a soul go on when they’re stuck here after death?

I drew my legs into me, letting myself slump into a little ball while I rested my head against my knees. He couldn’t see me, he couldn’t feel me, he couldn’t even hear me, but I was there. I’d watched him for the last two months as he mourned my death. Between the suicide of my mother nearly eight months ago and my own recent tragic death, my father was barely recognizable. He was nothing but a hollowed shell of the man he used to be.

At the moment, he sat in the center of our couch, staring down a half-finished bottle of Jack Daniels. It was only 9 a.m. He hadn’t taken his first sip yet, but I could see the battle already beginning to wage within him on whether or not he should. He was broken and I was dead, with no capabilities of fixing him.

I glanced around the room, taking in how chaotic our living room had become. Boxes of all shapes and sizes were stacked sporadically throughout the room. All that remained of the room, which I’d never given much thought to while I had been alive, was a couch, one recliner, a coffee table, one silver-rimmed family photo, a half-drunken bottle of Jack Daniels, and a completely broken man.

Dad’s cell phone chimed, echoing off the bare walls and making him jump. Even this loud, sudden noise didn’t frighten me like it normally would have. Maybe when you’re dead there’s nothing left to be afraid of.

“Hey,” he answered with a sigh. His chest caved in as his body slumped forward; it was a phone call he obviously didn’t want to take.

I could hear a female voice on the other end echo through the silent house—Aunt Karen, the motivation behind all of the packed boxes that littered the floor.

“Yeah, I know. I’ve got most of it packed,” Dad said, rubbing his forehead with his fingers. “I know they’re coming tomorrow. I just haven’t been able to go into her room yet.”

I couldn’t hear her reply, but I could hear the tension in my father’s voice when he said, “I’ll get it. Don’t worry.”

After he hung up, Dad didn’t hesitate in swiping the bottle up off the coffee table before heading to what used to be my bedroom. I remained where I was, unsure if I wanted to follow. Witnessing him pack my things seemed like torture, but so did the thought of him doing it alone.

My bare feet padded across the hardwood floor, and I wasn’t sure if it was my memory or if I was actually feeling its coldness against my skin. Sometimes it was hard to tell. Dad stood in the doorway to my room, his shoulders sagging with a crippling sadness etched into his features. I moved past him and into the familiar room.

“God, I miss you, sweetheart,” Dad breathed, and for a split second I almost thought he was aware I was here with him, as if he could feel my presence as I passed the threshold.

He raised the bottle of whiskey to his lips, and then stepped inside the room and gave it a sweeping glance as he shifted to face me. His gaze became fixated on a picture of me and Mom from three summers ago that rested at the corner of my dresser. I knew what he was thinking—how unfair life had been to him—without him having to utter a single word aloud. The unspoken words dripped through my mind like icy droplets of rain.

“If there was anything I could do to come back to you, I would,” I whispered, even though I knew my words would be mute to his ears.

The fact that I was here, but entirely unheard and unnoticed was something I swore I’d never grow accustomed to. It was like being invisible and mute to others in an unchanging body, or at least that was what I imagined it would be like for me until the end of my forever.

I wasn’t just dead. I was a Reaper, but unlike others, I was a member of the Reaper Council. This was something passed on through the women in my family along my mother’s side. Something that was supposed to skip a generation, but then my mother committed suicide and I inherited her fate. Since I had been taken before my time because of her actions, I wasn’t sure what would happen to me or who would eventually take my place when it was my turn to Fade Out.

I trailed my fingertips across the edge of my dresser and watched as the dust remained just the way it was, entirely untouched, behind my finger. My eyes shifted to the mirror. Its surface was hazy with built-up dust from the month-long period of time this room had been sealed up like a tomb. Could I leave him a message? Maybe scroll a simple
I’m here with you
across its pane?

It was possible, that much I was sure of. I’d moved tiny objects with enough concentration over the last month, but it had always left me feeling drained. No, the question was not whether or not it was possible to leave a message etched in the dust of my mirror, it was, was it a smart thing to do? Dad was still grieving for me; he was still fragile. Would my message be the very thing that broke him completely? The very thing that pushed him over the edge?

My eyes shifted toward him, and I watched as he folded cardboard into the shape of a box and carefully began to move all the books from my shelf into it. The tattered copy of
Interview with a
by Anne Rice, my all-time favorite book, rested in his hands a moment longer than all the others. And then, I heard them. His sobs filled the deafening silence of my room and trembled through my soul.

Maybe I shouldn’t write
I’m here with you
, but instead,
I’m okay and I love you
. It was staggering how much the need to tell my father that I loved him filled me, a yearning I’d never felt when I was still alive. It was something I had taken for granted completely.

Our relationship had never been the greatest, especially not after my mother ended her life. Part of this was because of the similarities she and I shared in our appearance, and the other was because she was his best friend, the missing piece to his soul, his better half. Losing her was like not being able to breathe. His face had been blank at her funeral, but his pain had still swirled within his eyes, as if each breath literally pained him because she was no longer here.

Now, he looked even worse. Broken beyond repair.

Sadness swallowed me, erasing the emptiness I’d felt earlier. I touched my fingertip to the edge of the glass and focused all of my energy into moving the dust beneath. I felt the coldness of the glass finally meet with my fingertip and glanced to my dad, taking in his sobbing frame as I concentrated harder on moving the dust partials beneath my finger. As I lifted my finger away to be sure I’d succeeded in making an imprint at all within the dust, I felt the familiar tugging of my soul and noticed the first few tendrils of blackness snake around my ankles.

Dread filled me.

Blackness swirled around me like a dense fog, making me lose my concentration before I could do anything more with my message. Dread turned into panic and panic turned into frustration quickly as I took one last glance at my father. I watched as he tipped back the bottle he’d held in his hand and stared at the old picture of my mother and me.

I wouldn’t get the chance to console him with my dust-written message today.

The blackness swirled around my hips moving upward, slowly encasing my shoulders in its thick fog as it formed my cloak. The tugging grew stronger with each second that passed, until I could feel the summoning of the ruling humming through my soul. It was a sensation not to be ignored, although I had tried to before. It left me feeling as though my soul were a rubber band stretched too tight, to the point of snapping, and if I didn’t close my eyes right then and release myself from my unwillingness to go, then I surly would have ripped my soul in half.

This tugging was nothing new. I knew exactly what was about to happen—I was being called to another Reaper Ruling.







As the blackness continued to flow around me, creating my silken cloak, I dropped my hand and stared once more at the only imprint in the dust I’d been able to create—a single fingerprint. Closing my eyes, I gave into the tug and pull of the others calling to me because I knew I wouldn’t win in the fight against them. When I opened my eyes again, I was standing near a peaceful lake surrounded by a thick forest.

It was early morning. Fog wisped around my ankles the same way the blackness had moments before, and I was sure, to the man standing in front of me, it made me appear more alluring and mysterious than I actually am. I remembered what it had felt like to stand in front of the three others who now flanked my sides when I’d first learned I was to become a Reaper, when I’d learned what happens to us after we die.

The three of them, plus my great-grandmother, had all seemed so mystifying and intimidating draped in black-hooded cloaks just like I was now: Damaris, with his smooth, dark skin, caramel-colored eyes, and a voice like thunder; Evelyn, with her pixie-like features, sky-blue eyes, and creamy, flawless skin; William, with his chestnut-colored hair and grayish eyes that seemed to bore right into your soul; and then, of course, there had been my great-grandmother, Cassandra, with her long, wavy black hair streaked with gray, striking green eyes, and olive skin. They had all stared at me, instantly terrifying me of what was to come next in my afterlife.

I now stood in my great-grandmother’s place, my looks matching hers exactly, all except for the streaks of gray and the waves. I stared at the man, taking in his frosted white hair, his clear blue eyes, and his skin wrinkled by age. I wondered why he was supposed to become a Reaper now, when he was so old. The man’s eyes met mine. I didn’t enjoy the unknowing fear I saw pooling in their depths directed toward me. It brought back emotions from when I’d been standing in his position. I didn’t want him to fear me. I wasn’t like the others. I didn’t take pride in my place of power or relish in the fear it brought out in others once they learned they had no control over their afterlife.

My eyes shifted from the old man and to his Reaper, a young, dark-haired guy about my age. His eyes flicked to mine almost as though he could feel them on him, and a ghost of a smile twisted his lips. I continued to stare, my eyes locked within his dull blue ones like a prisoner, only because he reminded me of someone. Someone I yearned for as though my body were still alive. Someone I hadn’t seen in so long I wondered if the emptiness and hollowed out sensation I always seemed to feel was really because I was dead or simply from his absence.


The emptiness that always seemed to consume my mind began to fester and grow in the presence of my memories and the poor excuse for a look-alike standing in front of me, which my mind seemed intent on comparing Jet to.

Although we hadn’t had a lot of time together while I was still alive, the fact was, we hadn’t needed it for either of us to know the depth of our feelings. Some say love at first sight is a ludicrous belief. That it’s only for those who are lustful and dim-witted. I disagree strongly. With Jet, it had been love at first sight, and that had been all the proof I’d needed to believe in it.

BOOK: Hereafter
7.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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