Chapter 11

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I had two things to report to Kayla when I found her leaning up against her car scrolling through messages on her phone. The first was that I had to make a pitstop at home to tell Jack about Blake. Second, I needed to tell Kayla that her scowling modern homesteader ex was enrolled in our high school.

"Shit, I thought I saw him down the hall but then I couldn't find him, and I assumed I must be wrong. Why would he be here?"

"He's a half-demon sent from the hellfire to torture me until I give up the purity that is Jack to the flames of eternal damnation?"

Kayla's face froze partway between sneer and laugh. "He's not that bad."

"He's not that good either. But still, I've dealt with demons so I know what's up. He and I have made a truce, I think. Oh, and he's here because his parents don't have time to deal with him right now."

"I guess having another kid on life support sort of eats away at the clock." She motioned for me to get in the car and then she did the same. I recounted my conversation with Ethan while we drove the short distance to my house. "I'm going to go home and let Pookie out." Pookie was her mom's Goldendoodle and the unofficial forth child of the family. "See you back here in twenty."

I took the steps up to my front door at the pace of a geriatric dachshund. At school, I could hardly wait to tell Jack about the day's huge reveal but now that the moment was upon me, it would have been nice if a small earthquake happened to rumble through and delay things by an hour or decade. Jack might think I was as nuts as Kayla thought when I told her. I wasn't even smart enough to snap a picture of Blake to show to Jack, though I could probably track him down on social media later tonight. I didn't think I had the ability to explain the Blake phenomenon to him in a way that would make sense to him. It didn't even make sense to me.

No earthquake occurred. The gods did not intervene on my behalf. I closed the gap to my front door, and, taking the key from my pocket, unlocked and opened it.

"Boo!"

"Aaaah!" I jumped a foot back onto the porch.

Jack doubled over laughing. "You should see your face, Mazie!"

"Why did you do that? My heart feels like it's going to explode enough already without you deciding to act like a stereotypical ghost. And... since when can you stand in the foyer?"

"Since this morning! I can go anywhere in the living room now too!" He danced around, showing off his newfound slightly less limited freedom of movement.

"Wow, that's great, Jack."

Catching on to my lack of enthusiasm, he rejoined me near the front door. "How was your first day?"

"Predictably awful, though not in its entirety, just parts. But mainly just weird. Like weirder than realizing you have a ghost living with you weird."

"How so?"

I brought him over to the living room as though telling him what I had to tell him too close to the front door might let the weirdness spill out into the streets of Dorn, contaminating the whole town with a logic-depleting illness.

"I've got a few minutes to tell you something that you're going to think is super strange, but I swear I'm not joking or making this up. And I'm not mistaken."

He swallowed. His feet began tapping. "Of course. I'll believe whatever you say, Mazie."

I wasn't so sure, but in that moment, standing before Jack's crooked smile—the same smile Blake wore sans any of the underlying warmth, I knew I had to give it a go.

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