Book Tour: Watching Over Me by Ann-Marie King
Excerpt: From Watching Over Me
Sunday, September 13
His restless spirit roamed the old abandoned schoolhouse on 143 North Chancery Lane. Anger swept through the once promising student like a deadly tornado, his ghostly energies directed towards the girl. Tormented, the bodiless soul swooned through the empty hall flicking the light switches. Raging. Furious. Feeling lost. His fury shuddered every corner of the structure. There would be no calm inside the old schoolhouse or in the town of Beckford until he reached her. Only then would his soul rest in peace.
Jayden Morgan stumbled as she got out of the cab on North Beckly Street. Panic like she’d never known before welled inside her throat. What she felt was indescribable. She had some nerve coming back to the town of Beckford–a place so tiny it barely existed on the map. She knew she made the right decision to flee from her stepdad, however, sadly leaving her mother behind. Something bad happened. She didn’t remember what it was, but she had to disappear for a while before it was too late.
“You okay, missy?” the white bearded cab driver croaked, disturbing her thoughts, as he called out to her from the window after she’d closed the passenger side door. His eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“Um…yeah, I’m good. Thanks,” she lied quietly, slinging her leather backpack over her shoulder. A flicker of apprehension coursed through her veins as she proceeded to the curb. She stopped and stared blankly at the number on the door in front of her. Number 242. Yep, that’s the house. But for some reason it looked different than she’d remembered. Then again, she had difficult remembering a lot during the past week.
The old Victorian-built house with the peeling yellow paint and oddly decorated green porch belonged to Mrs. Rae Morgan, her estranged grandmother on her father’s side. The only black relative she knew.
Jayden had called her out of the blue last night and told her tearfully, she had no place else to go. They weren’t that close, thus she only remembered staying there once a long time ago. Not sure when. Everything was a blur since Jayden’s…incident. She’d stayed in Beckford once with her mom, when they were evicted from their home in Buffalo. That was another story. But that’s all she remembered. She couldn’t recall what year she’d stayed in Beckford.
She had developed selective amnesia. A silent curse.
Jayden looked around her. The quiet street appeared darkened by the overcast, grey sky.
This place looks like a ghost town.
Half of the homes were boarded up and looked abandoned. Debris littered the other side of the street. There were no cars parked on the curbs. She sucked in a deep breath and zipped up her black and pink hoodie to shield her chest from the autumn chill in the air.
What am I doing here? How could I have forgotten how creepy this town was?
“Sure you got the right place?” the cab driver yelled out to her—as if offering her a last call to get back in the cab and drive to some place more—alive.
“Nobody in his right mind asked to be taken to the ghost town of Beckford,” he had joked to her earlier on their ride from the St. Catharines’ bus depot. “It’s a town full of ghosts acting like they’re alive and a bunch of quack seers who can’t tell the living from the dead—imagine that! Can’t believe people still live in that town.” He shook his head at the recollection.
“This ol’ town had a booming railroad industry back in the day. It was settled by loyalists in the 1800s—now it’s all rubble and dust. They’re trying to build it back up and construct homes and developments and entice people to buy cheap new homes here ’cause it’s close to the border,” he had tsked. “Anything for money.” He also gave her a little rundown of the town’s history to Jayden’s surprise. This part of Ontario was a haven for escaped African American slaves also in the 1800s. The famous underground railway had a stop right in St. Catharines, half hour from Beckford. The town had tons of old pulled up tracks and abandoned train stations and buildings. Jayden guessed he was bored and wanted to keep himself awake after a long shift on the job.
“Why can’t you just go up to the ghost and tell ‘em they’re dead and to go away?” Jayden had asked him while they drove through the countryside to town.
“You crazy?” he had called out to her, eyeing her through the rearview mirror as if she lost her head. “You can never tell somebody they’re dead if they don’t already know it. Remember that! Or that’ll be the last thing you do.”