Sixteen is far too young to die. Tragically killed in a freak motor accident, Leanne finds herself haunting the spot near where she died—which just happens to be her favorite coffee house. She’s determined to remain there until she can thank the brave women who tried to save her life.
Leanne discovers she’s more than just a ghost with a purpose...and she is far from alone. Acquiring a pet ghost kitten named Sara, Leanne intends to show that ghosts just want to have fun. But not all spirits are friendly, and some are determined to get rid of this new entity among them.
To make matters worse, someone in the living realm is stealing ghost essences. Leanne and Sara—assisted by a host of other ghosts—have to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late…even if they have to work with the living to do so!
In Leanne’s first nanoseconds as a ghost, she’d heard a loud popping sound and spun around in confusion, searching for the source. A translucent man had been floating near the front door. He was dressed in an antiquated but elegant crimson gown trimmed with exquisite white lace. After a second soft pop, another spirit had arrived and groveled before the well-dressed phantom.
“Enough, Melbourne, we’re here on business.” The ghost in the rich red robes had turned to Leanne. “I am Judge Jeffreys, and I’m here for your orientation, Miss.”
“Yes, yes, how could you possibly know the rules if they’re not explained to you?” he said in a gruff tone.
The judge ignored her question. “What would your name be?”
“Odd place you haunt here, Leanne. Wouldn’t you agree, Melbourne?”
“Oh yes, Your Honor. I’ve never seen such an odd place as this in all my four hundred years. Very strange indeed.” Melbourne had waved his hands around, a seemingly nervous gesture.
“So, what is this place?” the judge asked. “What is its purpose?”
“It’s a coffee shop.” Leanne replied.
“Then, you are Leanne of the coffee shop.”
“Well, actually, Judge—sorry, Your Honor—there are hundreds of coffee shops, maybe millions, around the world.” Leanne chuckled.
“Hmm, what shall we call you, then?” The judge had looked around the Wired Monk as if he might find an answer to his question.
“I don’t know,” Leanne said, “but this is The Wired Monk-Coventry Coffee Bistro, if that’s any help.”
“Coventry,” the judge had said, taking to the word right away. “Coventry. I don’t believe we have any ghosts in Coventry, do we, Melbourne?”
“Oh no, absolutely, we don’t. None at all, Your Honor.”
“Perfect. You are Leanne of Coventry. Well, I guess we’re done here. Shall we take our leave, Melbourne?”
“Pardon my presumptuousness, Your Honor, but I believe you came to explain the rules to young Leanne. Of course, I could be mistaken. I usually am.” Melbourne had bowed and scraped before the judge again.
“Nonsense, Melbourne! You’re almost always right, that’s why I keep you around. Yes, I must explain the laws to you.” The judge pointed a skeletal forefinger at Leanne.
“Do not appear before midnight.
“Do not consort with the living.
“Do not harm the living.
“Do not interfere with the living.
“You must try to fulfill your heart’s desire.
“Am I forgetting anything, Melbourne?”
“Nothing important, Your Honor. Just, well, you know…the bit about Drakko.” Melbourne had shimmied and weaved before the judge, wringing gossamer hands.
“Of course, Melbourne, thank you. We mustn’t forget about that. You see, Leanne of Coventry, ghosts who break the law can be taken before the Inferior Court. I myself preside over Ghastly Courtroom Number Three and will personally exile offending spirits to Drakko.”
“Where’s Drakko?” Leanne had asked.
“We’re not sure, not exactly, but it would seem that Drakko is another dimension. We know little about it, as noghost has ever returned to describe it.”
“It sounds like a bad place.”
“It’s generally thought of as Ghost Hell.”
Leanne was still in shock. After all, she’d been a ghost for mere moments. The only thought that had come to her was that of thanking the women who’d tried to save her life. She did want to do that. That must be my heart’s desire, she reasoned in her confused mind.
“Remember, ghosts who break the rules can be banished to Drakko. Well, happy haunting,” the judge had said and then he and Melbourne had disappeared with two popping noises.
The name of the place was enough to give her the ghastly shakes. Drakko...No, no, no, she would avoid that, whatever it took.
Leanne had whizzed around her coffee shop haunt after the judge and Melbourne left, blowing off some of her frustration and anger. She had to find a way to thank the ladies who’d tried to save her.
The thing is, ghosts can’t see clearly into the realm of the living, except when they appear after midnight.
Leanne now understood that, when she’d seen the two women who’d tried to save her, they had been clear to her because she had been between—dead, but not yet in Ghostdom.
Now, looking into the realm of the living was like looking through dense fog. So, how could she talk to the lady? She wasn’t allowed to appear before midnight, and the coffee shop closed at nine PM, some nights earlier. Suddenly, the cleaning lady had occurred to her. She could appear to the cleaner after midnight.
It had seemed simple at the time. Show yourself after midnight, ask the lady to help, and she will. Who wouldn’t help a soul in distress?
The first cleaner had been a dusky–skinned woman she thought might have been about her mother’s age.
When she'd showed herself to Ranhita, the lady had stopped cleaning, pulled a tissue from her sleeve, and dabbed at her eyes. Then she’d sat, except she wasn’t anywhere near a chair. She’d stared at Leanne with wide eyes.
“Hiiiii.” Leanne had tried to keep her tone friendly, but speech without the use of vocal cords was difficult, and she found it hard to express herself at the slow speed of the living.
Ranhita had rolled to her knees, gotten up, and gathered her things, never once taking her focus from Leanne. She’d backed to the door as if watching a vicious dog, then left without locking it, ran to her car, and never came back.