Alex McKenna & The Academy of Souls The Alex McKenna Series Book 2 by Vicki-Ann Bush Genre: YA Paranormal, LGBTQ
After surviving a harrowing case, Alex McKenna just wanted to rest. Unfortunately, his plans are interrupted by the ghost of Seven-year-old Haven, who is lost in an in-between realm.
Despite his great-grandmother's warning, Alex crosses the bridge between the living and the dead, sending him and his girlfriend into the world of the Academy of Souls, a high school for dead teens who are unable to complete their journey.
There, Alex meets Ophelia, Haven's teenage sister, who's been searching for her for more than a century. Together, with a few friends he meets along the way, Alex must cross the treacherous terrain of the Underworld in-between, to save Haven from clutches of the Soul Gatherer and reunite the sisters.
Ophelia gasped as the blackness crept down the walls of the room and cloaked them in darkness. Amry whispered words of comfort in her ear, but they did little to ease her apprehension. The Headmaster's voice grew further and further away as the blackness coddled their bodies and lifted them weightless in the atmosphere.
Ophelia shut her eyes tight. The movement made her dizzy. She pushed back the churning nausea with her throat muscles, holding the sour taste of bile at bay. She hoped Amry would hear from Mr. Johnson when they got back if they got back. The idea of tasting and feeling something that has been gone over a hundred years was beginning to freak her out. A hot shower was one thing, but phantom organs giving real sensation—she needed answers.
"Lia, open your eyes. We’re here."
Ophelia tapped her foot on solid ground and sighed.
"Come on you, open them," Amry laughed.
Ophelia peeled open her lids. In front of her lay a narrow path, winding and twisting into a gray abyss. To her left, a crisp, clear view of the Academy, and to her right, a picture-perfect vision of the little town where the breather's resided.
"This is so peculiar." She reached her hand out toward the school, the image blurred. "What is it?"
"The two worlds surround us and we're occupying the space that separates them. Sort of like a doorway. On one side your room, on the other, the dorm hallway. We're standing directly in the threshold." Amry grinned.
"Why are you grinning? This is not funny." Zachary's voice cracked.
"I think it's kind of funny," Amry replied, "We can see everything going on in both places, but they have no clue we're watching." Amry pointed in both directions.
Zachary clenched his fists. "I know what this is. Remember?"
Ophelia gulped. They had all forgotten, she was sure of it. Zachary had been banished to an in-between for five hundred years.
"Zachary, we are sorry," Ophelia apologized.
"Don't!" Kyle snapped, "Why should you apologize to him?"
"Because he knows firsthand what the in-between is."
"So what?" Kyle's voice deepened.
"So, stop judging. We have no idea what he has really been through," Ophelia defended.
Zachary's neck whipped and turned to Ophelia.
"Can we move around here?" Ophelia asked.
"You can walk along the pathway, you can sit down, and you can lay down, but don't disrupt the wall that separates us. And don't wander too far. You don't know what's out there," Zachary replied.
Ophelia gently smiled.
"We will be fine if we stay in place," Zachary suggested.
Ophelia shuddered; crossing her legs, she collapsed to the ground. Facing the town, she yearned to be there. Stretching her neck to get a better look, it saddened and yet exhilarated her at the same time.
"You never told us what happened to you?" she turned to Zachary.
"My mother. She did not know my father was a sorcerer when they met. Worse, he practiced dark magick. By the time she found out, it was too late. He killed her. But she hid me with some friends. Unfortunately, he found the couple and killed them too. I was older by then and took to the streets. Surviving anyway I could."
Ophelia was stunned.
"I am so sorry that happened to you. I could never imagine my parents ever doing anything to harm me or Haven." Ophelia skipped a breath.
"Yeah, dude. That’s the worst," Kyle chimed in.
Bethany and Amry nodded in agreement.
"Is your dad still trying to find you? Is that who you’re hiding from?" Ophelia leaned closer.
"No. He's dead. It is who I am. That is why I'm being hunted. His followers want me because I am half dark sorcerer."
A bolt of light pierced through the darkness and swirled its way toward them creating a circular motion above their heads.
The vision of town blurred into the blackness, filling the crevices of open space. Swaying with weightlessness once again, Ophelia's stomach soured. In a moment they were back in the Headmaster's office.
Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths The Alex McKenna Series Book 1
For Alex McKenna, high school is just a distraction from the love of his life, Margaret, with whom he can't wait to spend more time once they get to college.
In many respects, Alex is just an average seventeen-year-old boy...except for the fact he's a transgender medium born from a long line of Strega witches, possessing the ability to communicate with ghosts.
With the help of Margaret and his talented Strega great-grandmother, Alex will learn how to strengthen his abilities. The dead need Alex to help them reconcile issues they left behind—and he finds that he needs them, too. As his abilities multiply, assisting the dead becomes an outlet to channel his new energy, giving him the strength to come to terms with who he is as a transgender male, and how far he will choose to go.
Alex had set the alarm for five o’clock; an hour earlier than usual. This would give him a small jump on some research. He decided to start with the history of the neighborhood.
Floral Park was a fairly quiet town, so any news was big news— which was why he was surprised when he spotted a small paragraph about a devastating house fire in 1932. The inferno had ignited in the bitter cold month of January, the ice and snow fatefully slowing the response time of the fire department. The blaze raged through the south part of the house while the family lay sleeping. A father and his young son were able to get out, but rescuers were unable to reach his wife and daughter, who perished in the flames.
Alex jumped when an abrupt knock at on the door startled him. “Come in.” He swiveled his chair to face the doorway. “What’s up,
“I wanted to talk to you. You know I’m pretty lenient and give you space, but I got a call from the school yesterday. They said you missed math class a couple of times last week. Is there something going on? Are your shots making you sick? Because the doctor said any side-effects, and he...”
“No, everything’s fine. I’m not getting sick or anything. I missed math class because I had a really bad headache again. Not from my meds; it’s like a sinus thing. You said you were getting them, too.”
“I have been, and I think if they persist, we’re both going to the doctor. No more missing class without telling me. Got it?” His mom glared.
“Yes, I got it. I’ll tell you next time. I promise.”
“I’ve got a conference call this morning, so I’ll be home for a few hours. In case anyone feels the need to come home sick.” She narrowed her eyes. “Also, your dad’s driving Wilby straight to school this morning. So if you were counting on him to swing by and pick you up, it’s not happening.”
“It doesn’t matter; I was planning on taking the bus.”
“Okay, watch the time and don’t be late. I won’t be able to stop the call to take you. Have a great day, Bella Mia.”
Alex turned back to the computer screen. It had gone dark, and he could see his reflection. Leaning in, he rubbed his hand over his jawline and chin. Smooth as a baby’s butt. He frowned and went back to his search.
Scouring the internet for more information, he stumbled on the actual article from the front page of the Floral Park Community Review paper. Now this makes more sense. A house fire would have been on the tip of everyone’s tongue in town. As he read the details, Alex stiffened. It was the first of a series of horrors that plagued the small community that year. There was a string of unusual and deadly occurrences beginning with the fateful one in January and rampaging over the next several months until their abrupt ending on October thirty-first. Chills raced up the middle of his back as he looked away from the screen. He must have read it wrong. He had to have. He took a breath and looked at it again. The address of the fire that spawned the beginning of horror for the once quiet neighborhood was fifty-five Geranium Ave… his house.
Alex stood up and, pushing the chair back, he stepped away from the computer as if the very act would somehow erase the words he had read. Impossible. His house began the terror for the people in town that year. It was the root cause for the avalanche that would follow. This was confusing. He hadn’t felt anything evil or negative. Why wasn’t his know picking up on this? His ability to see the dead, feel the paranormal energy around him, never failed. It had to mean something. Alex didn’t believe in coincidence; he had witnessed too many things. There was always a reason—always.
He glanced at his phone. It was 6:15, and he needed to run. He grabbed his jacket off the doorknob, threw his backpack on his shoulder, and raced to catch the bus. He made it just as the yellow metal carriage was about to pull away. Good thing Gloria liked him. She had been the driver for the high school for about twenty years. Kids would come and go, and she could remember every one of their names. She started watching out for Alex shortly after he started the ninth grade. That was an exceptionally hard year for him. The physical changes started to get more prevalent, and the occasional ignorant comments by some of the other kids really started to get to him. Gloria would distract him with stories about all the odd things she’d seen in her years of driving. Alex welcomed the reprieve from dealing with the inevitable closed minds, and when he started seeing the doctor and getting on track, things settled down. Mostly.
“Morning, Gloria. Thanks for waiting for me.”
“Okay, Alex, get your late self behind the line and in a seat.
Honestly, you’re gonna be late for your own funeral.”
Alex grinned and sat in the empty seat right behind her. “Any news?” Alex knew if there was something new to be heard about things going on in town, Gloria was the go-to.
“You mean anything new since the gruesome death of Mr. Earley yesterday? Nope. That would be enough for now. Don’t you agree?” She peered at him through the rear-view mirror. Gloria was one of the few people in town who knew about Alex’s spideysense.
“Agreed.” Alex slouched down in his seat, put his ear buds in, and switched on some Arctic Monkeys. It helped him think. He watched the houses whisking by and couldn’t help thinking, who would be next?
He turned his head to glance at the empty seat across from his. Well, empty to everyone else. He nodded to the young girl dressed in a cheerleader’s uniform, and she smiled back. He shivered, but the goosebumps were at a minimum. Heather Johnson had been dead for fifteen years. She was killed in a hit and run on the way to school, and they never caught the driver. Alex suspected that was why she stayed. Never hurting anyone, Heather would ride the bus from her parents’ house to school every day. He tried to help her a few times, but she wasn’t ready to cross over.
Originally from New York, I've been living my author adventure in Nevada for the past thirty-six years. Ominous landscapes have served up sweet delectables for my craving mind. When I'm not writing you can find me cuddled up with my husband, our Chihuahua-Yorkie mix, Curie, she's the sweetest girl, and completing our little family, our boy Cuba, a proud, and sometimes mushy great Dane. My likes include, movie and TV binging, going out to eat for breakfast, and dining alfresco. Oh, and Disneyland...and coffee...and wine. Dislikes are simple, cruelty of any kind.