When a new friend goes missing right before Homecoming, Celia must battle a vengeful spirit and her own self-doubt to solve the mystery and its bizarre ties to a Civil War-era murder.
Celia Macarty is back in Post Mortem, the second installment in the Parish Mail saga.
Autumn in New Orleans means Homecoming, romance—and murder. When a friend vanishes, Celia believes a desperate letter about an unsolved Civil War-era murder holds the key to unraveling the mystery.
As she searches for answers, Celia enlists the help of quirky witch Tilly, and either all-American boy Donovan or, enigmatic Luc–you get to choose.
As the gang follows the missing girl’s trail, danger turns up on all fronts. A vicious stranger threatens Celia’s family. Celia’s nightmares–about a shadowy, ominous villain–get worse. And a new ghost has appeared: beautiful Angelica, who shares a past with Luc.
It will take all of Celia’s will and wit, and the faith of her friends, to solve an unspeakable crime. And no matter which path Celia takes, she will discover that sometimes the past can come back to haunt you.
What’s Cool from Coliloquy: Throughout the Parish Mail series, readers decide which clues to follow to help Celia unravel each mystery. You’ll even get to cast a vote for your favorite love interest. But remember: Choose carefully, or else the killer might just get away.
A ghost has me by the throat.
His touch is gentle, his fingers resting lightly against the skin of my neck where it meets my shoulder. “Hold still,” Luc says. A tiny ladybug crawls off me and onto him. Making her way across his hand, she opens her spotted red shell and flutters her wings, as if in surprise. I understand how she feels. The sensation of Luc’s touch is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. He’s warm, like the flesh-and-blood teenager he appears to be, but there’s something electric about him, like he’s made of energy, which I suppose he is. When he draws his hand away from my neck, fascinated by the ladybug, I half expect to see sparks.
We’re in my backyard, under the umbrella of the willow tree’s arcing branches. It’s still dark, night just about to turn into morning. The cool breezes of fall have just begun to cut through the New Orleans mugginess that I’m still getting used to. But soon the willow will lose its leaves, and I’ll lose my private little bower. Already some of the tree’s blade-shaped leaves lie scattered across the grass.
“I have to go soon,” I say.
“Me too,” Luc replies. His eyes, nearly as dark as his longish black hair, glint with humor because he means it more literally than I do. I’m able to see the trunk of the willow tree through him now. The sun is starting to come up, and Luc’s physical form is fading, as it always does at sunrise.
“But you’ll meet us this evening?” I ask.
Luc nods. “If you’re sure that’s what you want to do.” He indicates the neatly stacked bundle of old letters tied with a white ribbon that I hold in my lap like the precious, mysterious artifacts they are. “It’s your secret.”
“Our secret,” I correct him gently. “You were with me when I found them.”
“But they’re addressed to you.”
He’s right, as impossible as that sounds. I haven’t read the letters yet—that’s for tonight—but I have opened the envelopes with the utmost care. Most of them are paper of a thickness and richness you don’t see much anymore, unless it’s something like a wedding invitation. Some are yellowed, fragile as parchment; some are newer, but even the most recent look to be at least thirty years old. Some are addressed with rough, childish block letters, others in flowing, elegant script. A few are even typed with the distinctive inky letters of a manual typewriter. And all of them bear my initials: C.J.M. Celia Jane Macarty. The thought makes the hair on my neck stand on end, far more than sharing sunrise with a ghost. “Well, I think secrets are overrated.” I toy with the ribbon’s bow, pensive. “If I had tried to handle Abel Sims’s murder by myself, I don’t know if I’d still be here.” The first letter I found, written by a woman named Madeleine in 1870, took me deep into the swampy bayous south of the city, where I nearly died. I still have a faint scar from my run-in with a killer’s machete.
“Then I’m glad you didn’t,” Luc says, with a smile I can still make out even though he’s almost transparent by now. “I’ll see you all tonight.” Then a cloud seems to pass over his face. “Some secrets are worth keeping,” he muses quietly, so softly that I’m not sure I was meant to hear.
Before I can ask what Luc means, he’s gone. The ladybug that was crawling along his palm tumbles through the air, her wings spreading to catch herself before I can. She flutters away to who knows where. Like Luc, I think.
I get up and walk to the house, the rising sun beginning to paint the pale blue exterior walls and darker blue trim with light. Inside, the stairs and hallway are still dark, but even in the dimness I can see that my bedroom door is ajar. I know I closed it when I went down to meet Luc, so Mom wouldn’t see my empty bed if she happened to get up and pass by. It probably drifted open. The townhouse is old and wooden, like most of the buildings in the Marigny, our neighborhood, and has its quirks.
But the moment I get to my room, the door slams shut with a bang.
I try to open the door, but it won’t budge. It’s wedged fast against the jamb, when every time except now it’s opened smoothly. I shoulder the door, straining at the knob, and still nothing. It’s like someone is on the other side, pushing against it, holding it closed. What the hell?
I let go and stand back, breathing hard with effort. As I watch, the knob turns, all by itself, and the door to my empty room swings open with a creak that shoots ice water through my veins.
That was no quirk.
I breathe deeply as I go in, calming myself. I catch the slightest scent of roses beneath the aroma of Mom’s muffins. The sun is streaming into my room through the curtains, and I feel silly for the chills still skittering down my back, but I’ve seen too much in the last few weeks not to suspect that someone, something is here. “Luc?” I venture, but it’s not like him to scare me like this.
The door slams shut again behind me, and my heart jumps into my throat.
Kira Snyder is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her television work includes the Syfy Channel shows ALPHAS and EUREKA and the People’s Choice Award-winning vampire drama MOONLIGHT, which aired on CBS. Kira’s plays have been performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Circle in the Square Theatre School, the Burton-Taylor Theatre in Oxford, England, the Bay Area Independent Theatre Fringe Festival, and Stanford University. Also a game designer with a Masters degree from NYU-Tisch’s interactive media program, Kira has produced games for Electronic Arts, Purple Moon, Microsoft, There.com, the MIT Press textbook Rules of Play, and Yahoo, including EA’s seminal alternate reality game MAJESTIC. She is a proud geek and loves sci-fi and videogames, reading and playing when she’s not writing or designing. You can reach virtual Kira on Twitter @sugarjonze.