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Graveyard Watchman

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Blurb

He lifted his eyes to me. I was instantly captivated. He was sheer beauty in his black, hooded cloak. Was he real or just my imagination? It didn't matter. I had to know the mysterious man shrouded in darkness...

Author:

Leslie began her writing career as a stay-at-home-mom.

When she is not writing, you will find her lunching with friends, sipping a cup of joe, binging on Netflix or working on a home DIY project.

Graveyard Watchman is created by Leslie Fear, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

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Chapter 1: The Beginning
I'm not sure how long ago it was when I first saw him, staring down at the oldest, crumbling gravestone in his black hooded cloak. He has completely captured my attention; I want to know more about the mysterious man behind all that darkness. Is he grieving like me? Maybe. It's the reason I've been coming to this God-forsaken cemetery over the last five months since Zack died. He was my best friend and he died saving someone else's life. A firefighter's duty, I'm supposed to believe. Everyone still tries to comfort me by saying he died doing what he loved but they don't understand. I no longer have my big brother to protect me, especially from myself. After our parents died three years ago, only blocks from our house, I became a different person. The drunk driver kept going after he plowed into them during their nightly walk. The fourteen-year-old who killed them had found his parents' whiskey stash before taking his dad's truck for a joyride. He only got two years of probation. Back then, I was upset. I was confused. I had no idea what depression was until I was in the stranglehold of its dark abyss. My phone chirps and I look down to see a text. Aunt Kelly: Where are you? Shit. Me: Be home in a few Something catches my eye and I look up, realizing the hooded figure is now staring straight at me. There's only a slice of sun left over the horizon and he's far enough away so I can't quite make out his face, but he looks young, like me. The second our eyes lock he turns away and moves toward the forest, his heavy black cloak whipping around his body. I've never seen him move and I'm mesmerized by his powerful, athletic stride. He's got to be way over six feet tall. I try to get a little closer but can't quite make out his features, only black hair creeping over the edges of a high collar. He glances back at me one last time, acknowledging my gasp before walking into the woods. I watch as he navigates through heavy brush until the trees and vines have swallowed him up. Who is he? How weird is it that he's always here when I show up? I should probably be scared to death but there's something impossibly familiar about him that makes me more curious than anything. Strangely enough, I'm actually comforted by his presence and if I'm being honest, I'd be pretty unhappy if he suddenly stopped showing up. It's pitch black outside by the time I make it back to Aunt Kelly and Uncle John's house. I live with them now since everyone in my immediate family is dead, but I try my best to stay away as much as possible. Uncle John's eyes linger way longer than any thirty-five-year-old family member's should. The sucky part is I'm only seventeen, too young (according to the State of Texas) to be living on my own. When Zack died, my aunt and uncle took over guardianship so I have no choice. They're in charge of my life until June, which is seven long months away. At least I didn't have to change high schools. "There you are!" Aunt Kelly pulls me into a hug before I make it fully into the kitchen. She means it; she worries about me and I know she loves me. When my mom was killed, Aunt Kelly was the only person, besides Zack, who completely understood how I felt. Mom was her sister and we were all a mess, but we had each other to lean on. I just wish she wasn't married to an asshole. "Sorry I'm so late. I stopped by Skylar's house to get some notes," I lie. She doesn't need to know how badly my heart aches for Zack or my parents. If she did, she'd probably send me to another shrink and I know that won't work. "It's okay, just call or text me so I don't worry, honey," she says, guiding me to a kitchen chair. "I kept your dinner warm." She places a plate full of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans in front of me. It looks good and probably is, since Aunt Kelly is a great cook, but I don't have an appetite. Not even a little bit. "Oh, sorry, I already ate," I lie again. Her face drops, sending a surge of guilt straight to my gut, so I pick up the fork and smile. "I'm sure I can eat a few bites." Instantly, her expression brightens as she pulls out a chair, scooting up to the table like she's ready for a chat. I don't want to talk. I don't want to eat. I just want to go to my room and sleep. It's the only way I can escape my shitty reality. "So, how's Skylar? Is he going out of town for Thanksgiving?" she asks, resting her chin in the palm of her hand. "Um, I don't know, maybe. We didn't talk about it," I lie for the third time, realizing it's quiet in the house. The television isn't on and I don't see my uncle sitting on the couch with a beer in his hand. "Where's Uncle John?" I ask, hoping I sound more genuine than I feel. Aunt Kelly looks away, scooting back in her chair and walking over to the fridge, reaching for something inside the door. "It's poker night, remember? He's next door spending money we don't have." The resentment in her tone is loud and clear. She sets a Diet Coke on the counter and goes quiet, leaning back with a blank stare. I'm just relieved I might be saved from another two a.m. knock on my door. Scooting the food around on my plate, I manage to make it look like I ate more than I did. Aunt Kelly hasn't moved from the counter so I take advantage, hoping she doesn't look too closely as I stand to rinse off the plate in the sink. "You didn't eat much," she says, coming up behind me. I look up and see the worry behind her eyes. s**t. I need to reassure her, and fast. I can't have her thinking I'm sinking into another black hole. She knows Zack's death cut past the underbelly of my soul and I'm pretty sure she even watches me when I'm not aware of it. She's so much like Mom it's a little creepy. I'm going to have to be more careful. My sanity depends on it. The last thing I need is her making more doctor appointments or even checking up on me with the counselor at school. "I know, I'm sorry," I say. "Next time I'll text you if I eat before I come home." I smile, placing my fork in the dishwasher. "You know you can talk to me," she stops just behind me as her hand lightly rubs my back, "about anything, right?" Even her touch is like Mom's, which is strangely comforting. "Yeah, I know. I will." I smile, hoping it's enough to reassure her. I don't want to worry her more than she already is. She has enough to deal with and I'd never forgive myself if I made things worse between her and Uncle John. Their marriage is in trouble and has been for a long time. I can see the concern behind her smile but this time when I smile back, I make sure it reaches my eyes. "I'm going to look over the notes Skylar gave me. See you in the morning." I hug her tightly. She likes those kinds of hugs so those are the kind I always give her-especially now. I feel her head nod against my shoulder. "Okay, sleep well." My bedroom is just down the hallway from theirs. It's small, with only a twin bed, but it's all I need. I don't want to love this place or get too attached. As soon as I close the door and turn on the lamp, I plug in my iPhone, pushing the earbuds in place, and find my London Grammar playlist. Her voice is haunting yet graceful and it's what I need to escape my sucky world. Even for the few hours of sleep I may or may not get.

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