USA Today Bestselling Author
The bounds of faith and loyalty are tested
in a lesson of what it truly takes to believe –
in self, friends, even life after death…
Cassie’s best friend, bad boy Todd, is gone. Gone as in dead. Gone as in ghost.
But she doesn’t realize that when he wakes her in her bedroom and begs her not to believe what they say about him. It’s not until the next day when her parents tell her about the accident that she learns the truth…
The police believe Todd was living up to the family name, drinking and driving and coming to a predictable end. It’s up to her to find out the truth and clear his name.
Todd is shocked at his sudden change in circumstances…and angry. He struggles with his new ghostly reality, realizing all he’s lost as he watches his brother build a relationship with Cassie as the two pair up to find out what really happened to him.
The truth isn’t always pretty, and Cassie has to be stronger than ever before. Especially when the whole world seems to be against her.
This book is not part of a series, it’s the first YA book Dale Mayer wrote for her daughter and I couldn’t resist reading it. While it’s not a romance per se, there are elements of one beginning.
Cassie’s friend Todd has died, but she is seeing his ghost. He doesn’t remember what happened but he knows one thing, he doesn’t drink and drive. While Todd needs to know what happened, Cassie also needs closure.
She convinces his brother Jessie, to ask some questions and while he does go to see the deputy in charge, he gets no other answers than what they were already told. Still not convinced, Cassie goes to the see the deputy herself.
This is a favorite scene.
Cassie walked into the sheriff’s office on her way home from school. Going through the front door wasn’t too bad, but once inside she felt intimidated. Everyone had such stern, imposing looks on their faces.
Unapproachable. She almost backed out.
“Hi there. How can we help you?”
Cassie followed the sound of a friendly voice to a large counter where a woman smiled at her. A friendly face. Cassie headed for her, relief in her voice as she said, “I want to find out some information about an accident that happened last weekend.”
The woman looked at her monitor and typed in something. “What kind of information are you looking for? And which accident?”
Cassie took a deep breath and gave out the details. “I’m…” she stumbled and corrected herself, “… I was his best friend and well, I can’t sleep for the questions rolling around in my head.”
“How old are you, Cassie?”
“Sixteen,” she muttered, hoping age wouldn’t make a difference.
“And do your parents know that you’re here?”
A heavy sigh slid out. “No. And I suppose you can’t talk to me unless they are here, too, huh?”
“That’s not mandatory. Let me find someone for you.” The woman stood and left the room.
Cassie wiped her sweaty hands on her jeans. That wasn’t so bad.
“Cassie, come on through here. Deputy Magnusson has a few moments to spare.”
The large wooden desk-high gate opened, giving Cassie entrance to the other side of the counter. The woman led her down a small hallway and into a smaller office. A portly man her father’s age stood and smiled at her. “Come in, come in. We don’t get too many people your age in here voluntarily, you know.”
Cassie grimaced. “Not sure I’ll ever come again either, sir.”
He laughed. “Sit down and relax. What can I do for you?”
“Thank you.” She sat down on the edge of the spare chair. “My friend, Todd, died in a car accident Friday night.” Tears threatened. Cassie stopped, sniffled once and stared out the window for a long moment before she managed to get her emotions back under control. Facing the deputy again, she saw empathy and understanding on his face. “I know that everyone says he’d been drinking and driving and deserved what he got.” This time tears did form in her eyes. She choked them back. “But, he didn’t. He’d never drink and drive.”
Deputy Magnusson sat back, crossed his hands on his belly and gave her a solid look. “First off, no young man deserves to die. So what they’re thinking along that line is just plain wrong. Second, the investigation hasn’t officially been closed and rumors will always float around.”
“I need to make sure you checked out a few things.”
The deputy raised one eyebrow and settled back into his chair. “Fire away and we’ll see if I can help.”
“Did his airbag go off?” she blurted out. Sitting back, she wondered at the frown on his face.
“You know, that’s a darn good question. There was one on the car, I know that. And it was burned in the fire.” He reached into the drawer at his side and pulled out a thin file. “I’m not sure if I have anything written down about whether it went off first though. Why are you asking?”
“I’m wondering if he was actually thrown out of the vehicle, and if he was, how? He kept his car tuned up particular. He loved that machine and there were airbags in it. So if the airbags went off, how could he have been thrown out of the vehicle?” she asked reasonably. “Also, did anyone find Todd’s cell phone?”
The Deputy frowned as he flicked through his open file. “We didn’t find one. Although, chances are it was destroyed in the fire.”
Wincing, Cassie stared at the floor for a moment, catching her breath. “Right. Fire,” she said weakly. “Was Todd burned as well?”
“No.” He rushed to assure her. “He was far enough off to the side that he wasn’t caught in the fire.”
Her breath gusted out in relief, not wanting to have that picture locked into her head. “So is it possible for him to have been thrown out before the airbag opened up or to have crawled out after it inflated?”
The deputy studied her face. “What’s the real problem here?”
Cassie flushed. “The problem is Todd didn’t drink. Maybe a little but not very much and never ever would he drive afterward.” She sighed. “Have you met his father?”
When the deputy nodded, she grimaced. “Maybe you don’t know if you’ve never seen him at his worst, but Todd’s dad is a horrible drunk with a matching drunk driving record. He hit a woman years ago when driving home. Todd never could accept the fact that his dad had gotten off so lightly.” Raising her voice slightly, she repeated, “Todd would never drink and drive. Never. There had to have been someone else in that vehicle with him. Maybe they survived the crash and ran off, afraid of what they’d done. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I need to.” She leaned forward. “Please, check it out further.”
With a heavy sigh, the deputy shuffled the papers in front of him, aimlessly. “I’ll tell you what. We won’t close the case until we have all the facts. Good enough?” At her bright smile, he held up a warning hand. “Don’t get too excited. The men were pretty sure they knew how this accident had played out.”
Cassie’s grin didn’t dim one bit. “No, I understand. Thank you.” She jumped to her feet and headed for the door. At the doorway, she turned back. “I don’t suppose it’s possible to search for the cell phone is it? Just in case he picked up a friend who needed a ride or called for help?” She leaned over and handed him a folded sheet of paper with the type of phone, color and the number. “Here is the description of his phone. I’ve tried calling and texting, but it never goes through. Oh, and he scratched his initials on the back, on the sliding keyboard piece.”
The deputy grinned. “Are you angling for a future in law enforcement, young lady?”
“No, sir. Just doing for a friend who can’t do for himself.”
Serious appreciation glinted in his eyes. “Lucky friend.”
Dale Mayer. In Cassie’s Corner (Kindle Locations 644-693). Valley Publishing.
Jessie and Cassie work together trying to put the pieces together, and as they find more clues and inform the deputy the more puzzling things become.
The closer Cassie and Jessie get, the more Todd seems to show up. Todd loved Cassie but she was not his girlfriend. Jessie has always liked Cassie but thought of her as Todd’s. Now it’s different and maybe once things settle Cassie would go out with him.
Many family things come up on both sides, many of which we learn about when Cassie finally talks to the Doctor her parents introduced her to.
The investigation also turns up some interesting thing that lead to some surprising revelations.
A touching story of grief, love, pain and growing up.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.