Evie is blindsided when the doctor says her brother has leukemia and now she must give up the recital she's been dreaming about for a year. She’s worried about her brother, but it’s like she's suddenly invisible to her parents.
Her problems multiply when the shadows in her bedroom attack. She tries to survive over the days and weeks she’s abandoned to drift through life, but each night the shadows intensify, morphing into a demon who stands over her bed, sniffing her.
What is really in the shadows? Is she losing her mind? Who is safe to tell her secret? And how can she continue fighting the shadow demon at night while becoming no better than an invisible shadow to her family by day?
She doesn't know how to be the person her brother needs. She needs to do right by him. But everything is confusing in this new upside-down, inside-out world of terminal illness.
Will she be able to find her new place in her family, overcome the shadow demon tormenting her, and help her brother beat cancer before it's too late?
Excerpt from Chapter One
Before Her Life Ended
Today was going to be a happy day. Sure, she’d burnt her toast, caught her bag in the door, and given the wrong answer to Mr. Barnhouse a second ago, but from this moment forward, it was going to be the best day ever.
“Mr. Barnhouse.” The front receptionist’s quiet, nasal voice barely made it out of the phone speaker and above the din of the classroom.
“Mr. Barnhouse, someone’s on the phone.” Yelled one of the kids.
From beside one of the student’s, Mr. Barnhouse hollered. “Yes.” He unfolded his lanky grinch-like form with his belly pooch bumping into Evie’s desk as he made his way to the phone. His grinchy spindly arms and knobby elbows only missed the gruesome green coloring of the famed cartoon character.
The receptionist’s voice crackled through the speakerphone, “Please release Evelyn Everhart for dismissal.”
“Evie.” He smiled.
Eyes wide, Evie turned toward her best friend.
Evie mouthed, “Why?”
“Evie you’ve been dismissed.” Mr. Barnhouse was heading her way.
Evie grabbed her stuff, shoved it in her backpack, and moved to the other side of her desk. No, she would not be having any awkward conversation with Mr. Barnhouse. She waved at Callie, who brushed her pin straight, black hair back and winked.
At the door she smirked back at Mr. Barnhouse. He was probably as happy as she was. He’d have one less student in the room, and she’d never been pulled out of math before because her father would never allow it. No. Scratch that. The fates would never allow it, because it was cosmically true, she only got the short end of the stick. Maybe her mom convinced her dad she needed to get ready for her piano recital.
Escaping eighth grade math for the day, well, it was a blessing. She refused to think of the trouble it would cause on the flip side when she’d have to figure everything out on her own. She stuffed the unease down.
Her Converse caught on the school’s scuffed floor and almost sent her flying across the black and white squares. She glared at the floor, notched her chin, and swung her backpack up on her shoulders. The floor wins one point. She forced herself to slow down. Stupid, clumsy growing body.
Whistling to keep her best day ever decision, she smashed into the bar, popping the door open, taking her first steps of freedom into the cold winter air. What a wonderful thing freedom was! She grinned at her dad’s car. Maybe they could get ice cream. She took the steps with care, avoiding icy patches.
Inside the SUV her parents glanced at her wearing twin grim expressions. Evie flopped her bag in the backseat and hopped in beside her brother. As she buckled her seatbelt, the sense something was off crept like a chill between her shoulder blades. The tension reminded her of a fly caught in a spider’s web, like everyone wanted to escape, but for some reason, they were all caught inside her dad’s car. “Is everyone okay?”
They didn’t reply right away. The hairs on the back of Evie’s neck stood on end. She studied her parents. Red rimmed her mother’s eyes. Her father was avoiding her in the rear-view mirror.
“Hey, Evie.” Her father's voice was rough, like he’d been smoking his pipe for an hour, but it was Friday in the middle of the day. He only smoked his pipe in the evenings on the weekends.
She waited for him to tell her what was going on, but he didn’t say anything more. “Mom?”
“Yeah, hon. It’s. . . Today. . . The doctor. . .” A tear slipped down her face.
Evie rubbed her hands on the soft fleece fabric wrapped around where her seatbelt met her skin. “Mom, you’re scaring me.” Something awful tried to choke her. She took a deep breath.
Her dad cleared his throat. “Everything will be fine. There’s nothing to worry about.”
He didn’t say it, but she could sense the word yet at the end of his sentence, just hanging there silently foreboding, forcing its way into their lives like an insidious creature. “Okay.” She forced her voice not to tremble, despite the sensations prickling all through her. Who was it, her mom, or her dad? Something was making it hard for her to think. She glanced at Trist, her brother, but he was not acting right either.
He hadn’t said hi with his usual obnoxious thrill of excitement. No. His eyes were glued to his shoes. He didn’t ask how her day was, or give her a high five, or even say anything. Something sharp stuck in her throat. “What’s going on?”
Nothing. Say nothing. There was no reason to think anything was wrong, yet something straight up evil kept stomping across her mind. It was making her nauseous.
“Everything’s fine. Right?” Her instincts screamed at her.
Her father used his white knuckled grip on the steering wheel to twist in his seat. His gaze caught on Tristen. It was Trist’s first year in school. He should’ve still been in class.
“Somebody say something!” Please don’t let something terrible happen. . . Nope. Not going there. She forced a smile and patted Trist on the head. He was a good kid, sometimes a pain, took a lot of attention, but a good kid brother all the same.
“We're headed to the hospital.” Dad swung his head back and put the car in drive, easing off the brake.
“Wait. Why?” She studied her mother’s jaw as a muscle worked furiously against itself. “Mom?’
“They found some anomalies in Tristen’s lab work. We're going to go speak with the doctor, and we wanted to go as a whole family since it affected both you kids.” Her mom’s tone was matter of fact, but the heavy weight resting on Evie’s chest still sank through her ribs, settling in her stomach. It caught there as if its edges were barbed.