Bone Dry_ A Soul Shamans Novel - Cady Vance


There are times when I listen to the moralistic words of the angel on my right shoulder rather than the wicked whispers of the demon on my left. With Kylie Wilkinson leaning across the cafeteria table, eager to hand over cash I so desperately needed, I couldn’t help but smack the halo off that perfect little angel.

“Two hundred bucks,” I said, holding my hand palm up. The eagerness on Kylie’s heart-shaped face fell into a scowl. She tucked a stray strand of glossy hair behind her polka-dotted headband and shifted in her seat.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Holly.”

I pulled back my hand, closed my fingers into a fist and pretended to be interested in my bologna sandwich. That move got them every time. The din of cafeteria chatter rose up around us as we sat in silence. Girls laughed, plates clattered and sneakers squeaked. Five seconds passed before Kylie cleared her throat.

“Okay, wait.” She reached into her Eddie Bauer backpack and pulled out her wallet.

I kept my attention on my sandwich, nibbling away while she anxiously counted the cash. She had exactly four fifties which made me think she already knew what I charged and had been playing me to see if I’d go lower.

A guy walking by our table stopped to watch the transaction. I turned to raise my eyebrows at the tall, thin figure towering over us. Nathan Whitman, Kylie’s ex-boyfriend. He flashed a grin at me, his dark, wavy hair curling on his forehead, his high cheekbones carving a V on his otherwise boyish face. I smiled around my sandwich and hoped I didn’t have bits of meat stuck between my teeth.

“Is our friendly, neighborhood ghostbuster in action again?”

I’d taken a case for Nathan last year. He’d thought he was being haunted—they all did. Before that day, I’d considered Nathan just another bland guy navigating the Seaport High popular crowd. A preppy sailor only interested in country clubs and stock points. But after seeing the stacks of comic books in his room, I decided there might be an interesting guy hiding behind the polo shirts.

Not that I’d ever had the time to find out.

“You know me. Always taking down ghosts with my web-shooters.”

His grin widened until it spread across the entire width of his face. “Well, you know, if you ever need a trusty sidekick, I’m your man. Just don’t expect me to wear a Robin costume.”

I opened my mouth with another retort, but then Nathan seemed to notice Kylie. He glanced at her wallet, at her frown. “Hey, Kylie. Something wrong?”

“Here,” Kylie said, and I snapped my attention to the money she slid across the table. “Nothing’s wrong, Nathan.”

“Nothing?” He winked at me. “The entire school knows there’s only one reason to give Holly Bennett two hundred in cash.”

I couldn’t help but smirk. “Nothing to worry about. Just a normal case.”

His smile disappeared as his mossy green eyes searched for the truth. “You sure?”

“Okay, fine. Something is totally wrong,” Kylie interrupted. She pushed up from the table, grabbed her lunch tray of uneaten food and gave Nathan puppy dog eyes. She cocked her head in the direction of her usual corner. “Eat lunch with me, and I’ll tell you what’s up.”

He hesitated, still looking at me. “You need any help?”

I tried to imagine Nathan surrounded by black candles and charcoal rune drawings, shadows flickering on his sun-kissed skin. “No, I’ve got it. Thanks though.”

“Holly, are we good?” Kylie barely threw a glance in my direction, too focused on Nathan, who still hovered by my table. Kylie touched his arm, and he finally met her eyes. “Come on, Nathan.”

I pocketed the money and waved them away. “I’ll stop by your house after school. I have some things to do first so it’ll be around five.”


At home, I strolled into the back of the house to check on my mom. She was sitting in her favorite old rocking chair with bone knitting needles in her lap and staring blankly out the window overlooking the tiniest backyard in all of Seaport, a little coastal town about an hour northeast of Boston.

“Hi, Mom.” I slumped into the faded blue recliner across from her. Astral leapt onto my lap and meowed a hello to both of us.

Mom blinked a few times, coming back into herself. I glanced away from the dark, blue pillows of skin underneath her eyes and stared at the mantel over the fireplace packed with her favorite ceremonial masks from Europe.

“Hi, Holly. How was school?” she asked,