All About Evie (ARC)Cathy Lamb
Books by Cathy Lamb
THE LAST TIME I WAS ME
SUCH A PRETTY FACE
THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE
A DIFFERENT KIND OF NORMAL
IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT I SEE
WHAT I REMEMBER MOST
MY VERY BEST FRIEND
THE LANGUAGE OF SISTERS
NO PLACE I’D RATHER BE
THE MAN SHE MARRIED
ALL ABOUT EVIE
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
CAT H Y L A M B
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
KENSINGTON BOOKS are published by
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
Copyright © 2019 by Cathy Lamb
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
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Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.
ISBN-13: 978-1-4967-0986-8 (ebook)
ISBN-10: 1-4967-0986-1 (ebook)
First Kensington Electronic Edition: November 2019
First Kensington Trade Paperback Printing: November 2019
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed in the United States of America
Todd and Cindy Everts
May the laughter roll on
C h a p t e r 1
San Orcanita Island, Washington
I knew she was going to be hit by a white truck.
The little girl was skipping up the main street in our small town, several blocks past my yellow bookstore. I was carrying a box of books I’d been reviewing at home in one arm and a cat kennel with Ghost in it in the other. Ghost the Cat loves to go to my bookstore and hang out, so sometimes I bring her. She was meowing with excitement. She’s clearly a book lover.
It was early in the morning and sunny. People were up and about, tourists eager to explore the island, townspeople chatting, fishermen headed to their boats, bread lovers entering the bakery, coffee lovers drinking a cup on the bay, the farmers’
market open . . . and there was the young girl up ahead with her mother, a red ribbon in her brown hair bouncing about.
I closed my eyes. I reenvisioned the premonition, what I’d seen in a flash when I noticed her. I paid attention to the clothes she’d been wearing, her placement, right in front of the library, a greyhound on a leash behind her, and Mr. Hayes eating a doughnut across the street.
I opened my eyes, saw that the little girl was almost in front of the library, a greyhound was on a leash behind her, and Mr.
Hayes was eating a doughnut across the street.
2 Cathy Lamb
Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.
She was going to be hit soon . . . no, she was going to be hit immediately by a white truck.
I dropped the books and Ghost. She squealed and hissed in outrage. I started running up the street, my white summer dress easy to run in, my red flip-flops not so easy.
“Hello, Evie,” my friend Gracie called out, but I didn’t greet her, I didn’t have time.
“Evie,” Mr. Jamon croaked, leaning on his cane as I flew past him. “Everything okay, dear? Did you see something?”
I kept running. The girl was two blocks ahead, and I had to catch up. I so hate running. It makes me breathless. Now and then I see people running or jogging, and I think, My, that looks miserable. And it is, it so is. I tried to breathe and heard a gur-gling, choking sound in my throat as my legs started to burn.
The sun was streaming through the towering fir and pine trees, blinding the road up ahead, but I heard it, loud and clear: a deliv-ery truck, rumbling and groaning, the type with huge loads so it can’t brake quickly. It turned the corner on top of the hill and barreled down the road toward town, the engine grinding.
I ran harder, faster, darting around Koo and Darrell Jones, who moved out of the way when they heard me panting behind them. I heard Koo say, “It’s happening again!” and Darrell yelled after me, “Can we help, Evie?” I heard them running after me.
I could hardly breathe. I need to get in shape, but what a drag that would be. Ugh.
The truck was flying down the street, way too fast, passing the post office, the old white church, the knitting store. I saw the little girl, her eye caught by a dog—a fluffy, white, cute dog across the street. She smiled at the dog, waved at it as if it would pick up a paw and wave back.
“No!” I shouted at her as loud as I could, my lungs burning.
“No! Don’t move!” But she didn’t hear me and her mother was distracted, staring into the picture window of my mother and aunts’ pink store, Flowers, Lotions, and Potions. The store was filled with the wild, intricate bouquets that my mother makes, the scented potions and lotions my aunt Camellia makes, and
ALL ABOUT EVIE 3
the peculiar/sexy/oddly compelling flower photographs my aunt Iris takes.
“No! No!” I screamed again, puffing hard as the girl took that fateful, disastrous step and darted into the street to pet the fluffy, white, cute dog on the other side, her red ribbon flying about, a smile on her face before she was going to be turned into a human pancake.
I saw the truck driver’s expression, suddenly panicked as he saw her. He hit the brakes and they screeched, but the brakes couldn’t work fast enough.
I flew off the curb toward the truck, lunged and grabbed the girl, yanking her back, stumbling against her weight, both of us crashing to the street, my back and butt bouncing on the asphalt, the air shoved out of my lungs. I pulled my feet in just in time as the truck rumbled past, its brakes smoking, horn blaring.
The girl’s back was on my chest and stomach, my arms wrapped around her waist, her head on my collarbone, her red ribbon slink-ing down my arm. Red for blood. At least there was no blood. I don’t like blood. Blood should always be inside of a body, not outside. I was panting, wiped out. I should exercise more and lose some weight, I know this, I do, but it’s so boring. And I hate dieting. Garfield the cat had it right: Dieting is die with a t.
But still. I could hardly breathe from this short sprint, and that was embarrassing. I would have to make a change in my life. Exercise. Eat more vegetables. That sort of dreariness. But not today. Lord, not today. My aunt Camellia was making a chocolate cheesecake for dessert tonight. I probably wouldn’t begin a diet and exercise program tomorrow, either, because there would be leftover chocolate cheesecake and I would not want it to go to waste. Maybe next Saturday I’d begin.
The girl wasn’t moving, but I knew she was okay. I could feel her breathing on top of me. She was shocked, that’s all. I sucked in a
ir like a beached whale, my heart protesting my run, first thing in the morning, too!
I heard a scream, piercing, circling around me, then the scream seemed to circle North Sound before it headed out to the ocean,
4 Cathy Lamb
alarming any and all whales and fish. It was a scream of pure terror.
It wasn’t me. I couldn’t scream. I am too out of shape. The scream was from the mother. She was crying and screaming as she hobbled over to us. She bent over her daughter, cradled in my arms, my dress no doubt hitched up way too high. “Maggie, oh, my God, Maggie. Are you all right? Are you okay? Did you get hurt?”
I felt Maggie nod. “Yep. I’m good.”
So casual. “Yep.” I was near to dying from running, my legs were almost flattened by truck tires, and the kid, yep, was fine and dandy.
“Why did you do that?” her mother wailed, as if I weren’t there underneath her naughty daughter. “Why did you run in the street? You know better than that!”
The girl didn’t answer. She couldn’t. She had wanted to pet a white, furry, cute dog and now she was lying in the street. She had seen the truck tear past us. She was young, about seven, but she knew what had almost happened to her.
Maggie, dear Maggie, burst into tears. “I only wanted to pet the doggie!”
The mother was now holding her daughter close, shaking, tears streaming out of her eyes, keening over my near-dead body. Dang.
I did not want to start my day like this, but whew. That was a close one.
“Thank you.” The mother wept, her pale face inches from mine, her tears falling on my face. “Thank you so much.”
I gasped again and said, “No problem.” But it was a problem, as my poor legs would probably ache for days. I would eat more chocolate to compensate. Maggie’s mother pulled Maggie up and was cradling her in her arms, rocking and sobbing.
My friend Gracie, her blonde hair piled up in a ball, sat down next to me in the street, her legs crossed as if she were sitting on my bed and chatting like when we were teenagers. “You had one of your premonitions again, didn’t you, Evie?”
I shook my head, sucking air in. “No. I don’t have premonitions.”
ALL ABOUT EVIE 5
“She did,” Koo Jones said, also kneeling beside me. She squeezed my hand. “She started running and dropped her cat before the truck was even in view. We saw it. The cat’s not happy, Evie—that one is a hisser—but are you okay?”
I nodded. “No premonition. I saw the truck coming.”
Darrell shook his head as he and Gracie and Koo helped me up. Wow. Even my butt hurt from that run. I put my hands on my butt and rubbed. Ouch! Gracie handed me my missing flip-flop as Koo yanked my dress down so the whole town wouldn’t see my pink underwear that says “Cats Rule” on the back.
“You couldn’t have seen the truck. It was up and around the bend,” Darrell said. He’s an organic farmer. Sells his crops to our local grocery store and to the other islands. “I feel for you.
Those premonitions must be awful. You see something and you have to go save someone. You’re a right kind person, Evie. Always helping others.”
Gracie ran her hands over my black hair and flicked out small rocks from the pavement. “There. You’re good to go. No more rocks in your waves. Hey! Rocks in your waves. That sounded pretty cool. Maybe I should be a songwriter.”
“Thanks, Gracie.” I had hoped to see Marco today, a tiny sighting, and I would not want rocks in my waves.
The driver ran over, puffing and pale. “Man, I am so sorry.
You okay, lady? Is the kid okay?”
“We didn’t die,” I snapped, my anger rising like a mini vol-cano. “My legs are still attached.”
“The brakes wouldn’t work. I kept pumpin’ ’em, pumpin’ ’em.”
“You were going way too fast,” I said. “What is this, a race-track? Who are you, Evel Knievel?”
He looked embarrassed. Ashamed.
“Don’t go fast again. Ever.” I was pretty dang ticked. “You almost killed that girl.”
He hung his head. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m really sorry.”
The girl was now jumping and bopping about on the sidewalk, twirling here and there, everything happy! Her mother was leaning against a light post, bent in half, looking like she
6 Cathy Lamb
might lose her cookies, her eyes never leaving the bopping daughter.
“Lucky she had a premonition it was going to happen!” Mr.
Jamon croaked out. “She’s been having them since she was a wee little girl.”
“I don’t have premonitions,” I said. I knew no one believed me, but it’s my standard line.
They all nodded, humoring me.
“Sure, you don’t,” Koo said. “Sure.”
“Not a one,” Gracie said. “When you suddenly jumped into the lake in your clothes and swam to the center to rescue my grandmother at the exact moment she stood and fell out of the boat a week ago, it was purely coincidence. How funny you were there at the same time!”
That was a wet one.
“Uh, yeah,” Darrell said. “Want some tomatoes? They’re ripe.
I’ll bring them over to you and your mom and aunts tonight.”
“Whatever,” Gracie said. “You’re a bit flushed and you’re still panting. Maybe you should run more. For when this happens again.”
“Hey,” Koo said. “I need a scary book. Did you get any super scary books in?”
“And I need a romance,” Mr. Jamon said. “I’ve got a date on Saturday night, and it wouldn’t hurt to take a lesson, right?”
Right. You go, Mr. Jamon, you go.
We all trooped into my bookstore, another friend, O’Dierno Rhys, handing me Ghost, who was unhappy with her disrespectful treatment, but not before the girl and her mother thanked me again and hugged me.
“You came out of nowhere,” the mother said.
“Evie does that,” Gracie said with a lot of enthusiasm. “She can see the future. It’s like she has a crystal ball in her head.”
“I think it’s those pretty gold eyes of hers,” Koo said, slinging an arm around my shoulders, which were beginning to ache from the fall. “Something magical about them.”
I rolled my pretty gold eyes. “No, I can’t see the future.”
Yes, I can.
ALL ABOUT EVIE 7
* * *
I can’t always see the future, but now and then, curse it all, I can.
It’s been a plague my whole life.
I started having premonitions as a kid. I would see the future for someone. Sometimes it was scary, or bad, and sometimes it was wonderful. It led to a whole lot of mental distress and trying to save people, or choosing not to save people, and committing minor crimes along the way, like breaking and entering, trespassing, small robberies, destruction of property, hiding things people owned like their car keys so they couldn’t drive, one time locking my favorite librarian up in her home so she wouldn’t get hit by a train, things of that nature.
All of my tiny criminal acts or legal interventions have been to slow someone down so that the premonition will pass them by. So many times in life an accident hits that if you waited one minute, one, it would have shot past you. I try to make that minute happen. All the crimes were necessary. I don’t regret any of them. I knew what was going to happen to those people—
innocent people, often friends, people I loved and cared about—
if I didn’t.
That’s the curse of having premonitions: You know what’s upcoming for people.
You may have to become a criminal momentarily to save them.
But I have had one premonition off and on my whole life, starting when I was about five years old.
In that premonition there are two women, one of them me, and one of us dies. I don’t know if it’s me or the other woman who heads up the golden staircase to heaven. I have not been able to figure this out, which is strange. My endings for my other premoni
tions are all quite clear, but there’s a fuzziness here, as if the premonition doesn’t even know precisely who is dead at the end of it.
I don’t know who the other woman is. I don’t know how old I’ll be. I don’t know when it will happen. What I do know is that I’m driving on a road, wide enough for only one car, along-
8 Cathy Lamb
side a mountain on my right. On my left side is a steep cliff. The ocean is in the distance, peeking through the pine trees, and there’s a whole bunch of orange poppies. I see the oncoming car, and we both swerve, and crash.
Sometimes one car shoots over the cliff, sometimes both cars.
Sometimes there’s an earsplitting explosion, crackling flames and black smoke bubbling up from the bottom of the cliff, sometimes not. Sometimes we’re sandwiched together, teetering over the cliff, up and down, sometimes not. It’s blurry, this premonition.
Like rain is blurring the full photo, but there is no rain.
It’s troubling to know that a car crash, on a cliff, may kill me.
Or it may not.
Other than the premonitions? I am utterly, completely normal.
Which means that I’m one hot mess.
C h a p t e r 2
Multnomah County Jail
The young woman screamed, head back, sweat and hot tears dripping down her agonized face into her thick black hair.
The nurse fastened the leather straps around the woman’s wrists. She didn’t want to do it, but she had to. It was the rule.
All prisoners giving birth in the jail’s infirmary had to be strapped down, wrists, ankles, and one around the waist. One never knew! A woman could attempt an escape, yes, even one in the throngs of labor, minutes away from giving birth! She could waddle down the hallway, moaning in pain, teeter down the stairs and through the prison yard, without anyone noticing, her hand on her crotch to keep the baby in as she lithely leaped over the barbed wire fence. Escapes were definitely against the rules.