Chapter 1: A Big Favor
You guys! Come quick!” Little John shouted as he swam into Claire’s living room. “You won’t believe what Finn is doing!”
It was the middle of the night. Kaz, Cosmo, Mom, Pops, Grandmom, and Grandpop had the TV on, but they weren’t paying much attention to it. They just had it on while they waited for Claire to wake up. The ghosts had a big favor to ask of Claire.
Kaz groaned. “What’s Finn doing?” he asked his younger brother, Little John.
Finn was Kaz and Little John’s big brother. Back when the ghosts lived in the old schoolhouse, Finn liked to scare his brothers by putting an arm, leg, or his head through the outside wall. One day he pushed his head too far through the wall and he got stuck in the Outside. Grandmom and Grandpop tried to rescue him, but the wind blew them all away.
A few months later, some solids came and tore down the old schoolhouse. Kaz and the rest of his family were forced into the Outside. The wind blew them away, too. It blew Kaz to the library, where he met Claire, the solid girl who lives above the library with her parents and her grandma.
Kaz didn’t think he’d ever see the rest of his family again. But he and Claire found Cosmo when they were searching for a ghost in an attic. Little John had gotten himself “returned” to the library inside a book. The three of them found Grandmom and Grandpop at a nursing home. They found Mom and Pops at a girl named Margaret’s house. And just yesterday, they found Finn at a boy named Eli’s house.
“You have to see
what Finn’s doing,” Little John said. “He’s in Claire’s room.”
Kaz sighed. Whatever Finn was doing in Claire’s room in the middle of the night, it couldn’t be good.
The ghosts swam down the hall and through Claire’s bedroom door. Claire was sound asleep on her bed, and Finn was braiding her hair to the bedpost!
Kaz gasped. “Finn!”
“Woof! Woof!” Cosmo barked at Finn while Mom, Pops, Grandmom, and Grandpop shook their heads in disapproval.
“You’re such a tattletale, Little John,” Finn said.
“Come on, Finn,” Kaz said. “That’s not very nice.”
All of a sudden, Claire jerked awake. She tried to sit up, but couldn’t. “What the—?” she said. Her fingers followed her hair all the way to the bedpost.
“Who did this?” she asked the ghosts. Her gaze settled on Finn. She made a face at him.
“Aw, can’t you take a joke?” Finn asked. He tried to help Claire unbraid her hair, but she didn’t want his help. She shoved her hand through his chest.
“Way to go, Finn,” Little John said. “Claire may not want to do us that favor now.”
“What favor?” Claire asked as her hair came free from the bedpost.
“She can’t do it in the middle of the night,” Kaz said. “Go back to sleep, Claire. We’ll ask you in the morning.” Maybe by then she will have forgotten what Finn did to her hair.
Claire turned on her bedside lamp. “I’m awake now,” she said, combing her hair with her fingers. “Go ahead and ask.”
The ghosts looked at one another. Mom motioned for Kaz to do the asking.
“Well . . .” Kaz wafted closer to Claire. “You know how there’s this little problem between our family and Beckett?”
Beckett was the other ghost who lived at the library. For some reason, Mom, Grandmom, and Grandpop never wanted to be in the same room with Beckett. So they made a deal: Beckett would stay in the library and the other ghosts would stay in Claire’s apartment. Tonight Mom, Grandmom, and Grandpop finally told Kaz, Finn, and Little John why
there was a problem between Beckett and their family.
And now Kaz was explaining it to Claire. “When our mom and Beckett were young ghosts, Beckett lived with her family for a while,” he began.
“He did?” Claire said, hugging her knees to her chest.
“Yes,” Kaz said. “You know how we’ve never seen Beckett glow?”
Little John couldn’t wait for Kaz to finish telling the story. “Beckett doesn’t glow blue like we do,” he blurted. “He glows red!”
“Really?” Claire gaped at the ghosts. “I’ve never heard of a ghost who glows red.”
“Wait, there’s more,” Kaz said. “Our mom had a little brother named Dave. One day Beckett glowed, and his red glow scared Dave so bad that he jumped right through the wall of their haunt, and the wind blew him away. They haven’t seen him since.”
Finn picked up the story from there. “Remember when I said I was at the movie theater before I was at Eli’s house? Well, there’s a ghost named Dave there. We want you to take us to the movie theater so we can find out if he’s Mom’s long-lost brother!”
“Maybe if we find Dave, then you guys will forgive Beckett for what happened and we can all be friends,” Kaz said to his mom and grandparents.
“Maybe,” Grandmom and Grandpop said. But they made no promises.
Claire thought about the situation. “Okay,” she said, stifling a yawn. “Tomorrow’s Saturday. I think the movie theater opens at one. How about we go right after lunch?” Then she lay down, pulled the covers over her head, and went back to sleep.
Copyright © 2017 by Dori Hillestad Butler. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.