Thursday, December 11, 2014

Week of FOUR!

Today's excerpt is from my fantasy young adult novel, Underwater!

If you like the excerpt, click HERE to go to my Facebook page, where you can comment and share a link and be entered to WIN a free copy of Underwater!

Here's what it's all about...

The secrets of Pend Oreille are best left beneath the surface…

After being partially paralyzed in a car accident, wheelchair-bound Luna Prosser is struggling to keep her head above water. Fighting for independence from her over-protective parents and determined to seem normal as she wheels down the halls of her high school, Luna can’t believe the hot new guy on campus actually talks to her—and looks at her with more than just pity in his haunted, aquamarine eyes. 

But Luna has no idea how different Saxon really is, or what agonizing responsibilities he faces. He's been sneaking up and out of the dark waters of the Pend Oreille for a year now, slipping in and out of towns, local classes, and shops, in an attempt to learn more about the fascinating humans he was raised to stalk. But instead of watching them as prey, Saxon watches them with a yearning for normalcy, and to search for a way to aid his rapidly dying Mer clan from extinction.

Together he and Luna find a connection that can't be described. Like a key sliding into a lock, they've found their one mate, and once that has happened, the connection is permanent. But their bliss isn't meant to last, for there are secrets in the dark waters of Pend Oreille—secrets that could drown them both…

When I called my sister’s name into the darkness, my mother didn’t even peer through the kitchen window. She was too focused on being mad at my dad to concentrate on anything else. Besides, in her mind I was a thoughtless brat—which I was—and how would she know that there was a mermaid with a vendetta running around outside.
Except for the moonlight flickering on the choppy waves of the bay, the night was pitch black. I scanned the darkness, trying desperately to see something. Anything. The swish of Evey’s ponytail. The bright white of her softball practice shirt. The silvery glimmer of Isolde’s skin as she bolted through the trees. Surely I’d spot some of that…she had to be naked if she was in human form. Oh, great. This night just got better and better.
“Stay here,” Saxon said when we hit the bottom of the ramp.
“As if.” I yanked my gloves out of my pocket and jerked them on. “Is she going to hurt my sister? Be honest with me.”
He pulled his face into a grim scowl, and a small vertical line appeared between his eyebrows. He shook his head and lowered his voice. “I don’t know.”
“Then don’t tell me to wait here.” I rolled toward the tree line at the head of the trail. “Evey! If you’re out there, answer me!”
The sound of a twig breaking up the path halted my breath. Saxon was behind my chair in an instant. We sat motionless and perfectly quiet for one second, then two, then three, then…
A streak of silvery nakedness—all arms, legs, and a cape of long wavy hair—leapt from the brush and took off down the trail. Isolde’s voice filled my head, and by the way Saxon grit his teeth, he heard it too.
You’d better find her before I do.
Gasping, I shoved my wheels with every ounce of strength I had. I must have been running on adrenaline, because I hit the root in the ground with a slam and bounced right over it as if it were little more than a toothpick in the dirt. My wheels caught momentum quickly, thanks to the downward slope of the trail, and I was able to keep sight of Isolde’s hair flying out behind her running body.
Saxon’s voice screamed through my head. Luna, no! Wait!
“Evey, where are you!?” I shrieked, grunting as I pushed my wheels. I was about ten feet behind Isolde, and could see her silvery skin through the trees. My heart throbbed in my chest so hard, I was pretty sure my clavicle would splinter, but I didn’t stop to catch my breath. I just assaulted my wheels again and again, pushing myself further down the trail.
Evey. My sister was out in the woods because I’d run my mouth and embarrassed her, and now she had a lot more to worry about than a bruised ego. Letting my guilt propel me, I bound around a massive pine tree and made a grab for the end of Isolde’s hair.
“Dammit!” I hissed to myself when I missed, terrified tears stinging the insides of my eyelids. It was one thing to mess with me, to try to drown me, but threatening to hurt my sister? Now Isolde and I had a real problem. I was going to throttle her myself.
With a crunch and a rustle, Isolde jumped off of the trail and into the brush.
“Come back here and face me!” My voice came out rough and jagged. My lungs burned as I pushed forward, but I didn’t slow down. “Evey! This isn’t funny anymore! Where are you?”
“Geez, what?” Evey stepped out from behind a thick-trunked cedar tree. She was wiping tears off her face, and my already strained heart gave a squeeze. She turned in the direction of Isolde tearing through the bushes. “Who’s that?”
I’ll get her! Stay with your sister! Saxon jetted past me and sprinted into the dark thicket.
“OK!” I rolled to a stop at Evey’s feet and hunched over in my chair. My arms burned, and my fingers were stuck in their clenched position.
“What’s OK? What’s wrong? Where’s Saxon going? Was that Declan in the woods? Are you OK?” Evey’s questions were coming out like bullets, and I had to hold up one of my cramped hands to stop her.
“Mom…and Dad…are at…home.” I wheezed in between gulps of air. “I’m…so glad…I…found you.”
“Of course you found me. I wasn’t hiding from you.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “Well, maybe I was.”
“You need to go home.” I swallowed another pull of air and pushed my sweaty bangs back from my face. “It’s dangerous out here.”
She ignored me and peered into the trees. “Seriously, who was it? They weren’t wearing a shirt.” I saw slivers of Evey’s scandalized frown in the moonlight that cut through the trees. “Apparently people get naked a lot in Pend Oreille. Who knew?”
I widened my eyes at her. She had no concept of what was happening in Pend Oreille these days. “That was not Declan.”
“Why are you acting all cryptic? What’s your problem?” She tried to step around my chair. “Wait. Never mind. I’m mad at you—”
There was a thunderous crack of wood, followed by the crunching of branches falling to the ground. “What the heck was that?” Apparently Evey forgot that she was angry, because she knelt down next to me. “What’s going on?”
“There’s someone in the woods.” My voice shook. “She was going to hurt you.”
“Who’s going to hurt me?” There was a hysterical edge to Evey’s voice, so I put my hand over hers and squeezed.
I swallowed, and my throat stung. “Her name is Isolde. And she knows Saxon.”
“Saxon knows her? She’s friggin’ naked!” She pushed up her glasses with a trembling hand. “You’re OK with this?”
There was another crash, and the sound of rocks rolling into the water filled the air. “Seems pretty clear Saxon’s not OK with it either.” My stomach twisted around itself, and I winced. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if he got hurt trying to defend us. “Sax! You all right?”
“Holy crap, he isn’t hurting her, is he?” Evey raised her voice.
“It isn’t like that.” I bit my thumbnail. “You don’t understand.”
“Then why don’t you enlighten me?” Evey sat down on the leaves and pine needles. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she stared up at me and drew a shaky breath. “I want to know what’s going on. Right now.”
A million emotions bounced around in my head. Anger at my parents. Embarrassment that Saxon witnessed my family at its finest. Guilt for making my sister mad. And let us not forget the unadulterated fear that came with having Isolde running around in the woods outside my house. But despite all of that, and despite the fact that my heart was still hammering in my chest, guilt climbed to the top of the pile to rear its ugly head.
“Ev, I’m sorry.” My voice cracked, and I cleared my throat. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
“You were a total witch. You know that, right?”
“I know.” I pet her tousled blonde hair. “I was just mad at Mom and Dad, and I—”
“It’s not my fault they act like that!” She pressed a hand to her chest. “You forget sometimes. I’m on your side!”
I looked down at my fists, just as a splash sounded at the bottom of the hill. “I’m sorry. I just… Everything spun out of control, and I lost my cool.”
Evey nodded. “I know. Was Saxon uncomfortable?”
I listened for a beat. Waiting to hear his voice in my mind, telling me that Isolde was gone and everything was OK. But maybe he was gone too. Maybe he’d had to shift to chase Isolde away. My skin suddenly felt too tight for my body, and I wanted to scream. I loathed being bound to this chair. If they ever found a way to correct spinal cord injuries and I walked again, I was going to smash it with a sledgehammer and burn it to ashes. I wanted to go after Saxon. I wanted to help so badly. Helplessness was hell.
“I’ll take that enraged expression as a yes.”
Shaking my head, I forced myself to calm down, breathing in and out slowly. “No. Saxon was fine. He’s very…understanding like that. Besides, we didn’t have much time to talk about it.”
“You’re lucky.” She rubbed her hands up and down her arms. “He seems really nice.”
That made me smile. “Hayden’s not too shabby either.”
My sister was the only person in the world who could blush in the woods at night and turn pink enough to be visible. “He’s not my boyfriend.”
“Not yet. But will be.”
She giggled. “Maybe.”
There was another splash below, and I squeezed my eyes shut. “If he drove you home, why didn’t you make him stay for dinner too? Then I wouldn’t have had to suffer alone.”
“He went hiking with his brother.” She shifted on the ground. “Ian wanted to take him to Gold Hill.” Her voice trailed off, and she tugged on the end of her ponytail.
“It’s too bad Ian’s such a tool.” I couldn’t help myself. It rotted my stomach the way that Ian’s thick-necked friends all treated Hayden like garbage at school. He considered it a hazing of sorts, as if being a colossal dick to your brother at school was some kind of rihte of passage.
“OK, enough McClendon bashing for one night. My negativity meter is on high.” She dropped her voice low. “Tell me what’s going on. Why did Saxon just chase someone into the woods? Someone who was, um, naked?”
I rested my elbows on my knees and leaned forward. “There are things in this lake that you have only ever dreamed about.”
She blinked. “You sound like a Disney movie.”
I rubbed my eyes, exasperated. “I need you to promise me you’ll stay away from the water and out of the woods for a while.”
“Just promise.” I didn’t hear any more noise coming from the woods, and I didn’t hear Saxon’s—or Isolde’s—voice anywhere.

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