Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tanslucent Teaser #1

Hey readers!

On March 19, 2015, Translucent comes out! This is the first book in a new YA series of mine, and today I’m excited to share the first snippet with you! For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, here’s the description:

Translucent

When a meteorite falls near her campsite in the San Rafael Wilderness, troubled teen Leona Hewitt ventures down into the crater looking for a souvenir. What she discovers changes her life. 

Contained in the meteorite is a sticky, mucous-like fluid that bends light, cannot itself be seen, and seems to grow in the presence of living tissue. It’s drawn to her. 

But when a government team arrives in hazmat suits and cordons off the meteorite impact site, Leona questions her decision to take it home with her. For one thing, there are rumors of an extraterrestrial threat. 

For another, it has been speaking to her. 

It wants to be worn . . . stretched on like a second skin. It’s seeking out her weaknesses, exploiting her deepest fear—that the only boy she’s ever loved will unearth the vile secret in her past and see her as a monster. Now it promises salvation. 

It can make her invisible. 


Translucent Teaser #1
    
          Pencils scraped across paper.
          Write about something you regret or something you feel guilty about.
          I stared at my blank page, petrified. Terror deadened the feeling in my nerves, replacing it with the icy buzz of adrenaline.
          I could think of only one thing.
          The terrible event at the beginning of summer.
          July first. I had just gotten my license . . . 
          I couldn’t write about that, I couldn’t ever tell anyone about that. But with the blank lines gaping before me and my name floating in the top right corner, my mind had gone infuriatingly blank. My skin broke out in sweat.
          Something else, something else, think about something else . . .  
          But I couldn’t.
          The pencil refused to budge.
          I scanned the room, the other students scribbling effortlessly. I licked my dry lips, but saliva only parched them further. My heart thundered in my ears, making me painfully aware of my surroundings—the prison-like classroom caving in on me, Andrew’s elbow inches from my own, Mrs. Holbrooke’s hawklike gaze moving up and down the aisles, sweeping toward me like a spotlight.
          I glared at my blank page and forced the tip of my pencil to the first line. My hand gave a violent tremor, and the lead tore a hole in the paper with a loud scratch.
          In my periphery, Andrew’s head angled toward me. At once, burning heat clawed up the sides of my cheeks. I was giving myself away. Every second I didn’t write, I was giving myself away.
          Think of something else, think of something else . . .
          Face hot and clammy, I peeked at Mrs. Holbrooke.
          Our eyes met.
          My breath choked off, and I froze. Other students looked over.
          They knew . . . they all knew.
          I wanted to be invisible.
          Sudden nausea twisted in my stomach, and I bent forward, gasping. I had to leave. Now. My fingers found the edge of my desk, which I pried away from Andrew’s, staggering to my feet.
          “I can’t . . . I can’t do this,” I muttered, the words escaping in a hoarse whisper. I careened up the aisle toward the door, banging into desks. My insides gave another lurch, and I clutched my stomach, about to lose my breakfast.
          “Leona, you okay?” Andrew’s voice followed me.
          “Ms. Hewitt?” said the teacher.
          “I can’t do this,” I gasped, fleeing for the door.
          By now, everyone was staring at me. Their eyes burned into the back of my skull.
          They knew.
          I had just given myself away.
          I threw open the door and fled. Sunlight scorched my cheeks, singed my long hair, blinded me. Past a row of lockers, I stumbled into the shadows under an overhang and slammed into a trashcan. I pulled my hair back and stared down into the bin, lungs wheezing as my stomach swam in nauseating circles. My stomach clenched, and I made a choking sound, but nothing came out. My stomach clenched again, harder this time, yanking my spine forward.
          Behind me, a dry voice said, “Again?”
          I jerked upright and swallowed my urge to vomit. My eyes adjusted to the shadows, and the outline of a figure came into view, leaning against the wall between two rows of lockers, not five feet away from where I stood.
          As I watched, he pressed a cigarette to his mouth and took a slow drag, making the tip glow red-orange. The whites of his eyes peered out at me like a wolf’s.
          I recognized him instantly.
          Emory Lacroix.
          My heart went eerily still.
          “You bulimic or something?” he said.
          I backed away, horrified. “I can’t . . . I can’t be talking to you.”
          He nodded to the trashcan. “I said, are you bulimic?”
          In the narrow, unlit corridor, my heel hit the opposite wall. My back banged a locker. Trapped. I shook my head, too terrified to speak.
          He tapped out the ashes. “It’s an eating disorder girls get. You know, you throw up everything you eat so you stay skinny. Stop doing it. It’s fucking stupid.”
          “I’m not bulimic,” I said.
          “I’ve seen you around twice,” he said, studying his cigarette. “First day of school and today. Both times you’re blowing chunks. That sounds to me like you got a problem.”
          “What do you want from me?” I whispered.
          “Just trying to do a little good in this shitty world. Maybe I just saved your life. Who knows.” He took another drag, his eyes on me again. “What’s your name?”
          For a moment, I found myself trapped in his tormented blue eyes, and I couldn’t look away. Then I remembered who I was, and who he was, and my eyes flicked to the ground. A fierce heat rushed to my cheeks.
          I couldn’t be here.
          This was wrong. This was so, so wrong.
          “I can’t be talking to you,” I whispered.
          “I said, what’s your name?” An edge crept into his voice.
          Don’t say your name.
          “You got a name, right? You know, that thing you write at the top of your homework?”
          I swallowed hard.
          Just walk away. Run. You can’t be here.
          But for some reason, I didn’t run. I stayed. Like an idiot, I stayed, my feet rooted to the concrete. Because running would look even more guilty.
          Don’t say your name—
          “Leona,” I whispered. You idiot. My heart had already curled up into a tiny, quivering ball.
          He nodded. “Emory.”
          “Lacroix, I know.” I risked another peek at him. Alarms screamed in my brain, telling me to move my ass. But I couldn’t. My knees trembled, frozen in place and twitching to flee at the same time.
          Maybe I felt obligated to stay.
          Holding my gaze, he took a deep inhale from his cigarette and blew out a cloud of smoke. “Yeah . . . lot of people know me now.”
          Mouth dry, I opened my mouth to say something, to apologize, to offer my sympathies, anything. But even that I couldn’t do. My words lodged in my throat somewhere and all that came out was a little choking cough. I averted my eyes, mortified.
          He tapped out the ashes again, eyebrows knotted.
          “Smoking’s bad for you,” I offered, and immediately, the burning returned to my cheeks.
          Stupid, stupid, stupid.
          I might as well get down on my knees and confess everything, beg for his forgiveness. At the thought, my legs grew weak.
          “Bad for you, yeah. That’s the point,” he said, putting it to his lips again. “Kind of don’t care right now.”
          Confess everything.
          I could do it, too. Right now. Get it all off my chest.
          As if he’d heard my thoughts, his eyes flicked to mine again, and my heart jackhammered against my sternum. He would see it on my face, see my guilt. He would know.
          If I stood here any longer, he would know.
          Maybe I wanted him to know. Maybe that was why I couldn’t move.
          No, Leona . . .
          I blinked, and a warm tear dripped down my cheek, for which I was deeply ashamed. I turned away, letting my hair hide my face as a shiver slipped under my skin. My entire body felt numb. I hated this feeling, and yet I couldn’t move, couldn’t walk away.
          His mere presence tugged at the guilt inside me, held me rigid.
          “And I thought I had problems,” said Emory’s voice.
          “Go away,” I said.
          “I was here first,” he said.
          “Go away, go away, go away,” I cried, and another tear burned its way down my cheek, and I wiped it away angrily. Right now I loathed myself.
          “Nah, you don’t really want me to go away.” He took another drag from his cigarette and chuckled darkly. “What do they say? Misery loves company?”
          “I can’t be talking to you,” I whispered.
          His eyebrows pinched together. “That’s the third time you’ve said that. Kind of a weird thing to say.” His suspicious stare lingered for an unbearably long time. “Why haven’t you asked me about it?”
          “About what?” I said, alarmed.
          “You seem to know who I am.” He crushed out his spent cigarette butt on a locker and flicked the glowing ashes to the gum-stained concrete. “You seem like you want to say something to me . . . so why haven’t you?”
          I felt the blood drain from my face. “I don’t . . . I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
          “Yes, you do.” He glanced up, eyes hopeful. “You knew her?”
          “Knew who?” I croaked, my throat tight.
          “My sister, Ashley. You knew her, didn’t you?”
          My body stiffened, suddenly shot through with icy chills. “I have to go,” I choked out, and before I blurted out anything else incriminating, I hurried away, straining to catch my breath so I didn’t pass out.
         
***

Translucent is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Click here to check it out! In another week or so I’ll be announcing several giveaways I’ll be hosting for readers who’ve pre-ordered the novel, so if you’re interested in winning free ebooks and Amazon gift cards, and getting an exclusive peak at the first several chapters, make sure to grab yourself a copy and save the order number!

Happy reading!
Dan

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