I hope you all are having an awesome weekend! In honor of Halloween, I wanted to give you all the first taste of the fourth book in the Translucent series. I'll be announcing the title and cover in the next few weeks, and if you want to be the first to know about it, make to sure sign up for my mailing list here! Without further ado, here's the first teaser!
Translucent #4, Teaser 1
I took my seat in English the next day feeling like an imposter. The rest of the class shuffled in with bright eyes and hushed voices, like they could sense the electric tingle of autumn in the air. They looked like strangers.
I hadn’t been here Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Someone else had been here in my place, sat in my seat, answered for me during roll call. What had she said to people? What decisions had she made on my behalf? What references and inside jokes would I now miss?
I’d kept a lookout for her throughout the day, but she’d at least kept up her end of the bargain and skipped school. Some bargain that had been. What on Earth had possessed me to negotiate for school? And in exchange for the right to live in my house? Crappy deal.
Although technically I was still using my house, just not when she was around.
School could suck it.
Yet here I was, trying to claim some part of my life as mine. I had waved to Megan in the halls. She’d waved back. I’d stayed inside during lunch to work on homework so I wouldn’t have to talk to her.
Was it just me, or were people giving me weird looks?
Tina Wilkes moseyed in.
“Hey, girl,” she said perkily, plopping into the seat behind me.
I glanced around to see who she’d spoken to, but no one else from her posse of friends—I knew them all, because they used to be my friends—took AP English. She gave me a funny look.
She was talking to me.
“Uh . . . hey,” I said.
Then came Andrew.
He planted his palms on our desks and swung back and forth in the aisle.
“Leona,” he said.
“Andrew,” I said.
“Leona, Leona, Leona,” he said.
I glanced back at Tina, thinking this was some kind of joke. But she only giggled and rolled her eyes—for my benefit—like it was our inside joke.
The hell was this?
“So, next Friday . . . Halloween,” he said, still swinging like an orangutan.
“Yes, it is,” I agreed.
“Epic rager at my place,” he said. “You’re coming.”
“Uh . . .”
“Yeah right, Andrew,” Tina sneered. “Leona’s got better things to do on Halloween . . . like hang out with her hot senior boyfriend.”
Andrew and I both blushed.
“Just thought I’d ask,” he muttered darkly, lifting his palm off my desk. “Eugh, why’s your desk all sticky?”
“Emory’s cum,” said Tina.
“Oh my God, shut up,” I hissed.
Andrew scraped at his hand and hunkered down in his own desk, looking like a kicked puppy. I felt bad for him. Technically, I wasn’t dating anyone.
“But seriously,” Tina whispered, leaning in behind me. “Ditch your boy for the night so we can go. It’ll only make him want you more.”
I opened my mouth to fire back something sassy, but a rush of déjà vu swept over me.
In my absence, my doppelgänger had made peace with Tina and Andrew. This all felt just like last year—me and Tina and Megan and all our friends being shallow and rude and thinking we were hot shit.
I gave a noncommittal shrug instead, feeling more and more weirded out by the second.
It was just like last night, how she’d denied killing Ashley as if for her the whole thing had never happened…or hadn’t yet happened. Megan had picked up on it too.
She was acting like me from last year…but why?
Was she an earlier version of me?
“Huck Finn essays in the bin,” Mrs. Holbrooke called, nudging the door stop with her toe until the door slammed shut.
The volume in the classroom spiked as students jostled to the front, rustling papers and talking over each other.
I stared at my blank desk.
“Nice. You didn’t do it either?” Tina said behind me, also not moving.
Was she like my new best friend?
Next to me, Andrew wiped his hand on his jeans, opened his binder and extracted a crisp five-page essay, then wiped his hand on his jeans again.
“Dude, what the hell?” he muttered, picking at something on his finger.
He climbed to his feet, took a halting step toward the front, and dropped his essay. It fluttered to the ground, where it was trampled by the kids shoving past him.
Now he had my attention.
His eyebrows knotted. He rubbed his finger, then scraped at it, then tore at it. “What the hell?” he muttered again, louder this time.
His thumb had receded to the first joint, baring a tiny cross-section of purple flesh and white bone.
My heart bottomed out in my stomach.
I sat up straight, glanced around for help. No one to help. I stood, sending my desk screeching to the side.
“Andrew, peel it off,” I said calmly. “Just peel it off.”
“I’m trying,” he moaned. “It’s under my skin.”
“With your fingernail, get under the seam . . . ”
But his movements fell into uncoordinated hysteria. He raked at the back of his wrist, clawed at it, scraped off white flakes of skin, which shriveled and went invisible. He’d never get it off that way.
“Andrew, you need to calm down,” I said.
“I can’t get it off . . . I can’t get it off!” he cried. “It’s under my skin . . .”
As I watched, horrified, his thumb eroded to a stump, and the hole began to eat away at his hand like something had taken a bite out him.
The kids behind him noticed. “Whoa. Dude.”
“Andrew’s got a sweet Halloween trick,” someone shouted, and the class converged on him, elbowing and laughing and jostling for position. Someone knocked me to the side.
“That’s awesome! How’s he doing that?”
“No, no, no, that’s real, that’s real!”
“Holy crap, that’s real!”
“Everyone back to their seats,” shouted Mrs. Holbrooke. “What’s going on over there?”
A girl screamed, then another, and all at once, the kids scattered, stampeded, desks toppled.
“It’s alive, it’s . . . it’s crawling under . . . Jesus freaking—get out, get out of there!” Andrew swatted at his arm, scratched at his shoulder, flailed and scratched everywhere, like he was being eaten alive by tiny insects. His arm receded to a hideous stump.
It had to be now . . . now or never.
I leapt over his desk, seized his arm, and picked at the advancing dark matter with my thumbnail, shutting everything else out but him.
But it was too deep, already fusing to his skin.
“A knife . . . someone give me a knife!” I spun back toward the class, who stared back at me in wide-eyed terror.
No one moved.
I scanned the room, frantic. There, Mrs. Holbrooke’s desk, huge pair of scissors.
Gripping Andrew’s invisible arm, I yanked him to the front of the room and threw him down on the desk, then grabbed the scissors and whipped them open over his chest, angling the blade toward his neck.
“What are you doing?” he whimpered.
“Don’t move,” I hissed through gritted teeth.
“Leona!” Mrs. Holbrooke yelled. “Drop the scissors.”
Dark matter raced over his shoulders. I held the blade poised, ready to attack, biting my lip. Had to time this just right . . . Now!
I plunged the blade into his flesh and dug under the seam, prying it out. He screamed and thrashed. Pinning him down with my elbows, I pinched the dark matter and tugged it back, uprooting it from his flesh. Blood dribbled down and pooled above his collarbone.
I peeled it back from his shoulder, scraped it down his arm, and rolled it off his fingertip into my waiting palm—a writhing heap of invisible folds—which I dumped in Mrs. Holbrooke’s coffee thermos and promptly sealed.
Andrew moaned and rolled away, clutching his bleeding—and still visible—shoulder. I straightened up to face the class, panting from the effort.
“It’s called dark matter,” I said. “If it gets on you, it makes you invisible and takes you to a horrible, horrible place. If this ever starts to happen to you, get help immediately.”
If you enjoyed that, make sure to sign up for my mailing list here to get all the latest news on Translucent #4!