As part of Sample Sunday, I'm previewing a chapter of my YA fantasy, Fire in the Blood, each Sunday. This book is available through Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook (and will be available in paperback through Amazon this summer). Visit each week and read the next chapter. Enjoy!
Fire in the Blood
How did life suck? Let me count the ways.
One. I sucked. My life was supposed to be about hair, clothes, and boys. I admit, I kind of rocked the hair department, thick and straight and long, though the color bordered on mousey. My clothes situation, however, was on a good-will basis, and my chest area was a total bust--not exactly a combination that attracted hall gods.
"Haley, we need to talk," Mom said.
Two. Elana sucked. Until today, I'd thought she was my best friend. I'd done everything with her, following her through school like a...like a...a tail following a fox, but she turned out to be a back-stabbing liar.
"Now," she added.
Three. Ian sucked. Ian, who'd moved to Kent, Connecticut over a month ago, was crazy gorgeous, and for a second, I thought I'd blipped his radar, but he only noticed the hall goddesses, which of course included Elana. And she'd noticed him.
Mom stuck her hand out. "Take this."
Four. My birthday sucked. Elana hooked up with Ian today of all freaking days, my birthday. All I'd wanted for my seventeenth birthday was some cool clothes and a hall god for a boyfriend, and instead I was contemplating the fate of a boobless loner who owned sucky clothes.
I blinked at the necklace dangling from Mom's fingers.
"Is that a pearl? It's huge!" I slipped the necklace over my head and admired it. I could almost scratch suck number four off my list.
"And this," she added, handing me a block of wood.
I studied the weird faces carved into it then flipped it over. I had no clue why Mom would give me an ugly statue, but I said, "Thanks, Mom."
Mom stalked the kitchen as if the coffee maker had been identified by the F.B.I. as public enemy number one. "They're from your birth parents."
"You know them?" Anyone could tell I was adopted. Mom was tall and blonde and could easily drape the cover of Glamour magazine, even in flannel shirts and jeans. And I was...not that
"A little," she said.
"What are they like? Where are they? Do you talk to them?"
"There's no time for questions. Your life depends on listening to me right now." Mom's voice scratched the air.
I tilted my head. For the first time, I noticed she wasn't so put together. One side of her shirt had untucked from her jeans due to her plucking fingers, her hair was falling out of its ponytail, and her gaze shifted criminally.
Mom put her hands to her stomach and swallowed once, loudly. "I think he's after you."
The stone, nestled against my chest, rose and fell with my suddenly shortened breathing. "What are you talking about?"
"Your parents are dead because of him."
The pulse in my neck chanted, da-dead, da-dead, da-dead. Air. I needed air. "Some guy killed my parents and now he's after me?"
"Yes. No. I'm not sure." Mom dropped into a chair and stared at my box thingy.
"So, what happened? Were they, like, drug runners or something?"
"Absolutely not!" Mom snapped.
"Oka-ay," I muttered, and then waited for Mom to say something.
The clock tick, tick, ticked and my heart seemed intent on pulverizing itself against my ribs. The awkward silence was shattered by someone pounding the front door, and Mom leaped up like someone'd jabbed her butt with a taser.
She leaned toward me over the kitchen table, staring at me with bulging eyes. "Don't move."
I slipped my bunny slippers off my sweaty feet. Who killed my parents? Who was the psychopath looking for me? And why? I glanced over my shoulder. Was Mom having some kind of breakdown?
"Zentu!" Mom yelled from the foyer.
The box rolled off the table and thunked onto the floor. It split open, wide, wider, gaping darkly like the mouth of a great white shark. White fog poured out, and I whiffed wet dirt.
The sound of the front door slamming against the wall, splintering.
"Haley! Jump!" Mom shouted.
My gaze leaped to the window. Why'd she want me to jump when I could jet out the back door? And why would she ever think I'd leave when it sounded like some whack job was breaking in? I leapt to my feet, stumbling over my bunny slippers.
I plunged head-first into the foggy pool. The sound of my chair crashing to the floor seemed very far away. Mom screamed once and then the sound died.