Girl moves to new town.
Girl meets Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.
Cue Happily Ever After.
That’s how the story goes, right?
Except this is Lucy. The same Lucy whose stellar driving skills single-handedly wiped out both of her parents, leaving her with nothing but the suitcase in her hand and the screws in her skull. Not to mention that Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome—AKA Oliver—is just as annoyingly bossy as he is hot. According to Oliver, Lucy’s not safe in her new hometown, but he refuses to say why. He just gives her some lame warning about not going out after dark, like that’ll stop her.
When several townspeople vanish, the lethargic community springs to life, fearful of the danger lurking among them. The problem is that Lucy’s the last person to have seen any of the missing. Doesn’t exactly qualify her for the Neighbor of the Year Award.
Lucy’s already given up on Happily Ever After, but now she has two choices left: find out what’s happening in her new home, or become the next victim.
Read an excerpt from…
“Do you trust me?” he asks. He’s closer to me.
“Do I have a choice?”
“Not really. We’ve got to get you back to the mansion before . . .” His voice trails off. I want to slug him in the arm for being spooky again, but I’d have to find his arm first.
He swoops in without warning, whisking me from my feet. Again, I cry out. He sucks in a sharp breath that catches between his teeth. “Lucy, I’m not kidding—stop making noise.”
My blood simmers beneath my skin. “Warn me next time you’re planning on picking me up, then.”
“Sorry,” he fires back, his mouth too close to my ear.
I want nothing more than for the strength in my legs to return so I can get away from him and his nerve, but Oliver is in control now and holds me pressed unnecessarily tightly to his body. Turning my head from him is my only means of escape. I’d shown him, all right.
With a little more energy than necessary, he heaves me up into the blackness. My bottom connects to something soft yet solid—Jasper’s back—and pain spikes down my spine. I gasp as my body starts to curl in on itself.
“Okay,” Oliver says. “Slide your right leg over to the other side. I’ll keep you steady.”
My mouth flops open and I wonder if he can see the ever-growing whites of my eyes. Or maybe he’s picked up on the stampede going on between the valves of my heart, because he softens. “Lucy, I’m not going to let you fall. Trust me.”
“The only people I’ve ever trusted are dead,” I shoot down to him as I claw around for something, anything, to keep me from falling on my face.
Oliver snorts, which sends me over the edge.
“What? You think that’s funny?” I challenge him, no longer concerned about keeping quiet. His hand clamps on my leg in piercing reproof. I’ll have bruises there tomorrow, for sure. Through locked teeth, I order, “Let. Go.”
“Please stop,” he says. “I’m trying to keep you sa—”
A rumble beyond us, where the orchard fades into the rest of the forest, interrupts his plea. Even though I sit astride stoic Jasper, I can feel the ground vibrating beneath us.
“What in the—?” I cry, whipping my head in the direction of the growing commotion.
“Slide back,” Oliver commands. I know better than to take offense at his bossy tone. I’d made a big mistake, one he’d been trying to protect me from. The fear of horses leaves my body, only to be replaced by the fear of the unknown. Ignoring the bite of pain in my hip, I throw my leg over Jasper’s withers and shove myself backward, using my palms for leverage. A second later, Oliver sweeps himself upward and in front of me on his horse’s back.
“Hold on,” he yells over the thunder moving our direction.
- J. Henderson is the founder of theKid Authors Project, as well as a published author of the DANIEL THE DRAW-ER series. Now that she’s published IN THE MIDDLE, she’ll start working on the next big thing.
- J. lives on a farm with her husband, four boys, two dogs, and cat. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her riding one of her family’s three horses. She loves to sing and is slowly learning to play the ukulele.
Even thousands of miles away, hints bombard the senses, every minute of every day.
The burst of fresh coffee’s aroma, and the knowledge that it won’t be perfect.
A wall of air so steamy, it’s worn like soggy paper.
Silent fog, swirling, devouring all in its path without remorse.
Snippets of jazz, riding on a veiled wind.
The fleeting whiff of a long forgotten candle.
Whispers of spirits hidden in the midnight rain.
In her sultry voice, New Orleans is always calling us home.
Hands on the clock crawl to that moment when day gives way to sultry dusk and all souls stir in their tombs, destined for midnight’s wicked frenzy.
This air buzzes with history’s notes—flashy keyboards and wailing horns. Floor boards creak underfoot, worn thin by musicians and their dancers, nobles and their courts.
Dazzling lights of royalty fell dark only once, born again amidst sapphire flame and victory bells.
Every chance I get, I sneak in, close my eyes and remember the devilry and decadence, incense and absinthe. Precious memories of brothers and sisters, fast friends and young lovers, chasing their dreams and tempting fate in the Golden Age.
We got away with all of it…
Always alone when the veil drops…
Crystals shiver and jingle in the breeze of an airless room.
A brittle shadow.
Blur of a fading spirit. Whisper of a borrowed dream.
Hope is a tease.
Beneath the worn floor pounds a heartbeat that survived hell.
Belief is paradise.
The scarred clock ticks and restarts time with a union of eternal souls.
…never really alone.
Damn this lonely and bleak season.
Could you be a ghost? Are the undead capable of haunting each other? Credible sources tell me no. Not possible.
Yet, you come to me in dreams so vivid, I tremble for hours. Everywhere in this labyrinth, I see you. Your figure blurs in one blink and fades to nothing in the next. A mirage of the way you were on the day we met-innocent and unscarred.
Tricks for my eyes and torture for my soul.
Lies and treachery are woven into life’s tapestry for New Orleans’ first family. Theatrics seem normal-until they sabotage everything.
One last fight. Crossed signals.
One final truce. Buried resentment.
One handwritten note. Love paid the price.
My eternal mission is to rekindle that fire and honor our wedding vows. I did write them myself.