Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
For those of you who have been patiently checking back, though, here's some more cover art (especially of interest to those of you across the pond):
That's right, the UK and US editions will be back to having the same title! So that will hopefully cut back on some of the confusion we've had about Illusions / Wild.
Also, Aprilynne and a bunch of her author friends recently threw a big party for some of the librarians of the Phoenix-metro area. You can read all about it on Lisa McMann's blog. It was a fabulous event and if you happen to have media connections, why, you might want to write about it. Great piece for the Arts page, don't you think?
I think that's all the news for now. Sorry I'm not my lovely and fabulously-talented wife, who probably would have made this whole post much more entertaining. We now return you to your irregularly-scheduled-actual-author-blog... d^_^b
Monday, October 31, 2011
And, um, we may have a LOT of candy left over. I wonder what I'll do with all that candy . . . :D
But you all didn't come here to listen to me ramble about how my middle name is Hershey. Without further ado, here is my treat to you!!!
(Clickie for biggie.)
Yay! Swoon! Better than chocolate!!!
Well, it's a close second at least.;)
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The cover of Destined!!!!!!
So watch the blog on Halloween night. As soon as I get my first trick-or-treater, I'll post the cover. (AND OMG IT IS GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!)
So keep an eye out and eat a lot of candy corn! (My favorite!:D)
Monday, October 17, 2011
I am attending the Humboldt County Author Festival in Eureka this Saturday. All of the details can be found on their website, HERE!!! There will also be 24 other amazing authors and you can find those names on the website as well.
I don't make it to Northern California very often (almost never) so if you are in the area, please,please,please come see me!!
Particularly special is that Humboldt County is where the Wings series is set! In fact, after my school visits one of the days I'm there I am going out to see Orick, where the gate to Avalon is!!!! Think I'll find it??:D
But seriously, if you are in Humboldt County, consider stopping by. It will be a very open format so this is a great time for you to come chat with me, ask me questions, torture me for spoilers, etc.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I am sososo excited for this fourth book and the title is just so fitting! Luckily, Amazon.uk listed Destined a little early so I got to officially tell you the title just a bit sooner than I expected.
Before you ask, I don't have cover art yet, but I expect that next month--early November at the latest.
(Also, in case anyone is worried, yes, I do realized that Destined is also the name of the new House of Night book that is coming out this fall and that is the reason it has taken so long to announce. But the sales and marketing people finally decided that our books are so different--not to mention coming out six months apart--that there would be minimal confusion. I'm really, really excited they let me keep the title because, seriously, it just works so well with the whole book!)
In other exciting news, I finished the first draft of the first book in my new series today!!!! I still have several weeks of editing to do before it's even ready to go to my editor for approval, but it still feels like a big step and make me super happy today!
Monday, August 15, 2011
Okay! As promised, I am through with my travel-filled summer and am ready to post an address so you can get your very own swag!
I made temporary tattoo jewelry for my swag this year and since they are AWESOME (and small) I am letting you guys send in for your own! You can get either one of each of the David necklace and Tamani bracelet, or you can get two for your guy of choice.
I will also send signed bookplates that can be personalized, etc.
You have to follow directions though.
Step One: Make a SASE (Great instructions in the link with one caveat, you don't have to have different-sized envelopes. Just fold the SASE and put it in the first envelope. Super-simple!) **From comments: If you don't know what a SASE is, follow the link! That's what it's for!!:D**
Step Two: Include a small note that tells me what you want: if you are requesting a bookplate PLEASE tell me who to sign it to, and what book it is for. Here's an example:
Hi Aprilynne! I would like a set of the temporary tattoos (I like them both!) and one book plate for each of the three (ETA: four) books. Please sign them to SARA. Thanks! Sara
See? Very, very easy!
I check my mail once a week and will stuff envelopes there at the post office, so there should be a fairly fast turn-around, but give me two weeks in case your letter arrives the day after I check my mail.:D
To avoid the spambots, I have a picture of my address rather than just typing it.:D (Also, it's sideways. Security FTW.)
I don't normally reply to comments here on the blog, but if you have any PLEASE post them and I will update this post if I've missed any vital information.
**From the comments: International is fine. As long as I can walk the envelope to the postal counter and give it to them and it gets back to you, it's good.:) (Please don't send money; really, I just don't want to go there.;))**
**I used an International Return Coupon (IRC) today! It worked great!!! So yes, those are fine for my brilliant and lovely international fans!!**
**Yes, you can ask for an extra bookplate for the upcoming book four!**
Friday, August 05, 2011
With the whirlwind of edits, the release of Illusions, touring, and having kids out of school for the summer, it's been a while! It's also been a while since I talked about the business of writing, so I'd like to do a bit of that today.
Because I finally got my contract!
Or rather, I finally got a contract I've been looking forward to for a while. :) I actually have to sign contracts about once a month. The Wings series has now sold in about 30 languages--I say "about" because I know it's at least that many, but some languages sold in more than one territory (e.g. Portugese in Brazil and Portugal, French in Canada and France) and some territories sold in more than one language (e.g. Catalan and Basque in Spain). Some territories bought the whole series, some bought a book or two and then sent new contracts for later books. And many territories just get the books from other territories (I do not have a publisher in South Africa, but I know you can get Wings there). I just get paperwork in the mail from the awesome foreign rights department at Writers House, I sign it, and I send it back! As a result, I'm embarrassed to report that I've lost track of exactly how many countries and languages the series is actually available in.
But the contract I'm talking about today came from the Walt Disney Company.
Some of you probably remember this announcement from two years ago. I even blogged about it! If you don't remember: Disney optioned the rights to make a movie of Wings.
The detailed negotiations on the contract took two years.
If you are an aspiring author, or an author who has yet to ink a screen deal, or even if you're just curious, I want to emphasize that this is not typical. Most of my author friends who have deals with Hollywood took 3 to 6 months to get their contracts signed. Why did mine take so long? I would like to believe it's because everyone involved was just so excited about the project that they wanted to get every detail of the agreement perfect! :) But realistically, it probably took two years for a million tiny reasons, none of them particularly important. It took two years because that's how long it took, and that's how these things go: it takes however long it takes.
There's still no guarantee that the movie will ever be made. The deal I just signed was the same deal I agreed to accept in 2009. So, sorry, I still don't have any movie news to share. I'm excited about the project and I hope Disney decides to move forward with it.
But signing that contract got me thinking about all that has happened in the last two years, and that got me thinking about all that has happened in the years since I started seriously working toward publication. When I started this blog, I knew almost nothing about publishing. Fortunately for me, there were (and are!) a ton of great resources out there for aspiring authors. And once I graduated from "aspiring" to "contracted," I was able to find other authors in the same boat who were willing to share their experiences and increase my knowledge of the publishing industry.
Now, as I begin work on my second series (!!!) for HarperTeen, it's amazing how different everything looks. Some of that has nothing to do with me; when Wings came out in 2009, for example, e-books accounted for a tiny fraction of my sales and I had very little interest in owning an e-reader. This year HarperTeen did an awesome e-book promotion, including free electronic copies of Wings and exclusive content for different retailers, and I spent a lot of the summer reading e-books by my pool. When I went on a pre-publication tour to meet booksellers across the country, one of my stops was Ann Arbor, Michigan--home of Borders, a company that could make or break an author by promoting (or not promoting) a book. This year, Borders is closing its doors. The industry is changing.
But I've also changed. You may have noticed that I don't blog as often as I used to. There are several reasons for this; one is simply that I'm busier. I am trying to find a good way to put out more than one book per year, and that means developing more than one project at a time. I wrote a piece for Harper's Dear Bully project and I've got a short story to write for an anthology. My husband is going back to school (again). I have four children instead of three. :)
I'm still learning! I hope to write many more books. I feel like each one has improved my abilities and I'd like that to continue. I've made tons of awesome friends and met tons of awesome fans and I'd like that to continue, too. Because ultimately it's you, my readers, who I have to thank for the amazing, transforming experiences I've been privileged to have in the last 27 months or so. Your support and feedback never cease to amaze me, and looking back, I probably don't thank you for it enough.
So, thanks for reading! It's been an amazing couple of years and I look happily forward to more of the same. I'd say I will try to be a better blogger, but I'm not gonna lie--I will probably continue to blog irregularly at best. :P But I hope you will keep in mind that if I am not blogging, it's probably because I am writing something fun for you to read later, and I hope that when you remember that, you will forgive me. :)
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Businessy-stuff real quick, I am coming to NYC!!!! I am doing an event at Books of Wonder on the evening of the 28th of July. I don't have the details yet, but I wanted to mention the date so that people around New York can start thinking about it.:) There will probably be some other authors there as well (BoW likes to do group events) but I don't know for sure who yet. As soon as I have the details, I will let you know.:) But save the date!!!! I will have the tattoos for sure, but I may have a couple other fun goodies too.:D
Onward and upward. Book 4.
Seriously though. I am about to turn in my final revisions on Wings 4 and I am SO excited about it!! This book started out in a really strong place when I initially turned it in and over the two rounds of edits I've done with my editors it has just gotten better and better! (My editors rock!!!) And I am telling you, it is intense!!
*I've been telling this to people at all my signings, so I don't consider it a spoiler, but it you prefer to have a total blank slate, I'll go ahead a give you a SPOILERWARNING*:D
This fourth book picks up about an hour after Illusions ends and lasts just over 24 hours. Yes, I did say hours. This is a book where you get in, you buckle up, and you hold on for dear life. It's almost exhausting to read through it. There is lots of running and fighting and death, and several major characters don't make it out.
It's very fun!!!
Most of my readers know that I don't listen to music when I write. I find it distracting rather than motivating. And same goes for the first round of revisions, when I do broad, sweeping changes that general involve large sections of re-writing. But when I get down to line edits and smaller tweaks, I tend to crank up the tunes.
Tunes is generally too broad a term, actually. Often it is one song that I play over and over again. The revisions of Spells were brought to you by Juice Newton's Angel of the Morning, played on repeat for eight hours a day for three days. I kid you not.
Illusions revisions were brought to you by about four songs in the musical Wicked, again, over and over again for about a week.
I am apparently getting a little broader as I have fourteen songs that I have been playing on repeat for the last month.:D
So here is the Wings 4 revisions playlist:
And No Matches- Scooter
Come One Get Higher- Matt Nathanson
Defying Gravity- Wicked, OBC
Fearless- Taylor Swift
For Good- Wicked OBC
You and I Both- Jason Mraz
As She's Walking Away- Zac Brown Band
Colder Weather- Zac Brown Band
Felt Good On my Lips- Tim McGraw
Don't you Wanna Stay- Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkston
Knee-Deep- Zac Brown Band
Somewhere Else- Toby Keith
Can't Behave- Courtney Jaye
Haven't Met You Yet- Michael Buble
And don't try to read any tea leaves from this selection. None of the songs have anything to do with what's actually happening in the book--it's just music I know I won't get sick of after the five or six hundredth time.:D (Interestingly, it's also the music I'm running to these days.)
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Hello? Hello? Is anyone still here? Is anyone still bothering to follow me?
Yes? A few of you? Yay!
Sorry for the extremely long bout of radio silence. Book release season just seems to get crazier and crazier! And for my solo tour I traveled with my infant daughter so any free time I might have had, well, she eated it.:D
I have been so SO extremely excited with everyone's reaction to ILLUSIONS. It is a really special book to me and it's been fun to see fans embrace it too. It came out and managed to get a spot on the very competitive series New York Times Bestsellers list soa belated thank you for that! And for every single fan, new and old, who came out to any of my events, thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys are the ones who make these tours possible! I am so very grateful to every one of you who have helped to make this series such a success. One more book and I promise I'll stop torturing you.
Of course, I have a new series I'm working on that will be just as torturous, bwahahahaha!!!
Ready for randomness???
*So I left for six days for the Dark Days of Supernatural tour on June 9 and when I came back it was seriously summer in Phoenix! I now have a warm pool, a rather nice tan, and have to go on much shorter runs in the morning lest I die of heatstroke. And you know what? I still love living here. Desert Rat to the end, I guess.
*My baby got her first tooth yesterday! The event was memorialized by her waking up about four times during the night before.
*We have long-term houseguests! A friend of the family is doing an internship down here and he and his wife and son are staying with us. He plays games with my husband, she cleans my mirrors and does dishes, and their son entertains my hurricane child. WIN!
*I am finishing up line edits on Wings4 and OMG ya'all, not to toot my own horn or anything, but man this is a good ending!! (Okay, I guess that totally comes under tooting my own horn.) Nevertheless, I am so stoked for this book!!!
*I am also starting work on my next series. I spoke with my agent about the first several chapters today and she told me the angst and longing are working. Whoo-hoo!!!
*I need more sleep.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Please come and see me!!!!!!:D (Times may change! Check back to be sure!)
May 2- Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ: 7:00 PM (*They will have early copies)
May 3- Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ: 7:00 PM (With LISA MCMANN!!!!!!!)
May 5- Vroman's, Pasadena, CA: 7:00 PM
May 6- Barnes and Noble, Idaho Falls, ID: 7:00 PM
May 7- The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT: 2:00 PM
May 9- Dark Horse Books, Driggs, ID: 6:00 PM
May10- Twin Falls Public Library, 4:00 PM
Barnes and Noble, Twin Falls, ID: 7:00 PM
May 27-28- Phoenix Comic-Con, Phoenix, AZ: All Day
June 4- Utah Festival of Books, Provo, UT: All Day
June7- Anderson's, Naperville (Chicago area), IL: 7:00 PM
June 8- Barnes and Noble, Portland, OR: 7:00PM
June 9- Book People, Austin, TX: 7:00 PM
June 10- Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ: 7:00 PM
June 11- Schuler, Lansing, MI: 7:00 PM
You can find full details HERE . . . eventually.:D
I'll update as I go along! *shameless plug* Tell you friends, family, dogs, enemies, etc. to come!!!!:D
Monday, May 02, 2011
I am SO stoked; these turned out so nicely!!!
So here are the temp tattoos for Team David and Team Tamani!!!
BTW, if you didn't win, I will have these at all of my signings. And if I'm not coming near you, after I get done traveling, I will post my PO Box address and you guys can send in a SASE to get them. So everyone will have a chance soon--no worries!
Okay, grand prize winners who get a set of signed books:
Valerie of Library Dweller
Emily_Jane of This is Life, Live It
and Britni/Alura Webb
All of you please email me at aprilynne pike at gee mail dot com and PLEASE include your name and address, and who you would like your books signed to.
The ten swag winners are:
Nadia Coradin (Nadinax)
Momo (Book Over Boys)
Jessica of Blogsbyjessb
Kolby Cheese 88
and Starry eyed Jen
Would you guys please email me (again at aprilynne pike at gee mail dot com) and I just need your name and address please.
Thank you everyone for entering and spreading the Trailer Love!! Starting tonight my crazy tour schedule begins and I will try to post pics and reports, but your best way to get the scoop as I travel is by following me on Twitter because I can do that on my phone.:D
Saturday, April 23, 2011
*SPOILER ALERT* If you haven't read Wings or Spells, this does cover the basic plot points of both books.
I really would love to spread this trailer around, and what better way than having a contest!!!!
And since the trailer talks about all three books, what better prize than a set of all three books!!!
AND since there are three books, it's only fitting to give away three SETS of the books! So three grand prize winners who will each get a set of all three books.
On top of that, I have some awesome Team David and Team Tamani swag being made (they're not done yet, I will post a pic later this week when they are) and I will send a set of those to an additional ten winners.
So yeah, contest of awesome prizes!!!!
Here's all you have to do:
Post the video on your blog, website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. One entry for every place you post it. Comment here (Live Journal or Blogger) and let me know where you posted it. Easy as pie!
This contest is open internationally, but I am limiting it to planet Earth.:D
Rules: Simple--PLEASE, when you post it, do put *Spoiler Warning* in your post/tweet/entry/whatever, because it is a tad spoilery.
Next . . .
Okay fine, that's the only rule.:D
I have a revisions deadline this Friday, so now that's your deadline too! Entries valid till midnight PST Friday April 29th and I will announce Saturday so I can get books sent off!
Thank you ALL for helping me spread the word about Illusions!!!!
Friday, April 22, 2011
It has been SO fun to spend the last few days reading about your different countries!!! I am going to do a write up on our world tour later, but for now I want to announce the winner so I can get this off!!
Our winner is CATH who wrote:
"I live in a VERY small rural town in the Waikato region of New Zealand. Its green and hilly and covered in enchanted blocks of bush, where faeries can often be seen playing games amongst the native trees and fauna, or swimming in the beautifully clear streams, ponds and waterfalls.
A beautiful country where 'Middle Earth' is a real place you can visit just by opening your back door. Where Wings, Spells and Wild Illusions don't only happen in dreams."
Cath, I already dropped you an email, so hurry and reply so I can send this to you!;)
Thank you EVERYONE for entering!!!!!
Monday, April 18, 2011
I JUST got my first copy of WILD (the UK edition of Illusions) in the mail and, as promised, here is the International ONLY contest for it!!
Rules: Simple, you must live in a country other than the US.
To enter all you have to do is leave a comment here telling me what country you live in, and why you like it. (Or, yanno, a good reason for me to come visit!!!:D) An email address may speed things along if you are the winner, but it's not required.
This is a short contest because I want the book to reach the winner before release date, so you have three days.
I will pick a winner Thursday night at Midnight and will announce it on Friday morning. With luck, I'll get a fast response and the book will be in the mail Friday afternoon!
So go for it! Tell me why your country rocks!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
“I’ll leave you here then,” Tamani said, not wanting to overstay his welcome on their first encounter. He gestured back the way they had come with his thumb. “I kinda left my car a little way up the road.”
She smiled again, showing one shallow dimple in her left cheek that caught Tamani off guard. Not that they were exceptionally rare among the fae, but with their inherent symmetry, having one on only one side was quite uncommon. Still Tamani couldn’t help smiling back. She did seem like a sweet kid. He hoped it wasn’t an act.
“So,” he said, already walking slowly backward, “if I say ‘hi’ to you tomorrow, you going to say ‘hi’ back?”
His step faltered just a little when she didn’t answer.
“Why are you doing this, Tam?” she asked after a long pause.
“Doing what?” Tamani asked, stopping now.
“This,” she asked, gesturing between the two of them.
He did his best to look both playful and sheepish. “I lied,” he said carefully. “I did notice you that first day.” He shrugged and looked down at his feet. “I noticed you first thing. It just took me a while to get up the guts to approach you, I guess.”
He peered up at her, watched the nervous tightening of her neck, and knew, before she responded, that he’d won. “Okay,” she said quietly. “I’ll say ‘hi.’”
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
No matter who you are, or where you are, or what kind of e-book reader you have (including none!) you can read WINGS for free. Right now. You can get it from Amazon, you can go into a B&N and read not only Wings but exclusive B&N material, as well as Kobo or Sony!
But even more fun, you can participate in the WINGS Blogfest!!!!!! Check it!
So, in case you missed it, here are the bloggers participating in the Read-Along!
Alison Can Read
Eve's Fan Garden
L8 Bloomers Online
The Read-Along is going to last most of the month, but you can only download your copy of Wings for a limited time, so go grab it now!!!
Also, the awesome Inkpop, where aspiring authors can post and review each others work and have top entries read by a Harper editor (the first Inkpop author, Leigh Fallon, is coming out with her debut The Carrier of the Mark this Fall!) is having an Illusions-themed writing contest!
You can find all the details HERE!
I am participating as a guest judge and can't wait to see the entries!!! The deadline is April 7th, so hurry on this one!!!
Whew! So many exciting things as I am wrapping up edits on Wings Book 4 and getting ready for the release of Illusions!!! Later this week I am going to post (with gratuitous pics!) about something very ordinary. Like juicing lemons. No really. It was awesome! Till then!:D
Friday, April 01, 2011
If you missed chapter one, you can find it here!
Sighing heavily, Laurel dropped her backpack on the kitchen counter. She paused in front of the refrigerator to stare at its contents, then scolded herself for her obvious delay tactics. Still, she grabbed a nectarine before closing the fridge door. If for no other reason than to justify her browsing.
She walked over to the back door and stared, as she often did, at the trees behind her house, searching for signs of the faeries who now resided there full-time. Sometimes she spoke with them. In the last year she had even occasionally supplied them with defensive potions and powders. She didn’t know if the sentries got any use out of them, but at least they didn’t turn them down. It was gratifying to feel like she was helping especially since having to guard her house had disrupted all of their lives.
But with the total absence of trolls activity since last year it hardly seemed necessary anymore. Part of her wanted to suggest they go home, even though she knew better. Jamison had warned her that trolls preferred to strike when their prey was at its most vulnerable, and her experience had proven the truth of his words. Like it or not, it was probably safest if the sentries stayed, at least for now.
Laurel pulled open the back door and set off toward the trees. She wasn’t sure where exactly she was supposed to meet him, but she had no doubt Tamani would find her, as usual. She stopped short when she rounded a scrub oak to discover him removing one shoe with a swift, violent kick. His back was to her and he had already pulled his shirt off; Laurel couldn’t help but stare. She’d never seen him without his shirt on. The sun filtered through the canopy of leaves to illuminate the warm brown skin of his back—darker than David’s—as he bent and pulled at a stubborn shoelace. With a quiet mutter he finally got it undone and kicked it into the trunk of a nearby cypress tree.
As if freed from shackles instead of clothing, Tamani’s shoulders relaxed and he sighed noisily. Even though he was a bit short by human standards, his arms were lean and long. He stretched, flinging them out wide, his broad shoulders forming the top of a slender triangle that narrowed to his waist, where his jeans hung loosely at his hips. The angles of his back caught the sunlight and for a moment Laurel fancied that she could see him soaking in those nourishing rays. She knew she should say something—announce her presence—but she hesitated.
When he placed his hands on the hips she was eyeing and lifted his face to the sky, Laurel realized she’d better make some noise before he took something else off. She cleared her throat quietly.
The sun tossed golden light through Tamani’s hair as he spun, visibly tense. “It’s you,” he said, sounding relieved. He had a strange look on his face and concentrated on the ground. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Not long,” Laurel said quickly.
“A minute?” Tamani pressed. “Two?”
“Um, about one, I guess.”
Tamani shook his head. “And I didn’t hear a thing. Damn human clothes.” He dropped down onto a fallen log and pulled off a sock. “They’re not just uncomfortable, they’re noisy! And what is with that school? It’s so dark.”
Laurel stifled a grin. She’d told her mother the same thing after her first day at Del Norte. “You’ll get used to it,” she said, handing him the nectarine. “You should eat this. It’ll make you feel better.”
He took the fruit from her, his fingers brushing hers. “Thanks,” he said softly. He hesitated, then faced forward and took a bite. “I trained for this. I did! But they never made me stay indoors for this long at once. I was focused on learning the culture and I didn’t even think about the consequences of being inside so much.”
“It helps if you get a seat under the windows,” Laurel suggested. “I learned that the hard way.”
“And who the hell came up with jeans?” Tamani continued darkly. “Heavy, sweltering fabric? You’re seriously telling me the race that invented the internet couldn’t create a fabric better than denim? Please!”
“You said internet,” Laurel said with a snort. “That is so weird.”
Tamani just laughed and took another bite of the nectarine. “You were right,” he said appreciateively, holding up the fruit. “This helps a lot.”
Laurel stepped over and sat down next to him on the fallen log. They were almost close enough to touch, but the air between them might as well have been a granite wall. “Tamani?”
He turned to face her, but said nothing.
Not sure whether it was a mistake, Laurel smiled and leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Hello,” she said, her lips near his ear.
He wrapped his arms around her, returning her greeting. She let go and started to pull back, but he held on tighter, his hands begging her to stay. She didn’t fight it—realized she didn’t want to. After a few more seconds, he released her, but it was with obvious reluctance. “Hi,” he said quietly.
She looked up into his light green eyes and was disappointed to realize that the color still bothered her. They weren’t different, really, they were still his eyes. But she found the new color irrationally disturbing.
“Listen,” Tamani said slowly. “I’m sorry this was all such a surprise for you.”
“You could have told me.”
“And what would you have said?” he asked.
Laurel started to say something, then closed her mouth and instead smiled guiltily.
“You’d have told me not to come, right?” Tamani pressed.
Laurel just raised one eyebrow.
“So I couldn’t tell you,” he said with a shrug.
Laurel reached down, plucked a small fern, and began tearing it to pieces. “Where have you been?” she asked. “Shar wouldn’t tell me.”
“Mostly in Scotland, like I said in class.”
It was his turn to look guilty. “Training.”
“Training for what?”
“To come here.”
“The whole time?” Laurel said, her voice barely more than a whisper.
Laurel tried to push away the hurt that instantly filled her chest. “You knew this whole time that you were coming back and you still left without saying goodbye?” She expected him to look ashamed, or at least apologetic, but he didn’t. He met her eyes without blinking.
“As opposed to waiting for you to come and tell me in person that you were choosing David instead of me and wouldn’t be coming ’round anymore? Instead of having Shar deliver the message?”
She looked away, guilt crowding out her hurt feelings.
“How would that have done me any good? You’d have felt better—heroic even—and I’d have looked like a fool going off to the other side of the world to play scorned lover.” He paused, taking a bite of the nectarine and chewing thoughtfully for a moment. “Instead, you had to feel the weight of your choices and I got to keep some of my pride. Just a touch,” he added, “since, regardless, I still had to go off to the other side of the world and play scorned lover. I think my mother would say, ‘Same fruit, different bough.’”
Laurel wasn’t sure she grasped the idiom. Even after two summers in Avalon, faerie culture mostly eluded her.
“But, what’s done is done,” Tamani said, polishing off the nectarine, “and I suggest we don’t dwell on it.” He concentrated for a second before throwing the pit hard at the trees.
A quiet grunt sounded. “Hecate’s eye, Tamani! Was that really necessary?”
Tamani grinned as a tall sentry with closely-cropped hair materialized from between the trees, rubbing his arm. “You were spying,” Tamani said, his tone light.
“I tried to give you some space, but you did ask me to meet you here.”
Tamani spread his hands wide in defeat. “Touché. Who else is coming?”
“The others are watching the house; there’s no reason for them to join us.”
“Great,” Tamani said, sitting up straighter. “Laurel, have you met Aaron?”
“Several times,” Laurel said, smiling her greeting. “Several” was probably stretching it a little, but she was fairly certain they had met once or twice. Last winter she had tried many times to go out and talk with the sentries—make friends. But they had all simply bowed at the waist, which she despised, and said nothing. Still, Aaron looked familiar.
More importantly, he didn’t correct her. He just nodded—so deeply it was almost a bow—then turned back to Tamani.
“Aaron’s already been debriefed by Shar, but he’ll want to hear it explained to you, in case I miss anything,” Tamani began, looking at Laurel. “I’m not here as a regular sentry. I’m here to be what I was always supposed to be; Fear-gleidhidh.”
It took Laurel a moment to remember the word. Last fall, Tamani had told her it meant “escort,” and it resembled a word the Winter faeries used for their bodyguards. But it was somehow more . . . personal.
“We had too many close calls last year,” Tamani continued. “It’s hard for us to watch you while you’re at school, or protect you well in crowded places. So I went to the Manor for some advanced training. I can’t blend in with humans as well as you do, but I can blend in well enough to stay close no matter what.”
“Is that really necessary?” Laurel interjected.
Both fae turned to look at her blankly.
“There hasn’t been any sign of trolls—or anything else—for months.”
A look passed between the two sentries and Laurel felt a stab of fear as she realized there was something they hadn’t told her. “That’s not . . . exactly true,” Aaron said.
“They’ve seen signs of trolls,” Tamani said, sitting back down on the fallen log. “Just no actual trolls.”
“Is that bad?” Laurel asked, still thinking that not seeing trolls—for any reason—was a good thing.
“Very,” Tamani said. “We’ve seen footprints, bloody animal corpses, even an occasional fire pit. But the sentries here are using everything they use at the gates—tracking serums, presence traps—and none of them are registering a troll presence at all. Our tried and true methods simply aren’t finding the trolls we know are here somewhere.”
“Couldn’t they be . . . old signs? Like, from last year?” Laurel asked.
Aaron started to say something but Tamani spoke over him. “Trust me, they’re new.”
Laurel felt a little sick to her stomach. She probably didn’t want to know what Aaron had been about to say.
“But I would have come regardless,” Tamani continued. “Even before you told Shar about . . . the lighthouse, Jamison wanted to send me to find out more about Barnes’ horde,” Tamani said.. “His death gave us some peace, but a troll like him would have lieutenants, or commanders. I think it’s safe to assume this is merely the calm before the storm.”
Fear was gnawing at her insides, now. It was a feeling Laurel had grown used to living without and she wasn’t happy with its sudden return.
“You also gave Klea four sleeping trolls, and it’s probably too much to hope that they simply woke up, killed her, and got on with their lives. It’s possible she interrogated them, found out about you, maybe about the gate.”
Laurel snapped to attention, feeling panicked. “Interrogated? The way she talked, I figured she would just . . . kill them. Dissect them. I didn’t even—”
“It’s okay,” Tamani said. “You did the best you knew how, under the circumstances. You’re not a soldier. Maybe Klea did kill them outright; trying to interrogate them would be suicidal for most humans. And we don’t know how much Barnes told his lackeys, either. But we have to prepare for the worst. If these troll hunters decide to become faerie hunters, then you could be in more danger than ever. Jamison wanted to address these new developments, so he changed the plan slightly.”
“Slightly,” Laurel echoed, feeling suddenly weary. She closed her eyes and covered her face with her hands. She felt Tamani’s arm slip around her.
“Listen,” Tamani said to Aaron, “I’m going to take her inside. I think we’re good here.”
A soft nudge brought Laurel to her feet and she headed toward her house without saying goodbye. She walked quickly, pulling away from Tamani’s hand, wanting both to put distance between them and exert her independence.
What was left of it, anyway.
She pushed through the back door, leaving it open for Tamani, and walked over to the fridge, grabbing the first piece of fruit she saw.
“Can I . . . have another one?” Tamani asked. “The one you gave me really helped.”
Wordlessly Laurel handed him the fruit from her hand, realizing she had no appetite for it.
“What’s wrong?” Tamani asked at last.
“I’m not really sure,” Laurel said, avoiding his eyes. “Everything is just so . . . crazy. I mean,”—she looked up at him now—“I’m so glad you’re back. I really am.”
“Good,” Tamani said, his smile a little shaky. “I was starting to wonder there.”
“But then you tell me I’m in all this danger and suddenly I’m afraid for my life again. No offense, but it kind of overshadows the happiness.”
“Shar wanted to send someone else and just not tell you, but I thought you’d rather know. Even if it meant . . . well, all of this,” he said, gesturing vaguely.
Laurel considered. Something inside her insisted it was better this way, but she wasn’t so sure. “How much danger am I really in?”
“We’re not sure.” Tamani hesitated. “There’s definitely something going on. I’ve only been here a few days, but the things I’ve seen . . . are you familiar with tracking serums?”
“Sure. They change color, right? To show how old a trail is? I can’t make them yet—”
“No need. We have batches specially made for tracking trolls and humans. I poured some in a fresh track and it didn’t react at all. I might as well have poured it on a rock.”
“So, none of your magic works?” Laurel asked, her throat tightening.
“It appears that way,” Tamani admitted.
“Your not making me feel any safer,” Laurel said, trying to inject some humor with a smile. But the quiver in her voice betrayed her.
“Please don’t be afraid,” Tamani insisted. “We don’t need magic—it just makes things easier. We’re doing everything we can to patrol the area. We’re not taking any chances.” He paused. “The problem is that we don’t actually know what we’re up against. We don’t know how many there are, what they’re up to, nothing.”
“So you’re here to tell me I have to be super careful again,” Laurel said, knowing she should feel gratitude, instead feeling resenment. “Stay at home, sundown is Cinderella time, all that?”
“No,” Tamani said quietly, surprising her. “I’m not here to tell you anything. I don’t do patrols, I don’t go hunting, I just stick close to you. You just live your life and continue with all of your normal activities. I’ll keep you safe,” he said, stepping forward to sweep a lock of hair back from her face. “Or die trying.”
Laurel stood frozen, knowing he meant every word. He misread her stillness as an invitation and leaned forward, his hand cupping her cheek.
“I missed you,” he whispered, his breath light on her face. A gentle sigh escaped Laurel’s lips before she could stop it and as Tamani drew nearer her eyes began to close on their own.
“Nothing’s changed,” she whispered, his face only a hair’s breadth from hers. “I made my choice.”
His hand stilled, but she sensed the slightest tremor at his fingertips. She watched him swallow once before smiling wanly and pulling back.
“Forgive me. I . . . overstepped.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Same thing you do every day,” Tamani said, shrugging. “The less change to your routine, the better.”
“That’s not what I meant,” said Laurel, forcing herself to look him in the eye.
He shook his head. “Nothing. It’s me who has to deal with it, not you.”
Laurel looked at the floor.
“I mean it,” Tamani said, shifting subtly, putting more distance between them. “You don’t have to watch out for me or try to be my friend in school. I’ll just be around, and it will be fine.”
“Fine,” Laurel repeated, nodding.
“You know those apartments down on Harding?” Tamani asked, sounding casual again.
“The green ones?”
“Aye. I’m number seven,” he said, his smile playful. “Just in case you ever need me.”
He headed toward the front door and Laurel watched him for a few seconds before reality crept back in. “Tamani, stop!” she said, leaping off her stool and sprinting to the entryway. “Do not go out my front door with no shirt on. I have very nosey neighbors.” She reached out to grab his arm. He turned and, almost instinctively, his hand rose to cover hers. He stared down at her fingers, so light against his olive skin, and his eyes traced the length of her hand, her arm, her shoulder, her neck. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. When he opened them again his expression was neutral. He smiled easily, gave her hand a squeeze, then released it and let it fall from his arm.
“Of course,” he said lightly, “I’ll go out the back.”He turned toward the back of the house, then paused and looked at her. He lifted his hand and touched the necklace he had given her—her baby faerie ring, hung on its silver chain. He smiled softly. “I’m glad you still wear this.”
Friday, March 25, 2011
- Isn't it cute! So nice and round! *ahem*
- So I imagine some of you have, at some point, mentioned my series to someone and they go, "Who?" and have no idea what you are talking about. Well, now is a great time to tell them that they can check out my first book for FREE! Completely, totally FREE! From April 5th to April 18th your, your mom, your neighbor, that creepy guy down the street, anyone can download Wings for free. And just in case you forget, you can pre-order now from Amazon and the book will be sent to your Kindle when April 5th rolls around! However . . .
- If you want to wait till May 8th, and get a comfy chair to boot, you can take your Nook into any Barnes and Noble in the country and download the free ebook onto your Nook and it will come with an exclusive short story that you won't find anywhere else. (I will post it on my blog and website at some point, but at least for now, it will be exclusively available at B&N.) Don't have a Nook or a B&N nearby? Never fear!
- All of the ebooks will come with an excerpt from both Spells and Illusions, so you will still get a taste of what's to come! Want more?
- Five bloggers will be participating in a read-along contest that starts on April 5th. (I'll have more details as we get closer.) It is a contest to see how many readers they can get to download the ebook from their blog and read along with them! The winning website gets exclusive access to a short story that comes between Spells and Illusions that features our favorite hot faerie guy himself, Tamani! So that should be tons of fun!
- FREE BOOK FREE BOOK FREE BOOK.:D
- Okay, so we are still working on all the dates, but I want to let you know where I will be this summer! In May I will be going to:
- Scottsdale, AZ
- Tempe, AZ
- Pasadena, CA
- Idaho Falls, ID
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Driggs, ID
- and Boise, ID
- In June, between my own travels and the Dark Days of Supernatural, I will be going to:
- Provo, UT
- Chicago, IL
- Portland, OR
- Austin, TX
- Phoenix, AZ
- Lansing, MI
- At some point in the next six months I will also be coming to:
- New York, NY
- Eureka, CA
- You can still get a signed book!! I've teamed up with the awesome Changing Hands Bookstore here in Arizona to allow you guys to order signed (personalized too!) books online. The link to my books is here and all you need to do is put in the comments that you would like it signed and PLEASE specify the exact name you would like on the book.
- Already have the books? I am working on getting books plates and an address where you can send a SASE to get them, but I am between PO Boxes right now, so it's not ready. But it will be! Soon!
Okay . . . so I think that's it. Lots of fun stuff and you are basically going to see my Twitter catch fire over the next few weeks as we gear up for the release of not only ILLUSIONS, but the newly redesigned paperbacks for the rest of the series as well! There will be lots of bonus content and free stuff and web pages, etc! I love it when April comes along because that is when all the release date fun really starts!
And, of course, I know why you read down this far, so here comes the next excerpt from Illusions! (And for those of you who have been asking, I will be posting the second chapter of Illusions next week . . . probably April 1st!:))
Tamani came running in and slid into his seat just as the final bell rang. He was wearing a pair of black leather gloves with the fingers all cut off at the first knuckle.
“What are those?” Laurel said, wrinkling her nose. “Fingerless gloves went out of style before . . . mullets. You look like a dork.”
“Better a dork than a freak with glitter coming out of his hands,” Tamani hissed darkly. “As far as these kids know, they’re all the rage in Scotland.”
Laurel felt bad for not realizing; after all, it was being around her blossom that brought pollen to his hands. “Oh. What are you doing with Yuki? I thought you were supposed to be getting us together, not hooking up with her,” she whispered as Mrs. Harms called attendance.
“I am not ‘hooking up’ with her,” Tamani hissed.
“Could have fooled me,” Laurel muttered.Tamani shrugged. “I have a job to do here,” he whispered. “I do what it takes.”
Oh, I love being cryptic.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Much, much more to come this week including how you can get Wings for FREE, where I will be this summer, a new excerpt from Illusions, and how you can order signed books no matter where you live! All this week! (Just not tonight *yawn*:D)
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Okay, so The Vespertine. Seriously, how can you not adore this cover!?!?!? I got to read The Vespertine quite early and have been waiting and waiting for it to finally come out! It is a really wonderful historical with beautiful ballgowns, hot guys, stiff corsets, and awesome magic to boot! And one of my very favorite opening lines.
"I returned to Oakhaven entirely ruined."
I mean really, how can you not want to read the next line? Anyway, I love this book and can recommend it to readers of all ages about ten and up.:D
I have a hardcover of this book up for grabs, and it came out last week, so if you don't win it, you can find it at a bookstore near you!
The next book that I am raving about is Faerie Winter by Janni Lee Simner. Some of you may remember how much I raved about Janni's first book, Bones of Faerie, which came out in early 2009. I was in a funk for days after I read it because--although I probably should not admit this publicly--it's so much better than my book.:D Faerie Winter is the sequel and picks up right where Bones of Faerie left off with all of the characters that I didn't want to let go of. I don't want to synopsize too much because it is a sequel, but killer plants, devious fae, eternal winter . . . people, it is just amazing!!!
And still cooler, even though it doesn't actually come out until April 7th, I have a signed copy that I got directly from Janni (why yes, I really am just that cool.:D) that I will send out early!
So two of my very, very favorite books of this year up for grabs! And all you have to do is return the favor. Tell me YOUR favorite read so far this year and I'll pick one at random and send you both of my favorites!:D
This contest is open until Sunday night at midnight and I will send them out as soon as I get the winner's info.
Good luck and happy reading!
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Harper is going to start teasing the first parts of ILLUSIONS soon and so they gave me permission to share it here on my blog first!
But before I share, a quick question: I am planning my appearances for this summer and am trying to decide between Twin Falls, Idaho and Boise, Idaho. What do you vote? Because, literally, I am going to pick the location that gets the most votes.:D
And how about Las Vegas? Would anyone come see me if I did a stop in Vegas? Please comment and let me know! I would REALLY appreciate it!
And just one more thing: I will be at the Tucson Book Festival this weekend and have two panels and a reading/signing on Sunday, March 13th. Click on my name here and you will find my schedule, locations, etc. At the "Solo Presentation" I will be reading chapters one and probably two and there is signing time after both panels and the reading if you want to get a book(s) signed. I will also have signed Dark Days bookmarks and swag! *shameless bribery*
And without further ado, Chapter One! (I will post Chapter Two next month!:D) (Also, a quick note, this is my non-copy-edited version. There may be slight changes in the final copy. But we're talking slight, slight, slight.:D)
The halls of Del Norte High buzzed with first-day-of-school chaos as Laurel wedged herself through a crowd of sophomores and spotted David’s broad shoulders. She twined her arms around his waist and pressed her face against his soft T-shirt.
“Hey,” David said, returning her embrace. Laurel had just closed her eyes, prepared to savor the moment, when Chelsea caught them both in an exuberant squeeze.
“Can you believe it? We’re finally seniors!”
Laurel laughed as Chelsea let them go. Coming from her, the question wasn’t exactly rhetorical; there had been times Laurel doubted they’d make it through junior year alive.
As David turned to his locker, Chelsea produced Mrs. Cain’s summer reading list from her backpack. Laurel suppressed a smile; Chelsea had been fretting over the optional books all summer. Probably longer.
“I’m starting to think everyone read Pride and Prejudice,” she said, tilting the paper toward Laurel, “I knew I should have gone with Persuasion.”
“I didn’t read Pride and Prejudice,” Laurel countered.
“Yeah, well, you were a little busy reading Common Uses of Ferns or something like that.” Chelsea leaned in so she could whisper. “Or, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mixers,” she added with a snort of laughter.
“How to Win Fronds and Influence Poplars,” David suggested, raising his eyebrows. He straightened abruptly, his smile widening and his voice getting just a touch louder. “Hey, Ryan,” he said, extending a fist.
Ryan bumped him and turned to run his hands down Chelsea’s arms. “How’s the hottest senior at Del Norte?” he asked, making Chelsea giggle as she went onto her toes for a kiss.
Sighing contentedly, Laurel reached out for David’s hand and leaned against him. She’d only been back from the Academy in Avalon for a week, and she’d missed her friends—more even than last year, though her instructor, Yeardley, had usually kept her too busy to dwell on that. She’d mastered several potions and was closing in on more. The mixings were coming more naturally, too; she was getting a feel for different herbs and essences and how they should work together. Certainly not enough to strike out on her own, like her friend Katya, who was researching new potions, but Laurel took pride in her progress.
Still, it was a relief to be back in Crescent City, where everything was normal and she didn’t feel so lonely. She smiled up at David as he swung his locker shut and pulled her close. It seemed monumentally unfair that she and David only had one class together this year, and despite having spent the past week with him, Laurel found herself clinging to these last few minutes before the bell rang and their class schedules took them away from each other.
She almost didn’t notice the strange tingle that made her want to turn and look behind her.
Was she being watched?
More curious than afraid, Laurel disguised the glance over her shoulder as a toss of her long blonde hair. But her watcher was immediately apparent and Laurel’s breath caught in her throat as her gaze locked with a pair of pale green eyes.
Those eyes weren’t supposed to be light green. They were supposed to be the rich, emerald green that once matched his hair—hair that was now a uniform black, cut short and gelled into a deceptively casual mop. Instead of a hand-woven tunic and breeches, he was dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt that, no matter how good they looked on him, had to be terribly stifling.
And he was wearing shoes. She’d hardly ever seen Tamani wearing shoes.
But light or dark, she knew his eyes—eyes that featured prominently in her dreams, as familiar to her as her own, or her parents’. Or David’s.
The moment their eyes locked, the months since she’d last seen Tamani shrank from an eternity to an instant. Last winter, in a moment of anger, she’d told him to go away, and he had. She hadn’t known where, or for how long, or if she’d ever see him again. But she’d chosen David, one hundred percent, and though she hadn’t meant to exile Tamani from her life—he was her friend, after all—she had to admit his absence simplified that choice. And after nearly a year she had almost gotten used to the ache she felt in her chest every time she thought about him. But suddenly he was here, almost close enough to touch.
Laurel looked up at David, but he wasn’t looking at her. He, too, had noticed Tamani.
“Wow,” Chelsea said from behind Laurel’s shoulder, breaking her reverie. “Who’s the hot new guy?” Her boyfriend, Ryan, scoffed. “Well, he is, I’m not blind,” Chelsea added matter-of-factly.
Laurel still couldn’t speak as Tamani’s gaze flitted from her, to David, then back again. A million thoughts spun through her head. Why is he here? Why is he dressed like that? Why didn’t he tell me he was coming? She hardly felt David pry her hands from his shirt, lacing his warm fingers through her own, which were suddenly cold as ice.
“Foreign exchange, I bet,” Ryan said. “Look at Mr. Robison parading them all around.”
“Maybe,” Chelsea said, noncommittally.
Mr. Robison said something to the three students who were following him through the hallway, and Tamani’s head swung so that even his profile was no longer visible. As if released from a spell, Laurel dropped her gaze to the floor.
David squeezed her hand and she looked up at him. “Is that who I think it is?”
Laurel nodded, unable to find her voice; though David and Tamani had only met twice before, both events had been . . . memorable. She kept a firm grip on David’s hand. When David looked back toward Tamani, so did Laurel.
The other boy in the group looked embarrassed and the girl was explaining something to him in a language that was clearly not English. Mr. Robison nodded approvingly.
Ryan crossed his arms over his chest and grinned. “See? Told you. Foreign exchange.”
Tamani was shifting the weight of a black backpack from shoulder to shoulder, looking bored. Looking human. That by itself was almost as jarring as his being here in the first place. And then he was looking at her again, less openly now, his glance veiled beneath dark eyelashes.
Laurel fought to breathe evenly. She didn’t know what to think. Avalon wouldn’t send him here without reason and Laurel couldn’t imagine Tamani abandoning his post.
“You okay?” Chelsea asked, stepping up beside Laurel. “You look kinda freaked.”
Before she could stop herself, Laurel flicked her eyes in Tamani’s direction—a move Chelsea tracked instantly. There was no point in lying—this was way bigger than anything she could ever hide, especially from Chelsea. “It’s Tamani,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound as relieved—or as terrified—as she felt.
She must have succeeded, because Chelsea only stared in disbelief. “The hot one?” she whispered.
“Seriously?” Chelsea squealed, only to be cut off by a sharp gesture from Laurel. Laurel looked immediately over at Tamani to see if she’d been caught. The tick of a smile at one corner of his mouth told her she had.
Then the foreign exchange students were following Mr. Robison down the hallway, away from Laurel. Just before Tamani disappeared around the corner, he looked back at Laurel and winked. Not for the first time, she was supremely grateful she couldn’t blush.
She turned to David. He was staring down at her, his eyes full of questions.
Laurel sighed and held her hands up in front of her. “I had nothing to do with this.”
“This is a good thing, right?” David said after they’d managed to detangle themselves from Chelsea and Ryan. They stood together in front of Laurel’s first class. Laurel couldn’t remember the last time the one-minute warning bell had made her feel so anxious. “I mean, you thought you were never going to see him again, and now he’s here.”
“It is good to see him,” Laurel said softly, leaning forward to wrap both arms around David’s waist, “but I’m also scared of what it means. For us. Not us,” Laurel corrected, fighting the unfamiliar awkwardness that seemed to be worming its way between them. “I mean, it has to mean we’re in danger, right?”
David nodded. “I’m trying not to think about that. He’ll tell us eventually, right?”
Laurel looked up with one eyebrow cocked and after a moment they both burst out laughing.
“I guess we can’t count on it, can we?” David took her right hand in his, pressing it to his lips and examining the silver-and-crystal bracelet he had given her almost two years ago, when they first got together. “I’m glad you still wear this.”
“Every day,” Laurel said. Wishing they had more time to talk, she pulled David close for one last kiss before hurrying into her Government class and grabbing the last seat next to the wall full of windows. Small windows, but she would take whatever natural sunlight she could get.
Her mind wandered as Mrs. Harms handed out the syllabus and talked about class requirements; it was easy to tune her out, especially in light of Tamani’s sudden reappearance. Why was he here? If she was in some kind of danger, what could it be? She hadn’t seen a single troll since leaving Barnes at the lighthouse. Could this have something to do with Klea, the mysterious troll-hunter who killed him? No one had seen her lately, either; as far as Laurel could tell, Klea had moved on to other hunting grounds. Maybe this was some other crisis entirely?
Regardless, David was right—Laurel was happy to see Tamani. More than happy, even. She felt somehow comforted by his presence. And he had winked at her! As though the last eight months had never happened. As if he had never walked away. As if she had never come to tell him goodbye. Her thoughts drifted to the brief moments spent in his arms, the soft feel of his lips on hers in those few times when self-control had slipped through her fingers. The memories were so vivid that Laurel found herself lightly touching her lips,
The classroom door swung open suddenly, startling Laurel from her thoughts. Mr. Robison entered, Tamani following close behind.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Mr. Robison said. “Boys and girls?” Laurel hated how adults could combine two perfectly serviceable words into such a condescending phrase. “You might have heard that we have some foreign exchange students from Japan this year. Tam,” Laurel blanched at the counselor’s use of her pet name for Tamani, “isn’t technically in the foreign exchange program, but he just moved here from Scotland. I hope you will treat him with the same courtesy you have always shown our other exchange guests. Tam? Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.”
Mr. Robison clapped one hand against Tamani’s shoulder. Tamani’s eyes darted briefly to the school counselor and Laurel could only imagine how Tamani would have preferred to respond. But irritation showed on his face for less than a second, and Laurel doubted anyone else noticed. He grinned lopsidedly and shrugged. “I’m Tam Collins.”
Half the girls in the class sighed softly at Tamani’s lilting brogue.
“I’m from Scotland. A little outside of Perth—not the Australia one—and . . .” he paused, as if searching for anything else about himself that the students might find interesting.
Laurel could think of a few things.
“And I live with my uncle. Have since I was a kid.” He turned and smiled at the teacher. “And I know nothing about Government,” he said, laughter in his voice. “Not this one, anyway.”
The entire classroom was won over. The guys were nodding their heads a little, the girls were twittering, and even Mrs. Harms was smiling. And he wasn’t even Enticing them. Laurel almost groaned aloud at the trouble that could lead to.
“Well, pick a seat then,” Mrs. Harms said, handing Tamani a textbook. “We’ve only just gotten started.”
There were three empty seats in the classroom and almost everyone near them launched into a silent campaign for Tamani’s favor. Nadia, one of the prettier girls in the class, was the boldest. She uncrossed and re-crossed her legs, tossed her wavy brown hair over her shoulder, and leaned forward to not-so-subtly pat the backrest of the seat in front of her. Tamani grinned, almost apologetically, and continued past her to claim a seat in front of a girl who had scarcely looked up from her book since he’d walked into the classroom.
The seat beside Laurel.
As Mrs. Harms droned on about daily reading assignments, Laurel sat back and stared at Tamani. She didn’t bother to hide it; just about every other girl in the classroom was doing the exact same thing. It was maddening to dumbly sit just two feet away while a million questions whizzed through her mind. Some were rational questions. Many were not.
Laurel’s head was spinning by the time the bell rang. This was her chance. She wanted to do so many things: yell at him, slap him, kiss him, grab his shoulders and shake him. But more than anything else, she wanted to wrap her arms around him. To hold herself to his chest and confess how much she’d missed him. She could do that with a friend, couldn’t she?
But then, wasn’t that why she’d gotten angry enough to send him away in the first place? For Tamani, it was never just a friendly hug. He always wanted more. And as flattering as his persistence—and passion—could be, the way he treated David as an enemy to be crushed was less endearing. It had broken her heart to send Tamani away and Laurel wasn’t sure she could go through that again.
She stood slowly looked at him, her mouth dry. As soon as his backpack was slung over one strong shoulder, he turned and met her eyes. Laurel opened her mouth to say something when he grinned and reached out his hand.
“Hey there,” he said, almost too brightly. “Looks like we’ll be desk-mates. Wanted to introduce myself—I’m Tam.”
Their clasped hands were moving up and down, but it was all Tamani’s doing; Laurel’s arm had gone limp. She stood silently for several seconds until Tamani’s meaningful look intensified and became almost a glare. “Oh!” she said belatedly, “I’m Laurel. Laurel Sewell. Pleasure.” Pleasure? Since when did she say pleasure? And why was he shaking her hand like a stodgy salesperson?
Tamani pulled a class schedule from his back pocket. “I have English next, with Mrs. Cain. Would you mind showing me where the classroom is?”
Was the feeling that rushed over her relief that they didn’t share their second hour class, or disappointment? “Sure,” she said cheerily. “It’s just down the hall.” Laurel gathered her things slowly, stalling while the classroom emptied. Then she leaned close to Tamani. “What are you doing here?”
“Are you glad to see me?”
She nodded, letting herself smile.
He grinned back, unconcealed relief brightening his expression. It made Laurel feel on more even ground to know he had been unsure, too.
Tamani shook his head slightly and gestured toward the hall. When she was almost at the door Tamani took hold of her elbow and stopped her. “Meet me in the woods behind your house after school?” he asked softly. “I’ll explain everything.” He paused and, with an unnatural quickness, lifted one hand to stroke her cheek. The feeling scarcely had time to register before his hands were back in his pockets and he was strolling out the door.
“Tama—Tam?” she called, trotting to catch up with him. “I’ll show you where to go.”
He grinned and laughed. “Come now,” he said almost too quietly for her to hear. “How unprepared do you think I am? I know this school better than you do.” And with a wink, he was gone.
“Homigosh!” Chelsea squealed, assaulting Laurel from behind and practically yanking her fingers from David’s grasp. She put her face right in front of Laurel’s. “Faerie boy is totally in my English class! Hurry before Ryan gets here—you have to spill!”
“Ssh!” Laurel said, glancing around her. But no one was listening.
“He’s really hot,” she said. “The girls were all watching him. Oh, and the Japanese guy is in my Calculus class even though he’s only fifteen. When do you think American schools will get the memo that there’s a global economy out there?” she demanded. Then she paused and her eyes widened. “Man, I hope he doesn’t blow the curve.”
David rolled his eyes, but it was with a grin. “That’s what everyone else is thinking about you,” he said.
“Listen,” Laurel said, pulling Chelsea closer, “I don’t know anything yet; I still need to talk with him, okay?”
“You’ll tell me though, right?” Chelsea asked.
“Don’t I always?” Laurel teased, smiling.
“We’ll see,” Laurel said, turning her around by her shoulders and pushing her in Ryan’s direction. “Go!” Chelsea turned and stuck her tongue out at Laurel before ducking under her boyfriend’s arm.
Laurel shook her head and turned to David. “One class together is not enough,” she said in a mock-stern voice. “Whose idea was this, anyway?”
“Not mine, that’s for sure,” David said. They went into the classroom and claimed a couple of desks near the back.
After everything else that had happened that day, Laurel shouldn’t have been surprised to see Tamani walk into her and David’s Speech class. When he entered David tensed, but he relaxed when Laurel’s erstwhile guardian chose a desk at the front of the room, several rows away.
It was going to be a long semester.
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