Hello beautiful readers!
I’m so excited for the upcoming release of Suppressed! A young adult paranormal romance with witches and mermaids, Suppressed opened a whole new world to me and my writing. Not only are there new characters and a new world, I also wrote it in the first person for the first time, which was as scary as it was exciting!
The book is still with its editors, but I’m going to jump the gun here and share the first chapter with you! Keep in mind that some things may change slightly and any typos will be fixed before the book releases on May 16th! Let me know what you think!
“What do you mean, you’re done? You’ll get back to work right now, or so help me, I’ll make you regret it, princess.”
“I told you not to call me that, you old hag! I’m leaving and there’s nothing you can do about it. Clean this crappy house yourself.”
I’m ripped from another daydream by my mother’s urgent voice. I’m disappointed, because this time I was really letting Miss Coraline have it. My body is on autopilot as I start mechanically rubbing the mirror with the soft cloth in my hand. I try to retreat back into the fantasy because I’m pretty sure I was going to slap the old lady just before I walked out the door.
“You should have finished this room an hour ago,” my mother says in a quiet voice.
I give up on continuing my glorious dream exit and turn to look at mom. Her bright red hair is tied up with a blue bandana and she has dirt smudged on her nose. The urgency in the green depths of her eyes makes me want to roll mine, but I somehow manage to refrain.
“Mom, she’s not even here. I’ll be done before she gets back.”
“Just go, Kai. I’ll finish here.” She smooths my hair, tucking a lock as vibrant as her own behind my ear with a smile. “It’s almost time for school. You should go get ready.”
I take a look at the watch on my arm- a large masculine piece- the only thing I have of a father I’ve never met. He left us when I was a baby. I don’t know why I treasure a watch from a man who couldn’t be bothered to stick around for me, but I do.
The hands tell me it’s nearly eight. I’ve been cleaning for two and a half hours, trying to take some of the workload off mom. She’s been looking tired lately, so I’ve been doubling up on my chores. I don’t know why Miss Coraline works her so hard, or why my mom stays. She refuses to talk about it, saying only that this is where we have to be.
I rush up the spiral staircase to my room, all the way up to the third floor of the spacious mansion. I pull the rubber band from my hair as I walk, shaking the red tresses free while trying to finger comb out the tangles. Once in my room, I pull off my dirty work clothes as I cross the space to my closet. It only takes ten steps to get there. The room is barely big enough to hold my twin bed and a dresser, but it’s mine. My only refuge in this place from the old hag who owns it.
I snatch a pair of jeans and a faded flannel shirt from the closet and walk quickly across the hall to the small bathroom my mother and I share. After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I get dressed and head back to my room for my shoes and backpack. Another glance at my watch tells me that if I hurry, I’ll have enough time to swing by the kitchen for a bagel before I have to leave. I slip on a pair of dock shoes with no socks and grab my bag.
I screech to a halt half way down the stairs, nearly losing my balance and toppling the rest of the way, when I hear it. It’s the one thing guaranteed to dampen my spirits and ruin my day. It’s the dreaded voice of Miss Coraline.
“Why isn’t this room finished? I expected it to be one hundred percent spotless by the time I returned.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am.”
I grit my teeth at my mother’s words. Oh, how I hate it when she calls the old hag ma’am. I tiptoe my way down the rest of the steps, silently thanking God for the carpet runner that muffles my footsteps. I decide to forgo breakfast, for the path to the kitchen leads right by the parlor where my mom is pandering to that hateful old lady she calls boss.
I slip through the front door and close it with a soft click behind me. Swinging my backpack over my shoulder, I run down the driveway as fast as my legs will take me- which isn’t really that fast. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a runner. My legs are better-equipped for the water. I inhale deeply at the thought of water, breathing in the briny breeze blowing from the back of the house.
The house’s proximity to the sea is the only, and I mean only, positive thing about living with Miss Coraline. A set of rickety wood steps leads from the back veranda straight down to the beach. The small window in my bedroom overlooks it. I can swim whenever I want, which is pretty much every day. It’s my escape when the confines of my room close in on me.
A large truck rattles by, pulling me from my reverie. I slow my steps, watching the bright white and orange cargo vehicle slow down as it passes me. I get a little nervous because, well, I’m alone, on a private road, and it’s a cargo truck. This is every would-be kidnapper’s dream. I stop and pick up a jagged rock, just to be safe.
The tension leaves my body as the truck turns right and slowly drives out of sight. I release the rock and stare at the red marks on my palm where the jagged edges had cut into the flesh. I shake out my hand, wipe it on the leg of my jeans and start walking again. As I reach the drive where the truck turned, I notice the word “sold” printed in bright red letters on the real estate sign that has been there for months.
Someone bought the old McCormick place. The thought rolls through my brain as I walk the rest of the way to school. It feels weird, having neighbors. Mr. McCormick lived all alone in that huge house for most of my childhood. He died when I was ten, and the house sat empty the last six years while wrapped up in probate. I wonder what the new people will be like. Miss Coraline hated old Mr. McCormick, so I never actually met him. Of course, she hates everyone, so she’ll probably forbid me from talking to the new people, too.
The high school comes into view and I break into a jog, knowing it’s useless. Thanks to my slow, thoughtful pace, I’m late. I walk through the doors of the L-shaped, one story building and head straight for the office. Santa Lorelei High services the entire island, which has a population of only about two thousand. The entire high school houses only five hundred students at any given time, so there’s no way I can sneak into my homeroom class unnoticed. I gave up trying two years ago.
“Miss Ericson. So nice of you to join us.”
The receptionist in the main office speaks to me in a pleasant voice, just as she always does. It doesn’t matter when I arrive, she is always kind. I’m sure she knows Miss Coraline, knows what I have to deal with every day, and takes it easy on me out of pity. Whatever. I’ll take it.
“Sorry, Mrs. White,” I mumble.
“It’s quite all right, dear,” the older lady tells me. “You’re actually just in time to do me a favor.”
I raise one eyebrow, wondering what I could possibly do for her. She smiles, then nods her head as her eyes focus on something behind me. I take a quick peek over my shoulder to see what she’s looking at. At least, I mean for it to be a quick peek. There’s a boy I’ve never seen before sitting against the wall. As I turn, I catch him staring at my butt before his eyes quickly rise to meet mine.
I’m sure my face is a glowing red sea, my freckles standing out like tiny islands. I quickly forget the embarrassment, however, when he continues to stare without speaking. His eyes are a deep blue, like the ocean in my backyard, and I can’t seem to look away as a calm settles over me.
“Kailani, this is Bryce Howell,” Mrs. White says, breaking me out of my trance. I turn toward her as she continues. “Today is his first day and I would like you to show him around.”
I open my mouth to object, but a stern look from Mrs. White has me snapping it shut again. I hate being the center of attention and walking into class with a hot new guy is going to put me right into the fire. I frown at the thought. Hot? I turn and take another look at him. This time he’s looking at Mrs. White, not my butt.
His dark hair is sticking out at weird angles and, as I watch, he runs his fingers through it showing me the cause of its disarray. His face is smooth and clear, not sporting that day-old stubble most junior boys have, trying look sexy, but failing. He is wearing faded blue jeans and a white t-shirt, which doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Is he hot? Why, yes. Yes, he is.
A smirk turns up one side of his mouth as his eyes turn toward me and he catches me staring. I quickly turn back to face Mrs. White, feeling my face heat up again. Gah, having pale skin and freckles is so annoying. I couldn’t hide a blush if my life depended on it.
I shoot her a pleading look, but she ignores it, saying, “Thank you, Miss Ericson. I’ll excuse your tardy. You two better be on your way.” And just like that, we’re dismissed.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, I turn to face him. He unfolds his frame from the chair, stretching as he stands. My eyes are drawn to a sliver of bare skin exposed between his shirt and belt has he bends slightly backwards during his stretch.
My eyes snap to his and he smiles that cocky boy smile I’ve seen so many times in this school. The I-know-I’m-hot smile. I hate that smile. But on this boy, it’s…I don’t know. It has a ring of truth I can’t deny. Then he opens his mouth.
“My eyes are up here.”
I blush for the third time in five minutes, but my embarrassment quickly turns to righteous indignation. I’d seriously just caught him ogling my behind, and he’s calling me out for taking a peek at his abs? What a jerk.
I push through the door, not waiting to see if he’ll follow. If he gets lost, it’s his problem, not mine. I shake my head at the thought. Nobody could get lost in this tiny school. If I hurry, I may be able to slip into homeroom before him and people won’t assume we’re together. I quicken my pace.
I reach the door and make to grab the handle but instead of smooth metal, my hand closes around warm flesh. I jerk it back as if burned and see a hand with long, well-manicured fingers already wrapped around the knob. A voice close to my ear startles me.
“If you wanted to hold hands, you should have told me,” he says.
The mockery in his voice is evident. I grit my teeth and step back, allowing him to open the door. He motions for me to precede him and I do, walking quickly with my head down, eyes on the floor. I drop my tardy pass on the teacher’s desk and stride to my normal seat in the back.
“Class, we have a new student,” Mr. Jonas says, but I refuse to look up. I can’t stand the thought of those eyes mocking me again.
“This is Bryce Howell. Tell us a bit about yourself, Mr. Howell.”
You could hear a pin drop, everyone was so focused on Bryce. We don’t get many new students here. In fact, the last one was my friend Ana Fuentes, who moved here in second grade. The whole class is riveted. I sneak a glance around and see most of the girls in the class leaning forward in their seats, waiting for him to speak.
“Hi,” Bryce says. “I’m Bryce and I just moved here from California. I am an only child and I like long walks on the beach.”
A smattering of giggles erupts in the class. The girls are eating this crap up. I roll my eyes in disgust, only to see Bryce staring at me again. He smirks and heads to an empty seat in the front row.
“Thank you, Mr. Howell. That was…enlightening.” Mr. Jonas shakes his head. He doesn’t like this guy any more than I do. “All right class, homeroom is over, so open your math books to page seventy-eight.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Bryce look around in confusion. I smile, knowing he’s probably wondering why we aren’t moving to a new class with new students, the way most high schools do. Santa Lorelei has only twenty-eight kids in the junior class, so we all have the same classes together. All day. Every day.
I see him shrug and tap Sandy Evans on the shoulder before whispering into her ear. She giggles- what is it with the giggling today? – and nods. Bryce scoots his chair next to hers and puts his arm around the back of her chair so he can lean in to see her book. It’s disgusting, the way she starts tittering and preening. I feel like I could vomit.
It’s the same the rest of the morning. We move to our next class, which is chemistry, in the science lab down the hall. There’s no need for Mrs. Gardner to introduce him, so we put on our safety goggles and light our Bunsen burners. I glance around the room and spot Bryce, this time next to Amelia Boggs. He’s half standing, half sitting on the stool, whispering something, his mouth close to her ear. She doesn’t giggle, I’ll give her that. She is smiling at him, though, a seductive curve of the lips as if she has a secret she’d like to tell only him.
The stool next to me is empty. Ana is my lab partner, but she’s absent today. I could really use her sarcastic wit right now. She’d be tearing these girls to shreds for their simpering antics. My lip curls with the thought. I can’t wait to hear what she’ll say about this.
I feel eyes on me and glance around. In their turn about the room, my eyes are snagged once again by the dark blue depths of Bryce’s. For some reason, I can’t look away. Then he smiles. It’s a sardonic smile, one full of challenge. Two can play this game so I continue to stare, refusing to be the first to fold. His smile grows bigger, showing a row of bright white teeth. My face grows hot, once again, as I stare at him.
I don’t know what it is about this guy. I’ve blushed more this morning than I have in the last six months. Suddenly, his eyes flit away and I realize that Mrs. Gardner has called his name. Looking back at my chemistry notes, I smile and mentally clap myself on the back. It feels like a victory, staring down this obnoxious boy. The challenge that is Bryce Howell suddenly seems promising, making me feel more alive than I have in, well…forever.
I hope you liked this sneak peek at Suppressed. Click here to pre-order on Amazon! And don’t forget to leave a comment to tell me your thoughts!