Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Marilee Brothers "Shadow Moon" The First Chapter

Allie Emerson is hoping for a few quiet months to catch her breath after a summer that included the discovery she is not only a twin and of faery blood, but also destined to play a pivotal role in the faery world. School has barely begun when Allie must kiss her hope of a normal year goodbye.

She can’t escape her unfinished business with the fae, the Trimarks, or Junior Martinez who is making it clear he plans to win her back. Signs, portents and whispers are pushing Allie to “find the girl” before it’s too late. Hoping her twin can help her solve the riddle of their destiny, Allie uncovers old secrets and begins a cross-country journey that puts her in more danger than ever before. If she succeeds, she may just find the answers that can save everyone she loves.
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First Chapter

November

For the first time in months, Anna Starr Emerson was the last thing on my mind. Picture this: me boogying my buns off at the Peacock Flats H.S. winter formal with none other than . . . are you ready? Cory Philpott! Yes, the very same pimply-faced, pudgy-around-the-middle, butt-ugly inside and out Cory Philpott, who delighted in shaking a can of soda so it would explode in my face and make a mess out of my only decent outfit, and then bray his donkey laugh. Yeah, that Cory.  Weird, huh?                                                            
If I’ve learned one thing in my short life, it’s this: people are not always what they seem. Take me, for example. Until recently, I didn’t know I had magic abilities. Or that I had faery blood. Or that I had a twin sister. See what I mean? And now, Cory, who’d made my life a living hell for two years until I scared him straight, was gazing at me with what could only be described as puppy dog eyes. Oh, did I forget to mention Cory Philpott was now tall and lean with unblemished skin and blond, non-greasy hair? Yeah, it sounds like a total lie. But Cory was proof. Miracles do happen.
As soon as school was over last June, Cory’s father, Deputy Sheriff Richard Philpott, shipped him off to a boot camp for obnoxious bullies. Apparently, it was worth the time and money, because Cory came back a new person. Turned out my neighbor and best friend, Mercedes Trujillo, was right. She’d been saying for years, “He’s mean to you because he likes you, girl.”
I was deeply suspicious at first, waiting for the real Cory to show up. When he called to ask me to the dance, I said, “Sorry, no.” After a long silence in which he breathed heavily into the phone, he said, “Okay, I get it. You’re waiting for me to apologize for all the mean things I did to you.”
Actually I wasn’t, but it sounded good. “That’s right.”
“Allie, I’m sincerely sorry for all the stuff I did to you. I’m a new man now.”
“Prove it,” I said.
“Huh?”
For the record, let me state, I hate bullies, and Cory had been one of the very worst. So, it was a huge stretch for me to believe he’d changed in a few short months. I decided to give him one more test.
“You used to pick on Mercedes and Manny all the time. Apologize to both of them. It better be real. I’ll know if it isn’t, because I want to be there when you do it.”
 Does it sound like I was tormenting him? Trust me; it wasn’t nearly as bad as the stuff he used to do to my best friend and her brother, Manny. And, since neither of them had a mean streak, guess who got to defend them? That would be their next door neighbor, good old Allie Emerson, who not only had a teensy mean streak, but also a few magic tricks up her sleeve. Let’s just say Cory had been the recipient of some of my magic and, as a result, gave me the respect I deserved.
The phone went silent for so long, I wondered if he’d hung up or passed out from shock.
“Cory? You still there?”
“Yeah,” he said, with a groan in his voice.
 The boy was definitely suffering. Since I believed in karma, I tried not to feel sorry for him. I knew one thing for sure. No way would I be going to the dance with Cory. 
“I’ll do it. Tomorrow after school.”
My mouth dropped open. Finally, I stammered, “Well, that’s just great, Cory.”
The next day, he followed up on his promise. Surprisingly, he managed a fairly decent apology. Even though he’d mumbled a little, he looked squarely into the eyes of both Manny and Mercedes Trujillo. “Sorry for all the shit I pitched at ya. I’m different now. Okay?”
Mercedes, who had the kindest heart in the whole world, was ready to forgive him. Me? Not so much.
“Could you please be more specific?” I said.
Sweat broke out on Cory’s upper lip. “Um, like how?”
“I seem to remember you hurling degrading ethnic comments at Manny and Mercedes.” Geez, I sounded exactly like my English teacher, Mrs. Burke.
Cory’s eyes rolled upward as if looking for an answer from above. Mercedes giggled. Manny caught my gaze and winked.
Finally, Cory said, “Oh, yeah, I get it. I think.” He leaned close and whispered in my ear. I nodded.
Once again, Cory made eye contact with Manny and Mercedes. “Manny,” he said, “Sorry I called you a taco snapper.  Mercedes, I know I said you were a big-ass beaner. That was wrong of me. Sorry.”
Mercedes flung her arms open. Cory leaned forward from the waist and allowed himself to be hugged, even though he looked extremely uncomfortable. Manny and Cory shook hands. As the impartial judge, I watched it all, trying to decide if he really meant it. But then, he looked at me with those puppy dog eyes. “Was that okay, Allie?” After that, I couldn’t turn him down.
Junior Martinez would have been my first choice, but he couldn’t go to the dance because he was thousands of miles away. My former boyfriend, Beck, had moved on. I know, I know, it sounds like I have a whole stable of hot guys just dying to take me out. Not true.
Beck Bradford and I had been an item last year. He was now a freshman at the University of Washington in Seattle and a pre-med student. He didn’t get home that often, but we talked on the phone a lot. I considered him one of my best friends. Junior had become a huge TV star in Mexico and was now making movies, so he was in and out of Peacock Flats.
It’s not like a lot of other guys were asking me to the dance, and really, I did want to go. I still had my Peacock Flats Fruit Bowl queen dress, so why waste it? Cory, in his new incarnation, would have to do. I just hoped and prayed he wouldn’t revert to form and slip ice cubes down the front of my dress. So far, so good.
Still moving to the music, I looked across the gym and spotted Mercedes with her new boyfriend, Gilbert Valencia. Total opposites, they made a cute couple. Mercedes was short and fluffy with a permanent smile. Tall, thin and geeky, Gilbert was so smart he was in advanced everything. He’d won the Washington State Young Scientist of the year award for his breakthrough study on earthquake prediction. Imagine, a kid from a high school with 92 students beating out kids from wealthy districts like Mercer Island and Bellevue. There’s even a sign outside our school that says, “HOME OF WASHINGTON STATE’S YOUNG SCIENTIST OF THE YEAR.”
When the music stopped, Cory said, “I’ll get some punch and cookies.”
I nodded and pointed at the back wall where all the chaperones were lined up. “I’ll go say hello to Mr. Hostetler.”
At the mention of our principal’s name, Cory blinked nervously. He’d spent most of last year getting reamed out by Mr. Hostetler. I placed a hand on Cory’s arm. “It’s okay. I’ll tell him you’ve changed.”
Cory blushed. “Thanks, Allie.”
Frowning, Mr. Hostetler pushed away from the wall when I approached. “How ya doing, Allie? I was surprised to see you with Cory Philpott.”
“Mr. Hostetler,” I said sternly. “People do change. You know that, right?”
He thought about it for a while and nodded. “Sure do. Take Chad, for example. He’s like a different kid. Did I tell you he’s into soccer now?”
I bit back a smile. “That’s great.”
Actually, Chad Hostetler was a different kid. The original Chad was a changeling and, last summer, I’d helped switch faery Chad and human Chad. Faery Chad was now flapping his frilly wings in Boundless, aka Faeryland, and human Chad had taken his place in the Hostetler family.
   It had worked out well for both Chads. So well, in fact, Mr. Hostetler and his ex-wife were making an effort to get back together. Of course, that left my mother, Faye, without a boyfriend, since she and Mr. Hostetler had been dating at the time.  Personally, I was relieved. The whole idea of my mother and my principal as a couple struck me as totally unnatural.
Like he knew what I was thinking, Mr. Hostetler lowered his voice and said, “How’s your mother?”
I waved a hand. “Oh, she’s fine. She’s out with her girlfriends tonight.”
I didn’t want Mr. Hostetler to think my mom was sitting home, crying over him. In spite of my casual tone, the thought of Faye, the Queen of Bad Relationships, prowling around looking for a new boyfriend made my blood turn to ice.
It’s not like she wasn’t there to get me prepped for the big dance, though. She did my hair and then snapped pictures of Cory and me, all decked out in our fancy clothes, just like a regular mom. And, she’d made arrangements for me to spend the night with Kizzy.
Mr. Hostetler looked bummed. “So she’s moved on.” He sighed. “Well, that’s probably a good thing.”
I squirmed, trying to think of something to say unrelated to my mother’s love life. Finally I spotted Cory approaching with a bunch of cookies in one hand and two glasses of punch in the other. He sidled up to us, like he wanted to offload the goodies and then make a run for it.
“Cory Philpott!” Mr. Hostetler boomed. “Keeping your nose clean?”
Cory jumped about a foot in the air. I grabbed the punch before it could slop onto the floor. We exchanged puzzled looks. What did a clean nose have to do with anything? Since Cory seemed to be tongue-tied, I spoke up. “Clean as can be. Right, Cory?”
“Oh, yeah, real clean.”
“Good, good,” Mr. Hostetler said. “You drive real careful when you take this young lady home. Ya hear me?”
Cody glanced over at me with before answering, “Yes, sir.”
 He looked so nervous, I took pity on him. “Let’s go find a place to sit down. See you Monday, Mr. Hostetler.”
When we got a few steps away from the wall, Cody put an arm around my shoulder and squeezed. “I’m really glad you didn’t tell Mr. Hostetler that my dad won’t let me drive yet.”
“No problem. You should have mentioned Charlie and the limo.”
Cody relaxed and smiled. “Yeah, I should have.”
When my friend, Kizzy Lovell, found out Cory couldn’t drive, she insisted on sending her driver, Charlie, to pick us up. He’d take us home as well. Kizzy was an elderly lady, at least fifty or sixty, and never learned to drive. She had tons of money and hired Charlie to drive her around. Oh yeah, and Kizzy’s the person who gave me the moonstone pendant hanging around my neck. The moonstone, with its magical qualities, has taken me to places almost impossible to describe. Boundless, for one.
At the stroke of eleven, everyone poured out of the gym. Charlie pulled up, jumped out of the car and opened the back door for us. When the laughter and rowdy comments started, I realized Cory still had enemies.
“Whoa, Philpott, look at you!”
“Your daddy hire a limo for you?”
“Maybe he should have picked you up in his cop car. You and your trailer trash girlfriend could ride in the back.”
I brushed off the comment about my living arrangements and focused on Cory. Eyes flashing with fury, he stepped aside to let me in the back seat and turned to face his tormentors. “Back off!”
A tall , slim man dressed in the brown uniform of a county deputy stepped between Cory and the taunting crowd. Startled by his sudden appearance, I looked around for his car. No car. Still muttering, the boys who’d been bugging Cory backed away. The man spun to face us and I gasped. Tall and skeletal, he had gray eyes flecked with gold, high cheekbones and long white-blond hair pulled back and fastened with a rubber band. He smiled briefly, revealing an extraordinary number of small pointed teeth. I glanced over at Charlie, who, other than glaring at the crowd, didn’t seem bothered by the man’s appearance.
The strange looking deputy placed a hand on Cory’s arm. “get in the car, lad. Forget about those gents.”
Still stiff with anger, Cory slipped in beside me. Charlie shut the door and hurried around to the driver’s side. Another disaster averted, at least for now.
We rode in silence for a while before I asked, “Who was that guy? A new deputy?”
Cory’s brows shot up in surprise. “You talkin’ about Jim Simpson? Nah, he’s been around for ages.”
Jim Simpson? I knew Jim Simpson, and that person was not Jim Simpson. I sighed. Weird stuff was happening again. No big surprise. Story of my life.
BIO:
A former teacher, coach and school counselor, 
Marilee lives in Washington State and writes full
time. Her books include Castle Ladyslipper, a 
medieval romance, The Rock and Roll Queen of
Bedlam, winner of the 2010 Booksellers Best 
award for romantic suspense, Moonstone, 
Moon Rise, Moon Spun, Shadow Moon, and 
Midnight Moon. Marilee is a member of the 
Romance Writers of America, Pacific Northwest 
Writers Association and the Society of Children’s 
Book Writers and Illustrators.

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