Hi everyone! Have you heard of #SampleSunday from Twitter? It's a new way for authors to share snippets of their work. Frank Drury suggested I post a section from the first chapter of my young adult novel, Favorite, (currently out in Kindle--the paperback version will be released by AmazonEncore on April 1st).
Here's the premise: Sixteen-year-old Angie Favorite's life so far has been defined by the disappearance of her mother on her eleventh birthday. Since then, she and her older brother Jason have been raised by their grandmother, while their father tours with his rock band. When Angie is attacked by a complete stranger, the crime seems random, until she meets her attacker's wealthy mother, Lillian Bittner, and discovers nefarious connections between the Bittners and the mother no one has heard from in five years.
And the sample:
No one was in sight at the drycleaners when I walked in, but I sensed movement in the back of the building. The loud head-banger music coming from the rear reminded me of the heavy metal thumping I’d heard so often from Jason’s room.
I tapped the bell twice. A girl came out, took my receipt without comment and pushed the button to turn the rotating rack of clothes. Her eyes were still on the receipt when she returned, hanger in hand. “Hey,” she said, as she hung the dress on the rod in front of me, “your last name is ‘Favorite.’ That’s kinda cool.”
I nodded. I’ve heard it all by now—I must be everybody’s favorite, maybe I’m nobody’s favorite, was I my mother’s favorite? That one always made me want to cry.
“And your first name starts with ‘A.’” Her head bobbed in approval. “A Favorite.” She said it slowly, as if trying out a foreign phrase. “Way cool.” She punched a few buttons on the register and ran the scanner over the tag. “Kind of like you’re going through life as a chosen one. Like in the Bible.”
Now that one I hadn’t heard before. “Yep, that’s me,” I said. “The chosen one.” A strand of hair had escaped my ponytail. I tucked it behind my ear before handing her a twenty-dollar bill. If I wanted to I could have kept the conversation going by telling her that my first initial “A” actually stood for ‘Angel,’ but I decided not to go there.
She rifled through the register drawer and gave me my change in one lump. She said “You have a good day now,” in a really happy way.
It wasn’t until I was out in my car that I looked at the wad of cash in my hand and realized she gave me the wrong amount. Math was not my best subject, but I knew if you paid someone with a twenty, and you got a twenty, a single and some quarters in return, something wasn’t adding up. My first thought was to just let it go. I sat for a moment, staring at the cash and thinking of the girl’s earnest face and her friendly voice, then sighed. I had to take the money back. I didn’t want her to get into trouble because of me.
I tossed my wallet on the front seat of the car and got out with car keys and money in hand, not even bothering to lock the door. The Honda was the only car in the lot and just twenty feet from the front of the store. I figured it would only take a minute.
I was almost to the curb separating the parking lot from the storefront sidewalk when I glanced up, startled to see a dark-haired man coming toward me. He didn’t appear menacing at first. Just big. At least a foot taller than me, he had the bulky look of someone who wrestled professionally. He stepped off the curb as I approached. I mumbled a hello, but he didn’t seem to notice.
The next part I remember as if I’m watching a movie and seeing it happen to someone else. I’m lost in my thoughts, money clutched in one hand, the car keys in the other, and I’m walking toward the dry cleaners as if pulled by a string. The spell was broken when my arm was grabbed from behind. Shocked, I turned toward the guy whose vice-grip had stopped me.
I blurted out, “What do you want?” and looked to see if there was anyone else around, but we were alone. When I first passed him I hadn’t noticed anything but his size. Now I saw that his forehead was slick with sweat, and his sunken brown eyes were so dark in color they looked like two big pupils. I thought maybe he’d mistaken me for someone else until he grunted three words, “Come with me.”
It all happened so fast—I’ve heard people use that expression before, but I never really knew what it meant until right at that moment. Because it did happen that fast. In an instant I thought of the girls you hear about in the news, the ones who were abducted and raped, and how they tell you never to go anywhere with an attacker, unless you want to end up dead.
“Let go.” I tried to scream the words, but they came out as a strangled cry. I pulled away from him, but he held fast. I always wondered how I’d react if I were attacked. Now I knew. I had assumed I’d scream loud enough to rile the dead, and would kick or punch his eyes, neck or groin, like they tell you to do, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this. I couldn’t get away from him and I was afraid. Scary movies, roller coasters, nightmares—nothing compared to the heart-pounding terror I felt at that moment.
“You need to see something,” he said, his voice flat. “Come with me.”