Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!
Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Paul McCusker is the author of The Mill House, Epiphany, The Faded Flower and several Adventures in Odyssey programs. Winner of the Peabody Award for his radio drama on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Focus on the Family, he lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and two children.
List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Jeff looked up at her. He’d been absentmindedly swirling his straw in his malted milkshake while she complained about her parents, which she had been doing for the past half hour. “You’re what?”
“You weren’t listening, were you?”
“I was too.”
“Then what did I say?” Elizabeth tucked a loose strand of her long brown hair behind her ear so it wouldn’t fall into the puddle of ketchup next to her fries.
“You were complaining about how your mom and dad drive you crazy because your dad embarrassed you last night while you and Melissa Morgan were doing your history homework. And your dad lectured you for twenty minutes about .?.?. about .?.?.” He was stumped.
“Chris-tian symbolism in the King Arthur legends,” Elizabeth said.
“Yeah, except that you and Melissa were supposed to be studying the .?.?. um?—?”
“Right, and Melissa finally made up an excuse to go home, and you were embarrassed and mad at your dad?—?”
“As usual,” she said and savaged another french fry.
Jeff gave a sigh of relief. Elizabeth’s pop quizzes were a lot tougher than anything they gave him at school. But it was hard for him to listen when she griped about her parents. Not having any parents of his own, Jeff didn’t connect when Elizabeth went on and on about hers.
“Then what did I say?” she asked.
He was mid-suck on his straw and nearly blew the contents back into the glass. “Huh?”
“What did I say after that?”
“You said .?.?. uh .?.?.” He coughed, then glanced around the Fawlt Line Diner, hoping for inspiration or a way to change the subject. His eye was dazzled by the endless chrome, beveled mirrors, worn red upholstery, and checkered floor tiles. And it boasted Alice Dempsey, the world’s oldest living waitress, dressed in her paper cap and red-striped uniform with white apron.
She had seen Jeff look up and now hustled over to their booth. She arrived smelling like burnt hamburgers and chewed her gum loudly. “You kids want anything else?”
Rescued, Jeff thought. “No, thank you,” he said.
She cracked an internal bubble on her gum and dropped the check on the edge of the table. “See you tomorrow,” Alice said.
“No, you won’t,” Elizabeth said under her breath. “I won’t be here.”
As she walked off, Alice shot a curious look back at Elizabeth. She was old, but she wasn’t deaf.
“Take it easy,” Jeff said to Elizabeth.
“I’m going to run away,” she said, heavy rebuke in her tone. “If you’d been listening?—?”
“Aw, c’mon, Bits?—?” Jeff began. He’d called her “Bits” for as long as either of them could remember, all the way back to first grade. “It’s not that bad.”
“You try living with my mom and dad, and tell me it’s not that bad.”
“I know your folks,” Jeff said. “They’re a little quirky, that’s all.”
“Quirky! They’re just plain weird. They’re clueless about life in the real world. Did you know that my dad went to church last Sunday with his shirt on inside out?”
“And wearing his bedroom slippers?”
Jeff smiled. Yeah, that’s Alan Forde, all right, he thought.
“Don’t you dare smile,” Elizabeth threatened, pointing a french fry at him. “It’s not funny. His slippers are grass stained. Do you know why?”
“Because he does his gardening in his bedroom slippers.”
Elizabeth threw up her hands. “That’s right! He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care how he looks, what -people think of him, or anything! And my mom doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed for him. She thinks he’s adorable! They’re weird.”
“They’re just .?.?. themselves. They’re?—?”
Elizabeth threw herself against the back of the red vinyl bench and groaned. “You don’t understand.”
“Sure I do!” Jeff said. “Your parents are no worse than Malcolm.” Malcolm Dubbs was Jeff’s father’s cousin, on the English side of the family, and had been Jeff’s guardian since his parents had died five years ago in a plane crash. As the last adult of the Dubbs family line, he came from England to take over the family fortune and estate. “He’s quirky.”
“But that’s different. Malcolm is nice and sensitive and has that wonderful English accent,” Elizabeth said, nearly swooning. Jeff’s cousin was a heartthrob among some of the girls.
“Don’t get yourself all worked up,” Jeff said.
“My parents just go on and on about things I don’t care about,” she continued. “And if I hear the life-can’t-be-taken-too-seriously-because-it’s-just-a-small-part-of-a-bigger-picture lecture one more time, I’ll go out of my mind.”
Again Jeff restrained his smile. He knew that lecture well. Except his cousin Malcolm summarized the same idea in the phrase “the eternal perspective.” All it meant was that there was a lot more to life than what we can see or experience with our senses. This world is a temporary stop on a journey to a truer, more real reality, he’d say?—?an eternal reality. “Look, your parents see things differently from most -people. That’s all,” Jeff said, determined not to turn this gripe session into an Olympic event.
“They’re from another planet,” Elizabeth said. “Sometimes I think this whole town is. Haven’t you figured it out yet?”
“I like Fawlt Line,” Jeff said softly, afraid Elizabeth’s complaints might offend some of the other regulars at the diner.
“Everybody’s so .?.?. so oblivious! Nobody even seems to notice how strange this place is.”
Jeff shrugged. “It’s just a town, Bits. Every town has its quirks.”
“Is that your word of the day?” Elizabeth snapped. “These aren’t just quirks, Jeffrey.”
Jeff rolled his eyes. When she resorted to calling him Jeffrey, there was no reasoning with her. He rubbed the side of his face and absentmindedly pushed his fingers through his wavy black hair.
“What about Helen?” Elizabeth challenged him.
“Which Helen? You mean the volunteer at the information booth in the mall? That Helen?”
“I mean Helen the volunteer at the information booth in the mall who thinks she’s psychic. That’s who I mean.” Elizabeth leaned over the Formica tabletop. Jeff moved her plate of fries and ketchup to one side. “She won’t let you speak until she guesses what you’re going to ask. And she’s never right!”
“Our only life insurance agent has been dead for six years.”
“And there’s Walter Keenan. He’s a professional proofreader for park bench ads! He wanders around, making -people move out of the way so he can do his job.” Her voice was a shrill whisper.
“Ben Hearn only pays him to do that because he feels sorry for him. You know old Walter hasn’t been the same since that shaving accident.”
“But I heard he just got a job doing the same thing at a tattoo parlor!”
“I’m sure tattooists want to make sure their spelling is correct.”
Elizabeth groaned and shook her head. “It’s like Mayberry trapped in the Twilight Zone. I thought you’d understand. I thought you knew how nuts this town is.” Elizabeth locked her gaze onto Jeff’s.
He gazed back at her and, suddenly, the image of her large brown eyes, the faint freckles on her upturned nose, her full lips, made him want to kiss her. He wasn’t sure why?—?they’d been friends for so long that she’d probably laugh at him if he ever actually did it?—?but the urge was still there.
“It’s not such a bad place,” he managed to say.
“I’ve had enough of this town,” she said. “Of my parents. Of all the weirdness. I’m fifteen years old and I wanna be a normal kid with normal problems. Are you coming with me or not?”
Jeff cocked an eyebrow. “To where?”
“To wherever I run away to,” she replied. “I’m serious about this, Jeff. I’m getting all my money together and going somewhere normal. We can take your Volkswagen and?—?”
“Listen, Bits,” Jeff interrupted, “I know how you feel. But we can’t just run away. Where would we go? What would we do?”
“And who are you all of a sudden: Mr. Responsibility? You never know where you’re going or what you’re doing. You’re our very own Huck Finn.”
“Not according to Mr. Vidler.”
“Mr. Vidler said that?” Jeff asked defensively, wondering why their English teacher would be talking about him to Elizabeth.
“He says it’s because you don’t have parents, and Malcolm doesn’t care what you do.”
Jeff grunted. He didn’t like the idea of Mr. Vidler discussing him like that. And Malcolm certainly cared a great deal about what he did.
Elizabeth continued. “So why should you care where we go or what we do? Let’s just get out of here.”
“But, Bits, it’s stupid and?—?”
“No! I’m not listening to you,” Elizabeth shouted and hit the tabletop with the palms of her hands. Silence washed over the diner like a wave as everyone turned to look.
“Keep it down, will you?” Jeff whispered fiercely.
“Either you go with me, or stay here and rot in this town. It’s up to you.”
Jeff looked away. It was unusual for them to argue. And when they did, it was usually Jeff who gave in. Like now. “I don’t know,” he said quietly.
Elizabeth also softened her tone. “If you’re going, then meet me at the Old Saw Mill by the edge of the river tonight at ten.” She paused, then added, “I’m going whether you come with me or not.”
Dynamic Uno here: Wow! I used to LOVE taking bubble baths to relax and "get away," but after reading this book, I'm not so sure that's a good idea anymore. After all, I like to escape my worries and pressures, but I don't want to completely escape my life--there are some things I would truly miss--especially Madison and the rest of my family.
If you're wondering if I've completely lost my marbles, well, I haven't yet. I've just finished reading Ripple Effect, book one in The Time Thriller Trilogy by Paul McCusker. This book is wonderful--it has the mystery and suspense, the fantasy of time travel, and a wisp of romance--something for everyone! You'll have to read it for yourself though because my copy is getting added to our library--I wonder how long it takes before it's stolen? Any guesses? In any case--go buy it--and don't forget to pre-order the others in the series too!
Monday, October 20, 2008
It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Bryan Davis and his wife, Susie, have seven children and live in western Tennessee, where he continues to cook up his imaginative blend of fantasy and inspiration.
Besides the Echoes from the Edge Series that begins with Beyond the Reflection's Edge, Bryan Davis is the author of the Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire series, contemporary/fantasy books for young adults. The first book, Raising Dragons , was released in July of 2004, followed by Candlestone , The Circles of Seven, and Tears of a Dragon . Eye of the Oraclelaunched the Oracles of Fire series and hit number one on the CBA Young Adult best-seller list in January of 2007. Book number two, Enoch's Ghost , came out in July and will be followed by Last of the Nephilim in the spring of 2008.
Visit him at his website.
List Price: $ 12.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Nathan strode down the hospital hallway, his brain focused on a single thought—finding his parents. Once mutilated and dead in matching coffins, now they were alive. He had touched his father’s chain-bound arms through the dimensional mirror and felt his loving strength. He had heard his mother’s voice and once again bathed in the majesty of her matchless violin.
Yet, the beautiful duet they had played at the funeral had once again become a solo. He had failed. The dimensional portal collapsed, and there was no word from Earth Blue as to whether or not his parents might still be in the bedroom where they had sought rescue from their captivity.
He sat down on a coffee-stained sofa in the waiting area and clenched his fist. His parents were real. They were alive. And now he had to move heaven and earth, maybe even three earths, to find them.
Staring into the hall, he mentally reentered Kelly’s room and saw her lying on the bed, beaten and bruised from their ordeal, her shoulder lacerated and her eyes half blind. The words he spoke to her just moments ago came back to him. We’ll search for them together. But how could she help? With all the dangers ahead, how could a blinded, wounded girl help him find his parents?
A sharp, matronly voice shook him from his meditative trance. “Ah! There you are!”
Nathan shot to his feet. Clara marched toward him, her heels clacking on the tile floor as she pushed back her windblown gray hair. Walking stride for stride next to the tall lady, Dr. Gordon stared at a cell phone, his face as grim as ever.
As they entered the waiting area, Nathan nodded toward the hallway. “Tony’s with Kelly. Thought I’d let them have some daddy-daughter time.”
While Dr. Gordon punched his cell phone keys, apparently typing out a text message, Clara lowered her voice. “Dr. Gordon received a cryptic email from Simon Blue. Solomon and Francesca aren’t there in your Earth Blue bedroom, but apparently something very unusual is going on, and we’re trying to get details.”
“So that’s our next destination,” Nathan said.
“Yes. We have already alerted my counterpart on Earth Blue. She and Daryl will be ready to pick you up at the observatory and take you to Kelly Blue’s house.”
“Good. Even if Mom and Dad aren’t there, it’s the logical place to start looking for them.”
“Are you going to break the news to Kelly?”
“I guess I’ll have to. She’s in no shape to come with me, but convincing her of that won’t be easy.”
Dr. Gordon closed his phone and slid it into his pocket. Turning toward Nathan, he spoke in his usual formal manner. “There are no further details available. We should proceed to the observatory at once. With Mictar’s associates gone, there should be no trouble gaining access. I have dismissed the guards, with the exception of one whom I trust, so we should not run into any unexpected company.”
“Okay,” Nathan said. “Let me talk to Kelly. I’ll be right back.”
As he walked down the hall, he wondered about Dr. Gordon’s words. It was true that Mictar’s goons were gone, giving him free access to the dimensional transport mirror on the observatory ceiling, but what about Mictar himself? He had disappeared into the mirror with Jack riding on top of him, but where could he have gone? And what could have become of Jack? Even if he escaped, he would be lost, especially after his recent brush with death in the Earth Yellow airline disaster and his subsequent discovery of his own burial site. Since Jack’s dimension lagged Earth Red’s by about thirty years, he would feel like a time-traveling visitor from the past.
A man in scrubs caught up and passed Nathan, pushing a lab tray stuffed with glass bottles and tubes. With lanky pale arms protruding from his short green sleeves, he kept his head low as he hurried. He slowed down in front of Kelly’s door, but when it opened, he resumed his pace and turned into a side corridor, his head still low.
Nathan could barely breathe. Could that have been Mictar? Would he be bold enough to come into the hospital? And why would he be so persistent in trying to get to Kelly? What value was she to him?
As Nathan neared the room, Tony came out. Bending his tall frame, he released the latch gently and walked away on tiptoes. When he spied Nathan, he jerked up and smiled, his booming voice contradicting his earlier attempts to be quiet. “Hey! What brings you back so soon?”
Nathan kept his eyes on the side hallway. No sign of the technician. “Some news for Kelly. I have to head back to the scene of the crime.”
Tony shook his finger. “Better not. She was so tired, she fell asleep in mid-bite. And if she’s too tired for pizza, she’s too tired for company.”
“You let her eat it? She’s only supposed to have—”
“Hey,” Tony said, pointing at himself, “I didn’t know about her diet until after I brought the pizza. But if you want to tell her what she should and shouldn’t eat, be my guest.”
“I know what you mean.” Nathan glanced between the door and the other hallway. “Okay if I sneak in and leave her a note?”
He grinned, his eyes bugging out even more than usual. “Just don’t get any ideas, Romeo.”
Nathan returned the smile, though he chaffed at the comment. Tony was joking, of course, but sometimes he blurted out the dumbest things. He wouldn’t dream of touching her inappropriately, not in a million years. His father had drilled that into his head a long time ago—never intimately touch a woman who is not your wife.
“I’ll behave myself.” He reached for the knob and nodded toward the other hallway. “Mind checking something out for me? I saw someone suspicious, a guy in scrubs, head that way. It looked like he was going into Kelly’s room, but when you came out, he took off.”
“You got it.” Tony crept toward the other hall, pointing. “That way?”
“Yeah. Just a few seconds ago.”
“I’m on it.” When he reached the corridor, he looked back, his muscular arms flexing. “Time to take out the trash.”
Nathan opened the door a crack, eased in, and closed it behind him. Walking slowly as his eyes adjusted, he quietly drew the partitioning curtain to the side and focused on Kelly’s head resting on a pillow, her shoulder-length brown hair splashed across the white linen. He stopped at her bedside, unable to draw his stare away from her lovely face.
Black scorch marks on her brow and cheeks and a thick bandage on her shoulder bore witness to her recent battle with Mictar. Her closed lids concealed wounded eyes, maybe the worst of all her injuries, the result of Mictar’s efforts to burn through to her brain and steal her life. So far, no corrective lenses seemed to help at all. If anything, they made her vision worse. Still, even in such a battle-torn condition, she was beautiful to behold, a true warrior wrapped in the sleeping shell of a petite, yet athletic, young lady.
He searched her side table for a pen and paper. A portable radio next to a flower vase played soft music, a piano concerto—elegant, but unfamiliar. He spotted a pen and pad and pushed the radio out of the way, but it knocked against the vase, making a clinking noise. He cringed and swiveled toward Kelly.
Her chest heaved. Her hands clenched the side rails. She scanned the room with glassy eyes, panting as she cried out. “Who’s there?”
Nathan grasped her wrist. “It’s just me,” he said softly.
Her eyes locked on his, wide and terrified. “Mictar is here!”
Making a shushing sound, he lowered the bed rail and pried her fingers loose. “You were just dreaming.”
“No!” She wagged her head hard. “I saw him! In the hospital!”
“Do you know where?”
She turned her head slowly toward the door. As a shaft of light split the darkness, her voice lowered to a whisper. “He’s here.”
A shadowy form stretched an arm into the room, then a body, movement so painstakingly deliberate, the intruder obviously didn’t want anyone to hear him.
Nathan grabbed the vase and dumped the flowers into a basin. Wielding it like a club, he crept toward the door, glancing between Kelly and the emerging figure. She yanked out her IV tube, swung her bare legs to the side, and dropped to the floor, blood dripping behind her.
The shadow, now fully in the room, halted. Nathan clenched his teeth. Kelly scooted to his side, tying her hospital gown closed in the back.
As the door swung shut, darkening the room, a low voice emanated from the black figure. “If it is a fight you seek, son of Solomon, I am more than capable of delivering it. In my current form, a glass vase will be a pitifully inadequate weapon. I suggest you give me what I want, and I will leave you in peace.”
Nathan tightened his grip on the vase. Should he ask what he wanted? Even replying to a simple remark seemed like giving in. Mictar was baiting him, and he didn’t want to bite. “Just get out, Mictar. It’s two against one. It only took a violin upside your head to beat you before, and you couldn’t even take on Jack by yourself at the funeral.”
Mictar’s voice rose in a mock lament. “Alas! Poor Jack. He was a formidable foe … may he rest in peace.” His tone lowered to a growl. “You can’t take me by surprise this time, you fool. Your base use of that instrument proves that you have no respect for its true power. And now you have neither a violin nor a Quattro mirror to provide a coward’s escape.”
Nathan peered at Mictar’s glowing eyes. The scarlet beacons seemed powerful and filled with malice. Yet, if he had as much power as he boasted, why hadn’t he attacked? Nathan set his feet and lifted the vase higher. Maybe it would be okay to find out what this demon wanted. “Why are you here?”
“To finish my meal. I have enough energy left to fight for what I want, but I would prefer not to expend it. If you will turn the girl over to me freely, I will consume what I merely tasted at the funeral and be on my way. In exchange, I will leave you with two precious gifts. I will tell you how to find your parents, and I will relieve you of that handicapped little harlot.”
Nathan flinched. Kelly gasped and backed away a step.
“Ah, yes,” Mictar continued, his dark shape slowly expanding. “That word is profane in your ears, yet I wager that it rings true in your mind. Kelly Clark is not the paragon of virtue your father would want for your bride. She clings to you like a leech, because she is soiled by—”
“Just shut up!” Nathan shouted. “I don’t want to hear it!”
The humanlike shadow swelled to twice its original size. “Oh, yes, you do. You want to know every lurid detail. She is your dark shadow, and you will never find your parents while you entertain a harlot at your side.”
“No!” Nathan slung the vase at Mictar. When it came within inches of his dark head, it stopped in midair. Nathan tried to reach for Kelly, but his arm locked in place. His head wouldn’t even swivel. Everything in the room had frozen … except for Mictar.
The shadow continued to grow. His dark hands drew closer and closer. “I saved the last bit of my energy,” Mictar said, “to perform one of my brother’s favorite tricks, motor suspension of everything within my sight. Now I will take yours and the harlot’s eyes, and I will need no more to fill Lucifer’s engine.”
A knock sounded at the door. “Nathan? Is everything okay?”
Tony’s voice! Nathan tried to answer, but his jaw wouldn’t move. His tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth. A dark hand wrapped around his neck and clamped down, throttling his windpipe.
Another knock sounded, louder this time. “Nathan, the nurse says it’s time for vitals.”
Another hand draped his face. Sparks of electricity shot out, stinging his eyes.
“I’m coming in!” Light flashed around Mictar’s hand, but Nathan still couldn’t budge. Pain jolted his senses. His legs shook wildly as if he had been lifted off the floor and rattled like a baby’s toy.
Suddenly, the darkness flew away. Mictar’s body, a black human form with no face or clothes, zoomed past the nurse and crashed against the back wall. “Stay right there,” Tony shouted, “or I’ll introduce your face to the other wall.”
Like a streaking shadow, Mictar pounced on Tony, wrenched his arm behind him until it snapped, and slung him against the wall. Tony staggered for a moment, then slumped to the floor, dazed.
Mictar grabbed the nurse from behind. As she kicked and screamed, he laid a fingerless hand over her eyes and pressed down. Sparks flew, and Mictar’s body lightened to a dark gray, details tracing across his gaunt pale face and bony hands. His white hair materialized, slick and tied back in a ponytail. The lines of a silk shirt and denim trousers etched across the edges of his frame, completing the full-body portrait of the evil stalker.
Nathan tried to help, but his feet seemed stuck in clay. He slid one ahead, but the other stayed planted. Kelly hobbled toward the melee and helped her father to his feet. While she cradled his broken arm, Mictar’s body continued to clarify. The nurse sagged in his clutches, but he held on, light still pouring into his body from hers.
His legs finally loosening, Nathan stumbled ahead and thrust his arms forward. He rammed into Mictar, but, as if repelled by a force field, he bounced back and slammed against the floor. New jolts sizzled across his skin, painful, but short-lived. He looked up at the stalker’s pulsing form, now complete and radiant.
Mictar dropped the nurse into a heap of limp arms and legs and kicked her body to the side. Tony crouched as if ready to pounce again, but his movements had slowed. Wincing, he picked up an IV stand and drew it back, ready to strike.
Mictar tilted his head up and opened his mouth, but instead of speaking, he began to sing. His voice, a brilliant tenor, grew in volume, crooning a single note that seemed to thicken the air.
Dropping the IV stand, Tony fell to his knees. Kelly stumbled back and pressed her body against the wall. A vase exploded, sending sharp bits of glass flying, and a long crack etched its way from one corner of the outer window to the other.
Fighting the piercing agony, Nathan rolled up to his knees and climbed to his feet, but the latest shock had stiffened his legs, and the noise seemed to be cracking his bones in half. He could barely move at all.
Mictar took a breath and sang again. This time, he belted out what seemed to be a tune, but it carried no real melody, just a hodgepodge of unrelated notes that further thickened the air. Red mist formed along the floor, an inch deep and swirling. As Mictar sang on, the fog rose to Nathan’s shins, churning like a cauldron of blood. With the door partially open, the dense mist poured out, but it wasn’t enough to keep the flood from rising.
A security guard yanked the door wide open. With a pistol drawn, he waded into the knee-high wall of red. Dr. Gordon and Clara followed, but when the sonic waves blasted across their bodies, the guard dropped his gun, and all three covered their ears, their faces wrinkling in pain.
The window shattered. Mist crawled up the wall and streamed through the jagged opening. The floor trembled. Cracking sounds popped all around. The entire room seemed to spin in a slow rotation, like the beginning of a carousel ride.
“Nathan!” Dr. Gordon shouted. “He’s creating a dimensional hole! He’ll take us all to his domain!”
“How can he? There’s no mirror!”
“He can stretch one of the wounds that already exists.”
The spin accelerated, drawing Nathan toward the window. “How do we stop him? He’s electrified!”
Dr. Gordon staggered toward Nathan, fighting the centrifugal force, but he managed only two steps. “Neutralize his song!”
Nathan leaned toward the center of the room but kept sliding away. “I don’t have my violin!”
The outer wall collapsed. Fog rolled out and tumbled into the expanse, six stories above the ground. The floor buckled and pitched, knocking everyone to their seats. While Nathan pushed to keep from being spun out of the room, the nurse’s body slid across the tile and plunged over the edge with the river of red mist.
Too weak to fight, Nathan slipped toward the precipice. He latched on to the partitioning curtain and hung on with all his strength.
Mictar took a quick breath and sang on.
The bed’s side table bumped against Nathan’s body. The pen fell, bounced off his shoulder, and disappeared in the fog. Still hanging on to the curtain with one hand, he looked up at the wobbling table. The radio! With his free hand, he shook the supporting leg and caught the radio as it fell. With a quick twist, he turned the volume to maximum.
Now playing a Dvořák symphony, the radio blasted measure after measure of deep cellos and kettle drums. Trumpets blared. Cymbals crashed. Violins joined in and created a tsunami of music that swept through the room.
As if squeezed toward him, the mist swirled around Mictar’s body. His song weakened. He coughed and gasped, but he managed to spew a string of obscenities before finally shouting, “You haven’t seen the last of me, son of Solomon!”
The mist covered his head and continued to coil around him until he looked like a tightly wound scarlet cocoon. The room’s spin slowed, and the cocoon seemed to absorb the momentum. Mictar transformed into a red tornado and shrank as if slurped into an invisible void.
Seconds later, he vanished. Everything stopped shaking. Nathan turned off the radio and crawled up the sloping floor to where everyone else crouched. Dr. Gordon latched on to Nathan’s wrist and heaved him up the rest of the way. His voice stayed calm and low. “Well done, Nathan.”
Kelly threw her arms around Nathan from one side and Clara did the same from the other. “Don’t ever leave me alone again,” Kelly said, “not for a single minute.”
Sirens wailed. An amplified voice barked from somewhere below, but Nathan paid no attention to the words. He just pulled his friends closer and enjoyed their embraces.
Tony, sitting on his haunches in front of Nathan, clenched his fist. “Now that’s what I call taking out the trash!”
Dynamic Uno here: Bryan Davis has done it again! Book two (Eternity's Edge) in the Echoes from the Edge series is just as fabulous as the first book-Beyond the Reflection's Edge!
Nathan and Kelly are back trying to save the world(s) from Interfinity and total destruction. Unfortunately, Nathan's parents are still missing and Mictar is still chasing after them. Can they continue to trust their Earth Red, Earth Blue, and Earth Yellow friends to help them overcome Mictar's evil killings or will Interfinity bring about the destruction of billions of people?
I will say that you need to read the first book Beyond the Reflection's Edge before you start Eternity's Edge, or parts of the book will not make sense to you because of the back story and the different dimensions and characters. However, you will not be disappointed because the series is great. Now, get thee to a bookery and pick up Bryan Davis' latest!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It all started when I started working that event at the local theme park and hasn't left me with a chance to breathe. It's not hard work--it's just a lot of late nights coupled with very early mornings. YUCK!
I think I was more excited because my aunt finally had a chance to relax for a couple of days. What made it even better was that one of the employees at Epcot (which is where we went for her birthday day) asked her if she had spoken to Goofy yet. We both just looked at her like she was crazy and said "No." A couple of minutes later, she walks up to my aunt and hands her the phone. Goofy was on the phone and sang Happy Birthday to her! How cool was that?! Then, when we made it back to the room, Mickey Mouse had sent a delivery...
While we were at Epcot, Starship (as in Jefferson Starship fame) was in concert! Unfortunately, the camera's battery decided to die and we couldn't get a replacement for it, so we'll just have to remember the fun of that experience. We also ate in Italy at Tutto Italia--the BEST restaurant in Epcot! (Ok, so maybe it's great because of the Italian guys working there--unfortunately, we didn't rank one of the guys as a server, but it was nice to drool for awhile.)
The second day we went to MGM and rode the Tower of Terror twice! Each time it was a different ride and WAY better than the first time we went back at Christmastime last year!
We were even able to get a seat at our favorite restaurant--the Sci-Fi Diner! It's great! You sit in what looks like a drive-in and there's a huge screen at the front of the room playing clips from all of the sci-fi movies that used to play Saturday mornings. Your "table" is in what looks like a little car. Our server was Mike and he's been working there for about 9 years. He absolutely loves his job--although he knows the entire dialogue in the movies that are playing.
The third day we went to the Magic Kingdom and actually walked from our hotel! Because we had stopped at Guest Relations and picked up a button that said it was my aunt's birthday, everyone was wishing her a happy birthday all day! One of the guys on Main Street stopped a her and have everyone sing Happy Birthday to her. She was completely mortified because she tries to be invisible all the time, but I think she was happy overall. We rode the Tea Cups and say Alice In Wonderland and the Mad Hatter riding too!
We eventually came across the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and look who we found! Wahoo!
After we finished at the Magic Kingdom, we decided to hop the monorail back to the hotel. We got to ride in the front with the driver! I even got to watch their little monitor and he explained what all of the controls and stuff meant. It was great fun! He even gave us miniature driver's licenses for the monorail! :)
On our last day, we decided to go to Animal Kingdom to tackle Mount Everest and the Yeti again. We even got to ride in the front seat again! Here are some pictures from the front seat:
I think what is even better is that we didn't have to wait in line for more than 5 minutes the whole time we were at Disney, with the exception of the Safari Ride--the wildebeest were migrating and we had to wait for them to move, so that was about a 30 minute wait. We did get to see the giraffe's pretty closely though--
We were both pretty tired when we left, but it was a great adventure! We decided that we need to renew our Annual passes for next year and search for the Hidden Mickey's throughout the parks. We found out after we left that there was a Hidden Mickey somewhere on a building of the Contemporary, so we'll have to go back and search for that one. :)
To add to this month's craziness, I took a group of students on a field trip to the public library to hear Catherine Gilbert Murdock speak about her books: Dairy Queen, The Off-Season, and Princess Ben. (If she looks familiar, her sister wrote Eat, Pray Love.)
After we came back from the public library, we had a pizza party in our library to celebrate. It was interesting to see that the girls stayed inside and the boys went outside. Oh well, I'll be working with this group this year to see if I can help improve their reading scores. :)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Bev of http://ribbit-ribbit.blogspot.com/ just wrote me with this prayer request:
This is a request for prayer for YWAM missionaries and their churches in Orissa , India . The request came from her friend, Mable Hurst, an associate of HCJB Global.
Dear beloved sponsors and friends of Good News India .
We have never seen anything like this. We knew that Orissa was the most resistant and hostile State in India as far as the Gospel is concerned. And we brushed off the continuous threats and harassment we faced as we went about His work.
But none of our staff imagined that they would see this kind of carnage....
And it seems to be totally under the radar of the Western Media ....
Let me explain....
A militant Hindu priest and 4 of his attendants, who were zealously going around the villages of Orissa and 'reconverting' people back to Hinduism, were gunned down by unknown assailants in Central Orissa last weekend. Immediately the Christians were blamed. The cry rose up...'Kill the Christians!'
And the horror began....
In the past 4 days, we have first hand witness to hundreds of churches being blown up or burned and many, many dozens of Christian tribals have been slaughtered. For no other reason than they bear the name of Christ.
Night and day I have been in touch with our Good News India Directors spread across 14 Dream Centers in Orissa... they are right in the middle of all this chaos.
In Tihidi, just after the police came to offer protection, a group of 70 blood-thirsty militants came to kill our staff and destroy the home. They were not allowed to get in, but they did a lot of damage to our Dream Center by throwing rocks and bricks and smashing our gate, etc. They have promised to come back and 'finish the job.' Our kids and staff are locked inside and have stayed that way with doors and windows shut for the past 3 days. It has been a time of desperately calling on the Lord in prayer.
More police have come to offer protection. In Kalahandi, the police and some local sympathizers got to our dream center and gave our staff and kids about 3 minutes notice to evacate. No one had time to even grab a change of clothes or any personal belonging. As they fled, the blood thirsty mob came to kill everyone in the building. We would have had a mass funeral there, but for His grace. In Phulbani, the mob came looking for Christian homes and missions. The local Hindu people, our neighbors turned them away by saying that there were no Christians in this area. So they left.
We had favor. The same thing happened in Balasore.
All our dream enters are under lock down with the kids and staff huddled inside and police outside. The fanatics are circling outside waiting for a chance to kill. Others were not so fortunate. In a nearby Catholic orphanage, the mob allowed the kids to leave and locked up a Priest and a computer teacher in house and burned them to death. Many believers have been killed and hacked into pieces and left on the road.... even women and children. At another orphanage run by another organization, when this began, the Director and his wife jumped on their motorbike and simply fled, leaving all the children and staff behind.
Every one of our GNI directors that I have spoken to said: 'Westay with our kids.... we live together or die together, but we willnever abandon what God has called us to do.' More than 5000Christian families have had their homes burned or destroyed. They havefled into the jungles and are living in great fear waiting for theauthorities to bring about peace. But so far, no peace is foreseen. This will continue for another 10 days.... supposedly the 14 daymourning period for the slain Hindu priest. Many more Christians willdie and their houses destroyed. Many more churches will be smasheddown. The Federal government is trying to restore order and perhapsthings will calm down. We ask for your prayers. Only the Hand of Godcan calm this storm. None of us know the meaning of persecution. Butnow our kids and staff know what that means. So many of our kids coming from Hindu backgrounds are confused and totally bewildered at what is happening around them. So many of their guardians have fled into the jungles and are unable to come and get them during these trying times.
Through all this, I am more determined than ever to continue withour goal: the transformation of a community by transforming its children. Orissa will be saved... that is our heart's cry. If we cantake these thousands of throw-away children and help them to becomedisciples of Jesus, they will transform an entire region. It is a longterm goal, but it is strategic thinking in terms of the GreatCommission. What can you do? First, please uphold all this infervent prayer. Second, pass this e-mail on to as many friends as youcan. We must get the word out and increase our prayer base for this isspiritual warfare at its most basic meaning. We are literally fightingthe devil in order to live for His Kingdom. The next 10 days arecrucial. We pray for peace and calm to pervade across Orissa. Prayer works!
Blessings, Chip & Sandy Wanner Col 2:2 MBI
Team Facilitators to YWAM frontlines
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Since she spent the night last night, I was awaken at 6am to the shout of "I'm getting baptised today!" Needless to say, there was no going to sleep after that announcement.
My niece admitted that she was a little nervous because we have such a large congregation, but I told her that everyone was going to be so happy for her that she shouldn't be nervous. Thankfully, Pastor Jeff was the one to do her baptism, so she was more focused on us(the family) in the audience rather than the rest of the people in the pews. In fact, my mom made her "princess dress" for today, and Pastor Jeff mentioned that she was dressed like a princess before she changed into the baptism robe.
I'm also happy that our church was able to broadcast over the web so my real Dad in Texas was able to watch her baptism. Pastor Jeff made sure that she waved to them. :)
After church we had a family gathering celebrating her baptism and we had wonderful food, awesome cake, and she opened presents from us.
All in all, it was a wonderful day. I'm very proud of the young lady my niece is becoming--despite all of the obstacles she's had to face. I hope she continues to walk with the Lord and continues to trust Him in all of the decisions she has to make.
I love you cutie pie!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
It is October 11th, and FIRST is doing a special tour to 'Say Goodbye to Hollywood Nobody'.
and her book:
NavPress Publishing Group (September 15, 2008)
Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens
These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.
Other Novels by Lisa:
Hollywood Nobody, Finding Hollywood Nobody, Romancing Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End
Visit her at her website.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (September 15, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
I awaken to a tap on my shoulder and open my eye. My right eye. See, these days it could be one of four people: Charley, Dad, Grampie, or Grammie.
Oh well, might as well go for broke. I open the other eye.
“Did you sleep well?”
I shake my head and reach for my cat glasses. “Nope. I kept dreaming about Charley in Scotland.” We sent her off with her new beau, the amazing Anthony Harris, two days ago. “I imagined a road full of sheep chasing her down.”
“That would be silly. They would have to know she hates lamb chops.” Grammie sits on my bed. Yes, my bed. In their fabulous house. In my own wonderful room, complete with reproductions of the Barcelona chair and a platform bed of gleaming sanded mahogany. I burrow further into my white down comforter. I sweat like a pig at night, but I don’t care. A real bed, a bona fide comforter, and four pillows. Feather pillows deep enough to sink the Titanic in.
She pats my shoulder, her bangled wrists emitting the music of wooden jewelry. “Up and at ’em, Scotty. Your dad wants to be on the road by seven thirty.”
“I need a shower.”
“Hop to it then.”
Several minutes later, I revel in the glories of a real shower. Not the crazy little stall we have in the TrailMama, which Dad gassed up last night for our trip to Maine. Our trip to find Babette, my mother. Is she dead or alive? That’s what we’re going to find out.
The warm water slides over me from the top of my head on down, and I’ve found the coolest shampoo. It smells like limeade. I kid you not. It’s the greatest stuff ever.
Over breakfast, Grampie sits down with us and goes over the map to make certain Dad knows the best route. My father sits patiently, nodding as words like turnpike, bypass, and scenic route roll like a convoy out of Grampie’s mouth.
Poor Grampie. Dad is just the best at navigation and knows everything about getting from point A to point B, but I think Grampie wants to be a part of it. He hinted at us all going in the Beaver Marquis, their Luxury-with-a-capital-L RV, but Dad pretended not to get it.
Later, Dad said to me, “It’s got to be just us, Scotty. I love my mother and father, but some things just aren’t complete-family affairs.”
“I know. I think you’re right. And if it’s bad . . .”
He nods. “I’d just as soon they not be there while we fall apart.”
So then, I hop up into our RV, affectionately known as the TrailMama, Dad’s black pickup already hitched behind. (Charley’s kitchen trailer is sitting on a lot in storage at a nearby RV dealership, and good riddance. I’m hoping Charley never needs to use that thing again.) “Want me to drive?”
Yep. I still don’t have my license.
Man. But it’s been such a great month or so at the beach. So, okay, I don’t tan much really, but I do have a nice peachy glow.
I’ll take it.
And Grampie grilled a lot, and Grammie helped me sew a couple of vintage-looking skirts, and I’ve learned the basics of my harp.
I jump into the passenger’s seat, buckle in, and look over at my dad. “You really ready for this?” My heart speeds up. This is the final leg of a very long journey, and what’s at the end of the path will determine the rest of our lives.
He looks into my eyes. “Are you?”
“I don’t know,” I whisper. “But we don’t really have a choice, do we?”
“I can go alone.”
I shake my head. “No, Dad. Whatever we do, whatever happens from here on out, we do it together.”
Dynamic Uno here: I'm pretty sad about this book. No, it's not what you think--I REALLY enjoyed reading Goodbye Hollywood Nobody, I'm just sad that the series is coming to an end. No need to worry--all of the loose ends are wrapped up in a nice little package.
Scotty and her dad wind up in Maine as they continue the search for her mother. Meanwhile, Scotty is taking the summer off to visit one of her new friends to try and figure out what God thinks she should be doing with her life. Through a myriad of events, the Karissa ends up staying at the same place (and we all know that Scotty and Karissa are like oil and water). Needless to say--accidents do happen and the course of every one's lives are changed. If you haven't kept up with the adventures of Scotty and her somewhat vagabond experiences in the "movie" business, then you really need to read this series! "I'm just sayin'..." get to the book store NOW!
(As a side note, I've added these books to my library collection and I can't keep them on the shelves. In fact, I'm going to have to purchase more copies because a few have grown legs and walked off. If my kids are actually stealing the books--you know they're good!)
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
It is time for the FIRST Blog Tour! On the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!
and her book:
Zondervan (September 1, 2008)
Camy Tang is a FIRST Family Member! She also is a moderator for FIRST Wild Card Tours. She is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.
Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One) was her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) was published in March of this year. The next book in the series, Single Sashimi (Sushi Series, Book Three) came out in September 2008!
Visit her at her website.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (September 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Venus Chau opened the door to her aunt's house and almost fainted.
"What died?" She exhaled sharply, trying to get the foul air out of her body before it caused cancer or something.
Her cousin Jennifer Lim entered the foyer with the look of an oni goblin about to eat someone. "She's stinking up my kitchen."
"Who?" Venus hesitated on the threshold, breathing clean night air before she had to close the door.
"My mother, who else?"
The ire in Jenn's voice made Venus busy herself with kicking off her heels amongst the other shoes in the tile foyer. Hoo-boy, she'd never seen quiet Jenn this irate before. Then again, since Aunty Yuki had given her daughter the rule of the kitchen when she'd started cooking in high school, Jenn rarely had to make way for another cook.
"What is she cooking? Beef intestines?"
Jenn flung her arms out. "Who knows? Something Trish is supposed to eat."
"But we don't have to eat it, right? Right?"
"I'll never become pregnant if I have to eat stuff like that." Jenn whirled and stomped toward the kitchen.
Venus turned right into the living room where her very pregnant cousin Trish lounged on the sofa next to her boyfriend, Spenser. "Hey, guys." Her gaze paused on their twined hands. It continued to amaze her that Spenser would date a woman pregnant with another man's child. Maybe Venus shouldn't be so cynical about the men she met. Here was at least one good guy.
Trish's arms shot into the air like a Raiders' cheerleader, nearly clocking Spenser in the eye. "I'm officially on maternity leave!"
Venus paused to clap. "So how did you celebrate?"
"I babysat Matthew all day today." She smiled dreamily at Spenser at the mention of his son.
Venus frowned and landed her hands on her hips. "In your condition?"
Trish waved a hand. "He's not that bad. He stopped swallowing things weeks ago."
"I'm finally not wasting money on all those emergency room visits," Spenser said.
"Besides, I got a book about how to help toddlers expect a new baby." Trish bounced lightly on the sofa cushion in her excitement.
"And?" It seemed kind of weird to Venus, since Trish and Spenser weren't engaged or anything. Yet.
Trish chewed her lip. "I don't know if he totally understands, but at least it's a start."
A sense of strangeness washed over Venus as she watched the two of them, the looks they exchanged that weren't mushy or intimate, just . . . knowing. Like mind reading. It made her feel alienated from her cousin for the first time in her life, and she didn't really like it.
She immediately damped down the feeling. How could she begrudge Trish such a wonderful relationship? Venus was so selfish. She disgusted herself.
She looked around the living room. "Where is -- "
"Venus!" The childish voice rang down the short hallway. She stepped back into the foyer to see Spenser's son, Matthew, trotting down the carpet with hands reached out to her. He grabbed her at the knees, wrinkling her silk pants, but she didn't mind. His shining face looking up at her -- way up, since she was the tallest of the cousins -- made her feel like she was the only reason he lived and breathed. "Psycho Bunny?" he pleaded.
She pretended to think about it. His hands shook her pants legs to make her decide faster.
He darted into the living room and plopped in front of the television, grabbing at the game controllers. The kid had it down pat -- in less than a minute, the music for the Psycho Bunny video game rolled into the room.
Venus sank to the floor next to him.
"Jenn is totally freaking out." Trish's eyes had popped to the size of siu mai dumplings.
"What brought all this on?" Venus picked up the other controller.
"Well, Aunty Yuki had a doctor's appointment today -- "
"Is she doing okay?" She chose the Bunny Foo-Foo character for the game just starting.
"Clean bill of health. Cancer's gone, as far as they can tell."
"So that's why she's taken over Jenn's domain?"
Trish rubbed her back and winced. "She took one look at me and decided I needed something to help the baby along."
Jenn huffed into the living room. "She's going to make me ruin the roast chicken!"
Venus ignored her screeching tone. "Sit down. You're not going to make her hurry by hovering." She and Matthew both jumped over the snake pit and landed in the hollow tree.
Jenn flung herself into an overstuffed chair and dumped her feet on the battered oak coffee table.
Venus turned to glance at the foyer. No Nikes. "Where's Lex?"
"Late. Where else?" Jenn snapped.
"I thought Aiden was helping her be better about that."
"He's not a miracle worker." Spenser massaged Trish's back.
"I have to leave early." Venus stretched her silk-clad feet out, wriggling her toes. Her new stilettos looked great but man, they hurt her arches.
"Then you might not eat at all." Jenn crossed her arms over her chest.
Venus speared her with a glance like a stainless steel skewer. "Chill, okay Cujo?"
Jenn pouted and scrunched further down in the chair.
Venus ignored her and turned back to the game. Her inattention had let Matthew pick up the treasure chest. "I have to work on a project."
"No, for me." Only the Spiderweb, the achievement of her lifetime, a new tool that would propel her to the heights of video game development stardom. Which was why she'd kept it separate from her job-related things -- she didn't even use her company computer when she worked on it, only her personal laptop.
A new smell wafted into the room, this one rivaling the other in its stomach-roiling ability. Venus waved her hand in front of her face.
"Pffaugh! What is she cooking?"
Trish's face had turned the color of green tea. "You're lucky you don't have to eat it. Whatever it is, it ain't gonna stay down for long."
"Just say you still have morning sickness."
"In my ninth month?"
The door slammed open. "Hey, guys -- blech."
Venus twisted around to see her cousin Lex doubled over, clenching her washboard stomach (Venus wished she could have one of those) and looking like she'd hurled up all the shoes littering the foyer floor.
Lex's boyfriend Aiden grabbed her waist to prevent her from nosediving into the tile. "Lex, it's not that bad."
"The gym locker room smells better." Lex used her toes to pull off her cross-trainers without bothering to untie them. "The men's locker room."
"It's not me," Jenn declared. "It's Mom, ruining all my best pots."
"What is she doing? Killing small animals on the stovetop?"
"Something for the baby." Trish tried to smile, but it looked more like a wince.
"As long as we don't have to eat it." Lex dropped her slouchy purse on the floor and walked into the living room.
Aunty Yuki appeared behind her in the doorway, bearing a steaming bowl. "Here, Trish. Drink this." The brilliant smile on her wide face eclipsed her tiny stature.
Venus smelled something pungent, like when she walked into a Chinese medicine shop with her dad. A bolus of air erupted from her mouth, and she coughed. "What is that?" She dropped the game controller.
"Pig's brain soup."
Trish's smile hardened to plastic. Lex grabbed her mouth. Spenser -- who was Chinese and therefore had been raised with the weird concoctions -- sighed. Aiden looked at them all like they were funny-farm rejects.
Venus closed her eyes, tightened her mouth, and concentrated on not gagging. Good thing her stomach was empty.
Aunty Yuki's mouth pursed. "What's wrong? My mother-in-law made me eat pig's brain soup when I was a couple weeks from delivering Jennifer."
"That's what you ruined my pots with?" Jennifer steamed hotter than the bowl of soup.
Her mom caught the yakuza-about-to-hack-your-finger-off expression on Jenn's face. Aunty Yuki paused, then backtracked to the kitchen. With the soup bowl, thankfully.
"Papa?" Matthew's voice sounded faint.
"Don't feel good." He clutched his poochy tummy.
"Oh, no." Spenser grabbed his son and headed out of the living room.
Then the world exploded.
Just as they passed into the foyer, Matthew threw up onto the tiles.
Lex, with her weak stomach when it came to bodily fluids, took one look and turned pasty.
A burning smell and a few cries sounded from the kitchen.
Trish sat up straighter than a Buddha and clenched her rounded abdomen. "Oh!"
Spenser held his crying son as he urped up the rest of his afternoon snack. Lex clapped a hand to her mouth to prevent herself from following Matthew's example. Jenn started for the kitchen, but then Matthew's mess blocking the foyer stopped her. Trish groaned and curled in on herself, clutching her tummy.
Venus shot to her feet. She wasn't acting Game Lead at her company for nothing.
"You." She pointed to Jenn. "Get to the kitchen and send your mom in here for Trish." Jenn leaped over Matthew's puddle and darted away. "And bring paper towels for the mess!"
"You," she flung at Spenser. "Take Matthew to the bathroom."
He gestured to the brand new hallway carpet.
Oh no, Aunty Yuki would have a fit. But it couldn't be helped. "If he makes a mess on the carpet, we'll just clean it up later."
He didn't hesitate. He hustled down the hallway with Matthew in his arms.
Venus kicked the miniscule living room garbage basket closer to Lex. "Hang your head over that." Not that it would hold more than spittle, but it was better than letting Lex upchuck all over the plush cream carpet. Why did Lex, tomboy and jock, have to go weak every time something gross happened?
"You." Venus stabbed a manicured finger at Aiden. "Get your car, we're taking Trish to the hospital."
He didn't jump at her command. "After one contraction?"
Trish moaned, and Venus had a vision of the baby flying out of her in the next minute. She pointed to the door again. "Just go!"
Aiden shrugged and slipped out the front door, muttering to himself.
"You." She stood in front of Trish, who'd started Lamaze breathing through her pursed lips. "Uh . . ."
Trish peered up at her.
"Um . . . stop having contractions."
Trish rolled her eyes, but didn't speak through her pursed lips.
Venus ignored her and went to kneel over Matthew's rather watery puddle, which had spread with amoeba fingers reaching down the lines of grout. Lex's purse lay nearby, so she rooted in it for a tissue or something to start blotting up the mess.
Footsteps approaching. Before she could raise her head or shout a warning, Aunty Yuki hurried into the foyer. "What's wron -- !"
It was like a Three Stooges episode. Aunty Yuki barreled into Venus's bent figure. She had leaned over Matthew's mess to protect anyone from stepping in it, but it also made her an obstacle in the middle of the foyer.
"Ooomph!" The older woman's feet -- shod in cotton house slippers, luckily, and not shoes -- jammed into Venus's ribs. She couldn't see much except a pair of slippers leaving the floor at the same time, and then a body landing on the living room carpet on the other side of her. Ouch.
"Are you okay?" Venus twisted to kneel in front of her, but she seemed slow to rise.
"Venus, here're the paper towels -- "
Jenn's voice in the foyer made Venus whirl on the balls of her feet and fling her hands up. "Watch out!"
Jenn stopped just in time. Her toes were only inches away from Matthew's mess, her body leaning forward. Her arms whirled, still clutching the towels, like a cheerleader and her pom-poms.
"Jenn." Spenser's voice coming down the hallway toward the foyer. "Where are the -- "
"Stop!" Venus and Jenn shouted at the same time.
Spenser froze, his foot hovering above a finger of the puddle that had stretched toward the hallway. "Ah. Okay. Thanks." He lowered his foot on the clean tile to the side.
Aiden opened the front door. "The car's out front -- " The sight of them all left him speechless.
Trish had started to hyperventilate, her breath seething through her teeth. "Will somebody do something?!"
Aunty Yuki moaned from her crumpled position on the floor.
Smoke started pouring from the kitchen, along with the awful smell of burned . . . something that wasn't normal food.
Venus snatched the paper towels from Jenn. "Kitchen!" Jenn fled before she'd finished speaking. "What do you need?" Venus barked at Spenser.
"Guest bedroom closet, top shelf."
He headed back down the hall. Venus turned to Aiden and swept a hand toward Aunty Yuki on the living room floor. "Take care of her, will you?"
"What about me?" Trish moaned through a clenched jaw.
"Stop having contractions!" Venus swiped up the mess on the tile before something worse happened, like someone stepped in it and slid. That would just be the crowning cherry to her evening. Even when she wasn't at work, she was still working.
"Are you okay, Aunty?" She stood with the sodden paper towels.
Aiden had helped her to a seat next to Lex, who was ashen-faced and still leaning over the tiny trash can. Aside from a reddish spot on Aunty Yuki's elbow, she seemed fine.
Jenn entered the living room, her hair wild and a distinctive burned smell sizzling from her clothes. "My imported French saucepan is completely blackened!" But she had enough sense not to glare at her parent as she probably wanted to. Aunty Yuki suddenly found
the wall hangings fascinating.
Venus started to turn toward the kitchen to throw away the paper towels she still held. "Well, we have to take Trish to the hospital -- "
"Actually . . ." Trish's breathing had slowed. "I think it's just a false alarm."
Venus turned to look at her. "False alarm? Pregnant women have those?"
"It happened a couple days ago too."
"What?" Venus almost slammed her fist into her hip, but remembered the dirty paper towels just in time. Good thing too, because she had on a Chanel suit.
Trish gave a long, slow sigh. "Yup, they're gone. That was fast." She smiled cheerfully.
Venus wanted to scream. This was out of her realm. At work, she was used to grabbing a crisis at the throat and wrestling it to submission. This was somewhere Trish was heading without her, and the thought both frightened and unnerved her. She shrugged it off. "Well . . . Aunty -- "
"I'm fine, Venus." Aunty Yuki inspected her elbow. "Jennifer, get those Japanese Salonpas patches -- "
"Mom, they stink." Jenn's stress over her beautiful kitchen made her more belligerent than Venus had ever seen her before. Not that the camphor patches could smell any worse than the burned Chinese-old-wives'-pregnancy-food permeating the house.
At the sound of the word Salonpas, Lex pinched her lips together but didn't say anything.
Aunty Yuki gave Jenn a limpid look. "The Salonpas gets rid of the pain."
"I'll get it." Aiden headed down the hallway to get the adhesive patches.
"In the hall closet." Jenn's words slurred a bit through her tight jaw.
Distraction time. Venus tried to smile. "Aunty, if you're okay, then let's eat."
Jenn's eyes flared neon red. "Can't."
"Somebody turned off the oven." Jenn frowned at her mother, who tactfully looked away. "Dinner won't be for another hour." She stalked back to the kitchen.
Even with the nasty smell, Venus's stomach protested its empty state. "It's already eight o'clock."
"Suck it up!" Jenn yelled from the kitchen.
It was going to be a long night.
Venus needed a Reese's peanut butter cup.
No, a Reese's was bad. Sugar, fat, preservatives, all kinds of chemicals she couldn't even pronounce.
Oooh, but it would taste so good . . .
No, she equated Reese's cups with her fat days. She was no longer fat. She didn't need a Reese's.
But she sure wanted one after such a hectic evening with her cousins.
She trudged up the steps to her condo. Home. Too small to invite people over, and that was the way she liked it. Her haven, where she could relax and let go, no one to see her when she was vulnerable --
Her front door was ajar.
Her limbs froze mid-step, but her heart rat-tat-tatted in her chest like a machine gun. Someone. Had. Broken. Into. Her. Home.
Her hand started to shake. She clenched it to her hip, crushing the silk of her pants. What to do? He might still be there. Pepper spray. In her purse. She searched in her bag and finally found the tiny bottle. Her hand trembled so much, she'd be more likely to spritz herself than the intruder.
Were those sounds coming from inside? She reached out a hand, but couldn't quite bring herself to push the door open further.
Stupid, call the police! She fumbled with the pepper spray so she could extract her cell phone. Dummy, don't pop yourself in the eye with that stuff! She switched the spray to her other hand while her thumb dialed 9 - 1 - 1. Her handbag's leather straps dug into her elbow.
Thump! That came from her living room! Footsteps. Get away from the door! She stumbled backwards, but remembering the stairs right behind her, she tried to stop herself from tumbling down. Her ankle tilted on her stilettos, and she fell sideways to lean against the wall. The footsteps approached her open door.
"9 - 1 - 1, what's your emergency?"
She raised her hand with the bottle of pepper spray. "Someone's -- "
The door swung open.
"Edgar!" The cell phone dropped with a clatter, but she kept a firm grip on the pepper spray, suddenly tempted to use it.
One of her junior programmers stood in her open doorway.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Camy Tang
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Dynamic Uno here: I have to mention that I LOVE Camy Tang and her work! I loved the first two books in the Sushi Series, but I actually think I identify more with Venus than Camy's other characters. While I'm not a gaming programmer (although I'd love to learn or else be a tester) and I can't afford the best of clothing, I do love her spunk and her willingness to try to live out the Lord's will in her life no matter how uncomfortable it makes her. (She actually volunteered with teenagers and she hates germs!) She truly cares about her family--despite a mother who exasperaters her (my real dad is the one who drives me to that level) and finds her home a refuge from the craziness in her life. This is a great wrap-up to the series and I can't wait to read Camy's new books!
Sign up for Camy's monthly newsletter at her website and you can win fabulous things during her monthly giveaways! You also have access to stories that are not released to anyone but her subscribers. :) ChristianBookworm has a podcast of Camy if you're interested.
Now go get this series--you'll love it!