I’ve been hard at work on Open Heart, book #2 in the Farsighted series. Its release is fast approaching, May 25th, that’s pretty soon! I haven’t let many details slip, but now I think it’s time to share. Today, I’d like to share the complete first chapter with you. Keep coming back for more Open Heart excerpts, and don’t forget to sign-up for my mailing list if you’d like to review an ARC.
Part I: Root
Shed no tear—O shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Weep no more—O weep no more!
Young buds sleep in the root’s white core.
~John Keats’s Faery Song~
It’s amazing how much can change in a year—your location, your friends, your self. The simple life of New Delhi seems far away as I sit outside Alex’s ranch-style house, waiting for him to emerge. I eye myself in the rearview mirror of the shiny new Honda coupe Papa gifted me for my sixteenth birthday. My eyebrows need to be threaded. Badly. And a pimple is emerging in the lower right corner of my chin.
Almost instinctively, I rub an index finger back and forth across my jeans quickly to build up friction. When my fingertip starts to tingle from the warmth, I pull back and press into the beginnings of my blemish—an old wives’ trick from India.
The passenger door jerks open, and I jump within my seat. Alex slides into the car, places his cane beside him, and buckles his seatbelt.
“Don’t do that! It startles me.”
“Sorry. Keep forgetting.” He sounds genuinely apologetic.
“No, you’re okay. I’m just a little tense lately.” I glance over at him and smile even though he can’t see the reassuring gesture.
His eyes are focused straight ahead and his ear is angled toward me; he always does this, because hearing is his dominant sense. Still, I wish he would look at me—that just once, he could see me.
Alex grins as he so often does when nobody speaks for a while. “Want to go to our spot?” He brings his hand up to knead my shoulder. “It’ll help take the edge off.”
I exhale and try to relax. Clairsentience should have been his gift, not mine. What good is psychic touch if I can never use it to improve my own mood? I close my eyes and pretend a mild electric current emanates from Alex’s firm grip. The sparks are supposed to emit a calming effect—but they’re imaginary, so they don’t.
“Yeah, let’s go to our spot.” I shake him off and transition the car into drive.
It isn’t long before the edge of town comes into sight, and I pull onto the bumpy dirt road leading to our special place. We drive a few minutes to the empty field of grass, and get out of the car.
Alex and I discovered this abandoned farmland several weeks back while trying to find a place we could go for some privacy. We weren’t doing anything wrong, but my parents can be a bit nosy and his dad has the ability to read minds.
Sometimes it’s nice to have secrets, even if they don’t mean anything.
Alex gets out of the car and makes his way over to my side. “Wanna go north or south today?”
“Let’s go over near the brook. It’s nice there.” I slip my hand into the crook of his arm, partly because Alex is chivalrous, and partly because I am, too. Whether he needs assistance or not, helping him get around makes me feel good.
We traverse the broad meadow toward the line of pine trees in the distance. The long grass reaches right through my jeans and tickles my ankles.
“Smell that?” Alex asks with a twinkle in his voice. “The goldenrod is starting to bloom. Might be a little early, but that’s them all right.”
The stench of a never ending field of grass overwhelms all else for me. Splotches of color in the field are in short supply, too. “I can’t spot them,” I pout.
“Wait a couple days. You will.” He squeezes my hand a little harder and quickens his pace.
My boyfriend gets so excited about flowers—no real surprise coming from the son of a florist.
After crunching through the grass a few more meters, we find our spot. The stream gurgles down the subtle slope of the hill. The sound relaxes me like nothing else can as of late. Alex tosses his cane to the side and plops onto the ground.
“C’mere.” He pats the grass beside him with a huge smile, and stretches his arms toward me.
No sooner do I drop down beside him than he takes me in his arms, brings his face to mine, and kisses me as if we haven’t seen each other every single day this summer without fail. I pull back and sigh.
“What? What?” He shakes his head and the corners of his mouth fall toward his chin.
“Nothing.” I reach up to remove his sunglasses. “Just feel like talking today, that’s all.”
He doesn’t like when people take his glasses off, says it makes him feel naked, but his eyes remind me of clouds right before a rainstorm—light, gray, soft, full.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking into your eyes.” His cheek is rough under my palm.
“I thought you wanted to talk.” Alex’s eyes shift from side-to-side and his usual happy pulsing current speeds into a frenzied rush of emotional energy—discomfort. He doesn’t like when people stare.
I slide his glasses back onto his face and pull him close. “I changed my mind.”
The grass cradles us as Alex moves on top of me. We kiss for a while, and he pants melodically, even more excited about this than those darned flowers. Then he attempts to slip his hand under my shirt and onto my belly.
I jolt away from him. “No. I’m not ready.”
“But Simm-mii,” he whines, stretching my name into two over-enunciated syllables.
“But nothing. I said no,” I huff, and fold my arms across my chest.
“Okay, okay, Sorry.” He rests his arm around my shoulders and pulls me tight against his side. “Let’s talk, then.”
He pecks the top of my head and we sit together in silence for a moment, listening to the frolicking creek.
“How are things at home?”
He grunts. “Same as always.”
“And with Dax?”
He guffaws—actually guffaws, like a donkey or something. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
I put on my sweetest voice. “I’m just curious. Can’t you tell me?”
“Hey, you’ve got your limits; I’ve got mine.”
His anger catches me off-guard. He has a weird relationship with Dax, but I don’t quite understand the tension between them. Weeks have passed since Alex last invited me to his house. He doesn’t want me anywhere near Dax and will do almost anything to keep us apart. Never mind that his dad and Miss Teak and Shapri all seem to trust Dax. He says he never will. Those visions he had of me dying must still haunt him—the same ones that turned out to be fake. The same ones that have turned me into a jumpy mess, always wondering what horror lies around the bend.
His brow furrows, as if his thoughts are racing a million miles a minute.
“I’m sorry,” I say. It seems as though all we’ve done is apologize to each other today.
A gentle peck on his cheek puts him at ease, and the crinkles on his forehead disappear into the smoothness of his creamy white skin. I hold his face for a moment, examining the contrast of its color against my hand—caramel and frothed milk.
When neither of us can think of anything to say, we begin making out again. This time I’m sure to remain firmly seated so he doesn’t try to make another wrong move. The kissing is nice, but not blissful or earth-shattering like in the movies. Kissing Alex is just fine, ordinary, comfortable. Makes me wonder if something is wrong with me.
A piercing robotic shriek shakes the air. I yank away from him. My breath beats out of me like butterflies, fast and light. Although it takes a great deal of focus, I will myself to hold in the tremors. Alex can’t know how much the smallest things set me off.
He straightens his spine and grows still.
“What? What happened?” I count on his hyper-focused hearing to confirm whether there’s any danger.
“Sounds like a construction crew, but why would anyone want to build something around here? Nothing ever happens in Grandon.”
Now are you ready to win?
I’m giving away autographed hardcover copies of both Open Heart & Farsighted, books 1&2 in myFarsighted series. This giveaway ends on Saturday, April 12. This one’s running longer than usual, but don’t worry, a new giveaway will be posted next Friday. Keep coming back on Fridays to enter for your chance to win amazing books. And, hey, good luck.
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