Open Heart’s release is just 9 days away. Can you believe how quickly it’s approaching? Yesterday, I posted the Open Heart boyfriend quiz, and many of you learned that Murray is your match made in Heaven. Your general response was, “Um, that’s great, but who’s Murray?” I’m so glad you asked. Here’s an excerpt from Simmi’s first encounter with Murray; hopefully, you’ll learn to love him as you read the novel.
I slump into a seat near the center of the bus, push my backpack against the window, and rest my head. Freshmen and sophomores pile onto the schoolyard taxi. As far as I can tell I’m the only upperclassman pathetic enough to take the bus. Tomorrow, I’m driving myself to school. Maybe I can pick up Alex on my way, too. I don’t want to rely on Shapri and find myself without a vehicle again.
Despite the crowd, no one bothers to sit next to me. Some benches even hold three students, while mine only holds one. They likely sense the sadness of my aura, or maybe my wide hips take up so much space a second person can’t fit.
As the driver revs the engine, a body plops onto the seat beside me. I remove my backpack from the window and settle it in my lap, pushing as far into the cool metal wall as possible. The bus takes off, cementing my successful escape from Shapri and Alex. I can just go home and take a nap rather than acknowledge my waning powers or admit my illogical attraction to Dax or equally illogical lack of love for Alex.
“Don’t be sad,” my seat mate says.
“Who are you?”
He’s got a strawberry blonde crew cut and a prominent Adam’s apple even though his voice remains somewhat squeaky—maybe it’s just starting to change. Freckles dot his nose, forming a pattern that reminds me of the Big Dipper. He might be handsome once he grows into his ears.
“I’m Murray. Moved here from Toledo.”
“Hi, I’m Simmi.”
“I know.” Murray winks. “What I don’t get is why you’re sad.” He wraps his hand around my arm.
I’m about to protest when all of a sudden, I’m much better. A calming force spreads from my forearm and pulses through my entire body.
“You…how did you?”
“It’s just something I can do lately. Ever since my family moved here a couple months ago. Did I make you all better?”
I nod. My mouth hangs open. I’ve never met another clairsentient before.
Murray continues to chatter on, filling the silence between us. “I live down the street from you, actually. Neha comes over to play with my twin sisters, Kira and Kylie, sometimes. She told them about what you can do and about what she hopes to be able to do one day. Hey, can your mom really talk to animals?”
I make a mental note to scold Neha later. Telling everyone about our abilities is not safe. Either people will poke fun at her for being crazy, or they’ll believe her, which might be even worse.
“Don’t worry.” Murray drops his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “I won’t tell anybody, but I wanted to meet you. I was hoping you could teach me some things.” He stops talking and waits for a response.
He seems like a nice enough kid, but I just can’t.
“I’m sorry, Murray. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“But Neha said—”
“Neha is a silly little girl who likes to make up stories. That’s all.”
“I’m going to take a nap now.” I dismiss him by pushing my backpack against the window, lying my head down, and shutting my eyes. Hopefully, Murray doesn’t raise the topic again.
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