Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sneak Peek (Hidden Talents) {Excerpt}

Today I have the privilege of sharing with you a chapter from a book that is a work in progress. The book has no working title, and this will be author Ann Hamilton's debut novel. She has asked me to post this here in order to garner some real reactions and opinions about the story as it stands right now. Please keep in mind that this work is unedited and is just that, a work in progress. 

Without further ado.....

Chapter 1

I have always believed in the existence of the supernatural. Not that I’ve seen anything of the sort, but when I was a kid, I wanted to be a witch. Of course, I also wanted to be a master martial artist, but unfortunately, I am neither. Instead I’m just Jo, a plain Jane girl who pretty much blends in with the background. It’s not that I’m ugly; I guess you could say I’m average. I’m 16 years old and five-foot seven. I have long sandy blonde hair with red highlights that hangs just shy of my butt and eyes that can’t decide whether they are green, blue or hazel. I have an average face with the exception of my high cheekbones, which I inherited from my Cherokee ancestors; I also have freckles that lightly cover my nose and cheeks.

Yup, that’s me; normal. Or so I thought.

                I am halfway through my junior year at Mayfair High School. Mayfair is pretty much your typical high school. We have the typical cliques: the popular kids, the jocks, cheerleaders, goth kids, nerds, gamers and band kids. I don’t fit in with any of these groups. I have no hand eye coordination, I can’t carry a tune with any kind of instrument, I hate cheerleaders, I’m not that smart and I’m not that good at video games. So where do I fit in? That is a good question; one that I am still trying to figure out.

                I have two great friends Mickey, yes like the mouse; and Jess. They are both drop dead gorgeous, and extremely popular. Mickey is five foot eight has long blonde hair and the perfect body. You know the type, super model good looks, and not an ounce of fat on her. Jess is five-foot five with cheekbone length black hair that always looks perfectly tousled, with a different color streaked through it every week. They both have the most expressive eyes. Jess’ are crystal blue and looking at them is like looking into the depths of the deepest ocean, while Mickey’s are light gray and look like they know what you are thinking. They know just about everybody and fit in just about anywhere. So why do they hang out with me?

Honestly, I have no idea. Like I said, I don’t fit in anywhere. You would think that having popular friends would naturally make you popular.

When people see my friends they don’t see me, it’s almost as if I’m not even there.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind blending in; it’s just that I would like to be noticed every now and then. I guess I just want to know that I’m special to someone—anyone, besides my dad.

Morning was my favorite time of day; it is when I feel most connected to the world, when I am most creative and most thoughtful. That’s when I do my artwork. I can just lose myself in the moment and really feel the world come alive around me, it is like I feel the world waking up, and it makes my spirit sing. I know what you are thinking—I thought you were normal? I am honest; it’s just that I feel more connected to the world than I do to people. Not like I don’t want to connect with people, I just don’t. The only people I am connected to are my two best friends and my dad.

There I was sitting alone under my favorite tree, sketching when I felt someone staring at me. This was a new feeling for me, because no one ever stared at me, they were usually staring at Jess or Mickey. I looked up and saw the most gorgeous guy I had ever seen staring at me. I immediately looked around, trying to find who he was staring at, because there was no possible way he was staring at me, when he smiled and sent my heart soaring. It felt like his eyes could see into my soul and it made me quiver with excitement. He looked like a bad boy, dressed in all black the perfect contrast to his smooth olive skin, black spikey hair, and muscles that teased under his skin tight t-shirt. I stared back at him with my mouth agape when he winked at me and sending a flush of heat to my face. I looked down at my sketchbook to try and distract myself from his grandeur; but couldn’t resist the temptation of such a fine specimen, but when I looked back up, he was gone.

My face fell with disappointment and I began desperately scanning the crowd for him. Where did he go? Who was he? Why was he staring at me? I kept looking for him, but with no luck. I leaned around the tree to see if he was there, maybe he found who he was looking for and he was never really staring at me. I turned back around, put my head against the tree and let out a sigh of rejection, when I heard a sultry chuckle next to me. I opened my eyes and saw that he was now sitting next to me—and that he was even more stunning up close.

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh, but you look like you just lost your puppy.”

I stared at him dumbfounded, was this guy really talking to me? Oh.My.Gosh. I am totally staring! He probably thinks that I am some sort of mute. I closed my mouth and shook myself as a coy smile spread across his face, giving his resplendent jade green eyes a mischievous look.

“Wow, that’s beautiful!” he said as he pointed at my sketch.

He made me so flustered that I completely forgot what I was drawing. I looked down at it and saw that it was the same scene that I had been sketching for the last couple of weeks, a lake completely surrounded by trees. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get that lake out of my head.

“Oh, thanks.” I replied shyly. I normally didn’t let people look at my sketches. They were my private thoughts, but I guess it’s too late now.

“Have you been there before?” he asked.

“No, I haven’t, but it feels…..familiar, you know? Like de ja vu.” I don’t know why I just said that, but now he’s probably going to think that I am unstable or something. But for some reason I couldn’t stop myself. I can’t explain it, but I felt comfortable around him, almost like I knew him. Which was weird because there was no way that I knew a guy this hot.

“Well if that place is as beautiful as you drew it, I would love to go.” He said sincerely as he smiled at me.

Butterflies formed in my stomach as I took in his face. He had a strong jaw and smooth skin that looked like god himself carved it and when he smiled his eyes danced like lights reflecting on the water. I felt a little awkward and had to look away from him before I totally melted.

“By the way, my name’s Jasper.” He said grinning, extending his hand to me.

“Jo, nice to meet you.” I said taking his hand with a smile. The minute I touched his hand I felt like I was shocked and what felt like electricity traveled up my arm. Just as the sensation traveled to my head everything got fuzzy, and I felt like I had been thrown into a vortex.

When the fuzziness cleared I realized, I was no longer sitting under my favorite tree, but instead I was at a beautiful lake. The lake went on for miles, I know there was no way I could swim across it and all around it were hills of evergreen trees that looked like they had been there since the beginning of time. As my eyes spanned across the lake I saw that there was a small cabin tucked away in the evergreens on the south side of the lake. The cabin looked small; it had one square window in the front and to the right of the door. To my left I could see a wooden dock that stretched out into the deep end of the lake. You know those docks that you see at summer camp with kids running and jumping off them. And right in front of me was a boy. I couldn’t get a good look at him, but I got the sense that he couldn’t see me or hear me. It was like watching a movie from the inside, I moved closer to him trying to see over his shoulder.

Then just as fast as it began, I was back under the tree, only I was lying on the ground and Jasper was nowhere to be seen. I could hear Mickey and Jess calling my name worriedly. I was too afraid to open my eyes and I knew that for once in my life, I was being noticed. Only I didn’t want to be. I just wanted to lie there and be alone, and figure out what the hell had happened.

“Jo!  Jo are you all right? What happened?” Jess asked shaking me.

“Uh.” I moaned as I opened my eyes and tried to sit up. Bad idea. My head hurt so bad I thought it was going to explode. I immediately fell back to the ground and grabbed my head. “I don’t know what happened.” I moaned weakly, closing my eyes again, wishing I could disappear. “Where is he?” I winced.

“Who are you talking about Jo?” Mickey asked, looking a little puzzled.

“Jasper—the guy I was just talking to.” I stated confused.

“Jo there was no one under the tree with you. One minute you were sitting there drawing as usual and the next minute you were on the ground.” Mickey stated with concern.

“But I wasn’t alone. He was sitting right there.” I said pointing to the spot where Mickey was crouching.

“Maybe we should get the nurse?” Jess suggested with concern. I looked between Mickey and Jess and noticed something in their eyes. Was it fear or excitement?  Why do they look so freaked out?

“No, I’m fine.” I lied placing as much bravado in my voice as I could, as I slowly got to my feet, Jess had to grab my elbow to help stabilize me. “But you had to have seen him. He was right there!” I stated, looking between Jess and Mickey.

Mickey grabbed my stuff as Jess kept her hand on my elbow; I was still a little unsteady. I know without Jess holding onto me I would have eaten dirt. Everyone moved out of the way. I looked at the crowd around me, wondering what everyone thought of me now. They were all murmuring and staring as if I was some kind of freak. Just as we were about halfway through the crowd, I saw him. He was in the back of the crowd, looking at me. No wait, he was looking at Mickey. I looked back and forth from Mickey to him, and it looked like they were having a quiet conversation, despite not being near each other or speaking. But I could tell they were communicating. I was getting a worried, yet angry vibe from Mickey. What the hell was going on?

“Mickey, who are you looking at?” I asked, putting my face directly in front of her, it was as if she was looking through me, not at me.

“No one.” She said focusing her eyes on me.

I know she was lying to me, but I decided not to push the subject, for now.

We were heading to the nurses office when the bell rang, signaling the beginning of school.

“Go ahead Mickey, I can take Jo to the nurse. You can’t be late for Chemistry again; Mr. Salazar will kick you out.” Jess said, as she grabbed my bag from Mickey.

“I’m not going to the nurse.” I said firmly as I stopped moving.

“Don’t be silly Jo. You passed out back there and you look really pale.” Jess said in a motherly tone.

“Honestly Jess, I’m fine. Besides, I have a paper due in English-Lit, and Mr. Trivizo doesn’t accept any late work,” I said assuringly. My head was still killing me, but right now I just wanted to try and make sense of what happened.

“Are you sure you won’t let the nurse take a look at you?” Jess asked, with a touch of concern in her eyes.

“I promise, I’m fine. You could walk me to class, just to be sure.” I said.

“Fine, but if you still look this pale after class, I’m taking you straight to the nurse.” Jess said firmly.

“I just need to sit for a bit. And I promise if I’m not better after class I will go to the nurse myself.” I lied as we walked to Mr. Trivizo’s English-Lit class. There was no way I was going to the nurse. What was I going to tell her, that I teleported to another place? Hell, I didn’t even know what happened. All I know is that it had something to do with Jasper. I don’t care what Mickey said, I know she saw him there. He was in the crowd and they were definitely communicating.

                I took my usual seat in the back of the class where I usually blended in; only today it didn’t seem to be working. Everyone was looking at me and talking about me as if I wasn’t even there. I just put my head down and tried to block everyone out. “I know I wanted to get noticed, but not for being some kind of freak.” I muttered to no one.
Mr. Trivizo was rambling on and on about the usual boring stuff, so I decided to use the time to try and remember what I saw at the lake. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the lake. I started by focusing on the water—on the fact that it was almost blue, like no other lake I have ever seen. The more I concentrated on the water the more I swore I could have heard the water lapping against the shore. Then I realized I was there again, and this time I was determined to figure out exactly where there was. It looked like I was at the same spot I was the first time, only this time the boy wasn’t there, and this time I could see two wooden paddle boats tied to the dock. I looked to the south of the lake towards the little cabin when I saw them—a pair of jade green eyes floating just in front of the cabin. I gasped and jumped in my chair. The entire class started laughing and staring at me—again!

 “Ms. Hannigan, are you all right?” Mr. Trivizo asked as he approached my desk.

“I’m fine Mr. Trivizo. I just fell asleep for a second.” I swallowed hard and the class chuckled.

“I’m glad to see that my class is so conducive to your sleeping habits, now Ms. Hannigan if you think that you can keep yourself from sleeping for the next fifteen minutes, I will continue my lesson,” he said as he walked back to the front of the class. I slouched down as far as I could in my seat, hoping that the desk would help shield me from my embarrassment.

                The rest of class passed without further incident and I made sure that I was the last one out of class. I threw an apology as I practically ran out the door. There was no way that I was sticking around school. Now that everyone was noticing me, I wanted nothing more than to disappear. So, I walked straight to my car. When I got there Jess and Mickey were standing there having what looked like a heated discussion. As soon as they saw me they stopped arguing and made a bee line straight for me.

“What are you guys doing here?”

“Let’s just say the whole school is talking.” Mickey said playfully.

“Oh great.” I whispered as I placed my forehead against my multi-colored, 1967 Stingray Corvette. My dad and I were fixing it up. Right now it was a piece of junk, but it was still my piece of junk.

“Why don’t you tell us what happened.” Jess interrupted as she smiled at me and gave Mickey a sideways glance.

“I—I fell asleep.” I lied. I hate lying, but there is no way that they would believe what happened, heck I don’t even know what happened. “I had a nightmare. I dreamed that I fell off a cliff.” Jess looked at Mickey and then back at me.

“Maybe you should go home and lie down?” Jess suggested as she opened my car door.

“Yeah, I think I will.” I said, getting into my car. “Thanks for not bailing on me after everything that’s happened today.”

“Look at the bright side—at least people are noticing you.” Mickey said trying, to make me laugh.

“Yeah right.” I said as I closed the door and started my car.

As soon as I got home I went straight upstairs and plopped down on my bed. What the hell was happening to me? That was no dream. Maybe if I just relaxed, it would come to me, or maybe I would just be able to forget about it. I doubted that I could forget, but it was worth a try, right? I went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I almost jumped when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I looked like hell and as pale as death. I decided it was best if I just go lie down and try to get some rest.
It didn’t take long before I was sound asleep. I don’t know how long I was asleep before the dream started. I was in a forest and I was walking along a dirt path enjoying the beauty of the place, when I saw the same jade eyes appear ahead of me on the trail. I knew those eyes and who they belonged to, the same ones that appeared to me during my English-Lit class. I stopped dead in my tracks, afraid to move. “Show yourself!” Glad that I sounded way more confident than I felt, my heart was practically in my throat.

So, what do you think? Want more? Leave some comment love for this Work in Progress!


  1. Love Love Love! But you knew that!

  2. I think it has a lot of promise. Thank you so much for sharing! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

  3. I am already in love with the characters and want to find out more about them. :)

  4. I'm hooked. I couldn't resist. Give me more!