Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July's Summer Reading Trail - Melody's Song by Kendal Ashby

Welcome to the Summer Reading Trail. Whether this is your first stop or a stop along the way, I hope you enjoy!

Below is the first chapter of 'Melody's Song'. This light-paranormal romance is a Young Adult read. After the chapter there are three links to other authors writing YA or adult sweet. I hope you check them out and please feel free to leave any comments! Enjoy!

Chapter One


“Shhh.” My eyes darted around the crowded cafeteria, hoping no one was eavesdropping. My nerves were already fizzled, and I hated when Cassie pronounced my name that way.

“You’re joking, right?”

“Nope, sort of wish I was.” A glob of green Jell-o slid off Cassie’s fork and plopped back into the plastic bowl. She continued to gawk at me, mouth hung open in disbelief. “Stop staring, Cassie.”

“Sorry. I’m just shocked you aren’t more excited.”

Art parked himself into the unoccupied chair at the cafeteria table. “Excited about what?”

I wanted to groan in frustration. Great. Art was the class gossip, it’d be less than two minutes flat and everyone in school would know I’d been called to Mrs. Perkins’s office.

“Mel is excused from fourth period Culture to go see Mrs. Perkins.” A hint of triumph danced in Cassie’s voice. It wasn’t often people had news that Art the know-it-all didn’t already know.
"Shut up! Really?” Art’s voice pitched an octave higher.

“It’s no biggie, so let’s drop it.”

“No way, babe. Being called to the Placement Guide can only mean one thing; you’re being put into training!” Cassie shovelled a spoonful of Jell-o into her mouth, speaking between bites. “Not that it’s surprising.”

“Yeah, it’s not like you have to go through Placement or anything. You’re guaranteed to be a Love Muse.”

“Stop it guys. It’s not like that.” Okay, I’m not blind to the oblivious eye roll shared between my two best friends. “I mean it. Just cause Cupid’s my grandfather doesn’t mean I automatically get to be the Love Muse.”

“Whatever. You’re this year’s Love. Even if you weren’t Cupid’s granddaughter, who else would it be? Cindy Stewart? Right. She’s only knows about lust, not love.” We all giggled. Looking over at Cindy’s table, we watched her usual flock of bees buzzing around their queen. The cheerleader had blond hair, blue eyes, and breasts the size of honeydew melons. No wonder she got all the hottest guys in school. My focus drifted to the jocks’ table and zeroed in on Jimmy Jordan. Even the back of his head was freaking perfect. His trimmed brush cut spiked out into short points at the ends.

“Mel, you better go. It’s almost time to meet Mrs. Perkins’.” Cassie jabbed my hand with the back of her plastic fork.

“Ouch. Crap, yeah I don’t want to be late.” I rushed to gather up my bag and books. “Meet me at my locker after Cultures and I’ll fill you in.”

“You’d better.” Art said, giving a playful wink before I dashed from the table.

I sat in the Placement Guide’s office and stared around the overly cheerful room, waiting for the counsellor to arrive. Various posters adorned the bright yellow walls. Commit to be the best. Aim to Inspire. You can make a difference one charge at a time. Lame. Lame. Lame. I pulled some fruity lip-gloss from my oversized backpack and dabbed it on my lips. The sweet strawberry scent calmed me as I smacked my lips together to smear the gloss between them.

The door flew open, and Mrs. Perkins waddled into the room. The short round woman stared at me over the top of her thick-rimmed glasses. A wide red lipstick painted grin made her entire face shine under the harsh fluorescent lighting. “Oh, my, my, my, Melody Cupid. I have been looking forward to this day since your father entered Placement.”

I nodded my head, not sure if I was expected to answer. She hadn’t really asked a question.

“Early placement. Not that I am surprised.” The woman gave me a knowing wink. The same wink/nudge/pat on the shoulder I’d been getting my entire life. Again, I kept my mouth shut, unsure what to say.

Mrs. Perkins gestured for me to stand. Her red face shone up at me, sweat glistening at the edge of her hairline. “Come, come, Melody, we can’t keep the Senate waiting, my dear.”

“The Senate?” The words almost caught in my throat.

“Oh my, didn’t I tell you? I have it here somewhere.” Mrs. Perkins rummaged through the mountain of files, paperwork, and junk food wrappers. I stared in disbelief when she pulled off a hard candy stuck to a pink piece of paper and popped it into her mouth. “Yes, here it is.”

My fingers trembled as I took the pink paper she held out for me. The Senate? Oh. My. God. Cass and Art would have a freaking field day with this. “Why do they want to see me?”

“Now Dear, I’m not going to spoil the surprise. Let’s get going.” Mrs. Perkins gestured to the door. She led me down a spacious corridor and I followed like a wide eye puppy trailing after a bone. Hundreds of butterfly wings flew in circles in my gut, and I had to swallow to stop them from escaping.

We entered the Principal’s office, and I stopped suddenly. Three people turned when the door opened, every eye in the room zeroing in on me. I didn’t recognize the lone woman standing rigidly behind the large desk chair. Principal Kessler stood on the opposite side of the chair and gave me a comforting wink.

I focused my attention on the man seated in the plush leather desk chair. Swallowing passed the rock size lump lodged in my throat, I managed to choke out, “Hello, Grandpa.”

I fumbled through the pages of the file folder, trying to understand what exactly I should be looking at. Not wanting to appear like a complete idiot, I studied the papers with as much interest as I could manage. They read like stereo instructions. I closed the folder and stared at the trio who sat watching me with intent interest.

“Melody, take your time. Read the file again.” The woman to Grandpa’s left spoke with a voice like melted chocolate. Her aqua eyes shimmered in the harsh lights. Looking into them, a wave of easiness seeped into my bones, invading my mind. In that moment, I had clarity. My stomach stopped twitching; the acid threatening to spew from my throat disappeared. I tried to focus again on the pages in front of me. The words didn’t look like a foreign language anymore, and my eyes darted from page to page, processing the information.

Andrew Peterson, nineteen years old, a student at Ohio State University, only child of Stephen and Margaret Peterson. Fourteen more pages followed with details about this guy. The list was extensive with information on everything from him being Boy Scout leader, his first car, his favorite bands, and even his Grade Point Average. Smarty-pants had an impressive 3.8.

I read through the thick file until I got to a glossy headshot on the last page. I sucked air between clenched teeth. My heartbeat hammered in my veins. Andrew Peterson was hot. A wide smile spread across his handsome tanned face, showing off straight, pearly white teeth and the dimple that pinched his left cheek. His liquid amber eyes nearly stopped my heart. Heat flooded my entire body. Slamming the folder shut, I tried to compose myself before looking up at the Senate members. My eyes darted away from Grandpa. I was so embarrassed by my reaction to the freaking photo.

“I don’t understand. Seems like a normal mortal to me.” I clasped my hands over the folder, not feeling like giving it back to them just yet. My fingers itched to open the file and take another peek at Andrew. Would I react the same way with a second look?

Principal Kessler cleared his throat and spoke first. “Andrew Peterson is a charge in need of intervention. Due to his age, and the nature of the situation, we would like to send you.”

Three sets of eyes watched for my reaction. Which, let’s face it, was utter shock. This had to be a mistake. I haven’t even been through Placement yet. Giving me a charge at this age was, well, it was freaking unheard of.

The woman with the soothing voice spoke again. “Melody, we feel you are the only one to assist Mr. Peterson. We will prepare you, but it’s your choice if you want this assignment.”

Words caught in my throat. My head waged war with my nerves. It wasn’t exactly an easy yes or no. Dangling a carrot like that in front of me, it was hard not to bite. A million questions crammed into my brain at once, all jumbling together and making no sense. I closed my eyes trying to focus. I knew somewhere in the confusion, there were questions I needed to ask, but I couldn’t get a coherent thought together. I flipped through the file again, my fingers leading me to his photo. His amber eyes pacified the shouting voice in my head so I could think. “Why does he need help?”

“He is at school pursuing a career to help his family, but he is destined to be a great teacher. A mentor for the generation to come.”

Vague. I’d always heard that the Senate had a way of answering questions with more questions. I looked up at Grandpa. His piercing eyes watched me with interest[A2] , but I couldn’t read his expression. Concern? Hope? Disappointment?

“Why me?”

The woman and Principal Kessler shared a look, but Grandpa never took his eyes off me. He was the first to speak. “Andrew Peterson needs help. Is that not reason enough to accept our decision?”

Ouch. Andrew’s smiling face stared up at me from the open file on my lap. The pools of golden amber clouded my thoughts. Little goose bumps exploded across my arms. My head bobbed up and down in response to Grandpa’s question. Yes, it was enough reason. Something deep inside me pulled me to this stranger. I needed to help him.

“Good. Good.”

For the first time since I entered the room, the trio seemed to relax, and a sort of tranquility filled the room, as if my answer actually had been unforeseen. Never, in our history, had a Muse ever refused to take a charge. It just didn’t happen. Ever. Was there even a choice? I stared down at his photo again. What was the big deal? If I didn’t take the charge they’d just assign his case to someone else, right? A flash of jealousy pierced deep in my gut. No, Andrew was mine. My cheeks flushed hot with heat at the intensity of my thought. God, I didn’t want to look at the Senate members, especially my Grandpa. I controlled my movements, careful not to wipe away the sweat prickling at the edge of my hairline. Taking three deep breaths, I finally looked up, a knife wrenched into my stomach. All three adults across the table were grinning like fools, knowing smirks on their smug faces. What have I gotten myself into?


What will happen once Melody arrives in Ohio and meets up with Drew? Find out of August 1st when I post some of chapter two!

Time to continue your way on the Summer Reading Trail! Click one of the links below to three great authors!

1) YA - Jennifer Feddersen - Shadow Armies

2) Sweet Debbie Mumford - Something Unexpected

3) Sweet - Sheila Roberts - Love in Bloom

Enjoy your stroll down the reading trail!

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, Kendal. Made me interested to hear what it was going to be about. All the best, Erin