Welcome to Evernight Teen’s Summer Kick-off Blog Hop!
Shrapnel by Stephanie Lawton
On the balcony, heavy night air carries the sounds of crickets and frogs. The ancient railing is solid beneath my fingers but slick from humidity. The wet dog/rotting fish stench of a nearby swamp blows past and rustles the live oaks in the front yard. The leaves are so loud that I almost don’t hear it.
My name—soft, slow and deep.
I jump back from the railing and look around. The hairs on my neck and arms stand on end, but I can’t see the threat. I haven’t sensed a thing in my room since Ashley commandeered ghost boy. Slowly, so I don’t make a sound, I inch forward toward the railing again. Whatever it is, it’s down there in the dark. From the balcony, I’m able to see the front yard, the side of the main part of the house, and a massive live oak. Underneath it stands a man.
It must be Riley or Ward taking a smoke break, but I don’t see the tiny orange glow of a cigarette. It’s too dark to make out details. I swat a mosquito on my bare arm, and that’s when the man turns, looking up at me. Into me. His eyes seem to travel over every inch, memorizing details. Despite the shadows, I know a slow smile of approval spreads across his face and it makes my breathing ragged. I see him with my eyes, but also in my head. I can’t look away. I can’t shut him out. I can’t even move or speak.
“Dylanie,” he drawls, “let me in.”
Invisible fingers caress my cheek and smooth my hair away from my face. My mind races, but my body’s reaction doesn’t match. It’s like they separate from each other. I close my eyes and a feeling of well-being invades.
“Dylanie, please.” His voice comes from far away, soft and warm, like Jake’s would feel if …
“No! Ouch!” For the second time today, I smack my head on part of a window. “Who the hell are you and what do you want? God, you almost had me there.”
He chuckles. “Oh, I intend to.”
In a blink, he’s moved from the base of the gnarled tree to the stone patio beneath me. Despite the landscape lights, he looks solid, not like a spirit at all. No haze, no shapeless black shadow figure. Slowly, so slowly, he raises his head. My legs go weak, and I grip the railing for support. Below me is the hot dark-haired man I saw on the steps when I arrived.
“Dylanie, I ask you again. May I come in?”
My brain screams no, no, no!
“Yes.” It comes out like an exhale, one that’s been trapped inside the air-tight cage that is my pathetic life. It feels good to say yes to something unapproved and maybe even dangerous.
Another blink and he’s on the balcony with me. Shit. This close, it’s obvious he’s not much older than me, maybe a few years. He’s the most human, solid-looking spirit I’ve ever encountered—if that’s what he is.
Shrapnel is available here!
What’s up for grabs?
• One lucky hopper will win a KINDLE PAPERWHITE eREADER sponsored by Evernight Teen.
• Every book blogger/reviewer site is giving away one free eBook from Evernight Teen (winner’s choice of any eBook from Evernight Teen’s website).
• Plus, each author offers their own unique prize! So visit each blog hop stop for a host of fabulous prizes to win.
How to enter? Answer this:
What did Dylanie hit her head on?
Be sure to leave your answer and your email address in the comments below to be eligible to win a prize.
Continue hopping to the next stop!