Friday, March 31, 2017

Bella and the Beast Snippet

Hey peeps!

I'm happy to announce that I am working on a new book, Bella and the Beast. It is a YA Fairy Tale Retelling set in a New York City High School.

Here is an unedited snippet. Have a great weekend:

I found Cole Castle at his locker, sorting through a stack of bulky textbooks for his next class.

Dread glued my red sneakers to the floor. A nervous shiver ran through my body. He’d heard me call him Beast, a name that most students called him behind his back. How did he feel about that nickname? What would he say to me? How would he react?

I briefly considered not doing the English project at all, but I was already falling behind in class, and, with this project making up a third of my grade, I couldn’t afford not to do it. Regardless of our rocky start, I was determined to make this partnership work.

Gathering my courage, I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders. It was time to put on my big girl pants and talk to Cole. He wouldn’t bite my head off in the middle of the hallway, would he?

Honestly, I wasn’t exactly sure that he wouldn’t.

I reluctantly forced my feet to move forward. My lungs felt tight, my stomach clenched with worry. Every fiber in me wanted to turn and run. I’d never said two words to this boy, but his sheer size and his penchant for fighting scared me. I tried to ignore the other feeling that tinted my fear. Curiosity. This boy had been blacklisted by the entire school. He was a loner, whispered about in the shadows and never approached in the light. He wasn’t as socially invisible as I was, but he was definitely not a part of the crowd. He was off-limits. Strictly forbidden.

I didn’t know how I felt about that. Confused. Hesitant. Unsure. I was usually good at reading people, but Cole was like a Rubix Cube. I couldn’t figure him out. What was his deal? Was he always an outsider? If he wasn’t, what had happened to him that made him this way?

I let the distracting thoughts float out of my mind. I couldn’t think about them now. Not when my English grade depended on Cole and I playing nice together.

My feet carried me to the side of his locker and I cautiously examined his profile. He didn’t acknowledge me, though his hands had frozen on a red math book. I didn’t immediately speak. I couldn’t. Seeing Cole across the room was one thing, but seeing him up close was overwhelming. He looked like a biker who'd gotten trapped in high school, with his big muscles, black clothes, and long hair that laid in stringy waves on his shoulders. He stood nearly a foot taller than me, his body wide, and strong. A patch of black stubble covered his cheeks and chin. I imagined him ripping a phone book in half with his bare hands and chewing on the remains, and my lungs clenched a little tighter. I gathered up my nerves, tied them tight, and strapped them to my chest.

“Hey.” My voice came out low. I gripped my book bag straps and tried not to shuffle my feet. Animals can smell fear, can’t they? If that were true, I probably smelled like a steak dinner right about now.

Cole’s head turned slowly, his eyes latching onto mine.

Did I notice a slight tremble in his hands, or was it my imagination?

“Hey.” His words rumbled around me, like a storm brewing in his throat.

I felt like the temperature in the hallway rose another ten degrees. My sweaty hands slipped down the straps of my backpack.

“So, we have a project due,” I said.

He grabbed two books from the inside of his locker and slammed it shut. His body casually leaned against the metal, legs crossed at the ankles, arms over his chest. He was guarded. Off-putting. Unavailable. He didn’t respond to me right away. He just looked at me with the same hard stare as when I’d seen him in the classroom earlier.

I caught several students watching us with curious eyes and sly grins. I couldn’t recall ever seeing anyone speak to Cole before. I swung my eyes back to his, wondering how I had become such a spectacle. Me, the girl who ate lunch in the library. The girl who was invisible at St. Mary’s Academy.

Finally, he spoke up, the thunder rumbling around me again.

“Don’t worry about it.” I snorted. Don’t worry about a third of my grade? Yeah, right.

“Look,” I said. “I’m sorry for calling you Beast.”

“Why? Everyone else calls me that. Why would you be different?”

He spat the words at me, and my cheeks heated in shame. So he did know his nickname after all and, by the looks of it, he was not happy about it.

An errant piece of hair had worked its way out of my French braids. I smoothed it behind my ear and cleared my throat.

“Like I said. I’m sorry.”

His eyes slowly looked me over, making my heart beat a little faster. His eyes left trails of fire where they touched me. I felt exposed. Vulnerable. The confusing feelings froze me in place. I blinked, unable to understand why I would feel that way. By the time I regained my voice again, he was already done with his inspection and pushing off his locker. He shifted his books in his other massive hand.

My brain felt overheated. Mushy. Stupid. Why did he make me feel so crazy? It was like he'd put me under a spell or something.

He walked past me, stopping to whisper in my ear.

“Your apology is not accepted. Turn in the project yourself.”

And just like that, he was gone, stalking through the hallway to his next class.