Tuesday, June 04, 2013

GOTH GIRL #2: REAPER -- Goth Girl/THE SEER -- opening chapter (a work in progress)



GOTH GIRL 2 – REAPER
By
Linda Joy Singleton



CHAPTER ONE


I lie in bed, waiting.
Since finding the cryptic note in my locker, I’ve thought of nothing else:

To defend an honor,
Come join me,
Meet at midnight
Balcony
.

The smiley face is the mark of the Grin Reaper; a vigilante cloaked in a knit cap instead of a cape. Justice Blankenship the 3rd (Jay) puts on this phony act at school, all pompous and pretty rich boy, yet lurking deep inside him are dark layers of amazing. I’m the only one at Nevada Bluff High who knows Jay is the Grin Reaper although I don’t know much else about him. What I do know I like. And I’d like to know more.
Nine minutes till midnight.
I’m ready for Jay, draped all in black; the color of night and secrets. The glowing numbers from my alarm clock and the dying flame from sandalwood incense cast eerie shadows, shifting ordinary furniture into strange shapes.
I hear a sound on my balcony where silvery moonshine defuses the darkness. I jerk up, clutching covers to my chest, not sure what to say when Jay arrives. Can I trust him? It’s a secret we even know each other, much less like each other. My bestie Rune suspects but I made a promise to Jay, so I admit nothing.
Reaching under my pillow, I pull out the folded note I’ve read and reread so many times it’s creased into dark roads tempting me into dangerous directions. I’ve told no one; hiding my thoughts during dinner with nods and smiles for my family. Only K.C., my “like a brother” friend who lives in a room over our garage, noticed my distraction, shooting me a suspicious look when I fake-yawned and said I was going to bed early.
As if I could sleep!
My nerves are razor-sharp, my thoughts spiking back and forth. What will I say when Jay shows up? He’s assuming a lot with the note—that I’ll jump at his invitation without explanation. Sure, being with Jay is a thrill ride like nothing else, but if I give in to him tonight, where will it lead?
Three minutes to midnight.
Sitting taller in bed, brass rails hard against my back, I stare at the illuminated numbers of my clock, willing them to speed up. Straining my ears, I listen for any hint of outside noise; rustling leaves, footfalls, the rumbling of an approaching car. But nothing. I wonder if he’s changed his mind and won’t be coming after all. Am I relieved or disappointed? The smart thing to do would be to burrow under my covers and forget all about Jay. But I’m not the smart kid in the family. That would be my younger sister Amy. She’d never accept an invitation from a guy who breaks rules, laws and hearts. She’ll never know what she’s missing….
My balcony is on the third floor, facing the backyard. Impossible to climb, you’d think. Not for Jay, who blends into shadows. He won’t need a ladder; he’ll use a grappling hook and rope like he’s freaking Spiderman. He’s not my boyfriend so he can’t expect much from me yet I can guess what he wants. What will I tell him?
No would be the sensible answer. As a P.K.—preacher’s kid—I’m supposed to set a good example for Mom’s congregation; heavy expectations that I usually give a middle finger salute to. Fortunately Mom’s cool with who I am, but not so much Dad. He still frowns when I come to breakfast in black leather, chains, army boots and piercings.
Midnight. So where is Jay?
A soft sound from my balcony and like a magic trick he unfolds from shadows. Medium-tall, slim, muscular, black jeans, black jacket, and piercing black eyes.
I toss my blanket aside and cross to the glass door, sliding it open, a gust of chilled night air shivering ice sickles up my skin. I step back as he reaches for the door with a leather gloved hand. He wears no hat, although I notice a corner of black knit hanging from his jeans pocket.
“Not in my face,” I say, blinking when he shines a hand-sized flashlight on me.
“Sorry.” He lowers his arm. “You look good, Thorn.”
“Thanks.” I keep my expression calm but inside I slap the moon a hi-five.
“What about me?” he asks lightly. “Don’t you think I look good?”
“You always do,” I say, and it’s true. Oh, yeah. So black-leather delicious, he’s a walking dessert, served steaming hot. Still his ego could use some knocking down so I add, “But that’s what I expect from a preppy rich kid.”
“You think that’s who I am?” His teasing tone has a sharp edge, as if I’ve struck too close to a raw nerve.
“Not really,” I admit. “But you assumed a lot with your note.”
“It was a poetic invitation, not an order.”
“Meter was a little off but not bad. Whose honor are we defending?”
“I’ll fill you in on the way. It’s good you’re wearing warm, dark clothes.” He gestures to my black jeans and long-sleeved shirt. “I wasn’t sure you’d be ready.”
I grab the jacket I’ve left hanging on a chair, but don’t slip it on. Instead I tilt my head, regarding him with reproach. “Not going anywhere without an explanation.”
“No time. If we don’t hurry, we’ll be too late.”
“Too late? What are you planning?”
“You know what I do on nights like this.” He flashes me a smug, irresistible grin. “Ready to go?’
I cross my arms over my chest. “Why should I go with you?”
“Because you’re up for anything exciting, and you know I’ll deliver.”
“Deliver trouble,” I scoff.
“I call it justice.” His black eyes shine. “Coming with me or not?”
It’s so tempting to say “or not,” and kill his smug grin.
When I hesitate he arches his brows in challenge. “Afraid?”
“Seriously? I can’t believe you said that.” I snort. “Afraid of what?”
“Breaking laws.”
I shrug. “Depends on the laws.”
“Misdemeanors. No felonies like grand theft or murder.”
I grip the edge of the sliding glass door. Stay here, a voice hisses in my head. Close the door and send him away.
“I’ll understand if you refuse,” he adds more seriously. “If we’re caught, things could get ugly.”
“So we won’t get caught.”
“Exactly.” His face lights up with a grin. “Does this mean you’re coming with me?”
I stand there between my sandalwood scented room and the dark mysteries of the night, aware of moonlight, his nearness and the thudding of my heart.
“Let’s go,” I tell him.
Turning away from safety and home, I close the door behind me.
And blend into the night with the Grin Reaper.

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