Sneak Peek

Thanks for checking out the first chapter of my YA/NA Paranormal Romance, “The Genesis of Evangeline“!

Evie Cover_1 ALT

Description:

A past she can’t recall. A destiny she’ll never outrun.

Evie Callahan is positive there’s something strange going on in Seaton Falls, her new home. The locals are bigger, stronger, and faster than most. That includes Nick, the boy next door who’s become her silver lining in this godforsaken town.

She wants to trust her instincts—about Nick, about what she suspects in Seaton Falls—but rumors of wolves and dragon shifters makes it hard to tell what’s real. With a history of odd dreams and the nagging sense that she’s never belonged, Evie fears she’s losing touch with reality. Her concern only grows when someone who’s haunted these dreams is suddenly tangible… and claims to hold the key to unlocking her true identity.

Finding out her entire life has been a lie is scary enough, but what’s downright terrifying is discovering who she’s destined to become.

Evie’s much more than your average, seventeen-year-old girl.

And this is her genesis.

***

—Chapter One—

I didn’t want to bare my soul.

Didn’t want to share my feelings.

Didn’t want to cry and hug it out.

All I wanted was to spend my lunch hour in the cafeteria, complaining about the gross food like a normal teenager. Not stuck in this office, watching my mashed potatoes get cold and stiff.

I was perfectly fine with everything. If only my parents believed that.

“Evangeline? You haven’t said one word and our time’s almost up.”

My eyes lifted from the blue, white, and yellow pattern of my uniform skirt, to meet those of Dr. Cruz—school psychologist and seeker of the ever-elusive, emotional breakthrough. I realized that was her goal sometime during our first session. I suppose, in her world, that was a benchmark of successful treatment, but, from where I sat, it was just incredibly annoying.

And to think, I was scheduled to come here twice a week during lunch, indefinitely.

Today, Dr. Cruz reached a new low. Apparently, my ‘yes’ and ‘no´ answers had pushed her over the edge, because she resorted to force-feeding me grief. Her tactic was to superimpose feelings onto me that she thought I should be experiencing, ending the statement with some patronizing variation of ‘You don’t have to say anything. I already know.’

Whatever it took to get me out of her office faster…

Her pen moved across her notepad at warp speed and I found myself wondering what she could possibly be writing and I hadn’t said a word.

 She said so herself.

Her dark eyes rose from the sheet of paper. “I’d like to hear how you’re adjusting to life at Seaton Prep.”

Poking my meatloaf with a spork, I whittled away at the truth, picking at it until all that remained was, “I’m surviving.”

I kept to myself how I could, literally, count on one hand how many times someone had spoken to me without being told to do so; how the other students made sure I felt like an outsider every second of every day. My only comfort was knowing that this was my last year. The one and only I’d have to endure in this hell.

I was already counting down the days.

Dr. Cruz studied my face for a moment, maybe knowing there was more, but, nonetheless, she moved on. “I recently acquired your file from your previous school psychologist. There were some interesting things inside. Things you’ve never mentioned here.”

A laugh slipped out as I folded my hands across my lap. “You say that like this isn’t only my second time in your office. It took me months to open up to Alice.”

“Alice?” Dr. Cruz echoed.

This woman had a way of making me regret everything I said. She turned the simplest statements into ‘a thing’.

“I meant Dr. Rivers.”

More scribbling in that notepad. “Did Dr. Rivers encourage you to call her by her first name?”

A long stream of air passed between my lips and I tried really, really hard not to roll my eyes. “I don’t remember. I was seeing her for a few years.”

“Yes, since you were fourteen. I read that in your file.”

“Then, you should have also read that I’ve adjusted well to finding out I’m adopted and I seriously don’t need to be here.”

Dr. Cruz eased her glasses up the bridge of her nose and her eyes stayed trained on something she’d written.

“Yes… I suppose I could interpret Dr. Rivers’ notes that way.”

That sounded like a dismissal if I ever heard one, so I was on my feet before she even finished her sentence. “Cool. I’ll see you when I see you, then.”

“Or,” Dr. Cruz cut in, making me pause midair with both hands bracing the polished, wooden arms of my seat. “I could ask why her planned, twelve months’ worth of sessions turned into three years.”

I stared at my feet planted on her ugly, burgundy carpet, feeling the weight of her stare, but never looking up.

“I’d like to know about the dreams, Evangeline. I’m willing to bet they’ve got something to do with your discovery a few years ago.”

I took my seat again.

In truth, the dreams had nothing to do with how I was or wasn’t processing being told I’m not a Callahan by blood. For one, the dreams started a whole year later. I simply made the mistake of mentioning them briefly in one of my sessions with Alice and she never let it go. Apparently, Dr. Cruz was going to follow in those same footsteps.

“One has absolutely nothing to do with the other,” I sighed.

“How can you be so sure?”

It was hard to forget the looks on my parents’ faces when my grandmother accidentally let the cat out the bag over dinner. Gram’s battle with dementia made it commonplace for her to spill all of her, and everyone else’s, secrets. I just don’t think any of us expected that particular secret to tumble from her mouth over a meal of cabbage rolls and glazed carrots.

Was I in shock? Yes.

Did I feel strangely disconnected from my family? For a while, yes, but I was seriously past all that now. My mom and dad loved me and I didn’t need Dr. Cruz, or anyone else, to help me see that.

“Evangeline? I asked how you can be so sure the two are unrelated?”

She’s so pushy…

“Because I don’t know what dreaming through the eyes of some random guy I’ve never met, have never seen, has to do with being adopted.”

Vivid imagery flooded my thoughts the next second. At first, these visions, or dreams, or… whatever they were… they used to only happen maybe once a month. Even every other month on occasion. But now, I couldn’t remember a night I hadn’t had one lately.

“And this guy… you say you’ve never met him before?”

Anxiety had me choosing my fingernails to snack on instead of the meatloaf.

I answered by shaking my head.

She wrote.

“Are there any distinct characteristics or traits that stand out about him in these dreams?”

Closing my eyes helped me visualize and the first thing I saw were arms.

His arms.

They were tanned like he spent a lot of time in the sun, or maybe his skin was just naturally that way—the color of desert sand. Dark ink stained them both—from his knuckles well past his elbows.

“Tattoos,” I sighed. “A lot of them. Sleeves on both arms. Lots of color, but I can‘t make out what any of them are. And there are always these… two leather bands on his wrist. Both brown. They look old,” I shared, touching my own wrist as I explained.

“Does he speak to you?” Dr. Cruz asked.

I shook my head again. “No. I can only see. There’s no sound.”

That was always frustrating. I dreamed of this guy having full conversations with people, but had never heard a single word. Once, a dream consisted of nothing but him sitting on the couch, reading an old classic, and I simply observed in silence.

“Have you ever seen his face?”

“No. Never. When he passes mirrors it’s like…” I searched for the words to explain. “It’s blurry. Intentionally blurry. Like, I’m not supposed to see it.” My foot tapped the ugly carpet and I remembered something else. “There was this one time, he was at a train station or maybe it was a bus station. I distinctly remember him showing the clerk his I.D., but there was this… this distortion over his face in the photo.”

I’d taken my thumbnail down to a nub, but my teeth were still working on it. Talking about this made me sound crazy and I was sure Dr. Cruz was thinking it.

“I know this may be difficult to answer because you’ve never been able to see his face, but, if you had to guess, how old would you—”

“Twenty.” My answer came too quickly. It was too solid, too sure, and I immediately regretted not hesitating.

“…Twenty? You sound very firm on that.”

I was. I couldn’t explain how or why, but I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that was his age.

His name came to me the same way about a year ago. I hadn’t seen it written on anything in my visions. Definitely hadn’t heard it. I just knew.

He was Liam.

The blank look on Dr. Cruz’s face made me tremble, but I clasped my hands tightly in my lap to hide it. Not because I felt afraid, but rather because I felt exposed. Like, I’d let her in too far.

“Can you tell me about your most recent episode?”

Episode… the term rubbed me the wrong way.

“Last night, I dreamed he was here in Seaton Falls.”

“Is that usually the case?” she asked. “Is the setting of these dreams always where you live?”

To get a clearer mental picture, I closed my eyes. “When they first started, he was in California. I distinctly remember him driving up the coast at night.”

I left out that there was a bottle of alcohol in his hand as he swerved. Swerved and sped.

Like he had a death-wish.

It’d be just my luck that Dr. Cruz would interpret that as a cry for help, a warning that I, myself, was suicidal. So, I didn’t mention it.

That night, I’d seen the moon and stars brighter than I’d ever seen them in my life. Through Liam’s eyes.

My fingers wandered through my hair, letting it settle on my shoulders as I decided to tell her more. “There were fewer tattoos then.”

“So, he changed.” Her pen went still. “That’s interesting.”

The tone of her voice bordered on condescending and it brought me to my senses, reminding me not to say too much.

“It isn’t really,” I countered with a dismissive shrug. “It’s just tattoos.”

Dr. Cruz may have noticed that I clammed up because she moved on quicker than expected. “What came after California?”

I exhaled and leaned deeper into my chair.

“A lot of endless road. Sometimes on foot. Sometimes bumming rides off anyone willing to stop and pick him up. It was like that for months. Then, eventually, he was in Chicago where I was living at the time. I recognized the Wilson Viaduct.”

A vivid memory of waking up from that particular dream, crying inconsolably, made me pause before sharing the rest. I’d never been more afraid in my entire life than I was when living through Liam’s eyes that night. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t real.

It felt real.

“What was significant about the viaduct?” she asked.

I swallowed, wishing I could forget. “He slept there.”

Her eyes met mine as she repeated my words. “He slept there.”

I nodded. “Yeah.”

“Is he always homeless? You mentioned a moment ago that he was taking rides from strangers to get to his next destination.”

Liam always seemed like somewhat of a nomad to me. Like, he was constantly on the move. Always searching. For what, I wasn’t sure, but there was a keen sense of being unsettled when I saw the world through his eyes. Like I, or he, was out of place.

Out of time.

Restless.

“It’s hard to tell,” I finally answered. “But that was the only time I can recall him sleeping outside.”

“And when he sleeps, when he dreams… do you see that, too?”

It was hard to tell if she was being facetious, but I assumed this was a question any shrink would ask, so I answered.

“No, it just goes dark. It feels like it stays that way for… hours, I guess.”

Dr. Cruz wrote in complete silence and, looking at my thumb, I realized I’d drawn blood. In a desperate attempt to regain just a strand of credibility, I blurted the words, “I’m not crazy.”

The outburst earned me an awkward stare from my new psychologist, but I explained myself anyway. “I’m fully aware that these dreams aren’t real. They’re vivid and strange, yes, but… I know the difference between reality and fiction.”

And whether Dr. Cruz still believed me or not, I knew Liam was just that.

Fiction.

***

Thanks for reading! There are a number of things you can do if you enjoyed the snippet 🙂

Hope to hear from you soon!

XOXO,

Rachel

 

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