Natural Selection (Forces of Nature Series, #1)
Author: Elizabeth Sharp
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Synopsis: What do you do when you find out your family isn't your family, death is knocking at your door, and that guy you can't stop thinking about knows more about who you are than you do? Amelia Hoffman was just a normal 15 year old until she found out the truth. Now ancient myths, supernatural beings, and murder have changed everything. Tests and school dances are no longer the biggest worry in her life-- she has to figure out how to save everyone she loves and accept the future in front of her before its too late.
The policewoman introduced herself as Regina Simms. I swallowed nervously, and it went down wrong making me cough. Officer Simms went to fetch me a glass of water. She returned with a Dixie cup and a young man in a dark suit. I could tell by the badge clipped to his belt he was probably a detective. So TV let me down again.
“I’m Detective Laurent,” he said, setting a manila folder on the table opposite me. His immaculately groomed dark hair and youthful face seemed at odds. He was rather bulbous with a large nose and a fleshy face. He shook hands with the principal,then me. His palm was hot and damp, and his grip was loose and timid. “I understand you knew Mariah Carter?”
I numbly nodded, unable to speak through the shock. The whole situation seemed unreal like it had been staged by some poor author trying to hurry a plot along. I took the water and attempted to swallow a sip, but my throat felt swollen.
“Were you close?”
“Kind of. Things have been different since we got to high school, but we used to be really close.”
“How would you describe her?”
“She was just kind of average like me.” I watched him eye me up and down, and I remembered my Goodwill finds. I flushed, my lips compressing as I looked away.
“Average? This is average? Isn’t this more what the kids are calling New Age?” I let my eyes flick to his face briefly, but the look on his face reminded me of a predator stalking prey. I swallowed, my gaze darting away again.
Mrs. Soberlo came to my rescue. “It’s Spirit Week, detective. Most of the student body is dressed similarly to Miss Hoffman. Don’t they train you to do this kind of stuff? What does Miss Hoffman’s appearance have to do with anything? Her friend died, and I would appreciate a little decorum. She doesn’t need a cocky detective getting snarky with her!”
Go Mrs. Soberlo! I eyed the distinguished woman, clearly having underestimated her. She was tall with short, grey hair heavily peppered with white. She wore a nice suit, rather harsh in its cut, but it worked on her tall thin frame-I bet Jamie Lee Curtis would play her if they ever made a movie of her life. The detective noticeably cringed, and Officer Simms hid a gin behind her hand. I looked between him and my principal, squirming uncomfortably. Mrs. Soberlo sat with her arms crossed and a stern look on her face saying he had better keep in line. I understood how she had gotten her reputation with the students, but I was grateful for it right now.
“Very well, Miss Hoffman. I apologize.” He didn’t really sound like he meant it, but I shrugged and looked at my hands fidgeting in my lap. My principal merely arched an eyebrow at him. “Yes, mm,” he said clearing his throat and tugging on his tie. “Was Miss Carter into anything—unconventional?”
“Like drugs? I don’t think so—”
“Not drugs, Miss Hoffman, more like . . . what are the kids calling it these days? Goth, maybe?”
“Like funky hair colors, tons of eyeliner, and black lipstick?” I scoffed, imaging Mariah’s oxford shirt and khaki pencil skirt she’d been wearing the last time I saw her. “Um, no. Far from it.”
“No fascination with the occult?”
My eyes widened in alarm. What in the hell was going on here? “No! I think she was in the choir at the Methodist church.”
The detective’s brow furrowed, and he glanced at the female officer. She shrugged picked up the folder in front of him, walking around the table towards me. “I want to show you a photo taken of the victim’s room. The image is graphic and might be alarming. If you don’t think you can handle it, we’ll understand. I know Garret can be kind of awkward, but I assure you he’s a good detective. He just wants to figure out what happened to your friend.” She gave the detective a hard glance, and he grimaced and looked away. “Once you see the pictures you’ll understand . . .” She paused shoting a disapproving frown at the detective. “unorthodox behavior.” She glanced at Mrs. Soberlo and waited for nod, then turned back to me.”
After that build up there was no way I could say no. I owed it to Mariah to give whatever help I could. I nodded, and she set a black and white 8x10 in front of me. A lump filled my throat, and I tried not to see the blood. The body wasn’t in the photo, but I could tell something horribly violent had been done to my friend. It could have been a still from a horror movie. At first wasn’t able to see past the blood, but eventually the rest of the picture registered. Lead settled in my stomach as I realized why they’d been asking about the occult. A strange symbol had been painted on the floor.
About the Author: I am an author, artist and self-proclaimed technogeek. I am the cover artist at 4Corners Press. But my first love will always be writing. Otherwise, hearing voices in my head would mean I"m schizophrenic. ;)