Collide (The Solomon Experiments, #1)
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Synopsis: The most dangerous secrets are the ones that kill.
When a surprising mental breakdown draws too much attention from a secret government group call the Order, 17-year-old Dakota discovers that her so-called boring life isn’t so boring after all. Between the lies, secrets and assassins out to kill her family, Dakota discovers there’s more to paranormal activity than ghosts and cheap mind tricks. Now she must uncover the truth before a new breed of terrorism takes everything away – including her life.
Nothing ever happens in Cambria. Maybe that’s why I can’t wait to get out of here, the sheer boredom of my life. One-hundred-and-fourteen days until I’m gone. Mom won’t be able to stop me. Josh can’t play the school card anymore. I’ll be a high school graduate, eighteen years old. There’s no way they can make me stay.
I stare out of the window of the old Coffee Café and watch the clouds swirl, their dark shades of grey broadcasting a warning of the rain to come. February storms, March storms, April storms; always the same.
One-hundred-and-fourteen days click down in my thoughts, bringing me closer to freedom and a life with more meaning than the tedium of this place. Brushing my blonde layers from my face, I take a sip of my warm chai tea latte, so perfect on this dreary day. An involuntary shudder passes over me as the time continues to beat on, ever slowly, in my head.
“Dakota, hey, you okay? You look lost in your thoughts again.” Elaine’s voice pulls me to the present as she slips into the chair across from me. “Dakota?”
“Yeah, sorry. I was thinking about graduation.”
“And your escape, I’m guessing?” Ever since first grade, she’s always been able to tell what’s really on my mind.
That’s the only nice thing about this small town. Elaine.
“I guess so,” I say. She’s sick of my complaining by now.
“Why do you hate it here so much?”
“What’s not to hate?” Elaine and I will never agree on the let’s-live-in-Cambria-forever issue. “Why do you like it here so much?”
An awkward distance fills the spaces left by our words. The white noise of the crowded coffee bar with people sipping their hot coffees and discussing their big day in Boresville surrounds our silence.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to criticize everything. I just want something more than the same old, same old routine. I what an adventure, something I can feel passionate about. I hate the monotony of this place. Don’t you?”
“I like the predictability. But you need more. You always have.” Her words come out too fast. “I just . . . I’ll miss you.”
I grab Elaine’s hands in mine and release a heavy sigh.
“I’m not leaving for one-hundred-and—”
“Fourteen days. I know.” A smile forms on her lips. “I’m not the only one who’s going to miss you.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask as I push back the uneven strands of hair that refuse to stay clipped, and finish my latte.
“Whatever!” I choke on the words. “He made his position quite clear, I think. Homecoming? Gracie? I doubt he’ll give two thoughts to me after graduation.”
“Give him another chance. Yes, he was an idiot. But he likes you.”
My thoughts wander to him, the time we spent together. In a breath, my heart speeds up and the unwelcome feelings of longing rush forward. “Way too late for that. Now, if David suddenly came back, that’d be a different story.”
David. My first real love. Or at least, that’s what I’d thought. We met after Gabe’s drama at Homecoming. There was something so familiar about him, so perfect, like we’d known each other all of our lives. We went to Winter Formal together, he gave me a necklace and a promise of forever. And then he left. Seriously. Moved away with no text, no email, no explanations.
“Tall, dark and mysterious? Oh yeah, he was just secretive enough to make him interesting. Just your type.”
“Yeah,” I say as I get up. Just my type. “If he’d stayed around long enough.”
“I guess some secrets aren’t supposed to be known.”
“Guess not.” I chuckle as I walk to the counter, drink in hand. “Can I get a refill?” I ask the barista.
Memories of David’s thick black hair, cream-colored skin and soft green eyes that could see straight through me eclipse my thoughts. My skin erupts in gooseflesh and for a moment, I can’t breathe.
The barista takes my cup and turns away. My face begins to flush. Get it together, I think, willing my body to forget everything associated with David Jennings. My head pounds.
The pain increases the harder I work to push aside the thoughts of him, of us. White-hot lightning streaks across my vision as bile churns up my throat. I grip the counter. My hands cramp with the strain. My vision blurs and the images of David’s lips on mine are replaced with a dark garage, the smell of exhaust and excruciating pain.
“Miss? Are you okay?”
The voice, her words, they float around me, meaningless. I grab my head and squeeze, desperate to keep it from splitting in two. Panic seizes my lungs and a scream escapes my lips.
“No!” I yell. “Leave me alone!” I take the coffee cup and toss the scalding contents at the noises that won’t stop. “Get away from me!” Too many voices surround me, taunting, teasing. The room spins, spins, spins . . .
My world explodes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Critically acclaimed nonfiction and YA author Christine Fonseca is dedicated to helping children of all ages find their voice in the world. Drawing on her expertise as an educational psychologist, her nonfiction titles address issues of emotional intensity, resiliency and giftedness. In fiction, she explores the darker aspects of humanity and delivers gothic thrillers that take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. In life, she teaches her own children to embrace their unique talents and find their voice by being a force of positive change in the world.
When she’s not writing or developing programs to support children with exceptional needs, she can be found spending time with her family, sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes at her favorite coffee house or playing around on Facebook and Twitter.
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