In honor of my book being made available in print at the beginning of next month, I decided to give a little teaser taste of the story. This is about halfway through the book.
From “Found Phoebe,” Chapter Nine
In the bathroom mirror, Phoebe eyed herself warily. She had gotten ready as quickly as possible, wanting to sneak up to the attic while her cousins were still downstairs eating breakfast and watching cartoons. They had gotten up just as she had returned from her own breakfast.
She critically surveyed her outfit and hair, frowning first on one side of her mouth and then the other. She paused for a second and leaned in a little closer to the mirror to examine her ears. Not the slightest bit of pointiness; they were completely round and normal. For some reason it slightly disappointed her. She shrugged it off and continued her scrutiny of her appearance. She twisted and turned and cocked her head. Finally she sighed. It would have to do.
She wanted to look nice, even though the time was past for first impressions. She had the idea that it would be rather like the first day of school, and she wanted to go into it looking nice. She was wearing, in fact, the same outfit she had worn the first day of seventh grade. The last two times she’d been to FSHQ, Phoebe had been attired in overalls and a tee shirt. Now she was wearing a white blouse and navy cardigan, with a red, green and navy plaid, pleated skirt. She was worried she looked too “prep-school.” And she wished, not for the first time that morning, that she’d either noticed what the other fairies had been wearing, or at least thought to ask Pip what she should wear.
She tugged on her hair, once again styled into two plain braids, and bit her lip. If only she had some make-up…she didn’t dare borrow any of Lisa’s, although she knew where she kept it hidden. Oh well. She was running out of time, so she’d just have to go as she was! She carefully picked up her rolled up application and stepped into the hallway.
Phoebe tiptoed to the attic door, trying to avoid the spots that creaked. She could hear the Pack munching on cereal and arguing about which show they were going to watch. She hadn’t seen Aunt Roberta all morning, and she didn’t want to start now. She also didn’t want to run into her grandmother again. She pulled the attic door closed and exhaled. So far, so good. This time she had stowed a tiny keychain flashlight in her skirt pocket. Phoebe refused to wear anything without pockets, because she was always cramming things into them. She carried all kinds of things that she thought she might need, like wadded up tissues, half-melted lip balm, or battered, foil-wrapped pieces of gum. In a way, it reminded her of the conversation she’d had with Pip about not feeling prepared for FSHQ; she knew she couldn’t be prepared for everything, as her friend had pointed out, but she still liked to keep things that might come in handy later. She also had her two keys slung around her neck, and she was pressing them to her chest so they wouldn’t clink.
She shone the dim, miniscule beam of light around the attic until she unlocked the tiny door and then slunk through, activating the torches as she passed. She hurried down the stairs and it occurred to her, as she came around the bend and found the hallway, that each time it seemed to take less time.
She stowed her unnecessary flashlight and walked past the other fascinating doors, stopping only once to glance out the garden window. She sighed, then continued straight down the hall, pulling out the golden key. She had kept it carefully hidden, and now it gleamed in the warm torchlight.
A flutter of excitement went through Phoebe’s stomach. Up ahead, rippling into view as though it had been veiled by an invisible curtain, the gigantic ruby door appeared. She stopped in front of it, once again awed by its size and intensity. Now that she was facing it alone, she had more time to take it in. The strange, Tolkien-esque letters at the top fascinated her. She would have to remember to ask Rueben or Twitterly what they meant. She ran her fingers gently over the smooth, shimmering surface. It was warm, she realized in surprise, as though radiating some kind of power.
She drew a deep breath, her heart beginning to quicken. This was the moment. With the key in her hand, she knew she had a choice. She could go back to her attic, go downstairs, watch cartoons, and live a normal life. She could forget all about this place and pretend she just dreamed it up when she was a child. She would never have to deal with Swothley, she could make up answers to her questions, and she could convince herself of how silly it was to even imagine that she had fairy blood in her. She knew she could do those things. There was a part of her that was fearful enough to shut all this mystery and magic out.
But just as she knew all that, she knew she would never be satisfied living that way. She knew that in the back of her mind she would always wonder. There were too many adventures waiting for her, too many questions that needed to be answered truthfully. And why should someone like Swothley have the power to keep her from living her dream? There was a path she was supposed to follow, and she felt strongly that it lay beyond this door, just as she’d told Pip. There were friends waiting for her there, not only enemies. There was a chance for her to do something beyond her wildest dreams. How could she give that up? Despite her fear, despite the fact that she knew in her heart that it would not be always easy, nor always fun, she knew that she belonged there.
Just as they had on the day she’d discovered the tiny door in her attic, Phoebe’s stomach was churning and her hand was shaking as she held out the key. She’d known then that her life was about to change. And she had been right. Now she was choosing to continue that change, no matter what lay ahead. The key turned smoothly in the lock, and the door swung open almost effortlessly toward her.
And she was inside.
Thanks for reading! If you're interested in reading more, the first chapter is on my website...and the entire book will be available from redleadbooks.com NOW!