Read on for a sneak peek at Chapter One of her first book, Wings, coming out April 28th. Come back tomorrow for the rest of Chapter One -- and then hop on to Amazon to pre-order the book!
By Aprilynne Pike
Laurel’s shoes flipped a cheerful rhythm that defied her dark mood. As she walked through the halls of Del Norte High, people watched her pass with curious eyes.
After double-checking her schedule, Laurel found the biology lab and hurried to claim a seat by the windows. If she had to be indoors, she wanted to at least see the outside. The rest of the class filed in slowly. One boy smiled in her direction as he walked to the front of the classroom and she tried to muster one in return. She hoped he didn’t think it was a grimace.
A tall, thin man introduced himself as Mr. James and began passing out textbooks. Laurel immediately started flipping through hers. The beginning of the book seemed fairly standard—classifications of plants and animals, she knew those—then it started to move into basic human anatomy. Around page eighty the text started to resemble a foreign language. Laurel grumbled under her breath. This was going to be a long semester.
As Mr. James called out the roll Laurel recognized a few names from her first two classes that morning, but it was going to be a long time before she matched even half of them to the faces that surrounded her. She felt lost amid the sea of unfamiliar people.
Her mom had assured her that every sophomore would feel the same—after all, it was their first day in high school too—but no one else looked lost or scared. Maybe being lost and scared was something you got used to after years of public school.
Homeschooling had worked just fine for Laurel over the last ten years; she didn’t see any reason for that to change. But her parents were determined to do everything right for their only child. When she was five that meant being homeschooled in a tiny town. Apparently, now that she was fifteen, it meant public school in a slightly less tiny town.
The room grew quiet and Laurel snapped to attention when the teacher repeated her name. “Here,” she said quickly.
She squirmed as Mr. James studied her over the rim of his glasses then finally moved on to the next name.
Laurel released the breath she’d been holding and pulled out her notebook, trying to draw as little attention to herself as possible.
As the teacher explained the semester’s curriculum, her eyes kept straying to the boy who had smiled at her earlier. She had to stifle a grin when she noticed him sneaking glances at her too.
When Mr. James released them for lunch Laurel gratefully slid her book into her bag.
She looked up. It was the boy who had been watching her. His eyes caught her attention first. They were a bright blue that contrasted with the olive tone of his skin. The color looked out of place, but not in a bad way. Kind of exotic. His slightly wavy light-brown hair, on the longish side, slipped across his forehead in a soft arc.
“You’re Laurel, right?” Below the eyes was a warm but casual smile with very straight teeth. Braces probably, Laurel thought as her tongue unconsciously ran over her own teeth, also quite straight. Lucky for her, naturally straight.
“Yeah.” Her voice caught in her throat and she coughed, feeling stupid.
“I’m David. David Lawson. I—I wanted to say hi. And welcome to Crescent City, I guess.”
Laurel forced a small smile. “Thanks,” she said.
“Want to sit with me and my friends for lunch?”
“Where,” Laurel asked.
David looked at her strangely. “In . . . the cafeteria?”
He seemed nice, but she was tired of being cooped up inside. “Actually, I’m going to go find a place outside.” She paused. “Thank you, though.”
“Outside sounds good to me. Want some company?”
“Sure. I’ve got my lunch in my backpack, so I’m all set. Besides,” he said, hefting his bag onto one shoulder, “you shouldn’t sit alone your first day.”
“Thanks,” she said after a tiny hesitation. “I’d like that.”
They walked out to the back lawn together and found a grassy spot that wasn’t too damp. Laurel spread her jacket on the ground and sat on it; David kept his on. “Aren’t you cold?” he asked, looking skeptically at her jean shorts and tank top.
She slipped out of her shoes and dug her toes into the thick grass. “I don’t get cold very often—at least not here. If we go somewhere with snow I’m miserable. But this weather’s perfect for me.” She smiled awkwardly. “My mom jokes that I’m cold-blooded.”
“Lucky you. I moved here from L.A. about five years ago and I’m still not used to the temperature.”
“It’s not that cold.”
“Sure,” David said with a grin, “but it’s not that warm either. After our first year here I looked up the weather records; did you know that the difference between the average temperature in July and December is only fourteen degrees? Now that is messed up.”
They fell silent as David ate his sandwich and Laurel poked at a salad with a fork.
“My mom packed me an extra cupcake,” David said, breaking the silence. “Want it?” He held out a pretty cupcake with blue frosting. “It’s homemade.”
David looked at her salad, doubtfully, then back at the cupcake.
Laurel realized what David was thinking and sighed. Why was that the first conclusion everyone always jumped to? Surely she wasn’t the only person in the world who just really liked vegetables. Laurel tapped one fingernail against her can of Sprite. “It’s not diet.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“I’m vegan,” Laurel interrupted. “Pretty strict, actually.”
She nodded then laughed stiffly. “Can’t have too many veggies, right?”
“I guess not.”
David cleared his throat and asked, “So when did you move here?”
“In May. I’ve been working for my dad a lot. He owns the bookstore down town.”
“Really?” David asked. “I went in there last week. It’s a great store. I don’t remember seeing you though.”
“That’s my mom’s fault. She dragged me around shopping for school supplies all week. This is the first year I haven’t been home schooled and my mom’s convinced I don’t have enough supplies.”
“Yeah. They’re forcing me to go public this year.”
He grinned, his tone teasing, but with a serious edge. “Well, I’m glad they did.” He looked down at his sandwich for a few seconds before asking, “Do you miss your old town?”
“Sometimes.” She smiled softly. “But it’s nice here. My old town, Orick is seriously small. Like five hundred people small.”
“Wow.” He chuckled. “L.A.’s just a little bigger than that.”
She laughed, and coughed on her soda.
David looked like he was ready to ask something else, but the bell sounded and he smiled instead. “Can we do this again tomorrow?” He hesitated for a second then added, “With my friends, maybe?”
Laurel’s first instinct was to say no, but she’d enjoyed David’s company. Besides, socializing more was yet another reason her mom had insisted on public school this year. “Sure,” she said before she could lose her nerve. “That’d be fun.”
“Awesome.” He stood and offered her his hand. He pulled her to her feet and grinned lopsidedly for a minute. “Well, I’ll . . . see you around, I guess.”
She watched him walk away. His jacket and loose-fitting jeans looked more or less like everyone else’s, but there was a sureness in his walk that set him apart from the crowd. Laurel was envious of that confident stride.
...to be continued. Don't forget to check back tomorrow for the second half of Chapter One!