(Links updated March 4) Feb 20, 2013: Author's note: "Dark Summer" publishing and multimedia rights have been optioned by Evatopia Entertainment. While sample chapters are available here on Wattpad, "Dark Summer" will remain available in full only from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BNXMSMG) and Amazon UK (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00BNXMSMG)
WARNING: This is a mature YA. Due to sexual content and some language, it is not recommended for younger teens
Summer stepped off the stuffy bus, at once struck by the smog-free air and towering pine trees of the northern Idaho town. The sun shone gentler here than in her native Los Angeles, and the heat of noon was pleasant.
The bus driver pulled her bags from the storage compartment under the bus and left them beside her. She didn’t meet his eyes, not wanting to tell him she had no tip money. The orphanage paid for her trip via Greyhound and gave her a meager ten dollars a day for food.
“My sister lives up here. She tells everyone to avoid the forest after dark,” the bus driver said cheerfully.
Summer sneaked a look at him. He didn’t look upset at her for not tipping, and he said nothing else about his odd warning. He boarded the bus with a smile, and the lumbering automotive merged back onto the single, two lane road hedged by pine trees running through Priest Lake, Idaho. She looked at the run down school in whose parking lot she stood. It was closed down for the summer, the cement of the parking lot cracked and the field behind overgrown with grass.
A warm breeze swept by her. It smelled of trees and burning wood. Something else was in the air, something that tickled her body from the inside out. The breeze seemed to return and swirl around her, lifting the hem of her shirt and jeans. She pushed her shirt down self-consciously.
She looked up into the most beautiful eyes she’d ever seen. The teen walking towards her from the street was around seventeen with breeze-ruffled brown hair and eyes as clear and teal as footage of the Caribbean she’d seen on TV. His smile was bright and friendly, his skin and facial features indicating he was of Native American heritage. Around six feet tall, he’d begun to fill out, and his arms were muscular in the snug t-shirt he wore.
“You’ll understand in a few days. This isn’t a normal town.”
She couldn’t find her voice. Aware of how hard she was staring at him, she looked away as heat spread across her face.
“I’m Beck, the good half of the Turner twins. You’ll hear about us, I’m sure. You have a name?” he asked.
“Well, what is it?” he asked with another of his infectious smiles.
“Summer,” she whispered.
“Welcome, Summer.” He extended his hand.
She hesitated then shook her head, withdrawing.
“No worries,” he said. “But, just so you know, whatever your gift is, it’s ok here. We all have them.”
Summer looked up at him again, surprised.
“Come on. I was supposed to get my driver’s license last spring, but, well, stuff happens. If I had known I’d be stuck walking to and from here picking up new people all summer long, I would’ve gotten it,” he said with a sigh. He reached forward to take her suitcase and began walking towards the road.
She followed, curious about his statement about a town of gifted people.
“We all live at the boarding school,” Beck continued. He grunted as he lifted her suitcase from the parking lot onto the road. “Do you play any sports?”
“What do you do?”
“Nothing really.” Except get ridiculed and kicked out of school after school for being different. She hadn’t had time to learn a sport, not when she switched schools every other month. The orphanage had run out of schools to send her to in Los Angeles and Orange County and banished her here. Beck wouldn’t call her magic a gift when he saw what it did and how little she could control it. It acted out everywhere she went, sometimes knocking over full rooms of people as if they were shoved by an invisible hand and sometimes doing much more damage, like the fire two schools ago.