This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
A cozy green love seat is centered in front of the camera. Over it, a single pewter sconce glows, spilling warm light over the icy blue wall. The atmosphere is perfect for meeting someone very important, someone you’ve never met but who may become one of the most important people in your life.
Sonya sighs. She loves her job and this day is one of the reasons why. She murmurs to the camera operator, “Just a bit to the right.” The view on the screen narrows and slides right. “Perfect.”
“He’s on his way,” says a scratchy voice over the long-range walkie at her belt. Slow, hesitant footsteps approach from the hallway and Sonya tamps down on another thrill of excitement.
The camera picks up her voice, calm and professional, as he enters. “Just have a seat.”
A pause. “Over there?”
After shuffling footsteps, a thin, hunched boy comes into view dressed in sloppy jeans and an insubstantial, shapeless t-shirt. He sits, tugs the skull cap more firmly on his head and finally, reluctantly, glances up.
“Tobias Grayson,” Sonya says warmly. “How are you?”
“Fine.” He keeps his head tilted oddly and faces a little away from the camera.
“What do people usually call you?”
He stammers a second, then shakes his head. “Toby.”
“Okay, Toby. Could you take your cap off?”
“Do I have to?” His husky voice hovers on the verge of cracking.
“Well . . . yes. For our records, we need to get a full shot of you, and that includes hair. Sorry, but we need to know if you’ve dyed it purple or something.”
“Could you take it off anyway? Please?”
Toby reaches up one hand and drags off his black skull cap, pulling down his light brown bangs with the other hand. Sonya gasps. They don’t quite hide the healing gash on his forehead. “Fell off my skateboard,” he offers, his green eyes flickering up at the camera. As he squeezes the cap in his hands, the camera silently pulls in for a close-up, catching the bruise around his mouth and small cut on his cheek.
“I see,” Sonya says quietly, her knuckles tightening on the clipboard. “I’ve heard skateboarding is dangerous.”
Toby shrugs, tilts his head and turns his good side to the camera again. “I don’t do it that much. Obviously.”
“So what do you do?”
“Well, I see here that you have no siblings . . . no extracurricular activities . . . just that you live in an apartment on the tenth floor with your mom and her boyfriend.”
“Ex-boyfriend. He’s gone now,” Toby says shortly.
Sonya breathes a sigh of relief. She’d had her suspicions about his home life. “Right. Good. So what do you do?”
“I read. I . . . walk around a lot. Do things for my mom.” He stops and stares wide-eyed. “Is this for the show? I mean, what I just said?”
“No. This is just for me to get to know you so that I can find out things Mr. Dare might want to know. This won’t be made public.”
“Good.” Toby relaxes a little. “I’d catch it for that.”
“The part about my mom, doing stuff for her.” A flicker of a mocking smile turns up the corners of his mouth. “Like it’s, you know, one of my hobbies or something.”
“Well, you’re going to have to come up with some new hobbies pretty quick, Toby. I don’t think you’ll have much time to read on the island.”
His eyes go wide. “Does that mean I made it?”
“Yes, Toby. You made it.”
“You’re serious? I’m not just a finalist?”
“Toby. You are one of the twenty competitors on Dare Island V,” Sonya reassures him, laughing.
A transformative smile lights up his face, tilting up his sad eyes and rounding his thin cheekbones. He jumps to his feet, hands fisted his cap, energy vibrating beneath the surface. “I can’t believe it! Mom’s not gonna’ believe this! I mean...really she won’t believe me.” He looks troubled by this thought.
“I have to ask, is it okay if we have you go by a nickname? Gray, maybe?”
For a moment, he looks puzzled. “Uh, sure. You can call me whatever you want!”
“Great! You have three weeks to get ready and break the news to your mom. We’ll be in touch.”
“Thanks—so much,” he gives one more grin and then darts forward and past the camera, knocking it askew. His footsteps pound away. Off-camera, Sonya and a few other people are laughing as the camera rights itself. Then, footsteps pound back into range and come to a sliding stop. “Sorry?” Toby says again off-camera. “Is the camera okay? I didn’t mean to—sorry.”
“It’s all right. No worries.”
“Thanks! Thanks again! I mean—bye!”
The laughter starts up again as he runs off, then fades.
With a tiny, high-pitched blip, the screen shows the passage of time.
“Just have a seat up there,” Sonya says. “It’s so good to meet you in person!”
A tall boy with a dyed black fauxhawk enters the frame, heading for the sofa with a Starbucks cup in his hand. He’s wearing low-riding baggy black jeans, a tight black t-shirt and a bored expression as he sits down and settles back in the chair. The studs in his lower lip and nose catch the light as he looks around the room.
“So what’s this about?”
“Just a quick interview, nothing—”
“I hate interviews.”
“Okay. Then we’ll make it short, okay?” He shoots her a look that says, yeah I’ve heard that one before. “Basically, this is a just a screen test and a chance for us to see you talking on camera, to let us know what we’ll be getting from you during the show.”
The boy scratches at the bare part of his scalp. “Did I make the show or not?”
“Uh, yeah. You did.”
“Good.” He stands. “Couldn’t have just told me that over the phone, huh?”
“Oh. Sure. But—”
He begins to walk off the set.
“Let me just ask you one quick question about the mohawk, but we can do it off camera. That’s fine.” Her footsteps sound after his in the hallway.
Another blip on the screen shows the passage of time again. Now, a short girl with long, brown hair girl steps up on the set. She sits down on the love seat and smoothes her hair with a nervous smile. “Hi,” she says with a wave. “Is that on?” She points at the camera.
“Yes, it’s on, Shelley.”
“Is this going to be shown on t.v.? Is this one of those before-the-show starts interviews?”
“No, this won’t be shown to the viewers. It’s just for our records.”
“Oh,” she says, looking deflated for a moment before perking back up. “Okay. So what do you want to know?” She sits forward, feet neatly together, hands in her lap.
“Are you more excited about the other contestants you’re about to meet or being on t.v.?”
Her blue eyes, fringed with dark lashes, go wide. “Does this mean I made it? I really made it?”
“Yes. You made it, Shelley.”
“No way. Oh. Oh, this awesome,” her voice goes up into a squeak. “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!” She jumps up and bounces, then sits back down again, her hands flapping nervously. “Oh, thank you. Thank you! And what was the question? Which am I more excited about? Um—I don’t know. The guys are always so hot on this show—I can’t wait to meet them. But, being on t.v., that’s been a lifelong dream of mine and I can’t—oh, I can’t believe I finally made it! Hold on.” She jumps back up and whips out her cell phone, making a quick call. “I made it!” She screams, the tinny sound of another scream coming back from her phone.
The crew laughs off-camera as the camera goes to black.
_______________________________________________Pilot Viewing at Dare Island Studios
An aerial camera sweeps by a small, lush island of surpassing beauty. The deep staccato beating of a drum is joined by the hum of strange wind instruments and a sudden loud sweep of violins. Strange voices ululate, battling to find a melody.
“Ilha das Pacas, Brazil,” cuts in a voice—husky, but elegantly feminine. “Two years ago, this island was nothing more than what you see before you—beautiful, primitive, nearly neglected.”
The aerial shot descends, and the island becomes more distinct. The center is thick with vegetation, a small but dense rainforest of indeterminate shape. To the west are grasslands, leading up to a sharp drop off a cliff. A long, thin strip of beach runs along the east side, as if the island had sprung a leak of slow-moving sand.
“The perfect place for some improvements—Dare Island style.” The drumbeat picks up speed and—
“Wait, wait, wait.”
The image of the beach freezes on the large screen. In the darkened room, bodies shift nervously.
From the large, central chair comes an energized voice. “Didn’t we get reamed out by that environmental group . . . uh, what was their name? Sonya?”
“Their name was not Sonya,” snickers a back row guest. Heads turn. In the dim light, the bespectacled young man shrugs in apology.
“That’s enough from the peanut gallery. Sonya?”
Several options come in Sonya’s brisk voice. “There was the ECO, the WWF, the WCS—”
A chorus of groans begins to drown her out.
“Okay, okay, I get the picture. Lots of people weren’t happy with us ‘improving’ nature. So I’m thinking the wording there could use some tweaking. Don’t act like we’re improving on anything. This is our fifth year of reality t.v. We should be better than this, people.”
A few more groans.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Dare. I’ll make a note of it.”
“Thank you. And, Sonya? Just call me—”
“Patrick,” several others around the table mutter.
Patrick Dare swivels around in his chair to give the group an attractive, boyish smile. His energy and enthusiasm make him seem young despite his blonde-but-going-gray goatee and the crow’s feet crowding around his eyes. “Let’s keep rolling and see how it goes from here. The aerial shots look great.”
The film continues on the screen, rolling into a close-up of the beach area on the east side. “No one has ever lived on Isla das Pacas—at least, not until now. Patrick Dare chose a team of specially trained engineers to reimagine this glorious space of nearly 36,000 acres of land. Over the past nine months, they have prepared this island for habitation and competition.”
The camera pulls away to include a curvy, dark-skinned woman with an electric smile facing off-camera. “I can see the future of television and it’s coming fast. Hang on tight. That’s right.” She faces the camera. “It’s time for Dare Island…” She holds up her outstretched fingers. “Five!”
The pounding rhythm begins again, underscoring the hard cutting of the camera from image to image of teenagers racing across sand, holding tight to T-bars, and racing on jet skis through the water.
The screen cuts to a close-up of a lively, black-skinned boy as he grabs a sideways hug from another player, his smile easy and wide. Then he is in board shorts, his thin but strong arms straining to hang on to the bar over his head. As he drops into the water below, eyes open wide, arms flailing, his image freezes. “T: Age 15” is printed over his head in a splatter of dark aqua ink.
A flurry of images goes by: a blue-eyed girl aiming a laser gun, a tan, brown-haired boy gritting his teeth in determination as he climbs a ladder, sweat dripping off T’s face as he bends over, breathing heavily.
A young, sweet-faced girl with short, springy brown curls smiles at the camera and bounces with excitement. Another shot shows her in running shorts and a cropped top, sprinting by the camera. Her image is frozen in a blur but you can see she is still smiling. “Courtney: Age 17” is typed neatly across the screen in red.
A thin young man pulls his glasses off, hands them off to the side and flicks a swag of brown hair out of his face. The next shot shows him at home plate, running forward to kick a green ball. He shades his eyes to watch it sail up and away and the image freezes in close-up, showing his long nose, freckles and upturned, dark eyes. “Geoff—Age 17”scrawls across the screen in light green.
“Far from civilization—or at least, most of it,” the voice continues.
Two young men riding jet skis narrowly miss each other, leaning hard and sending plumes of water sky high. A slim figure in a helmet, goggles and a strange, gray jumpsuit jumps from a platform and is carried up into the air by a blast of air.
The camera pans over to find a tall, angular blonde girl nervously biting at a fingernail. Next, she is shown sporting safety goggles, aiming with care as she brings a long-distance rifle up to her shoulder. “Robin: Age 16” is printed over her intent face in a light blue color.
The image on the screen freezes.
Back inside the room, Patrick Dare studies her face. “That’s the rhythmic gymnast, right? The one who’s ludicrously limber?”
“You got it. She’s also the tallest girl.”
Patrick nods. “I have a feeling about her. I think she’s going to do well in this game.”
Sonya looks up at him in surprise, then scribbles something down in her notebook.
“Let’s keep rolling.”
The screen unfreezes. An angelic-faced young man with tanned skin and tousled brown curls stares intently off into the distance, one muscular arm cocked behind his head as he readies to throw a green ball. The next shot shows him diving into a clear creek, and then coming up out of the water, gasping for air. “Wheaton: Age 17” is typed out in dark blue.
“Isolated from friends and family.”
A tall, thin boy with dark hair pulls a very short, very wet girl out of the water; she’s laughing. Two girls, recognizable as Courtney and Robin, give each other sassy high fives.
A dark-skinned girl with long, dark curls and Polynesian features smiles over her shoulder, her eyes bright, a dark beauty mark high on her right cheek. The next shot shows her in dark gear and goggles, peering around a tree with her a laser gun ready at her shoulder. She freezes. Across the screen comes the light orange words: “Keoni: Age 17.”
A familiar, narrow-faced boy with light brown hair peeking out from under a black skull cap watches the other competitors, one hand rubbing his neck uncomfortably. Now he is shown crouching on a long, tipsy platform, struggling to balance. He turns and leaps off the edge, arms windmilling, green eyes wide. The image freezes and dark gray type forms the words: “Gray: Age 15.”
The music moves into a frenzied drum roll, falls back and then settles back into rhythm.
There is a flurry of images: A tall, brown-haired boy yelling, a short, blonde girl backing up, getting ready to catch a green ball, and an underwater shot of competitors swimming frantically for the finish line.
The short, blonde girl now hangs from monkey bars high up in the air, looking focused. Next, she swims efficiently toward the beach. As she stands out of the surf, water dripping, the image slows and then freezes on a close-up, showing her unusual yellowish-green eyes and upturned, freckled nose.“Abigail: Age 17,” writes the yellow type.
“Yes. Stop there! That’s the other one,” Patrick says, bringing everyone back out of the moment. “She grew up at Red Top, a lake area in Georgia, so she’s incredibly able in the water. And she’s an amazing climber.”
“Don’t forget the fireballs,” Sonya adds, smiling.
“Yes, of course,” he adds, then turns to the rest of the room. “Her dad takes balls of cotton yarn, soaks them in kerosene and lights them on fire. For fun, they throw these balls around at night. They even play baseball with them.”
“Uh . . . isn’t that incredibly dangerous?” says a voice in the back.
“No injuries so far, they tell us. But it does singe off the hair on your hands and arms sometimes, according to Abi.”
“That’s crazy,” says someone in the back.
“Uh…you might want to hold off on that. We’ve actually borrowed their idea for our version of kickball later in the competition. Should be interesting.” Patrick turns to look back at the screen. “I’m expecting big things from her. Let’s go.”
The screen unfreezes and a short, brown-headed boy jumps off a platform onto a target in the water, arms flailing. In the next shot, he’s all business as he climbs up a tall ladder. Then he sits on the edge of a dock, grinning, feet dangling, looking hardly older than 12. In dark green type, the words “Luke: Age 15” splash messily on the screen.
A familiar, pale girl breaks out of the water with a smile, her long, brown hair trailing down her back like a mermaid. In the next shot, she is scurrying up a tall ladder above the water. She reaches the top, panting, her round, dark blue eyes open wide and the image freezes. “Shelley: Age 16,” scrawls across the screen in brown type.
The image moves on to Abigail leaning back and sliding down a steep slide. Skull-capped Gray gives Wheaton a sheepish shrug. Above a huge arena, T is shown concentrating as he aims a water cannon at a target across from him.
“No food or water.”
The music crashes to a halt.
Now the curvy host turns to face the camera again, cracking a smile. “Just kidding about that last one, Patrick.”
The image freezes and everyone laughs as they turn to Mr. Dare.
“Very funny, very funny. I assume that won’t be in the finished product.”
“Of course not.”
“Good. Move on.”
“Outsiders versus Teams.”
“Aaron: Age 15” stands, staring up at the sky, arms open wide, bracing himself for something. He is tall, tan and lithe, with mischievous eyes and short hair both the same shade of brown. For a reason that will become clear in a moment, he is wearing a chest protector and arm pads. The image unfreezes, and a flaming ball hurtles itself into his arms. Aaron looks up nervously and the image refreezes.
“The Fireball,” Patrick says by way of explanation. “But notice he still caught it. He’s one to watch.” The others in the room make approving noises. “Go ahead.”
“Lin: Age 15” is a brown-haired beauty poised on the brink of a steep, one-hundred foot slide, biting her lip in indecision. Next, a close-up shows her thickly lashed gray eyes, smattering of freckles and captivating smile. She swims in a huge pool, treading water and laughing.
“Across 36,000 acres of rainforest, grasslands and beaches.”
Now Shelley jumps ahead in the water, long hair swirling behind, leaving the shallows to catch someone just ahead of her. Aaron sprints, churning up sand as he passes the camera.
A cinnamon-skinned girl with even features and a dimple on her right cheek aims a gun at a target a short distance away. The next shot is a close-up, showing her soft, dark eyes. “Evan: Age 16,” is typed out in silver overhead. Nervously, she walks out on a platform, looking down at the water, a safety harness fitted to her chest.
“Costa: Age 15” is a light-skinned Goth with heavily-lined gray eyes and a wicked smile. His left arm sports a detailed dragon tattoo that continues under the edge of the sleeve of his t-shirt. The action shot shows him down on one knee, aiming a laser gun at something offscreen. Next, he is bouncing up and down in excitement, holding hands with a girl who has pink hair with black tips.
“The best competitors from the fifty states, handpicked from competitions held all over the country.”
“Alex: Age 16” is frozen in mid-sprint, blue eyes focused, mouth set. The sun highlights a tint of red in his spiky brown hair. Behind him, a bleacher full of spectators watches avidly. As the shot unfreezes, Alex sprints by, the other competitors trailing behind by a slim margin. As he breaks the tape and wins the race, the crowd erupts into cheers. He raises his arms high and takes a victory lap.
“Drake: Age 17” has an easy grin, black, wind-blown hair, and deep-set, dark eyes that crinkle up into a half-moon shape. The banner behind him reads Texas Dare Island V Competition. Next he is shown in Lacrosse gear, using a short stick to fling the ball into a goal despite the quick move to deflect by the goalie. After the score, Drake sprints down the field, pumping one hand as a few other players pound him on the back.
“Narrowed down by a select committee and approved by Mr. Dare himself.”
“Josh: Age 17” pauses on the screen as he runs, wearing an Under Armour Elite Training shirt and shorts and expensive running shoes. With a flat-top, quizzical brow and broad smile, he is destined to look younger than his years. The shot of him barreling through the air in a long-jump is impressive in slow motion.
“Cecie: Age 16” is a petite, curvy girl with a pouty smile and heavily made up blue eyes. She’s obviously flirting with someone off camera in this shot. Next, she’s on a tall platform, staring down at the water with wide eyes. She jumps, eyes closed.
“The prize? One wish—any wish—granted by billionaire Patrick Dare, as long as he can afford it. And Patrick Dare can afford just about anything.”
“Tips: Age 16” is laughing as the camera catches her unusual coloring. Her dyed pink hair with black ends sweeps away from a classically beautiful face with a pale, creamy complexion and wide-set eyes. First, she is shown walking with Costa, the Goth, bumping a shoulder into his and smiling. Next, she is hanging on a T-bar, looking up and squeezing her eyes shut.
“Danica: Age 15” glares past the camera, her almond-shaped brown eyes and toffee-colored skin set off well by the bright blue sky. Obviously athletic, she climbs a ladder with unusual grace. She faces out to the water and hesitates only a moment before grabbing a T-bar overhead.
“An amazing competition played out in one of nature’s most beautiful locations, on a playing field of devilish ingenuity.”
A crash of drums melts into a frantic beat, matched by an orchestra and suddenly topped by the unearthly voice of what sounds like a heavily caffeinated choir boy. The camera pans out to show the new Ilha das Pacas. There is an enormous, blue geodesic dome the color of the Cookie Monster in the rainforest area, surrounded by five plastic yellow palm trees that outspread the natural variety by twenty feet in height and at least ten in width. Moving to the cliff, the camera takes in a structure that resembles a baseball diamond and pinball game mixed. A pile of children’s blocks the size of double-wides makes an archway from the dock to a long path leading into the rainforest, where the canopy prevents the camera from seeing underneath.
“I’m Layla Kalani and this is Dare Island 5: Child’s Play,” the host says emphatically, nodding her head for emphasis.
The image freezes. In complete contrast to the feeling in the room earlier, now there is an absence of movement. All eyes go to Patrick Dare. There is one nervous cough.
Sonya speaks up nervously, “If that’s not exactly what you wanted, sir, we can always . . . change . . .the . . .”
“Flip the lights,” Patrick Dare says. Everyone blinks in the bright light. Patrick looks around the room intently. “Who is responsible for the design of that island?”
After a moment of silence, all fingers point to Henry, a middle-aged man with a short black ponytail. Henry glares at all his former friends. “That was my design, sir.”
Patrick sits back in his seat and stares at Henry with bright blue eyes. “Then I think congratulations are in order. That’s the most incredible reality show set I’ve ever seen!” Everyone starts smiling and agreeing in relief. “Did you see those trees? And the giant blocks? Man, I wish we had a CG giant kid to come along and grab ’em or something. What do you think, Ian?”
“Nix the giant kid, Patrick. Not our target audience.”
“Just in the credits?”
“The end credits?”
“Uh . . . hmmm. Interesting.”
“He said ‘Interesting.’” Patrick jumps up out of his seat. Applause rings out in the small room, and several people move to scribble furiously in their notebooks. “Get on it, Sonya. Get me some mock-ups for the giant kid, some ideas of what kind of kid it should be. Maybe Brazilian. Yeah.” He sinks back in his seat stroking his blond-but-graying goatee. “Now. What did the screen testers think?”
Sonya, relieved at how well everything is going, looks down at the figures already before her. “Well, it was a bit of a mixed bag, very divided over the age groups. Older adults found it annoying and insipid, though there were several competitors, boys I believe, that looked interesting to them.”
“I believe so.”
“Older adults. Always our weak spot. Hm. How about we try more emotional backstories on the competitors to pull in the grandmotherly types? I’ve tried to avoid that in the past, but this year, especially for one of the boys . . . it might be important. What do you think?” No one is enthusiastic, but no one says no. “All right, well, let’s try it and move on.”
“Middle aged women ranked it high on interest due to several of the male competitors as well—”
“Think I know who you’re meaning there.”
“Liam Slater,” several voices chimed in, in varying tones of excitement, boredom and annoyance.
“All right, people.” Giggles and snatches of song lyrics pepper the air. Patrick looks around. “I know we have one of the youngest companies in television, that’s why we’re one of the best.” Cheers all around. “But, seriously. He’s a seventeen year-old kid.” Sighs of resignation. “And what’s more, we promised him, folks. Liam registered for this competition under his legal name. We signed a binding contract. He wants to be treated like any other kid on the island.”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t seriously expect the other kids not to recognize him, right?” Henry says as he stretches out his tightened back muscles.
“I’m not sure what he expects. Sonya?”
“My meeting with him seemed very straight forward. He abhors ninety-five percent of the music industry and regrets his million-dollar contract, but has parents who love the money coming in. He is, for all intents and purposes, trapped and wanting out. He sees this as his ticket.”
Silence reigns as everyone exchanges glances.
“I see you’ve not shared this information before.”
“No, sir and I don’t think it should get out of this room. Really.” She punctuates this by sitting up straighter in her seat. “While he’s here, we’re going to do our damnedest to make his wish come true, to get everyone to treat him as a normal teenager, not a grunge metal teen idol.” More glances exchanged. “And really—do you think he looked like himself in those shots? I mean, without the dyed hair and black leather, I almost didn’t recognize him the first time I saw him.”
“Uh . . . yeah. Obvious,” someone calls out.
Patrick clears his throat. “Well, I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure the press will get hold of this before we air. Liam may be recognized whether he wants to or not. And it won’t be bad for ratings. I just don’t want to hear that the leak came from my crew. Understood?” Everyone assents. “Now, let’s move back to the survey, Sonya?”
“Middle-aged males tended to liken the opening of the show to the impending footsteps of doom.”
“Codgers,” Henry spits.
“No, just not our target audience,” Patrick says patiently. “It’s a rare man who will admit to liking reality t.v. in any form. I’ve tried various things to get them interested, but it’s never worked out. Moving on.”
“Younger female women are very interested in the show. They thought the host was beautiful and smart and the competitors looked...interesting.”
“Teens aged fourteen to eighteen were divided on the show, but not along gender lines. Some boys loved the opening and the complicated competitions we got glimpses of; some boys thought it was infantile.”
“Did they use that word?”
“No. They used much ruder words.”
“Girls fourteen to eighteen thought the show looked scary in a good way, the competitors looked hot or amazing and would DVR it in a heartbeat.”
“Now, of all the competitors, which of those names came up the most in the surveys? Remembering, of course, that several state competitions were broadcast and bring their viewers with them. That means a lot to favorites like Drake, who won the Texas competition.”
“Let’s see . . .”
Those around the table start shuffling through the glossy black and white 8 x 10s.
“Yeah, the image of him catching that flaming ball—so brilliant.”
“No, T—he’s adorable.”
“Hello? Did anyone besides me see Shelley come up out of that water?”
“They must have remembered her for sure.”
“Come on! Wheaton? This guy should have his own t.v. show!”
“Where he does what? Scowl at the camera?”
Patrick holds up one hand and everyone quiets. “I’d wager a good bit that it was…Aaron, Lin and Costa. Simple. Most handsome, most beautiful and most controversial.”
“You’re right,” Sonya looks up and smiles. “Now, sir, here’s the big question: who do you think will win Dare Island V?”
Patrick looks down at his own scrawled notes and takes his time going over the information he’s written. There’s a quiet buzz around the room as Sonya hands him all the photos and he flips through them one more time. Finally, he picks one out, tossing it on the table.
Several voices call out denials and surprise.
Patrick nods. “An underdog, yes. But fast, smart and memorable. I predict this one’s going to do much, much better than anyone expects.”Henry leans back in his chair and gestures to Patrick, “And that, folks, is why he brings in the big bucks every year.” He begins the applause, which winds around the room until everyone is clapping and cheering, the entire crew suddenly filled with excited expectation.
ram123: Beautifully written novel, engrossing from start to finish. Great story, clever and imaginative adventure of two young sisters in Victorian England. Story moved at a quick pace .Looking forward to the second book. Congratulations to the author I predict that this will be a very successful series.
DennisT: This is an excellent story by an author who writes very well. the only problem areas that I see relate to proofreading and editing. All of the stories by Vanessa are excellent, and I have read them all more than once. I had hoped that they would be better edited and proofread on this site, but it...
MegaRogueLegend666: I love this story so much. It's impossible to describe my excitement with each new chapter in words. The author has such a good writing style, very good descriptions of the fighting and character descriptions/emotions. the plot is also amazing! This fanfic could be a side anime show or novel ......
cassandrab: Delightful SciFi (for a change)! I am not a SciFi fan: mostly the genre is far too dystopic for me. This book (written by a high-school friend) is, on the other hand, generally upbeat. Yes, Earth's future is threatened. But Earth has a chance to plan a response. And (spoiler alert) ultimately win...
sujitha nair: What's so distinct about this story was that it could easily be real. Praveena can be your classmate, neighbor or that girl you saw at the coffee shop today. The important decisions she makes and the dilemmas she faces, remind us of our own twisted lives.
Charlie_8472: Recommended to me by a friend, I thought I'd give this a read. As a hobbyist blacksmith, the blurb certainly caught my attention. I found the sentence about them drinking, dancing and fighting a strange combination of activities, perhaps a reflection of the writer’s personality and humour. Howeve...
Chris Rolfe: BOY!!! I sure love what Aer-Ki Jyr did with this series. IMHO he captured the essence of what stargate is all about. Thru out the Stargate stories Aer-Ki wrote Stevens and John Shepard some of the main characters in his stories are pursued by a corrupt I.O.A.. All the while Stevens is changing in...
themyronus: Vanessa has made 'amazing' the norme. I didn't want to read this as I am waiting for the finished and polished book to come out. But then I decided to read one chapter for kicks...well hours later I finished what was posted. Fortunately, my memory is not to good and I hope I will read the book wi...
ga1984: I really enjoyed it! Characters were deep and plot was pretty complex. A bit on the violent side but it doesnt detract from the story. Very dark but situations make sense. Ends kinda abruptly and later chapters will need some editing work. I'm assuming there's more in the works?
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."