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A Journey Through Time: A Door To The Hidden

By Cassandra Kildow All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Mystery

Chapter One

Everyone knows that the most common misconception about teenagers is that they get into a lot of trouble. My group of friends and I were one of the rare groups that hardly got into any trouble at all. There were eight of us; me, Vanessa Murphy, I was the small shy one of the group but I had a weird gravitational pull that made people always crowd around me. I hated the attention so I was always blushing but that never seemed to scare people away. I felt like my looks were bland enough but everyone was always complimenting my caramel brown waves or the sparkle in my dark brown eyes, which was another thing that always made blush.

Then came my absolute best friend in the whole world, Cayla Valentine. She wasn’t Hispanic or Latina like her name suggested, she was pale with frizzy red hair and bright blue eyes. She was loud and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, but she was the first to come to my defense any time somebody embarrassed me. She always knew what to say to cheer me up and she wasn’t afraid to scare anyone away for my sake.

Then there’s the gorgeous Tommy Collins, the boy I’d had a huge crush on for six years now. He had longish curly black hair and the prettiest green eyes I’d ever seen. My only problem was that he wasn’t afraid to show his feelings and that wasn’t something I was good at. He was confident when it came to talking to people, he was good at keeping up a conversation, and he was always making people laugh. And just like everybody else, Tommy was naturally drawn to me so he became one of my best friends as well.

Then there’s Cayla’s crush, Paul Johnson. He was the most popular boy in high school just because of his looks. He had darkly tanned skin, thick golden blond hair and pale blue eyes. He was the kind of boy you’d normally see coming off the beach in Miami. He wasn’t blind to his looks either, and he was vain enough that he always carried a mirror around with him. He was sweet though, and definitely caring but I could see well enough why Cayla liked him. He was exactly her type.

And the only couple of the group, Leigh-Anne Powell and Jesse Taylor; they’d been dating since middle school and showed no signs of getting tired of each other. None of the rest of us could understand how they’d stayed together for so long but it seemed to work for them. Leigh-Anne was one of those girls with long gorgeous honey blond hair and dark blue eyes. She was tall with a willowy figure and she was very confident. But despite the fact that she had the looks for head cheerleader, she preferred to be in the band stands. Leigh-Anne’s personality was the exact opposite of what most people thought her looks suggested. She was kind and caring, and she never put herself before others.

Her boyfriend, Jesse, was exactly the same way. He could’ve been Paul’s twin because he had the same tanned skin, golden hair and pale blue eyes, but the similarities stopped there. Jesse’s hair was always windswept and tangled and he didn’t care that it was like that. He was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, and just like Leigh-Anne; he was always putting everyone else’s feelings before his own. Jesse would give you the shirt off his back if he thought it would help you.

Lastly were the brother-sister pair; they weren’t blood related but they’d been close their whole lives. Moira Scott and Sean Lacey; half-siblings on their father’s side, and since neither of them knew their father, they both took their mother’s maiden names. Moira had extremely dark hair with eyes just as dark, but her skin was almost as pale as Cayla’s. The dark hair and eyes just made her more noticeable which was just fine for Moira; she loved attention. She was the natural performer out of our group, she was great at entertaining people and she had a beautiful singing voice. But all the attention was rightly deserved, Moira was big into volunteer work and she spent most of her weekends working the serving line at the local food kitchen.

Sean wasn’t anything like his sister and the only reason he was accepted into our group was because Moira was so close to him. He had the same dark hair and eyes but his skin tone was darker so he didn’t stand out as much. He was the bad boy of our group, bad mouthing anyone of authority. And although he didn’t respect anyone of power, he was careful not to let it get him into trouble. But that was his only gratifying quality. Besides that, he had a huge crush on me and he wasn’t a gentleman about showing it.

Our adventure started out on a normal Friday afternoon; Cayla and I had invited everyone out to the lake for a picnic. While I set up the food and drinks, Cayla stood out on the road ready to flag down our friends. Tommy and Paul showed up first, so naturally Cayla tagged back into camp with them. Tommy slid out of the driver’s seat of his jeep, his curly black hair totally windblown and I felt my face heat up.

“Hey Nessa.” His voice flooded my mind and I had to force myself to look up at him. A smile lit up his face and I felt like I was watching the sun set over the ocean. I could stare into Tommy’s eyes forever but of course, after a few minutes, somebody always interrupted us.

“Hello? Earth to Nessa, did you hear me?” I tore my eyes from Tommy’s and looked over to where Paul was waving his arms over his head. Cayla stood up on the fender of Tommy’s jeep, her arms around Paul’s neck from behind, and she aimed a wide smirk in my direction. My face flushed again.

“What did you say Paul?” I asked. Tommy seemed unaffected by my embarrassment; he walked up to the picnic table beside me and finished unloading the food. Paul rolled his eyes.

“I said I’m gonna go wait by the road with Cayla, are you guys gonna be good here?” he asked. I locked eyes with Cayla and she gave me her best puppy dog look. Before I could reply however, Tommy threw an arm around my shoulders deepening my blush, and answered for me.

“Go ahead guys, we’re good here” he said. Cayla jumped down off Tommy’s fender and her and Paul raced for the road. Tommy kept his arm in place until Cayla and Paul were long gone, and the longer he kept it there, the faster my heart raced. Finally, he cleared his throat uncomfortably and pulled his arm down. My heart almost instantly slowed back down to normal which very nearly made me black out. I hated that Tommy had that effect on me but it happened every time he touched me so I should have been used to it.

“Do you need any help over here, Nessa?” he asked poking around in all the goodies on the table. I swatted at his hand as he reached for a cookie.

“No but you can build us a fire pit for later” I suggested. Tommy shrugged and snatched a cookie while I wasn’t looking before jogging off into the tree line. I smiled slightly and shook my head; I’d forgotten how much of a sweet tooth Tommy had. He was constantly sucking on hard candy, so I’d come to expect his kiss to taste like it. The thought made blood rush to my face and I sighed. I was head over heels for Tommy, but I was so shy I couldn’t even think about kissing him without going red. I was hopeless; I’d never have a shot with him. I sat and stared out at the water as I waited for Tommy to return. The lake wasn’t much, it only covered about three acres and there wasn’t enough water to fish in or take a boat out on, but it was a strangely peaceful place. The entire lake was surrounded by trees with only two roads in and out, so most of the time the beaches were empty. The water was a dark green color, which usually kept people from attempting to swim in it, but of course the water was perfectly fine. We’d dared Sean to go in once and he’d agreed but then backed out at the last minute. Tommy and Paul had carried him to the end of the dock and tossed him in the water. Of course Sean was furious but that’s how we’d found out there was nothing in the lake. I still wouldn’t go in and at first the others had tried to pull the same thing the boys had done to Sean, but Tommy and Cayla didn’t let them. I owed them for that. A flash of red pulled me out of my thoughts and I blinked to find Tommy standing in front of me, twirling a bright red feather. He sat down on the bench seat beside me and held out the feather.

“You don’t have this one, do you?” he murmured. I shook my head as I carefully accepted the feather from him, trying to keep our hands from brushing. I failed miserably. Tommy and Cayla were the only ones who knew about my feather scrapbook, but Tommy was the only one who ever helped me add to it. The feather was beautiful, a deep red at the top that slowly transitioned to white down near the quill.

“Where did you find this?” I asked as I pulled my book bag out from underneath the table. Tommy was the only one who didn’t laugh at me for carrying around my backpack but I didn’t care anymore.

“I found a nest on the ground on my way back, the feather was stuck in it. What kind of bird is it from?” he asked. I pulled out the leather bound scrapbook and opened it to a new page. I taped the feather in by the stem and then I dug for my calligraphy pens.

“It’s from a Cardinal” I answered. Tommy watched over my shoulder as I labeled the page and put the date on it. Just as I was slipping the scrapbook back into my backpack, a horn sounded behind us. I was so startled I jumped, but Tommy just turned around.

“It’s Jesse and Leigh-Anne” he announced. He stood up to wave at them but he stayed by me until I’d shoved my backpack back under the table and stood up with him. Jesse and Leigh-Anne waved from the front of the truck while Cayla and Paul yelled and cheered from the bed.

“Where are Moira and Sean?” I asked when Jesse cut the engine. Leigh-Anne slid out the driver’s side into Jesse’s arms and he took her hand.

“Moira called and told us to tell you they’ll be a little late; they have to run some errands from their mom” Leigh-Anne said. They didn’t have the same mom, but Moira’s mom loved Sean just like he was her own son. I wasn’t going to miss Sean’s obnoxious presence at the picnic but I felt frustrated that Moira hadn’t been able to come. Cayla made her way over to us, tying her bushy hair back.

“They’re still coming Ness, they just won’t be here until later” she said. I just shrugged my shoulders. Cayla shucked off her shorts and sprinted half-way down the beach before her shirt followed. Paul was hot on her heels, leaving a trail of clothing in his haste to follow her. Jesse and Leigh-Anne made their way to the water a little bit slower. Tommy sighed deeply and stuck his hands in his pockets.

“Do you wanna help me finish the fire pit?” he asked. I turned towards him and nodded my head. It beat watching Paul and Cayla splash each other. I followed Tommy over to where he’d left a considerable pile of firewood. He’d gathered a nice pile of stones too but he must have carried back the Cardinal feather at the same time. I kneeled down next to him in the sand and we both dug our hands into it. The pit only took us about twenty minutes to dig and then Tommy arranged the stones around the edge while I brushed myself off. When he finished stacking the firewood into a tee-pee shape, Tommy came and sat beside me.

“There, perfection!” he said gesturing to the fire pit. I giggled lightly and quickly covered my mouth to cut it off. But Tommy just smiled and started dusting the sand off his rolled up jean capris. Tommy had a habit of always dressing nicely no matter where he was. Even if he wasn’t leaving the house, he still wore dress slacks or nice jean capris and polo shirts or long sleeve button downs. But he also had to have all the buttons on his chest open which was very distracting and extremely embarrassing if someone caught me staring.

“So what kind of food do we have? Besides your cookies, of course” Tommy asked. I chuckled and shook my head.

“Cayla made a fruit salad and her coleslaw; there are a couple bowls of baked beans. I made my potato salad and deviled eggs, and the cooler has hotdogs and hamburgers in it” I said. Tommy smacked his lips and rubbed his hands together. I let out a small laugh.

“Sean and Moira better get here soon or there won’t be any food left” he said. I laughed at him but he wasn’t kidding, between Tommy, Paul, and Jesse; they could eat everything on the table.

“And of course Cayla brought the stuff for Smore’s” I added. Tommy smacked his lips together again and looked back at the food on the picnic table.

“Don’t even think about it, it’s all still locked in Cayla’s trunk” I said. Tommy pouted lightly but at least that look I was immune to. We’d learned to keep the marshmallows away from Tommy because he’d either eat them all or the boys would start a marshmallow fight. It had started to get dark before anyone got out of the water and Tommy and I already had a fire going. Paul hastily dressed himself and snatched the skewer Tommy had just used to impale a hotdog. Tommy looked stunned for a few seconds before he shot up and took off after Paul. I shook my head and handed another skewer to Jesse.

“It’s nice to see some things never change” he muttered as he skewered a hotdog. I followed his gaze to where Paul and Tommy were rolling around in the sand.

“You’d think Tommy would be so used to Paul taking food from him, he’d just let him have it now” Leigh-Anne said. Cayla and I laughed and I accepted a paper plate from Cayla.

“He’s a boy and its food, he’ll never let it go” I said. Jesse chuckled and shook his head. Leigh-Anne shrugged her shoulders. Paul and Tommy rejoined us as we all sat down with our food and Tommy dropped the sand covered hotdog in the fire. He wore a huge grin so I knew he wasn’t too upset about losing the food, but he was completely covered in sand. I could see granules spilling from the cuffs in his capris and his dark hair was freckled with it. My hand reached out on its own and gently untangled a piece of dry seaweed from one of his curls. Everyone was so startled by the bold act coming from me that for three counts, they were all absolutely silent. Tommy gave me a wide-eyed look of surprise before shaking his head to dislodge the sand. I let my hand fall back into my lap, and although I could feel the heat in my cheeks, I was glad it was too dark for anyone to see it. I was saved from further embarrassment by a series of short honks. A few seconds later, Sean and Moira appeared behind Tommy’s jeep. Now normally when Sean and Moira were together, they got along just fine. Which was why it was so strange to hear them yelling at each other when they got out of Moira’s car. Silence fell over our group again and for a minute we just sat and listened. That is, until Cayla got tired of the yelling.

“Woah! Alright, hold up! What the hell is going on here?” she shouted. Moira and Sean fell silent and Moira stalked across the sand towards us.

“My brother is a jackass, that’s what’s going on!” she snapped. Cayla looked over at me with a slightly annoyed look in her eyes. I knew she was thinking of everything Sean put me through. He’d always been a jackass, where had Moira been?

“What did he do this time?” Tommy asked. I guess Cayla and I weren’t the only ones who knew Sean’s behavior. Moira scoffed and crossed her arms over her chest. It was so unusual to see her that way; she was always so level headed.

“This idiot has decided that he wants to go inside the Slateman Mansion” she said. A gasp sounded but I wasn’t sure who it came from, maybe me, and we all fell silent again. The Slateman Mansion took up an entire city block in the very center of town. It was one of the town’s oldest buildings, having been built back in the 1600s or something. The mansion was in perfect condition for having stood for so long, especially since no one ever went inside. There were no other land developments on that block and no one could stand to be close to the place for very long. Every town had its haunted house, the Slateman Mansion was ours. We’d all grown up hearing the stories; we were told never to go by there on Halloween, and the biggest most absolute rule of the entire town was that no one should EVER go inside. Back in the early 1900s, a photographer had decided to go in for a few shots and she was never seen again. The town was even so scared of the mansion that the police hadn’t sent anyone inside to try to find her. She was just automatically presumed dead. Jesse’s voice brought me out of my thoughts.

“Sean, are you crazy? Why the hell do you want to go inside the Slateman Mansion?” he asked. Paul jumped in before Sean could say anything to defend himself.

“You grew up here just like the rest of us, you know all the stories. Are you insane?” Sean leaned back against the edge of the picnic table and a smirk formed on his face.

“Come on guys, they’re just stories. There’s no proof that there’s even anything wrong with the place. What if the town has hidden some kind of treasure in there or something? I can’t be the only one who’s curious” he said. Jesse opened his mouth to say something but after a few seconds he closed it and looked over at Paul. His eyebrows were raised and I could see the hesitation in both of them. They were actually curious.

“I can’t believe you guys! You can’t seriously even be thinking about this! The entire town is afraid of that house, nobody goes near it! Why do you want to?” I blurted out. Cayla reached out and put a hand on my shoulder trying to calm me down, but I shook it off.

“He’s got a good point Nessa, they are just stories” Leigh-Anne said. I stood up, dumping my full plate into the sand. Tommy reached out to try to pull me back down but I stepped away from him.

“He has no point! You’re talking about someone who is dumb enough to jump in the shovel of a moving bulldozer! Sean NEVER has any good ideas! Why are you listening to him?” I demanded. Tommy stood up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. His touch sent waves of adrenaline through my blood and my heart started racing. But I was angry enough that it burned it away rather quickly.

“I agree with Nessa, the Slateman Mansion is dangerous no matter what anyone says. Nobody’s ever lived there, we don’t know what the inside will look like” he said. I sighed deeply and crossed my arms over my chest. Tommy was the voice of reason in our group, he’d change their minds. Sean scoffed and shook his head.

“Come on, it can’t be in that bad of shape. The outside is in perfect condition. Just one time through, that’s all I’m asking” he said. I gritted my teeth together and clenched my hands into fists against my arms.

“No way, you’re a psychopath for even thinking this up, Sean” I said. Sean waggled his eyebrows before blowing a kiss in my direction. I let out a noise of disgust.

“Say you’ll go with us Tommy, you’ll be able to convince Ness to come too” Cayla said. Anger shot like fire through my veins and I turned to stare daggers at Cayla, my mouth open in outrage. How dare she use my crush on Tommy for her own personal gain! Before I could say anything, I felt Tommy’s hand fall from my shoulder as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“Absolutely not, I think this is a stupid reckless idea, and I won’t go along with it. And even if I did, I’d never push Nessa to do something she didn’t want to do. Some friend you are Cayla” he said. My eyes widened and my mouth snapped shut. Tommy had never dissed one of his friends like that, but apparently he didn’t like that Cayla was trying to use him anymore than I did. Sean sighed and pushed away from the picnic table so he could put himself between me and Tommy.

“Come on Nessa, if you’re scared, I can protect you” he cooed wrapping his arms around my waist. His mouth was heading towards the nape of my neck so when I spun out of his embrace, my ponytail whipped him in the face.

“Keep your hands off me Lacey; the last thing I need or want is your protection! And I’m not going along with any of this so I’m out” I said. I saw the look of disbelief Cayla shot me but I wasn’t going to back down about this. I was glad Tommy was on my side because he followed me out of the camp and steered me towards his jeep. He pulled through the camp and used the other exit since Moira was parked behind him. Tommy picked us up some cheeseburgers and then he parked across the street from my shared apartment with Cayla so we could eat.

“You think Cayla will lay in to you again when she gets home?” Tommy asked before taking a huge bite out of his burger. I cast him a look of disbelief in the dim light of the jeep and he choked lightly. I chuckled lightly as I pulled the wrapper off my burger.

“It’s Cayla, of course she’s going to. You’re lucky; at least you don’t live with any of them” I said. Unlike the rest of us, who either lived on our own or shared an apartment with one of our friends, Tommy still lived at home with his parents and little sister. Paul, Jesse, and Sean always messed with him because of it but I envied Tommy; both my parents were dead and I had no siblings. My appetite vanished suddenly and I looked down at the uneaten burger in my hands. I wrapped it up without a second thought and dropped it back in the bag. Tommy raised his eyebrows.

“You know, if you want to get away from Cayla, you’re welcome to stay at my place” he offered. I turned to look at him, my eyes wide. Tommy met my gaze without blinking and I felt my cheeks heat up. ‘Did he just offer to let me spend the night with him?’ I thought. Using that word choice sent a wave of warmth through my body and I tore my eyes away from Tommy. I covered my face with both hands and waited in horror until the warmth left my body and my face returned to its normal color. I took a deep breath and uncovered my face before looking over at Tommy again. He held his half-eaten burger half-way to his mouth and he was staring at me with worry in his eyes.

“Thanks Tommy but I can handle Cayla. She’s not going to change my mind” I said. Tommy stared at me for a few more seconds before shrugging and taking another huge bite of his burger. I breathed out in relief and turned my head to look out the window. It was completely dark outside and when I glanced at the clock on Tommy’s dash, I found that it was almost midnight. Just as I was about to say something to Tommy, his phone went off, startling both of us. He pulled it out of the cup holder and lit up the screen.

“It’s my mom” he mumbled through a mouthful of burger. When he saw my confused look, he quickly swallowed what was in his mouth and put his burger down. He took his phone in both of his hands and typed out a message.

“She wanted to know what time I’d be home” Tommy explained. I nodded and brushed off my pants before undoing my seatbelt. Tommy looked startled when I placed the rest of the burgers on the console between us.

“Where are you going?” he asked. I chuckled and motioned through his windshield to my dark apartment. Tommy scrambled after me as I climbed out of his jeep and went around the front. He caught my arm before I could take a step away and I felt tingles shoot up my arm from where his hand was.

“What about Cayla?” he rushed out. I was forced to stop and face him but even then he didn’t let go of my arm. Tommy’s green eyes were wide and he wore a look I couldn’t place. I put my other hand flat on his chest, and although I was touching him willingly, I felt my heart increase in speed and my face heat up again; it seemed to somewhat calm him.

“Relax Tommy; I’ve been Cayla’s best friend as long as I’ve known you. I can handle her” I said. Tommy sighed and released my arm, but before I could move my hand off his chest, he put his hand over it, trapping it there. My heart skipped several beats and I had to force my mouth to stay closed so I wouldn’t gasp out.

“Just be careful with her Ness, I’ve got a bad feeling about all of this” he whispered. That put my thoughts back on track and I could almost ignore my thumping heart. Tommy was worried; no this emotion was worse than worry, it was fear. Tommy was scared and I couldn’t help myself, I hated that Tommy was scared for our friends and I wasn’t. I put the hand that wasn’t still held to his chest against his cheek, and Tommy’s eyes fell closed.

“Tommy, I know you’re worried about them but they’ll all look out for each other, you know that” I said. Tommy opened his eyes and I caught myself staring deeply into the sea green depths. Tommy reached up with his free hand and cupped my cheek as well. I felt a rush of warmth flash under his hand and my eyes fell closed for a moment.

“I’m not worried about them Ness, although I probably should be. I’m worried for you” he said. My eyebrows shot up and despite the pounding of my heart, the fire in my blood, and the butterflies in my stomach; I felt chilled by his words.

“Why are you worried about me? I’m not going, remember?” I reminded him. Tommy sighed and took my hands in both of his. My heart stuttered again and this time I couldn’t stop the miniscule gasp that escaped my lips. Tommy didn’t seem to notice. His fingers squeezed mine tightly and I was surprised at how soft his hands were.

“I know you Ness, she’ll say something that will worry you enough that you’ll change your mind” he said. As much as I wanted to argue with Tommy, I knew that he was probably right. Cayla was very good at making me change my mind, just by making me feel bad or guilty. I sighed and shook my head.

“Am I that predictable?” I mumbled. Tommy finally let go of my hands but then he put his arms around my shoulders and that was almost worse. Would I ever get used to his touch?

“You’ve just got a big heart and they all know how to manipulate you using that” he said. One of the things Tommy and I had in common was that we both had big hearts, but Tommy wasn’t afraid to show emotion and I was. And Tommy was right, except for him, all my friends had manipulated me into doing what they wanted using that. I sighed deeply and let my head fall. Tommy’s phone went off again and he let out a noise of frustration as he pulled away from me to get it out. I let out a small chuckle and looked up at him.

“Go home Tommy, I’ll see you tomorrow” I said. Tommy grabbed my hand when I turned to walk away and I stumbled back into his arms. The butterflies came back, the fire in my veins reignited, and my heart started up its earlier tempo but I resisted the urge to push myself away from him.

“Promise me that if you decide to go with them you’ll come get me first” he rushed out. I turned around slowly and gently pulled my hand out of his. Tommy didn’t look hurt, just confused. I took a deep breath to settle my nerves and looked up at him.

“I promise Tommy. Goodnight” I whispered. Tommy gave me a small smile and before I knew what I was doing, I’d stood up on my toes and kissed him on the cheek. My face flushed immediately and my mouth fell open in horror, but Tommy’s face lit up. His eyes widened and a huge smile took over his face. Just like looking into the sun, his smile blinded me and I clenched my eyes shut.

“Thanks for dinner” I muttered before starting across the street. For once, Tommy let me go and I didn’t look back until I was on the porch of mine and Cayla’s apartment. Tommy still stood by his jeep, a wide smile on his face and when he saw me looking at him, it grew. I had no idea someone could smile so big. I waved slightly before unlocking the front door and disappearing inside. I’d just sat down in one of the arm chairs when the front door opened again and Cayla came in.

“I know you’re mad………………………………………………………………..………………………….”Cayla cut off when I looked up and she was immediately at my side. I must have looked more stunned than I thought.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. One thing I could always count on Cayla for, is no matter what was going on between us, she would always drop whatever it was and help me if I had something going on.

“I kissed him” I muttered. My face flushed again and Cayla’s mouth fell open. But I could see the upward turn in the corners of her mouth; she was smiling. I covered my face.

“What?! That’s great Vanessa! I’m so proud of you!! Wait, lips or cheek?” she asked. I’d swear Cayla was bipolar with how fast her emotions changed but that was just how Cayla was. I sighed.

“Cheek” I mumbled. Cayla was quiet for a minute so I peeked through my fingers at her. Her bright blue eyes were sparkling but she had a focused look on her face. After another minute, she came out of it and her lips spread into a wide smile. I groaned and covered my face again.

“It’s a start! Tell me what happened, I want to know everything!” she squealed. My eyes widened and I stood up to walk away from her. Cayla jumped up and followed me but I held up my hands to stop her.

“Absolutely not, there is no way you’re dissecting my lapse in judgment. I did it without thinking Cayla!” I said. Cayla squeaked and hopped in place for a few seconds, clapping her hands. When she stopped, she put her hands on my shoulders.

“At least tell me how he reacted. You know Tommy better than any of us. Did he react right?” she asked. I stared at her for a few minutes before sighing in defeat. I wasn’t going to get out of this. I closed my eyes tightly, partly because it would help me remember and so I wouldn’t have to see Cayla’s expression. I remembered Tommy’s reaction to me kissing him; the wide sparkling gorgeous green eyes, the wide excited smile that had spread over his lips, and the light flush that had appeared on his cheeks. My eyes flew open and despite the heat I could feel in my face, I locked eyes with Cayla.

“He was blushing?” I muttered. I said it more to myself than to Cayla, but she still heard me. Her smile grew at the same time that my butterflies returned for a third time that night.

“What does that mean, Ness?” Cayla asked. I clenched my haw to keep my mouth shut and I covered my face again. I knew exactly what it meant even before Cayla had asked. I knew everything about Tommy; he never blushed, except for when he liked a girl. I involuntarily let out a small squeak and Cayla answered with a squeal of her own.

“He likes you, doesn’t he?” Cayla half spoke, half squealed, but it was progress for her. Cayla was hard to control when she was excited. I didn’t trust myself to speak so I moved my hands so she could see my face and I nodded my head. Cayla screamed so loud that I uncovered my face in favor of covering my ears. Cayla bounced around the living room for a few minutes before stopping in front of me again.

“This is what you always wanted, Vanessa! Tommy likes you back! You should go for it!” she exclaimed. I uncovered my ears and shook my head at her.

“No, that’s not my thing. If Tommy really does like me back, he’s gonna have to make the first move” I said. Cayla blew a raspberry at me as I headed across the living room towards my bedroom. I stopped in front of my door with my hand on the doorknob before looking back at her. Cayla stopped in the kitchen doorway when she saw me looking at her.

“I don’t suppose there’s anything I can say to keep you from going tomorrow?” I asked. Cayla smiled gently and shook her head. She didn’t seem to be feeling remorse so I knew she’d made her decision.

“Sorry Nessa, we’re going with or without you and nothing you say is gonna make us stay” she said before disappearing into the kitchen. I sighed in defeat and pushed my door open.

“Yeah, I didn’t think so” I mumbled to myself.

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John Reed: Seadrias masterfully captures the impressiveness and complex scope that a science fiction novel should provide while carefully crafting an entire universe that will leave a reader in awe from start to finish. The only flaw I could find is that I wish I could have read more. This book is certainly...

Felisa Yoder Osburn: I really enjoyed the story. Civil War stories are some of my favorites and the intertwining of the past with current times was wonderful. I look forward to reading the next stories.

Ashley Stryker: So I'm writing this review, keeping in mind that this is a work in progress and it's part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so my "deeper" critiques will be saved until it's all finished up.+ Chapter One: A stewardess would not talk to anyone quite like that, particularly a clear minor...

Dylan: I enjoyed reading this book. Gay romance is not normally my genre of choice, but this was great! The story was very captivating. There was a lot of non stop action and the characters had great personalities. An on fire read!

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Atractivo Sumit: The story is an amazing blend of what we call natural, plain romance along with subtle emotions and interesting twists. The plot is so beautifully interwoven.

Toria Danielle: I must congratulate Erin Swan on completing such a beautiful work. The Rising Sun is well rounded and leaves nothing to be wanted. ALL of the characters and their development are beautifully written. The plot is extremely well thought out. Creating a whole different type of universe is difficult ...

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Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."