Thursday, April 12, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter K

The Letter K

Okay, so I totally forgot to even write a blog entry for K. Things have been hectic around here in so many ways it's not even funny. But it is busy, which is nowhere near a K word. So I'm going to cheat a little and post another excerpt from my YA novel that's almost done being tweaked. Hoping to get my first query out by the end of today.

So here goes... In this section, Shea meets Kae for the very first time. He's had to move from Oklahoma to Cape Cod to live with his grandmother, and is up at the beach walking the dog... again, Blogger screwed up the formatting a bit, so bear with me. And feel free to critique to your heart's content ;-)

Excerpt from SON OF A MERMAID...
 
Shea whistled for Lucky and turned toward the dunes, impatient to dump today’s collection of garbage. The waterlogged rope was pretty smelly, even stuffed at the bottom of the bag. The dog’s sharp bark stopped him in his tracks. He whipped his head back toward the ocean.

Lucky stood at the far end of the beach barking frantically at a little girl with blonde ringlets of hair and huge eyes. She perched on top of the rock jetty with her knees pulled tight to her chest, looking down at the big black dog.

“Lucky!” Shea dropped the bag of trash and broke into a sprint. “Leave her alone, dog!” He slowed a bit as he got closer. “Don’t be afraid, little girl. He’s usually very friendly.” With one last bark, the dog walked to Shea’s side, and lay down on the sand in front of him.

The girl turned her eyes toward him, and he thought he saw a flash of recognition flit across her face before she relaxed the grip on her knees. As she uncurled her long body, he realized the girl wasn’t so little after all. Actually, she might even be about his own age. Despite the early hour and the chill in the air, she wore only a bikini and her curly hair was dripping wet.

“You’re the Garbage Boy, aren’t you?” Her voice sounded like a cross between a whisper and a summer breeze. “I saw you here yesterday.”

He squinted up at her. Long damp hair curled down her back and clung to the tops of her arms, given her a drowned kitten kind of look. Her large green eyes were too big for her face. He decided that even though she wasn’t as pretty as Jeannie, or even Maria, this girl was… interesting.

She smiled down at him. The girl had a nice smile. He felt the muscles in his stomach clench and tighten as he smiled back. “The name’s Shea, not Garbage Boy,” he told her.

“Shea.” When the girl said his name, it tingled in his ears like music touching him all the way down to his toes.

After several awkward moments of silence he asked, “Okay, so what’s your name?”

“My name’s Kae,” she replied with a wide smile, her lips parting to show perfect pearly white teeth.

“Kay?” It didn’t sound the same when he said it.

“Kaa – ee,” she enunciated. She stood and stretched her arms toward the sky. He was right, she looked as tall as him. “You must pronounce all the sounds.”

“Kaa – ee,” he repeated in the same exaggerated fashion and shook his head. “I haven’t seen you on the beach before.”

“You’re the new one,” Kae replied, using both hands to tuck wet hair behind her ears. “My family is here every summer.”

Rich summer people? He remembered his conversation the day before with Martha and tried to imagine what a rich guy like Bobby Joe would do if he met someone like Kae on the beach. Probably not stare at her like a complete fool, he told himself with a mental kick. But he still couldn’t tear his eyes from her face.

“Why do you do it?”

His eyebrows shot up at her question. “Do what?”

“Pick up garbage, for Neptune’s sake. Your efforts are really just a drop in the ocean.” She jumped down from the rocks and stood next to him on the beach. “And the trash belongs to the land, not the sea.”

He stared at her, trying to figure out if she was making fun of him. She stared back, unblinking, cocking her head to one side and running her fingers through her hair. Shea noticed those shining blonde curls were almost completely dried. Does some hair dry faster than others? “It offends me when people treat the ocean like their private garbage barrel,” he finally answered, shaking his head. “And I’m not throwing it back in the ocean. I put it in the barrel so it leaves the beach.”

She smiled at him, and he felt his heart beat faster, suddenly uncomfortable under her watchful eyes. It was like she was looking right inside of him, and he wasn’t completely sure how he felt about that. “How come you’re not in school?” Shea wanted to change the subject, away from him, away from the trash on the beach. “I thought summer people didn’t show up until closer to the Fourth of July.”

She laughed, sounding like the tinkling wind chimes hanging in Martha’s kitchen window. “My parents need to arrive early, so I get to come too. We work for a very important family, and there is much to do to prepare after the long winter season.”

He adjusted his initial assessment. Not rich summer people, but summer workers.

“Where did you come from?” Kae asked, another question out of the blue. “Your voice has a funny accent.”

“I grew up in Oklahoma,” he told her. “But I live here now.”

“Why?”

Shea took in a large breath and held it for a moment, before blowing it out. “There was a tornado. My dad died,” he said slowly, carefully, as if the words themselves might hurt him. “Gramma is the only family I have left.”

“I’m sorry about your dad,” she said, holding his eyes with her gaze. She reached out to touch his arm. Under her gentle hand, his skin tingled, radiating warmth through his body. Shea felt himself relax, and was immediately glad that he’d told her the truth.

The girl touched her other hand to her neck and suddenly, a sharp jolt ran from the base of Shea’s spine down one leg, as if he’d received an electric shock. Lucky jumped to his feet and began to bark at the girl. Startled, Kae quickly released her grasp of his arm and took a step backward. Shea squatted down to scratch behind Lucky’s ear. “It’s okay, Lucky. Just static electricity or something.”

“I hope we can be friends,” Kae smiled, blinking her eyes finally. He noticed how long and thick her eyelashes were.

“Me too.” As Shea returned her smile, his eyes rested on the length of black cord around the girl’s neck. Her fingers were wrapped around the stone dangling from the end, a round black stone with a hexagonal hole through its middle, identical to the one he’d plucked from the waves the previous morning. 

“Where did you…?”

“Hey, you kids!” A loud, crackling voice interrupted his question. Shea turned toward the parking lot and saw a police cruiser parked there with its blue lights flashing. “No dogs on the beach,” boomed the amplified voice from the cruiser’s loudspeaker.

Hurriedly, he bent to clip the leash onto Lucky’s collar. When he looked up, Kae had disappeared. “Where’d she run off to?” he puzzled as he tugged on the leash. He and Lucky ran across the sand, stopping for a second to grab the bag of garbage.