Title: Leftover Girl
Author: C.C. Bolick
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Mystery
At fifteen, Jes keeps her past a secret from everyone she meets. Should she feel bad about the lies? It's not like Jes remembers the night she was found barefoot in the snow. Two people took her in and cared enough to keep her out of a foster home. If only they could keep her from feeling alone. After starting over in a new town, she turns to the only person who understands her. His power should scare Jes, but she's determined to learn why he seems so familiar. As Jes will learn, truth comes at a cost. How far will she go to learn what happened to her parents? Leftover Girl starts an exciting new series that will take one girl from high school to the stars. These books blend high school drama with sci-fi for a mainstream story. Simply written, they're heavy on dialogue with twists you won't see coming, family secrets, and special powers.
Swirling waves gurgled before the water came into sight. We weaved through the trees, walking a tight rope around fingers of poison ivy, until we reached the bank. I removed my shoes and socks, wasting no time in joining the weathered stones. Leaves fell around us, blanketing the water with a splash of color. The air smelled of dirt and rain, and calm, despite the rushing water.
“You know our parents would freak if they found us here.” Bailey laughed at her own bold statement. “If Uncle Justin ever saw you in that water…”
Dad would be furious. He’d tell me how scared I should be, when my heart overflowed with enough happiness to squash any fear. I grabbed a handful of water and washed the dirt and sweat from my face. The water chilled my toes and at times nearly took me for a ride along the rocks. If only I could drift away, be someone else, or maybe have another life.
“Yeah, I know,” was all I said, but I stood in the ankle-deep liquid beauty until we absolutely had to leave.
When the afternoon washed into a purple and orange sky, we wheeled our bikes back across the blacktop. Bailey crossed the yard and I parked behind the house, slipping through the back door. I tiptoed through the kitchen, to where Mom and Dad were talking in the dim living room.
“I think it’s time to tell her,” Mom said.
I flattened against the wall beside the living room entrance, preparing for a detour from the usual ‘kids only’ version of the truth. My stomach fluttered with the certainty they were talking about me.
“You may be right,” Dad said. “I just want her to enjoy being young. You know it’s a luxury my parents didn’t allow.”
Mom sighed. “Knowing her past, I sometimes wonder if I have the right to say she should hear more of the truth, especially when I know she’ll hurt.”
“Lorraine, you have every right. In Jessica’s eyes, you’re her mother and I’m her father.”
“She can’t remember her real parents and I feel horrible. Not knowing what became of them has to plague her mind, even though she hardly tells us.”
“We can’t erase what was done for her protection,” Dad said. “She loves us both and that will never change, but let’s focus on now and not then.”
Mom sighed again, frustration spilling from her voice. “She’ll be sixteen soon.”
“I know.” Dad’s words were a leaking tire.
“You should be the one to tell her.”
“When she’s ready.”
“And when will that be?” she asked. “In case you haven’t noticed, Jes is growing up fast.”
“She held it together so well last year, but I’m afraid she won’t face the truth without pain in some form.”
Oh god, he was sick again. He’d waited so long to tell me before.
Silence filled the room until Mom spoke. “We can only hope for the best.”
“I must take my battle to others and maybe then a cure can be found. It may take a year or more, but the future is worth everything. No matter what happens to me, you must see her through this.”
“You know how much she means to me.”
I drew myself from the wall, ready to cry my eyes out. Dad was sick again, I knew for sure. How long had he hidden the truth this time?
“I’ll talk to her tonight, before I leave. But I’ll only tell her what she needs to know for now.”
Shaking, I managed to climb the stairs and sneak by the boys’ room. Nearly an hour passed as my pillow soaked up a steady stream of tears. I pulled the comforter over my head when Mom opened the door.
She stumbled to a halt. “Jes, I didn’t hear you come in. How long have you been back?”
I tried to hide the shaking in my voice. “Just a little while.”
“Honey, are you okay?”
“Are you sure?” Mom sighed. “Dinner’s in twenty minutes.”
When darkness settled beyond the window, I crawled out of bed and snuck from my doorway to the bathroom. I splashed water on my face to hide how I’d been crying, but it brought no relief from the sick feeling inside.
At the kitchen door, I heard Danny’s voice. “She was there and Bailey—”
Collin jumped in. “They were at a creek.”
“Let me get this straight—the two of you saw Jes and Bailey at a creek.” Dad looked at me. “Jessica, go to the living room. We need to have a talk.” His eyes burned as they moved over me and cut back to the twins. “You two are never to go there again, do you hear me?”
“But, Dad—” Collin said.
“You were both told not to leave the pavement on your bikes. That’s two weeks with no bikes.”
The boys whined as Dad followed my slow progress to the living room. He motioned to the couch but didn’t claim the seat next to me. Instead, he chose to stand in front of the fireplace, with his back to me. The clock ticked endlessly as my thoughts of what to say were in chaos.
Dad rubbed his eyes and turned. “Jessica Ray, I’m very disappointed in you.”
I cut my eyes to the floor. “I know.”
“I’ve expressly told you not to go near water, and look what happened. Your brothers followed you down there.”
My head drifted lower.
“Anything could have happened down there. Your mom and I can’t always protect you, especially if you sneak off.”
The tears returned. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry doesn’t get it. If you ever…” His voice choked. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
I straightened. What would I do without him? When was he going to tell me?
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C.C. Bolick grew up in south Alabama, where she’s happy to still reside. She’s an engineer by day and a writer by night—too bad she could never do one without the other.
Camping, fishing… she loves the outdoors and the warm Alabama weather. For years she thought up stories to write and finally started putting them on paperback in 2006. If you hear her talking with no one to answer, don’t think she’s crazy. Since talking through her stories works best, a library is her worst place to write… even though it’s her favorite!
C.C. loves to mix sci-fi and paranormal—throw in a little romance and adventure and you’ve got her kind of story. She’s written a dozen books including the Leftover Girl series, The Agency series, and The Fear Chronicles.
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