BACKGROUND: This week's teaser is an excerpt on my paranormal YA, THE EXILED. This particular scene is the day after Brianna's arrival to Sitnalta, a village in a hidden reality in Ireland. She's sitting in the kitchen of the pub and talking with Hannah, (the cook) and Kian (one of only 5 boys her age in the village).
“Bree?” Kian asked, pulling me from my thoughts. “You okay? You look like you’re sick or something.”
Hannah glanced over, a look of worry on her face. “Are you feeling ill, Honey? Those awful contraptions, cramming so many people into such a tiny space.”
I shook my head. “No. I’m fine. Just got a lot on my mind.” That was the understatement of the century.
Hannah nodded her head. “I can’t imagine it’s easy traveling all alone away from everyone you know.”
If I hadn’t already liked her, this would have done it. The fact that she understood. It didn’t matter she couldn’t do anything about it. Just knowing she realized I didn’t want to be there and I wasn’t just going to accept it and move on, made me feel so much better.
“No, it’s not, but it’ll probably be easier when I get to know people.”
“Sure it will,” Hannah said. She glanced at Kian, and then at me. “So…do you have a young man who’s waiting for you back home?”
I concentrated on the food in front of me. “No. I did, but we broke up a few months ago.” When I looked up, I saw Kian staring at me and I touched a hand to my mouth. “What? Do I have syrup on my face or something?”
He chuckled. “No, just looking.”
I blushed and looked back down at my plate. It must be something in the air. Why was everyone hitting on me? Then I laughed at myself. Maybe they weren’t flirting. I’d always heard Irishmen were friendly with the ladies; it was probably just that Irish hospitality.
“Enjoying the view?” I asked, testing out my flirting skills again, thinking it would be interesting to see his reaction.
He leaned forward, and twisted a lock of my hair around his finger. “Yes. I’d like to see what else the view has to offer though.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but Hannah took her wooden spoon and rapped him on the head. “Leave the poor girl alone, Romeo. She has enough worries without adding you to the list.”
Kian waited until she’d turned back around, before rolling his eyes. “You should spend the day with us, Bree. We can get you started on meeting people.”
“Us?” I asked.
“Yeah, my friends and I. I’m sure they’d like to get to know you,” he wiggled his eyebrows at me, “and I know I want to.”
I lowered my head so I could peer through my lashes and when I spoke, I deepened my Southern twang. “Now why would you want to get to know little ‘ol me for?”
Hannah snorted from her spot at the stove. Kian ignored her, and with a mischievous smile, leaned closer. “Well, now that you ask--” He was cut off when Patrick walked through the back doors and stopped in his tracks.
Patrick looked back and forth between the two of us, as Kian sat back in his seat and I focused on my plate. Patrick’s fist clenched, and then he asked, “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Kian mumbled and shoveled more food into his mouth, while I shook my head in amusement. That boy could eat.
Patrick glanced over at me, but I kept my mouth shut. If Kian didn’t want to talk about it, I wasn’t going to either.
Eventually, Patrick gave up and sat next to me. “Good morning, Angel. Did you sleep well?” he asked, with laughter in his eyes.
I shrugged. “As well as can be expected when I’m trapped somewhere I don’t want to be with a man who won’t even let me call my own mother.”
Hannah snorted and tried to cover it up with a cough, but Patrick frowned over at her anyway.
“You’re not trapped,” he said, facing me again.
“Yeah, okay, whatever. How do you explain the fact that I don’t have the Internet and I can’t call my friends,” I responded, with an eye roll toward Kian, who laughed.
Patrick glowered at him. Kian became very interested in his breakfast again. Then Patrick leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “You know exactly why I couldn’t let you talk to your friends.” His breath tickled my ear and I shivered in response.
“No, I don’t. All I know is you won’t tell me the real reason I’m here. Are you going to tell me now, or are you going to find another excuse not to.”
He glanced over at Hannah and Kian. “I can’t now. Later.”
I shook my head and hissed through my teeth. “Yeah, I figured.” I stood up. “Listen, Kian is going to take me to meet his friends. Is that okay, or am I barred from trying to make new friends, too.”
Patrick narrowed his eyes at Kian, who ducked lower in his seat, but otherwise didn’t move, before turning his attention back to me. “No, I’m sure it’s fine. He’ll keep you safe.” He turned back to Kian. “By the way, that reminds me. Did you have any problems yesterday? Did you find each other okay?”
Kian shrugged. “No, it was just as you said, Boss. I was to look for a pretty girl, causing trouble.” He winked at me and I smiled in return.
Patrick raised one eyebrow and then smirked at me, taking a bite of the pancakes Hannah had placed in front of him. “Oh, was there trouble?”
“No. No trouble. We found each other quickly,” I said, not wanting to go into, or remember, the events from yesterday.
Kian on the other hand didn’t seem to understand what I wanted and blurted out, “She didn’t cause the problem, but she was a part of it. Apparently the woman who sat next to her on the plane just passed out for no reason.”
Patrick eyes focused on mine. “She just passed out?”
I nodded and felt a pressure in my head, as if I were coming down with a head cold. “Yeah, it was odd. She was fine, talking to me as we’d been the whole time, and then the next thing I know, she’s convulsing on the floor.” I shuddered as I remembered the blood coming from her mouth and nose.
Patrick dropped his fork and grabbed my hands in his, startling me. I exchanged a glance with Kian, as Patrick asked, “What happened before that? Did you see or hear anything odd?”
I shook my head no, but Kian interrupted, “She said she saw a shadow go over the woman’s eyes.”
Patrick’s hands tightened on mine. “A shadow? In her eyes?”
The look on his face scared me, almost as much as what had happened, so I decided to tell him everything. Even if that mean he would see me as an idiot. I was sure it was better than the alternative. “Yes, and then they turned pitch black.”
“What color were they originally?”
“Uh, violet, but it wasn’t a normal violet. It was so strange. I can’t really describe it.”
The pressure inside my head increased and it felt like I was being stabbed with hundreds of tiny knives. I rubbed my fingers over my eyes, in the hope I’d stop the pressure or pain, or both.
Without warning, Patrick grabbed me and gave me a slight shake. “Damn it, stop fighting me. For once in your life, stop being so damn hardheaded and let me in!”
Confused, I could only stare at him as the pain continued behind my eyes. “Let you in where?”
“In your head. I need to see what you saw!”