Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaser | Allusive Aftershock by Susan Griscom #AllusiveAftershock #TeamSusan


I tugged up my jeans and shrugged on a long-sleeved shirt, buttoning it one-handed, grabbing an elastic band from the doorknob with the other. I didn’t even bother combing my hair, just ran my fingers through the tangles, and pulled it back, looping the hair band several times around it. I snatched my jacket from the hook behind the door, pulling it on as I ran to the kitchen, grabbed an apple from the bowl filled with assorted fruit on the counter, and shoved it into my jacket pocket.

Passing the living room, I saw the mess of scattered, broken china on the floor in front of the hutch. Mom stood at the edge of the room, shaking her head. I could almost feel her anguish at the sight in front of her. With her hands clasped together, fingers folded into the soft peach Angora wool of her sweater, she crushed the collar close to her chin as if it was a security blanket; maybe it was to her. My dad had given her that sweater last Christmas and she wore it all the time.

“Sorry, Mom.” I wanted to comfort her but she waved me on, not even looking at me. The china set, an heirloom from my mother’s family, passed down for five generations, would have one day belonged to Ambrosia or me. Well, that decision was no longer an issue. At that moment, I realized nothing lasts forever. Particularly porcelain china.

The smell of hay mixed with horse manure assaulted my nose when I strolled into the stable no less than two minutes later. Most people cringe at that smell, but I embraced it. It meant I was near Big Blue. I walked past my dad who’d already shoveled most of the hay into the trough, and headed straight to Big Blue’s stall.

“Adela, don’t go in there yet. He’s very skittish and might stomp on you by accident. I’m going to give Courtland Reese a call. I want him to check out Blue before you ride him. That is, if he hasn’t already been solicited by another rancher around here.”

“Dad, seriously? Courtland Reese? Come on. I know Big Blue better than anyone. I can handle him, can’t I, big boy?” I said, as I got closer to my horse.

Courtland Reese was the boy everyone at school hated and made fun of because of his freakish connection to animals. Well, Max hated him, mostly. Everyone else just went along with whatever Max said.

I reached over the gate and placed my hand on Blue’s head and he reared back, flaring his nostrils as if he didn’t know me. I recoiled in shock.

No. Big Blue can’t do this. He’s my baby. I had been there when he was born, the very first person he’d seen as he lay there covered in that white gooey-looking transparent sac. It gave his midnight black coat a bluish tint. I’ll never forget Dr. Showbert, the veterinarian, saying Blue was the largest colt he had ever seen. I knew from that very moment what I would call him.

“Shhhh. Big Blue, shhhh. That’s it. Come on, it’s okay,” I coaxed in my softest persuasive voice as Big Blue inched closer to the gate and let me stroke his beautiful black face. I gently traced the white diamond on his forehead, a gesture he always seemed to love, and a bubbling thrill tingled throughout my blood when he nuzzled my cheek.

I was pleased that Blue let me pet him, but my mind seethed with anger over the prospect of Courtland Reese, a guy my own age, handling my horse. A boy Max despised. A boy who was the talk of every rancher within ten miles of Pleasant Ridge. He always seemed different from other boys, standoffish, and he looked a bit older than the rest of the guys in school. It was rumored—if you paid attention to those sorts of things—that Courtland had some weird ability to communicate with animals, particularly horses. Back in elementary school, kids made fun of him, calling him “Dr. Doolittle” and “freak.” Not so much anymore though, now that we were all seniors and way too cool for such immature behavior—well, most of us. Max still referred to him as “Freakazoid.” Courtland was also half Miwok Native American and most people said that was where he got his strange ability. I think a lot of the kids regarded him as scary and unapproachable more than anything else. He was quiet and didn’t socialize much, which didn’t help his reputation. I’d always thought he had a certain bad-boy look—sort of a leftover hot guy from that movie, “The Outsiders.” Yeah, I’m an 80’s movie nerd.

Certain that I could do better than Courtland, I smiled and nuzzled Big Blue right back. Courtland Reese had nothing compared to this kind of love. Big Blue was mine and nobody could ever soothe him the way I could. “See, Dad? Big Blue is fine. We don’t need Courtland.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t like Courtland. All I really knew about the guy was what Max told me. Maxen Wendell, my best friend, future boyfriend and husband, only he didn’t know it yet, was an excellent judge when it came to sizing up people. Max was popular, always had been, just the opposite of Courtland. I sort of felt special that Max actually hung around with me … considering I wasn’t popular. Max and I became friends outside of school because we lived close to each other and I was probably the only other person his age within six miles other than Courtland.
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About the Author
Susan Griscom writes paranormal romance, but her playing field delves into a different milieu than the usual vampires and werewolves. Some day she might write about fangs and fur, but for now she prefers sticking to strong heroes and heroines confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers and abilities beyond the norm, mixed with a little romance to get the blood boiling.

A self-proclaimed dreamer, her favorite pastime is reading, but writing is her passion.

Susan, a member of Romance Writers of America, lives in the Sierra Foothills in Northern California with her very romantic husband, her small yippy dog, Riley, and her humongous black cat, Saké. Her family consists of his and hers; four wonderful sons and one beautiful daughter, four grandchildren and two more on the way. Susan has said that when a story takes hold and pulls her into the fantasy, that's magic.

You can visit Susan at http://www.susangriscom.com/ or email her at susangriscom1@gmail.com or susangriscom@hotmail.com.

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