coming June 26, 2014!
VOLUME ONE: Starlight Saga
High school reporter Sloane Masterson knows she has one helluva story when she witnesses hottie Hayden Lancaster bending forks with his mind.
Like any good journalist, Sloane sets out to uncover the truth, even if it includes a little stalking. When the superhuman feats start to pile up and the undeniable heat rises between them, Hayden has no choice but to reveal his secret: he’s an alien hybrid.
They’re as different as night and day—she’s a curvy, purple-haired, horror junkie and he’s a smoking hot, antisocial, brainiac—yet the intense fascination between them refuses to go away. Even at Hayden’s insistence that dating each other is “off limits” and crazy dangerous, their fiery attraction threatens to go supernova.
Now Sloane’s dealing with creepy government agents, über snobby extraterrestrials, and a psycho alien ex-girlfriend out for revenge. After a crash course on the rules of interstellar dating, Sloane must decide if their star-crossed romance is worth risking her own life….
I don’t usually stalk boys, but if I hadn’t been spying on Hayden Lancaster, I never would’ve seen the mind-blowing fork-bending incident.
I scoot back the creaky plastic chair and rest my chin on my fist. Lunch hour is the best time to study my classmates undetected. Especially the tall, hot, and broody ones.
Not that I’m a bad person. Honest. I’ve never narked on anyone. I don’t kick puppies. And I normally don’t play at undercover agent. Well…until today.
“Are you scoping out a new story?” My best friend, Viola Saks, shifts in her seat, her nose stuck in the latest Jack Kilborn novel. Viola prefers her book boyfriends over real guys, and I gotta admit, she has a point. Fictional hotties are way more exciting than the real thing.
“Yup. But right now, I’m only observing,” I say. “People watching.”
Tiny white lie. I’m secretly kicking off: “Operation Lancaster.”
Haven High’s cafeteria is the perfect spot to catch up on gossip, observe clique wars, and witness any mean girl activity. This is where I discover the most newsworthy stories.
As two girls pass our table, one of them bumps my chair without apologizing. To me, the lunchroom is more than just a place to chow down on industrial-grade food. It reminds me of a prison scene, with its hostile mingling and violent chaos, like inmates at mealtime. Saying the cafeteria is only for eating is like saying an underground lair is only for plotting world domination. If you can survive a high school lunchroom, then you can survive anything. Well, with the exception of a zombie apocalypse.
The double-doors swing open and in walks Hayden Lancaster, chin held high. Next to him is his younger brother, Zach, bouncing a basketball with one hand and drinking a soda with the other. Hayden’s eyes are trained directly ahead as they stride across the crowded room.
About time. The focus of my newest article has finally arrived. Opening my purse, I get out my Hello Kitty spiral-bound notebook and pen. Now I’m ready.
The Lancaster brothers are both gorgeous in a way that should be totally illegal, but look nothing alike. Zach is a cocky, dark-haired, all-round jock, and Hayden is the quiet, rockstar-sexy, drummer-type. He’s one of those guys who prefers to function in his own little world. And I’ll admit that I sure wouldn’t mind a starring role on his planet.
But I’m not sure which social group they fit into…the misunderstood-brooding-hot-guys duo?
I covertly look over at Hayden sitting three tables away from mine. He’s six feet tall, and lean, yet muscular. The times we’ve passed each other in the halls, his eyes are usually twinkling as if he knows an intriguing secret. Today, Hayden’s wearing a dark blue short-sleeved, button-up shirt with faded skinny jeans, a studded belt, and scuffed Etnies. On one arm, he has several black rubber bracelets. Nothing too unusual about him.
Except for one very odd feature.
Hayden has two different colored eyes. He turns his head and his light brown fauxhawk falls over his forehead in a messy yet somehow deliberate way, landing over his one strikingly blue eye. The other one is green. Besides the rare heterochromia iridis, he seems to be just another smokin’ hot brainiac.
Flipping open my notebook, I write: Startling eye color and member of the Amazing Hair Club. Check.
Wait. Why am I thinking about how über hot he is? Seriously not important.
Viola lowers her book a fraction. “You’re totally staring at the Lancasters.”
“Oh, right, you’re observing.” She tilts her head. “Most girls can’t resist guys like them. They have that…”
Incredibly sexy quality?
“Dangerous vibe going,” Viola finishes.
I pull out a bag of celery from my lunchbox. “Yeah, I guess.”
Maybe I should write that down. Sexy bad-boys. Check.
Viola points at my lunch. “Your mom on that health food kick again?”
She reaches out a slender arm to nab a French fry.
“Seriously? How are you supermodel thin when you eat stuff like that?” I groan and glance at her slim figure clad in a skintight black dress with thigh-high boots. A silver eyebrow ring glints in the dull light. “I could eat only yogurt for the rest of my life and I’d still be your chubby sidekick.”
She scoffs. “You’re not chubby, Sloane. You’re extra curvy.”
Whatevs. Guess that’s just what people say when you’re a foodie like me.
Viola’s flicks a page of her book. “So what’s this article on?”
I clear my throat. “Actually, I’m investigating Hayden Lancaster.”
“Should be interesting.” One brown eye peeks over the edge of the paperback. “Any particular reason?”
“Because of this hacker rumor going around. The gossip this morning was off the hook. Supposedly, Hayden hacked into the school’s computer system over the weekend to change some grades. School administrators are saying that they’ll probably need a day just to block any security breaches.”
She straightens, lowering her book. “That’s odd. Isn’t he on the honor roll? Why would he need to alter his grades?”
I shrug. “Beats me. Maybe he was doing it for someone else.”
As a reporter for our online newspaper the Haven Gazette, a hacker scandal is way huge. And since my college resume is in dire need of some padding, this assignment was just too juicy to pass up. Plus, a front-page byline will look much more impressive in a hardcore journalism-type of way than my own wicked cool column—Fright Night Babble—where I mainly review and chat about horror films.
My gaze strays back to the brothers. I can tell by Hayden’s jerky head movements that the brothers are engrossed in a heated discussion. Somebody’s not a happy camper. His angular features and flawless skin reddens, and Zach’s square jaw clenches.
Dang it. I’m too far away to read their lips.
Mid-rant, Hayden scoots his chair back, the metal legs squeaking on the linoleum floor. He slides his cell phone out of his pocket and reads the screen, then scratches the stubble on his cheek with a frown. Zach tries to grab the phone, but Hayden shoves it back into his pocket.
“You dumped her, bro?” Zach practically shouts.
Hayden’s hands curl into fists. “Will you stop making a big thing out of it!”
Viola and I exchange a look. For a minute, the entire cafeteria falls silent.
“Whoa.” She points a fry at the brothers. “I wonder what Hayden and Zach are fighting about. And who got dumped?”
“Sounds like it’s over some girl. I didn’t even know he had a girlfriend.”
But it would seem that he’s a free man now. Interesting…
“Neither did I. As far as I know, Zach and Hayden have never even dated any of the girls at this school.” Viola sighs. “Like they think they’re too good for us or something.”
I slam my juice box on the table, purple liquid shooting out of the straw. “Maybe that’s because everyone’s so damn cliquey at this school. It’s just wrong, the way the other kids treat them,” I say. “Did you hear? Someone jacked up Hayden’s locker again with spray paint.” I’m beyond disgusted by some of my classmates’ Neanderthal moves.
“Then maybe you should investigate who keeps screwing with the Lancasters, instead. Hayden and Zach can’t help being sexy and brilliant.” Viola is an advocate for social justice in high school, and totally reading my mind. “Besides, if Hayden got away with the hacking incident, there’s no real story, and you probably won’t find any credible sources to verify the allegation.”
I bite off the end of a celery stalk. “Are you kidding me? There’s a story here—I can feel it.”
“If you say so, but be careful. That boy’s getting a serious rep.”
“True. Except, I think he’d prefer to fly under-the-radar…although it’s a little late now,” I say. “Hayden’s become infamous overnight.”
And by the looks of the fight he’s having with his brother, Hayden doesn’t seem too happy about it.
“But the hacking isn’t the weird part…” I lean closer and lower my voice. “My sources say that Hayden walked away with only a slap on the wrist. No expulsion or suspension, not even Saturday detention. Who gets away with stuff like that?”
She rolls her eyes. “He does, apparently.”
“But why? How?”
These are things I need to know.
Viola sticks a bookmark in her novel. “Whaddya got on Hayden so far?”
I push my hair—originally blonde, and now dyed a bright purple—out of my eyes and scan my notes. “Oh, well, not much. Just that the Lancasters moved to the island about six months ago. Hayden’s a senior and antisocial, and Zach’s a junior and on the basketball team. I heard that Hayden was booted from his last school in Castro Valley and he did a stint in juvie. Should be pretty hard to get in that kind of trouble around here.”
“Agreed.” She smiles teasingly. “We seem to be short on our quota of cute psychos.”
I roll my eyes. Viola goes back to reading, and I go back to stalking. I busy myself by searching through my purse for something, but glance out the corner of my eye.
Hayden’s gesturing with his hands in a harassed way. The ropey stomach muscles beneath his tight shirt flex across his midsection with each movement. And I’ll bet my collection of George A. Romero DVDs that he has rock-hard abs.
Zach grunts loudly and twirls the basketball on one finger. Hayden looks around nervously, his shoulders hunched. When his extraordinary eyes lock onto mine, an unfamiliar thrill shoots through my veins. Even from a short distance, the boy looks mouthwatering good. Then he stiffens and his eyes harden into dichromatic chips of ice.
Although I’m obviously busted, I can’t look away. The thump of my galloping heartbeat thunders in my ears. There’s a wariness lingering in his expression that I don’t understand. As though ignited by kerosene, my body temperature rises and I tear my gaze away. Then a fierce spark of panic hits hard.
Is my hair tangled? My pencil skirt unzipped? Lip gloss on my teeth?
Pulling a quick ninja hair check, I look out the nearby window while surreptitiously using the reflection to ensure that my flyaway hair looks tame. I sweep a hand around my waist to check my zipper, and then run my tongue over my teeth. All good. I grip the hem of my black tee under my leather jacket, the silver studded leather cuff on my wrist digging into my stomach, and yank it down. Much better.
Embarrassing situation averted.
Swallowing hard, I shift in my seat. I need a minute to calm down, so I stare at my notebook, picking invisible lint from the wire spiral. The peculiar feeling in my chest gradually shrinks, as if a vacuum is pulling the swirling emotions from my body.
A few seconds—that seem like hours—pass before I gather the nerve to look over at the Lancaster’s table again. Thankfully, Hayden is back to arguing with his younger brother.
“You know, this story is actually the perfect excuse to get closer to a guy you’ve been crushing on for the last few months,” Viola says.
More like six months, four days, and thirteen hours. But who’s counting?
“This is just for the paper. Someone has to write it,” I say casually, although a part of me is secretly thrilled at the prospect of getting the inside scoop on Hayden Lancaster.
Right now he’s only a news story. Never mind the fact that a mere glance from the teen Adonis turns my insides into a quivering mass. I just have to remember that I’m a professional. I got this. And Like any great journalist, I must note every detail, so I jot down: Hayden: hacker and computer geek. Check.
“Doing anything fun this weekend?” Viola asks.
I shake my head. “Nope. I’m on babysitting duty.”
“Again? That blows. Your dad still out of town?” She grabs a fry off her plate and sticks it into her mouth.
I sigh. “Yup. Which means I’m stuck looking after the menace my parents spawned.”
“I think your little brother’s cute.”
I meet Viola’s steady gaze and deadpan. “That’s because he doesn’t live with you.”
She laughs. “Maybe I shouldn’t complain about being an only child.”
“You got that right.”
“I said no!”Hayden’s sharp tone carries across the room. He thumps his fist on the table so hard that a bowl of uneaten potato salad almost topples over.
Zach’s eyes narrow to slits and his face darkens. He leans toward his brother and speaks in a hushed voice. Hayden’s tightly clutching a stainless steel fork in his left hand. He blows out a frustrated breath and nods at whatever Zach’s saying to him.
I quickly add to my notebook: Hayden’s a lefty and brings his lunch to school. Check.
When I look up, my eyes widen. Hayden’s ears are bright red and his whole body tenses, as if he wants to punch his smartass sibling. Suddenly the metal fork clenched in his fist folds in half, like it’s made out of pliable, soft plastic.
Pause. Rewind. What the hell?
My jaw practically hits the table. My eyes must be playing tricks on me. Did that fork really just flop over like a warm Hershey bar?
My body twitches with the sudden urge to snatch up the utensil for a closer inspection. I blink and look again. Everything inside me screams to deny it, but really, how can I? The twisted stainless steel proof is right there in front of me. The deformed fork still clenched tightly in his hand is like a beacon of unreality.
Hayden—sexy-lone-wolf—suddenly went from stoic recluse to interesting hottie.
Frantically, I draw a bent fork in my notebook and write: Hayden can bend metal objects with his mind. Check.
My empty stomach churns. This is way too bizarre, even for me. Maybe I’ve been sucked into some freaky SyFy original movie. Because this kind of epic weirdness usually only happens in scary movies, not in real life.
I look at Viola. She’s still absorbed with her novel and no one else seems to have noticed the fork bend in half.
I bump her with my shoulder. “Did you see that?”
She doesn’t look up from her book, but a few strands of glossy black hair tickle the pages. “No. What?”
With a trembling hand, I reach out and touch Viola’s arm, desperate for an anchor in the midst of such improbability. It’s as if a door has burst open to some strange new world.
Viola lowers the paperback. “Sloane, what’s wrong? You look paler than usual.”
What can I say that won’t sound batshit crazy? That I saw Hayden doing—what? Using some mystical-type mojo?
Before I can utter a word, Hayden drops the fork onto the table with a clatter and stiffly crosses his arms. Zach grabs it and tosses the warped utensil behind him in the trash. They continue to argue in low tones.
Now the evidence is gone, and if I try to explain, my best friend might accuse me of rocking the crazy pants. And it’s probably not a good idea to make a scene in front of the whole school. This can wait.
“Never mind. I’m fine,” I mumble.
Hayden pushes away from the table and storms out of the cafeteria. Grabbing my phone from my bag and pretending to listen to a voicemail, I scoot back my chair and speed-walk across the room to stand by the windows. Hayden marches over to the closest tree and slams his fist into the bark. Talk about anger issues. Shaking out his hand, he stalks toward the parking lot, which probably means he’s cutting his next class.
Unless I go digging through the trash for that fork, I will need additional proof that something is off about Hayden Lancaster. It seems the computer hacking is just the tip of the iceberg.
I return to my seat and scan my notes. Now that I think about it harder, Hayden and Zach look like typical teens, but they’re almost too perfect. Extremely attractive. Very athletic. And super smart. Now, the fork mutilation.
Too freakin’ weird to ignore.
Viola leans over my shoulder. “What are you doing?”
“I’m keeping a list.”
She frowns. “Huh?”
“My observations on Hayden for a possible scandalous article.”
“Lemme see that.” She snatches the notebook from my hands and flips through the pages like a cop checking notes. “I think the salad your mom is forcing you to eat is warping your brain.”
When Viola finishes, she hands me the notebook and says lightly, “I’d say vampire, but he can go out in daylight. A relative of Superman?”
My pulse races at the idea of him being something otherworldly.
“Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe he is a fledgling superhero…” I start to jot that in my notebook, and then vehemently cross it out. “Nah. Hayden’s a computer geek. Doubt he’d make much of a crusader.”
Viola dips a limp fry into her ketchup. “Then he’s a villain.”
Criminal mastermind. Check.
The bottom falls out of my stomach. Who the heck is this guy? And what if his whole scowly bad-boy act isn’t just an act?
Leaning back, I resolve to do what any good journalist would do: I’ll go stalking for answers. The pen in my hand slightly trembles as I write: Proceed with caution. Check.