Archived – Something Of A Kind by Miranda Wheeler

 

Something Of A Kind by Miranda Wheeler Tour Schedule:

 

 

As a 17-year-old artist, Alyson Glass had her future mapped – she’d go to art school, study in Paris, and eventually make enough bank to support her single mother. The trouble is, things don’t always go as planned – especially a sneak attack of stage-four ovarian cancer.

 

Suddenly motherless and court-ordered to move in with her estranged father, Aly’s forced to leave behind her New York hometown for the oddities of Alaska. Ashland seems like cruel and unusual punishment – at least until her dad ditches her at a local restaurant and she crashes into a super-hot, guitar-playing diner-boy with a horrific home life.

 

Noah Locklear is used to waiting – waiting for his shift to end, waiting until his drunkard parents go to bed, and waiting for the day he can get his sister away from their dysfunctional family. The summer before senior year, the elusive researchers that ruthlessly pry into Ashland’s history shatter a final cord with Noah’s abusive father, one of the town’s elders. Unfortunately, as far as his parents are concerned, the new girl who’s changing everything belongs to the outsiders. With their relationship increasingly forbidden, the struggle of knowing who to trust reveals that nothing is what it seems.

 

As Aly encourages Noah to investigate the legends he’d always written off as stories, they uncover the one thing their fathers can agree on: there’s something in the woods.

 

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A current high school student, 16-year-old author Miranda Wheeler lives with her loving family in her hometown of Torrington, Connecticut. An avid reader, she’s been whipping through books and producing novel-length projects (though none published prior to Something Of A Kind) from the early age of eleven. Having previously released short stories, some published in magazines such as TeenInk and others via “indie” mediums, she has many plans of continuing to write, as well as pursuing other passions and an eventual teaching career. While the official cover is a work in progress and the title won’t be released until the promotional media is obtained, several other projects are in the works: a YA steampunk novella, a YA paranormal romance, and a YA sci-fi-series, in addition to unofficial talks of a Something Of A Kind sequel.

 

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Excerpt from Something Of A Kind:

Day faded from the sky, leaving a periwinkle residue where the sun dropped below the horizon. As it continued to darken, a crackling fire was the only light in the forest’s pool of black. Between the heat radiating from Noah’s side and the close lick of flames, the night’s unseasonable chill was hardly a menace.

Alyson flinched as a popping knock drew her attention to the trees. She expected Owen or Luke to come running from the shadows laughing, having disappeared again without notice.  Instead, they sat across from her, looking confused and alarmed. Noah’s brow furrowed as he stared at them. She assumed he had the same inclination.

The knocks continued, increasingly louder, like someone was throwing boulders at a tree. A sudden silence was quickly pierced with a whooping screech, like an owl. As the boys traded confused stares, Noah shook his head.

“Can’t be.”

“No way. No way, no way!” Owen repeated, his eyes scanning the coniferous silhouettes. His head cocked as he listened harder, like a trained house dog investigating noise.

“Yes, yes!” Luke whispered excitedly, back arching and hand cupped over his ear. A series of foreign howls answered.

Aly shifted with anxiety. “Those are coyotes. It’s getting dark.”

“They’re different though. Listen. Shh,” Luke shushed, face tensing.

“No way,” Owen repeated. “Seriously?”

Aly glanced up, offering a questioning stare.

Noah explained hesitantly, “They think it’s the wood beast.” She frowned, trying to summon the mental image of the monkey-like totem pole. Seeing her concern, he added, “Because they’re idiots.”

“Hey now, don’t hate,” Luke insisted, listening for a second whoop. “It’s the Gigit, man.”

“The what?” Aly asked, pulling her hoodie closer around her. The sound continued, and seemed to summon quiet. It was difficult not to hear, like something big was in pain.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Luke demanded, waving his hands as though he was directing traffic. “You are Greg Glass’s daughter, and you don’t know what the Gigit is?”

“My father and I are not exactly close.” Aly sighed, ignoring the hackles along her spine. She spoke clearly and firm, setting straight a record too warped for her own comprehension.

“Noah would know all about parental issues,” Luke added. “A real ballbuster that one.”

“What’s the guy-geet?”

“The Gigit… like Omah-” Owen began.

“Bigfoot,” Noah chimed.

She laughed, cheered on by another round of howling coyotes. “Sasquatch, hmm?” They grinned, pleased with themselves. “I’m not really getting the Greg reference, but that’s priceless.” She applauded lightly, forcing the discomfort of the noise away, out of her head.

“She’s joking, right?” Luke asked, turning to Owen and Noah for an explanation.

“My father’s a biologist.”

“Researcher,” Owen corrected, suspiciously.

“A biologist,” she repeated, adding, “Not exactly an anthropological-phenomena buff. He sent me a pamphlet about the area for Christmas when I was seven, but I think that’s the extent of his cultural interest. I can’t imagine he’s all that into legends. He pleads science like it’s an amendment.”

Noah bit his lip. Owen and Luke blinked, chuckling nervously, unsure how to gage her seriousness.

What am I missing here?

A thunderous crack sent Owen and Luke to their feet, alarmed. Noah tensed, gently placing a concerned hand on the small of her back.

“Like you said, it’s getting late.” Noah’s eyes moved between Aly, his friends, and the forest’s shifty profiles.

“We should leave,” Owen agreed, nodding emphatically with Luke, who was silent for the first time since Aly met him.

She watched as Owen dumped water on the fire and stomped out the embers, bending his leg backward to inspect his sneakers for melted rubber. Flicking on flashlights and gathering their bags hurriedly, Owen and Luke scrambled, looking increasingly nervous.

Where Noah’s hand rested, he began to trace small circles. She resisted the urge to let her eyes flutter shut; tingles sparked the skin beneath his touched.

When Noah stood, she was reluctant to move, as though her stillness would convince him to sit again. As the howls continued, she shivered. Accepting his offered hand, Aly followed as the others tore down the trail.

“Bizarre,” she murmured, waiting until Luke and Owen had disappeared around a corner. They ran ahead for the quads like a tsunami was about to lap at their ankles.

They say the waters come slow.

“Welcome to Ashland,” Noah laughed. The stress of the situation immediately dissipated. She smiled, her shoulders relaxing as he continued, “So what’s your theory?”

“My theory?” She was unsure how to answer. “Is that Luke suffers from Napoleon syndrome.”

“Evil,” he considered, “but justified.”

“You see it?” Aly teased, leaning against his arm. He walked with his hands in the pockets of his jeans. She felt herself mirroring his body language.

It occurred to her the posture wasn’t in her physical vocabulary, and suddenly felt unnatural. Aly eased her fingers out of the pockets of her boot cuts, locking her fists into her elbows, hugging herself.

“I do,” Noah agreed. “They’re awful aren’t they? Possibly the worst way to convince a pretty girl to stick around.”

She found herself holding her breath again, and slowly exhaled. He smiled to himself, watching her reaction as carefully as she searched his. She let her hair fall across her face, breaking eye contact. Shifting, she forced to shoulders slacken beneath the scrutiny.

I’m being such a freak.

“Not awful,” she corrected. Staring at her wringing fingers, she was unsure how to calm the flutter in her chest. Aly smiled, braving a glance at his eyes.

He squinted across the horizon as they walked, his grin fading in distant thought.

Her gaze traveled the hem along his shoulder, realizing his jacket would have been unseasonable in a Kingsley summer. Even if to escape the plague of black flies, he’d seem peculiar amongst crowds of bare skin and swim shorts. It was unheard of to avoid the lake beaches in June. The water was cherished until tourists invaded mid-July.

A dimple quirked, preceding his growing smile before twisting to an unreadable expression. Pushing up his sleeve, he scratched at his wrist.

She caught a flash of ink. With her fingers outstretched, she traced the curling image of a snake, while pretending not to notice his shiver.

“Is this what Owen was talking about?” Aly asked, endlessly curious. She hoped that removed from the previous conversation, he wouldn’t be so quick to unnerve. The nagging thought was irresistible.

“Yeah,” he said, tugging on the fabric to expose the tattoo. Twisting his wrist, he scrutinized the work like it was a recent discovery. “In a lot of cultures, the snake represents regeneration and revival. Shedding the skin… It’s supposed to be the end of an existence and the beginning of another, in the middle of your life. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world. I don’t think rebirth is supposed to be, though.”

“It’s beautiful,” Aly whispered. The style was tribal, but not native in an Alaskan-indigenous sense. She couldn’t place an origin, only noticing it was more fierce than cartoonish, certainly not grotesque. She didn’t understand what he was thinking. Grinning, she added, “Much more manly than the apron.”

He laughed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.  Pulling her close, he planted a playful kiss on the head. She bit her lip, unable to disguise her smile.

Okay, try not to die.

He watched her for a moment before becoming lost in thought, his thumb tracing the serpent. After a while, she realized he was considering the afternoon’s events.

“He’s a good guy – Tony. He and his wife used to do foster care and stuff before she died. I mean, he drinks, but everyone does. That’s Ashland,” Noah said, finally. “He’s the most lighthearted drinker in town though, strange… goofy, I guess. Not so depressing and sloppy. When my sister, Sarah, was a toddler, he actually saved her from a rip current. You’d think he’d be a hero or something the way the locals talk. People don’t get him, but he’s cool.”

“Why don’t they like him, then?” Aly mused, tucking a curl behind her ear.

“They’re judgmental. What are you going to do?” Releasing a sigh, he bit his lip, shifting his gaze to her again.

Noting that it was rhetorical, Aly stayed silent as he watched her. They shared a snicker when they reached the lean-to, finding the other quads gone. He unlocked a chain from the key-start and ignited the engine.

Taking his hand, Aly was more than happy to join him.

 

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Jaidis

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