I'm very excited to be showcasing an excerpt from For Ever by CJ Valles
Sixteen-year-old Wren Sullivan can read minds, but when she moves from Southern California to Portland, Oregon, she meets Ever Casey—the one person whose mind is off-limits. Wren does know one thing about her mysterious classmate: he has a dark secret to hide. And the closer she gets to learning the truth, the more dangerous it is for her and everyone around her.
From Chapter 4 (Caring Is Creepy) of For Ever
I turn the key in the ignition. The gut-wrenching screech startles me. The engine sputters for a second before going silent. Counting to ten, I try again. This time, I get nothing at all, which I interpret to mean one thing: a dead battery.
Looking down at the console, I reach up and smack my forehead with my palm. I left the headlights on. I lean forward and rest my head on the steering wheel, praying for a miracle from the car gods. The last thing I need is to call a tow service and put a dent in my car fund. Just the thought of it is making me nauseous. I’m only mildly comforted that in current weather conditions it might take a couple of days for the ice cream in the trunk to thaw.
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding,” I mutter when I reach into my purse.
No cell phone. Still grumbling under my breath, I pull the hood release and climb out. I’m not even sure why I’m bothering. It’s not like I’m going to fix anything. I look out across the mostly empty parking lot, searching for a phone booth. No luck. Next I look for someone who might have jumper cables—and would know how to use them, since I don’t. The few parked cars across the lot are deserted.
Finally, my eyes land on the guy in the hooded sweatshirt. I watch as he stubs out his cigarette and unpeels himself from the brick wall. When he starts walking across the parking lot, I duck behind the hood and try to look like I know what I’m doing. After catching a brief glimpse of what was going on in his head, I don’t want to be stuck alone in parking lot with him.
“Would you mind if I have a look?”
Spinning around, I land butt first on the front bumper, my heart racing like I just did a hundred-meter sprint on the track.
“You almost gave me a heart attack,” I gasp, still clutching my chest.
Ever Casey is standing in front of me, looking like some kind of obnoxiously perfect hallucination.
“You’re young. I think you’ll live,” he says mildly.
Registering his apparently habitual sarcasm, I glare at him, unwilling to let his chilly emerald-green gaze unnerve me.
“Thanks for the health update, doctor.”
He gestures to the car again, and I reluctantly slide out of the way. I take the opportunity to peek past the raised hood. The man who had been making his way in my direction has slinked back to his perch in front of the store. I let out a nervous breath. The sound of Ever’s voice makes me squeak in surprise.
“Try the engine, please.”
He nods and then looks at me like I’m totally out of it. Still skeptical, I sit down in the driver’s seat and turn the key. The engine comes to life instantly, and I flinch when the hood comes down with a thud. Leaving the engine running, I get out and stare in a combination of gratitude and amazement.
“How did you do that? I mean, the battery—”
“Your spark plugs were loose,” he says, cutting me off. “You should have the car serviced more often.”
His high-handed tone makes my cheeks redden.
“It’s my mom’s car,” I say.
I scowl at how petulant I sound. It’s even worse when he doesn’t respond. Instead, he just stands there and watches me in a way that makes me fidget. The rain is pelting us, but he doesn’t seem the least bit concerned. I think about what Ashley said the night before about him being not quite there. There’s no denying that he’s strange, but definitely not detached from reality. Maybe not overly interested in it, I consider. I’m about to ask what he’s doing hanging out in an empty parking lot when I remember the man loitering at the entrance.
“Well, thanks for—”
When he makes a walking motion with his fingers, I stare at him. Who does that? I think in irritated amazement. Again, he gestures toward the car door and then watches as I get back into the driver’s seat and release the parking brake. Furious with him and myself, I back out carefully. What I really feel like doing is gunning the engine and watching him jump out of the way. But when I look in the rearview mirror, he’s nowhere in sight.
I shiver, only partially from being freezing cold. Ever Casey caring—about anything—is creepy. I mean why bother fixing my mom’s car if he’s just going to be a jerk again?
Sounds like a great book! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!