Curious (3 novels in 1)
by D L Richardson
Genres: Young adult - urban fantasy/paranormal spy adventure/paranormal romance
Book Length: 536 pages
Publisher: self published
Three full length novels in one supernatural collection.
In THE BIRD WITH THE BROKEN WING, a guardian angel finds herself trapped in Purgatory with a young soldier she was assigned to watch over. She knows the terrible secret that's keeping him trapped in limbo, but can't understand why she's stuck with him. In FEEDBACK, three teenagers receive the organs of deceased CIA agent and inadvertently take on the task of completing the mission the spy died midway through, that of deactivating bacteria bombs threatening millions of lives. In LITTLE RED GEM, bad advice from a ghost, magic courtesy of an unsuspecting half-sister, and a televised music talent show see this teen make more of a mess in death than she ever made in life. That's over 500 pages of action, drama, adventure, teen issues, and romance in one unputdownable book.
I jumped in surprise when a car came up on my left and honked its horn, whizzing by in a blur of chrome. “I don’t think so, buddy.” I accelerated. If the cops wanted to stop me, they’d have to use air support. Getting myself on TV only added to the thrill of the chase. Concern over my reckless driving should have registered, but it didn’t. The speedometer now read 140 miles per hour. AC/DC screeched about “Hells Bells,” and the rain didn’t lessen. If I lost control now, I’d smash into the concrete barriers lining the highway. It’d be game over. No way I’d survive the impact. What a shame this last train of thought wasn’t on whether I’d survive or not, but on whether I’d care. Lightning bolts exploded across the sky and lit up the windshield. In that brief flicker of visibility, I spotted the plane on fire, blocking the highway—and the spaceship blowing up a bridge with luminous green laser beams. I let go of the wheel, idly watching the Lamborghini plow into the concrete barrier. Metal fragments and orange flames danced in front of me. The sound of something exploding boomed through the speakers. The words GAME OVER flashed across the television screen. The plane had been okay, but the spaceship insulted me. For sure, the makers of the game reckoned it’d be a hoot to throw unrealistic obstacles in my path. I tossed the Xbox controller aside and scratched my numb backside. My life couldn’t get any worse…might as well go to school.
A spy’s job is to infiltrate an environment, gather intelligence, and report back to the government. The CIA was aware that Hank harbored secrets, but what those secrets were continued to elude them. Three weeks ago, I’d been given the job of uncovering them. Yesterday, I’d had a breakthrough when I’d discovered the stockpile of chemical weapons that Hank’s company manufactured. Without waiting to report back to the government, I’d set about removing the bombs from their original locations—The Coliseum, Disneyland, and Universal Studios—and I’d hidden them in unpopulated areas instead. In the unlikely event that my plan failed and the bombs went off, the damage would be minimal. The CIA wouldn’t hang me out to dry for minimal damage, so my unblemished career would remain intact—mostly. Concealing the bombs offered only a short-term solution. Ahead lay the challenge of hacking into Hank’s secure computer system to uncover the deactivation codes. Retrieving data from a secure computer system wasn’t as easy as TV made it look. Secret documents were usually given file names like Birthday Pics or Phone Bill. Only an idiot gave the documents their real file names such as Bomb Locations. Hank Miller was an evil madman, but he wasn’t a stupid evil madman. I’d located the file containing the manual deactivation codes, but without first disabling the bombs with an overriding code, sort of like a booby trap, the manual codes were useless. I had fifteen days left to find the codes. After that, boom. Ex
Wanting to run and actually running were two different things. For many reasons. My legs were like concrete pylons, numb from sitting on the plastic chair for so long. The acrid perfume wafted toward me again like an invisible web, trapping me to the seat. Miss Redkins blocked my exit, and the incessant beep-beep-beep of her phone from texting the encyclopedia acted like a sensor alarm. I’d never liked the sense of being trapped. I nudged Melanie, and she begrudgingly moved over half an inch. No amount of fresh air would appease me. I should be the one up on stage, not Katrina. “Sit where you can watch me,” Katrina had demanded during breakfast this morning. “She’s practiced real hard,” Mom had added, kissing Katrina on the cheek. “She’s always wanted to be a dancer like her big sister.” The spotlight dimmed. I wanted to cheer and applaud Katrina’s tiny feet in first position, but my heart had sunk to somewhere stinkier than the bottom of the trash can. I slid down into the chair. If I had to be stuck here, at least I’d attempt to shrink into myself. Hiding behind my fringe would have been a good option, except that clips held my hair on top of my head. I couldn’t lift up the collar of my school blazer. It hung in my locker. I might have used the collar of my white shirt to shield my face from the crowd, but that look was so last year. My final hope lay in covering my face with my hands, but I doubted I’d be able to stop the flow of tears if I did. Why couldn’t Katrina have been born with a bad kidney? She’d be in the audience and I’d be the one up there on the stage. But Katrina didn’t have a defective kidney. She had a tutu and a dance coach.
Little Red Gem Excerpt 1 …
“You all right?” Leo said. “You look a little shaken.” I stared at him and thought to myself: No, I am not all right. Two weeks ago I’d skipped my period. Since then I hadn’t been able to look at anything the same way. A burger was no longer a tasty lunch; it was an animal that had once lived. A black bear was no longer a pest who broke into trash cans; it was a product of a species that placed material objects above that species’ home. All of my innocent and inept teenage philosophies about life and death and everything in between had come barging towards me demanding I set down some new rules. The top of the list of discussion points was: When did a boyfriend stop being a boyfriend? I hadn’t yet decided on the answer but the top two contenders were, 1) when he became a father, and 2) when he found out his girlfriend was pregnant and became an ex-boyfriend. Why did the first adult decision of my life have to also be the biggest? And why, despite the two smiling faces captured in the photos stashed deep in my bag, did it feel as if this decision was mine alone to make? Overwhelmed, I burst into tears. Leo slipped his arms around me and hugged me tightly to his chest. “Hey, it’s okay. We weren’t in any kind of danger. Those cars were way off. But babe, if it makes you feel any better, I promise not to drive and talk on the phone at the same time. You know I’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy.” As Leo led me back to the car I let myself believe that our souls and hearts were like grafted plants or symbiotic life forces, too deeply entwined to let anyone or anything threaten to destroy us. But something already had.
Little Red Gem Excerpt 2
…The way frost crunches under foot, my insides crusted over to warn me that Leo’s earlier words and my mother’s years of warnings against falling in love with the wrong man wouldn’t die so easily now that they were planted and had taken root inside my head. I had believed that Leo and I would be together forever. I still wanted to believe it. Badly. So why was I running away? I told myself to forget about this silly argument and go inside the cabin with Leo. The other boys might not like it, but I needed Leo more than they did. When I next blinked, instead of picturing Leo’s eyes – deep pools of chocolate, warmer than the flames hungrily licking the logs in the fire inside the cabin – what I visualized was my mother sitting on the floor in front of her closet, crying and sorting through the secret box of Dad’s stuff she thought I was clueless about. “Babe, please,” Leo begged. “It’s cold and the middle of the night. Come inside and we’ll even break the rule about spending the night together and continue this conversation in the morning. Did I tell you the cabin has a hot tub?” Through half-closed eyelids I snuck another look at him. Dammit. He was even more gorgeous this way. And then I smelled it. Faint, but at this close range I detected the sickly-sweet scent of alcohol. At once, I took him in with a fresh set of eyes. His lopsided grin, his messy hair, the gentle way he swayed as if he was floating on the wind… “Leo, have you been drinking?”
Little Red Gem Excerpt 3
…“I’d know if I was dead.” While I watched my two best friends walk with arms around each other for emotional support, I wrestled with accepting Audrey’s version of the story. To do so meant I was dead. And dead meant I would never again speak with Leo. And there were so many words left unsaid, so much business left unfinished. The final nail in my coffin came when a customer walked out and Audrey pushed me directly in front of the customer’s path. Instead of bumping into him, I fell through him, landing on my hands and knees. My skin tingled with pins and needles from where the body had passed through me. A loud noise filled my ears, similar to water flowing from a dam. For a split second my vision blurred. Then I watched in absolute horror as my hands and legs split into millions of tiny fragments. Audrey might have been capable of delving into her mother’s magic bag to produce this neat trick, but I wasn’t. I crawled into the gutter because it seemed the most suitable place for a reluctant spirit to bawl her eyes out. Audrey was kind enough to sit beside me with her hand resting on my shoulder; although we were both apparitions the contact still registered. I forgot about being angry with her and welcomed her company. “Okay, I’ll admit this has been a rather extraordinary morning so you may be right.” I sniffed back the tears and turned to face her. “How did I die?” “Your car slid down an embankment. You weren’t wearing a seat belt. Leo dragged you out of the car but it was too late.” I jumped up. “Leo!”
The Bird with the Broken Wing Excerpt 1
“I have a bad feeling about this, Ben. This is suicide. It’s also stupid, morally wrong, and pointless. And did I mention suicide?” Ben wasn’t listening. He was reaching a hand inside the open neck of his shirt. She’d spent enough time with him to know he was touching the cross on the necklace that had once belonged to his dad. “Detached, that’s how you make me feel, Ben. Like I’m watching your life through a window.” Striking up an old conversation was hardly creative, yet the feeling of not belonging with him was just as strong now. She gave a heavy, audible sigh but Ben wasn’t taking the bait. “A bubble. I live in a bubble.” “Relax.” Ben closed his eyes as he sucked up a deep, dusty red breath like he was meditating on Mars. “Everything will be all right.” As well as a chronic worrier and a touch melodramatic, she was also an eternal optimist. So she looked around in case she was missing something, but all she saw was proof to the contrary. She, Ben, and a few hundred others were in a convoy, crossing a desert that appeared to be empty, yet the drivers had dodged gun and mortar fire since they’d passed over the border an hour ago. What this land must have looked like when it’d been fertile with lush, green trees and wide, blue rivers was hard to imagine, but she tried. Her eyes had closed for a second when a burst of gunfire to her right jolted them wide open again. “We signed up for non-combat jobs, remember?”
The Bird with the Broken Wing Excerpt 2
Since arriving, calmness had settled over her, as if she’d spent an entire week meditating. She hoped the quietness inside her head was real, not a curtain concealing bad memories. She didn’t want to waste her time mulling over her parents’ choice of loony bin. Quite frankly, she was happy to stay in this denial phase forever. Anything was better than accepting the unwelcome consequences. Repressed memories… Maybe Ben’s onto something. Rachael believed Jet was in denial. Probably true. Soon enough she’d be forced to deal with her problems, but at the moment, the natural beauty of the area demanded her attention. As she breathed in the view, a pang of guilt sent a fresh lashing of goose bumps shimmering across her exposed shoulders. This was a fantastic place and all, but why hadn’t her parents come to visit? Even if her father refused to see her, she was surprised by her mom’s absence. As mother and daughter they’d shared squabbles and differences of opinions, but the relationship had always been a close one. Or so she’d thought. Jet must have once adored her father. Plenty of photos in the family album proved it. Yet there were just as many to disprove it. Anyone flicking through the album could have picked the age when the father/daughter bond was severed…around the same time as her puberty blossomed. The sun forced Jet to close her eyes. Although she was half-naked and vu
lnerable, she felt freer than ever floating on the water where none of her worries could reach her. Not school. Not final exams. Not even the text messages…
The Bird with the Broken Wing Excerpt 3
“I’m tired of painting myself. But it’s all I do. Look.” The girl rummaged through the canvases on the floor. She withdrew one that had an indigo blue background and a single pale, bloodshot eye staring from the center. Pointing to the middle of the room where a crystal bowl containing a colorful array of fruit sat on a table, she continued. “This is supposed to be that.” She tore off and went in search of another painting, which she found, and with a sort of timid pride, she shoved the canvas at Rachael. Similar to the first canvas, except with a dark red background, and equally appalling. The girl cast that canvas aside and produced another painting, and another and another. Rachael was quick to notice the pattern, and she began to back away. All the paintings were of the same image—a single, bloodshot eye that looked as if it belonged to someone who was being buried alive. “No matter what I paint…clouds, fruit, sunsets…every picture turns out the same. They are all pictures of me passing judgment on myself.” When Rachael moved, she felt the eyes in the pictures following her. “You have captured it rather well. Maybe you should come to my Group sessions.” Even as the words left her mouth, she regretted them. The girl’s pale eyes lit up, yet before Rachael could take back what she’d said, a guy appeared—her twin maybe, for he was just as deathly pale. When he scowled, icy arrows laced with contempt shot outwards and hit Rachael square in the face. He dragged the girl back to her easel, and Rachael was secretly glad to have her forcibly removed. “I was once like you,” the girl called out as Rachael hurried toward the door. “You’ll be in here soon. There is no escaping your fate. You belong here with us.” [/accordion] [/accordions]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Music first captured the creative interest of D L Richardson. She got her first acoustic guitar at age ten, and in high school she sang with the school band. When she left school she helped form her own rock band where she sang lead vocals, played bass guitar, and wrote all the lyrics. At age 26 she realized she wanted to write novels for the rest of her life, or die trying, so she sold her equipment, quit pursuing a music career and began writing instead. She now have six books published and is working on an urban fantasy series a second short story collection. She lives in Australia on the NSW South Coast with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing or reading she can be found practicing her piano, playing the guitar or walking the dog. She is currently writing a serialised four book novel and working on a second volume of short stories.
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