Hi there. Remembrance (Heart Lines #1) releases in 1 week so obviously that means we need a teaser.
This scene is from ch 6 when Sam stumbles into the metaphysical shop where she works and meets Alex for the first time. (Scroll to the end for info on how to get entered for the upcoming giveaways!)
I stopped short as I rounded the last shelf full of incense and brass burners and caught sight of who’d just spoken.
Not Mirabelle. Not female. Shit. My heart rate went galloping. My lips parted in anticipation of words on their way out of my throat. But my tongue had gone limp. My mouth dry.
He was a boy. No, a guy. Around my age. Maybe a year or two older than me? But something in his eyes told me he’d seen more than his share. Strong jawline, sure-footed stance. Direct, bold. He was staring. Shit, I was staring.
My palms felt slippery. I clenched my fists and swayed.
Men usually made me want to run in the other direction. And this one definitely had that tall, dark, and dangerous thing going on that made it hard not to pee and scream at once. But he also managed to pin me where I stood with his chocolate eyes and short, but wild, dark hair.
He had a tan, I saw, but it wasn’t beachy. More leathery—like he worked outside and couldn’t help getting sun-kissed in the process. And his pants were burly like he bought them for durability instead of fashion. His military-style boots and direct gaze screamed non-believer, as Mirabelle would say, when it came to the mystic arts.
So what the heck was he doing in a place like Oracle?
He frowned at me, and I realized I definitely should have said something by now. Still, my tongue was glued to the roof of my mouth. “Hmm,” I managed from my throat and cringed at myself.
“I’m looking for Mirabelle,” he said, eyes narrowing, brows scrunching.
“So am I.” The words were out before I knew they were on their way.
The guy lifted a brow. “This is her place, right?”
“It is,” I said with caution. I mean, her name on this place was public record but still… if he was some weird stalker, I didn’t want that to be on me later.
“Well,” he said, straightening so he wasn’t leaning on the glass counter. “Is she here?”
Granny meowed from the window seat, and I looked over to find her looking at me. She meowed again. When the guy didn’t react, I interpreted. “Granny says she’s not here.”
He raised his brow again which was annoyingly attractive.
I gestured to Granny. “Well, she’s been here longer than I have. She would know.”
He shook his head and blew out a breath that sounded like a jerky sort of snort. I stiffened. I could disbelieve Mirabelle’s claims of otherworldly spiritual energy powers and all that crap, but no one else could. At least not to my face.
I crossed my arms, temper drowning out fear. “Is there something I can do for you, Mr…?”
“Alex. No Mr.,” he said, wrinkling his nose. It made him look less like a jerk when he did that and my knees felt a little wobbly again.
“I’m Sam,” I said, trying to force some manners.
“I just need to talk to Mirabelle. It’s important,” he added almost like one would say please.
Almost. Not exactly.
I eyed him. “Wait here,” I said, and slowly, more so I wouldn’t trip or collapse, I stepped around him and made my way down the short hall to Mirabelle’s office.
Empty. No giant catch-all bag draped over the chair either.
“She’s already gone for the day,” I announced as I stepped back into the store area. I slipped behind the glass counter. It felt better this way, with something solid between us.
“She left before you got here,” he said, frowning again, “and didn’t lock up?”
Who the hell frowned so perfectly like that anyway?
“She knew I’d be here,” I said with a shrug. I didn’t bother to tell him Mirabelle probably maybe possibly would have done that even if she hadn’t known I was coming.
“She trusts you,” he said as if this were important information.
My patience was wearing thin. “Look, I can call her and see when she’ll be able to come in and speak to you. Is there something else I can tell her? Something more specific about what you’d like to discuss?” I tried sounding large and in charge as I said it. Confident. Sure. But mostly, I was just relieved my voice hadn’t shook. I wanted to cry. Freaking A, why did I always want to cry?
He glanced away, and I took the opportunity to blink furiously at the tears lining my lids. When I looked back at him, he was already watching me. Awesome.
I forced myself to hold his gaze.
“Wait. Your name is Sam,” he said as if he’d just now processed that bit.
“Have you lived in Half Moon Bay long?” His expression changed to something more casual but he didn’t fool me. It was forced. He was fishing. The question was for what?
“Long enough.” Raising my chin, I stared him down despite the possibility of hyperventilation it caused me. After a moment, a warmth washed over me and I found myself studying him more closely. Tanned jawline, dark hair, sharp eyes…
Just looking at him made me feel like myself.
I jerked away from the thought, positive that completed the crazy. But it was there, all the same. Just lingering in the corners of my mind, growing bigger until it overtook my expression without permission. He was familiar.
I leaned forward. “Do I know you?”
He tilted his head, studying me in return. His eyes widened. His frown fell away and his mouth opened. “Holy…” For a split second, recognition washed over him too. But then just as quickly, the light went out and he shook his head, deep gaze skittering away. “No. We don’t— I’ve never been here before.”
He cleared his throat and stuffed his hands into his pockets. Strange for a guy who’d been so sure of himself a second ago. But more than that, my own sense of familiarity persisted and I hated it. Hated that this stranger made me feel some sort of recognition to him. To the girl I was once. It was ridiculous.
Something pinged in my belly but I couldn’t figure out if it was my intuition that he was lying or nausea at our prolonged conversation. “So, Mirabelle?” I prompted.
“Right. Could you just tell her Alex Channing, consulting agent for CHAS, would like to see her?”
“CHAS?” I repeated, brows knitting, but he didn’t offer to explain and I needed to breathe normally again.
I scribbled it down, hating this feeling of familiarity the longer he stood here. Mostly because it was one more thing I didn’t understand. Welcome to my life. “Got it. Tell you what. Write your number down and I’ll have her call you.”
I slid him the paper and yanked my hand back before he could accidentally make contact. He scribbled a number—not local—and stepped back, tossing the pen onto the counter. I wondered if he’d noticed my skittishness. Probably.
I was definitely a spaz.
“Thanks,” he said, nodding at me and turning on his heel.
I nodded back even though he couldn’t see me, glad I was done with verbal communication.
I waited, unmoving, until I heard the bell ding and the door open and close. Watching from the window, I finally saw him striding across the street and climbing into a rusty antique pickup. Once he was inside it, I let myself breathe.
Alex Channing. I repeated his name in my head, searching for some memory or scrap of recollection, but there was nothing.
I wanted to scream. To exhale. To wring my hands and demand a reading from Mirabelle that would make sense of this. Of me. Not that I fully let myself believe in magic or anything.
But I did believe in this: For two and a half years I’d been living in a fog of fear and paranoia with no clue as to what had changed me. No real reason why I’d become such a broken shell of the happy, carefree, outgoing girl I’d once been. Suffering from PTSD and no trauma to link it to. And for the five minutes he’d been standing in front of me, Alex Channing had brought me up and out of that space. For a few glorious minutes, despite my body’s strange response—or maybe because of it—Alex had made me forget whatever it was I’d forgotten. I wasn’t sure if that made him the good guy or something infinitely worse. But I intended to find out.
Remembrance releases 2/27! Pre-order it now!
Did you know there’s a LOVE BIRDS FB fan group now? Come join us and chat! I’ll be posting giveaways and special teasers there that you won’t get anywhere else!