Shadowed Strength: Shadowed Series Book One

BOOK: Shadowed Strength: Shadowed Series Book One
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Shadowed

Strength

Shadowed Series Book One

by

Wendi L. Wilson

Copyright ©2015 by Wendi L. Wilson

Kindle Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this
book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or distributed, or stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without express
permission of the author, except by a reviewer who my quote brief passages for
review purposes.

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of
the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover
Design: SelfPubBookCovers.com/FrinaArt
 

For my husband, who never stopped believing in me
and supporting me through this multi-year process. I love you.

 

 

Prologue

She
would look back at this moment later and curse herself for not running. Why did
she just stand there, looking at him with her mouth hanging open? Her heart was
pounding. Her palms were slick with sweat. Maybe she was paralyzed.

Maybe
it was true, what they say about fear freezing your body and your mind, so you
can't move, or speak, or even think. She stood there on that darkened street,
looking at him, dressed in black from head to toe. The only part of him left
uncovered was his eyes, glowing faintly through the holes in the black ski mask
he wore. She almost giggled at the cliché… almost. But she couldn't even do
that. She was, quite literally, frozen in fear.

She
should have run. She should not have taken that shortcut. The long way was
well-lit by unbroken streetlights. She shouldn’t have decided to walk home by
herself. She shouldn't have been here at all! She hadn't even wanted to go to
that damn party. She knew she'd regret it. But not like this. She never
imagined this would ever have happened to her. Not in a million years.

Chapter 1

"You are beautiful. You are a beautiful girl.
A gorgeous woman."

As she stared into the mirror, quoting those familiar
lines, Melanie willed herself to believe them. This was her own feeble attempt
at self-administered therapy. She had heard somewhere that you should see
yourself as you want others to see you.  A fat lot of good it was doing,
though. No matter how many times she said it, Melanie still saw herself the
same way everyone else saw her: plain and fat.

She stared at her reflection, trying to find and
focus on her best features. She had long, wavy brown hair. Brown. Not auburn or
chestnut. No natural highlights or lowlights. Brown. And it was a tangled mess
that frizzed and looked horrible, especially in the morning.

Gazing into her own eyes, she noted that they, at
least, were interesting. They were not quite green, not quite blue, but a
subtle mixture of the two. They seemed to change color with her moods. They
were also big, dominating her face. As far as Melanie was concerned, they were
her only redeeming feature.

Of course, there was a downside. Every emotion she felt
was reflected in them, so she couldn't hide anything from anyone. She couldn't
conceal pain or anger or resentment. There was no hiding behind a cool facade
like the other kids her age. She could never lie to someone’s face. Sometimes
her eyes were the bane of her existence.

Her eyes moved down to the rest of her body and her
face filled with disgust. There was no nice way to put it. She was shaped like
a pear. Oh, her mom tried to convince her that it was only baby fat and that
she would outgrow it and slim down, but she knew the truth. She would never be
able to shop at the skinny-girl stores. Her hips and rear were round and full,
and her waste was only slightly thinner. And to make matters worse, her boobs
refused to grow.

She wrinkled her nose in distaste and focused on
her face again. "You are a beautiful girl. You are a-"

"Melanie, Tara is here!"

Her mom's voice interrupted her mantra. She quickly
finished off her make-up by smearing on some pink lip gloss and rubbing her
lips together. She tried for a sexy pout, which, to her, looked like a painful
grimace, so she stuck out her tongue instead and flipped off the light.
"Here we go," she whispered to herself as she jogged down the stairs.

"Bye Mom. Love you," she hollered as she
ran through the den toward the front door.

"Be
home by midnight!" her mom yelled back from the kitchen. Her curfew was
midnight on the weekends, and she dared not be late, or there would be hell to
pay. "Be careful! I love you, too!"

Melanie
shut the door, locked it, and turned toward the driveway. Tara sat there in her
brand new, cherry red convertible Mustang. The radio was blaring and Tara was
singing along at the top of her lungs. Melanie couldn't help but laugh at her
best friend. They were so alike, it was scary sometimes.

Their
similarities were in personality only, though. In looks, they could not have
been more different. Tara’s board-straight blond hair never frizzed or looked
out of place. The shoulder-length gold strands had so many natural highlights
and lowlights that they actually sparkled in the sun. She had big, chocolate
brown eyes with long, dark lashes. Add to that a dainty nose, lush lips and
perfectly straight white teeth (thanks to three years of braces), and she was
just plain beautiful.

But
her body was what Melanie really envied. It was perfect. She had big boobs, a
tiny waist and a great butt. Everything Melanie lacked. Melanie knew she didn't
even come close to Tara's beauty. It seemed the boys thought so, too. Whenever
they were out together, the guys seemed to be magnetically drawn to Tara.

Melanie
was just a buddy. Someone the boys could hang out with, joke with, feel
comfortable with. Her mom kept telling her that if she didn't stop being a
buddy, she'd never be a girlfriend. Melanie couldn’t help it though. It was
just the way she was wired. She compensated for her lack of good looks with her
sense of humor and friendliness.

Tara
turned down the radio and yelled out the window, "Hurry up, let's
go!"

"I
still can't believe your parents bought you this car," she said as she
opened the passenger door and slid in.

"I
know,” Tara replied. "They said it was because they were
so
proud
of me for getting straight A's last semester, but I'm not stupid. Who gets a
car, much less a fully loaded Mustang for Christ’s sake, for a good report
card? It's because of the divorce."

"Yeah,
but don't you think this is a bit much?" Melanie asked.

"Of
course it is," Tara replied, with a mischievous grin on her face.
"But you won't hear me complaining or trying to give it back. This car is
awesome!"

Tara
put down the top and they both squealed in delight as she peeled out of the
driveway.  The spring air was still cool without the humidity they’d be
forced to endure when summer hit. With the engine roaring, the radio blasting,
and the wind whipping their hair, they were free.

They
drove to the mall and parked in the back lot. That's where all the teens parked
and hung out on weekend nights, until long after the mall itself closed for the
day. It was pretty much deserted now, being that it was only 4 p.m. They got
out of the car and headed inside. Time for some window shopping, people
watching, and gossip.

"So,"
Tara began after they had stopped for a slushy at the food court.

"So?"

"When
are you going to do something about it?"

"Do
something about what?" Melanie turned her head away and grimaced. She knew
this was going to come up sooner or later. It always did.

"Don't
play dumb with me Melanie Johnson! You know exactly what, or better yet, who, I
am talking about!"

Melanie
groaned audibly. She stared into a store window at scantily clad mannequins,
hoping Tara would get the hint. Tara always managed to steer the conversation
back to this, and Melanie always dreaded it.

Jeremy
Stevens. A sweet, funny, absolutely gorgeous guy she'd been crushing on for
over a year. Unfortunately, the day they met, Melanie had decided to be
herself. Jeremy immediately and most definitely put her firmly in the friend
zone. Tara was convinced that if Melanie bared her soul, told him everything
she felt, he would sweep her up into his arms and kiss her senseless. Melanie
was more realistic.

"I
am going to do what I've always done; adore him from afar." They started
walking aimlessly again.

"Mel,
if you don't at least try, you'll never know what might happen."

"He
could laugh in my face," Mel whispered.

"He
would never do that, Mel."

"I
can't take the chance, Tara."

Tara
stopped walking. "Listen, I know you're afraid he'll reject you, but Jeremy
would never be that cruel. You know him. You know he wouldn't."

"I've
been wrong before," Melanie said miserably.

Tara
gave her a sympathetic smile. In eighth grade, Melanie had a crush on Jason
Dawkins. He was hot with a capital H. He was also popular, rich, and captain of
the middle school football team. Melanie decided to face her fear of rejection
head on, tell him how she felt and let the cards fall where they may.

Too
scared to actually talk to him, she wrote him a letter. She told him she liked
him, and asked him if he wanted to meet up at the mall or the movies one
weekend. She got a bathroom pass during first period and snuck down the hall to
his locker. Holding her breath and crossing her fingers, she slipped it through
the slats in his locker door.

The
rest of the morning, she felt like a ticking time bomb. She checked her locker
repeatedly for a return note, but never found one. When the lunch bell rang,
she entered the cafeteria to find a mob of people crowded around Jason's usual
table. As she walked closer, she heard the peals of laughter. Her face blanched
as she realized the words she heard him reading aloud were her own.

He
had made of her a laughingstock. She ran out, but not before she locked eyes
with him and saw no regret. Since then she bottled up her feelings and trusted
no one. No one except Tara.

Tara
had tried repeatedly to convince her that Jeremy would never do anything like
that. Jason was a jerk. Jeremy was not. They knew him well enough now to know
that. But Melanie was not willing to take the chance. It was too much of a
risk. Even if he was sweet and sensitive, and let her down easy, their
friendship would suffer. That was something she wasn't willing to lose. He
meant too much to her.

"Well,"
Tara said with an evil glint in her eye, "I think you should walk right up
to him, throw your arms around his neck and kiss the daylights out of him. That
way, he couldn't laugh even if he wanted to!"

Melanie
tried to give her a stern look, but her lips twitched. Tara waggled her
eyebrows at her and Melanie burst into laughter.

"Oh,"
Melanie said, wiping the tears from her eyes, "that would be something,
wouldn't it? He would never expect that!"

"He
might just sweep you off your feet and carry you into the sunset."

"Yeah,
and break his back in the process, or just drop me right on my ass!"

"Mel,
stop it! You are not fat!"

Melanie
sighed. "Can we just change the subject please?"

"Yeah.
Okay. Then let's talk about Karen Watson's party tonight."

"Ugh.
I think I'm gonna be sick. Maybe you should just take me home."

"What?!?
We've been looking forward to this for weeks! What are you talking about,
you're gonna be sick?"

"Correction,"
Melanie replied, "
you've
been looking forward to this weeks.
I've
been dreading it for weeks."

Tara's
pink mouth formed a pout. "But you said you wanted to go," she said
dejectedly.

Melanie
threw her arm around Tara's shoulder. "Only because you really, really
wanted to go. Now that Chris finally asked you out, he's your date, not me."

"I
thought we'd all go together," Tara whined.

"Oh,
yeah. Right. So I can be a third wheel? No thanks."

"Melanie
Johnson, you have never been nor will ever be a third wheel! You come first,
and if you're not going, then neither am I!"

"Don't
be ridiculous. You've been waiting for Chris to ask you out for months, since
the day he transferred here. You can't stand him up now." She took a deep
breath and sighed heavily. "Okay, fine. I'll go. But I am not going to
like it."

Tara
hopped up and down while clapping like a three year old. She threw her arms
around Melanie and hugged her tight.

 "I
promise you won't regret it. You know he’s Jeremy’s cousin, right?” Melanie
nodded. “So, we will have an ‘in’ to get you and Jeremy together at the party.
Who knows what might happen?”

"Hello,
ladies."

They
both jumped in surprise and turned around. It was their English teacher Mr.
Hughes. They both tried to stifle giggles and said hi. Melanie blushed and
looked at her toes while Tara stared unabashedly at his face.

Mr.
Hughes was the newest teacher at their school and the youngest. At twenty four,
he seemed barely older than them and was a total hottie, as Tara would say.
Melanie whole-heartedly agreed. His golden blonde hair fell in waves to just
below his collar. His eyes were ice blue, and crinkled around the corners when
he smiled. He had an athletic build, and rumor had it he was a swim team champ
in college.

"You
girls be careful tonight,” he said as he turned to go. "See you in
class."

"Bye
Mr. Hughes," they said in unison. They both mock swooned as he turned the
corner and meandered out of sight.

BOOK: Shadowed Strength: Shadowed Series Book One
3.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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