Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Excerpt: Altered by Laura Burks


For eighteen-year-old Jenna Larson, spending the summer falling in love should be normal. But when she discovers a cursed book capable of secret writings and a hidden message, finding a way to alter the curse to save a life changed everything. Only Jenna’s choice may have already chosen her.

Picture“Tell me your secrets?” he asked in a low voice as he pulled his hand away.

I shifted my eyes from his. Can he possibly read my mind? Does he know what I found in the
cabin and that I’m hiding it away from Pops? Or were my actions that easy to read he already
knew how I was beginning to feel about him? Was it this? Was it that? Was it…? Clearing my
throat, I adjusted my expression, and then looked his way.

“What are you talking about?” I spoke each word slowly, bracing myself for what he might

“Your fears…your likes…what you enjoy doing in your spare time. What did you think I
meant?” He looked puzzled.

Relief swept through me. “Oh…” I exhaled, “my fears. Well, I think what I fear the most is
something happening to Pops. I worry about him being all alone. It’s not like he can’t take care
of himself. I just don’t know what I would do if I lost him, that’s all. Oh, and snakes. I detest
snakes. And…let’s see, my likes. I like coming here to New Roads for Pops, of course, and
because it gives me a break. It’s my change of scenery and a chance to have a vacation. I’ve
never been anywhere but Orlando and here. But you wouldn’t know that would you? I’ll bet
you’ve seen lots of places with moving around a lot.”

He shrugged. “Yeah, but it’s no big deal. I’d rather stay in one place, if I could.” He was
quiet for a moment and I wondered just how many places he’d been. “So, what else do you

“I like when people don’t mind being themselves. You know, not pretend to be something they’re not just to impress someone.” I paused, searching his eyes. A faint grin crossed his
lips. “Anyway…what about you, what are your fears?”

“Nope, not yet,” he said. “You didn’t finish the last question. What do you enjoy doing in
your spare time?”

The look on his face was pleasant, waiting for my response. At the moment, what I enjoyed
doing in my spare time is exactly what I’m doing now--sitting here talking with him, but I surely
couldn’t be so bold and admit it.

“There doesn’t seem to be much spare time with school, a part-time job at the mall, and the
one sport I play, volleyball. But unlike some people my age, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. I
mean, why throw your life away like that. I just don’t understand. I’ve seen too many people get
into trouble when they’re drunk or do some real dumb things. That’s not my style. Anyway, I
guess if I had to choose what I enjoyed doing in my spare time, it would be…spending the day
with a friend.” There, I said it in a roundabout way, even if it did sound typical-boring. Still,
spending the day with a friend was a perfect answer, and in a sneaky way, it applied to him, too.

Only he might not be aware of it as of yet.

“You sound too good to be true,” he teased.

“That would depend on how good you think my truth is.” I grinned.

He nodded, smiling, and I figured he agreed or at least was considering it.

“Okay, my turn,” I began. “What are your fears?”

He narrowed his eyebrows pretending to think of the perfect answer. “Fears, huh?” He
responded with a mischievous grin. “What if I told you I had none?”

“You’ve got to be kidding, right? No fears? You can do better than that. Everybody has at
least one.” I held up one finger as I spoke. “Even I had more than one.”

He leaned his head back staring at me through unsmiling lips. My mind scrambled
wondering if I said something that offended him. Patiently, I waited for whatever his answer
might be.

“Okay, just one then. I fear…someone knowing all of my secrets.”

All eighteen-year-old Jenna wants to do is have a slow paced and predictable summer in the small town of New Roads with her grandfather. But on Friday the thirteenth, the unpredictable occurs when she mysteriously hears a voice leading her to a buried book. Jenna is unaware that a secret curse lies within and she’s just unleashed its hold.

As writings appear in the book strangely matching her vivid dreams, Jenna's curious nature takes over pulling her deeper into the mystery and the connection to her family. What she didn't expect to find was a forbidden love and a choice to save a life.

Will Jenna’s choice remain a secret? Or did the secret choose her?

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