Authors: Melanie Marks
“It wasn’t that bad.” He gazed away from her, his thoughts
looking dark and far off. “I survived.”
Regan bit her lip. “I know the
doctor said we’re not supposed to pry, but … will you tell me about it
Rafe winced. He drew on his
cigarette, looking tortured. He expelled slowly, watching her through the
His low voice murmured softly near
her ear, “I can’t tell you, Regan. I want to. But I can’t.” He backed his head
away slightly to look into her innocent eyes, trying to make her understand.
But of course, she didn’t. Couldn’t. But explaining would literally destroy his
He lightly brushed his fingers down
the length of her graceful arm. With the gesture he was only trying to reassure
her, yet his touch sent sparks through her body.
But that wasn’t his intent. To make sparks. He scrubbed a hand
over his face.
Gazing upward, he negotiated in his
head what to tell the heartbreakingly beautiful creature sitting beside him. “I
swear though, if I could, Regan … I’d tell you everything.
. But there’s rules—” He winced as though he had
Turning pale, he shook his head.
Swallowed. Weighing his next words carefully, he sought her eyes. “I want us to
be close, though, okay
like we used to be.”
Hearing him say that, his voice so
tender and full of emotion, did strange, painful things to Regan’s heart. She
didn’t understand him. So much of his coming back seemed unreal. But she wanted
that too—for them to be close like they used to. She wanted that with all
of her heart.
Regan stared at Rafe now, beside
her at the dinner
still so amazed he was back.
She laughed about the niece-and-nephew situation. “
can’t even remember all their names,” she told him, “and I was
here when they were born.”
really do have too many nieces and nephews to keep track of
, Regan decided.
Both their sisters, Sasha and Karla, had three children, and Donnett had five.
That made for a crowded house that night, and Regan worried that all of the
kids climbing over Rafe might get on his nerves. But it ended up being the
opposite. He seemed to enjoy their attention. He spent most of the evening
swinging them around and wrestling with them on the floor.
As the party began to die down a
little, Regan found herself sitting with Sasha and Carla, bored out of her
mind, as they were—as always—discussing their children’s potty
habits. She was relieved (and thrilled) to see Rafe making his way towards her,
dodging children as he came.
“Do you want to come outside with
me while I have a cigarette?” he whispered confidentially.
She nodded, honored that he’d
specifically sought her out for the event, though still saddened by the event.
Outside there was a cool breeze.
Regan hugged her knees, trying to get some warmth as they sat on the front
“Kind of a wild family we belong
to, huh?” she asked, hoping he was glad to belong.
“Yeah. They’re nice.” He lit up a
cigarette. “It’s nice—a family.”
His words warmed her, made her feel
hopeful. After hearing everything the doctor had to say this morning, she was
worried maybe Rafe couldn’t accept being part of a family, maybe it would be
too hard for him.
Regan’s eyes lingered on the
miracle sitting beside her. Softly she reflected, “You were always my wish.”
Rafe jerked his head up at her, his
eyes as wide as saucers. “Pardon?”
“On a falling star, or a wishing
well. Or a dandelion, or anything I could wish on—I always wished the
same thing—that you would come back.”
His dark eyes glistened.
He seemed to be holding his breath,
waiting for her to go on.
She gave a little laugh. “Every
year for my birthday when I blew out the candles on my cake I’d make the same
wish: that you’d come back.” She smiled wryly. “One year Donnett put those
trick candles on my cake—you know, the kind you can’t blow out? When I
wasn’t able to blow them out I started crying, and got
. I told Donnett I hated her, and ran out of the house. I was
afraid that because I wasn’t able to blow out all of my candles my wish
couldn’t come true. But it did anyway.” She stared at him with amazement. “Here
Rafe stared into her eyes, then
tore his gaze away from her and looked down at his cigarette. He ran a hand
through his hair. “Here I am.”
Regan didn’t understand why
that made him look
so somber. She nudged him playfully,
trying to ease the moment. “It was like the Birthday Fairy—or an
—heard my wish.”
Rafe watched her through the smoke
of his cigarette.
(Note from the
authors: Our novel based on this short story and these characters will be out
this fall, 2013)
THE STRANGER INSIDE
BY MELANIE MARKS
I was being kissed. That was the
first thing I noticed. The second thing was,
But the kissing part—that was weird. Grey didn’t
usually kiss me.
And when he did, he
didn’t go on and on like this. He’d kiss me, and then push me away, as though
he’d just committed a major felony, as though he was going to burn for it.
But not now, tonight … or today, or whatever it was. He was
all over me, as though he couldn’t get enough. Not that I minded. I didn’t. It
was nice. Only, I was thirsty.
“You smell good,” he murmured.
His voice sounded far off, distant,
as though it was coming from the bottom of a well.
I couldn’t think clearly. But
nothing seemed real—or right. For one thing, I was pretty sure this guy
wasn’t Grey. Grey was really lean. This guy was brawny. It was as though I was
entwined with a football player.
And his hair felt different,
. Grey’s hair was baby fine. I tried
opening my eyes, but couldn’t. I was too tired. They wouldn’t open.
“Yeah,” I told myself lazily, “this
must be a dream.”
continued, on and on. I just went with it, enjoying it pretty much, but the
thing was, my thoughts were beginning to focus. This wasn’t Grey. It couldn’t
be. Grey was in New York. I was … somewhere else.
Where was I
though? That was the question. I could almost remember, almost, but not quite.
Something about my father.
My heart gave a painful squeeze as
realization washed over me:
A chill raced
down my spine. In a rush it all came back to me—his death, my move to
Washington, stuck living here again with my mom and stepfamily, the Shades. I
remembered everything, everything except why I was here being kissed by a boy.
My heart ricocheted off my chest.
WHO AM I KISSING?
I jerked my
eyes open. Suddenly, I could do it easily, as though waking from a dream. Only
I hadn’t been dreaming. There
guy on me.
“Hey, get off
me!” I said, shoving at him.
“Why?” The guy
pulled away, looking bewildered. Concerned, even. “What is it? What’s the
His face was
flushed and his hair disheveled, but he was good looking—not my type, but
good looking. Big, with blond hair and wide, blue eyes. He was staring at me,
definitely confused. Frantically, I tried to place his face, but couldn’t. He
was a stranger. I’d never seen him before in my life.
her father's mysterious death, seventeen-year-old Jodi Logan is forced to move
back in with her mother and stepfamily.
This in itself tears at Jodi. Her mother kicked her out two years
earlier after discovering Jodi was romantically involved with her stepbrother,
Jeremy. To make matters worse, there’s Jeremy himself. No matter how hard Jodi
fights it, she’s still drawn to him.
Adding to the suck-fest that is now her home life, lately Jodi has time
lapses she can’t account for, waking places she doesn’t remember going.
When she comes to one day and finds herself making out
with a boy she's never met, Sawyer, Jodi learns she's been living a double life
as a girl named Kenzie. But who is Kenzie? Jodi fears she's going
crazy—maybe developing a split personality. But when she discovers the
truth, it's even worse.
Jodi is possessed by a ghost
—a stranger inside her that refuses to leave
When a girl from school is murdered Jodi doesn’t know
she can trust:
her new friends? Sawyer? Jeremy?
Or the stranger inside?
The Dating Deal
The Stranger Inside
High School Boys
Fall For Me
Fake Boyfriend Wars
THE DATING DEAL
with me to the dance. Caitlin and I just broke up.
I need a
you need a date
. Let’s just … date. This
isn’t a noble gesture or anything. I don’t do stuff like that. It’s a deal.
We’re making a deal.”
Megan Turner thought her hard-drive was cleared before she sold her
computer in a local online auction, but it wasn’t. Her journal was recoverable,
and now it is in the hands of someone she really doesn’t want to read
it—the boy she’s had a crush on for years.
Melanie Marks was born and raised
in California. She is married to a naval nuclear submarine officer and blessed
with three amazingly terrific kids.
Melanie has had over sixty stories
published in magazines such as
as well as in
various anthologies, many being
Soup for the Soul
books. She’s had nine children’s books published and
eight teen novels,
THE DATING DEAL; I
REMEMBER YOU; HIGH SCHOOL BOYS; THE STRANGER INSIDE
WHEN KYLE CAME BACK; HIS KISS; FALL FOR ME; and A DEMON’S KISS.
teen novels are forthcoming this fall, 2013.