Authors: Lee Davidson
The next two days crawl at a snail’s pace, only slower. In a desperate attempt to kill the remaining half of the second day, I take Owen up on his offer and try the gaming thing. After laughing at his floral sofa (which is even uglier than mine), I grab the absurd binoculars sitting on his coffee table, strap them around my head, and take a deep breath when the lenses power on.
I’m shocked to see Willow as one of the character options in
Elite Force: Squad Seven
. There’s no way I’m pretending to be that kook—or the tatted and pierced Reed for that matter—so I choose a giant guy named Billy instead. Using my body as the controller, I memorize and repeat the displayed movement sequence that allows for a successful block. It takes some getting used to (and I’m sure I look as stupid as Liam did playing it), but the game is surprisingly decent. I should have been playing it two days ago. After mastering three levels, my calimeter buzzes. I pull the binoculars off and drop them onto Owen’s cushy leather chair on my way out.
I’m relieved when I turn the corner to Orders and see Jonathan at the end of the long hallway. He smiles. “My apologies for the other day. Something pressing came up unexpectedly.”
“No problem.” I’m just glad to finally be getting my next assignment.
Jonathan looks past me. “Ah, here she comes.”
Carrying herself as though her energy has been snuffed out, Willow forces a smile and pulls me into a tight hug. She steps back and scans me. She’s such a mom.
“How you doin’, kid?”
I hug her again, realizing how much her absence has bothered me. “I’m good. Bored as all get-out, but good,” I say into her hair before letting go. “How are you?”
“I’m all right.” She pulls her dreads into a ponytail. “I totally need to code, but thankfully, my assignment is complete.”
“She’s pretty amazing,” Jonathan beams.
“Oh, stop!” She pretends to be embarrassed. Jonathan and I laugh, knowing that could never happen.
“Now that you’re both here.” Jonathan turns to the wall behind the desk expectantly. Shelves of books fold out of the dark wood panels, reaching so high they disappear. A golden ladder slides from the right and settles around the middle of the bookcase. Jonathan steps through the walkway that was part of the desk just two seconds ago and grips the ladder. “Your book, please,” he says to me.
I grab Ryder’s book from my backpack and hand it to him.
He looks up the ladder. “Be right back.”
“I told you he was traditional,” Willow remarks after he’s out of sight.
“You call that traditional?”
“Well, maybe not the magic wall, but the bookshelves, definitely. It suits him nicely, don’t you think?”
I don’t answer because my eyes are too busy searching for him. When he finally returns, he’s carrying a book the same size as my last, but this one is dark purple instead of red.
“It is my pleasure to present you with your first Elite assignment.” Jonathan’s words get delayed somewhere between his mouth and my head. I look at Willow a minute later when they sink in.
She beams back at me and pushes up on my chin, forcing my jaw to refasten. “Congratulations, kid.”
“You have been selected, out of a grand pool, might I add, to join our Elite team of seven. Congratulations,” Jonathan says.
“Really?” is all I can manage.
“Yes, really! Why couldn’t you have shut up like this months ago? It certainly would have made my job easier.”
I’m too stunned to jab Willow back. “I’m taking your place?” I ask, still not believing it.
“I had a good run. May as well give someone else a shot. Although I seriously doubt you’ll ever possess my awesomeness.” She winks at Jonathan.
“With this great title comes greater responsibility.” Jonathan’s eyes move to the book in my hand. “This next assignment will be extremely demanding. I trust you to keep your focus.”
“Yes, of course.”
“I look forward to many more years of your service.” He pauses, adding the dramatic effect that he always seems to pull off. “Well, you’d better get to it.” He shakes my hand, wishes me luck, and strolls down the hall.
? I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this, though I can’t deny that I’m a little stoked. Still, to have been selected over so many others who are much more deserving, I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea.
“Come on, I’ll walk you to your room.” On our way down the hall, Willow fidgets with her sleeve like she’s uncomfortable. The volume from the lobby increases with every step. “I guess this is it, huh?” she eventually says.
“What do you mean?”
“We’re not going to be seeing much of each other anymore.”
I put my arm around her as we snake around small groups of Satellites in the lobby. “We’ll make time,” I promise, kissing the top of her head when she leans against me. “After all, someone once told me, when you’re a Satellite, it’s forever.”
She stops when we reach the
hall and turns to me. “Thank you.”
“For protecting Ryder. I know it was you.”
“His tocket. I knew when my memories fully came back. I owe you so much.”
“You owe me nothing,” I say, meaning it.
“No, I do.”
We resume a slow walk down the crowded hall.
“What’s he like?” A tinge of sadness plays in Willow’s voice.
“He’s great. Really great.” I think about his accident and wonder why I was unable to stop it, and then become fearful that I’ll give away how badly I failed. “And Mya,” I say quickly, “she couldn’t be more like you if she tried. Well, except she’s less of a weirdo.”
Willow pushes against me with her shoulder.
“I do have a question,” I say.
“What’s with all the granite?”
She smiles. “It’s always kinda been my thing. As a kid, I would sneak away to the beach a few blocks down the street from our house. I’d climb on the granite boulders, imagining I was an explorer looking in the dark shadows for their secrets.” She pauses. “Imagine the history they hold—submerged by the sea part of the time, left to dry when the ocean retracts. They remain solid, while the world moves and evolves around them.”
I dig in my pocket, pulling out the small stone tocket. “And this one?”
She takes it from me and rolls the smooth rock over her fingers. “Troy collected these for me. He filled an entire garden with them, if you can believe that. This one”—she holds it up in full view—“was my focal point through Ryder’s birth.” She places the rock back in my hand. “Take care of that one for me.”
I agree, knowing she’s not referring to the stone. “How come you don’t have a New England accent?”
She steps into the elevator. “I’m as Midwest as you are, kid. All the way from Iowa. You and I were practically neighbors,” she jokes. “My family moved to New Hampshire when I was eight, but I never picked up the accent. It’s ludicrous, right?”
I shake my head and laugh. Willow calling something ludicrous brings three words to mind:
She hugs me tightly when we get to my door.
“Want to come in?” I ask.
“I have coffee,” I say in my most persuasive voice, hoping to change her mind.
“Thanks, but I need to get going. Troy’s probably bored out of his mind.”
“Ha! More like dreading your return.”
Her expression is much too serious and her lingering stare makes the space between us zing with awkwardness. “I’m gonna miss you.”
“Shut up!” I hug her again. “It’s not good-bye.”
“It feels that way.”
“It’s just a chapter closing.”
“Are you going to be all right?” she asks. “Elite…that’s a big deal.”
“I’ll be fine,” I answer, but I could swear there’s a glint of doubt in her eyes.
“I’ll see you around, kid.”
I nod. “You’d better.”
Before the elevator doors close, she leans around them and sticks her tongue out at me.
“You’re so annoying!” I yell to her.
“Darn right,” she sings back before the doors slide together.
I walk into my room and drop my backpack on the counter. With a cup of coffee in hand, I settle onto the sofa and open the dark purple book to prepare for my first Elite assignment.
“Hey, Jonathan—got a minute?” Willow asks.
“Certainly.” Jonathan excuses himself from a pair of Satellites and walks with Willow to the edge of the field. “What’s up?”
“I wanted to talk to you about Tate.”
“Yes, how is she?”
“Doing better. She just enrolled for fall classes. Here’s the thing, though. She’s changed. A lot. It’s like she’s wiped her own memories, too.”
“Her memories are intact; she’s just moving on,” Jonathan assures. “We should all be happy about that.”
“And what about Grant? His memories weren’t filed away like ours. What if she erased them permanently?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when it becomes necessary. Please remember—Grant’s memory loss is essential, now more than ever. You know how difficult Elite assignments are. A distracted mind is inadmissible.”
Willow’s shoulders fall a little. “I know. Well, I’d better get back to Troy. Today we’re venturing to some jungle in South America,” she says with displeasure. “It’s totally his idea.”
The corners of Jonathan’s eyes crinkle when he laughs. “That sounds nice.”
“No, not nice! The humidity does
for my hair.” Willow twirls a dreadlock around her finger and uses as much drama as she can muster.
Jonathan’s laughter increases. “I’ll be around if you need me.”
Willow begins skipping away, but then stops. “Jonathan!” she yells across the field. When he turns, she shouts, “Grant and Tate—things are going to work out OK for them, right?”
Jonathan raises his hand in a silent farewell. Willow accepts his smile and wave as an answer and bounces through the courtyard doors.
To be continued…
Here’s a sneak peek at
Elite: The Satellite Trilogy, Part II
1. It’s the name of the game
“You wanted to see me?” I try to keep the annoyance out of my voice because my candlelit dinner with Troy is being interrupted.
“Yes, thank you, Willow.” Jonathan stops a few feet from of the
hall in the grand marble lobby. “I need you back on assignment immediately.”
“Tate Jacoby is steering off course again and we could use your help.”
Yeah, I bet. Things like this tend to happen when the natural order gets altered. “But you said…never mind. What’s her deal this time?” This girl’s going to be the death of me. Erasing all of Grant’s memories is one thing. Now she’s interrupting my husband time.
“Grant’s memory loss was a natural part of the process,” Jonathan says, using his unnerving mind reading ability—he can deny having this gift all day long, but I’m not buying it.
“We both know the way his memories were erased was not natural,” I mock.
“Despite how his memories were taken, losing them was necessary, especially now that—”
“Now that he’s an Elite. I get it.”
Jonathan ignores my sour attitude. “Being a Satellite yourself, you know distractions are dangerous in our work, more so as an Elite than ever before. He cannot keep the mortals requiring his assistance on course if his mind is elsewhere. Wouldn’t you agree?”
I hesitate before nodding, hating that Jonathan is right. Regular Satellite assignments are strenuous enough. The kid has no idea how torturous the road ahead is going to be. “Working towards to greater good,” I say with fake enthusiasm.
Jonathan smiles. “That’s the spirit. I would like you to accompany Liam on Tate’s assignment until we can get her moving forward again.”
I sigh. So much for my chicken marsala. “I’m guessing you need me to go now?”
Jonathan nods and squeezes my shoulder. “Thank you. You really are one of our best, you know.”
Dang it, this guy always knows flattery gets him everywhere. “Am I expected in training?”
“No, I think you can hold your own at this point. I’m here if you need anything. Good luck.”
I am indebted to those who continue to sprint alongside me through this journey. First and foremost, to Dan: Thank you for concealing your sighs every time I carry my laptop to the dining room or back porch. No matter how absurd my ideas are, you always support me. For that, and many, many other reasons, I love you.
To Mom, Connie, Monica, Russ, Wendy, Joe, Lindsey, Anthony, and Jenny, who, even after muddling through the earliest drafts of this story, continued to root me on: Thank you for your feedback, and my apologies for the numerous typos. I am just an artist, after all.
Dawn, in the very early phases of this project, you said, “So what if no one ever reads it? Your boys will find it one day and be able to say, ‘My mom wrote that.’” Thank you. This has been the most encouragement anyone could have given me.
A great big thanks to my editor, Amy, for polishing—and I mean polishing!—this manuscript and offering excellent advice that did not include rewriting a new story. To Katie and my CreateSpace publishing team: Thank you for making this dream a reality for a girl who, just two years ago, knew very little about writing a novel and even less about publishing.
Last, but certainly not least, to Heather: No words can tell you how much I’ve appreciated you through this process. The number of books you read in a week is freakish, and for that, I am grateful! You’ve read more drafts of this book to count, discussed story ideas, characters, publishing, marketing, editing, book covers, etc., and still, by some miracle, you continue speaking to me. If that’s not a friend, I don’t know what is. I hope there’s a vacation in our future! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…
About the Author:
Lee Davidson received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Lindenwood University. She lives in Missouri with her husband and three sons. Her ‘on-the-clock’ time is spent as a graphic artist designing great big things.
, Lee’s first novel, was selected as a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. For more information, visit
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