Authors: Jess Evander,Jessica Keller
Saving Yesterday (TimeShifters, Book One)
Copyright © 2014 by Jessica Keller
March 2015 Edition
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, scanning, recording, photocopying, or otherwise—without written permission from the publisher. For information visit:
Cover by Steven Novak
Edited by Charity Tinnin and Amanda G. Stevens
Interior Design by D. Robert Pease
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.
Seventeen year-old Gabby Creed discovers that she’s a Shifter—a time traveler entrusted with saving human history and guarding people from creatures called Shades. But Gabby’s not so sure that she wants to be a Shifter if it means following strict rules and obeying the Elders.
–For my dad and my brother–
Looks like all those hours you forced me to watch Star Trek and your sci-fi shows paid off.
Surprises belong in YouTube videos and April Fool’s Day pranks. Not my life. But I made the dangerous wish to be more than I am. So maybe I’m to blame. Because being special sucks.
“Gabby!” Dad’s holler booms up the steps. He’s waiting. Probably in some rumpled shirt and dirty jeans. Making me pancakes. It’s tradition on my birthday. Even if he doesn’t say the words, it’s his way of letting me know he remembers.
I finish braiding my long black hair, tucking awkward bangs behind my ear. No make-up today. I’ve got my Mom’s dusky skin, so I hardly ever wear the stuff. A splash of apple-cinnamon body mist because Porter once told me he liked it. Not that I care what Porter thinks. I don’t.
In the hallway, I pass a collection of photos, captured moments from Mom and Dad’s life. They grew up as next-door neighbors, so pictures of them together from grade-school days grace our walls. I guess that’s why everyone gives me knowing looks when I talk about Porter, but they don’t understand.
I pound down the stairs and into our odd-shaped kitchen. It’s not big enough for two small children to stand together in, let alone two adults. The smell of alcohol rolls off Dad in waves and I grind my molars as my stomach revolts. Really, I should be used to it by now, but today the potency flips a switch in my mind. Who says he gets to check out on life?
He drops a kiss on my cheek. His mustache scratches me. “Hey, baby doll.”
I hold my breath, hugging him back as I rein in my anger.
It’s not his fault—the self-medicating. How many times have I caught him holding a photo of my mom, begging the image to come back home? Endless bottles of whiskey are better than heart-wrenching tears. A teetering drunk I can deal with. Shove him an Advil, pour water down his hatch, and tiptoe around the house. Easy.
But talk sense to a sobbing man? Make him come to terms with his loss? Yank him out of an endless depression?
In those moments, when I catch him with the pictures, I dig my nails into my fisted palms, and hold back the words:
She’s not coming back.
Once someone’s smashed in an airplane collision they can’t come back.
Dad never acknowledges my birthday. Not ever. Maybe he doesn’t want a reminder of the years he’s missed with his one true love. Maybe as I get older, I look more like my mother—so his pain intensifies. Maybe he just can’t remember how old I am. Who knows?
can’t solve anything.
Whoever said time heals pain lied. Time’s incapable of helping anyone. Lies, on the other hand, they go far in the healing department.
“So, what’s on the agenda today?” Dad plops a plate with three slightly burnt pancakes onto the table.
I drop into a faded blue chair and use the side of a fork to slice a piece of pancake and pop it into my mouth. More char than taste. I swallow. A generous amount of syrup might help. I snatch the bottle from the table and cover my plate.
I shrug. “Not sure.”
“Care to go to the cemetery?” He leans against the counter.
I take a deep breath, pushing a chunk of pancake around and around through the syrup puddle on my plate. “Not really what I want to do on my—”
“Don’t.” Dad covers his face. Shoulders hunched, flannel shirt missing a button.
I shoot out a long stream of breath. It roughs my bangs.
It would be so easy to snap, but I’m not capable of being rude to him. Not to the only family I have. After pounding back the rest of my orange juice, I smile at him. “I was thinking. What if we go to Molly’s for lunch? And maybe we can rent a boat and go fishing on the lake.”
Mind you, I’m terrified of fish. I won’t even go into a lake because—what if they brush up against me? Irrational fear, but I own it. Dad, however, thinks fishing is the be-all, end-all of activities, and for my birthday it would be nice to see a smile light his face. For once.
He grunts. “Thought you didn’t like Molly’s Diner? Called it a grease pit last time we were there.”
It is a grease pit. Complete with the splotched yellowing walls, ripped vinyl booths, and stained Formica counters. Every waitress is old enough to be my grandmother, if I had a living one, that is.
A look around our kitchen shows the same disrepair. The last few weeks I’ve been immersed in taking finals and addressing graduation invitations. During my absence, the normal few dirty plates have spawned into mountains. No matter.
I might not be able to fix my dad, but I can fix the mess on the counter.
I grab my dish, shuffle over to the sink, and start rinsing. “Oh, I’m not backing down on my theory. I still believe the cooks at Molly’s use raccoon meat in their patty melt. But who cares? Cheese covers a multitude of sins.”
One by one, I stack the mess into the dishwasher until it’s full. I squeeze the last of the dish soap into the compartment and make a mental note to run to the store for more tomorrow.
My late-model cell phone vibrates and skitters across the counter. I snatch it and glance at the screen. A text from Emma.
The Park. Twenty minutes?
I wipe my wet hands on a dishtowel that should have been washed a week ago. Add laundry to my growing to-do list. I flip the phone open and text Emma back.
It’s hard to be eloquent when you lack a keyboard.
Dad lifts his eyebrows. “Is it that boy?”
“No, it’s Emma.” I slip the phone into my back pocket. “What’s your problem with Porter, anyway? Why do you suddenly not like him?”
He scrubs his hand over his grizzled jaw. “I don’t like the thought of you with boys. Not at this age.”
Okay, side note: I might be graduating high school next week but I’ve never had a steady boyfriend. A few group dates and a pity-induced yes for prom doesn’t count. Besides, Porter’s just …
. That’s it. His mom used to babysit me, so we’ve known each other since diaper days. We’re friends in an I-know-all-your-secrets-and-have-embarrassing-pictures-of-you way.
“Well, not to worry where Porter’s concerned.” I slip my bag onto my shoulder. “I’m meeting Emma at the park. I’ll see you at the diner around noon, okay?”
Dad pulls me into a hug. “I love you, baby doll. You know that, don’t you?”
“Love you too, Dad.” And I mean it.
He snags my shoulders before I can leave. “Be careful out there.”
We live in the quiet suburbs outside of Chicago. Not dangerous—at all. Unsure of his meaning, I start to pull away, but there’s a look in his deep brown eyes that scares me.
To ease the mood I throw my hand into a salute. “Scout’s honor. I’ll look both ways before crossing the street and everything.”
He gives me a gentle shake. “I’m serous, Gabriella. I have a mind to lock you in the house today.” His eyes roam back and forth, like he’s thinking a million things at once. “If I didn’t know that you’d crawl out the second-story window and go see your friends anyway, I would.”
A tremor goes down my back.
Tense lines form around his mouth. His fingers are now digging into my skin. “It’d be so much better … safer if you stayed with me today. I can watch you. Make sure nothing happens.”
I swallow hard. He’s been delusional before, but usually not this early in the day. My vision darts to the window. A perfect amount of buttery sun paints across the room, announcing a cloudless day. The florescent pink leaves on our burning bush plant sway in a light breeze. Our neighborhood doesn’t even have coyote sightings.
“Dad”—I shrug out of his hold—“you’re hurting me.”
“Sometimes a little pain keeps us safe.”
Enough. I’ll spend the rest of my birthday eating at the indigestion-inducing diner he loves and trying not to gag as he tosses suffocating fish into a cooler on the boat. This next hour is mine. He can’t steal it.
“I’ll see you. At noon.” I tap my watch and force a smile. “Maybe I’ll even be early.”
Without waiting for a response, I back onto our rotting porch and then turn and hoof it across our yard. All the while praying he doesn’t burst outside and make a scene.
I duck under the clothes flapping on the neighbors’ laundry line. The crisp, clean scent mixes with sweet honeysuckle in the wind. I hop a fence. Someone must have just finished mowing, because the smell of freshly cut grass makes me stop and close my eyes. With five months a year spent under snow piles, we Chicagoans know how to appreciate the small joys of summer. Even the distant sound of a jackhammer breaking apart a sidewalk sounds like music, albeit not the best-selling sort.
Grover’s Park comes into view. A playground that looks like a spaceship takes up most of the area. Stay-at-home moms huddle around a park bench as their children shoot down the slides. One small kid near the swings is eating sand.