Authors: Darcy Woods
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2016 by Darcy Woods
Cover art copyright © 2016 by Vincent Besnault/Getty Images
Cover design by Liz Casal
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
Crown and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Summer of supernovas / Darcy Woods.—First edition.
Summary: As the daughter of an astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows the truth lies within the stars, so when she discovers a rare planetary alignment she is forced to tackle her worst astrological fear—The Fifth House of Relationships and Love—but Wil must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her mother’s legacy when she falls for a sensitive guitar player.
ISBN 978-0-553-53704-8 (trade)—ISBN 978-0-553-53705-5 (ebook)
[1. Love—Fiction. 2. Astrology—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.1.W66Sum 2016 [Fic]—dc23 2014048932
ebook ISBN 9780553537055
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
Be humble for you are made of earth.
Be noble for you are made of stars.
wo fears have plagued me from the time I was little, and today I must face one of them.
It’s not the clowns. A lot of kids get squeamish around clowns, I know. But no one else at Jessica Bernard’s seventh birthday party screamed bloody murder and wet their pants at the sight of one. That’s when I earned the nickname
The nickname is quasi-forgotten—thank heavens. Though the fear of clowns is not.
Still, what I’m about to tackle is worse.
Carefully I take my place at the top of the water tower, letting my bare legs dangle. The early summer breeze rushes to greet them. One hundred and twenty feet stretch between me and the ground. My pulse doesn’t even flicker. I wish it did. Because heights are a perfectly reasonable fear.
Beneath and around me, the water tower spikes like a bulbous-headed nail from an otherwise tidy landscape. The aging white reservoir once proudly proclaimed
CITY OF CARLISLE.
But since most everyone, except me and the elements, has forgotten the old tower, it now reads:
ITY OF CARL
I adjust the wrinkled towel underneath me since the metal of the six-foot-wide circular platform is equal parts rust and chipped paint. It’s not as if I planned on coming here—and certainly not in a dress—but driving by on the way to Hyde Park…well, I just
to stop. Because for all the structure’s imperfections, it does manage to get one thing right—the view. From here the world is utterly perfect.
Unfolding the yellowing paper, I smooth it over my lap. My astrological birth chart’s intricate and faded markings offer nothing I haven’t seen a million times. I do it out of habit, because the placement of every planet and its degree is as well-known as the location of the nose on my face.
And there it is: The queen mother of all my fears.
The Fifth House.
Much as I’d rather bury myself in the study of astrology and its role in the human experience, I can’t avoid reality any longer. Because the clock is ticking. I have precisely twenty-two days.
Twenty-two days of planetary alignment to find my perfect match. If I don’t, it will take another decade for the stars to produce conditions this ideal. And by age twenty-seven, I could be a whacked-out spinster with eleven cats and a raging case of agoraphobia.
Well, that’s a risk I can’t take. Especially when born with an ill-fated Fifth House that already tipped the scales toward a dysfunctional love life. So help me, if I don’t find my match now, I am staring down the barrel of ten years of falling for the wrong guys. Ten years—
—of heartache, heartbreak, and widespread astrological malaise.
I have no choice. I must swallow my fear and seize this cosmic opportunity.
Eyes closed, I inhale deeply.
From the moment my mother cast it, I have
deviated from the guiding wisdom of my chart. After all, its importance is as genetically predisposed as the blue color of my eyes. Failing just isn’t an option.
So I set to work. I dig out my notepad, pen, and iPod, slipping the latter in my dress pocket. Popping in my earbuds, I press play, letting the music take me higher. But even the upbeat song isn’t enough. I stand and pace the platform. Movement of body breeds movement of ideas—gospel according to Gram.
I begin my brainstorming by compiling a list of the twelve zodiac signs, placing stars next to Aries, Gemini, Libra, and Sagittarius for their intellectual-mindedness and passion for adventure. I add a couple more stars with question marks to the signs that are possible matches. Scanning the list, I cross off Taurus and Scorpio—too possessive; Leo—too outwardly absorbed; and Cancer—too feely. I don’t mesh with the emotionally upheaved. And then there is Pisces.
out of the question. Why did I even write it down? I scribble until the word is an unreadable inkblot.
But this measly list doesn’t scratch the surface of the daunting research ahead. I’ll have to consult the astrology books tucked under my bed and, of course, my best friend, Irina.
Irina says she has a surprise for me. Something I’ll find
valuable in my search.
…a surprise from my dear Russian comrade doesn’t exactly lower my blood pressure.
I lean back, resting my elbows on the waist-high railing. Cumulus clouds drift overhead, their undersides ironed and starched. One of my finger waves has come loose and slaps the lens of my cat eyeglasses. I tuck the chin-length wave behind my ear, and lose myself in whirling thoughts of sun signs, decanates, and cusps.
How in the world will I narrow my search? Where do I even—
All of a sudden vibrations carry from my feet all the way up my legs. And there’s another noise. Faint at first, but growing louder.
Confused, I yank out an earbud.
“—it! Okay?” a voice bellows from the ground.
I spin around, searching for the source. A guy stares back. The distance between us is too great to make out much more than that. I glance toward the outer part of the platform and spot a second guy racing up the ladder as though he’s being pursued by the hounds of hell and his rump is a beef-flavored chew toy.
A pickle-colored station wagon idles beside Gram’s Buick. The driver’s-side door hangs open.
“Help is coming! Stay where you are!”
? Then it occurs to me how this must look from far away—lonely girl at the top of a tower, unresponsive, manically scribbling while leaning over the rail. For the love of zodiac, they probably think I’m writing a suicide note or something! Oh my—
“Hey!” I shout, waving my arms. “No! No! There’s been a mistake!”
“No mistake is that bad! Just…” The guy’s head lowers, as if he’s searching the crabgrass-and-dandelion ground cover for wisdom. He then lifts his gaze again, cupping his hands to the sides of his mouth. “Just don’t jump!”
So much for wisdom.
The wind awakens with a violent gust. I try to situate myself in line with the shouter so I’m better heard. “Look, I’m not trying to—” I inhale sharply as my foot catches on the strap of my bag. Stumbling forward, I slam into the rail, folding like a rag doll over the metal piping.
“Ahh!” ground guy yells. “Grant!”
Powerful arms latch around my middle, reeling me away from the edge. We stagger backward. The guy hits the tower’s siding with a resonating
I topple against him, feeling the punch of his heart at my back. His arms remain shackled around me.
“It’s…okay.” The climber’s ragged breath blows the hair at my neck. Heat radiates from his body, carrying the scent of sweat and something clean like dryer sheets. “I’ve…I’ve got you. I won’t let you fall. I won’t let you fall.” Despite the insane strength of his arms, the rest of him shakes.
I wriggle in the stranger’s grip. “Let me go!”
His heart continues jackhammering. “Only if you promise to keep away from the edge.”
“Okay, I promise! Now loosen your death grip before you shatter my ribs!”
He immediately drops his arms.
I heave a breath of relief and turn. His eyes are first to demand my attention. They’re brown. Brown isn’t always memorable, but his are. It’s as though something lights them from within. But maybe it’s just the glow from the setting sun.
“What are you doing up here?” I ask.
“I’m saving you,
” The last bit comes out in a wheeze as his tall frame doubles over to brace his hands on his knees. His back sags with another heavy exhalation.