Book 3 in the Joining of Souls Series
For Fall YASH 2018, I have an exclusive sneak peek of Losing Lucky!
Chapter 1 picks right up where Book 2 (Fighting Fate) left off. For more information about the other two books in the series, CLICK HERE!
CHAPTER 1 EXCERPT – LAXSHMI
I stared in the mirror at my bare chest, tracing the burn marks radiating from the oval scar at my sternum. The spokes branched out into delicate tendrils reaching as far out as my right shoulder and left hip bone. Had it hurt? Touching them now only tickled. Maybe it was better I didn't remember.
And Liam has them too? Before he'd left earlier, my "boyfriend"—the one I had no memory of—had whispered two months’ worth of our "history" in minutes while Mom had blustered about Liam being a liar. Of everything he'd recounted, I found the fact we'd been identically marked during a lightning storm from something called the "joining" the strangest. If the proof Liam wasn't a liar hadn't been staring me in the face, I'd have a hard time believing it all.
But boy, did I have questions. What did it mean to be joined? Have we had sex? If he knew I had the same mark, didn't that mean he had to have seen me naked?
I rubbed my temples. Cramming for a double load of final exams couldn't feel this overwhelming—empaths, a kidnapping attempt, enhanced hearing, locking my emotions behind a mental block, my lost memories? It sounded like a movie.
With everything flying around in my head, the idea that I had a soul mate kept floating to the forefront—an honest-to-God, official, metaphysical soul mate who happened to be a gorgeous Irish guy with the most mesmerizing dimples and pale green eyes. Could I get any luckier in that department?
What was it about dimples that turned me into mush? Well, it would normally, anyway. Right now my mind felt like a robot because—as Liam's mom, Moira, had put it—I'd locked my emotions and memories behind a "second mental block." Whatever that meant. If I'd been reacting normally, I'd surely be irritated with myself for being so smitten. Then again, I wouldn't be wondering about all this.
I lifted the hair off my neck and brought it forward to inspect in the mirror. Longer locks reflected back at me—two months’ worth if I had to guess.
Running my fingers through the strands, I studied the girl in the mirror. I was her now…but who was she?
When I'd "come to" in Liam's embrace earlier with Mom and his family surrounding us, I'd felt like I'd been thrown into the middle of a book without any explanation. Glancing over to my window seat, I half expected to find a novel with a bookmark sticking out—as if it would've been that easy to catch up.
The phone rang downstairs, and Mom's voice floated up to me—a lot clearer than I would've expected. Huh. I guess I do have enhanced hearing.
"Oh, Premlataben, uh…k–kem cho? How are you?" Why did Mom sound hesitant?
Premlata Shah was a long-time client at the travel agency where Mom worked and a big-wig in the Indian community. Aunty had always fawned over me a little too much. Shiney and I also suspected she was trying to set me up with her son, Tejas—or Tej—and to my annoyance, Shiney never missed an opportunity to tease me about it.
I'd have to call her tomorrow. My best friend would surely be able to fill me in on everything that had happened in the last two months—not that I thought Liam had lied about any of it, but Shiney would know my version. I glanced at my poetry journal peeking out from beneath my pillow. As long as I hadn't stopped writing, I should be able to catch up on a few things from there too.
Tej's name came up again in the conversation downstairs and drew my attention back to Mom. He'd been in Mr. Drago Gagliardi's limo earlier today. I remembered Liam dropping an F bomb at seeing him, and with the way he'd tensed up, it told me there was more to the story than just Tej being his competition. No doubt, he'd be a rival my mom would actually approve of.
She and Premlata Aunty continued their pleasantries on the phone—although Mom sounded increasingly awkward—but soon the topic turned to Tej and me as a couple. Uh-oh. I slipped on a T-shirt and inched toward the pull-down attic stairs that led from my bedroom to the second floor. Crouching down, I crawled over the carpet as I got closer. Mom's voice seemed to be coming from halfway up the steps. If so, I didn't want her to catch me eavesdropping. As I neared, the refrigerator door rattled—which meant she was two floors beneath me, not two feet from me. Holy awesome hearing!
"Oh, so you know about Liam? B–But how?" mom asked. I cringed. She'd likely lay into me now. God forbid my reputation suffer because I got caught dating a "white boy." With as many Indians as there were in North Carolina, she should realize how normal interracial dating—hell, dating, in general—was now. But no, she'd forever hold on to our more traditional customs. After a moment of listening to Aunty, Mom expressed her surprise in Gujarati. "Mr. Gagliardi? He's your banevi? Your brother-in-law? Oh, I didn't know. He's my boss."
Huh. Considering everything Liam had accused Mr. Gagliardi of—namely, trying to kidnap me—did Aunty know this man's true nature? Did Liam know about their connection?
"I was wondering why Tejas was in his limo… Hanh, I was the one who called your banevi. He said he would help me if I had trouble with our neighbors—with that boy Liam."
She'd called her boss all right—to take me away. I still couldn't believe it. She’d been ready to ship me off with a stranger because she hated the idea of me being with Liam.
"I am sorry, Premlataben. I promised Laxshmi to your son—that won't change—but she says she loves that boy… No, no, I will not allow her to marry him."
How on Earth had I been "promised" to Tej so quickly—and at the start of my junior year? Was that why I'd risked telling Mom about Liam? Had I been fighting her about Tej? Did Liam know about all this? I shook my head clear of the thought. My predicament was a personal matter, and despite what he'd said about how close we were, he still felt like nothing more than an outsider. I'd be embarrassed if he could hear my mom right now, and yet…I couldn't deny a compulsion to include him. Maybe my heart recognized him even though my mind didn't.
If this robotic calm hadn't taken over my body, I'd probably be panicking. This "second block" holding back my emotions seemed like a slowly expanding water balloon. I couldn't do much more than watch and wait and hope it didn't pop.
"But what can we do, Premlataben?" Mom listened and then gasped at Aunty's reply. "Really? Ayurvedic medicine can do that?" Had this been a movie, Mom's hopeful tone would've warranted an eerie musical segue.
A sliver of fear snaked out from behind whatever I'd put up to protect my mind. For the first time since coming to in Liam's arms downstairs, I felt something. My fingers trembled and my muscles tensed. Before I could assume it meant anything, a mental vacuum sucked up the feeling and tucked it behind the barrier once again. My heart raced in its wake, but as I forced my breathing to calm, I got the distinct impression I controlled the hidden access to my emotions and memories.
I only needed to find the key.
Hope you enjoyed the little taste! Get started with Book 1 in the the award winning series SOULMATED today! Interested in getting the latest about Losing Lucky’s release? Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on social media using the icons below!
Have a great hunt!