Check out an excerpt from Shana Norris’ YA paranormal romance, Surfacing, the first in her Swans Landing series.
Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.
But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.
As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.
A loud crack to my left made me jump at least a foot. The hairs all along my arms and all the way up my spine were certainly standing on end. I turned my cell phone in that direction, extending a frozen and trembling arm to try to make the light reach farther into the darkness.
“Anyone there?” My voice was low and shaking, barely above a whisper. I cleared my throat and tried again. “If you’re out there, come here or I’ll find you and kick your ass for scaring me.”
My eyes searched the darkness, but no one came forward despite the definite feeling that unseen eyes hid within the trees. I listened again for several moments, but there were no sounds other than the usual woodsy ones.
If I survived this night in one piece with my sanity still somewhat intact, I would never come back into these trees again.
And then I heard it.
I spun around, trying to determine what direction it came from, but it was impossible. The song seemed to be coming from everywhere all at once.
It started as a low hum at first, soft and sighing, but gradually it grew in volume and intensity. The sounds vibrated through me and I suddenly craved saltwater more than ever. My body cried out for it and every bone in me ached and popped and itched. For what, I didn’t know. My only thought was that I wanted to go toward the sound, even though I still couldn’t determine where exactly it came from, and so I started forward, stumbling over a tree root.
A hand closed around mine, stopping me. My head whipped around to find Josh’s face peering at me in the dim glow of my phone.
“What—” I started to say, but he shook his head. His expression was tight, his lips a thin straight line. He closed his eyes, swaying slightly, and a look of pain washed over his face.
“What’s going—” The words died in my throat. A movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.
When I turned in that direction, I saw a figure slip between the trees, into the darkness.
I stared hard at the area where she’d disappeared, searching the shadows. She was there, I knew she was even though at the same time I knew this was impossible. Mom was dead and her body was buried in a little cemetery in Tennessee. My mom was not wandering around Pirate’s Cove in Swans Landing.
And yet I smelled her perfume. She whispered my name and then laughed. She was there.
“Mom!” I called.
But Josh clasped his free hand over my mouth, his eyes still closed and his face contorted in pain. I struggled against him, trying to break free. Mom was there in the woods and I needed to find her. But the more I struggled, the more Josh pulled me against him, his arm wrapped around my ribcage and crushing me to his chest.
I fought against him, kicking and hitting. My teeth clamped down on his hand.
“Ow!” he cried, letting me go.
With my newfound freedom, I lurched forward, stumbling over roots. I ran through the trees, narrowly missing hitting my head on a low branch. “Mom!” I shouted. My eyes scanned the darkness of the forest, desperate to find her.
Josh caught up to me and grabbed me again. I tried to break free, struggling against the violent craving for salt water that wracked my body in order to keep my wits about me. But maybe I had long ago lost my sense of reality. I didn’t know what was really true anymore.
Josh’s fingers dug into my wrist. “Mara, no!”
“I have to find her,” I told him, my voice high-pitched and wild even to my own ears.
He wrenched me toward him. I raised my fists to push away, but Josh’s arms enveloped me, pressing me close.
And then his lips met mine and the world I barely had any remaining grip on slipped away completely.