It's finally here!
I posted how one of my goals is to publish Book 1 of my Young Adult (YA) Sci Fi Romance this year. Well, I bit the bullet and trudged through the last of the edits. The book is available on Amazon.com for only $0.99 as a download! No, you don't have to own a Kindle to buy it. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection!
I'm thrilled that the cover came out well. The girl is my niece Emma. Isn't she gorgeous? I plan to have her on all the covers in the series. Hey, if I get a movie deal, do you think they'll hire her to play the character of Jasmine? Yeah, who knows but I think Emma would be a good choice.
What? You want to know what the book is about?
Here's a synopsis:
When Jasmine moves to Omaha, Nebraska with her Colonel father so he can work on top secret projects at Offut Airforce Base, she anticipates a lonely existence at yet another address. After meeting Yumi, the exotic and mysterious girl in art class, Jasmine discovers an escape from her dreary nomadic life.
The only obstacle to finding stability and bliss is convincing Yumi's housemates to accept her. Jasmine is shocked by their response and struggles to earn their approval until she figures out that they have a secret. As Yumi weakens from an illness, Jasmine risks her safety to help heal her and finally obtain the security and happiness she missed since her mother's death.
What are you waiting for? Get your copy today! Remember to get one for your friends too!
Want to read some of it?
Chapter 1: A Full House
Jasmine stood in the moving bus.
“No!” she yelled as she snatched her bag off the seat and ran to the front amidst the surprised murmurs of her schoolmates and the bus driver’s protests.
“He can’t do this to me again. Not today,” she murmured under her breath.
The bus slowed to a stop and the doors slid open. Jasmine burst from the bus,
“Get out of my room!” Jasmine shrieked, startling the greasy man standing by her antique dresser, holding a pair of purple striped underwear in one hand and a box in the other. He stared at her with his mouth agape and eyes wide.
“Are you deaf? Get out!” she reiterated, stomping over to him.
She grabbed her underwear, threw it in the box and pointed to the door.
“But I . . .” the
“Leave!” Jasmine yelled, interrupting him.
“Whatever,” he said, shrugging and walking
He walked too slowly for Jasmine’s liking. She followed him and used the door to push him out of the room faster.
Jasmine surveyed the room. Her closet doors hung open, revealing empty hangars and partially filled boxes. A drawer sat on top of her antique cherry wood dresser where the man had laid it. She could see scratch marks under the drawer from where the man pushed it across the top of her lovingly refinished furniture without care for keeping her property nice. She clenched her fists. She had fixed the scratches from the last careless movers only two months ago. She would have to do it again.
Jasmine’s messy military-issue twin bed appeared untouched. Her various music posters still observed passively from the walls, too cool to intervene on her behalf. The mover she interrupted had barely started in her room. Jasmine breathed a sigh of relief as she realized she had arrived home just in time to prevent most of the damage.
She reached into a pocket of her jeans and fumbled for her cellphone. Tears blurred her vision as she jammed a finger on its buttons. She tapped her toe as the phone rang.
“Hello?” said a male voice on the other end.
“Dad, what the heck?” Jasmine wailed, throwing her free hand in the air. It was a wasted gesture considering her father couldn’t see her but it was a good thing he couldn’t. That sort of behavior landed her in trouble.
“Jasmine?” he asked with a hollow voice. As she walked over to the window, Jasmine realized that he had put her on speaker phone.
“Why are there movers here?” she inquired, pushing aside the white curtains then gazed down at the men carrying boxes and furniture out of the house and into
“Jasmine, I only have a minute. Something came up and we need to move immediately,” he explained. His distracted tone and papers rustling in the background communicated clearly to Jasmine that she didn’t warrant his full attention.
“How hard is it to call me? A text maybe? How about an e-mail?” she demanded, her voice rising in pitch.
“Calm down. I didn’t have time to give you an update,” Dad elaborated.
“Why are we moving again?” she whined, sagging onto the bed and wishing for a different life.
“Jasmine, this is classified. You know I can’t talk about it,” Dad rescinded, hiding behind bureaucracy to avoid offering an explanation for his negligence.
“Whatever Dad,” Jasmine huffed as she flopped onto her back.
“Young lady, fix your tone immediately. We will discuss this when you arrive,” Dad shot, switching into his voice of unquestionable authority.
“Where? Where are you?” Jasmine pried, sitting up, trained to respond like a good soldier although she despised her own reaction. She was pressing her luck.
“Omaha. Look, I have a meeting. I’ll see you at Offutt Air Force Base. A car will be by to pick you up at o-eight-hundred,” Dad said coldly then hung up the phone.
The click in her ear startled Jasmine and she looked at the screen on the phone in disbelief. The words Call Ended flashed thereupon, mocking her. Dad’s brisk responses had thwarted her righteous anger again. Even though Jasmine’s dad was the one who was in the wrong, she would end up having to apologize. A subordinate was not allowed to question a commanding officer.
Jasmine braced herself against the tears seeking escape her
Jasmine collapsed on her bed, stared at the swirls in her ceiling continued to deny her tears the exodus they sought. She rolled into a ball on her side and willed herself to fall asleep so she could escape into a dream where people who loved her would surround her in warm embraces.
Sleep refused to come. She sat up and reached for her only friend. The old Martin acoustic guitar stood in its stand, stoically waiting for Jasmine’s gentle fingers. Jasmine nestled the guitar to her body and slowly strummed several minor chords. Switching to an E chord, she began to sing.
“Happy birthday to me . . . Happy birthday to me . . .”
Jasmine’s sixteenth birthday passed in tears and boxes.
Chapter 2: Missions
“This mission is
Joseph reclined in a chair positioned sideways to the table and threw a ball against the wall. The short, dark haired boy never took things seriously enough in Honorio’s opinion. His smug, ever-present grin stemmed from too much confidence in his skills. Unfortunately, Honorio could not trust in mere skill. He needed to know that his team functioned cohesively.
Yumi, small and delicate, sat silently at the table and scanned everyone’s faces with her dark, almond eyes.
“Relax Nori. We have practiced enough times that we can do this in our sleep.” Malika purred, flicking her long blonde hair with her right hand while flipping a dagger in her left. Honorio knew she could handle the course he had laid out. Unfortunately, she preferred to do things her way in stressful situations. She lacked the team spirit Honorio needed in order to feel comfortable.
“That is not good enough. I want everything to be perfect. No one hurt, no one captured, no one aware of our presence,” He stared at the unchanged faces surrounding him. Honorio wanted to break the table out of frustration. None of his words seemed to convey the urgency and seriousness of their situation.
“W-We could go over the plan one more time,” Tyrone stuttered, hunched over in his chair with
“We already know what we are doing. Do not torture us anymore,” Joseph groaned loudly.
Honorio glared at Joseph then studied Tyrone’s dark face. Tyrone’s wide eyes and
“Okay. Here’s the plan again . . .” Honorio began amidst sighs from Malika and Joseph.
Chapter 3: New Scenery
The orientation at the new air force base was akin to entering an alternate universe. Time slowed and tortured all those trapped inside. The overly friendly woman showing Jasmine around told her, through a 1000 watt smile, all about Offut Airforce Base and the greater Omaha area. Inwardly, Jasmine rolled her eyes while the lady continued explaining all of the great things the base had to offer. She shifted her guitar case from her left hand to her right.
Jasmine glanced at the lady’s name tag again. E. Trellin. Jasmine noticed the woman’s stripes and became confused. Captains rarely led orientations. Normally a private handled that task. This captain seemed to relish in her mundane task. Jasmine inspected the captain closer. The captain’s light brown hair was pulled back into a tight bun. Her make-up accentuated her large, blue eyes and lipstick stained her full lips a jarring shade of red. The winks meant just for Jasmine confirmed that the captain was on the prowl and Jasmine’s father stood in her sights.
Objectively, Jasmine understood that women flocked to her dad’s dark hair and bright blue eyes. Add to that his athletic build –he kept the Air Force’s property in prime condition –and he was considered a top notch babe in the adult world. At 6’2”, tall, dark and handsome described her dad. She pitied the poor women who were ignorant of his cold and unfeeling heart. He loved only his top secret job.
Remembering her father’s admonition about representing the family and needing to make a good impression because of his career, she tried to act interested. Jasmine breathed a sigh of relief when Captain Trellin finished her presentation.
“Do you have any questions for me?” she asked Jasmine.
“No, thank you. All I really need is a map of Omaha,” Jasmine replied, clutching her packet of orientation materials
“There’s one in your packet there,” she said pointing to the folder in Jasmine’s hands.
“Thank you. Can you show me where we are and where my house is?” asked Jasmine.
“No problem!” Captain Trellin grabbed the folder with her immaculately manicured nails.
They spent another 5 minutes finding the location of Jasmine’s new house. As Jasmine slipped out the door Captain Trellin called out to her:
“Jasmine, don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions!” she invited.
Jasmine nodded as she exited and breathed much easier outside in the fresh air. Her nose twitched at the cold air and Jasmine watched her breath condense and float up when she exhaled. She quickly oriented herself by the sun with the map open in her hands. The sun warmed Jasmine’s face slightly as she turned to it and old memories surfaced. Memories about her dad and mom sitting beside her on a log and teaching her about compasses and maps while a fire warmed their toes swirled in Jasmine’s brain. Mom and Dad let her pick the path some days. Along each trail they explored Jasmine learned bits and pieces about nature.
Jasmine shook her head. That was before the accident. She pushed the memories aside. Those nature skills would help one day when she found herself lost in the middle of a wilderness somewhere. In other words, it was totally wasted information. Grow up, Jasmine she thought to herself.
She spotted a car in front of the base headquarters. The driver held a sign that read Jasmine Smith. She sighed. Her dad played the good officer doing paperwork or something instead of bothering with a small detail like his daughter.
The driver, a young private, stood at ease by the passenger door.
“I’m Jasmine,” she informed the driver.
The driver snapped to attention.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“Yup,” Jasmine reported.
He opened the back passenger door. Jasmine walked to the car and paused before getting in. She looked the private in the eyes.
“What’d you do?” she asked with a laser beam stare.
The private looked startled.
“Ma’am?” he asked, pretending to be oblivious.
“What’d you do? Miss curfew?” she reiterated.
“I don’t know what you mean,” The private responded, looking uncomfortable.
“Come on. You got the crappy assignment of chauffer for the day. You did something,” she accused, folding her arms and staring at the private who was not much older than her and waited for his answer.
He looked at Jasmine and gestured for her to get in the car.
“Come on, air man. We don’t move until you answer,” she taunted.
He looked at his watch then back at her. He lost his ram rod straight posture, leaned in and caved.
“My footlocker was a mess,” he confessed.
“Now that wasn’t so hard was it?” she said soothingly and patted his arm before scooting into the back seat. He closed the car door once she settled in. The interior smelled of pine. The immaculate condition of the seats and floor mats indicated that someone obviously vacuumed the car regularly. She shifted in her seat and shivered in the cool interior waiting for the private to walk around the car. Thankfully, the heat circulated when the engine started.
Jasmine slipped into her thoughts and considered the fact that life would be easier for her if dad would live on base. On base she would be able to relate to the other students. Everyone there learns an accepting attitude that comes from leaving behind your life and friends every few years. She couldn’t understand why her dad insisted that they live among civilians.
On the other hand, living in the city and attending a large high school had its benefits. Jasmine could blend into the scenery until she moved again. At small schools, the other students notice the new girl and stare. In a large high school, no one knows everyone so she could play the part of scenery; fly under the radar as dad would say.
The car merged onto the interstate and a car passing on the left caught Jasmine’s eye. The plain black sedan had no discerning features yet it drew her gaze. She looked over and saw a girl about her age in the backseat. The girl’s black hair framed her face and emphasized the dark almond eyes that gazed back at Jasmine.
Entranced, Jasmine lost track of time and reason until the girl’s car passed and Jasmine’s driver’s head broke the line of vision. She looked through the back window of the other girl’s sedan and noticed a couple of guys next to the girl in the car but couldn’t see them well through the glare of the sun off the car’s rear window. She leaned forward to watch the vehicle weave deftly through the heavy traffic and disappear from sight.
Jasmine sat back in her seat and exhaled the breath she’d forgotten to release. She wondered at her reaction to that girl. She passed it off as a silly fluke caused by physical and emotional exhaustion.
The base car eventually arrived at the building that would house Jasmine for too short a time. The white, two-story house her dad had picked hid in the middle of a quiet street. A big porch spanned the front. Blinds barred all the windows shutting out the world. The house seemed harmless but not necessarily welcoming.
The building didn’t care who resided inside. Jasmine returned the apathy. She viewed the house as a hotel in her life, no more than another address to forget in a couple of years.
She looked around the neighborhood. The same boring, cookie-cutter houses lined both sides of the street. All the houses had the same type of grass cut to the same length. Jasmine and her dad might as well have lived on base.
Sighing, Jasmine ascended the front porch steps. She unlocked another strange, new front door and pushed it open. She paused a moment before stepping over the threshold. She placed her guitar case and purse in the doorway on the floor. In the room to the right, boxes littered the floor and empty furniture lined bare walls pretending to be a proper living room. In front of her, stairs ascended to the second floor. To the left of the stairs a hallway led to the back of the house. To her direct left, she spotted the dining room table underneath several boxes in another room.
Jasmine gazed back to her right and spotted a picture montage from a happier time peeking out of a box. Wood framed faces smiled at her as her mother’s image walked into her view. Jasmine could almost hear her mother humming while placing a family picture on the wall and setting the clay pinch-pot Jasmine made in second grade on the bookshelf. Her mother’s nose would crinkle when she smiled and greeted Jasmine into the house. As quickly as she appeared, her image faded.
Jasmine’s chest filled with pressure. She struggled to breathe as her muscles froze. The room was empty. She knew the room was empty. The image of her mother looked real. It felt like she was alive and just around the corner, out of sight. If Jasmine took a couple steps forward, she would see her mom standing there, arms outstretched, gesturing for a hug.
Instead of torturing her heart further by walking into the living room, Jasmine turned left and stumbled up the stairs. She walked into the first room on the right. A bare mattress and box spring sagged on the bed frame in the back corner of the room to her right. The movers dumped her dresser against the wall to the left. Several boxes on the floor showed Daughter Room marked on them.
Jasmine trod to her bed and collapsed across it, willing her pounding heart to slow. Tears streamed down her face as she focused on breathing. Slowly, she recovered from her moment of grief.
She looked around the room and forced herself to sit up. She needed to unpack her meager possessions. Even though unpacking at each new house wasted time and effort, clean clothes were a necessity.
Jasmine grabbed the closest box and lugged it to the bed. She ripped it open and found clothes. Half of the clothes she threw in a pile near the door because of excessive wrinkles. The rest she put in drawers or hung in the closet. Jasmine tore off the tape and flattened the box after emptying it. She’d done this procedure enough times that she stacked several boxes within a few minutes.
A worn scrapbook was nestled in the next box between a few novels she had inherited from her mother and several spiral-bound notebooks. Jasmine caressed the cover and thought about the treasures held inside before she flopped on her bed and flipped it open. A picture of Jasmine only hours old greeted her, an old friend. In the picture, mom cuddled her and dad held both of them.
She flipped through the pages of baby pictures and hair clippings. She lingered on some of her favorite memories like her 5th birthday when mom and dad gave her a princess costume. The layers and layers of pink frills came with matching costume jewelry and tiara. Mom and dad used to laugh about how she spent a month living in the plastic high heeled shoes. Mom said Jasmine wouldn’t wear her boots in the snow if she had been given a choice.
She flipped past more pictures and slowed her page turning. She knew what came next. The day her happiness ended waited a few pages further in the book. Behind the photos of her 9th birthday, a small clipping from the newspaper, harmless to a casual observer, sent pangs of loneliness to Jasmine’s heart.
Mary Smith died on November 3, 2004 in a tragic accident at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. She leaves behind her husband, Capt. John Smith and daughter, Jasmine Kathryn.
A closed casket ceremony will be held at First Assembly of God at 10 AM.
Jasmine relived the anger she felt when she saw that her mother’s obituary spanned less than 2 inches in the newspaper. Her mom lived a rich, full life. She deserved a front page spread for the beauty she brought to everyone’s existence. She definitely deserved better than a distant jerk like Jasmine’s father who couldn’t be bothered to provide the newspaper with more information; who couldn’t be bothered to provide his own daughter with more information.
Jasmine pushed the box onto the floor, lied down, pulled the photo album close to her heart and cried herself to sleep.
“Are you ok?” Honorio softly asked Yumi.
They stood in their dark garage. He had grabbed her arm and held her back as everyone else entered the house.
“I am fine. Just momentarily distracted,” she replied, looking up at Honorio with her dark almond eyes and smiled.
Honorio felt the wave of peace wash over him but fought the soothing currents. He needed maximum awareness to lead the team. He shook his head.
“We completely lost all contact with you back there. We need you focused or the mission fails,”
Yumi ducked her head.
“I am sorry,” she whispered.
Honorio lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes again.
“You have brought no shame. Talk to me if something is troubling you,” he admonished.
“That is the problem. Something is troubling me but I do not know what it is. I do not think it is linked to our mission though. It is something outside. Something new. Something . . .” she trailed off.
Honorio watched Yumi try to find the right words. Yumi’s behavior disturbed him. He trusted that when she said the interference would not interrupt their mission, she told the truth. He did not like her distracted though.
“I am sure it was nothing. Come inside and eat. You will feel better,” Honorio bade her.Yumi nodded and followed. Honorio plastered a calm expression on his chiseled face. He could not let the others sense the dread in the pit of his stomach.
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