My book The Selection has received some amazing reviews and I’m so pleased readers are connecting with the story. If you’ve not had a chance to read what earned me a nomination (and win!) for best SciFi Author in the Reality Bites Book Awards, here’s the entire first chapter to test drive my fast paced, action-filled story. I hope you enjoy it!
Mina giggled. Eron ran across the playground. “Mina, I love you! Will you be my girl? You’re so beautiful–” He tripped on a rock and face planted on the red soil. When he stood, Mina had fallen over with laughter.
“Aw, come on Mina, that’s not funny!”
“Yeah it is! Look at you!” She pointed at his shirt, stained red.
“Yeah, whatever,” he said.
They were on morning recess, expending boundless energy while teachers relaxed. The children were more excited than usual at the long siren blast indicating the Selection was underway.
“Ten years from now when you turn eighteen, it’s gonna be your turn at the Selection,” Mina said. She held out her hands with fingers splayed. “Ten!” she said.
“Yeah? So what? It’s how we become men,” Eron replied. He puffed out his chest and Mina giggled again.
“Don’t kill anyone, though, ’cause that’s bad.”
Eron cocked his head. “Why would I do that?”
Mina’s grin faded. “‘Cause that’s what you gotta do. I don’t want you to, though.” She approached him, her red curls bouncing with each step. “I kinda like you, too, Eron,” she whispered in his ear as she kept walking. His face turned as red as the Anastasian sun. The bell rang and the children ran for the school doors.
At the afternoon recess, Mina gathered with a group of her friends, all girls. Eron considered joining the group, but so many girls together at once intimidated him. Instead, he sat by himself and watched the other students playing. There were more boys than girls in his school. After the Selection, however, he knew that would change. Afterwards there were always more adult females than males.
“Why aren’t you with Mina?” a voice behind Eron called. It was Bello. He liked the larger boy, even though he tended to be mean.
“Oh, hey Bello. I don’t know. She’s with her friends. I don’t wanna bother her.”
Bello sat next to him, his large frame casting a shadow over Eron. “So what? Are you scared? Don’t be a baby.”
“Shut up, Bello! Just drop it, ok?”
“I heard you tell her you loved her. Oooh, you love her, don’t ya, Eron?” Bello stood. “Hey Mina,” he called. Mina and her friends looked over. Eron shoved his face in his hands. “Mina, did you know Eron loves you? He loooooves you!”
Mina’s friends laughed.
“Be quiet, Bello! Don’t say anything!” Eron said.
“Eron loves Mina! Eron loves Mina!” Bello sang. Mina’s friends laughed, and others on the playground joined in.
“Come on now, stop laughing. Bello, please stop. You’re embarrassing him,” Mina said. Bello laughed harder.
“No, I’m not. Look,” he said, pointing at Eron. Eron shook, veins pulsing on his forehead.
“You’re not embarrassed, are you?” Bello asked. Eron looked up, his eyes red and glistening. He opened his mouth to reply, then stopped.
“Seriously, Mina, he loves you!” Bello said.
Eron faced Bello, the larger boy standing a head taller than him. “Shut. Up.”
“But it’s the truth.”
Eron clenched his fists.
“What, are you gonna hit me?”
“Eron, please. No violence. You don’t need to do anything. It’s ok,” Mina said, her calm voice soothing to Eron.
“Yeah, you don’t need to do anything,” Bello said, mocking her. Eron turned and walked calmly away.
“That’s it, Eron, walk away like a coward,” Bello said.
Eron ignored his taunts and left the playground, Mina trailing after him.
“Hey,” she said. He’d made it to the school doors and stopped.
“What?” he replied.
“Don’t worry about Bello. He’s just a bully. No one thinks bad about you. Promise.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Eron, I do like you. Don’t let him get to you.”
The boy paused, then grasped the door handle and left her standing outside.
That was the last time he spoke with her during grade school. Other than an occasional smile and a hi, he couldn’t muster enough courage to talk to her.
Bello’s taunts continued and intensified. They were separated several times on the playground, Bello nearly beating up the smaller boy each time. Mina tried to intervene, but her actions seemed to make it worse. Whatever she said to Bello didn’t help Eron.
By the time they reached high school, Eron’s crush on Mina deepened.
“Why don’t you just try talking to her?” his close friend Connor asked. He’d known Connor since they were little, but they didn’t begin to hang out until eighth grade. As freshmen, they’d become best friends.
They sat in Eron’s room playing chess.
“I can’t, Connor. Not now.”
“Why not? She’s just a person like me. You talk to me. Why not her?”
Eron shrugged. “It’s different. She’s a girl and you’re not.” Connor sighed.
A loud siren blared.
The Selection had begun.
Eron jumped. “Timo!” he said. His older brother Timo was now eighteen, old enough for inclusion in the Selection. He’d been anxious about the event, and now the sirens called him to action.
Eron and Connor raced from the room, nearly slamming into Timo.
“Timo, it’s time,” Eron said. His brother looked at him with wide eyes, a blank expression on his face.
“Yeah, I guess it is. Goodbye, Eron. I’ll see you when you get there.”
Their mom hugged her older son. “Goodbye, son. Be safe. Do what you must. You can do this. Don’t forget your knife.” She kissed his cheek and he nodded.
Timo marched out the door and fell in line with the rest of the boys.
“Sorry, Connor, I gotta go,” Eron said. He sprinted after his brother.
“Timo! Wait! Wait up!”
His brother didn’t turn around. Eron followed as far as he could until the soldiers in gray uniforms forced him back, telling him to go home.
You can get The Selection on Amazon for only .99 through the end of August. Get your copy today!