Read an Excerpt
By Julie Cross
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Julie Cross
All rights reserved.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2009, 12:15 P.M.
"How far back should I go?" I asked Adam.
We kept a good distance between us and the long line of kids gathering around the polar bears.
"Thirty minutes?" Adam suggested.
"Hey, let that go!" Holly snatched the bag of candy one of the campers had swiped from a toddler's stroller and threw an exasperated look in my direction. "It'd be nice if you would actually watch your group of kids."
"Sorry, Hol." I scooped Hunter up before his kleptomaniac habits got any worse. "Hold up your hands," I told him.
He grinned a toothless smile and opened his chubby hands in front of my face. "See? Nothing."
"Let's keep it that way, all right? You don't need to take other people's stuff." I set the kid back down and gave him a shove toward the others, who were heading for the large stretch of grass reserved for campers having lunch at the zoo.
"Holly Flynn," I said, grabbing her hand and twining her fingers in mine.
She spun around to face me. "You have a soft spot for the klepto kid, don't you?"
I smiled at her and shrugged. "Maybe."
Her face relaxed and she tugged on the front of my shirt, pulling me closer before kissing my cheek. "So ... what are you doing tonight?"
"Um ... I've got plans with this really pretty blond chick." Except I couldn't remember what we had planned. "It's a ... surprise."
"You're so full of it." She laughed and shook her head. "I can't believe you forgot your promise to spend an entire evening with me reciting Shakespeare ... in French ... backwards. Then we were supposed to watch Titanic and Notting Hill."
"I must have been drunk when I said that." I glanced over Holly's shoulder before kissing her quickly on the mouth. "But I'll agree to Notting Hill."
She rolled her eyes. "We're supposed to go see that band with your friends, remember?"
A little girl from Holly's group tugged on her arm and pointed toward the bathroom. I darted around her before we could discuss my inability to make plans two weeks in advance and actually remember them two weeks later.
"Yo, Jackson, over here," Adam said, nodding toward a tree.
Time for precise and exact time-travel planning.
"Are you coming with us to see that band tonight?" I asked.
What I really wanted to know was if he remembered it.
"Um ... let's see. Spend an evening with your high school friends who, I've heard, are like a real-life version of Gossip Girl? Not to mention blowing an entire paycheck on an appetizer and a couple drinks?" He shook his head and smiled. "What do you think?"
"I see your point. How about we hang out in your and Holly's neighborhood tomorrow?"
"All right, on with it. I can't eat while smelling camel ass, so we might as well experiment now."
Adam tossed me my journal and threw a pen on top. "Write down your goal, because time travel without a goal is just —"
"Reckless," I finished for him, trying not to groan.
"The gift shop is right behind us. I've been watching for the last hour and the same girl's at the register."
"You've been checking her out, haven't you?"
Adam rolled his eyes and pushed his dark hair from his forehead. "Okay, so you set your stopwatch and then jump back thirty minutes. You go into the gift shop and do whatever it is you do so a girl remembers your name."
"It's called flirting," I said quietly so no one else would hear. Then I focused on writing my notes before Holly got back from the bathroom.
Goal: Test theory on someone who has no knowledge of the experiment.
Theory: Events and occurrences, including human interaction, while traveling into the past will NOT affect the present.
Non-geek-speak translation: I jump back thirty minutes in time, flirt with the girl in the shop, jump back to present time, walk back into the store, and see if she knows me.
But Adam Silverman, winner of the 2009 National Science Fair and a soon-to-be MIT freshman, won't confirm this conclusion until we've tried it from Every. Single. Angle. Honestly, I don't really mind. Sometimes it's fun, and until a few months ago, nobody except me knew what I could do. Now that the number has doubled, I feel a little bit less like a freak.
And a little less lonely.
But I've never been friends with a science geek before. Although Adam's more of the bad-boy-hacking-into-government-websites kinda geek. Which is beyond cool, in my opinion.
"Do you know for sure you can jump back exactly thirty minutes?" Adam asked.
I shrugged. "Yeah, probably."
"Just make sure you note the time. I'll record the seconds you're sitting here like a vegetable," Adam said, placing a stopwatch in my hand.
"Is that really what I look like when I jump? How long do you think I'll be like that?" I asked.
"I'm guessing that a twenty-minute excursion, thirty minutes into the past, will leave you catatonic in the present for about two seconds."
"Where was I thirty minutes ago, just so I don't run into myself?"
Adam clicked his stopwatch on and off about ten times before answering me. He's so totally OCD. "You were inside, looking at the penguins."
"Okay, I'll try not to end up over there."
"We both know you can choose your location if you really concentrate, so don't give me that I-don't-know-where-I'll-end-up shit," Adam joked.
Maybe he was right, but it's hard not to think about anything but one place. Just one tiny half-second thought about any other location than the one I was aiming for, and I'd end up there instead.
"Yeah, yeah. You do it, then, if you think it's so easy."
I get why someone like Adam is so fascinated by what I can do, but for me, I don't exactly consider it a superpower. Just a freak-of-nature occurrence. And kind of a scary one, at that.
I glanced at my watch, 12:25 P.M., then closed my eyes and focused on thirty minutes in the past and on this exact spot, though I really, truly have no clue how I do this.
The first time I jumped was about eight months ago, during my first semester of college. I was sitting in the middle of a French poetry class. I nodded off for a few minutes and woke up to a cold breeze and a door slamming me in the face. I was standing in front of my dorm. Before I even had a chance to panic, I was right back in class again.
Then I panicked.
Now it's fun, for the most part. Even though I still have no idea what day or time I traveled to that very first jump. As of today, my known record jump has climbed from six hours to forty-eight hours in the past. Jumping to the future has yet to work, but I'm not going to stop trying.
The familiar sensation of being pulled into two pieces took over. I held my breath and waited for it to stop. It's never pleasant, but you get used to it.CHAPTER 2
TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2009, 11:57 A.M.
When I opened my eyes again, Adam was gone, along with the rest of the kids and my coworkers. The horrible splitting sensation stopped, replaced by the light-as-air feeling I always get during a time jump. Like I could run for miles and not feel a bit of ache in my legs.
I looked around. I was lucky. Everyone was too busy looking at the animals to notice me materializing out of thin air. So far I hadn't had to explain that to anyone, thankfully.
I hit the start button on the stopwatch and glanced at the giant clock above the zoo entrance.
11:57 A.M. Pretty close. I strolled over toward the shop and walked inside. The girl at the register looked about my age, maybe a little older. She leaned on the counter, holding her face in her hands, staring at the wall.
Whenever I do these little experiments, I have to constantly remind myself of one very important fact: Hollywood gets everything wrong when it comes to time travel.
Okay, here's the weird part. The chick at the counter could punch me in the nose, maybe even break it, and when I jumped back to the present time, it would be sore or bruised, but not broken. Why it's not broken is a whole different (unanswered) question, but the point is ... I'll remember being punched.
If I broke her nose, then went back to the present, she'd be totally unhurt and wouldn't remember a thing. Of course, I was supposed to be testing that theory right now (again). Well ... except I'm not going to punch her. Either way — same outcome.
"Hey," I said to her. "Do you guys sell ... sunscreen?"
She didn't even make eye contact, just pointed to a wall to the left. I walked over and snatched four different bottles and then dumped them on the counter. "So ... are you at NYU or —"
"You know, you can buy these somewhere else for, like, half the price," she snapped.
"Thanks for the tip, but I need some now." I leaned on the counter right in front of her.
She straightened up and started ringing up my purchase. "Four bottles? Seriously?"
Okay ... so much for flirting. "Fine, I'll just get one. I guess you're not working on commission."
"You work at a day camp?" she asked disdainfully, eyeing my green staff shirt.
The girl snorted back laughter and snatched the credit card from my hand. "You really don't remember me?"
I had to pause for a second to process her words. "Um ..."
"Karen ... I sat behind you in economics all semester. Professor Larson called you unbalanced and said you needed to get a better grasp on realistic finances for college students." She rolled her eyes at me. "Is that why you have a job?"
"Nope." Totally true. I don't even get paid. I'm a volunteer, but I wasn't about to tell her that. She had obviously already made up her mind about me. "Well ... it was nice to see you again, Karen."
"Whatever," she grumbled.
I left the store quickly. Jumping back to the present didn't require the same level of focus as going into the past, mostly because I always had to come back to my present before I could jump again. Adam calls the present my "home base." He's mastered the art of dumbing it down for me to understand. And baseball analogies are my favorite. Hopefully, I wouldn't return to a bunch of strangers staring at my catatonic state.CHAPTER 3
TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2009, 12:25 P.M.
When I opened my eyes again, Adam was standing over me. "Jackson?"
"Dude, you need a breath mint," I mumbled, shoving him to the side.
"You were a zombie for one-point-eight seconds. I was almost right. Pretty soon I'll have enough data to produce exact calculations. You didn't sustain any injuries this time, did you?"
I knew exactly why he asked. Last week, I jumped a few hours back, lost my concentration, and ended up in the middle of traffic instead of inside my apartment. A huge semitruck ran right over my leg. When I jumped back to home base, I felt this sharp pain shooting up my thigh and then it was gone. A light purple bruise appeared, but otherwise my leg was perfect, even though that truck totally should have shattered my bone.
I stood up and dusted off the back of my pants. "Apparently we had a class together. But I totally pissed her off just now. Well, in the past. You know what I mean. So, if the theory is wrong and I did change something, she'll be annoyed when she sees me again."
"Let's find out." Adam waved to Holly. "Hey, Hol, we'll be right back."
I grabbed Hunter, who was inching his way off the grass and toward the pile of abandoned backpacks — looking for some loot to stash in his pockets, no doubt. "Come shopping with us, little dude."
The three of us strolled through the door as the girl at the register was dumping a box of key chains into a plastic container. I stopped and stared at her, playing dumb. "Weren't you ... in my economics class?"
Her eyes lifted and she actually smiled a little. "Yeah ... Professor Larson."
Ding, ding, two points for Jackson Meyer. She didn't remember me pissing her off. Just like I said. Nothing changed as a result of my jump thirty minutes into the past.
"Karen, right?" I said.
Her eyebrows lifted. "And you're Jackson, the French poetry major, right?"
Adam groaned and shoved past me. "Don't see anything I want in here. Let's go."
I ignored Adam and lifted Hunter up onto the counter. "English lit, too. I have a double major."
Even though my little excursions to the past didn't change anything in my home base, there were some advantages, like getting information. So, I guess, in theory, time travel to the past did change something.
It changed me.
Adam, Hunter, and I left the store and all of us stopped outside and came face-to-face with Holly. She had a handful of garbage she was dropping into a bin outside the store. I took her hand and pulled her over to a tree that we could hide behind.
"Adam's got a thing for that chick in the store. I was trying to help them hook up."
Holly laughed and I nudged her backward so she was leaning against the tree. "Did Hunter steal anything?" she mumbled, but my lips were already on hers, preventing her from speaking clearly.
"Not that I know of." I kissed her again and felt something wet land right on my cheek. Both of us pulled apart and looked upward just as the sky opened up and rain came down in huge sheets.
"Damn! I thought it was supposed to be nice all day," Holly said.
We left our tree and made a run for the grassy area where Adam and the other staff were already lining up the kids.
A few of the little ones screamed as a loud clap of thunder rumbled through the zoo. "Are we getting on the bus?" I asked Adam.
"Yeah," he shouted over the sudden storm.
All the kids started running in jagged lines, pulling backpacks over their heads. Holly and Adam ran up to the front of the line and I hung back to push along the stragglers as we jogged to the exit.
Luckily, the bus was parked right in front of the entrance. By that time, my clothes and tennis shoes were completely drenched. Just as I lifted the last kid onto the bus steps, I saw a red-haired girl, about ten or eleven, standing outside, alone. Her back was to me and all I could see was the hair and the blue jeans and the long-sleeve shirt. Water dripped off the end of her long braid.
My heart pounded all the way to my ears as theories spun through my head.
It couldn't be her.
But what if it was?
I moved toward the girl and heard Holly shout through the rain, "Jackson, where are you going?"
"That girl's not with us," Adam said. "Come on. Let's go!"
My steps got longer and faster until I finally reached her. I tapped her shoulder and the girl turned around instantly. Her eyes widened for a second and then her expression smoothed into a smile. If it was somehow her, would she even recognize me?
The rain pounded against the pavement and a bolt of lightning lit up the now-dark sky.
"Jackson!" Holly shouted again.
My heart sank back down. The little girl's eyes were blue. Not green. It was both a relief and an utter disappointment. "Um ... sorry. I thought you were someone else."
I turned around and ran back toward the bus. Dozens of little heads were watching me through the windows. I trudged up the steps and shook the rain from my hair. All the eyes had moved from the windows to me, standing in the aisle. Holly's gaze locked with mine for a second, but I stepped right around her and slid into the seat next to Adam.
I felt a twinge of guilt when Holly took an empty spot, alone, without asking any questions. And I knew she wanted to. The way everyone was staring, it must have been quite a scene.
"What was with the kid you were chasing?" Adam asked.
I had to look away from him. "Nothing ... she just looks like someone. False alarm. No big deal."
Adam leaned his head closer and spoke again after a minute of silence. "She looks like Courtney, right?"
I sighed but finally conceded by nodding. "It's stupid. I know."
"It's not stupid. It happens to people all the time." He drew in a quick breath before whispering, "Wait ... you don't think ... hmm ... it's an interesting theory, but way too many logistical problems."
"Just forget it," I said, before he could drill me with questions. "Please."
There was no way around it. My twin sister was dead. Four years later and it still haunted me. She still haunted me. Mostly because I missed her so much.
When we were filing up to get off the bus, Holly waited for me and stepped in my path. "You okay?"
I stared at her eyes, which were full of concern, then shrugged. "Yeah, why?"
Her face fell and she turned her back on me. "Nothing ... never mind."
Okay, so I totally sucked at the personal, boyfriend shit. Holly never came right out and said that, but I knew she was thinking it.
I took her soaking-wet backpack off her shoulder and threw it over mine. "So ... you want to come over ... maybe dry off before we go out anywhere?"
Excerpted from Tempest by Julie Cross. Copyright © 2011 Julie Cross. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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