Stevie Moon is famous...at least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she
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|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.55(d)|
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Many have scribed about Midgard's sun, yet none had captured the true feeling of its kiss against skin or its blinding touch to the eyes.
Bright sunlight blinked through the orange, red, and brown leaves clinging to the nearly bare trees. Einar leaned against the door of his silver Prelude. At the end of each school day, he waited there to catch a glimpse of her. He had tried to talk to her several times, but failed horribly. As though he weren't the son of a powerful god.
The smell of exhaust fumes and autumn's decay filled his nostrils. The air on Midgard wasn't as sweet as back home. Nor were the plants and flowers as vibrant. But still he preferred this strange world to his own. Humans had more fun, felt more emotions, and ate unusually good food like pizza. They had more books than a being could read in a lifetime, and acted out their plays on big screens.
He opened Macbeth, the book his teacher had assigned in class. Before flipping to the spot he'd stopped on last, she came out the double doors.
Stevie Moon. A senior. She had caught his attention when he'd first arrived in Midgard. If his father had sent another emissary to find the treasure, he or she would not have noticed Stevie. A wisp of a girl with a weak heart, she didn't stand out from the other girls. It was as if she tried to hide within the chaos of what this world called high school.
Her kindness was genuine. He'd seen her give part of her lunch to a boy who'd forgotten his, run to the nurse's office when a girl had received a nasty cut on a poster board, and stood in the rain with another girl, shielding them with her umbrella. On his first day, she had even been generous to him, lending him a pen and several slips of paper to copy down the teacher's notes when he had none.
He liked that about her.
He liked her.
Whenever he'd see her, he couldn't help a smile spreading across his lips. He hadn't felt that way about someone in a long time. Asgard held darkness for him. Midgard held the sun. And her name was Stevie Moon.
She stopped just outside the door, hugging her books and searching for something or someone. From this distance, she looked as frail as the white doves his mother kept in her chambers for companions.
Her eyes landed on him, and she headed his way.
She was looking for me? They'd hardly spoken three sentences since he'd enrolled in the school.
Einar lowered is gaze and pretended to read. What did she want? He'd tried to speak to her many times, but he felt unstable on this world. Everything on Midgard was new and strange to him.
His heightened senses could hear the racing of her heart as she approached. Was she nervous?
"Hey, Blake," she said.
He kept his head down, lost in his thoughts, the words out of focus as he stared at the page. He couldn't figure this girl out. The others in the school had been easy to grasp. Not her. She never hinted to her thoughts.
"Blake?" There was frustration in her voice, and he raised his head. The name she used for him hadn't registered.
Blake Foster. His father gave him the alias to use while on his quest.
He met her gaze. Her large, dark eyes were the color of the night sky with only a sliver of moon in it. "Hello," he said, a smile pressing his cheeks.
Something shook her, and she glanced around the parking lot as she spoke. "You didn't return after your restroom break. Mr. Lee assigned groups to act out Macbeth. He asked me to find you. Here." She held out a slip of paper. "That's your assignment. You're in Grace Kirby's group."
He took the note. A breeze lifted her hair and his nose filled with the scents of honey and almonds. Her shampoo?
She waited for something. He wasn't sure what she wanted, so they stood there holding each other's stares for several seconds before she said, "Anyway. See you in class."
Her rich-brown hair fanned through the air as she whirled around, and without another word, she crossed the parking lot.
A friend, her name slipped his mind, waited for Stevie by a tiny car that shouldn't be able to fit a family of dwarfs let alone the group of basketball players crammed inside the vehicle. Stevie said something, and her friend straightened and glanced at Blake. He returned to feigning attention on his book. One sentence stood out from the others on the page.
Something wicked this way comes.
"Well, well, don't you look the scholar?" Blake flinched at the sound of his brother's voice.
He closed his book. His brother had hair the color of a fox's fur just as their father, whereas Blake had gotten his mother's sandstone tresses.
Dressed like what their fellow students called a jock, Lajos had that chiseled- bone structure and wide shoulders the girls at school loved. Back home, Lajos was just one of many gods. Nothing special. But on Earth, he stood out.
"What are you doing here, Lajos?" Blake asked.
"Hush." His eyes darted around the parking lot. "Do you mind? It's Kyle down here. Kyle Lieberman." He leaned against the passenger door beside Blake. "I was hurt to find that Thor sent you on this mission instead of me. After all, I've been to Midgard before, and you haven't."
The use of their father's given name hadn't gone unnoticed by Blake. His brother had lost their father's favor. Lajos was reckless and had a habit of finding trouble.
Kyle continued, "What will Sif do to him when she discovers he sent her baby on this dangerous crusade?"
It seemed such a long time since Blake had met with his father about coming to this realm.
"Do you see that blip there," Thor had said, pointing to a light the size of a pinprick on the globe of Midgard. Clouds moved across the living sphere.
Einar leaned closer. "I do."
Thor's chamber was spacious. As a boy, he'd run around the blue-glass tables and pillowed chairs, chasing Lajos. When his father wasn't looking, they'd study the globe for hours. Clouds would move across the sphere and the sun and moon would avoid each other as the earth spun on the crystal stand holding it.
"It was quick," Thor said. "We almost missed it. Someone opened and quickly closed the box holding Heimdall's Horn, Gjallarhorn."
"I thought it a myth," Einar said.
"What are the scholars teaching you?" Thor returned his attention to the globe. "I assure you it is real. In the beginning, the horn was to announce the beginning of Ragnarok, but the Three Norns changed its destiny. Now the end of the worlds can only happen when Gjallarhorn is sounded."
Einar remembered hearing it mentioned during his lessons before, but it was a distant thought since no one spoke of it outside of his studies.
"We must prevent it from falling into the wrong hands," his father was saying. "Its power came from this location." He drew a circle with his index finger on the globe where the tiny light was, and a three-dimensional image of a wide two-story building sprouted and hovered over the globe.
"What is it?" Einar asked.
"They call it a high school. It's located near a place mortals call Seattle." Thor tapped the image and it receded into the globe. "I cannot send your brothers. Magni and Módi are too old for that place. And Lajos thinks only of himself and his gains. You shall locate Gjallarhorn and bring it to Asgard. There are those who wish to bring about Ragnarok — to end the worlds and the rule of the gods. You must be careful, for danger follows you."
A horn blared across the parking lot, drawing Blake away from the memory. Two male students in a white truck were yelling something to Grace Kirby and the group of girls always surrounding her.
Blake looked pointedly at Kyle. "You have avoided my question."
Kyle gave him a slow smile. One that held contempt for his brother. "I've been sent by my mother."
"Járnsaxa?" Blake's gaze traveled across the parking lot to Stevie. It seemed as though she and her friend waited on the curb for someone. Blake pushed off the Prelude and turned to face Kyle. "What does your mother have to gain from this?"
"She figured I should find the horn," Kyle said, his eyes going to where Blake's had just been. "Give it to Father. Win his favor. He'll be so disappointed in you, I'll move up the food chain, so to speak. He's already frustrated that you've been here a month and haven't found —" He caught Blake glancing at Stevie again. "So, you're interested in that Moon girl. Why? She's isn't your usual type."
Blake slipped his hand into his front pants pocket and gripped his key chain. The small trinket-size hammer jingled against his keys. "How would you know? You just arrived here."
"I've been here three days, stalking you."
"There hasn't been any sign of the horn," Blake said, deciding to give Kyle what he wanted so he'd leave him alone. He dropped the keys and they weighed down his pocket again. The ring his father gave him was heavy on his finger. The lightning-shaped rune on it was supposed to light up when, or rather, if whoever had the horn opened the box. Blake was beginning to think it wasn't operable. "No one has opened the box."
"No worries. Big brother is here. I should have that horn within hours. We'll be back home before you know it."
"We shall see." Blake hated when Kyle bragged that he was older. They were born on the same day, only minutes apart. Almost twins, if not for the fact that they had different mothers.
Kyle straightened and clapped Blake's chest. "Take my advice, not that I want to help you, but binge some shows set in high school on Netflix. Your language sounds stiff. You're a teenager, for chrissake."
Blake gave him a confused look. "What's Netflix?"
"My point, exactly." Kyle laughed and walked off, saying over his shoulder, "I have football tryouts. Gotta show those boys what a god can do."
Stevie stared at Blake from across the parking lot. She reminded him of Maggie. Her dark hair and wide eyes of the same color resembled the other girl's features.
His father had brought Maggie to Asgard after the Frost Giants had killed her family. They were after Thor. The family happened to be on the quiet stretch of road where the giants had ambushed him. The family was simply in the way. Casualties in a war spanning an eternity.
"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" Maggie had asked him on the balcony off the corridor leading to the throne room.
He remembered the sky was the deepest purple he'd ever seen, and the sun almost touched the cliffs just a ways from the castle.
Einar had brushed her dark hair from her face and kissed her. "Wherever you are," he had said against her lips.
She had smiled, her lips still touching his. "Good answer."
He frowned at the memory of Maggie. He'd fallen in love with her. But the Frost Giants had touched her. Frozen her insides. Thor had used a bolt of lightning to bring her back to life after he'd found her barely breathing, lying beside her dead parents. She was never the same again. Soon after that kiss on the balcony, she'd grown weak, dying in Einar's arms when many of her human organs had stopped after an exerted hike across Asgard's foothills.
Stevie was weak, as well, but strong-willed like Maggie. She had dropped a medicine bottle in class on his second day at the school, and he'd retrieved it for her. He had overheard someone say her pills were for a heart condition, which had stunned him in his place.
The similarities haunted him.
She haunted him.
Stevie Moon couldn't pull her gaze away from Blake Foster. He was so strange. She didn't know why, just that he was odd. It could have been the fact that he was a foreign exchange student, but he seemed otherworldly. His eyes, not quite blue or gray but something in between, like storm clouds crossing a winter sky, dissected everything and everyone — her. Did he think she was strange? Most of her classmates thought that, so it wouldn't surprise her.
"He sees you staring at him. You know that, right?" Amira crossed her arms, looking from Stevie to Blake. "You could just take a pic. It'll last longer."
"I didn't start it. He's been staring at me since he started school here. Like I'm some freak in a show or something."
Amira shrugged. "Maybe he knows your alias? He could be one of those CamFans."
"I doubt it," Stevie said, a frown pushing down her chin. "I'm going to ask him."
"Wait. What are you doing?" Amira gave her a startled look and reached for Stevie's arm but fell short as Stevie walked off. Stevie hoisted her backpack over her shoulder, put on the best straight face she could muster, and again crossed the parking lot to him. "Is there something wrong with me?"
He looked up from his book. "Excuse me? Something wrong with you? Other than —"
"Other than what?" she snapped. His eyes on her were unnerving, but she held his stare, anyway.
"Your heart," he said.
"How do you know about that?"
"The medicine bottle. That one day you dropped it."
"Oh," she said, clearly taken aback. Her condition was not one that she liked to share with others. "Okay, then is that why you've been staring at me? Because I'm not going to drop dead if that's what you're worried about."
"What? No. It's not that —" Blake glanced around, and she followed his eyes. The parking lot was slowly emptying of cars.
Engines revved and idled as the line of cars inched onto to the main street. "Catch you later," some guy called to someone she couldn't see.
A group of girls nearby huddled together watching the new kid, Kyle something or other, walk by. Their voices carried over to her.
"Isn't he luscious," one said.
Luscious? Stevie blew out a long sigh and her gaze went back to Blake.
"Well, what is it then?"
He lowered his head and raked his fingers through his hair. His hand slid down to rest on the back of his neck before he lifted his eyes to hers. "I've been meaning to ask you something."
"For a month? And you can't just come out with it?"
"I'm not good at these things," he said.
His body was so rocking and his sandy-blond hair curled slightly on the ends. He would make a great character for her cosplay idea, but she doubted he'd be into something like that.
She looked over her shoulder. Amira's boyfriend, Trevon, had joined her on the curb, his long arm draped over her shoulder. He was so much taller than she was that he had to slouch a little to do it. Amira waved for Stevie to come back. Stevie mouthed "just a minute," causing Amira to respond by tapping her wrist where a watch would be if she wore one.
Stevie shrugged at Amira before saying to Blake, "Gotta go. I have something to do. Listen, if you ever get up the nerve, come find me."
Seriously. He's the strangest guy. So frustrating!
But Stevie couldn't help but feel a mixture of excitement and curiosity at what he'd said. And, if she were being totally honest, a bit of anger at him for leaving her hanging like that. The whole thing nagged at her on the way back to Amira.
What was he going to ask? Maybe he wants me to tutor him. No. He has good grades.
"What's up with the RBF?" Trevon said.
"Will you stop saying that? I don't have a bitch face." Stevie watched Blake get into his car. "He wants to ask me something. I've talked to him twice in the span of fifteen minutes and he can't bring himself to say whatever's on his mind."
"That's weird," Amira said. "What do you think he wants?"
Stevie sighed and hiked her backpack higher on her shoulder. "Don't know."
"Listen," Trevon said. "I have to get to practice. The new kid starts today. Finally, we have a quarterback with an arm." He had to bend way down to give Amira a quick peck on the lips before he jogged off.
"Hey, wait a minute," she called. "That was the worst kiss ever."
He turned, running backward. "Sorry, I'm late. I'll make up for it later."
"You better," Amira said in that playful way she only used on Trevon. She turned to face Stevie. "Mmm, mmm, mmm. That boy is like rocky road ice cream on a sugar cone. A delicious triple scoop."
Stevie laughed. "I'm not even going to touch that."
"Oh, I say we have him meet us at Double Dips after we're done."
"I have homework."
Amira bumped her shoulder. "Come on. I'm paying. You can get your favorite sundae."
"Fine." Stevie couldn't help but smile. "Ice cream bribes win every time."
"Good," Amira said. "Now, we better hurry. That vlog isn't going to record itself, Comic Cam."
Stevie snatched Amira's elbow and led her down the sidewalk, glancing around them. "What did I say about calling me that around here? I don't want anyone to know I'm her."
"I don't see why not." Amira huffed, yanking her arm away from Stevie's grasp. "Just think how popular you'd be. You have over a million followers. I've even seen those posters we had printed stuck inside some lockers around school. You're famous."
Excerpted from "Thunderstruck"
Copyright © 2017 Brenda Drake.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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