Touching Fate ONLY
a Fated Series novel by Brenda Drake
Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift-with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.
Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday-and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.
Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help-or that he’s about to die.
But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.
Title: Touching Fate
Series: The Fated Series
Author: Brenda Drake
Genre: Young Adult, YA Fantasy, Teen, YA Paranormal, YA Romance
Length: 194 pages
Release Date: October 2015
Price listed is for the U.S. digital format. Please confirm pricing and availability with the retailer before downloading.
An Excerpt from:
by Brenda Drake
Copyright © 2015 by Brenda Drake. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
|It looked like the house had swallowed an entire art store and thrown up the supplies all over the lower level. Aster Layne hugged her physics book and stepped off the final stair. Bent over colorful poster boards on the floor, her twin sisters were painting over-punctuated sentences.|
“Um…I guess I didn’t get the memo.” Aster tiptoed around the land mine of wet signs. “What are we protesting this week?”
Violet, one of the twins, glanced up. “It’s not a protest. It’s for our birthday party. Besides, you wouldn’t protest anyway. You don’t care about the environment.”
“Now that’s just hurtful.” Aster pretended to look appalled. “I care. I recycle.”
Violet harrumphed as she dunked her brush into a glob of pink paint on her palette.
“Hey, is that my pen by your knee?” Aster glared down at her.
“Yes,” Violet said, busy at her task. “And why do you even care? You have like a million of them in your desk. It’s crazy.”
“It’s not crazy. It’s a collection,” Aster said. “Just put it back when you’re done.”On the floor at Aster’s toes was a neon-pink sign with large bubble letters spelling out Come Join Us For A Party On The Beach To Celebrate Violet’s And Iris’s Sweat 16 Birthday On April 8.
Sweat? she thought. Someone needs an education.
Her lips twitched into a devious smile. “‘Sweet’ is spelled wrong.”
Iris leaned over to examine the poster. “Daisy did that one. I knew we shouldn’t have let her help.”
“What do you mean? Hers is better than all yours put together.” Aster could feel the burning anger rising within her. The twins were always messing with Daisy, and her youngest sister was too sweet to fight back, so over the years Aster had become her protector. It was Aster and Daisy against the twins. Aster knelt down and grabbed a brush, dipping the tip into the green paint that matched the letters on the board. She looped an e over the a and darkened the other letters. “See, you can hardly tell.”
“That’s horrible,” Iris said. “We’ll put it at the pier. No one will care down there.”
“You’re inviting all of Ocean City?” Aster snickered. “That’s just crazy.”
“Don’t be silly,” Iris said as if the seven or so posters sprawled all over the living room weren’t evidence of her calculated plan to outdo Marsha Simmons’s recent party. “Mom said we could put one up in the shop, one at church, and some around the neighborhood. Whoever comes, comes.”
Aster rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’ll be a small affair.”
Iris glared up at her, the sarcasm in Aster’s voice not going unnoticed. “You’re such a snob.”
“I just can’t figure out how you come up with such great comebacks.” Aster laughed and ducked into the kitchen, the smell of buttery goodness tickling her nose.
Fourteen months had passed since Aster had had her Sweet Sixteen. It had been a quiet occasion—dinner on the deck overlooking the ocean with paper lanterns, with just her family and her best friend in attendance. No pomp and circumstance like the twins’ birthday was sure to be, much to her mom’s disappointment. Her mom loved to throw parties to show off her elaborate flower arrangements.
But Aster was sick of everything floral. From her and her sisters’ first names to the many vases around the house holding the season’s best blooms, she was sick. It all felt overdone. But her mom made good money selling flower bouquets to overeager men wanting to show their affection to anticipating amours. Her ideal would be for a guy to give her one simple long-stem rose or something. Not red. Not pink. Just white. A sign of purity. Pure love. That would be special to her.
Aster shook her head at the thought. Pure love didn’t exist. And every relationship she’d ever witnessed was evidence to that belief. Her grandparents’ marriage was the exception. They’d met just out of high school and never spent a day apart from each other until Gramps had a heart attack on the deck steps leading down to the beach. He’d only been fifty-three.
Whenever a breeze came off the waves and whistled over the deck, she could smell Gramps in it—a mixture of salt and sand. He’d always taken a morning plunge in the waves, no matter the season. To get his heart pumping, he’d said. Gram would tease him that it was because he didn’t want to take a conventional shower.
Aster swallowed the lump in her throat that always sprang up whenever she thought of him and focused on the woman he left behind. “Hey, Gram. Smells good in here,” she said, shuffling across the tiled floor.
Gram’s eyes traveled over her. “Those shorts are kind of short, wouldn’t you say?”
“And that’s why they call them shorts,” she said, dropping her book on the table.
“You’ll get cold.”
“It’s sixty-nine out.”
“When it gets dark, it won’t be,” Gram countered.
Aster moaned, snatching her sweatshirt from the coat rack on the wall by the back door.
Gram grabbed a handful of flour and sprinkled it on the doughy mound she’d been kneading on the counter. “You know, dear, you shouldn’t tease Iris as you do. She isn’t the type for it.”
“Yeah, but she’s such an easy target.”
Amusement lit Gram’s eyes. “That she is, but nonetheless, go easy on her. Lord knows that boy of hers isn’t so kind. She doesn’t need her own family poking fun at her.”
“I thought she broke up with him.” Aster grabbed a roll off the cooling rack by the stove. “She’s been hanging out with Wade a lot lately.”
“She has. He’s such a sweet boy, too. I’m thrilled she’s finally realized that.” She wiped a stray hair from her face. “But she’s having a difficult time breaking up with that other one.” Gram never mentioned his name, and she usually overlooked the error of people’s ways. But Iris’s boyfriend was such a douche bag, he tested Gram’s ability to forgive him.
“All right, I’ll try to be nicer to her,” Aster said. “So where’s Daisy? We were supposed to pick up Leah five minutes ago.”
“She went with Aunt Roselyn to her doctor’s appointment,” Gram said, digging her fingers back into the dough. “She’s having an ultrasound and might find out if the baby’s a boy or girl. They should have been back by now, though.” She glanced over at the clock on the oven before turning to Aster. “Now see, you’re such a sweetie to Daisy. Taking her to the boardwalk when no one else will. Why can’t you be like that to the others?”
“Because you don’t see how they treat Daisy.” Aster popped another piece of roll in her mouth. The flaky goodness melted on her tongue, buttery and sweet at the same time.
“I know and see all, but two wrongs don’t make a right.” Gram rubbed at her nose with the back of her flour-caked hand. “Don’t throw the first stone, you hear?”
“Why do you always assume it was me who started it?”
Gram frowned, flipping over the mound of dough. “Just know, one day you’ll realize how precious a gift it is to have sisters.”
“Okay. But if we’re all about speaking in proverbs here, the twins should do unto Daisy what they would like done unto them, or something like that.” Aster tossed the last bit of the roll in her mouth. “And, if I knew the price of a roll was going to be a lecture, I’d have bought one at the bakery.”
“Only it wouldn’t be nearly as good,” Gram said, thinning the dough with a rolling pin.
Gram was right. Her rolls were like crack. The ratio between Gram baking good batches versus bad ones was a million to one, and that happened only because the heating element in her old oven sometimes overheated.
“Have a peppermint, dear.” Gram was always pushing those round mints that Daisy called candy cane babies.
Aster picked one from the bowl on the table, unwrapped it, and popped it into her mouth.
A car door slammed, and then another right after it.
“There they are,” Gram announced as if she hadn’t seen them in years.
Daisy entered the kitchen, struggling with several shopping bags, one of which had a stuffed giraffe’s head sticking out of it. “I swear aliens have taken over Auntie Roselyn. She bought so much blue stuff, I may puke.” She dropped the bags on the table.
Gram gasped, slapping her cheeks, a flour cloud puffing in front of her face. “Oh my, finally, a boy!”
“I know, isn’t it exciting?” Aunt Roselyn squealed, waddling in with more bags. “I have to email Herman. He is going to be thrilled. I sure hope he gets his orders home in time for the big arrival.”
“I’m going to put some shorts on,” Daisy said and darted up the back stairs.
“Hurry, you’ve got five minutes or I’ll leave your as—” Suddenly remembering Gram was in the room, Aster thought better of her last word. But clearly, Gram was still in the euphoric haze of finding out there would be a boy entering the long line of double-x chromosomes in the family.
“Great news, huh?” Aster raised a brow at Gram when the older woman didn’t answer her. Knowing Daisy’s five minutes would be fifteen, Aster sat at the table and flipped open her physics book. Ever since Daisy had turned fourteen, she was obsessed with her looks. Or rather looking older.
“What?” Gram finally muttered a response before the rolling pin slipped out of her hand and clunked onto the counter. “There’s so much to do. We have to repaint the room…oh and new bedding…blue…yes…blue…” She slowly ascended the back staircase.
Gram always amazed Aster. Instead of collecting stray cats, she collected stray humans, all taking residence in her six-bedroom beach house. She could have sold the place for a few million, but she never would. Aster suspected Gram felt Gramps’s spirit in the place, too.
Aster and her mom, sisters, and aunt weren’t the only ones living with Gram. There was an older woman (somewhat ancient, actually) named Tillie living in a small apartment attached to the garage. From the kitchen’s French doors, Aster could see Tillie hunched over, supporting her weight on her cane as she watered the large planters flanking the entrance to her apartment. No one ever spoke to Tillie but Gram, and Tillie never spoke.
“Ready,” Daisy announced. “You studying again? It’s spring break. There’s no homework during break.”
Sighing, Aster stood. “The brain can never rest, especially when it comes to quantum entanglement.”
Daisy blinked. “What’s that?”
“Well, if you split two entangled particles, they remain connected. So, if you spin one, the other one will instantaneously spin in the opposite direction no matter how far away—”
“Okay, mind overload,” Daisy stopped her. “You don’t have to give me a full-on definition.”
“Well, you asked.” She shook her head. How she wished just one member of her family understood her fascination with science. Aster scooped up the Bug’s keys from the counter and yanked open the door, then instantly jumped back. Leah was on the other side, her fist in midknock. “Crap! You scared the shit out of me,” she said. “I thought I was driving?”
“Right.” Leah didn’t look at all happy, flipping a blond braid over her shoulder. “Just like you were going to pick me up a half hour ago?”
If Gram saw Leah’s shorts, she’d be more stunned than finding out Roselyn was having a boy. The shorts barely covered Leah’s butt cheeks.
Aster’s best friend, Leah, had all the confidence in the world. She never let anything prevent her from achieving her goals, not even a missing eye, which could hardly be noticed when she wore her usual prosthetic. When Aster first met Leah, it was like bringing two opposite charges together—they stuck.
“Come on,” Leah said. “I’ll drive. There’s hot boys to destroy.”
“We’re not destroying boys today,” Aster said. “You promised. Girls only today. Besides, it’s Wednesday. All the hot guys go on the weekend.”
Leah talked the talk, but she didn’t walk it. She fell in love too easily, and her heart broke even easier. She didn’t have a destructive bone in her body. Besides, Aster had had her fill of guys lately. Having just recently broken up with her newest loser, she didn’t want another opportunity to show her apparently poor judgment in boyfriend material.
Aster tossed the keys back on the counter and followed Daisy and Leah out the door. Iris’s jerk of a boyfriend, Josh, squeezed by them on his way in. Blocking his way, Aster turned her most menacing glare on him.
He glared back at her. “Are your meds malfunctioning again?”
“Be nice to Iris, or else,” Aster said. She would kill to see his smug face turn to agony after Iris broke it off and crushed him.
“Or else what? What are you going to do?” He pushed by her.
“You don’t want to find out,” Aster called after him before dashing down the sidewalk to Leah’s Ford Focus, thoughts of sampling deep-fried food on the boardwalk dancing in her head.