Monday, June 8, 2015

"Downcast" by Cait Reynolds




About the book

What would you do when faced with an impossible truth? Written with heart and passion, Downcast by Cait Reynolds is ripe with twists you never saw coming and love that defies the odds in this intense new Paranormal Romance retelling one of mythology’s greatest love stories.

It’s the start of Stephanie Starr’s senior year of high school, but sadly, this is no life of the prom queen. Stuck at the bottom of the high school social totem pole, Stephanie is forced by her domineering mother to wear lumpy linen dresses and eat organic tofu for lunch in a world of mini-skirts and pizza.

What Stephanie doesn’t anticipate is gorgeous and cocky Haley Smith who breaks social convention and pursues her with a determination that is both terrifying and flattering. Afraid that Haley is simply trying to set her up for massive humiliation, Stephanie does her best to push him away. But the more attention he pays to her, the more she runs, and the more everyone else begins to notice.

Instead of a loving family to support her as the mean girls make their play, Stephanie’s mother begins to unravel mentally, her possessiveness of Stephanie spiraling to new and frightening extremes. Stephanie is forced to grow up, find herself, and learn the truth about her past in order to save her mother, her friends, and her town. When the truth is revealed, nothing can prepare her for the outrageous reality of her existence…and nothing can save her from her fate.

Except Haley.



About Cait Reynolds

Cait Reynolds lives in Boston area with her husband and 4-legged fur child. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking delicious meals, running around the city, rock climbing like a boss, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes. Reynolds is able to pull from real life experiences such as her kidney transplant, and her writing reflects her passion for life from having to face the darkest  places and find the will to laugh.

Purchase Links






This scene happens just before the midpoint of the book. It takes place in the small, old, abandoned graveyard that is out back of the Whole Foods grocery store where Stephanie works part-time. Stephanie has been dancing around and dodging all of Haley’s attempts to get to know her, doubting that he could honestly be interested in her as a person. Yet, she can’t help but notice that little things aren’t adding up about Haley – or his brother Zack. Nor can she help the fact that she is attracted to dark, mysterious Haley. This scene contains one of my favorite romantic moments of the book.

Excerpt 

Slowly, I turned back to look across the road to the graveyard.
Haley was standing in the middle of it, one hand jammed in his pocket, the other holding up a huge black umbrella.
My heart stopped, then revved like an engine turning over. He was so beautiful in the rain, standing among the graves.
Little rivulets of water dripped off the hood of my sweatshirt and onto my nose brought me back to the moment. Without thinking, I ran across to the graveyard, my sneakers squelching in the puddles.
Haley reached his hand out to me and pulled me under his umbrella, pushing my hood back. He smiled down into my face, and I realized just how close we were standing.
"What are you doing here?" I panted, trying to catch my breath and my thoughts. “I thought you’d be on your way home with Zack.”
"He is on his way home," Haley replied, a sly grin sliding over his lips. “I, however, wanted to wish you happy birthday.”
"How did you know it was my birthday?"
He shrugged and then frowned a little.
"I came here for another reason," he said abruptly.
"Okay?"
He swallowed nervously and pulled a small black velvet pouch from his jacket pocket. He handed it to me, and his cold fingers brushed my cold fingers. Even numb from the chilly rain, I could feel the zing from his touch burn through my veins.
It was my turn to swallow hard as I opened the pouch and pulled out a necklace.
"Oh," I breathed. "Wow."
It was a delicate gold chain with a flat gold disc for a pendant. The pendant was studded with what looked like six tiny rubies.
"Haley," I gasped. "I can't accept this."
He grinned.
"What?" I demanded, the necklace still dangling from my fingers, swinging between our faces like the pendulum of our weird relationship.
"You said my name," he replied, the strength of his smile coloring his words with happiness. "You've never said my name before."
"Oh. Um, I didn't realize. But, Haley, I can't take this."
His smile froze. "Why not?"
"I mean, I barely know you. And, you don't really know me. And, we're not friends. Well, we're friends. Sort of. Kind of. But not the...I mean, this is a really beautiful necklace, but you can't just give me something so expensive. Like, what would everyone think, and I'm not sure you even..."
My voice trailed off. I was babbling. I was completely ruining the moment. Every word made Haley's face fall a little more. I sucked.
"It's real," he said finally, after possibly the most awkward moment of silence I've ever experienced in my life. "I'm real. I'm here. We are…friends, and I wanted to give you a gift."
He paused and looked away from me, staring out at the rainy woods around the graveyard. When he turned his gaze back to me, I saw desperation in his eyes, and a tendril of dread began to unfurl in me.
"Keep it," he said stoically. "Whether or not you decide to wear it, keep it. But...if you would like to wear it...wear it soon. I don't have much time left."
"What do you mean you don't have much time?" I demanded breathlessly, the necklace now firmly clenched in my closed fist. My clearly overactive imagination went into hyperdrive at his words, fueled by the weirdest panic I'd ever felt.
He looked miserably at me and said, "I am not going to be around here for much longer. I'm so sorry. I wish I could give you more time, the time you need."
"Are you dying?" There was a slight hysterical edge to my voice.
He shrugged. "No, though I feel like I've never really lived."
Tears welled up in my eyes, and I didn't dare blink because then they'd spill, and I'd just be another stupid, overly-emotional girl. I could tell he was holding back his pain, but I could clearly see through the window of his eyes into his deep suffering. His black gaze was no longer endlessly impenetrable. It was a fathomless, bottomless well of anguish.
"Don't cry," he murmured, looking at me tenderly. "There's still hope."
"There is?" I croaked, swallowing sobs before they could jump out of my throat.
"There's always hope," he said firmly.
He reached out with his hand as if to caress my cheek, but instead, took a lock of my hair and lifted the ends to his lips in a kiss.

*

            In this scene, I wanted to show the ease of the friendship among Stephanie, Helen, and Morris. They have grown up together in the small town of Darbyfield, and in a sense, they have chosen each other as family. Just like a family, they can bicker and tease, but they always have each other’s backs. When together, Stephanie, Helen, and Morris can truly be themselves. No one is going to judge Stephanie’s food or clothing, or tease Helen for being a brainiac, or make fun of Morris for being a weather and computer geek. Together, they are safe. Together, they are whole.