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READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: In Restless Dreams, by Wren Handman

Happy Sunday! This Tuesday, readers will discover what happens when prep school student, Sylvia, finds herself wielding an incredible magic and caught between two Faerie Courts. For now, you can catch the first TWO CHAPTERS of Wren Handman's YA Fantasy, In Restless Dreams, here on our blog!

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CHAPTER ONE


"You what?” I hate the way my voice cracks. I wish I could make him think I didn’t care. Of

course, if wishing could make it so, I would probably wish for him not to be breaking up with me,

instead of just wishing I was handling it better.


“I think we need some space. Y’know, to like... Rethink

things.” Tommy runs a hand through his hair, an excuse to

stare down at his feet instead of into my dangerously teary

eyes. Please, God, don’t let me cry. As if being broken up

with in the corner of an immensely crowded room while

music blares around you isn’t bad enough, I am not going

to cry in front of every person that I know.


“Space. Like... like breaking-up space, or like going-to-

the-cottage-for-the-weekend space?” As if I don’t know the

answer. We’ve only been going out for a few weeks, so it’s

not like my heart is breaking in my chest—but the public

humiliation might kill me even if the break-up doesn’t.


Tommy doesn’t answer, which I know means the answer is

obvious, but I stand there like an idiot waiting for him to

say something. Finally, the silence becomes so awkward he

clears his throat just to make a noise. I think if I talk I might start crying,

so I just keep my mouth shut.


“The first one,” he finally mutters. “Sorry.”


“And you really thought the middle of Trisha’s birthday

was the right time for this conversation?”


It feels good to get mad instead of weepy, so I go with it. People on the

dance floor are starting to pay attention to us, and I can feel

my hands balling into fists at my sides. Alice is giving me

‘concerned face,’ and she looks threateningly ready to come

over here.


“Yeah, well, Leanne sorta asked if I wanted to dance,

and I didn’t want to, like, cheat or anything, so I figured we

should talk. I’d kinda been thinking about it for a while,

you know?”


“You’re breaking up with me for Leanne? Leanne

Planter?” Okay, that was definitely a shriek, and now

people are definitely looking at us. Including Leanne.


“Syl, c’mon. Calm down,” Tommy hisses, turning his

body away from the room and shielding me partially from

view.


“Whatever. Just. . .just whatever,” I tell him, and shove

ungracefully past. I can feel his eyes on my back as I storm

out of the room, my cheeks hot as half of the crowd

watches me go. What a disaster.


Tonight was supposed to be the best night of my year.

Trisha McBride is the richest girl in our school, and when

Daddy’s little princess turns sixteen, he throws her one

heck of a party. Her whole house is done up like some

fairytale dream, with those little twinkling lights wrapped

around the banister and along the borders of the rooms.


There’s an actual band playing in the living room (okay,

they go to our high school, but they’re pretty good), and

Tommy and Bruce got their brother to buy beer. There’s

even a swimming pool in the backyard, and a big bonfire

where people are roasting marshmallows and goofing off

under the stars. For the first time in my entire high school

life, I actually have a date to a party, and Alice helped me

tame my curls into this unbelievably beautiful French

braid, and I saved up my allowance for five months to buy

this dress, and now I’m alone in the backyard trying not to

cry because I chose to date a guy for his looks instead of his

brains. What a total disaster.


“Oh my God, what the hell just happened?” Alice demands, bursting

through the door behind me. She looks ready to pummel someone and is

clearly just waiting for my word to make it so. God, I love her.


“Tommy broke up with me,” I mutter, wiping tears out

of my eyes.


“He what? Why?”


“So he can dance with Leanne.” Is that a tinge of bitter-

ness in my voice? Why, yes, I think it is. I’m thinking some

very unkind things about Tommy, one of which pops out of

Alice’s mouth. I widen my eyes, laughing despite myself.


“Alice!”


“Well, he is. Anyway, you don’t need him. You are so

above him.” She whips hair out of her face in an impatient

gesture, and I hear someone around the bonfire call out her

name. She ignores them, her attention concentrated wholly

on me, and I’m grateful and uncomfortable all at once. I

really don’t want to cry, and all this sympathy is sure to do

me in. I just need to get out of here, go home and wallow

where no one can see me.


“Thanks, but you kind of have to think that. Best friend

and all.”


“Oh come on, don’t tell me you’re going to let him ruin

your night! You are a sixteen-year-old bombshell, and I

know every eligible guy here.” Alice tilts her floppy black

hat down low over her eyes and makes like she’s scanning

the crowd. She’s wearing an outfit that she claims is

mimicking Annie Hall; she was downright horrified when I

told her I had no idea who that was.


“Everyone knows every eligible guy here. We’ve been

going to school with them since first grade.” I lace my arm

through hers and kiss her on the cheek. “Goodnight,

Alice.”


“How are you gonna get home?”


“I’ll walk.” I start walking back inside, and she follows

me. As soon as we pass through the door, we have to raise

our voices to be heard over the band. On second thought,

they aren’t that good—the bass player can’t keep rhythm,

and the lead singer sounds like he has a cold.


“It’s dark.”


“It’s Topaz Lake. I think I can handle a twenty-minute

walk.”


“Down the highway. Alone?”


“Alice, I—” I completely forget what I was going to say

as I see Tommy and Leanne grinding in the middle of the

dance floor. I don’t think I could make my body move like

that if I had all my bones removed. I’m gonna be sick. I

hurry through the press of the crowd and out the front

door, Alice hot on my heels.


“You don’t even know if your mom will be home! Isn’t

Eric out at a friend’s house? Maybe she went out for the

night.”


“To where? The only choices are pretty much the casino

or Junction Bar, and she has no money and doesn’t drink.

Goodnight, Alice.”


“Do you want me to come with you? Talk?” she offers. I

stop my headlong rush to freedom and turn back with a

sigh.


“No. Seriously, I’m fine. I just need to not be watching

that right now. Go. Enjoy the party. I’ll call you tomorrow,

okay?”


“Promise?”


“Promise.” We hug tightly, and I set out across the

lawn. As I go, one of my shoes sinks into the dirt, and I

almost fall flat on my face. I hear sniggers from the front

porch, and awkwardly pull my heel out of the grass. As if

this night could get any worse. I am never wearing heels

again.


⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞ ❂ ⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝


Topaz Lake is a tiny town just to the north

of the Nevada/California border. It’s mainly made up of

fishers and the folk who work in the casino, so my family is

a bit of an oddity because my mother is a painter. And on

top of being all artsy but living in Hicksville, she’s a single

mom too. Dad lives in New York, and we pretty much only

see him when he comes to visit at Christmas. We get

birthday presents a day or two after our birthdays every

year, and phone calls a week or so after the relevant holi-

day. Sometimes he’ll get all nostalgic and fly in to visit us

on the spur of the moment—it’s not like he doesn’t care,

he just has this crazy busy life where he owns all these

companies or something, and we don’t really fit in. So we

live in Topaz Lake and dream about the big wide world. It’s

actually a pretty cool place to grow up. I know how to gut

and skin a fish in less than two minutes, and I can identify

ten different types of mushrooms, and tell you which ones

you can eat and which ones will kill you (and which ones

the stoners at school eat).


When I get home the house is mainly dark, just the

front porch and a kitchen light are on. I hear a crash as I

get to the front walk, and figure Mom is trying to cook. It

never ends well—we’re mostly a Shake ‘n Bake sort of a

family. It’s enough to put a bit of a smile on my face, and

all the stuff with Tommy doesn’t seem as bad with him

safely miles away at the party. I open the door and drop my

ridiculous heels on the ground.


“I am never wearing heels again!” I yell out in the direc-

tion of the kitchen, dropping my purse beside the shoes.


“Also, men suck!”


There’s no answer, which is weird. Normally Mom

would be sticking her head around the corner, anxious for

the gossip. She’s been acting really off lately, though.

Sleeping in late, being kinda grumpy, and she won’t let me

see any of her paintings. She says she’s just going through

a phase, and not to let it worry me, but it does. Even

though it happened when I was four, I don’t think she ever

really got over the fact that Dad wouldn’t leave New York

for her, and ever since her girlfriend Sally moved to

Wyoming last year she’s been distant, hard to reach.


“Mom?” I call out, and I cut through the corner of the

dark living room. I navigate around the end table by

memory and come out into the blinding brightness of the

kitchen. For a moment I have to squint against the flores-

cent lights, and I don’t quite know what I’m seeing. Mom

is lying on the floor. Why is Mom lying on the floor? And

then it hits me, and I don’t know whether to scream or

stop breathing. Mom is lying on the floor.


“Mom!” I scream, and I hit the tiles beside her so hard

my knees bounce and hit again. I don’t see any blood.

There isn’t any blood. I shake her once, hard, but she

doesn’t move. Is she breathing? Check her breathing. Call

9-1-1. No, no, check her breathing first, then call 9-1-1. Do

CPR? Oh my God, I don’t remember how to do CPR! I

press my head against her back. She’s slumped over like

she was sitting against the counter and she just fell, her

shoulder half-turned towards the ground, her curls

obscuring her face. I’m afraid to move them, afraid to see.

What if her face is white? I don’t feel anything, and I start

to panic, but then there’s a gentle swell against my face.


She’s breathing! 9-1-1. Call 9-1-1.


I grab the phone in a daze and punch in the numbers,

hurrying back to her side. There’s a bottle of pills on the

ground. I pick it up—it’s a prescription bottle. The cap is

lying beside it. I don’t see any pills, and I spend a moment

searching the floor for them before the voice on the line

brings me back.


“Police, fire, or ambulance?” It takes me a second to

figure out what she’s asking, and another second before I

can make my voice work.


“Ambulance,” I croak. There’s a pause, a click, and then

it rings once before a woman answers.


“Topaz Lake ambulance.”


“I need an ambulance! It’s my mother!”


“What’s your address?”


I give it to her in a daze. My mother’s skin is still warm.

That’s a good sign, right? I think that’s important. I think it

means something. Is she still breathing? She looks like

she’s not breathing as much. I miss what the operator says

and have to ask her to repeat it.


“What happened?”


“I don’t know. I think... I think she took some pills?”

The bottle in my hand feels strange, like something from

someone else’s life. Not mine. Things like this don’t

happen here. Maybe she was sick. Maybe she was sick, and

she didn’t say because she didn’t want to worry me. She’s

the kind of mother who would do that, try to shield my

brother and me from the truth. So she was sick, and she

was trying to get her prescription but she forgot to refill

it and—


“What did she take?” the operator asks. I scan the

bottle. The label says paroxetine, and then underneath, in

small letters, it says Paxil.


“Paxil,” I say. “But . . . that’s an antidepressant,

isn’t it?”


“Just hang on. The ambulance will be there soon. Just

hang on, okay?”


So I hang on, listening to the operator’s voice, trying to

breathe shallowly enough that I can still hear my mother’s

breathing, the buzz of the refrigerator beside us and the

faint sound of crickets in the yard outside. I just hang on.


⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞⤞ ❂ ⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝⤝


I’m standing outside the door to Mrs.

Shaker’s house, staring at the knocker. I’m trying to get my

hand to reach up, but all I can see is the paramedics

loading my mother onto the stretcher. The way she looked

when they moved her—like a rag doll. They said she would

be okay, but how could she be? She was so limp. How can

someone leave their body like that and come back okay?


They said she would be okay. They asked if I wanted to

come with them in the ambulance, but I couldn’t go and

leave Eric here. It wouldn’t be fair to ask Mrs. Shaker to

drive us all the way to the hospital, and I somehow

couldn’t bear to make that call. I need to talk to Eric.


There’s been an accident. I thought this would be easier,

but now I can’t make my hand reach up. I keep thinking it,

but my hand doesn’t work like it should. Everything feels

strange and stretched out in front of me, and I feel like I’m

up at the top of a mountain and there’s all this air, but not

enough oxygen to breathe. Like I’m suffocating. I need to

go. I have the car keys in my hand. She can’t wake up

without us there. We need to go, now. We need to go!


I slam my hand against the door, harder than I meant

to, once and then twice and then I’m pounding on the door,

my eyes too wide and prickling from the feeling of the air

against them. Mrs. Shaker opens the door quickly, her

expression wide and alarmed, and it gets worse when she

sees me standing there. I must look insane, in my party

dress and bare feet, my hair half undone, the keys to a car

she knows I don’t have a license for dangling in one hand.


“Sylvia—what’s wrong?” she exclaims.


“I need to talk to Eric. There’s been an accident.” Is that

what I’m going to call it? An accident? I can’t tell her about

the pills, about the bottle on the floor. What do I say?


“Oh, my God. Eric!” she calls out, and she steps back

from the door to let me in. I don’t move from her stoop. I

just need to get Eric, get in the car, get to the hospital. I

just need to keep going, because if I stop, I won’t be able to

start again. “Is it your mother? Is she alright?”


“She’s had an accident,” I repeat dully. “I need to take

Eric to the hospital.”


“Honey, you can’t drive,” she says. Eric still hasn’t

come. What’s keeping him?


“Eric!” I scream over her shoulder. My body feels like

it’s vibrating, humming in my stomach. I think I might

throw up. “We just need to go.”


“I’ll drive you.” She grabs her purse from a table by the

door, slipping her feet into shoes. Finally Eric appears from

a room down the hall, his friend Taylor close behind. He

looks disheveled and bored until he sees the expression on

my face, and then everything goes still except for his feet,

which keep walking him towards us.


“What’s going on?” he asks. He’s blinking too much,

preparing himself for some horrible news while still trying

to pretend he doesn’t think anything is wrong.


“There’s been an accident,” I say again. I see his expres-

sion start to break down and I quickly rush on. “She’s okay,


they say she’ll be fine, but Mom’s in the hospital. We have

to go.” I hold my hand out for his.


“I’m going to drive them to the hospital,” Mrs. Shaker

tells Taylor. “Let your dad know where we are, okay?”


Taylor says something, but I’m not listening, just

folding Eric up in a big tight hug. We haven’t been close for

a while. He’s thirteen, too old for me to keep treating like

the little brother that I usually treat him like, and we’re

always on each other’s cases. But right now, he’s just that

kid brother who used to follow me around the house

copying everything I did, and I just want him to feel like

things will be okay. So I hug him close to my heart and

listen to the sound of his breathing. She was still breathing

—she never stopped. That’s what matters. Not the rag doll

they loaded onto the stretcher. Not that.


Somehow we make it to the car, and Eric keeps asking

me what happened, what’s wrong, and I don’t want Mrs.

Shaker to hear so I just keep saying ‘accident’ until the

word doesn’t mean anything, and Eric looks ready to punch

me in the mouth but Mrs. Shaker says they’ll explain it all

when we get there, and I hold his hand and watch the trees

whipping past in the dark. It takes so long to get there—

what if something changes? What if we get there and ‘she’s

alright’ becomes something else?


Mrs. Shaker drops us at the door and goes to find a

place to park. I run inside, trusting Eric to keep up, and

reach the front desk.


“Our mother. They brought her in an ambulance,” I tell

the woman behind the desk. She looks tired, an older

woman with dry brown hair and dark circles under her

eyes.


“What’s your mom’s name?” she asks, and there’s

something soothing about her voice.


“Gail. Gail Hartford,” I blurt. Beside me Eric is playing

with a pen on the top of the counter, his eyes dark. I know

the look—he’s determined to do something that he knows

I won’t like. I don’t ask what.


“She’s in room 312. The elevator’s right down that

hallway.”


“Thank you, ma’am,” I say, and hurry to catch up with

Eric, who’s already halfway there. We get into the elevator,

and I watch the numbers as they climb from 1 to 3.


“They’re going to tell us what happened,” Eric says

suddenly. His blond hair looks strange under the hospital

lights. Everything feels wrong, too bright or too dim. The

sound of the elevator reaching our floor is loud. I nod,

watching the doors as they pull open. “So why won’t you

tell me?”


“I just wanted a moment alone. That’s all.” We’re the

only ones in the elevator, so I take a deep breath and turn

towards him. “Like I said, it was an accident, okay? She

was on some pills, and I guess she took