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About the author:
Reatha Beauregard writes primarily for Wrought Iron Reads, Hex Books.
What inspired you to write your book?
I wondered what it would be like to wake up in with no memory of who I was. What sort of life would I create for myself? Would I take on someone else’s vision of who I should be? Once I pictured the heroine, Myranda Avant, it seemed only natural that the man for her would be someone like the refined vampire, Isaac Bertrand. The rest of the characters sprang to life as their story unfolded, and it’s been a wonderful journey with them! I can’t wait to see who else from this Antebellum Soul world I’ll write about next!
Here is a short sample from the book:
I was on the phone with my over-protective mother while zipping down the boulevard in my shiny new car. I had the stereo volume all the way low in the background. So, she couldn’t harp about it being too loud. “And, are you on the road now? Sounds like you’re on the road,” she complained. She didn’t want me driving distracted.
“No, I’m in park,” I lied. “I pulled over as soon as the phone rang. Mom, chill out. I can drive. I’ve been doing this with either you or Dad in the car for years. I’m just taking this baby for a spin around the block and then I’ll be back!”
One hand gripped the steering wheel and the other held the phone, but, just to be safe, I cast a glance at the empty street ahead of me as I bobbed my head to the catchy pop tune whispering from the speakers. Then, I peeked in the rearview mirror, smiling smugly at my reflection in the driver’s seat.
Looking good, I thought as I rubbed red lipstick off my orthodontically corrected teeth. A year of those invisible braces had paid off big time and was yet another sign of my parents’ unstinting love for me. At the thought of their generosity, I felt a twinge of remorse for lying to my mom, but, hell, it was birthday. I deserved to live a little.
Beyond the windshield was an electric blue sky and clean white clouds. The brilliant sunlight glinted off the canary yellow hood of the car. Mom and Dad had bought it for me since I was starting school at the local university in a month, a late start. You see, my parents didn’t want me to grow up. They had already missed too many years with me.
“Besides,” I replied, “all my friends have been driving since sixteen or seventeen. Do you want me to be tied to the apron strings forever? Stop worrying.”
“Worrying is my job. I’m your mom.”
I scoffed at her disapproval and went back to studying my face in the rearview mirror. My strawberry blond hair was a blowzy, frizzy mess made worse by the breeze blowing through the open window, but I rolled my eyes and gave up trying to tame it. I scowled at the fact my babyish features made me look closer to fifteen than my actual age of twenty-one. That was one reason Mom guarded me like a hawk.
Another reason was because we had already tangoed with loss and heartache in this family, and we had come out the victors. Thing is, when I was ten years old, I got kidnapped—with all hope of finding me lost—until I showed up wandering in the woods nine years later.
It was the miracle of a lifetime, and for my mother, the terrifying nine years of believing me dead meant I might as well still be the ten-year-old she missed. But it had been a full three years since I had rejoined my family, and I felt like it was time for us to leave all that crap in the past where it belonged. I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I didn’t remember what had happened to me while I was missing anyway.
It was like one day I just popped into existence, nineteen years old and ready to rumble. With history like that, however, the most rumbling I was allowed to do didn’t even register on the Richter scale.
“Sweetie, I’m just trying to keep you whole and harm-free. I lost you once. I don’t want to lose you again. I don’t think it’s wise for us to tempt fate, you know?”
Sighing, I said, “I don’t believe in fate and magic and all that mumbo jumbo, Mom. I believe in concrete stuff like facts and logic, and that’s why, logically, I need you and Dad to consider letting me make the trip to our old hometown on my own. This is a quest for self-discovery.”
“I know. I know,” she whispered with a soft chuckle. I strained to catch the phrase, the confirmation that she accepted she didn’t need to hold my hand anymore. It brought a bittersweet smile to my lips. I guess I was really growing up.
Mom sighed and said, “I’m giving it some thought, but I’m not convinced you’re ready for a day-long drive. Let me talk to your dad about it. You know how he can be, but I’ll try to bring him around and see what we come up with.”
Yes, I knew how dad could be—skeptical, over-analytical and investigative—but I was content with a maybe. It was better than a flat-out no. “Fair enough,” I muttered. “Anyway, this will be good for all of us. I want to know where I come from, to trace my roots. Think of all the history being lost to faded memories. It’s important to me, Mom…but I can’t do this without your blessing.”
“Oh, honey, you have my support on all fronts. I just wish you didn’t have to go all the way to Louisiana.” Shelly Avant sounded wistful, and I chuckled in amusement at how she was making this big fuss about nothing. It was a road trip.
“It’s not like I’m going out of the country or anything.”
The tires hissed along as I cruised through my familiar neighborhood. It was a sunny day saturated with color, and I was finally feeling like I belonged. I had my own car and a modicum of freedom and not a real care in the world—other than weaseling my parents into giving me my way on this.
I pushed up my sunglasses and whipped down the street past handsome houses in red and blonde brick. There were pretty houses with siding of orange and pink and lilac with lawns of deep green that lined the street, and the view was extra lovely from my perch behind the steering wheel.
I almost didn’t notice the man standing on the side of the road, but he was misplaced in this colorful picturesque cul-de-sac, and that drew my attention. A tall black man in an elegant black suit was an oddity. He was barefoot and had a black cane capped in silver, and he was staring right at me with piercing black eyes that made the hair stand up on the nape of my neck. I didn’t even notice the other car. The stop sign I flew past didn’t register.
Not until a horn blew in calamitous warning too late.
There came the thunderous clash of metal, and I was jarred by what felt like the whole world quaking. “Oh, my god!” I shrieked. My head thwacked the driver’s side doorjamb with a sickening crack followed by my vision going blank, blurred, followed by the terrifying realization that it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks, but the scenery whizzing past. The rainbow of colors smeared as my left side slammed painfully against the door.
“Myranda, what’s happening?” Mom shouted frantically, but I could barely hear her for the insidious buzz ringing in my ears. Instinctively, I gripped the steering wheel with both hands, which caused my cell phone to fly, forgotten, across the sliding car. “Myranda!”
Her thin cry faded out over the loud screech of tires biting into the pavement in vain protest. I felt my heart pounding somewhere near my heels as I stomped the brakes. But the other vehicle couldn’t stop, and now neither could I. It forcefully propelled me across the road. The passenger side of my new car was condensed to a crumpled, jagged ruin of twisted metal and busted plastic, glass littering what was left of the seat and turning me into a mess of cuts and punctures.
I was bleeding, and the light was fading fast. I wheezed audibly, scared of the sound—too loud, too shallow, too feeble. With last strength, I turned my gaze to the other car. I saw that the driver had come through the windshield.
The man in the suit who had been standing at the side of the road was now sitting on the top of the car smiling down at me with such a terrifying, knowing look that I squeezed my eyes shut in horror. It couldn’t be real. When I opened them, he was gone, and there was just me and the mortally wounded other driver.
We were no longer racing toward death. We were at a standstill, and death was the smell of gasoline, the ticking of a time bomb, a surety I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t get out of my car because the seatbelt was jammed, and even if it hadn’t been, I couldn’t feel my legs. This is it. The thought crept up out of the chaos and panic, and I accepted it, and I braced myself for nonexistence.
I heard people shouting and feet pounding the pavement. They were drawing closer, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I closed my eyes and went limp. Out of the darkness of blessed unconsciousness came a masculine voice, thick with an accent at once familiar and foreign to me. “Remember me, couillon…” It wasn’t a question. It was a command.
My name is Myranda Avant. I was born in the middle of July, a summer child. There are so many pictures of me in my parents’ house that you can tell I’m kind of special to them. I think it’s because they were afraid they had lost me for good once.
My first word was “sock.” My dad, William, laughed when I said it because he thought I had actually said the f-word. This is a story I’ve heard often from my mother, Shelly, who thinks it’s the most hilarious shit in the world, and I think it sums up my life in a nutshell…not exactly what it seems.
I didn’t learn to walk properly until I was almost two years old because of an Achilles’ tendon problem, and I had surgery when I was around eighteen months old to fix it. I used to have a scar from the procedure. I don’t anymore.
I was raised in a close-knit family with two little brothers and an older sister—Josh and Greg and Tamara. We used to live in Louisiana, but my family moved to Gatlinburg, Tennessee around the time I would’ve been twelve years old. As an upper middle class family, we had always had everything we needed, the American dream.
I know this to be true because I have these things written in a journal I keep tucked within a busted seam of my mattress. In this book are the names of relatives, backgrounds of people I’ve never met but should know. The accumulation of a lifetime of memories I should have had, but I didn’t.
Because I’m not Myranda Avant. Myranda Avant was kidnapped out of her backyard in Louisiana eleven years ago. Three years ago I was found fleeing someone in a dark forest. I didn’t remember who was after me. I have no recollection of my past whatsoever.
When they found me, I was taken to a hospital and listed as Jane Doe. Then, this shining force of a woman—Shelly Avant—said I belonged to her. She showed up and told them she was going to take me with her, and she did. She believed in me, which made me believe that what she said was true.
She never asked me to remember. She gave me my story, and I became someone I wasn’t, but now the truth would come out, and I would have no one else to be.
At the precise moment I was getting shoved across a sleepy street in a terrible car accident, miles away the lifeless body of a ten-year-old girl was being discovered in a shallow grave in a marshy tract of land in Lafayette, Louisiana. It would take a few days to sort out who she was, but the news would inevitably make its way to William and Shelly Avant. She was Myranda Avant.
And just like that, I ceased to be me.