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WIP Spotlight: The ‘A’ Series, Part 2

I’ve been scrolling through my current Works in Progress, to see what I might be able to share with you.

The ‘A’ Series is a little something special that I came up with by accident. Originally just one short story, it grew and grew until it became the epic novel length collection of related short stories.

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Blurb

It all begins with a carnival that hasn’t been to town in decades.

In ‘The Likely Lads’ Alvin and Javon are about to leave their home town and move to a new high school. The carnival as their last hoorah with their friends, while fate inspires some romance for the unlikely suspects.

‘Lost in a Dream’ is how Sterling feels, after making a wish on a Wishing Machine at the carnival. Waking up in the lake, close to drowning, with no idea how he got into the water, he’s terrified. Rescued by his long term crush Fearghas, who suddenly begins to show interest in him, can it all really be a dream?

Harrison is the epitome of ‘Larger Than Life’, for more than just his weight. When he rescues a stranger from a bang on the head and he appears to thank Harrison for his care, he takes a chance. Can a stranger become more?

After a mysterious note appears in Karsyn’s locker, claiming to know he’s gay – his most closely guarded secret – it drives him nuts to know he can’t pinpoint who is ‘Anonymous’.

‘Cinder, Smoke and Ash’ is all that’s left of Ryder, after he accidentally rescues another student at his most vulnerable. Saving his life, the sweet kid, Donald, is actually a catalyst for a life changing epiphany that inspires Ryder that a chance is coming. One that he can’t turn his back on, even if it means stepping out of his closet.

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Extract

Lost in A Dream

Prologue

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“How many tokens?”

Sterling blinked and came out of his thoughts again, to look up at the man behind the stall. He was young enough to look his own age, sixteen, with beautiful Asian features. The ease of Kenichi’s smile and the slightly cheeky glint of his eyes made him nervous. It felt like his school friend knew something he didn’t and that was never comforting.

“Um, just one, please.” He put on a smile and dug a few coins from his jean pocket, to hand over in payment.

“Here you go.” Kenichi slid a silver token across the counter. “Good luck. Make it count,” he advised.

He nodded his thanks and took the token, before backing away from the small stall. He had to walk around to the other side of it to find the machine. It was the same height as the stall, which had a side exit, but the swirling colours inside the glass case, surrounding a crystal ball that reflected the light, was the main feature.

Wishes didn’t come true. Sterling knew that on an academic level. He wasn’t a straight-A student for no reason; maths, literature and chemistry were his strong points, but he had enough logic and reasoning from those elements to know this was pointless.

But what else could he do? He was sixteen, with an ever growing crush on a guy who didn’t know he existed. The last time he’d seen Fearghas in person, he’d been gloating about his recent tennis victory and flirting with the head cheerleader of the football team. A gorgeous blonde, with legs that went on for miles, Deryn was one of those fantasy girls; smart, beautiful and talented, she was also a really nice person and not the bitch that most people expected her to be.

Sterling wished she was. Maybe then he wouldn’t have to spend every day of his school life standing by his locker, which was just two spots away from Fearghas’, only to watch the two drooling over each other. They weren’t dating, because that would be too much of a fairytale story. Whenever anyone asked, Fearghas said he was focusing on his academic goals, to maintain a B average, so that he could get into college with or without a sports scholarship.

Having dreams like that, and maintaining goals, was one of the things Sterling loved most about Fearghas. That and his stunning Scottish heritage, displayed in that typical way the Yanks portrayed it in movies. Ginger hair, freckles on both cheeks with a smattering over his nose, tall and lean; he even had the thick Glaswegian accent. All of it was like honey to the bee. And Sterling couldn’t resist.

He turned the token in his hands, staring at the rotating lights. It looked so fake. Just a fake crystal ball that happened to reflect the light, just because it was a sphere of glass. It wasn’t magical or capable of granting his wish, but God he really wanted it to.

Being alone sucked.

“’Scuse me?” a girl said, from behind him.

Sterling turned and offered a smile to the girl who must only have been around fourteen.

“Are you going to use your token?” she asked, gesturing to the machine.

“Um.” Sterling looked at the lights, then the girl and took a step back. “I haven’t decided yet. Please, go ahead.” It was rude to hold up the queue, just because he couldn’t make up his mind. Rude and stupid.

The girl grinned and stepped forward, while he tried to pretend he wasn’t eavesdropping. Holding the token to her chest with both hands, she closed her eyes and whispered; “I wish my dance team could win the championship next weekend.” Then, opening her eyes, she slotted the token into the machine. When she closed her eyes again, he assumed she was repeating her wish, since the sign clearly stated it had to be spoken after the token was inserted.

That was the part he didn’t understand. Why did it matter when he asked for his wish, if the machine was truly that magical.

Three more people walked up and made their wishes, but there was no reaction from the crystal ball or the lights. Everything was perfectly normal, the way it was for everyone who stepped forward. Sterling saw nothing to prove that this machine could do magic or could actually make his wish come true. Yet, his granddad swore by it. He said the last time a carnival had run through town, nearly three decades ago, he’d made a wish on a similar, if not the same, machine and had it come true.

Did he believe him and take a risk on something that might not work? Or did he decide not to bother and laugh it off?

***

Sitting under a nearby tree, Sterling couldn’t take his eyes off the machine. He twirled the token over and over, between his fingers, calculating the odds, the risks and the possible outcomes.

None of it resulted in his wish coming true.

If he did this, it would be a massive leap of faith.

Faith vs logic. It would be the leap of a century, but Sterling was willing to try. He’d spent so long crushing on Fearghas that he had no other dream but finally being noticed by him. Miracles weren’t on the table, even if this magical machine worked. He didn’t want a relationship or some epic love scene, just for Fearghas to finally see him as a real person. To see him, to acknowledge him and to realise that Sterling was real.

Closing his eyes, he closed his fist over the token and made a wish. He wouldn’t gamble on a machine to give him a dream. It was early evening, already getting unusually dark and the stars were out, somehow.

Something about this night felt wrong. Different. But he wasn’t leaving here until he’d made his wish. So he held that token and he thought about what he wanted and why.

Fearghas was brilliant; so funny and clever, with a similar taste in literature and music as Sterling. He knew that because he’d kept his eyes and ears open, during the long years they’d known each other. For such a long time, they’d been sitting next to each other in every class they’d ever had together. They’d spent five years, as children, in the Scouts together; building forts, fires and travelling through the woods, they’d bonded as casual friends.

Back then, Fearghas had talked to him like a friend. They’d shared stories around a camp fire, trusted each other and shared small details of their lives. But that had been nearly four years ago and they hadn’t parted on the best of terms.

Sterling had been outed as gay, when he was just twelve and a few months, because of his crush on Fearghas. His Scout brothers had disowned him, said they couldn’t trust him and his parents had decided it was safer to extract him from the Scouts than risk his brothers beating him up, just because of who he was.

Fearghas had never forgiven him. The minute they entered high school, he blanked Sterling and acted as though they’d never seen each other before. It hurt, because he’d been stupid enough to believe they were friends. But it never stopped his crush. Nothing could. Lord knew he’d tried; dating someone else, coming out by choice, even trying his hardest to hate Fearghas. None of it worked.

It was time to try something new.

If he couldn’t forget, move on or hate Fearghas, maybe he could make the next two years of school together slightly more bearable. If he could just open a line of communication between them, maybe he could remove this burning, sinking self-loathing that bubbled at the pit of his stomach. The self-hate for being gay that he’d harboured for nearly a year after he was outed to the Scouts, and the wish that he’d never met Fearghas could all go away.

Only if he sucked up his regrets and did something about it, for once.

Pulling the token to his chest, he watched the machine ahead of him. There was no queue, it was all quiet and the lights swirled the same way they had until now. He kept his eyes open, discounting the logic and reason that told him he was being an idiot.

“I wish that Fearghas could finally see me. I wish he would get over his hate for me and that, even if all he does is nod hello once in a while, I won’t have to feel like this anymore. I don’t want to be ignored by the one man–”

He stopped and changed his mind. He stared ahead at the lights and watched them begin to swirl a little faster than before. “Stuff it.” Sterling decided to go for it. He had to do something for himself. Something that would make him happy rather than just a little less miserable.

“Alright machine…do your worst,” he said, turning the token again. He held it up in font of him, in his eyeline and directly in front of the crystal ball ahead of him. “I wish for the man of my dreams. For a man who can see me, love me and who would never ignore me.”

The lights began to go crazy; twisting and creating new colours, until it became blinding. Sterling lifted his hand to shield his eyes, not sure what was happening, but pretty sure that he’d either gone mad or the impossible had actually happened.

The first night of the carnival was supposed to be fun and full of excitement. Instead, Sterling felt like a second rate citizen. The only people from school he’d seen that actually acknowledged him were a group of guys just one notch up the social register from him.

~

About the Author

Elaine White is the author of multi-genre romance, covering everything from paranormal, crime and contemporary. Growing up in a small town and fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. Living vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, she lives comfortably at home with a pack of wolves cleverly disguised as one standard poodle.

The Winner of two Watty Awards – Collector’s Dream (An Unpredictable Life) and Hidden Gem (Faithfully) – and an Honourable Mention in 2016’s Rainbow Awards (A Royal Craving) she has explored the worlds of multiple genres, but remains a romantic at heart. A self-professed geek, Elaine has fallen in love with reading and writing LGBT romance, offering diversity in both genre and character within her stories.

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You can keep in touch with Elaine on the following sites:

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