Authors: Stacy Juba
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic
Dark Before Dawn
By Stacy Juba
When teen psychic Dawn Christian gets involved with a fortuneteller mentor and two girls who share her mysterious talents, she finally belongs after years of being a misfit. When she learns her new friends may be tied to freak "accidents" in town, Dawn has an important choice to make – continue developing the talent that makes her special or challenge the only people who have ever accepted her.
Copyright 2011 by Stacy Juba
Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher. This book is also available in paperback from Thunder Horse Press.
Kindle Edition, License Notes
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Please note that this edition contains an excerpt of Stacy Juba's young adult Kindle novel
so that you may factor it into the page count of this book.
awn Christian curled under the covers, shivering in her nightshirt. Goosebumps had popped up on her bare arms. She breathed in and out, trying to calm herself. Even the safety of darkness couldn't hide it.
Something was wrong.
She knew it the same way she had known it would rain despite the weather report. Now gray clouds blistered outside the window.
I can't go, I can't go, I can't go, something bad's going to happen. Dawn rubbed between her eyebrows, the message flying around inside her brain like a loose pinball.
The red numbers of her alarm clock flickered to 6:29. Dawn rolled onto her other side and faced the wall. In an hour, she'd be starting her junior year at a lame new high school. She missed Boston and taking the T, the city’s subway system, wherever she wanted to go. Dawn used to hang out at museums, watch the college kids in Harvard Square and read books at the Common. Sometimes, she and her mother caught Saturday matinees in the theater district.
Not anymore. Ever since the wedding in July, Dawn had been stuck in Covington, Maine, a beach town overflowing with rinky dink carnival rides, cheesy souvenir stores and bad vibrations.
"Dawn?" She turned to find her mother framed in the dimly lit doorway, fully dressed. "Are you coming down for breakfast?"
"I'm not hungry."
"Nervous about school?"
Gulping, Dawn huddled under the blankets. No way could she discuss her feeling with her mom. Her mother wanted a normal daughter who was on the basketball team or school newspaper, had friends and didn’t live in fear. "Kind of."
Her mother lowered herself onto the bed and squeezed Dawn’s hand. Her manicured pink nails shone against Dawn’s pale skin. Since meeting Jeff eight months ago, Dawn's mother had been letting her curly hair hang loose and wearing makeup.
She smoothed back a tangle of Dawn’s chestnut waves. "You don’t look like yourself. Do you feel all right?"
"I’m fine." Dawn shoved her stuffed monkey, Buddy, further under the blankets. Her father gave her Buddy shortly before he died, and holding it was like hugging a piece of her dad. Still, sleeping with a toy monkey was kiddish and Dawn didn’t do it often. Her mother would get suspicious if she noticed.
Darn it. Her mother drew out Buddy by his slender tail and patted his furry brown head. "Calling in the reinforcements, huh? What’s on your mind, honey? Maybe I can help."
Dawn sat up and clasped her knees. Her mother never understood about Dawn’s hunches. "I don’t think you really want to know, Mom."
"Of course I do."
Yeah, right. But Dawn didn’t have the stamina for lying today. "I’m getting one of my premonitions. Something’s wrong. I think it has to do with school."
She waited and sure enough, her mother got the frightened look she’d worn too many times before. Dawn remembered the look that terrible night with Mrs. Frazier ... but she didn’t want to think about that.
Her mother dropped Buddy onto the mattress and squirmed as if fighting off a chill. "I’m sure it’s just regular old nerves," she said in an overly cheerful voice. "It’s hard enough adjusting to a new home and a new family without throwing a new school into the picture. Who wouldn’t feel edgy?"
"That’s not it, Mom."
"Just be normal. Don’t worry about your premonitions. You shouldn’t have to live your life afraid."
"Get real, Mom. I’ll never be normal and fit in."
"If you paid more attention to talking with the other kids, and less to these visions and feelings, things would be so much easier for you."
How many times had she heard her mother say that? Dawn rolled her eyes. "This is why I didn’t want to talk about it. I can’t help that I ‘know’ things, Mom. The only way I can keep that stuff secret is by never opening my mouth. Then the other kids think I’m a snob."
"Being different is no reason to separate yourself. You’ve been through a lot already, honey, and I want you to be happy here. We have a fresh start. If you pushed your feelings to the back of your mind and stopped working yourself up over them, maybe they’ll stop coming." Her mother offered a brittle smile.
That was like asking Dawn to walk around blindfolded, or to stuff earplugs in her ears, giving up one of her senses. She couldn’t just shut off her feelings. They were too overpowering, demanding attention.
"You made me promise to hide my abilities around Ken and Jeff," Dawn said. "Okay, I want them to like me, but I shouldn’t have to hide things around you. Why can’t you just help me?"
Her mother slipped an arm around her shoulders. "I’m trying to help you, honey. You need to tell yourself that your imagination is running wild and you’ve got normal jitters. Do you understand what I’m saying?"
Dawn’s jaw tensed. Her mother deserved an Oscar. She had an amazing knack for pretending Dawn suffered normal teenage angst, acting as if they were on some TV drama when the truth was closer to the Stephen King movie
"Whenever I’m in a new situation, I say hi to the person sitting next to me and do my best to start a conversation," her mother went on. "Maybe that would work for you."
Dawn took a few breaths to contain herself, then muttered, "I'll try."
Her mother's face lit up with relief. Dawn accepted her hug, inhaling the scents of Dove soap and raspberry body spray, but rather than make her feel better, the embrace ticked off Dawn even more. Did her mom really believe everything was solved? Dawn clamped her lips shut to keep back the harsh words brimming on her tongue.
"You're smart, you're pretty, you're sweet," her mother said. "The kids at Covington High will love you. Ken’s willing to give you a ride. Isn’t that great? I’d drive you myself, but I think it would be better if you’re not seen with your uncool old mother."
Her mother retreated downstairs to make breakfast. Dawn pushed back the covers. She knew her mom meant well. Since her dad’s death when Dawn was in first grade, life had sucked for both of them. They’d had lonely dinners, lonely holidays, lonely vacations. Having each other made it bearable. Now they had a chance to start over.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as her mother believed.
Dawn left Buddy on the disheveled bed and rested her bare feet on her pink throw rug. She flipped the wall switch and winced as harsh light glared down on her bone white bedroom set. Everything looked orderly, the way she liked it. Young adult romance novels and the latest issues of
filled a pair of baskets, while trays on her dresser organized accessories.
She had enough clutter in her own head. Dawn couldn’t stand seeing it reflected in her surroundings.
A sudden wave of music blared down the hall, "I’m a rock-and-roller, that’s what I ammmmm..." Dawn cringed, pressing her temples against the beginnings of a headache.
She wanted to storm in and tell Ken to shut off his music, but he wasn’t her real brother. Then he’d hate her, for sure.
Dawn snagged her new jeans and shirt out of the closet and covered her ears as she crossed the hallway into the bathroom. She hung her clothes on a hook, shaking her head at the beach junk adorning the walls. Dawn had gotten used to the twig wreath overflowing with glued dolphins and starfish, but the foam life ring above the toilet reminded her of the Titanic.
A shower was what she needed. A steady stream of water sprayed into the tub as she undressed, the whooshing sound drowning out Ken’s music, but not her internal voice.
Be very careful. Something is wrong.
Dawn skipped breakfast, too queasy to eat. Ken downed a bunch of chocolate chip cookies out of the package and refused her mother’s offer of scrambled eggs.
"Oh, come on Ken, cookies aren’t a real breakfast," her mother said. "Here, just have a spoonful of eggs. It won’t take a minute."
"Leave us alone, Mom," Dawn snapped. "It’s too early to eat."
Jeff plucked a crisp slice of bacon off the damp paper towel. Ten extra pounds softened his middle, but hardly any gray touched his blond hair or mustache. Even Dawn appreciated what her mother saw in his boyish smile. "I’ll have some, honey. It looks delicious. Dawn, your mother was just trying to be helpful. And Ken, you’ve been sleeping till 11:00 all summer. After a couple hours of school, you’re going to be starving."
"I’ll risk it." Ken swaggered out to the car. A varsity letter gleamed on his Covington High School Blue Stars ice hockey jacket.
Dawn followed him out to his secondhand Toyota, a garbage can on wheels with crumpled McDonalds bags, movie stubs and Milky Way wrappers littering the backseat. Setting foot in the disaster area doubled the size of her headache.
"Your mom sure can be pushy." Ken was seventeen, a year older than Dawn. He started the ignition and flicked his shaggy hair out of his eyes. He wore it long and floppy on top, like a rock band reject. Dawn never would have guessed how much time guys spent fixing their hair.
"No kidding," Dawn agreed.
As Ken backed out of the driveway, Dawn searched her brain for something interesting to say. She finally gave up. Ken didn’t seem in any hurry to chat, either.
She and Ken had made small talk a few times over the summer, but he never invited her to join him and his friends downtown. She didn’t think Ken disliked her, but he wasn’t that friendly, either.
As he turned up the radio full blast, Dawn rubbed her aching forehead. Normally she loved music, but not right now.
She reached over and lowered the volume. "Is that okay? I’ve got a splitting headache."