Authors: Rachael Craw
Jamie stares at his shoes as though he wants to set them on fire. There’s a long pause. “I don’t begrudge your brother his life. I’m trying not to. But I don’t understand. How did you do it?”
“Not kill him.” He looks up. “Was he too strong for you?”
I shake my head, waiting for his disapproval.
“You were about to finish him but you resisted your instinct?”
The conversation isn’t going where I expect. “I guess.”
“How is that even possible?”
“It was very hard.” Like confessing a dirty secret. “I nearly couldn’t … not. I wanted to kill him.”
“Of course you did!” Jamie throws his hands up. “That’s the way it works.”
I’m confused now about what I should be feeling bad about – about wanting to kill Aiden or about not killing him? “I’m sorry?”
His mouth hangs loose. “Why are you apologising?”
“I have no idea.”
A choked laugh bursts from Jamie’s throat.
“Please don’t be angry with me. I can’t stand it.”
Another choked laugh. “Angry?”
His face softens, a thaw that makes me warm with hope. He rolls his eyes. “I am amazed. I am envious. I am confounded. I am not angry.”
“Oh, all right.” I want to kiss him, badly, but I know I have to play it cool. “Why envious?”
“You were able to make a choice.”
I don’t know what to say to this. I’m not sure I did have a choice. “Well. We’re here.” I make my voice velvet soft. “You may right your wrong.”
His face immediately hardens and he lowers his head. “I can’t.”
My shoulders slump. “Don’t be ridiculous, I’m standing right in front of you.”
He runs his hand over his eyes and rakes his fingers through his hair. “I can’t make it right. It’s unforgivable.”
.” I shake my head. “That’s a bit dramatic. Even I can accept you were a smug bastard, but breaking my fourteen-year-old heart is hardly guilt for the ages.”
He glares, not impressed by my dodge. “I nearly killed you, Evangeline. You could have died. Do you have any idea–”
I flick my wrist. “
“You weren’t trying to kill me, Jamie. It was an accident.” I fold my arms. “Now, I want my apology.”
His brow buckles tight. “You are deliberately being obtuse.”
“You are deliberately being an ass. Isn’t the offended party the one who decides whether an act is forgivable or not? Being shot, accidentally, has not offended me.” I wave my fingers at him. “I release you from your unnecessary burden.”
He makes infuriated sounds and clenches his fists.
“You know,” I begin quietly, determining not to be embarrassed, “that whole summer, all I thought about was what it would be like to kiss you.”
He sighs and squints up into the roof of the tree. “You’re changing the subject.”
“No. It’s the subject I came here to discuss. Every day I was at your house with Kitty, watching your TV or eating cookies in your kitchen or swimming in your pool … I was imagining what it would be like to kiss you.”
His lips twitch. “You always ignored me.”
“You were mean.”
“You never gave me the time of day unless I was hassling you. You had this whole aloof thing going on. It drove me mental.”
“I was fourteen! Of course I had a huge crush on you.”
“I didn’t know that,” he mutters. He shifts his weight, facing me again but keeping his eyes on the ground, his voice heavy and serious. “If it’s any consolation, I spent a great deal of time thinking about you swimming in my pool.”
Silent laughter shakes me and I can see him trying hard not to smile.
“It exceeded my expectations, that kiss. I don’t mean the psychological trauma of being a joke to your friends. I mean the actual kiss, itself, the way your lips felt against mine, the softness, and the taste and some combination of limited oxygen and body proximity and location and, I suppose, the fact that I had never been kissed before.”
He looks up, sharply. “Never?”
I shake my head.
“That was your first ever kiss and those bastards …”
He widens his eyes. “That’s awful.”
“It was. I was very upset.”
“I am extremely sorry.”
I grin. “Thank you.”
He lowers his head, his teeth flashing. “You don’t know how many nights I spent re-orchestrating that whole thing in my head.” He drops his voice and lifts his eyes. “Many nights.”
It’s hard to look at him, hard to comprehend the echo of my feelings painted so exactly in his face. Fascination, familiarity, the shade of longing and things I can’t name. I force myself to hold his gaze, force myself to let him see the mirror of it all in my eyes. My courage grows with his slow smile. “Show me now. Give me back that kiss.”
“Do you promise not to faint?”
I laugh. “No.”
“Then I will just have to catch you.” He looks around the glittering hollow, moves close and shifts me to the right. “Let’s see. I think it was like this.” Lit from the side, he seems almost luminescent, holding me with his grey eyes. I make the decision in that moment to push aside the clamour of my fears for the future, what Affinity will do when they find me, what will happen to Aiden, how things will be with Miriam, right and wrong, and Helena, all of it. I love Jamie and I only want to think about him right now. He smells so good and I breathe him in and like three years ago, the sense that something momentous is happening swells inside me.
He rests his hands on my waist and draws me against him, his lips opening mine, softly, carefully, a tender exchange. The memory reforms in my mind, I press it into the bandwidth, the taste of sun-warmed skin, the smell of sunscreen, the brush of hesitant hands, my fluttering pulse. He chuckles against me and the KMT fades, blending with the present, then it evolves into something new, urgent and ripe with meaning.
I slip my hand around his neck and dig my fingers up into his hair. My wounded shoulder keeps my right arm lingering at his waist, gripping the hem of his shirt. I begin to sway and he bends down, lifts me to his chest and carries me to the branch seat. It brings us nose to nose. He slides my hips forward. I wrap myself around him. Our kisses grow insistent. He cups the back of my head and fog rolls in. I cling to him, resisting my thrashing pulse, but lights pop behind my eyelids, the sea crashes in my ears, and a sigh lifts in the back of my throat.
“Evie,” he murmurs against my lips, whispering as I go under, “I choose you.”
Short of sounding like an R&B singer accepting a Grammy, I’d like to thank my Heavenly Papa for the dream that “sparked” this story, in answer to my prayer, and the grace that has sustained me.
Heartfelt thanks to Audra Given, my first reader and cheerleader, for voraciously wanting “more pages, please” and your tireless encouragement and love. Hayley George, my first “editor”, beloved friend, thank you for living this journey with me. Your generosity of heart (in all things), your words of life and hope are a gift to me.
To the Walker Books family, my deepest gratitude. Sarah Foster, thank you for welcoming me to the fold. Nicola Robinson, thank you for cultivating the best in my work. You are wise and cunning as a fox, patient, kind, insightful, a true advocate and I am so glad you are my editor. Amy Daoud, thank you for creating a cover that makes my heart burst with pride. Jaclyn Prescott, thank you for being my tour guide, publicist and ally. Thank you to the marketing team, assistant editors and “Spark” enthusiasts who have been so kind to me at WB.
Chris and Barbara Else, my mentors and agents, thank you for championing my work. Barbara, you are a wonderful role model and inspiration. Chris, you are a generous teacher and guide, you always tell me the truth and expect the best of me. I have greatly benefitted from your wisdom, experience and listening ear.
To the many family members and friends who have endured me banging on about this book for years, Ann Ridden, Tracey George, Michelle Wilson, the gals from the Diamond Mine, Lifegroup and Write Club who have cared, prayed, encouraged and been so supportive, thank you.
Finally to my forbearing husband, Ian, and my beautiful girls, Sophie, Isabelle and Evangeline (yes, darling, Mummy stole your name), thank you. Your love and support makes this possible, makes this worthwhile.
Rachael Craw studied Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury, but became an English teacher after graduation. Working with teenagers has given her a natural bent towards Young Adult fiction and a desire to present a feisty female protagonist in her writing. Rachael was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and currently lives in Nelson with her family. Visit her online at www.rachaelcraw.com
Published in 2014
by Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd
Locked Bag 22, Newtown
NSW 2042 Australia
This ebook edition published in 2014
The moral rights of the author and illustrator have been asserted.
Text © 2014 Rachael Craw
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise – without the prior written permission of the publisher.
National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:
Craw, Rachael, author.
Spark / Rachael Craw.
For young adults.
Subjects: Genetic engineering – Juvenile fiction.
ISBN: 978-1-925081-79-4 (ePub)
ISBN: 978-1-925081-78-7 (e-PDF)
ISBN: 978-1-925081-80-0 (.PRC)
Cover image (woman) © Jeff Thrower/Shutterstock.com
Cover image (tree silhouette) © ksyproduktor/Shutterstock.com
Cover image (lightning bolt) © Hubis/Shutterstock.com
To Ma and Mum & Dad, for love and DNA