About the Author
Eden MaguireEDEN MAGUIRE lives part of the time in the United States, where she enjoys the big skies and ice-capped mountains of Colorado. Aside from her interest in the supernatural and writing fiction, Eden's life is lived as much as possible in the outdoors. She says, "Put me on a horse and point me towards a mountain—that's where I find my own personal paradise."
From Chapter One:
Phoenix Rohr changed me. He exploded into my life like a bright shooting star out of a big, dark sky and lit up my world. Before I met Phoenix I was a half person...
From Chapter One:
Phoenix Rohr changed me. He exploded into my life like a bright shooting star out of a big, dark sky and lit up my world. Before I met Phoenix I was a half person—unfinished and scared. Afterward, for a few short weeks, I was whole.
He held me together against the rough world, my hand in his, his arm around my shoulder.
The truth is, people in my world have a habit of losing their lives—four kids from our school in one year. It makes for intensity—every day you grasp what you’ve got and live it. Love, and sex, and sharing each moment. I held on to Phoenix like he was my savior.
And then it shattered. I lost him—three small words. He was in a fight and he died.
I looked for him everywhere. I drove my car out of town through the shaking aspens and tall redwoods to where the jagged hills joined the sky. “Phoenix.” I whispered it a thousand times. His name was all I had.
Phoenix—the fourth on a roll call of students who would never return. One—two—three—four hits to the heart and the last one was the worst by a million miles. “Phoenix.” I clung to memories. His kisses, his touch—midsummer days when we swam in Deer Creek, evenings when he would turn up the sound system in my car and drive us out to Hartmann Lake, with me resting my head on his shoulder and trying to count the stars. For a time I was scared that I’d forget.
Then the wings of angels, ghosts, spirits in limbo— whatever you want to call them—began to beat. And Phoenix came back.
_ _ _ _
I don’t want to talk with anyone. I need to be alone. OK, so everything worked out for Jonas—and that was partly down to me. But I still hold the fate of three Beautiful Dead in my hands. It’s true—I do. Arizona, Summer, and Phoenix. Arizona, Summer, Phoenix. In that order—the names run in my head like a mantra.
“Darina, I wish you would stay home more. We could do stuff—have a pedicure, go shopping.” This is Laura, my mom.
“Darina, you have to quit driving the convertible. It eats gas.” My stepdad Jim.
You get the picture.
“Meet us at the mall. Lucas and Christian will be there.”
Jordan and Hannah. Chirpy-chirpy-cheep-cheep chickadees. And Logan Lavelle. “Darina, why don’t you hang at my place like we used to? I have a cool new DVD we can watch.”
_ _ _ _
Back off, all of you. Leave me alone. My body language ought to have done it, but these guys are too thick-skulled to read it. Or maybe they care about me.
I drive the car anyway, way out through Centennial, always in the same direction toward Foxton. Into the mountains, rising sheer on each side of the freeway, blocking out the blue sky.
I blast music into the quiet air. I put my foot on the gas. Speed is the key to lifting the weight from my shoulders, leaving everyone behind. Drive, baby, drive! I’m in among the burnout area. Miles of forest fire have left black, twisted stumps, fallen trunks, gray earth. In ten years maybe green stuff will start to grow.
I’m out of the tree carnage, pushing higher into the mountains and the redwoods are green again against the pink rock, and I’m shedding my heavy secret. It’s sliding from my shoulders because out here nobody can pressure me. I’m safe. The beat of the music pounds my eardrums. Guitars whine. I yell the lyrics as I grip the steering wheel and lean forward in my seat. Lip gloss–red bodywork and creamy beige leather with silver trim. Brandon Rohr showed expensive taste when he found me this car.
I pass Turkey Shoot Ridge, ten minutes from Foxton. Thirty minutes from the Beautiful Dead.
_ _ _ _
I guess I’m fixated. I know I am. Every moment, every breath I take, I long for Phoenix, his eyes reading what’s in my head and heart, his arms around me. Why can’t I be with him twenty-four/seven? I want to know.
Here’s Foxton—a straggle of wooden houses, a general store with boarded windows, an intersection without a traffic sign. I take the side road, past the fishermen’s cabins overlooking the racing water where Bob Jonson finally took revenge for Jonas’s death—he forced Matt Fortune off the road and they both smashed against the rocks and drowned. They took Matt’s Harley back to Charlie Fortune and he fixed it up for himself to ride. I shudder when I think about that.
Don’t think about it, Darina. Drive on. I’m clear of the houses and the road has turned to dirt. There’s nothing beyond this point, so I need to get out of the car and go by foot along the path the mule deer made when they headed for the stand of aspens on the ridge. This is the fifth (maybe sixth) time I’ve driven up here since Jonas left, and I always meet silence and emptiness. The wind blows through the aspens but there are no wings beating, no force field telling far-siders like me to back off.
Phoenix, it’s me. Where are you? I need to see you. When he holds me in his arms my heart steadies. It’s the only time I feel I’m home.
If I carry your secret much longer, I’ll fall apart. Tell Hunter, tell the others, I can’t do this alone.
I climb to the ridge, and I’m out of breath as I stand in the shade of the rusting water tower. You can look through the trees down into the next valley and never see the old barn. The aspen leaves shake and rustle—like wings? It’s beautiful, really beautiful—the aspens and the sloping hillside, yellow spikes of Indian tobacco plant standing out among the silvery meadow grass. And the big, big sky.
But, no, I’m still not hearing the sound of beating wings—only the thump of my own heartbeat and the rasp of my breath, and I get no sense of Phoenix and the Beautiful Dead. I look for him as I stride down the slope, look so hard that maybe I miss the obvious and fail to spot his tall, still figure by the barn door, turned to me and waiting. He will be there, if wishing and longing can make it happen.
My legs swish through the grass. I crouch and crawl under the razor-wire fence. And I can see straight into the barn because the door is swinging open like always. “Phoenix?” I say out loud as I step into the darkness. There’s the dust smell in my nostrils and the stall partitions rotting and leaning at crazy angles. Ancient horse tack is hanging from hooks. Cobwebs trail from rafter to rafter.
Length: 7.75 in
Width: 5 in
Weight: 9.12 oz
Page Count: 288 pages