2015, Arizona, U.S.A.
Erika pulled back the throttle and urged her dusty machine to go faster. Her long, dark hair flew behind her, twisting and twirling in the hot wind. It would be ratty by the end of the ride, but knots in her hair were a small price to pay for the feeling of freedom.
She slowed only slightly to round the wide curve in the center of Ajo and kicked it into a higher gear as soon as the road straightened. Erika enjoyed savored the feel of the motor’s vibration beneath her. She shifted gears only when the whine of the engine threatened to pierce her eardrum. It was nearly sundown, but still the road was like liquid tar, shimmering like black glass from the day’s heat. As she rode, Erika imagined following the straight line of the asphalt east. She’d ride until the road gave way to the ocean. Erika had spent her life landlocked in the desert. She yearned for wet sand instead of sunbaked dirt. Thoughts of her future always included tide and waves. She yearned for wet sand instead of sunbaked dirt.
But Ian expected her, so she steered her bike to his small, slump-block house, passing boarded-up businesses and at least a dozen empty houses on her way. The gravel crunched beneath her tires as she pulled into the semicircular driveway. Erika stayed put on her bike and honked her horn. The tinny sound still hung in the air when the screen door opened.
Ian allowed the door to slam shut behind him. His short, dark hair was wet and his deeply tanned and rippled torso glistened with water. Whether it was sweat or water from a shower, Erika couldn’t tell. While most of the girls at school openly drooled over Ian, Erika was not the least bit attracted to him. She preferred a guy less concerned with his own looks. And even if Ian had appealed to her, he was more interested in the players on the opposing football team than in girls.
Ian pulled a heathered blue T-shirt over his wet head as he walked toward her. “Ah, my fair lady has come to rescue me from doing more manual labor for my dad.”
Erika smiled and thrust a helmet into Ian’s hands. “Yeah. I’m your knight in shining armor.”
Title: H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath
Author: Natalie Wright
Genre: YA Science Fiction
H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers, hidden from humans and sedated. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.
Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement gives way to shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll escape the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?
The two may need to forget their rules and training if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.
Natalie is the author of H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series, and The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy. She lives in the high desert of Tucson, Arizona with her husband, tween daughter, and two young cats.
Natalie spends her time writing, reading, gaming, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, hanging out on social media, and meeting readers and fans at festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. She likes to walk in the desert, snorkel in warm waters, travel, and share excellent food and conversation with awesome people. Natalie supports the rights of both humans and non-humans to live a life free of suffering caused by people. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.
Buy the book:
Amazon – Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R6U32CA
Amazon – Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/H-L-F-Deep-Beneath-1/dp/1505524725
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