This scene takes place in a church parking lot just after a funeral. Grape has just gone to find out information about her brother’s whereabouts from one of her teachers and returns to find her mother flirting with a vampire:
"Oh, honey, I was wondering where you'd gotten off to," her mother said as she wandered back, lost in thought.
"Yeah, I saw someone I knew…" Grape stopped moving, her feet locked into place. Her mind had been so preoccupied with Milly and Mrs. Humphries that she hadn't seen who her mother was speaking with. The couple and their daughter had gone, leaving Liam in their place. He stood beside Dr. Merriweather, smiling in his all-black suit.
Her mother waved a hand toward Liam. "Have I ever introduced you to Mr. Sable? He's a nurse at the hospital."
"We're acquainted," Grape said, her voice devoid of good humor.
"How so?" her mother asked.
Why is Mom smiling so much?
"Liam knows Graeson," Grape offered through her clenched jaw.
"Oh? Our neighbor? How do you know him?"
"Liam owns a club Graeson belongs to," Grape said before Liam could answer.
"A club?" her mother asked, a bit of doubt creeping into her voice.
Liam smiled. It was hard to read his expression as his crystal blue eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses. "I own a coffeehouse. It is very old and in desperate need of decoration. Mostly teenagers come. They play board games," he said in his thick Eastern European-ish accent.
"And dress up," Grape said, her heartbeat growing faster. She did not like the way Liam smiled at her mother or the way her mother looked at him.
"Yes." Liam chuckled. "I believe it is called cos-play. The kids, they like to dress up as superheroes or villains. It is a common thing, and in a town this small they have no place to do it."
"Maybe we'll drop by and check it out one day," her mother said. She touched Liam's arm. "I'm sure it doesn't need decorating as badly as you think."
She touched Liam's arm. Her mother touched Liam's arm.
"Mom, we should probably get Mandy home," Grape said, forcing herself to smile. Look normal, Grape, and get her the hell away from the vampire. She nodded toward Mandy, who stood beside Adam, arms crossed and tears dripping from her eyes.
"Oh, yes, you're probably right," her mother said, glancing at Grape before returning her attention to Liam. "I'll see you at work, I guess."
"I will be there."
Grape watched as her mother walked toward Mandy. When she was out of ear-shot, Grape turned to Liam, fury in her belly. "What the hell was that?"
"What? I came looking for you, to see how you are. I ran into your mother. I know her from work."
"You were flirting."
"I was being nice."
"Don't. My mother is off limits."
"Whatever you say, Grape Merriweather. I live to serve."
"If that's true, then take me to the Magic Lands."
"There are very few who could open that rift, and those few all live in…the Magic Lands."
"Then how did it open for Brad?"
"You would have to ask Brad."
Grape's hands balled up at her sides. She could feel a strange warmth growing through her body. "How the hell am I supposed to ask him anything if I can't get to where he is?"
"Exactly. It is over. He is gone. I am very sorry, Grape Merriweather. It will be best for everyone if you let this go."
"You are spending too much time in the woods."
Grape balked. "What? Did my mother tell you that?"
"No." Liam sniffed the air. "But you smell of dirt and trees with a hint of desperation."
Grape opened her mouth to protest, but Liam inclined his head toward her mother, who stood staring at them, her arm wrapped around Mandy.
"Enjoy the ride home."
Title: Wrong Side of the Rift
Author: Libby Heil
Genre: YA Fantasy
Grape can’t unlearn what living in Sortilege Falls has taught her. Magic is real. Vampires live among us. And there’s a portal in her back yard that leads to another world.
A few weeks ago, Grape lived a quiet life with her family in Watts Landing. Now, she’s stuck in Sortilege Falls, searching for a way to rescue her brother from the other side of the rift. She’s connected to Brad through dreams and what she sees terrifies her. Brad is being tortured into performing magic and, even worse, he’s being forced to torture others.
Grape hounds the magic folk in town, seeking a way through the rift. Her mother’s memory’s been stolen. Her new vampire friend refuses to help. Grape must do it all alone. What she uncovers is a whole host of secrets about the town and her own family. And she’s not the only one hunting for answers.
Time is running out for Brad, but it might be running out for Grape as well.
Buy your copy of Wrong Side of the Rift from Amazon.
I was born during a blizzard. I’m told it was pretty cool but I have no memory of that time. I grew up in two tiny towns in Virginia and spent most of my twenties moving around the US. I’ve lived in Virginia, Florida, Missouri, and Washington. I’ve settled down, for now, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I’m a writer and improviser. I studied acting in college but spent more time rewriting lines than memorizing them. My first play, Fourth Wall, was produced my junior year. Since then, I’ve written several full length plays, one acts and screenplays. I started writing fiction in my late twenties. Now, I focus mainly on novels but still dabble in theater.
Fun facts about me: There are none. I’m sorry to disappoint you so soon. But, I do love to read, write, and run. My hubby is my favorite person on earth. Dogs are my second favorite. All dogs. I love orange juice, especially when it’s mixed with club soda. Carbonation is better than alcohol. Jaws is my favorite movie. Everything I’ve said so far is true.
Puschcart Prize Nomination for “Grow Your Own Dad” – Published by Mixer Publishing
Semi-finalist Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference – “STUFF”
Honorable Mention The Ohio State Newark New Play Contest – “The Last Day”