(The Essential Elements, #1)
Publication date: February 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Valerie Moore was a beautiful, headstrong girl with below-average social skills and above-average anxiety (including a flair for over-analyzing).
With her mother long deceased, and her father recently deployed, she ends up being sent to live with her eccentric aunt in a tiny town nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania. But, being a Navy brat had made her into a bit of a loner, and making friends certainly wasn’t her strongest suit. As if the life of a typical teen wasn’t hard enough.
But Valerie soon discovers she’s not a typical teenager. Not by a long shot.
SECRETS are revealed…
…About her family, about her newfound friends and relationships, and about her whole world… Things that have been kept from her for her entire life…
But the biggest secret of all is revealed when Valerie discovers that she has Elemental powers, and a chain of inexplicable and irrevocable events unleashes throughout the little town…
Friday was apparently game day.
Cheerleaders bounced around in skirts so short their legs looked a mile long. Football players strolled assuredly through the halls in colored jerseys and dark denim jeans. White numbers and letters, highlighted by orange, contrasted against the solid block of red. Even the band kids wore red collared tees with the school name and mascot, the Center Allegheny Bears, embroidered in orange and white over their hearts.
Teachers, too, with their polos. Students wore jerseys with their favorite player’s number, CAHS football tees, or any random CAHS shirt they had lying around. Some even sported their own homemade designs.
It was a little overwhelming. I didn’t remember there being so much football hype when I’d been there before, but then again, my classmates and I had been mere freshmen at that point. Now, we were the big bad seniors. We yielded the seasoned players. We were the crew and the team—or, I guess, they. I wasn’t sure where I fit in, exactly.
I made my way to my locker feeling more than a little naked, but trying to play it cool. At the far end of the hall, right where my locker was supposed to be, a jock stood with his hands behind his back. I couldn’t see his face, but I could make out his number clearly: three.
The closer I got, the more Number Three morphed into a solid person. A smile spread easily across his lips. His brown hair was gelled to perfection, spiking up in a wave at the front. His hands moved from behind him and he held up a ladies jersey, a feminine replica of his own. It was white, though, with red and orange accents. Away colors, not home.
“Wear my number?” he asked me almost coyly.
The tiny smile on my face grew wider. “Oh, Holden.” I slid past him and began working my lock. He leaned on the locker to my right—Loren’s locker. The smile fell right off my face. “Tell me Loren’s head cheerleader?”
He grinned infectiously. “She’s not a cheerleader at all. Why? Are you jealous?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Of that bitch? No. But she’s a damn tank for how reedy she is, and I’d rather not get my ass kicked by her again if I can help it.”
His features hardened. “Run that by me again.”
“Loren,” I sighed. “She kicked my ass yesterday over you. Don’t!” I yelled as I grabbed his wrist and yanked him back. “Don’t you dare go looking for her. You’ll only make it worse for me.”
“Fine. But, Valerie…” He shook his head as he tried to work it out. “I think you’re confused.”
“I was confused yesterday, but it’s crystal clear now. She said, and I quote, ‘Stay away from him.’”
He looked skeptical. “Him? Not my name, specifically?”
Ugh. The lock wouldn’t open. I spun it and spun it and kept missing the numbers. “No, not specifically, but it was you. I asked if it was about what happened in Advanced Chem and she said, ‘I saw the way you looked at him’ like a total bitch. She had to have been pissed about you flirting with me. Kissing my hand, maybe?”
I shoved him lightly in the chest, but he held my hand there. “I’m sorry, Valerie, but I really don’t think this is about me. Are you okay though?”
“Yeah, I’m fine now. I just wouldn’t prefer a repeat, you know?”
“I do know. In fact, I’d like to escort you to your classes today to make sure she doesn’t get cute with you again, if that’s okay?”
Cade would shit a brick.
I pursed my lips in thought. “Fine.” I slipped my hand from his grasp, whipped my head quickly toward my locker, and began decoding the lock again. That time it worked, and I was immediately surrounded by the sweet scent of roses. A dozen, to be precise. They were red, orange, and white—school colors. I peeked around the tall metal door at Holden. “Did you…?” His responding grin said it all.
He held up the jersey again. “Come on, Val. Wear my number?” Then he pouted. It was an exaggeration and I knew it, but he’d gone to such lengths! I snatched it out of his hand and slipped the silky fabric over my head.
“Very,” he replied smoothly.
“If she kicks my ass again, I’m kicking yours.”
Elle Middaugh is a newly published author, born in the sticks outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. After moving around the east coast a number of times, she now lives in her hometown with her husband and three children.
Reading has been a favorite past time since Elementary School and choose-your-own-adventure books. Writing has been her dream since Middle School when she first began penning her own material. Being published is the most awesome achievement in her writing career so far, but she hopes for more exciting landmarks and stepping stones in the future!
She’s a proud Navy wife; a frazzle-brained mother; a homebody who dislikes cleaning; a fan of tennis, and fitness in general; a lover of hot tea, mountain dew, and all things fiction; and she’s a bigger My Little Pony fan than her children.