I present, here and now, a sneak peek of the first chapter of Deadgirl: Daybreak. The full book will arrive on Kindle and paperback this year, which apparently is 2021.
Why leak the first chapter? Because, well, you’ve been waiting for it. Maybe, I don’t know your whole deal. But if you HAVE been waiting for the fourth and final Deadgirl book, I figure it’s only fair I share a little aperitif while you wait.
Presenting to you now, the first chapter. If it changes in the final, published draft, well, them’s the brakes. But enjoy!
Or don’t, I’m not your mama.
Chapter 1 – The Fourth Bedroom
A simple house, my parents’ house.
Not small. A few bedrooms downstairs, a few upstairs. Riding the line between middle-class and the heady peaks beyond. My father worked at home as a journalist, blogger, and political writer. My mother worked for the Post Office. Their parents, my grandparents, weren’t rich: laborers of the bluest collars, no college degrees to speak of.
“What do you want to be when you grow up, Lucy?” people often asked me.
I mean, why not – it’s the go-to question you break off and feed a young person like a Kit-Kat bar when you can’t think of any actual conversation to make. Who are you going to be, is what they’re asking. You know, when all this (dismissive gesture) is over with?
How about: who are you now? What are you now?
Nobody seemed as interested in that information.
My parent’s house used to be woefully empty. As an only child, I’d spent a lot of time on my own, playing with dolls in some corner of the house, pairing off Spider-Man with whatever frilly Malibu Barbie or Bratz chica could best deal with his wise-cracking mouth.
No cousins nearby, no distant relations or family bullies to rub mustard or boogers in my hair. Just me, Lucy Abigail Day, dreaming up brothers and sisters in dusty hallways.
I imagined a brother, older, just seemed appropriate. The kind who’d clean a shotgun when I brought boys home, the kind who’d teach me to throw a punch or perform a truly inescapable elbow lock. Who’d pick me up in his car from school, even if he just wanted to go hang out with his friends. He’d hook an arm over my shoulders, lean down, and muss my hair. I’d laugh and squeal and pretend I didn’t like it, and he’d roll his eyes and drop a hand back on the steering wheel and pretend he didn’t like it either.
Other times it was a sister. A clean and tidy girl who liked everything I liked, but not too much, you know? I mean, sharing may be caring but Lucy don’t truck with that commie nonsense. My toys were mine, and woe to the soon-to-be severed fingers that tried to touch them.
With no siblings to fill it, the upstairs bedroom across from mine morphed frequently, a chameleon with four walls and a roof. A workout room, a crafts room, more often a storage room. The bedrooms downstairs were reserved for my parents, and for dad’s office. I’d learned last year that my mom never had another kid because her own sister had died tragically. Couldn’t bear the thought of putting her own kid through something like that.
But then again, she had memories with her sister, at least. Happy ones, mixed in there. I had nothing but fantasies with mine. Just loneliness and a nostalgia for a person that never was. Or was it better to have loved and lost, right?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot these days.
It also made me wonder why my mom, committed as she was to rearing a single child, bought a four bedroom house.
A desperate hope? A wish, against her wishes, that somehow it would happen? That God or the Flying Meatball in the sky would make the decision for her?
Perhaps it had.
We’d moved Morgan into my room, hastily – the other upstairs bedroom had been too cluttered with old antique furniture and boxes of forgotten knick-knacks. Dad had a plan to clean it out, to make Morgan a proper living space, but Dad always had plans, didn’t he?
Those plans had been kicked the hell over when Daphne Karras had arrived in my parents’ kitchen, saved my mom from being gutted by a psychopath, and mentioned (casually) that she was a wee bit homeless and sure could use a roof over her head.
So, by decree of vater and mutter, Daphne would get the spare room, whilst Morgan and I would be forced to bunk up together. Sharing a room. My room. Can you believe that? Their daughter doesn’t get her own space, but the weirdo harpy with a six-foot wingspan and talons the length of chopsticks gets whatever she wants and actually maybe that makes perfect sense.
When Daphne arrived, she’d made . . . quite a splash. This is Daphne’s main talent.
The cops had picked up the psychopath she’d demolished (he’d thought of himself as the Jayhawk for some reason) and we’d fed the police some dong-and-cow story about a home invasion. I’d half-expected stalwart officer Sam Sykes to appear and drag the psycho away, but no dice this time. He’d appeared at scenes of crises so many times that I was starting to wonder if he was part guardian angel or something.
But, like I said, very few dice. Just a bunch of gruff Anaheim cops with apologetic faces.
“Whoops,” their faces seemed to say. “We know it’s our job to protect you, but really we just solve your murder. Hopefully.”
When they’d left, we all stood on the porch, our broken door hanging off its shattered hinges, watching what would be one of the final summer sunsets.
“Lucy?” my mother asked.
She turned to me, her watery eyes wide, her hand clutching my father’s big mitts.
“Imogen sent him,” I said, because I’d drained the memory from his skull before the cops had arrived. “Her last gambit. Morgan had already stuck her with a silver knife, and she knew she was dying. It was, I guess . . . “
“A parting fuck you,” Daphne clarified brightly. “Chop ma and pop into bits and leave ‘em for Lucy to find.”
“Language,” my father sighed.
“Imogen, the one who . . . k-killed – “ my mom began.
“Killed who?” Daphne asked.
I turned away and drifted back inside.
“It’s over,” I called over my shoulder. I failed to hide the broken glass in my throat. “That was Imogen’s last trick. She’s dead, she’s gone. She lost. We won.”
Back upstairs I went, trudging, my feet made of lead, my knees loose, my legs barely obeying. I slammed the bedroom door behind me, to no avail. An instant later, Daphne popped my door open without a knock or even a vague gesture at propriety.
“I guess we’ve got a lot to talk about,” she said, and leaned my door closed.
“Please leave,” I said. “I just need. I just need some time.”
Daphne cocked her head. It made the swoop of her non-shaved hair swap sides on her scalp and fell across her face.
“Cortney’s car is outside,” Daphne said. “You were driving it.”
Perched on the corner of my bed, I tried not to melt. I gripped the edge of the comforter and yanked it over my lap. Everything went all blurry, and I tucked my fist against my chin and let my dark mop of hair hang in my face until I looked like the lamest version of a Japanese ghost.
“You already know,” I whispered. It wasn’t easy with my chin quivering. “You have to already know. Your…powers.”
Daphne knelt in front of me. I couldn’t see her face through my curtain of hair.
“You’d be surprised, sister-mine.”
“What do you mean?”
“I . . . found a way to dampen my powers. My, senses, whatever. The fate thing,” Daphne said.
“It’s a long, ugly story, and I’ll tell it to you some other never. But just know that I didn’t . . . I didn’t know what was happening to you…to you all. Not until I . . . let my powers come back. Good timing, when I did, I guess. I felt your mom being dressed like a deer by that psycho. It’s lucky. Well. . . “
“Thank you, Daphne.”
Daphne shook her head.
“Shut up,” she said. “Lucy. Lucy, please look at me.”
You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to lift your chin off your chest. You wouldn’t think. Her eyes, dark and round and all-encompassing, met my own. I hitched a breath. Stop that goddamn chin quiver, I shouted internally. For a moment, it stopped. Just a moment.
“Is Cortney dead, Lucy?”
“Daphne,” I huffed.
She caught me in her arms.
It all poured out of me, and I didn’t stop shaking for a long time. It didn’t matter, of course. Daphne held me in my bed, ran her fingers through my hair, and she said not a word as I fell asleep in her warmth.
I dreamed of Cortney Pellam in a hospital bed, his neck broken, his red eyes boring into mine, and the laughter of Anika and Abraham and Imogen.
The laughter of the monsters that had finally broken me.
Thanks for reading
If you haven’t reviewed or “starred” any of the Deadgirl Saga, please take the time. It’s a huge help for me, the author, and my starving children. Well, they’re not starving, but they do eat a lot. Like, A LOT a lot. Babies.
Anyway, if you’re willing, visit the Goodreads page for the series and give it some love, or the Amazon page. Tell your friends, family, your cult leader, your workmates, whatever. Let them know the series is coming to an end this year, and the epic conclusion is on its way.
Or tell them the series contains a scene where a harpy fights a werebear at a wedding. That always works.