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J.L. Bowen’s First Kiss
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m excited to be here. Lizzie asked me to write a story about my first kiss which by the way was when I was thirteen year’s old. I had pecked boys on the lips, but my first French kiss, was with Chris Ward. He had long dark black hair, and he kissed me behind my parents’ garage during the summer.
I had never experienced anything like this before so having some guy’s tongue in my mouth was both scary and thrilling. I had no idea what to do and I don’t think he did either. I even remember what he was wearing – a red football jersey and Levi 501 jeans. Chris wrapped his arms around my waist and held me close to him. We were young, scared and stupid. Nothing happened beyond the kissing.
Writing about this brings back memories. During middle and high school, I never stayed with guys very long. In fact, I know I broke some hearts along the way. Believe me, I had my share too. I always seemed to want I couldn’t have. Looking back, I had a difficult time getting past the lust stage, but once I got someone, I pulled away. Why? To be honest, I was scared. Besides Chris who was definitely a cutie, I ran anytime they got too close.
So, when I look at my writing, my fears sprinkle on to my characters. In my new release, The Healer, my hero, Armond Costa, has his fair share of fears. Also, he’s never been kissed either, well that is until he meets Cadye. He fumbles with her like Chris did with me.
Here’s a small glimpse of his interaction with Cadye. It’s small, because there are some spoilers around it, so I didn’t want to give it away. Cadye is a Golden Demon and Armond has a crush on her.
The door cracked opened. “Um, is Armond here?” Cadye asked.
I sat up and wiped my tears. “Yeah, I’m here.”
“Hi,” she said. She glanced at Rusty who gave her a you-are-dead stare.
I glared. “Rusty.”
I nodded my head.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “Abrianna said this is my room, too.”
“Fine, then we’re going on the balcony, and you’re not coming out there,” I said.
I motioned for Cadye. She looked at Rusty one more time, but ran over to me. I led her out on the balcony.
We both stared at the setting sun. Her scent of jasmine whiffed over me. I wanted to lean over and breathe deeper, but refused to move. She had on a tight red sweater with a heart shaped neckline and I couldn’t help but gaze at the hollow between her breasts. Heat rose to my cheeks and I turned away.
“I’m sorry about Gunnar,” she said. “I talked to him once and thought he was nice.”
“Yeah, he was,” I said. My voice sounded harder than I wanted. I glanced at her. A blush fell across her face. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to snap at you. Don’t want to think about…You know.” I couldn’t say the word – let alone think about what his father did to him in that dungeon. I gripped the stone railing. God, if I could swoop in there to rescue him, I would, but Gregori, I mean, Dad said not yet. He and Montae worked on a plan. I hoped we weren’t too late.
Cadye squeezed my hand. I trembled at her soft hand on my skin. I gritted my jaw as my pants tightened again. This sucked. God, what if she noticed? I’d jump off the balcony and hide in one of the pine trees and hibernate with the squirrels.
As you can see Armond, is not sure what to do with Cadye and is worried about his body betraying him, which is something he struggles throughout the story. His story is about self-discovery and resiliency. Besides squirming in his pants over a pretty girl, his body goes through changes he doesn’t know how to handle such as sprouting wings on his fourteenth birthday and being scared on whether his friends would accept him. His life is turned upside down when he finds out not only is he not human and a demon, but he’s the Healer for the Golden Demons. If he doesn’t learn to trust his powers and accept his role, people and demons will die - hard choices to make when you’re only fourteen years old.
Here’s an excerpt from my book The Healer, which will be released on February 27th from Featherweight Press. It’s the opening scene to Armond’s terrifying life with his Uncle Peter and Aunt Janet.
I grabbed the wobbly banister and climbed the stairs two at a time to the attic.
A small stampede barged after me. “Going somewhere boy?” Uncle Peter’s heavy footsteps trailed me. “You’ll never get the chance to heal.” His heavy panting echoed in the cramped stairwell. “Not…after…I… get…through…with…you.”
“Not in three days, you won’t,” Aunt Janet gritted her teeth. “I promise you that.”
Great, more pain. They could at least tell me what I did.
My hand shook as I whipped open my door. I charged towards the window. Freedom was only six feet away. Out the corner of my eye, an elephant size blur barreled right for me. I shrank, but Uncle Peter grabbed my arm and threw me.
As the room swirled, I crashed into the wall, knocking the wind out of me. Sweet Aunt Janet stormed over to me and backed me against the wall. “This. Is. Your. Fault.” With each word, she slapped me across the face and slammed my head like a ping-pong ball into the hard wood paneling. She wheezed and stopped. “Since it’s your damn fourteenth birthday tomorrow, they’re hunting you, putting us all in danger.”
God, her breathe stank of peppermint gum. Her hands reeked of her gawd, awful rose perfume. Metallic swirled in my mouth. Blood again. My cheeks throbbed.
“I don’t understand.” I rubbed my face. “Who can’t find me?”
“Shut up.” Aunt Janet folded her skinny arms across her flat chest. “I never should have agreed to raise you.”
Wiping my bloody mouth on my arm, I kept silent. That’s a laugh. Yeah, I was real grateful. Nothing like getting the crap beat out of you because you’re not a Martin. My last’s name’s Costa, my mother’s maiden name.
A motorcycle roared outside my window. Aunt Janet’s thin face paled. Her thin lips, smeared with red lipstick, pinched together. She dropped her arms. “It’s them. I know it’s them.”
I half-hoped it was Rusty Owens, my self-appointed protector. Rusty had long dark red hair and rode a fiery crimson motorcycle, but when I peered out the window, disappointment hit me. It was just some old gray haired guy on a blue bike.
I frowned. “So, whoever is looking for me rides a motorcycle?”
Holding up her arm, she clenched her fist. “Didn’t you hear me?” She took a step towards me.
I cringed and clamped my jaw tight. With her wild green eyes and spiky blond hair, she loomed over me like an Amazon ready to rip my guts out. I turned away. Never look a rapid dog in the face.
“Get a hold of yourself.” I peeked back around. Sweat poured down Uncle Peter’s face and a lock of fuzzy orange hair stuck to his forehead. He glowered at Aunt Janet and then slammed his fist into his oversized palm. “They can’t find him.”
I swallowed. Who? A lump of fear formed in my stomach. Somebody chased me, but no one would tell me who. But the thing that terrified me more was that Aunt and Uncle were scared.
Aunt Janet ran her hand through her sonic hedge-hog cut blond hair and paced across the floor. Her high heels clicked on the hardwood floor. “What will we do?”
“Keep him locked in the cellar. If he’s beat down…”
She stopped and clapped her hands together. “You mean they can’t find him if he’s in pain?”
Nausea gripped me. My achy stomach dropped to my toes. I knew that look. Damn, my right arm just healed. Three days ago, Uncle broke it - all because I punched my sixteen-year-old cousin, Bobby, in his round red pocked face - served him right. I hid my grin. He won’t make fun of the color of my eyes for a while.
Glancing away from both of them, I caught my reflection in the cracked dresser mirror. Strands of long black hair hung in my face. Shaking, I pushed hair behind my ears. With my silver eyes, swollen cheeks, and bloody mouth, what looked like a beaten vampire stared back at me.
Great. I took quivering breathe. At least in three days, I’d be normal again, not a scratch on me.
Uncle’s firm word got my attention. I wiped the blood on the back of my hand, turned, and bit my lip. Don’t get sick.
Uncle stretched out his flabby arms and nodded.
An evil smile spread across Aunt’s face. “Our family will be safe.”
He dropped his arms to his side. “Exactly.”
At those words, I quivered. Uncle Peter seized my arm again and threw me onto my bed. He leaped on top of me, knocking the wind out of me, and pelted his meaty hooks into my face. “They’ll. Never. Find. You.”
In one leap, Uncle jumped off the bed and chucked me on the floor. I gasped for air, but it hurt to even breathe. I never got over how enormous Uncle and Bobby were, and how fast they could move. You’d think they’d be slow and clumsy, but they weren’t. More like, mad bull elephants bent on trampling you to death.
With his steel toed cowboy boots, he kicked my ribs. At the loud crack, I sucked in my breath. Thoughts fled my mind. As I crawled, I gasped for air.
“You like that?” He kicked me again, and got my hip. “You’re like your smart mouthed mother.” I rolled into a ball, and he stomped on my lower back. My kidneys screamed with agony. I’d piss blood for three days.
“You bastard.” Uncle Peter yanked me onto my feet. He shook me. “Your mother and her boyfriend are hunting you. If they find you, we’re dead.” His fingers dug into my tender skin. “Like when they murdered your father.” He dragged me down the stairs.
My mind went blank. Did I hear him right? Blood drained from my face. My feet tripped over each other as if I was a toddler, but Uncle Peter never slowed. “Quit stalling.”
When he whipped open the basement door, the air changed from summer clean to dusty and mildewed. Not again. I beat on his arm. “No!”
“Shut up.” He shoved me, and I somersaulted down the stairs. My vision blurred until I landed splat at the bottom, gasping for air. Above me, a darkened light-bulb dangled from a string. Sunlight struggled through the windowsills, but failed to chase away dark shadows that lurked under dusty, rickety, chairs, behind old trunks and a headless mannequin. My whole body throbbed as pain consumed me.
Light peered through a dusty window. Escape. I braced my hands on the cool cement, but before I could stand, Uncle threw me against another wall again. I landed on bumpy metal. Damn, not the stupid chains again.
“No,” I whispered and darted toward the door, but he grabbed me. I pushed and slapped his hands, but I couldn’t peel off his fat handcuffs.
He hurled me against the same wall. I shook my head, but he grabbed my hair and pulled me to his chin. Thrusting his giant bulbous sized gut and chest, he pinned me. I couldn’t breathe or move. His hot breathe brushed over my head. He clanked the bands on each of my wrists. “There.”
I peered at him. “You said my father was killed in the line of duty. So, did grandma and grandpa.”
“We lied,” he hissed into my ear. His breath stank of buttered popcorn. “Your father went after your mother to bring her back and raise your ugly hide, but her boyfriend ambushed him and killed him in cold blood. Because of you, my brother’s dead.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You’ve paid for that sin every day since you’ve come here. My brother was my best friend.” His fingers gripped my shoulders, and he shook me. My teeth rattled and my vision blurred. “And now, your mother is back and wants you, all of us dead. Is that plain enough for you? There only can be one healer, and she’s it.”
He released me, and I fell against the hard wall. As my head cleared, I gazed at him. Sweat trickled down his jowls and splashed onto the cement floor. He averted his hazel eyes.
“You’re a liar.” I yanked on the chains.
He stomped to the corner where a crooked metal rack leaned against the wall. Masking tape, screw drivers, hammers and pliers cluttered the other shelves. Stained turpentine jugs, and open and unopened paint cans were stacked on one metal shelf. Brushes and rollers were stuck inside a paint splattered brown and white coffee can. “I can see I’m gonna have to keep your mouth shut for you.” He jerked a smudged white rag out of a faded yellow bucket.
He waddled over to me. With a sneer on his fat face, he wrapped his fist in my hair. My head snapped back. He stuffed the rag into my mouth. Oil and dirt tinged my tongue. I gagged and shook my head. My salvia wet the cloth, and grit and turpentine ran down my throat.
I refused to show fear no matter how much it pooled in my stomach.
“Better, much, better.” He swiped his hands on his pants.
Softer footsteps thumped on the stairs. Aunt Janet emerged with a whip in her hand. All she needed was a skin tight black spandex suit and a mask, and she could be the next super villainous on Superfriends.
“I am sooo dead,” I mumbled into the rag and braced the wall with my back.
As a sharp toothy smile spread across her mouth, I quivered. She raised the whip. “This is for putting us at risk, you bastard.” She lashed my gut.
I arched my back. My hands clenched the chains.
“After this, you’d wished you had never been born.”
My heart hammering, I blinked back tears and bit the rag. Slime coated my tongue. With each swish, I counted back from a thousand. There is no pain. There is no pain. There is no pain. But a muffled groan escaped my lips and collapsing to the floor, my legs betrayed me. Aunt Janet’s laugh weakened my resolve. “There, I knew I could make you cry.”
Conan the Barbarian and Rusty Owens, I’m not.
Uncle Peter gripped my hair. “To let you know,” he hissed into my ear. His hot breath blew onto my neck. My stomach revolted. “This is your mother’s fault. Abrianna should have stayed away. She had her chance.”
My mother had a chance for what? Make up your mind, dude. Does she want to kill us or stay with your ugly ass? With his sweating face and beady wild eyes, he’d finally gone mad. Did I fall down a rabbit hole?
I hope you like it. My book is written for middle and high school students and tried to target boys. I have been a school social worker my whole career life and have worked with students who struggled with abuse, drugs and gangs. The point of my book is to show adolescents that no matter how bad their life may be, they can survive whether its finding a substitute family like Armond did with the Ellis’s or by accepting and believing themselves, they will get through this.
I’d like to thank Lizzie for giving me this opportunity to wish you all A Happy Valentine’s Day. Close your eyes and remember your first kiss and sweep back to when you were in middle or high school or maybe for some of you – elementary!
J.L. Bowen writes young adult paranormal books. Her first release is with Featherweight Press. The Healer is part of the series Dare to Heal. Her website is www.jlbowen.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.