Mystique by Shari Arnold
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
Genre: YA Paranormal
Only Bauer Grant can pull off gorgeous while dead. But staying dead is another thing entirely. When he wakes up at his own funeral, the town of Mystique calls it a miracle, until it happens again. Something is bringing the residents of Mystique back to life, but what? Presley Caine finds herself caught up in the mystery when Bauer asks her to visit him. Presley can’t figure out why the most popular guy in school is so drawn to her. And when Bauer is kidnapped soon after, she looks to Bauer’s brooding best friend Sam, whose dad works for the powerful Mystique military base, for answers. In her quest to discover the truth, Presley’s relationship with Sam deepens, her feelings for Bauer are tested, and it becomes clear that her own mysterious past is somehow connected to these strange events. But is she strong enough to handle the truth when it is finally revealed?
“No! I’ve seen this movie. The one where the two stupid teenagers think they’re smarter than all the adults in the world, so they don’t tell anyone something strange is going on until it’s too late and then the girl ends up running through the woods in her bra and panties while some guy in a scary hockey mask chases her with a chain saw. I’m not that girl, Sam. I don’t want to be that girl. I’m not smarter than everyone else. I think we need to tell someone.”
Sam doesn’t respond. He’s stopped pacing, and his hands are hanging loosely at his sides. When he continues to stare at me without speaking, I say, “Sam?”
“I’m sorry. You lost me at bra and panties.”
“How come you smell like . . .” I lean in for a closer inspection and then come up with, “Camping?”
Sam just looks at me. I’m beginning to learn the subtle language behind his silence. He can communicate so much with just a lift of his eyebrow.
“Camping?” he says, followed by his trademark eyebrow arch.
“You smell like trees and campfire.” We’re sitting on my front porch, two people on stage for the trees and stars outside my door.
“Well the tree part is my cologne.” He shifts so that he’s facing me. “I always tell the sales girl, ‘Just ring up whatever will help me smell like a lumberjack.’”
General Reynolds smiles, and his eyes flicker to my hand clenching the door frame. “I see you’ve learned nothing from your aunt.” When he notices the look of confusion on my face, he adds, “She’s not as wary around men.”
“I’m nothing like her.” I was aiming for confident, but my words come out too forceful.
“No.” He studies me for a minute. “You take after your mother.”
“Why would you say that? You couldn’t possibly know my mother!” The words tumble out of my mouth before I realize I’d even thought them.
He doesn’t answer right away. For a moment, I’m not sure if he’s going to answer at all. Then he says, “Let’s go for a ride.”
“Sam!” I yell. My hands are reaching for him, while my eyes can’t turn away from the old man staring at me from just outside the truck window.
“It’s okay, Presley.” Sam releases my seat belt and pulls me closer into his side. “The doors are locked. He can’t get in.”
“He’s freaking me out. Why is he staring at me?”
“Get outta here, old man!” Sam yells.
But the man isn’t listening. His eyes are searching mine. His face is sculpted in terror. “You!” He points a long, bony finger in my direction and taps it against the glass. “You have to help me!” he cries. “We’re all going to die.”
I shake my head at him. I don’t understand why he’s doing this or what he’s trying to tell me. But he takes it as an answer. Suddenly his face slumps. The wrinkles that mere seconds ago held his angry expression together flatten out into a sad puddle of old skin.
One . . . two . . . I bolt for my bedroom on three. My foot catches on something just before I reach my doorway. Too late, I realize it’s a hand. It grips me tighter, the fingers warm against my bare ankle. I kick wildly. My legs flail out in every direction until I feel one foot connect with something solid and I hear a loud moan. The fingers loosen slightly, just enough for me to slip free. I race for my bedroom window and have just enough time to push out the screen before I see a dark figure crawl across my floor. I throw myself out the window onto the hard ground. I feel a shooting pain rush up my side, but I ignore it. I start running toward my bike. For the first time since we moved here, I hate the streetlight outside my house. My feet slide in the grass, and for a second, I think I’m going down. I can almost feel my hands and knees touching the wet grass. But I catch myself and stagger sideways until I have my footing again. I’m half running, half carrying my bike down my driveway before my awkward legs manage to mount the pedals. “Go. Just go,” I whimper under my breath. “Please. Please go.”