The blogging of my book continues! You can pre-order it on Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo, and I encourage you to do so if you enjoy the blog (Only $2.99 while on pre-order, $4.99 after). If you are intrigued and want to know what happens now…
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When the book goes live (November 15), it would be great if you have a review ready to go (hint hint). You can also pre-order book 2, Allie Strom and the Sword of the Spirit, which will go live mid-December (just in time for Christmas).
PLOT: Allie discovers that her new necklace and an unlikely friend are her keys to traveling across the world to save her mom from a cult and their otherworldly leader, and in the process learns that she has a greater destiny.
Without further ado, let’s dive into my MG novel, Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon.
The older girl didn’t say much as they walked down the hallway, but Allie felt the girl’s eyes boring into her. Only, every time Allie glanced over, the girl was staring straight ahead.
“There you go,” the girl said as they entered a large room. She pointed to a line of students by metallic counters lined with food. The smell of grease and cold-cut sandwiches was overwhelming.
“Big kid lunch for me.” The girl winked and walked off to join her friends.
Allie found a slice of cheese pizza and smothered it in parmesan and crushed peppers, got a side of ranch, then paid and turned to face the lunchroom. She groaned – Daniel was seated nearby, already looking her way.
“Allie, hey!” he called.
She almost went to him, but noticed the older girl glance back her way. No, Allie couldn’t be seen with Daniel in the lunch room, not by that girl. She had to play this right. On TV they called it political capital, and she figured if she were to monetize it, she had enough to buy a cool friend and salvage herself. What did he expect anyway? That they would become best friends simply because they lived in the same apartment complex? She turned to her right, away from him, and pretended not to hear.
“Allie?” his voice trailed after her.
She sat facing the trophy wall, which was past the older girl and what appeared to be the cool kids. Over glass cases, she saw pictures of students throughout the years that had made their school proud, and above that a banner of pastel-blue that read, “Vigil School Pride.” She smiled at the color, the same as her shirt, then dipped her pizza into the ranch dressing and told herself she had done what was necessary regarding Daniel. She had to focus on getting her picture on that wall—one of her scoring the winning soccer goal ought to do it. Allie smiled and looked around to see if she could guess who the soccer kids would be.
A scraping sound sent a chill through her chest as a tray slid across a table. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Daniel approaching.
She scanned the room for an escape route. Rain barraged the glass double-doors that led to the courtyard, so that wasn’t an option. A retreat to the girl’s bathroom was an option, but she was pretty hungry. But something had to be done, the eighth graders and the girl from the tour were in the middle of the lunchroom and they would definitely see her with Daniel.
Allie stood and started walking, her mind made up. She would go and sit with the older girl who she had met at the library. Maybe they would accept her. She passed a thick-boned kid who was staring at her chest. This gave her a moment’s pause—she had heard of boys staring at girls’ chests, but it hadn’t happened to her. There had been no reason to. She glanced down and realized the necklace was visible. When she covered it she glanced back and the boy had turned away. Perhaps it was nothing, she thought.
Then she heard a loud thump and a yelp.
When she turned, she saw Daniel lay sprawled out across the cafeteria floor, holding his face. The large boy loomed over him. He had spiked hair, wore all black, and had a pimple on his nose like a rhinoceros horn. He beckoned the kids nearby to applaud as he knelt over Daniel.
“The girl wants to be left alone,” the boy said. “Little piggy.”
Daniel glanced her way and she realized this was about her!
Allie stood there, watching this bully pick on the boy slightly smaller than herself, the rest of the students pointing and laughing. She wanted to run over and help him, but come on. How was that her responsibility? Her palms started sweating and she could feel her breathing growing heavy. Her first day in a new school, and now this? She looked around, desperate for anyone else to take action. None of the other students were stepping forward to help him. None of them even cared! She glared around at the students, challenging them to do something, but they were all busy waiting to see what the big kid would do next. She noticed several students dressed all in black staring hard in her direction and whispering among themselves. She was too upset to pay them much attention, and Daniel’s eyes were burning a hole in her heart.
Allie couldn’t take it anymore. With a deep breath she turned to the big kid and stomped her foot. “Back off!”
The big kid raised his eyes to hers. He smiled. Another boy stepped out to his side, arms folded and slightly shorter than the first, but in every other way his clone.
“Mind your own business,” the first kid said. “We were just helping you out.”
“I….” As she feared, everyone was looking at her. She was done for. “I didn’t need help.”
“Oh?” the boy said as she stepped toward her. “So you and this kid, you got something going on? Little Daniel’s your boyfriend or something?”
“Uh, huh.” He turned to his slightly shorter companion. “Looks like we got ourselves a real Romeo and Juliet here, huh Vince?”
The boy smiled at his companion. “Looks that way.”
“Hmmm,” the bigger kid said, then turned and pulled Daniel forward. “And what you gonna do about it, little girl?” He punched Daniel right in the stomach and Daniel crumbled to the ground.
“Stop it,” Allie said, her anger growing now. Friend or not, her mom had taught her to look out for those that need help, for those smaller than herself. Well, Daniel wasn’t much smaller than her, but he certainly needed help.
Vince made a move for her and pulled her by the hair, in spite of several calls from nearby girls to cut it out. “What do we do with wise-mouth little heroes, Chester?”
“Same thing we do with their boyfriends,” Chester said, leering at her. “Throw them in the swamp.”
A couple of nearby kids cheered at this and Allie felt herself about to panic. Daniel made a growling sound and lunged for Chester’s calf, biting as hard as he could. Chester yelped and Allie used the moment of distraction to break free of Vince and threw herself at Chester, putting all her weight into it like her brother had taught her – of course he had taught her how to tackle when wearing pads and playing football, so she yelped out in surprise at how much her shoulder hurt.
The mountain of a boy had the worst of it. He fell backwards, his head smacking the lasagna Daniel had spilled on the tiled floor.
“You little snot!” Vince reached out but she ducked away.
Chester scrambled to his feet with cheese sticking to the back of his hair. He grabbed Daniel by his scraggly brown hair, pulling him close. “You’ll regret that.”
Allie moved out of Vince’s grasp, debating her next move when—
“Enough!” an older woman said. The students moved aside like displaced water, flowing out of her way as she strode forward. She grabbed Chester by the ear. “Just what do you think you’re doing?”
“Principal Eisner,” Daniel said. “We were just, um….”
“Nothing ma’am,” Chester said, squirming. “We were getting to know each other.”
“Try putting the food in your belly next time,” the principal said. “Instead of in your hair.”
“Sorry ma’am.” Chester took a step back into the crowd. Students around them snickered and Principal Eisner glanced at Allie.
“Okay, new girl, you and your friend with me.”
“Daniel,” Daniel said.
“Excuse me?” She looked at him as if he had broken the first rule of Vigil Junior High. But her eyes softened when he pulled back. “Yes, you and Daniel in my office. Now.”
“What?!” Allie turned on Chester and Vince, pointing. “But they—”
“In my office, now.” She nodded to the crowd. The librarian stepped forward to grab Vince and Chester by their shirts. “They’ll get their punishments.”
Daniel followed first and looked back at Allie with a shrug and a half-smile, eyes full of gratitude. Allie glared in return and followed him with her eyes to the floor. She knew the whole lunchroom was watching, memorizing her face so they could laugh at her later—the girl that allied herself with the nerd of the school on her first day. Great! She had made her choice and sealed her fate. She was doomed.
In Principal Eisner’s office, Allie and Daniel sat in small chairs while the principal sat behind her oak-desk. Her fingers formed a steeple. She looked at them from under her silvery hair with her dull gray eyes, as if waiting for them to start talking. Finally she leaned forward and smiled.
“You two are friends?” she asked.
“We just met,” Allie said, perhaps a bit too quick.
Principal Eisner nodded, then picked up an old pencil sharpener and started sharpening pencils, not looking up. After a few minutes, she cleared her throat. “Why’d you stand up for him?”
Allie looked at her hands, only then noticing she had been picking at her fingernails. “No one else would.”
“I see.” She glanced up at Allie. “And that necklace?”
“What? What’s my necklace have to do with this?”
“I feel I’ve seen it before.”
“It was a present.”
For a split second, Allie thought she saw the necklace glint sky blue as a reflection in Principal Eisner’s eyes, but when she looked down it was normal. No shining, no pulling memories of her mom. She shuddered as she remembered the morning.
Principal Eisner returned her gaze to the pencils. “And today you decided you’d step in to help another. How convenient.”
Daniel stood from his seat. “I didn’t need help, I—”
“Sit down.” Principal Eisner motioned with a pencil. “I’m sure you didn’t.”
Allie looked at him in a new light, standing up for himself like that. Now that she thought of it, he had attacked Chester back there, even if it was a bite in the leg. A punch or kick would have been more impressive, but she had to give him credit.
“I didn’t…” Daniel murmured.
The principal motioned for the door. “Daniel, you may depart.”
“What about her?” he said.
Principal Eisner set three sharpened pencils into her pencil holder and stood. “Worried about her? Don’t be, she’s not in trouble either. Go on.”
The principal cleared her throat and Daniel stood with a shrug to Allie before departing. Allie allowed a smile.
The principal turned to Allie. “So, Allie Strom, welcome to our school.”
Allie’s smile faded. She felt uneasy under the principal’s stare. “You, um, had something to talk to me about?”
“More of a warning. I want you to be careful, okay? And if you ever need anything, I’m here to help. The librarian can be a great help too, that’s what he’s here for.”
“Okay,” Allie said with a frown, unsure what this lady was talking about. Where was this coming from?
“I hope you enjoyed your morning.” Principal Eisner handed her a slip of paper. “Your afternoon classes, since you somehow missed the part of the tour where everyone introduced themselves and was assigned class schedules. I hope this will be to your liking.”
Allie took the paper and sighed to see History class. Seeing that the Principal had turned to sharpen another pencil, Allie stood and showed herself out.
In the hall, Daniel came over to her. “Can you believe that? I mean, we didn’t even get in trouble!”
“Yeah, sure,” she said. She looked at him, thinking of what she had done. This political capital thing may have already been used up, thanks to this kid. She turned and started walking down the hall, her brain too scattered to process what class came next.
“Hey, since you live so close, I was thinking, I mean, if you want, maybe after school—”
“No.” She turned and saw his hurt expression. “I mean, what?”
“I don’t know, I was thinking we could hang out, you know?”
She stared at him. How did they deal with situations like this in the movies? Drive off the little dogs that wouldn’t leave you alone? Oh yeah, rocks. She would try to be gentler.
She stepped close and lowered her voice when she said, “Listen, there’s no we, okay?”
He stared at her, eyes wide. “But…?”
“I didn’t ask to come to this crummy school, but since I’m here… I got big plans.”
He frowned, blinking without comprehension. She wasn’t sure she even knew what she was saying. But it was out, no turning back. With a deep breath, she about faced. She walked off as her conscious rose inside her. It pulled at her heart and balled her stomach so the pain of guilt overwhelmed her. She clenched her fists and kept walking. She had done what was necessary.
Did you miss chapter 1? Get it here!