Saturday, June 15, 2013

15 Minutes By Jill Cooper Book excerpt


15 Minutes



Excerpt:

I have 15 minutes to save my mother’s life….
Action

Time travel?
Flipping through the pages I see short-term memory loss is to be expected but will fade soon. I paid money to go back, but why into a school? Something about it is familiar, and I know the hall I’m standing in leads to a music room.
But I don’t know how I know any of this. I just do. As if memories were uploaded into my brain.
A photo falls from my papers and lands face up.
Her face. Her eyes. It’s like looking in the mirror.
I scoop the picture up and head down the hall. A piano chord strikes. The soft tone echoes toward me, and the digital watch on my wrist beeps. A rush of memories slam into my mind, knocking me off balance. I wobble on my feet as if the collision were physical. I retch, the vomit threatening to spill. Swallowing, it burns like racing lava. I check my watch. 
I only have thirteen minutes left.
I don’t bother to look through the doors to find five-year-old me. Instead, I race down the hall, feet gliding across the linoleum. My hood flaps behind me as my body crashes into the elementary school front doors. Blinding sunlight greets me, and I am flying down the hill. My arms pump, and I suck in deep breaths of air, like I learned in my time as a sprinter at Cambridge High.
Rounding the corner onto Mass Avenue, I see Tower Records off in the distance.
Beep.
I now have ten minutes to run eight blocks in time to save Mom. If I don’t make it, if I fail, I won’t get another shot.


Romance

“She’s my mother,” my voice quivers. I close my eyes when he touches my cheek. “Ever since the first time I went back on my birthday—I can’t stop thinking about her, Rick.” I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
He nuzzles my cheek, and I feel his warming breath against my skin. I’m safe, comfortable.
“I saw how she was with me,” I whisper, because if I have to be any louder I won’t be able to go on. “I was a baby, and I saw how much she loved me. She sang to me. My dad—-we were all so happy.” I shake my head. “That’s what I want. I need that. He does too.”
Rick’s eyes soften. “And if you’re successful, you know things will change.”
“Of course I do. I’ll have my mom.”
“Not that.” He glances away, pain etched on his face. “Your life will change. Our life.”
My brow furrows. “What are you trying to say?”
“What if we don’t know each other anymore?  What if we lose each other?”
The idea quickens my pulse. I brush his soft hair off his brow. “It won’t. Nothing could change how I feel about you.”
Doubt mars his face. I lean forward and brush my lips against his. Passion comes quick as our lips part, searching each other. I wrap my arms around his neck as he lifts his body onto the bed beside me. He kisses my jaw and rests his head against mine.
“I don’t want to lose our future, Lara. Are you willing to risk everything you know for this?”
Rather than answer him, I lay my head on his shoulder. He wraps his arms around me. I’m cocooned and safe.
Despite it all, the answer is yes.
Action

Locker 63.
My eyes sweep aisle after aisle until I find the one I’m looking for. It’s blue and unassuming, but it could unlock the secret to everything. I lick my lips as I insert the key, close my eyes, and with a prayer, twist.
Click.
The door opens, and inside I find more than documents. There’s also a pink hoodie, a duffle bag, and a fresh change of clothes.
What was I preparing for? What was I doing? I open the manila envelope on the bottom and flip through the documents—a lot of reports, surveillance photos, old newspaper clippings. I don’t have time to go through all of it now, so I stash them in my duffle bag and throw on some new clothes.
A tight-fitting t-shirt, pink hoodie, and comfortable blue jeans are my new outfit. It’s a weird choice for trendy, sophisticated Lara, but she was up to something big. Real big.
I lift the hidden duffle bag out of the locker, surprised at how hefty it is. I unzip it and find money inside. A lot of money. I touch it. Must be thousands of dollars bound together in neat little stacks.
My heart quickens as I wonder where it came from and what I was planning to do with it. If ever there was a moment for a flashback, it's now. A shining blue cell phone at the bottom of the duffle bag catches my attention. I pull it out and see a note stuck to it. In my handwriting.
Hide in the shower. Move fast.
Wide eyed and with a pounding heart, I slam the locker, grab everything, and run down the hall. I turn into the showers and duck into a stall, the vinyl shower curtain flapping against me. I still it with trembling fingers as I hear heavy steps enter the locker room.


Romance

I cover my head as a set of tires squeal. Donovan’s sports car pulls up on the curb to cover me. I dive into the passenger seat, my head down low and scream, “Go!”
Donovan peels away from the curb in a 180 and drives back the way he came. His eyes stay on the road, but his hand squeezes mine. “You all right?”
I nod and clutch the duffle bag to my chest. “Keep driving.”
“Where?” His eyes flash from the road to me.
“Police station. I need you to drop all this stuff off in case I don’t return.”
Anxiety creeps into his voice. “Return? Return from where?”
“The past.”
“Lara, you’re not making any sense.”
“I know, and I’m sorry.” I bite my lip. “There’s no time to explain. I need to fix all of this so my dad was never framed and Molly was never kidnapped, and there’s only one way to do that. I need to go back to the beginning.”
Donovan drives under an old abandoned bridge. He cuts the engine and turns to me. His eyes study me, and I study him because I’m afraid the next time I see him, he won’t love me at all.
“How do we do that? Do we need to get into Rewind?”
I shake my head and stroke his cheek. “Not anymore.”
The features of his face are drawn together. “You never make things dull, you know that?”
I laugh and lean over. In the background, sirens wail and I hear a rush of footsteps. “Remember me when I’m gone.”
“Don’t talk like this. I could never forget you, Lara.”
When our lips meet, the moment is magical. I feel warm everywhere in the blanket of his love, understanding, and compassion. My mind opens up, and suddenly I remember everything.
Everything.
I wish to stay with him forever. I grip his jacket, and his arms squeeze me tight.
But in my mind, I see an alley.


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