In the Shadows

I was five when I knew something was different about me.

My first memory.

I had no recollection of who my parents were or what they even looked like. All I knew was that I was alone at the orphanage, disconnected from the outside world. I picture it even now, almost like an oil painting: the thick bristles of the paintbrush created the bright blue sky as it connected to the shockingly white snow. The snow blanketed everything around me, as if protecting me, the green forest displayed at every angle.

The orphanage was out of place in such a nature-infused environment. A large, two-story building, its windows seemed to cover almost every surface. I remembered the brightness of the sun as it hit my sleepy face through one of those many windows. It would instantly warm my body, greeting me to yet another day.

Vines covered old gray bricks as they coursed over the external surface of the orphanage. I had nightmares about those same vines making their way into my room as I slept. They’d appear ominously as their shadows pounded against the walls, taunting me as a storm brewed on outside. Venturing toward my bed, the vines would slither across my body, trapping me in place. One would wrap around my neck, squeezing tightly, as I struggled for air. Rendered frozen, the feeling of fear would take hold, bubbling up deep inside my chest. And as I felt the burning pain in my throat, a thought would flash through my mind of thismoment being my last. It never was, though, as I would instantly wake up.

I always did have a wild imagination.

To chase away the terror, I would stand before my windowpane the morning after. Sighing in relief, my eyes would be drawn to the vast forest off in the distance. It surrounded the orphanage, like a gatekeeper, the leaves of the trees bristling in irritation. The wind blew right through those tall structures, whistling, as my ears picked up the all too familiar sound.

I somehow found myself standing directly in front of that very forest. My memory was hazy on exactly how I got there but I recalled waking up, after one of my many dreams, to the feeling of immense hunger as my body stirred in discomfort.

Then suddenly I was at the foot of the forest.

I would not describe the sensation as simple hunger. I would almost describe it as a feeling of starvation, like there was some essential component my body was missing. Whatever it was, this need was so powerful I was weak in the knees with the pain; my belly contracted and released, contracted and released, continually. Food provided temporary relief for me, but there was always this presence in the corner of my mind as my brain searched for the one thing my body craved.

I ignored that nagging voice in my head, the one whispering for the one thing I needed. It was something unfathomable yet inherent. I paid it no attention and just openly stared at the forest beckoning me. Taking shallow breaths, the cool air blew in and out between my cold, chapped lips.

It was at that exact moment I realized the forest isolated me from everything and everyone outside of its confines—almost like a hungry bird circling its prey. Even young, my instincts picked up on that, immediately telling me something.

Eyes were watching me.

…………………

Excerpt from Dahlia, available on Amazon and other ebook retailers.

Demons

Demons.

We all had them. Some of us were just able to deal with them more than others. Sometimes it was merely an annoyance, like a bee buzzing near your ear that you wanted to swat away. It’d eventually lead to a sharp sting if you weren’t careful.

Other times, demons buried you so deep you were unable to climb out of the hellhole you’d been tossed into. At least, not without someone offering a helping hand.

My demons lived with me, enveloped me and kept me warm like a fur winter coat. Embraced me like a comforting hug from a friend. Caressed me like a lover. My demons planted a seed inside me and slowly grew like a beautiful poisonous flower.

Now that they’d blossomed, my existence had only just begun.

…………………

Excerpt from Never Letting Go, available on Amazon and other ebook retailers.

Cover Reveal: Never Letting Go

Never Letting Go (Delphian, 1)
By Christina Channelle

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age Category: Mature Young Adult
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
NLG

Synopsis:

It’s hard piecing things together after waking up in a random apartment with no memory of who you are, surrounded by mostly welcoming strangers. The only thing remaining of her past is the tattooed name imprinted on her skin. But with no place to go, these strangers decide to take her in and name her Mia.

Inexplicable things start happening to Mia within the four walls of her confinement, including her presently mute status, strange abilities, and secretive roommates harboring their own hidden agendas. With a serial killer on the loose, this apartment is her only place of refuge.

But when she finally remembers who she really is, her refuge is no longer safe. Mia wakes up to find out her name isn’t Mia at all, and that her life is nothing but a walking tragedy. Her previous actions of refusing to let go of the only person with the power to break her heart leaves dire consequences.

Especially since it involved striking a deal with the devil.


Excerpt:

I never believed in it, love at first sight. It seemed foolish, like something you’d see in a romantic comedy or read in a book. Those standard happily-ever-afters that leave you crying yet grinning ear to ear as the “love interest” of the day declares his deep and undying devotion to the heroine of the story—the sun setting, a burst of doves flying above their heads at that precise moment when the director yells, “Cut!”

Or maybe it was butterflies.

I thought love was something you had to nurture, to grow. Falling in love with your best friend would be a prime example. So I looked to my parents as a model to what love truly was, being childhood sweethearts and all. What else was I supposed to do? Mom and Dad had been gaga over each other: whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears day and night; writing love letters back and forth, and leaving them in secret places for the other to find around the house. Or simply holding hands as they strolled side by side in the middle of a park, me trailing after them from behind. All this was my inspiration for true love. That is, before each of my parent’s untimely deaths.

Tragic, I’ve been told.

My goal when it came to love was to mirror what Mom and Dad had. I thought that one day, I, too, would fall in love with my best friend—with Liam. Only this time, we would both live until our children and grandchildren stared back at us in awe.

So no, I didn’t believe in love at first sight. That is, not until I met him. After that, I would have believed anything—hand to God. And I would have followed him anywhere, even straight to Hell.

Trip Down Memory Lane

Do you remember what it was like to be in eighth grade?

“Callaghan!”

I startled and turned at the sound of the male voice, heart hammering in my chest. I knew that voice from anywhere.

Owen Wilder. He was probably the most likable guy at school. He wasn’t the hottest, he wasn’t the tallest, or the biggest, but there was something about him that made every girl, from sixth grade to eighth, swoon at even the mention of his name.

Including me.

Maybe it was his quirky grin, or the fact that he’d always pick the smallest kid when picking teams. Or the air of confidence that he took with each step, which was crazy for someone our age to have. But there was something about Owen that made everyone pause as you tried to figure him out.

We were at the stage in life where everyone seemed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Hannah was currently seeing Scott (boyfriend number five). Despite being fourteen, Hannah was a serial dater and I could never keep up with whether Tim had been last week’s or last month’s boyfriend. According to her, she had to practice dating now so she’d be ready for when it was really important.

Mateo had recently been dating Kiera before she kissed another guy at the talent show and they had quickly split, leaving Matty crushed for weeks. He presently wanted to experience the “single life”, not particularly in the mood for backstabbing girls.

But I had never seen Owen with anyone.

I wondered if he was gay like Star, my cousin’s BFF, and just didn’t want to say anything to anyone yet. But no matter what kind of rumors circulated about Owen in school, he was as popular as ever with the girls, perhaps even more so with the possibility that he might be gay.

Many would envy the girl or guy who would snatch Owen Wilder.

I stood from my crouched position in front of these purple tulips and tried my darndest not to show how nervous I was.

“Hey, Callaghan,” he said, approaching me. “What are you doing?”

He dressed simply in a graphic t-shirt and jeans, holding his skateboard at his side.

I held up my phone. “Taking pictures.”

He nodded, noticing the rabbits nearby then grinned, eyes back on me. “Where are your sidekicks?”

I sighed. “They’re not my sidekicks, they’re my friends. Hannah and Mateo are at the mall.”

“And why aren’t you with them?”

“I’m waiting for my sister.”

He nodded then paused, brushing his dark hair off his face. “You want me to wait with you?”

My shoulders raised in reflex despite feeling nervous as ever inside. “If you want.”

…………………

 Excerpt from Four Letters in Reverse, available on Amazon

Let’s Talk Four Letters

Let’s talk Four Letters. A series that was first viewed on Wattpad when it wasn’t a series at all, but a rant. Jade Reamer was created when I was in a pissy mood, let’s be honest. Writing was a way to direct all my energy towards and it worked: Those Four Letter Words was created. Now as I’ve said numerous times before, this was nothing more than a rant that developed into me posting weekly chapters online when I realized I had a story. It was a short and sweet novella and I loved it because I enjoy writing short stories since I have a tendency for my mind to wander.

That was it. Those Four Letters Words was over and done.

But apparently Jade’s story wasn’t over. Apparently people liked my little novella and wanted more. And I guess I had more to write.

Enter Jaded Little Lies. My attempt of writing my longest book ever, about 70,000 words. You might be laughing at this moment: 70,000 words? Really, that’s it? Well, like I said, I write short stories: DWI, Reap, Fallen Tears, and Those Four Letter Words are all short stories/novellas. It’s kind of my thing. Dahlia and Rowan are my longest at about 50,000 and 60,000 roughly. So I had it in my head that I had to go long or go home for my next book, and that fell on Jaded Little Lies, my current WIP.

It’s my NaNoWriMo book. I figured it be the perfect time to get back to a story that yes, capped at 30,000. I don’t know if this is with other writers, but I don’t write linearly. I’ve written the beginning and I know exactly what’s going to happen in the end that I thought, why wait, and wrote that as well. It’s the middle that I’m working on. I’m probably the most disorganized writer but I guess that’s what works for me. So I may not be on the NaNoWriMo schedule, but I’m doing my best, and hoping that my goal of finishing this story by the end of the year is a success.

After Jaded Little Lies, I’m planning to write more stories in the series, one featuring Bryn and the other, Connor. Who knows what will come after that.

I’ll leave you with a excerpt from JLL.

Disclaimer: it’s unedited.

I swear I cried for two weeks straight when my best friend moved away when I was five. Allison was her name. She was this petite half Korean, half Jewish girl with the prettiest hair ever and the softest voice that almost sounded lyrical. I remembered the first time I met her. I actually stepped on her hair as she sat on the front steps of the school, waiting for her mom to pick her up.

The moment I realized the tips of my runners were planted on long, luscious black hair, I squawked, backing up.

“Sorry,” I exclaimed.

She turned her face toward me and by the trembling of her lips, I knew I’d be in trouble unless I did something.

“Don’t cry! Please don’t cry. I already made Tyler Price cry this week and mom will be super mad with me if it was two in a week.” I sat down next to her and wiped the potential dirt off the ends of her hair.

“What’s your name, anyway?” I asked, staring into dark eyes which, thankfully, were no longer tearful.

“Allison Ma.”

“Hi, Allison. I’m Jade Reamer, please to meet you.” I raised my hand for her to shake.

She looked at my hand hesitantly before taking my hand in hers.

“Hi.”

I grinned at her. “You don’t talk much, do you?”

“Yes.”

“That’s okay. I can do enough talking for the both of us.”

We were inseparable for that short year, doing everything together. But Allison’s family moved a lot and their time was up in my little old town, her dad getting a position in his company overseas.

Perhaps if she’d have left now, we’d still be in touch with all the social networks out there and texting. But it wasn’t and I cried myself to sleep because my bestie was halfway around the world and even at that young age, I knew she’d eventually forget me.

“Jade, keep your chin up.”

I had been sitting on one of the chairs in the backyard, staring at all the kids that were currently in our swimming pool. Ten-year-old Bryn had decided to invite the entire neighborhood, including Reed, his best friend since forever and was like another brother to me. He wasn’t as yucky as Bryn’s other friends.

Reed was the one talking about my chin.

“It is up,” I said with a frown.

He laughed, taking a seat next to me. He shook his long hair out of his face. “It’s a figure of speech my dad likes to say. ‘Keep your chin up, Reed.’ He says that to me whenever I’m sad or disappointed, like when I miss a shot in baseball. To not be sad.”

“But I can’t help being sad.” I bit my inner lip to prevent tears from falling.

“You’ll make other friends.”

“I don’t want any other friends. I was good with just Allison and Bryn. What am I gonna do now?”

“Well you have me, Jade, you know that. Just call me your Allison.”

I cracked a smile as I stared up into his face. “You don’t look like an Allison.”

“Good. How about I just be your Reed then?” He offered a hand my way.

It was the same thing I had done with Allison but there was no hesitation when I took his hand.

He pulled me forward and picked me up, bringing me toward the other kids. Bryn looked our way, hazel eyes dancing in mischief.

“Throw her in, Reed! Let’s see if Jade sinks or swims.”

Before I could even scream in protest, Reed did as he was told. And as Reed threw me in amongst all the cheers, I wasn’t scared at all. For a moment, I knew what it felt like to fly.

And it was because of Reed.

…………………

Excerpt from Jaded Little Lies by Christina Channelle, release date Spring 2015

Sneak Peek of Reap

I opened my eyes but had to squeeze them shut against the harsh lights. My lids felt swollen, heavy with fatigue. My eyes burned, tears leaking from their corners.

It was the most uncomfortable of feelings.

I must have been dreaming.

“Hello?”

Although the word seemed alien to me, almost as if I had never heard it before, I instantly understood its meaning. The voice that had spoken was warm, making me feel as if I were suddenly sitting in front of a fireplace, wrapped in a heavy blanket, flames crackling. The heat of the word practically licked my skin.

Again, I tried opening my eyes, this time a bit more cautiously. Blinking, I slowly adjusted to the artificial lights, now able to see.

I found myself staring back into a pair of bright blue eyes, a look of wariness in their depths. For a brief moment I couldn’t look away as I stared up at him. Then he cleared his throat and glanced away, as if uncomfortable with my gaze. With the spell of his eyes broken, it was then that I noticed I was lying on the ground—no, on hardwood floor.

And with not one, but three interested faces peering down at me.

I sat up, then winced at the abruptness of my movement, bringing my hand to the back of my head.

Pain, my mind whispered.

“Careful now.”

I directed my eyes toward the person who had spoken such kind words. It was the first person I had noticed, the one with the blue eyes and the warm voice. His voice was deep and calming, and as I sat there I tried to think of the emotion I should be experiencing. Inhaling softly, I closed my eyes, ignored the painful throb in my head, and waited for the proper term to flutter into my mind.

Gratitude.

“Where did you come from?”

Satisfied I had found the correct word, I opened my eyes again to the voice speaking to me. It was a pleasant voice, reassuring to say the least, and immediately captured my attention.

At that moment, I didn’t notice the black hair atop his head, a striking contrast against his blue eyes that looked like I was staring into an ocean. I didn’t notice that the corners of his eyes crinkled up when he smiled kindly at me, complementing the single dimple in his right cheek. By just looking at him, anyone could tell that he was someone who knew how to laugh. But I didn’t notice any of that.

All those things I would notice later.

I stared at the corner of his lips as he continued to speak, not toward me, but to the others present in the room. “Guys … I don’t think she understands a word I’m saying,” he mumbled softly, as if afraid I’d be insulted at the notion of not comprehending him.

“I like her,” stated the girl kneeling next to him. She looked quite outrageous wearing a short black dress with a black choker wrapped around her neck, pink shiny embezzlements adorning it. Her white-blonde hair was extremely long, almost past her lower back. I directed my gaze to her face and found blue eyes staring down at me.

Her eyes were identical to the man’s.

“It’s always the silent ones we should be weary of.” The words themselves were harsh, but as I looked to my right I was greeted by a kind smile with equally kind brown eyes behind wire-framed glasses. They belonged to a man casually sitting on a couch, his shoulder-length dark brown hair tied back. As he continued to stare, he tilted his head to the side as if analyzing a computer software program that wouldn’t work properly.

I guess I was the computer software program.

“James, help me out, will you?” the man with the blue eyes asked calmly. The man on the couch, James, stood up and slowly sauntered over to my side, then both he and the blue-eyed man grabbed my arms and brought me to my feet. I didn’t protest, shuffling alongside them as we entered a kitchen, where they placed me on a wooden chair next to a table.

Sinking down into the hard chair, I averted my eyes downwards and focused on a crack on the wooden table. I knew I was still being stared at, three pairs of eyes boring holes into the crown of my head.

It was difficult not to look up but I managed. I needed a distraction, so I started to trace the crack on the table instead, feeling the texture of the wood as it scraped against my skin.

I find wood to be … quite rough in manner.

“Here you go.” That calming voice spoke once again and I looked up to find a glass of orange juice placed in front of me. It was at that instant that I realized that I was thirsty. I reached for the glass, instinctively bringing the rim to my lips. The juice was cool down my throat.

Refreshing.

This was familiar: the taste of juice in my mouth. Closing my eyes, I licked my lips slowly, trying to memorize this feeling. Perhaps if I stayed like this long enough, I would be brought back to that time of familiarity….

“Yo, Briggs!” James voice beamed through the room and I startled, setting the glass on the table. I hadn’t noticed the front door had opened—I believe an apartment building was where we were located—and a new presence had entered the room. I looked over to where a figure stood by the stairs, utterly still. Although we were indoors, he wore sunglasses. And even though I couldn’t see his eyes, I knew they stared directly at me, hard as stone.

He didn’t like me.

If the man with the blue eyes was warm like a fire on a cold winter day, this man was like the wood I had just caressed: rough, jagged.

Broken. 

Excerpt from Reap, originally published October 11, 2013. Reap has been since republished, along with Sow, under the title, Never Letting Go.