Shannon here: Contemporary Romance author, Staci Stallings shares an excerpt from her book: Dreams by Starlight. Comment on any post dated May 9th – 13th for a chance to win your choice of three of her books, including Dreams by Starlight. Deadline: May 13th, 11:59 PM central time. Here’s Staci:
Excerpt from Dreams by Starlight by Staci Stallings
Camille squeezed her eyes closed and fought to make herself disappear. She should’ve paid more attention at that magic show she’d seen when she was five.
“I want you to face each other and count to fifty very slowly—looking directly into your partner’s eyes the entire time.”
Camille’s gaze was fixed on his shoes, and for the life of her she couldn’t figure out how she was ever going to get it to move again.
“It’s okay.” Jaylon tilted his head as if he were talking to a frightened animal. “I don’t bite.”
For a brief second her gaze traveled up to his as she laughed, but it dropped back down again. Trying not to think about what she was about to do, she swallowed once and then forced her gaze back up to his as she pushed her glasses up on her nose.
“Go,” Mrs. Allen said.
Biting her bottom lip, Camille stared into his eyes. The blue pools, the high cheekbones, the wisps of hair—all met in perfect unison.
“Eight, nine, ten,” Jaylon counted as his mouth moved in slow methodical motion.
She shifted her shoulders struggling to break the spell his gaze cast over her, but there was no breaking this spell.
Never in her life had she looked into anyone’s eyes for a full minute. Most of the time she did everything she could not to get caught in someone else’s sights. Just keep moving, keep your head down, and they won’t notice you’re there. That was her motto. For most of the last ten years, they were the words she had lived by. Until this moment.
Then her thoughts shifted from her own to those staring back from his eyes. She wasn’t sure what she had expected to find in his eyes exactly—arrogance, cruelty, superiority—but not one of that was hidden anywhere in the pools of blue. Staring back from the depths of his eyes was the same fear and uneasiness her own spirit felt.
His voice was so soft. It sounded like a breeze brushing past her, and she wondered how she had ever lived before hearing him in this way.
Their gazes held for one more moment.
“Good,” Mrs. Allen said, breaking the spell between them and jerking both gazes across the stage.
Camille ran a damp palm down the front of her jeans and readjusted her glasses.
“Now I want the partners to find a place in the auditorium. Not necessarily on stage. I’m going to give you five minutes. I want you to find a topic and discuss it, but I want you to do it looking into each other’s eyes as much as possible.”
Camille’s toe made an arc around her other foot. She still hadn’t recovered from the first exercise, and five minutes was far different than one.
“How about if we go over here?” Jaylon pointed to the stairs as he reached out and touched her elbow.
His touch carried a jolt of electricity with it, and she had to force herself to shrug and walk to the stage steps nonchalantly. She sat on the third step from the bottom, but when he followed her down, her knee tensed so as not to touch his.
“You may begin,” Mrs. Allen said.
Jaylon tilted his head to the side to look at her. “Any suggestions?”
“Umm, I don’t know. Classes?” She felt the pained look cross her face as her hand tugged at the heel of her shoe.
“Okay.” He paused a beat. “Umm, you have to look at me, remember?”
“Oh, y-yeah.” She stumbled over the words as she forced her gaze back to his.
Looking back at her was sincere interest. “So, what’s your favorite class?”
She smiled as her entire body instantly relaxed. “Math.”
“Math?” he asked in surprise.
“Yeah. Why? Is that so hard to believe?”
“Well, no. I guess not, but I hate math.” He ran his fingers through his hair to push it back out of his face. “I’m just surprised anybody likes it.”
“You hate it?” This was supposed to be hard. Why wasn’t it? “But it’s so fascinating.”
“Fascinating?” He wrinkled his nose. “I can think of another word for it.”
“Oh, yeah? What’s that?”
She laughed and shook her head. “No, now you’re talking about drama.”
Her gaze dropped from his to her shoestrings. With a shove she forced her gaze back up although this time it didn’t lock on his. Instead it wandered around the stage and the auditorium at the other partners.
“How can you not like drama?” he asked in genuine confusion. “Drama is awesome.”
Her eyebrows raised as she looked back at him in open-eyed mortification. “Not when you’re me. It isn’t.”
About the book: If the world’s a stage and each of us plays a part, then Camille Wright is the high school wallflower that nobody remembers and only the bullies ever knew was there. However, her headlong dash to Princeton’s Aerospace Engineering program crashes to a heart-jarring halt when in order to “round out all those math classes,” she is unwillingly signed up for drama class. Awkward, shy, and quiet, Camille struggles to stay part of the wall even under the bright lights. But sometimes where you want to be isn’t where you were destined to be at all.
Learn more about Staci at: http://www.stacistallings.com
Come back May 13th for a final excerpt from Staci’s book: Lucky.