Excerpt from ARROWS

YA myth adaptation, 60,000 words

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” – Plato’s The Symposium

Chapter 1

Aaryn

I saved my arrows for last.

It was a warm night on Earth for my first assignment. Phoebe, my mentor, worked from the shadows, her slender body appearing indestructible as she lifted her bow, her skin like milk.

“Aaryn,” Phoebe said. She gestured with her chin. “Those two.” Golden shivers of light passed through the arrow she notched into her bow, and when she retracted, the fletching made a dent against the apple of her cheek. Her coal-lined eyes focused on two teens standing by the door of the high school.

Even though we were invisible, the teens seemed nervous. The girl cast little glances at her date, who was busy wiping his palms down his suit pants.

Phoebe paused.

Narrowed her gaze.

With a snap, a glittery path tore through the air. The arrow disintegrated with a burst of light through the boy’s tie.

Phoebe slid a cool glance in my direction. I’d never experienced the arrows like that. I’d devoured the class material and studied more than I would ever admit. Now, right before my eyes, love was beginning to unfold. The punch of my heart seemed to chase the next shot.

Phoebe placed a second arrow against the silver wire and brought the girl into her sights. The arrow flew and disappeared. Direct hit.

The teens held each other for a long time. They kissed. The whole thing was amazing, really. Two humans who hadn’t even reached adulthood, who’d barely started to learn about life, and they’d already found their soul mate. In Lakefield, Wisconsin, of all places. I grinned and adjusted the quiver between my feet to steady it.

“That was intense,” I said.

Phoebe sat on the curb with an absent shrug of her thin shoulder. “You’re up.” Above us, the sky was black and overcast in spots.

“I’m going to check out the school,” I said.

“Patience,” Phoebe said. Her black hair fell over one eye as she leaned forward over her knees. She was plugged into The Hive, scanning statuses from home and flipping through photos. I didn’t have the luxury of zoning out yet. I still had my arrows. Then.

There.

A girl’s voice. I straightened a bit too quickly, knocking my quiver to the side in my haste. Phoebe looked up with one side of her mouth smiling.

“Steady now, stud.”

My face burned, but I couldn’t let attention from a junior goddess distract me. With a steel-like grip on my bow, I watched the girl and her date amble toward the parking lot. If their profiles were in line with arrow protocol, they would soon claim their destiny as my first match.

I stared evenly into Phoebe’s eyes. “Give me the passcode and I’ll download their profiles.”

She half-laughed. “Profiles? No one actually uses those, Aaryn.”

“What do you mean?” Music filled the silence. “You’re serious?”

Phoebe nodded. “Dead.”

“But how will I know if they’re compatible for each other?”

“You won’t know. It’s called a shortcut. Now hurry up and shoot before they get too far.”

My stomach dropped. What about the shy couple she’d shot earlier? What if they hadn’t been totally compatible? What if the girl had planned to leave Lakefield, or was secretly in love with someone else? Too late now.

I hesitated, then reached for an arrow. In my hand, the tube glowed brightly, a steady, vibrant orange. “Hey, check this out,” I said, showing Phoebe. “Ever seen an arrow lit up like this before it’s shot?”

“It’s fine,” she said.

Had she even looked?

The girl’s voice grew closer, closer, and then she and her date came into view underneath the powerful parking lot light. She wore a pale pink dress that melted into her skin tone, her hair a mass of loose, tumbly curls. She tripped a little, falling against the guy, some idiot wearing a suit coat and baseball cap, a real romantic. Phoebe stood up and edged beside me. The light from my arrow cast shadows beneath her eyes.

“Do it,” she urged.

The boy’s voice carried into the darkness. “You’re so sexy, Karma,” he said. He lured her against him, massaging her back as they kissed, his hands creeping lower and lower until they curved over her ass.

I closed one eye. Everything around me blurred except the girl. The moment I’d waited for had come. The metal between my fingers, glowing, the power to change someone’s life forever. My chest felt like it was going to explode.

I let go.

The arrow melted into the girl’s back, a bull’s eye shot. The effect was immediate. She gasped when the kiss ended and gazed into Cap Boy’s eyes. Smiled softly. I knew the enchantment was working and grabbed for my last arrow.

“What the hell –” I held the arrow up. It wasn’t glowing. I shook it, like that might help. “How’d this get in here?”

“Huh, that’s weird,” Phoebe said. She took the blunt arrow and slid the end against her finger, her face serious.

“Yeah, very weird,” I said.

First no passcode, and now a useless practice arrow? Was she trying to sabotage my first night on purpose? I froze as Cap Boy began to lead his lovesick date into the back of a pick-up truck, closing the door of the topper behind them.

“We have to go back for an arrow,” I said.

Instantaneously, our eyes met as we scanned The Hive for the arrow ration house site. Focus hours of operation.

I was seven minutes too late.

“Dammit!” I threw the blunt arrow toward the gutter where it bounced against the concrete. “How the hell could this happen?”

“You didn’t let your pack out of your sight, right?” Phoebe said.

I held my breath. I couldn’t tell her who I’d seen outside the ration house.

Who I thought I’d seen.

***

Email: melissa (at) peaceandprojects (dot) com

For fun: Check out my ARROWS inspiration board on Pinterest.

(NOTE: This excerpt is being published to coincide with the #PitMad Twitter contest. If YA books aren’t your thing, don’t worry. I’ll be back next week with a regular posting schedule and update.)

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.

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