Title: FORGET ME NOT (Book One)
Author: Stacey Nash
Series: The Collective
Published by: Harper Collins
Date published: August 1, 2014
Genres: speculative fiction
Book Length: 277 pages
Main Characters: Annamae and Jax
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Anamae is drawn into a world which shatters everything she knew to be true.
Since her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother’s favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. They’re not just jewellery, they’re part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewellery’s power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the device – and silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she’s Enemy Number One.
She’s forced to leave her father behind when she’s taken in by a group determined to keep her safe. Here Anamae searches for answers about this hidden world. With her father kidnapped and her own life on the line, Anamae must decide if saving her dad is worth risking her new friends’ lives. No matter what she does, somebody is going to get hurt.
Stacey Nash writes adventure filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. When her head isn’t stuck in a fictional world, she calls the Hunter Valley of New South Wales home. It is an area nestled between mountains and vineyards, full of history and culture that all comes together to create an abundance of writing inspiration. Stacey loves nothing more than writing when inspiration strikes.
Note: this interview with Jax and Annamae appeared on my blog, Stephanie Wardrop, YA Author:
While I don’t want to give TOO much away (because you’ll want to read it for yourself), I had the honor of chatting with two of the main characters, Mae and Jax, and I’d like you to meet them, as well. When I asked them how they met, I could tell right away theirs was an unusual (and pretty enviable) relationship:
Anamae glances toward Jax. “He teleported into my bedroom, scared the life out of me and left again all in a matter of minutes. Most terrifying experience of my life.”
“I saved your ass, cupcake. Damsel in distress.” He winks at her. “Yeah, that was her and I was the knight.”
“All lies, Jax. I had everything under control and you’re no knight.”
I didn’t want to give too much away but wondered when they first noticed a change in feelings toward one another. Mae did not mince words:
“At first he was an ass—”
“You thought I was pretty hot right from the start, I could tell.”
Anamae punches him in the arm. “You’re full of yourself; which is exactly why I didn’t like you. Not until I pried underneath this…” She waves her hand toward him. “…whole bad boy act you’ve got going on.”
“Whatever, cupcake.” He raises an eyebrow. “I liked her from the first time I saw her, she’s beautiful, and smart, and…”
“And what?” Mae smiles.
Wanting to see how cute this could get, I asked them, “If you had one word (and one word only) to describe each other, what would that word be and why?”
Anamae leans back on the couch. “Annoying.”
“You love it.”
Their gazes meet, and their smiles grow.
“Mae’s strong. She’s got an inner strength that I admire. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks; she’ll fight for what she believes regardless.”
You guys, Stacey’s given us almost all of chapter one here! Enjoy:
It’s not getting any easier to tell my mother what’s happened, what she’s missed, what’s been going on in my life. It’s not getting any easier to survive each day without her. It’s not getting any easier to think of her and not cry. Elbow on my writing desk and chin cupped in my hand, I stare at the yellow notepaper. The lines across it are as empty as my pounding head. The spot where the tip of my favorite pen touches is marked by a growing dot, evidence that there are no right words.
It’s sure as heck not getting any easier.
Hoping to find inspiration, I glance at the photo waiting to be slipped into the envelope with this letter. Normally I put aside a nature shot for her, but this one’s a ‘selfie’ of me and Will. His sandy hair looks kind of messy the way it falls into his bright eyes, and his arm, resting over my shoulders so naturally, pulls us close together. Our grins say more than words ever can.
Twirling the pen between my fingers, I gaze out the window at the soft autumn afternoon and daydream about what to write. A distant clang like metal against metal sounds from outside. Will must be at it again. I shoot up, lean over the desk, and raise the window, letting a rush of warm air brush my face.
His jean clad legs stick out from under the hood of a beat-up car parked in their yard.
That car is like a full time job, he works on it so often now. He backs out and hoists a motor, or something, onto his shoulder, lifting like it weighs no more than his kid sister. He looks up, catches me watching him, and grins. I wave and, with a sigh, plonk back into the chair, dropping my gaze to the blank sheet in front of me. I really want to write her.
For nine years I’ve been writing these letters and placing them in my top drawer with a photo. It’s become a yearly tradition. At least if we ever find Mom, she’ll know what my life’s been like.
Nothing comes to me. None of the thoughts ambling through my mind are quite right, so I drop the pen, pinch my lips together, and tap my fingers on the desk in a sharp rhythm that cuts through my aching head. I need the right words.
I last saw her on an ordinary March school day the year I was eight. She packed my lunch, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and waved goodbye. I climbed into the bus. As she stood on the curb, she didn’t look happy or sad, scared or frightened—just the same as any other day.
Heaviness squeezes my chest and makes each inhalation of breath hurt. I’ve played that day back in my mind over and over, analyzed every detail: her wave, her smile, her words, her haunted look.
Did she know it was goodbye?
Not knowing leaves a complete emptiness inside me. Knowing if she’s alive or dead, or why she hasn’t come back would make it so much easier. Especially since Dad barely mentions her anymore, and no matter how many times I turn her photos around, they continue to spin and face the wall. I guess it’s just too hard for him.
I shake my head in an effort to expel the memories, but it’s no use. The lines on the paper blur, my eyes slide shut, and it hurts too much. I can’t do this right now. Grabbing my camera off the desk, I slam the window shut and run down the stairs, shouting to Dad, “I’ll be back for dinner.”
“Wait. Can you grab milk?”
He walks out of the kitchen, a five dollar bill pinched between his fingers. I pluck it from his outstretched hand and turn to leave, but his hand closes over my shoulder, spinning me around. “Everything okay?”
I close my eyes and expel a long breath. He won’t want to hear it, so there’s no point sharing. “I miss her, too.”
He pulls me into his chest, and it’s too much. Tears roll down my cheeks, and I throw my arms around him, holding him as tight as I can while he runs a hand over my head. “Sweetheart.”
I cling to him. “It’s just…”
He holds me for a long time, until my tears stop. When I pull away, I rub the telltale streaks from my cheeks, and shove the money in my pocket. “Milk, right?”
He nods, and I turn for the door. “Anamae,” he says, “I love you, kid.”
A weak smile raises my lips. “Love you, too.”
Outside, I head straight to the white picket fence separating our yard from Will’s. He’s been my best friend since he moved here in the sixth grade, and I’m so grateful his parents decided quiet suburbia was a better place to live than the inner city. I slap my hands onto the flat tips and stretch over, calling, “Will.”
He peers around the corner of the house, and the sight of his smile is enough to rattle this awful mood.
“Sure. Two minutes.”
Fishing for weeds in the garden occupies the time while I wait. The Averys have the nicest yard on our street. A perfectly manicured lawn complete with stone statues and spiky plants in white pebble gardens. Will’s mom likes being fashionable and modern, obvious from the gravel now crunching under his feet. Appearances aren’t important. Sure it’s nice to look good, but it’s not the thing that matters most. That’s one of the things she just doesn’t get about me. I always wear faded jeans and comfy t-shirts, yet she constantly tries to dress me up. Make me look like a girl. Still, she’s been like a second mom to me. She even gave me The Talk. I just about died when I realized what was happening.
Will’s coming. “Hi, Mae.”
“Hey.” I grin. Love it when he shortens my name.
We stroll down our wide path and turn onto the next street. It’s only a few blocks from our street to a small cluster of shops. The short walk, fresh air, and Will’s banter help lighten my mood. The cafe comes into sight, and I grab his hand, dragging him across the road toward another storefront—an old shop. Aqua paint peels off the brick walls around huge glass windows, and two stories rise up above us. Like all the shops on this street, a big tin awning slants out over the pavement, and a balcony juts out above. Albert’s Second-Hand Treasures emblazons a window spanning the shop’s front. Through the window piles of odd stuff are visible, cluttering the inside. According to the kids at school, it’s evidence the old man who owns the store is a little unhinged, which earns this place the nickname, Crazy Al’s. But to me, it’s far more than that. ‘Crazy Al’s’ been a part of my life almost as long Will.
“Bet you can’t find the weirdest one today,” I say.
Will raises his brows and shoots me a look that says ‘you’re insane.’ “Really, this old game? I thought you wanted to get coffee.”
“Oh, come on. I need some childish fun.” I lean in toward him an smile. “Bet you can’t win.”
I also need to see Al, not to talk… just see him. His grandfatherly ways might make me feel better.
I drag Will toward the front door, and all the while he shakes his head and scuffs his heels. “Okay, but loser buys coffee,” he finally says, “and cake.”
He pushes me through the door, making the bell overhead jingle. As he heads toward a large table in the far corner of the shop, a small smile crosses my lips. Glancing toward the counter, I stop at a long bench and paw through ancient yellowing books and old jewelry scattering it in a disorganized mess. I’ve no idea how Al even knows what’s here.
Al raises his white-grey frizzy-haired head from the newspaper sprawled on the glass counter. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he throws me a warm smile which somehow makes me feel a little better.
Running my hand over the ‘treasures,’ I stop at a ceramic owl perched amongst the clutter on the table. When I turn it over in my hand, chubby little claws grip the sides of a skateboard. I hold it up so Will can see it. “Check this out.”
“A skating owl?” Will laughs. “I can top that.”
He holds up a book with the title Peanuts in Love. On the cover two peanuts hold hands, their cute little shell bodies in a sea of pink hearts.
“Not good enough.” I scan the table looking for something better and spot a pile of old movies scattered over the next table. I move them aside one by one, looking for a good title. Sunlight dances across the table and glints off something shiny. A blue flower with a yellow center. My heart jumps, the only part of me still moving. It can’t be. Surely Dad didn’t pawn it or give it to Al. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. It can’t possibly have been made into something else.
A small noise of surprise escapes my lax mouth, and a memory flashes into my mind: the pendant lying on Mom’s pillow the day she disappeared.
Will chuckles from the corner. I drag my gaze away from the flower brooch to see a bright pink pith hat sitting atop his sandy head. He eyes my open palm, which now holds the brooch. “You call that weird?”
I run my fingers over the cool glazed metal, and a lump grows in my throat. “It’s the same as the forget-me-not pendant Mom always wore.”
Not missing a beat, he raises his voice toward the back of the shop. “How much?”
Al pauses in his perusal of the paper, two fingertips touching his tongue as if to dampen them as he flicks a page over. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he clears his throat.
“Gosh, lad, for that?” I hold up the brooch, and Al squints at it. “It’s for Mae?” He smiles at me.
“Yep.” Will pulls his wallet out, and empties the coins into his cupped hand.
“Nothing,” Al says, then flicks his gaze to me. “Tell your Dad poker’s on tomorrow night. All the boys are coming.”
I return his smile with a nod. “Sure thing, Al.”
“Take care, Mae.” He doesn’t mention today’s Mom’s anniversary—the day she disappeared, but he doesn’t have to. Even though he never knew her, I’ve always suspected it’s why he took me and Dad under his wing. Especially after Nan died; her death upended the last slither of normalcy we had.
“No refunds….” Al says.
“Without magic,” I chime in on his usual farewell. No wonder people think he’s crazy, since he’s always saying stupid things. A sign hangs on the wall above the counter mimicking his words. No refunds without magic.
We walk out the door, and the bell jingles. “You owe me cake,” Will says.
“I do not. The brooch won.”
“No way, the peanuts definitely—”
“The peanuts did not beat the skating owl,” I say, and we both laugh.
I want to go home. I want to go straight to mom’s pendant. I want to compare it to this brooch, but I promised Will cake and coffee. He’d understand, but it wouldn’t be fair after dragging him out here. Although it makes me a little impatient, I’ll wait.
PLUS: Join Stacey and me Friday, August 1st at 8:30 PM EST for a Facebook release day bash! She’ll be chatting, introducing you to some author friends (like moi) and giving away some bling. I can’t promise you Mae’s mom’s pendant, but some pretty cool stuff.