Monday, July 15, 2013

The Traveling Story - Season 1 - Episode 2

I had the huge honor of being part of the first installment of the Traveling Story! We five authors have been biting our nails waiting to share this with all of you--I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


What is the Traveling Story?
5 Authors. 5 Days. 1 Story.
Each season of The Traveling Story will feature 5 well-known authors collaborating on one original, kick-ass story, with each author writing one of five episodes.
The full story will be revealed over the course of a week, with each episode appearing on the blog of the author who wrote it.
How Does it Work?
There are only three rules for The Traveling Story:
1) No brainstorming, outlining, or discussion of plot ahead of time. The first author writes the first episode of ANY kind of story they want and the next author picks up where that episode leaves off, taking it WHEREVER they want to go! The last author ends the story however they see fit!
2) An author cannot make changes to any previous episode. Each author has total creative control over their OWN episode only, but it has to continue where the last episode leaves off.
3) HAVE FUN! As you’ll see from the awesome story that came out of this, we don’t take ourselves too seriously! The Traveling Story is meant to be fun for the writers but especially for the readers!
Season 1 Authors:
Jessica Brody
Jessica Khoury
Emmy Laybourne
Lish McBride
Gretchen McNeil
*Don’t forget to LIKE The Traveling Story on Facebook where we’ll be posting links to EVERY episode, so you never miss out on a piece of the story!
And to further entice you, we’ll be giving away an awesome Traveling Story prize pack featuring a book from EACH of the season 1 authors (enter at the bottom of this post.)
I want to take a quick moment to say THANK YOU to author-extraordinaire Jessica Brody for her hard work in making this happen! She is the brains behind the whole operation and has gone the extra mile in making this story super special. *applause*

If you missed the first part of this story, find it now on Jessica Brody's blog!!

Don't forget to check out the Traveling Story Pinterest board!
And without further ado…here is THE TRAVELING STORY SEASON 1!

Episode 2

by Jessica Khoury

Keeping my eyes trained on the doors of the coffee shop, I leaned against the wall, out of the way of the rushing pedestrians that flowed up and down the street like blood rushing from an open wound, never stopping, never slowing, making my head ache. I hated New York. I could hear Gretchen’s words to me that morning, replaying like a song lyric in my head: Just hang in there, my boy, and get the job done, and you can be on a plane and out of there by midnight.

I flicked the watch on my wrist out from under the sleeve of my sports coat. 5:10. Just as Gretchen said he would, the guy I was tailing left the coffee shop sans one silver box, his hands in his pockets, girls practically dropping as he passed, their eyes mooning after him. He was in a hurry, jostling his way down the busy sidewalk, and he nearly bumped into a stroller pushed by a mom in jean capris and Crocs, to whom he apologized with his British accent. Cheesy as hell. And also as fake as the “Rolexes” the guy behind me was trying to sell to a pair of Korean tourists, but the mom didn’t seem to realize that. She blushed and ended up apologizing to him, but he’d already moved on, disappearing into the crowd. Whatever. I had it all on tape. I hit stop on the handheld recorder I’d been surreptitiously filming with and slipped it into the Jansport backpack I had slung over my shoulder. I wasn’t there for the so-called Brit; I was there for the box. And whatever sucker he’d passed it to.

I waited. I checked my watch again. 5:11. A group of hipsters ambled out of the coffee shop, but none of them seemed to be my target. One of them blinked at me over her faux-vintage sunglasses and said, “Nice scarf.” I scowled and my hand went to the keffiyeh around my neck, and she shrugged and pushed her glasses up her nose, turned to join her friends.

5:12. I shot a glance at the watch dealer. The Koreans must have caught on. They were moving away, but he was following them and waving a watch, all smiles and charm. Then he caught me looking and met my eyes—and my stomach jerked. His eyes shifted, just faintly, just for a breath of a moment, but enough for me to realize this was no New Yorker. This watch dealer was as phony as his goods. He wasn’t even from this galaxy.

I cursed myself inwardly for not seeing it sooner, because now that I knew what he was, I noticed all the signs—the limp in his step, the smell of burnt rubber, the way he flinched whenever someone walked by him. He was here for the same reason I was—that silver box, or rather what was inside it. And I’d rather die than let him lay one scaly finger on it.

“By all that is holy,” I muttered, fumbling for the camera, wishing it was a gun, not sure what I intended to do with it. “You frickin bast—“


The explosion of sound ripped the space where the watch dealer had been standing. I’d seen a teleport before, but never so close, and the sound is enough to stop your heart. There wasn’t any smoke or flames or that kind of movie-effect stuff; it’s just the guy was there—and then he wasn’t. The boom was the sound of the air closing in on the space where he had been and the dimension walls slamming shut behind him. At least, that’s what Gretchen theorized. And as I knew all too well, Gretchen had been wrong before.

Everyone around me was freaking out. They had to think it was a bomb or something, some terror attack, probably. There were people cowering behind trash cans, hydrants, running into and out of buildings, looking around in bewilderment as they wondered what they were supposed to be running from. No one seemed to have noticed the watch dealer’s sudden disappearance. My ears were ringing still, but I had to move. There was no way my target hadn’t heard the boom of the guy teleporting, and he—or she—would be on the move for sure. Several people were spilling out of the coffee shop, one of them a tall, built guy in leather and denim, his head tattooed. Could that be him? No way to tell. Too much confusion, too much noise. He headed north, away from me, and I leapt into action, rushing after.

But before I could get three steps, a girl came careening through the coffee shop doors and barreled straight into me with the force of a frickin rhinoceros. She and I tangled up, falling, yelling. My knees bit the concrete and my palms got all scuzzed up in that painful way that doesn’t look bad but hurts like hell. The camera flew out of my bag and skidded across the pavement, nearly getting trampled by a suited businessman.

“Are you crazy?” I asked, and at the same time, she said, “What was that noise?”

I grabbed the camera and thrust it back into my bag. There was still a lot of screaming and mayhem in the street. The tattooed baldie had disappeared. I cursed again, this time aloud. As I disentangled myself from the girl, I realized my keffiyeh was drawing some attention—narrow glares, suspicious whispers, pointing fingers. Typical Americans, assuming the nearest Arab had to be the terrorist. Then a hand slipped into my line of sight, distracting me from the stares turning my way.

It was the girl, standing over me and offering me a hand up, which I took. Leggy, brunette, enormous blue eyes behind oversized tortoiseshell glasses. Cute, in a kind of nerdy way. I found I was glad I hadn't smashed those glasses when I knocked her over. Which was stupid; I didn’t have time to hang around worrying about some clumsy chick’s glasses—I had to find my guy. Gretchen’s fury would be nothing compared to the consequences of that silver box falling into the wrong hands.

“Generally,” the girl was saying, her words background noise to the riot of panic in my head, “I like to at least know a guy’s name before he invites me to play Twister.”

“Rasul,” I said absently, and then I grimaced and pressed the tips of my fingers to the bridge of my nose. Of all the idiotic, rookie mistakes! The fall must have knocked my brain clean off its axis—I couldn’t believe I’d just spilled my name to her like that. For all I knew, she was my guy.

And that’s when my eyes dropped to her hands, to the silver box she was clutching.

“Ah,” I said slowly, my eyes fixed on the box as the chaos around me fell away, as if I were on a boat pulling swiftly away from a crowded shore. This is her? This is my target? I couldn’t believe it. She was no older than me—and as Gretchen all too often reminded me, even I was too young for this kind of job. I squinted at the girl. Maybe she was older than she looked. Maybe if she took off those glasses, she’d suddenly age ten years, changing identities Clark Kent style. If so, she was a hell of an agent—probably one of the best. “And what did you say your name was?”
She must have noticed me staring, because she looked down at the box. “Oh.” She paused, as if unsure how to reply. Then, lifting her face, her eyes confusedly tracking the mania behind me, she said, “Lucy. I’m Lucy.” As if she were reminding herself of it.

An alias if I ever heard one. The pause was a dead giveaway.

Well, whoever this Lucy really was, I’d royally screwed up by not only smacking into her but giving her my frickin name. If Gretchen could see me, she’d probably be hemorrhaging. I needed to follow this Lucy, see where she was taking the box, so we could finally figure out who we were up against here, what the competition was, but now she’d be spooked. She’d lay low, cover her tracks, and the trail would go cold.

“Some kind of car wreck?” she asked, her eyes still scanning the street. I turned, saw that things were starting to quiet down. Police had arrived and were sniffing around, a couple of them shooting me suspicious looks. Most of the spectators had grown bored and moved on, looking mildly disappointed the source of the noise hadn’t been something more interestingly destructive. Idiots. You’d think they’d rather it was a bomb or something.

But I knew better.

I knew the truth was much worse.

To be continued…

Follow the Traveling Story! Below is the post schedule:
Episode 1 – July 15 – Jessica Brody
Episode 2 – July 16 – Jessica Khoury
Episode 3 – July 17 –  Lish McBride
Episode 4 – July 18 – Gretchen McNeil
Episode 5 – July 19 – Emmy Laybourne
And as promised, here is the giveaway (Open Internationally)

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