Seventeen year old Ethan Cross’ life is already complicated, even before he saves the wrong person’s life. His parents are splitting, his brother looks like death warmed over, and his friend Tyler could be responsible for a local hit-and-run. He’s never had the guts to tell Carlee how he feels about her, and now she might be pregnant with someone else’s child. Then the meteorites he and Carlee found turn out to be alien technology, bringing his world to a crumbling halt.
Nothing is the same anymore, but Ethan hasn’t escaped his old problems. On the newly barren landscape, humans are as much of a threat as the alien invaders. Survival means making friends of enemies, risking loved ones’ lives, and extinguishing his hopes of Carlee ever falling in love with him. His brother Luke holds the key to their success, if they can figure out how to save their dwindling species in time. But defeating the alien invaders is not enough—Ethan has to battle Whitestone too, someone who would rather see him dead than victorious.
|Genre||Young Adult Science Fiction|
|Release||May 31, 2016|
|Tags||Young Adult, Science Fiction, Apocalypse, Alien Contact, Action, Alien Invasion|
All days should end like this: triumphant, the adrenaline rush of the afternoon’s football victory melting into something relaxing and sweet, the metallic tang of sweat and glory still on Ethan’s tongue.
Two deep voices joined Ethan’s chant, arms rising, fists smashing together in their team salute. “Fifteen. Twenty-six. Eighty-five. Hup. Ooh, ooh, ooh. Gooooo Trojans.”
The three guys dropped and rolled, taking each other down in a tackle before their seriousness dissolved into laughter. Matt slugged Ethan on the arm, his face cracking with a wide smile.
“It’s time to celebrate.” Tyler said, bending to brush beach sand from his jeans. “Pass me a beer.”
Ethan dropped the tailgate on Tyler’s truck, reaching inside the cooler, pulling out three cans and handing them out. Carlee shook her head at his offered beer.
“What? You don’t want one?” He settled onto the flatbed next to the cooler, stretching his long legs.
“You got any ice tea in there?” she asked.
“I think there’s some.” Ethan knew she would ask for ice tea. It was her favorite. He’d made sure there was some buried under the ice, even bought it himself when Tyler forgot. He rummaged in the cooler, digging out a can from the bottom, and handed it to her. “Yeah, here you go.”
Carlee’s skin glowed, the last of the sunlight playing with the curves and angles of her face. She tossed her braids over her shoulders as she tipped her chin to drink, in that casual way that made his gaze linger. Her hair was dyed stark black now; if only there was more daylight, he would be able to see the brown roots peeking out.
“There goes a shooting star. Did you see it?” Carlee pointed at the sky, her voice rising like a kid at a fireworks show. Her goth façade slipped, turning her back into the girl from public school, the one his parents might approve of, not this edgy, unsettling creature.
Tyler grunted something that could have been a yes or a no, popping open his can. Glugging as he swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbed.
The sinking sun bathed the lake in gold. Sounds of lingering cottagers muted as dusk fell, the scents of campfires and grilling meats wafting on the breeze. A seagull screamed overhead, joining a swarm of wings, the cacophony drowning out crashing waves until the birds roosted for the night.
“There. You had to see that one,” Carlee said, pointing to the sky.
“Yeah, I saw it.” Ethan would have agreed with her anyways, but this time he actually saw the blazing meteor. Another one followed close behind, the biggest, longest shooting star he could have imagined.
Ethan reached into the cooler for another beer. Only four cans were left. He and Matt had drank only one each so far. Tyler must have finished the rest, already.
“You dragged me out here for this?” Tyler’s voice was thick, slurring the words. “I don’t care if this is homework. The shooting star show is lame. Come on, babe. My place is warmer than this.” He leaned in to kiss Carlee, but she squirmed out of his reach.
“You’re drunk.” She shoved him away, leaping from the tailgate, striding over the beach until she was lost in the gloom. Tyler tailed after her like a dog on the prowl, slipping across the dunes, his feet whispering on the sand. A lone meteorite trailed their steps, the small rock tumbling from the sky to land on the beach. It came to a stop, etching a rut in the ground, glowing red hot until the shadows swallowed it, fading it into just another common stone.
The day’s joy had faded too. Ethan’s beer was warm now, absorbing the heat of his grip. A chilled wind picked up, scattering garbage across the sand, discarded coffee cups and pop cans tangling in the beach grass. While he wasn’t paying attention, the summer had slipped away. The girls of summer were gone, empty cottages abandoned, taking their coconut-scented tans and their coy smiles, leaving behind the wanna-be townies that served him hoagies and pizza, forced smiles under ugly hairnets and acne—the same faces that had cheered him on at this afternoon’s game, making him feel like a hero.
The summer girls didn’t worship him like that. Neither did Carlee, with her glorious black-rimmed eyes, her black hair, her black clothes. Everything his parents hated. Everything he wanted. While he wasn’t paying attention, she’d slipped away, too.
Carlee’s voice broke over the pounding surf, a staccato counterpoint to Tyler’s anger. Ethan couldn’t distinguish the words yet, but the couple was moving closer to the truck.
“You effing better find out for sure,” Tyler snapped.
She huddled inside her hoody, her face hidden by the shadows. “You’re acting like you don’t care.”
Tyler held open the truck door. “Let’s go.”
“No,” she said. “You’re too drunk to drive.”
“Get in,” Tyler said.
Ethan jumped from the tailgate, moving between them. “I can drive.”
“Ethan Cross, always doing the right thing,” Tyler said. “Here’s a newsflash, hero—nobody else gives a shit.” He plopped into the drivers’ seat, revving the engine as Matt leapt into the passenger seat. “Coming?”
“No,” Carlee said.
“Suit yourself.” Tyler gunned the engine. The truck lurched into reverse before he threw it forward, wheels kicking up sand as he circled. Headlights cut over the beaten road before they faded, leaving behind darkness, the far-off glow of the town pointing the way home.
“He’ll come back for us,” Ethan said. It was nice like this, just the two of them, the night making it easier to talk, hiding his expressions.
“You didn’t have to stay,” she said.
“He must be really pissed to leave us behind. What did you say to him?”
She kicked at the ground, stones clattering.
“If you don’t want to tell me, that’s okay,” he said.
Her breathing quickened. “You can keep secrets. You’ll never tell him I told you.”