–Excerpt from Antebellum Soul: Here & Now by Reatha Beauregard (Coming Soon)
Everything was about to be different. I felt it in the air, but I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt it. Maybe it was the fact I had just turned twenty-one.
I was zipping down the boulevard, on the phone with my over-protective mother. The radio was low in the background, volume turned down so Mom wouldn’t harp about it being too loud. She didn’t want me driving distracted. “And, are you on the road now? Sounds like you’re on the road,” she complained.
“No, I’m in park,” I lied. “I pulled over as soon as the phone rang. Mom, chill out. I can drive! I’ve been doing this with either you or Dad in the car for years. I can handle going a block to Ashley’s house without you worrying about me. Heck, even longer drives than that!”
I snorted at her disapproval, one hand gripping the steering wheel. The other held the phone, and I cast a safe glance at the empty street ahead of me. I bobbed my head to the catchy pop tune whispering from the speakers and peeked in the rearview mirror, smiling smugly at my reflection in the driver’s seat. Lookin’ good, I thought as I rubbed red lipstick off my orthodontically correct teeth.
“Yeah, well, it’s my job. I’m your mom.”
I sighed and turned my attention back to the conversation. “Reminder alert. I’m not a kid anymore,” I teased.
“Sweetie, I’m just trying to keep you whole and harm-free. I lost you once. I don’t want to lose you again. I don’t think it’s wise for us to tempt fate, you know?” asked Mom.
“I can see your point. But, I’m an adult, and you’re going to have to let me go at some point…So, back to the real discussion at hand. I need you and Dad to consider letting me make the trip to our old hometown on my own. This is a quest for self-discovery.”
“I know. I know,” she whispered, chuckling softly. I strained to catch the phrase, the confirmation that she accepted she didn’t need to hold my hand anymore. It brought a bittersweet half-smile to my lips. “I’m giving it some thought, but I’m not convinced you’re ready for a day-long drive. Let me talk to your dad about it; see what we come up with.”
I was content with a maybe. It was better than a flat-out no. The wheels hissed along. I cruised through a world saturated with color, houses in red and blonde brick that lined the street with lawns of deep green. Chartreuse hued leaves on trees vied with an electric blue sky and clean white clouds, and the brilliant sunlight glinted off the canary yellow hood of my brand, spanking new car. Mom and Dad had bought it for me for my birthday because I was starting school in a month, a late start.
You see, my parents didn’t want me to grow up. They had already missed too many years with me.
“Anyway, this will be good for all of us,” I sagely replied. “The more I know about my past, the more I’ll know about myself. It’s important, Mom…I can’t do this without your blessing.”
“Oh, honey, you have my support on all fronts. I just wish you didn’t have to go all the way to Louisiana.”
I chuckled softly. “Well, where else am I going to learn about our family’s infamous history?”
I didn’t see the other car. The stop sign I flew past didn’t register.
A horn blew in calamitous warning too late, a second before the thunderous clash of metal. The corner of my head thwacked the window with a sickening crack. “Oh, my god!” I shrieked. My vision blurred, and then I realized it wasn’t my vision, but the scenery whizzing past when my left side painfully slammed against the driver’s side door.
“Myranda, what’s happening?” Mom asked fearfully. I could barely hear her for the ringing in my ears.
The other vehicle couldn’t stop, and now neither could I. It forcefully propelled me across the road. Instinctively, I gripped the steering wheel with both hands as my cell phone flew, forgotten, across the sliding car. “Myranda!” I heard my mom’s voice fading as it went. Tires bit into the pavement with vain screeches of protest.
My heart pounded somewhere near my heels as I stomped the brakes, and the car fishtailed. It came with the feeling of being out of control. My body went limp in surrender. This is it. The thought crept up out of the chaos and panic, and I accepted it, and I braced myself to let go.
When I could finally open my eyes, the shrieking horn was my own. My chest was pressed against the steering wheel. The passenger side was condensed to a crumpled, jagged ruin of twisted metal and busted plastic, glass littering what was left of the seat and turning me into a mess of cuts and small punctures.
I was bleeding, and the light was fading. I wheezed audibly, scared of the sound of my breaths too loud, too shallow, too feeble. With last strength, I turned my gaze to the other car. There, the driver had come through the windshield. I squeezed my eyes shut and wished it gone.
My name is Myranda Avant. I was born in the middle of July, a summer child. There are so many pictures of me in my parents’ house that you can tell I’m kind of special to them. I think it’s because they were afraid they had lost me for good once.
My first word was “sock.” My dad, William, laughed when I said it because he thought I had actually said the f-word. This is a story I’ve heard often from my mother, Shelly. I think it sums up my life in a nutshell…not exactly what it seems.
I didn’t learn to walk properly until I was almost two years old because of an Achilles’ tendon problem, and I had surgery around a year and a half to fix it. I used to have a scar. I don’t anymore.
I was raised in a close-knit family with two little brothers and an older sister—Josh and Greg and Tamara. We used to live in a remodeled plantation house down in Louisiana, but my family moved to Chattanooga when I was nine to be closer to my paternal grandmother, Nonni Beatrice.
We had it all. We’ve always had everything we needed, the American dream.
I know this to be true because I have these things written in a journal I keep tucked within a tear in my mattress. In this book are the names of relatives, backgrounds of people I’ve never met but should know. The accumulation of a lifetime of memories I should have, but I don’t.
Because I’m not Myranda Avant. Myranda Avant was kidnapped out of a playground eleven years ago. Three years ago I was found wandering in the woods alone near the plantation the Avant’s used to call home. I had no recollection of my past. Then, this shining force of a woman—my mother—said I belonged to her. She showed up at the hospital where I was listed Jane Doe and told me she was going to take me with her. She believed in me, believed what she said was true.
She never asked me who I was. So I became someone I wasn’t, but now the truth would come out and I would have no one else to be.
At the precise moment I was getting shoved across a sleepy street in a horrific car accident, miles away the lifeless body of a ten year old girl was discovered in a shallow grave. It would take a few days to sort out who she was, but the news would make it to William and Shelly Avant shortly thereafter. The real Myranda Avant was dead…and I?
I have no idea who I am.
Reatha Beauregard is ready to step out of the shadows and into the limelight with paranormal and dark fantasy books that are one part horror, two parts love story. This Baton Rouge native credits her creativity to being willing to think “to the left of normal.”
When she’s not melding the sexy with the terrifying, Reatha enjoys spending time with her husband and family. Her favorite thing to do is gardening.
Reatha Beauregard writes primarily for our Hex Books subsidiary. Looking to add some variety to your bookshelf, and you haven’t tried out paranormal yet? Check out this author. Not your average vampire and shapeshifter stuff!
Look for Reatha Beauregard’s Antebellum Soul: Here & Now coming soon to online bookstores! To find out about the latest releases from Wrought Iron Reads, go to www.wroughtironreads.org/books.