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The Secret
 

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The Secret


  Table of Contents

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Acknowledgements

  Episode 1: First Day

  Episode 2: Near Miss

  Episode 3: The Mark

  Episode 4: Fate

  Episode 5: The Power

  Episode 6: The Foundation

  Episode 7: The Foundation – Part II

  Episode 8: The Chosen One

  Episode 9: The Spy

  Episode 10: The Book

  Episode 11: The Mentor

  Episode 12: Freedom

  Episode 13: Wants

  Episode 14: The Game

  Episode 15: Consciousness

  Episode 16: Right

  Episode 17: Change

  Episode 18: The Dance

  Episode 19: Another’s Mind

  Episode 20: Dreams

  Episode 21: Allies

  Episode 22: Needs

  Episode 23: Missing

  Episode 24: Order

  Episode 25: Trust

  Episode 26: Sending a Message

  Episode 27: Outgunned

  Episode 28: Refusal

  Episode 29: Debt

  Episode 30: The Resurrection

  Episode 31: Sacrifice

  Episode 32: Whispers

  Episode 33: Dead

  Episode 34: Loved

  Episode 35: Appearances

  Episode 36: Last Time

  Epilogue: Perfect

  A note from the author

  About the Author

  Bonus

  Copyright

  THE SECRET

  Copyright © 2013 - Taryn A. Taylor

  All rights reserved.

  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserve above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief passages embodied in critical reviews and articles.

  This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business estrablishments, locales is entirely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party web sites or their content.

  Managing editor - Amanda Meuwissen

  Associate editor - Deborah Hanks

  Associate editor - Wendy Herman

  Book layout/Cover design - Mario Hernandez

  Model - Victoria Solberg

  A BigWorldNetwork.com Book

  Published by BigWorldNetwork.com, LLC

  202 North Rock Road | 1303 | Wichita | KS | 67206

  www.bigworldnetwork.com

  First U.S. Edition: March 2013

  Printed in the United States of America

  Dedication

  To my husband,

  Mark Taylor,

  for never letting me give up.

  I love you!

  And to my four, miraculous boys:

  Daniel, Grant, Jacob, and Benjamin.

  Always remember that you can do anything

  you set your mind to! Dream big and

  then make those dreams happen!

  Acknowledgements

  Acknowledgements

  Most importantly, thank you to God, for making all things possible in my life.

  I have to tell my husband how much I appreciate all the hours he watched our four, wonderful boys! And thank you for always being willing to give me great advice on where I could put in a zombie apocalypse. Seriously, I could not have written The Secret without your unflinching support.

  My parents, Joan and Chad Anderson, you gave me the gift of believing I could do anything I set my mind to! Thank you! I love you!

  Amanda Meuwissen, my miraculous editor at BigWorldNetwork.com. You championed my work from the get go. You put in countless hours of editing and fixing and making the final product so perfect. Thank you!

  Wendy Herman, associate editor and narrator for the series at BigWorldNetwork.com, thank you so much for lending your talents, and for bringing these characters to life with your voice.

  Jim McGovern at BigWorldNetwork.com. Without your vision, The Secret never would have come into existence. Thank you!

  My writing peeps—Jo Schneider, for thoroughly going over every episode I sent her way and for always giving me stellar feedback, especially where my blocking and ninja moves were concerned. Sandra Poole, for our creative sessions! You are a plotting Jedi! And all the Dave Wolverton writing clan: Tony, Bob, Jordan, Jane— 2 million dollar club, baby!

  To my sister, Alisa, for your enthusiasm about every single episode! You have no idea how much that means to me.

  And to all my friends and family for reading and supporting me! Thank you!

  by Taryn A. Taylor

  Twelve, young person’s themes suitable only for readers of twelve years and older.

  BigWorldNetwork.com

  Kansas

  Episode 1: First Day

  “I…I’m from back east.” I should have anticipated this question on my first day of school. Of course they would ask. And I wasn’t the best liar. Usually I practiced in front of the mirror a few times to make sure I didn’t break eye contact or blink too much.

  Mr. Drake, my first period English teacher, looked over his glasses and shut the book he held loosely out in front of him. “I imagine the town you are from had a name?”

  I bit my bottom lip, trying not to illicit blood. “The Boston area.” Why didn’t I just say Boston? It’s not like anybody would care.

  Mr. Drake raised his eyebrows. “Okay.” Hesitating for a second, he squinted slightly, holding my gaze for a moment longer than I was comfortable with.

  I started talking too quickly. “My mom took a job out here to be closer to my grandparents.” That was true, at least partly true. “And we like to hike, so Colorado seemed like a good fit.” The lies seemed to come easier now. I was trying to sound cliché. Why did most people move to a place like Colorado? Most of them must like the outdoors. “And my brother really likes to ski.” Okay, that was a bold-faced lie, but when would anyone meet my older, semi-geek brother? He was even less coordinated than I was, if that could be possible.

  Mr. Drake stepped around the back of the classroom and glided easily in between desks, maneuvering toward me. “Uh-huh. And, what are your other hobbies—besides the hiking of course.” Stopping at his desk, he put his book down and cleared his throat.

  Was I really that bad of a liar? His throat clearing had me on edge. “Um,” I muttered pushing my too red, too long, curly hair out of my face. I kicked myself for not cutting it before I moved here, the heaviness of it felt oppressive.

  “Sketching.” An ounce of truth had finally come out of my mouth. I regretted it instantly, feeling almost naked for revealing something that I really, truly loved and couldn’t possibly take any criticism or triteness over. “But I don’t…show anybody.” I looked away, hating the red blotches I knew were forming on my neck.

  Mr. Drake paused then nodded his head like he had decided something about me. “Ahh—well, art is something that tends to be deeply personal, isn’t it?” He turned to the class a
nd gestured dramatically to my seat. “Thank you, Ms. Hart. Or do you prefer Delaney?” He looked at the new student sheet on his desk.

  Careful not to tromp on the outstretched legs of the guy who sat in front of me, I slid into my seat. “Lanie. Just Lanie.” Immediately, I reached for my backpack and pulled out a hair band. I always kept one stuffed in the front pocket, knowing my hair had to be contained. Stupid hair.

  The guy in front of me turned slightly, looking at me with a half-grin on his face. His dark hair hung barely below his ears and seemed to jut out a little around his face. I was instantly captured by the way the light from the window made the color of his eyes look like pools of water in the ocean. My heart sped up a notch and I felt even more self-conscious than moments before when I’d been up in front of the class. I tried to smile back at him.

  Tilting his head up in acknowledgment, he whispered, “I like your hair.”

  Shocked that he seemed to know what I’d been thinking, I touched my hair and looked closer at him. How had he known that I was thinking how much I hated it?

  Grinning broadly at me and lightly tapping his pencil, he turned to give his full attention to Mr. Drake.

  “I hope you are all ready to turn in your book reports tomorrow. Remember to make sure you have properly deconstructed what it means to be the hero in your story and how it relates to the antihero…”

  Mr. Drake continued going through the rubric for the book report and I felt my head start to spin—deconstructing the hero/antihero…what was he talking about? I opened the syllabus for the year and wondered how I would ever catch up. Running my finger down the sheet for February, I saw we had three more assignments on top of this one. Turning the page, I started down March, stopping next to the date March 16th. Four days before the Spring Equinox. My hand started shaking and I quickly shut the syllabus. Not now. I couldn’t think about that now.

  “Lanie.”

  Coming back from my thoughts, I looked up. Mr. Drake was staring down at me.

  I looked around cautiously. How long had he been calling my name? The class seemed to be talking amongst themselves, not paying attention to me. Relief washed through me.

  “Is everything okay, Ms. Hart?” Mr. Drake frowned at me.

  “S-sorry.” I knew my mind had wandered. It was a bad habit I’d sworn to work on.

  He frowned, but not in a scolding way. “I know it’s hard to start at a new school.”

  The guy in front of me glanced back.

  “Yeah.” I’d go with the excuse Mr. Drake was giving me for my mental wanderings.

  “Do you think you can have the report done for tomorrow, or do you want to wait until Monday?”

  I opened my syllabus, again, trying to find the details of the report. My stomach began to churn at the thought of being up all night trying to figure it out. But I didn’t want him to think I was already behind. “Uh…” I found the date, February 9th—Hero/Antihero Deconstruction. “I don’t…”

  “I’ll help her.” This time, the boy in front of me turned around, holding onto the back of the seat and facing me. Now his eyes looked blue.

  Mr. Drake looked slightly amused. “Mr. Curtis? You know this is worth 35% of her grade for this semester.”

  The pounding in my chest sped up again.

  “Sure.” He looked up at Mr. Drake, and shrugged. “I’ve got some time on my hands right now. She’ll have it done by tomorrow.”

  Panic started to settle into me. “I don’t think—”

  He waved his hand in the air, dismissing me and looking at Mr. Drake. “We got this.”

  The bell rang and I glanced at the clock on the wall. I couldn’t believe an hour was already gone.

  Mr. Drake yelled to the class. “Remember your reports.” He turned back to me. “Is this okay with you, Ms. Hart?”

  “Lanie,” I corrected rather harshly, hating his formality and feeling nervous.

  Mr. Drake shook his head. “Lanie,” he said, rather forced.

  “I’ll find you.” Pulling his notebook off his desk, the boy headed for the door. I couldn’t help but watch the way his black shirt stretched across the back of his shoulders, making my heart flutter.

  “And I guess you’ll have your report into me.”

  I looked back and Mr. Drake rolled his eyes. He turned away and muttered something about how beauty was deceiving.

  At lunch I surveyed the cafeteria, looking for…him. Mr. Curtis? A first name would be helpful. Dumping my backpack onto a table, I ripped open the front pocket, digging around for my standby book—Pride and Prejudice.

  “Hey.”

  I froze.

  Sitting down quickly, the same boy from before took my book, studying the front. “Classic.” Placing it back into my hand, he leaned closer.

  I couldn’t breathe for a second. It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever had a boyfriend before…but when I looked into his eyes, I could hardly think and my mouth felt dry.

  “Hey.” I tried to smile.

  Staring up at my hair, he leaned back folding his arms. “I’m Jake.” He didn’t stick his hand out or anything, just tipped his head down slightly.

  “Lanie.” I knew he knew, but it felt like I had to do the introduction thing.

  The already familiar half-smile touched his lips. “Yeah.”

  “Reed.” A heavy tray dropped to the table. A tall, overly-muscular guy with crew cut blonde hair sat heavily next to Jake. He stuck his hand out to me and held it in the air.

  “I…” Swallowing, I took his hand. “I’m Lanie.” His hand pulled away right as I gave him a little half-shake.

  Reed surveyed my face, opening what looked like a little carton of milk between his big hands. “I know.” Taking a gulp that left a little mustache, he picked up his fork and popped a whole egg into his mouth. “Everyone knows who you are.”

  “You mean everyone knows who I am.” A blonde, well put together kind of girl, with matching jacket and coordinated lipstick plunked her tray next to Reed and nodded to me. “Thought you could keep the new girl all to yourself?”

  My head was spinning. This had never happened to me before on my first day of school—and I’d had plenty of first days to know how they were supposed to go.

  A mouth full of food, Reed leaned over and kissed the girl on the mouth.

  She slapped his face, but leaned away casually and giggled. “You’re disgusting.”

  Reed laughed through his food.

  She opened her diet drink and turned her fake eyelashes to me. “So you’re what the buzz is about?”

  I wanted to laugh, thinking that her face was the most Miss Teen Magazine face I’d ever seen up close—perfect eyebrows, liner, eye shadow, blush—not to mention her blonde, large curls that looked like they’d never need to be freshened. I was clearly sitting across from the life-size version of Sport Ken and School-Girl Barbie. What, exactly, Jake was I didn’t know yet.

  I tried not to blink too much at the question. My geek brother, Rob, told me I always blink too much when I’m trying to think of a response. “I guess—I wouldn’t say I’m enough to generate a buzz.”

  Her eyebrows raised and she smiled. “The modest type? Hmm…we just might have room for you.” Hesitating for a moment, she gave me a wicked grin and stuck her hand out. “I’m Marsha.”

  On autopilot, I shook her hand. Room for me? I seriously doubted that last statement. I wasn’t the Barbie/Ken group type. Usually, I fit somewhere between the loner art kids that stayed after in the art room to sketch and the somewhat sarcastic Goth kids that were mostly normal. Minus the dressing Goth thing, which I refused to do.

  “Room for who?” A tall, brown-haired girl with dark skin and glasses sat at the end of the table. Holding an iPad in front of her, she turned to me and smiled. She was the antithesis
of Marsha—down to the flawed eyebrows and simple, A-line haircut. I immediately liked her.

  “Jake’s new project.”

  It was meant to be snide—that’s all there was to it. I felt my face redden.

  Marsha sipped on her diet pop with a hooded smile aimed at Jake.

  I shifted, feeling embarrassed and glancing at Jake as well. He hadn’t said a word the whole time and now he glared angrily at Marsha.

  “Dude! Why do you always have to piss him off?” Reed flung out his pinky and tipped over the rest of her diet pop.

  Giving Reed a flabbergasted look, Marsha began mopping up the spill. “I’ll pretend that didn’t happen.” Her nostrils flared at him with annoyance.

  Reed smacked his gums and leaned back, waving his hand in the air. “Pretend away.”

  The brown-haired girl took a fry off her plate and smiled at me in camaraderie, like we were both enduring a sibling sideshow.

  “I’m Karen.” She didn’t shake my hand or give any formality. “How do you like the cafeteria food?”

  Jake stood abruptly, leaning over the table and picking up my backpack. “We’ve got work to do.” Grabbing my book, he turned to Reed. “See you later—clean up her stuff.”

  Reed nodded, opening another carton of milk. “Can do.”

  Feeling like I was in some sort of alternative universe, I didn’t move. “Where are we going?”

  Clenching his jaw, Jake walked around the table and roughly put his hand on my bicep, pulling me into a standing position.

  “Ow.” Jerking away from him, I was suddenly a little bit scared. What was he doing?

  Marsha glared at me. “Just be grateful…obviously you’re the chosen one.”

  I paused, looking between Jake and the rest of them. What did she mean by that?

  Putting his hand on the small of my back, Jake nudged me forward. “I need to talk to you.”

 
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