Hilary’s excitement over her new neighbours and their hot son, quickly turns to worry when she sees something she shouldn’t. These people aren’t normal. Yet, the more she gets to know Ben and his little sister, Alex, the more she likes them.
But they have a secret and when strange purple lights appear, Ben has no choice but to confide in Hilary to help protect his family. They are from the planet Myonus. They’ve come to Earth to hide from the Hurliingen, who want to use them for leverage in a war to take over their home planet.
Can Hilary and their friends stop them?
Targeted Age Group:: 12+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I felt cheated growing up because there were never any books set in my hometown, or even my home province. I set this story in my back yard. If you could find Hilary's house, you could head out the path and sit in the bog watching for those mysterious purple lights. Although, in reality, they'd just be fireflies.
I wrote this book to show other people how great my hometown of Saint John, New Brunswick was, even without aliens moving in next door.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
A long time ago I had three nieces and a nephew. When I divorced their uncle and moved away I lost touch with them. I really missed them and decided to name my characters after them.
I didn't get to see them grow up, but I imagine they are as wonderful, loyal and brave and Hilary, Ben Alex and Shannon.
“Hilary, are you watching?” Shannon’s voice screeched through the phone and into my ear. Her voice was so loud I could also hear it coming from her house across the street. It was like hearing her in stereo.
Shan was rarely subtle.
Mom looked up from her laptop. She had her work stuff spread all over the kitchen table. “Shannon?”
She went back to her notes and even though Shannon was still talking, my attention was already back to the action on the other side of our driveway where our new neighbours were unloading their stuff from a cube van with the name of a rental company splashed over its side. “Of course, I’m watching.”
“Why didn’t you call me? Look at him.”
I smiled. Yeah, right. That was precisely why I didn’t call her. I love Shannon. We’ve been best friends since Junior K, but when she’s excited, the girl just won’t shut up. Me? I like to observe. Not like a stalker or anything, but sometimes you just learn a lot more by keeping your mouth shut, and I was learning a lot.
“I’m coming over.” The phone clicked.
I had exactly forty seconds before Shannon appeared on my doorstep. Forty-five if she had to wait for a car to pass before crossing the road. That rarely happened, Shannon typically didn’t wait for anything.
I glanced back to my new neighbours. The mom was pretty. She had dark hair pulled back into a ponytail and appeared to be the one in charge of getting everything into the house. The dad was a bit older. His hair was greying at the sides, and he seemed stressed. The daughter looked to be about twelve, but she dressed like a little kid so she could be a lot younger. But the son… wow, just WOW. He’s the one I’d really been watching.
If someone read my journal and made me a guy to order, he’d be perfect. Just under six feet, dark hair, darkish eyes, and a great laugh that made my toes tingle.
I’d guess he was around seventeen. Ok, that was me hoping he is only seventeen. If he’s older, he won’t be attending high school with Shannon and me, which would mean he probably wouldn’t be interested in getting to know a high-schooler like me – even if I was a senior.
He reached up and pulled two of the bigger cartons off the back end of the truck. His muscles flexed under his dark blue t-shirt when the boxes threatened to tip over. For a minute, I forgot all about Shannon, the book I had been pretending to read, my mom in the kitchen and, well… everything. I just held my breath and watched him jostle the boxes to keep them upright.
Then Shannon’s bright blonde head bounced past my window.
I groaned. My peaceful morning of ogling the cute new neighbour was finished—kaput.
“Hi, Mrs. F.,” Shannon said as she walked in without knocking.
Sure, the door was open to catch the breeze. But even if it was closed, she would’ve just come in. Her sense of entitlement always amazed me. We were both only children from middle-class families. We both had a lot of friends and were pretty good looking, if I do say so myself. Compared to her, I was practically a wallflower. Shannon just had that extra here-I-am attitude that could be just as annoying as it was endearing. Like right now, for example.
“So why are you just sitting there?” she demanded. Hands on her hips, she glared at the open book on my lap.
I shrugged. She already knew the answer.
“Hilary, this is no time to be shy. If Janie gets to him first, he’ll be ruined.”
She had a point. Janie was the golden girl. Her dad owned a bunch of businesses around town and with her posse of local celebrity wannabes, she made Shannon look like a cowering wreck. Janie and her buddies had been extras on a movie set back in middle school. Four years later, they were still milking the glory, brandishing their Apprentice Member ACTRA Cards in case we forgot.
I put my book down and stood up. Shannon gave me the once over with a critical eye. My long auburn hair hung straight down past my shoulders. I was wearing one of the tank tops she gave me for my birthday last week and my favourite shorts that, in my mind at least, made me look taller than my five foot two.
Her eyes narrowed when she saw I wasn’t wearing make-up, a major faux pas in her book.
I shrugged. It was still two weeks before school started, and I didn’t have to work at Coles Electronics until later this afternoon.
Shannon ignored my lack of make-up and nodded her approval of my wardrobe. She was wearing a similar outfit, Khaki shorts, t-shirt, and her favourite platform sandals that did great things for her legs and unfortunately made her tower over me.
“Let’s go,” she ordered.
I paused at the door long enough to slip my flip-flops on to my feet. I could hear mom laughing behind me. I swear, she enjoyed watching Shannon boss me around, especially when she agreed with her. Mom had already suggested I go over to say hello. I shot her a look over my shoulder, which only made mom laugh harder. I took a deep breath and followed Shannon out the door. I had no choice but to walk slightly behind. Even in heels, she out-paced me as she strode across the thin stretch of lawn separating the two driveways.
The father was just reaching into the truck when he saw us coming. He stopped what he was doing and smiled.
Shannon stuck her hand out to shake his. “Welcome to the neighbourhood. I’m Shannon, I live across the street.”
The man hesitated only a second before reaching out as if her gesture was unexpected. “Hi Shannon, I’m Norman McAllister.”
The daughter appeared around the edge of the truck to get another load. She stopped short when she saw us. “Alex, come here. This is Shannon and…”
“Hilary,” I stepped forward. “I live next door.”
Mr. McAllister shook my hand too while Alex looked on. She looked downright unfriendly.
“Ben, Angela, we have visitors.” Mr. McAllister hollered into the house. I turned my attention back to Alex. I didn’t want to look like I was desperately waiting to meet the hot guy next door. “What grade are you in, Alex?”
She shrugged. “I’m starting grade nine this year.”
I was surprised. Even up close, she didn’t look old enough to start high school.
“Our Alex is a genius. She skipped ahead of the rest of her class and is starting high school two years early.”
“Daaaaad, do you have to tell everybody?” If possible, Alex looked even more annoyed.
I looked at Alex with a whole new level of sympathy. Starting high school at twelve was going to be rough. Especially if she got on Janie’s radar, which I really hoped she didn’t.
“Ahh, here they are. Ben, Angela, meet Shannon, she lives across the street.”
The mom, Angela, stepped forward to shake Shannon’s outstretched hand. Ben glanced at Shannon, then looked directly at me. “I’ve seen you around.”
“I… I’m Hilary.” Up close, he was incredible. His eyes were such a dark blue they were almost black, even in the sunlight. Seriously wow.
Shannon didn’t even notice she had been ignored. “Really? Where’d you see us?”
Ben broke my gaze to answer Shannon’s question. “I’ve seen Hilary a few times when I drove by to check out the neighbourhood.”
“You drive?” Shannon practically danced with delight. At our school, having a friend who drove was almost as important as driving yourself. If you had your own car? Well, it put you into a completely different stratosphere.
I knew Shannon’s next question would be whether he had his own car. Before she got too excited about how he could increase our already solid social standing, I figured we’d better find out if he was still in school. Where Alex looked younger up close, Ben looked much older. There was a wisp of hair peeking over the V-neck of his t-shirt and the five o’clock shadow he had would take most guys in senior year at least a week to grow. “Are you still in school?”
“Yeah, I graduate in the spring.” He cocked his head. “Saint John High?”
Downtown Saint John had three high schools. Harbourview High was the trade school. St. Mac’s and Saint John High were both academic.
“Yes,” Shannon butted in again. “Hilary and I are seniors too.” She looked around. “So do you have a car?”
So much for distraction. I sighed and let her run with the conversation.
Ben smiled, “Come on, I’ll show you.” He led us around the truck to their backyard, which had been blocked from view when I was on the couch.
Shannon and I gasped.
It wasn’t just a car. It was a mint condition classic Barracuda. Its metallic blue paint sparkled in the sun. I felt my knees go weak and thought Shannon was going to collapse from excitement. Our it factor will skyrocket just by standing close to a car like that, never-mind being on speaking terms with its owner.
Ben’s shoulders shot back, and his chest stuck out at our reaction. “Dad and I spent all last year restoring it.”
Shannon jabbered on about how cool the car was and how smart Ben and his dad were for fixing it. She opened the driver door and plunked herself in the driver’s seat, running her hand over the crimson leather.
I walked slowly around the car, afraid to touch it in case I left a fingerprint. The third time Shannon called for me to look at something inside, I raised my gaze. Ben was staring at me, as if watching my reaction. “My dad was always working on his car. I’d go out and help him, but we’d just end up talking.” I blinked back the sudden tears in my eyes. “He would’ve loved this car.”
Ben looked as if he was about to say something when Alex came around the corner of the house. “Dad said to stop showing off your car and come back to help him.”
“Did dad really say for me to stop showing off the car?” he questioned.
“No but, he told mom he hoped you didn’t get distracted for long because he had to get the truck back before two.”
I laughed, “Hey, Shannon, we qualify as distractions. We’re moving up in the world.”
Shannon looked at me in surprise. She is usually the flirt, not me. I’m the one who makes sure everything goes smoothly, not really a wallflower, but when it comes to flirting or initiating conversations with guys as good looking as Ben, I usually got tongue-tied.
I glanced away. I could feel the heat crawl over my face. I knew looking away wouldn’t stop the blush from happening, but at least it prevented me from seeing Shannon smirk about it, or Ben, which would make me blush even harder.
Unfortunately, I looked right into Alex’s combative gaze.
Her feet were planted shoulder-width apart, her arms folded stiffly across her chest. Her scowl made it clear that her brother was off limits.
Ben must have seen something change besides the colour in my face. One look at his little sister’s expression and he motioned Shannon out of his car.
Alex’s expression turned triumphant as she whirled around and preceded us toward the front of the house.
Ben shook his head. “Do either of you want a little sister? I’m willing to sell her. Cheap.”
Shannon and I both held up our hands as if to push such a horrible thought away. Shan added a dramatic shudder, “No thanks, I like being an only child.”
While we were gone, Ben’s dad had started moving the couch and mattresses to the edge. Ben jumped up beside him to lend a hand.
“Can we help?” I asked.
Mrs. McAllister said yes at the same moment Mr. McAllister said no. They looked at each other for a few seconds, having a silent conversation of couple-speak before Mr. McAllister changed his mind. “Thank you, that would be nice.” He pointed to half a dozen smallish boxes waiting to be taken inside.
I could feel the visual daggers Shannon was shooting at my back when I reached up to grab the first box, marked “living room books.”
She was dressed to impress. Her sandals weren’t designed to lug boxes, no matter how cute the new neighbour was. I tried to feel guilty for making Shannon do hard labour in heels, but I couldn’t. Considering all the situations she had roped me into over the years, this was a pretty tame form of payback. I smiled as I walked into the split entryway and up the stairs, Shannon trailing behind me. I was feeling proud of myself until I reached the top.
Alex stood there blocking the door to the kitchen behind her, one hand on her hip, the other pointing to my right, “In there.”
I decided now was not a good time to tell her I knew her new home better than she did. Mr. and Mrs. Jennings, the people who lived here before, used to babysit me after school when mom had to work late. After dad died, she worked late a lot. Since I was carrying books, I walked directly over to one of the built-in bookcases flanking the stone fireplace and set them on the floor.
Alex looked at me suspiciously, her glare intensifying until even Shannon noticed.
Shan was about to make a smart-assed comment but stopped when she saw me shake my head in warning.
Being seventeen is hard. You’re not quite an adult, but at least you’re on the downswing of puberty. Shannon and I had each other and our other friends to help through the worst parts. Alex was a prodigy at twelve, in a new city with no friends yet. I felt sorry for her, even though for some weird reason, she was trying to pick a fight with me. The fact that I wasn’t taking the bait seemed to make her even more furious.
The clumping of Ben and his father coming up the stairs broke our silent standoff. Whatever they were carrying sounded heavy. They hesitated at each step to adjust their load.
“Alex, stop glaring at the girls and move.” Impatiently, Ben nudged his sister out of the way as he guided his end of the sofa into the living room.
Shannon and I both stepped closer to the fireplace to give them room to bring the sofa into the room.
Alex stomped back down the stairs as soon as the way was clear.
Mr. McAllister was puzzled. “Why would Alexandra be glaring at the girls? They are helping.”
Mrs. McAllister came up the stairs behind them. “What is wrong with Alex?”
It was clear Alex wanted us to leave, and I’d thwarted her by offering to help and invaded her turf even further. I started to apologize.
Ben spoke before I could. “She’s being a brat. Probably ticked that I didn’t include her when I took the girls out back to see my car.”
“I am not being a brat,” Alex shouted from outside. “And I don’t care about your stupid car.”
Mr. McAllister frowned. “Well, she cannot be with you all the time. She will have to find her own friends.”
Shannon and I looked at each other. There was no one Alex’s age in our neighbourhood. Shannon and I were the only teens nearby. I’d just turned seventeen and Shannon’s birthday was next month.
“I’m afraid she’s stuck with us.” Shannon said.
“I am glad you girls came over. We have moved so much over the past two years the children had no chance to make friends. It’s been especially hard on Alex.”
Shannon didn’t look exactly pleased to play saviour to a twelve-year-old, but I kind of liked the idea. I’d always wanted to have a little brother or sister. This was as close as I would ever get.
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