Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Under the Milky Way by Vanessa Barneveld - New Release, Guest Post, and Giveaway

Under the Milky Way
by Vanessa Barneveld
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: August 10, 2021


Thank you so much for joining me on the blog tour for UNDER THE MILKY WAY. I’m excited to share this deleted scene with you. It features my heroine, Cassidy, who’s hiding an astronomical secret from her BFF Angie. See, along with a few others in their town, Cassidy has the dubious honor of being an alien abductee. And she’s afraid that the next time aliens come for her, they’ll kidnap the people she loves while they’re at it.

Happy reading! 

~ Vanessa

“Our boyfriends are acting weird tonight. Don’t you think they’re weird?” Angie asks me, still eating from the giant popcorn bucket she’d brought out of the movie theater.

“Um, what do you mean?”

“They’re acting like cavemen protecting their women. Which is sweet and all, but seriously, I can look after myself.”

We’re strolling down Main Street behind our weird, overprotective cavemen.

“If they were that concerned, they’d be flanking us right now, not walking ahead of us,” I reply smoothly. The guys are in deep conversation. I’m pretty sure I know what they’re talking about, and it’s not sports or the lame comedy we just endured. Then again, they could be speculating on what kind of sports our aliens play on their home planets. From what I saw, they don’t exactly have athletic physiques. Pot bellies. Thin arms and legs. Not a lot of muscle bulk. Why can’t we tackle those weedy monsters?

“Don’t worry, my friend. I’m here to protect you.” Angie links arms with me.

My stomach twinges. There are some things she’ll never be able to shield from me. I hope to God the aliens don’t show up tonight. Angie’s so full of chutzpah that she’s liable to do something stupid like karate chop them in the neck, she’d go for the groin. And how would the aliens respond to that? Shoot laser beams from their eyes and fry her to a crisp. I shudder.

“Hey, you’re cold!” She snuggles even closer to me.

“Just a little,” I lie. A brief flashback of the impromptu hypnosis pops into my head. I remember the chill in that room. Remember the terror.

Angie nods at the guys. “Isn’t it cool how well they’ve hit it off? Jake’s so great. He gets along with just about anybody.”

“Yeah, you’re a lucky girl. And he’s a lucky guy.” I give her a squeeze.

She slaps her forehead. “You know what, I’ve been meaning to tell you. That scar on your arm? Jake’s got one in the exact same place. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Crazy...” I say faintly.

“He said it’s been there for as long as he can remember. But as soon as I saw it, you know what I thought straightaway, right?”

“Um, no?”

“You’ll think it’s dumb,” she says, giggling. “But I thought, ‘What if Jake and Cassidy are long-lost twins? Separated at birth?’ I mean, you look nothing alike, except you’re both tall.”

God, what’s she going to think if she spots Hayden’s scar? That we’re triplets? Mustering up a laugh, I say, “You can rule that out. I’m my mom’s one and only kid.”

“He still won’t tell me what happened the other day at the diner,” Angie says, growing serious.

“Does that bother you?”

She turns to me, eyes flashing. “Hells, yeah! My boyfriend shows up, bleeding, wearing the same clothes he wore the night before, so out of his head he barely recognizes me? Yeah, that bothers me.” She pauses. “But apart from that, he’s amazing.”

“So, um, what was his excuse? Did he give you one?”

She shrugs. “He saw a punch-up on the side of the road while he was driving home. He tried to pull the guys apart but ended up getting knocked out himself.”

“Wow. That’s quite a story.” Ten points for creativity, Jake.

Angie looks up at me sharply. “You sound like you don’t believe it.”

“No, I do! It’s totally the kind of thing a great guy would do.” I work to add sincerity in my tone. “Why would he make up something like that?”

Angie releases me and continues digging into her popcorn bucket. She offers me some while keeping her gaze on her Jake. “Exactly. Now, if he’d told me he’d been abducted by aliens, then I’d—”

I spit popcorn kernels onto the sidewalk and cough violently.

Angie puts the bucket on the ground and pounds me on the back. “Are you okay?”

Holding up a palm, I nod to say I am okay. Free of the choking hazard anyway. The boys are half a block away, still deep in conversation.

“How about Hayden, huh? I’m so happy you two finally got together!”

“Finally.” It only took, what, ten years. But of course, I can’t mention our first meeting. Aboard a UFO. What a crazy story we could tell our kids if we ever got as far as marriage and the whole deal years from now. Forcing a laugh, I say, “I’ve known him for two weeks. He took his sweet time asking me out!”

Angie laughs. “You know what’s funny? You guys act like you’ve known each other forever. Like, you’re comfortable with each other already.” She looks at my startled expression and waves her hand. Popcorn goes flying. “I’m not saying you guys are total bores. I’m saying it’s meant to be. I can see you as one of those long-term deals.”

“It’s too soon to say that. Don’t jinx us!” Again, how close is she to the truth? She’s freaky that way.

“But you feel it, right?” Angie looks at me searchingly.

“Yeah, I do.” I smile. “Do you feel the same about Jake? That you’ll go the distance?”

“You mean at least till graduation?” She has lost interest in the popcorn now. The nearly empty bucket is crooked inside her elbow.

“Whatever you define as long-term.” I smirk at her, but she’s not looking at me. She’s staring at Jake’s broad back. His arms swing wildly as he talks.

“I don’t know.” She stops walking and squints. “Last week, I might’ve said yes, to graduation at the very least, but...”

“But what?” I prod gently. Hayden and Jake are moving further and further away. We’ll lose them soon. So much for sticking together and safety in numbers and all that.

“He’s different now. He’s distant.” She turns to me. The lashes of her big, wide eyes dam glistening tears. “I don’t actually believe what Jake told me about homecoming night. And what kind of relationship is it when you think your boyfriend’s lying? Trust is everything.”

Cassidy Roekiem is just an average teen girl from Colorado. Her parents are divorced, she has a cliché crush on the hot new boy, and her social life exists solely through the efforts of a well-meaning best friend. Until suddenly her life turns upside down. 

First, that “hot new boy,” Hayden, asks her out. And one night when they’re driving through the isolated, winding roads of Saddleback Ridge after dark, something happens that neither one of them can explain...

Bright lights in the middle of the forest. Whole blocks of time they can’t remember. They’re nauseous and disoriented. We’re talking full-on episode of The X-Files. But when her fuzzy mind clears, she’s back home, and so is Hayden. Um, what?

Hayden has always been sweet and caring and fun. But now it’s like he’s hiding something. He knows something, and she can’t be sure who he really is anymore or how everything is connected to her. When it happens again…and again, Cassidy needs answers—and fast—because one of these times, she might not wake up at all.

Australian Vanessa Barneveld lives in a 19th-century house in inner-city Sydney with a 21st-century husband, two eccentric cats and one ghost—all of whom provide inspiration for her spirited novels. In addition to her writing career, she’s part of a crack team that produces closed captions for deaf TV viewers and audio descriptions for the blind. An avid traveler, she enjoys the journeys almost as much as the destinations. She freely admits to being food motivated and will stop at nothing to find the perfect hot chips wherever she roams around the world.

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