Title: Desert Rice
Author: Angela Scott
Date Published: 8/13/12
Samantha Jean Haggert is a beautiful twelve-year-old girl—but no one knows it. All they see is an awkward boy in a baseball cap and baggy pants. Sam’s not thrilled with the idea of hiding her identity, but it’s all part of her older brother’s plan to keep Sam safe from male attention and hidden from the law. Fifteen-year-old Jacob will stop at nothing to protect his sister, including concealing the death of the one person who should have protected them in the first place—their mother. Sam and Jacob try to outrun their past by stealing the family car and traveling from West Virginia to Arizona, but the adult world proves mighty difficult to navigate, especially for two kids on their own. Trusting adults has never been an option; no adult has ever given them a good reason. But when Sam meets “Jesus”—who smells an awful lot like a horse—in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. The problem? Sam doesn’t remember, and Jacob isn’t talking.
An Excerpt: We stopped in a remote town outside of Kansas City, and while Jacob added a few dollars of gas to the car, I went inside the convenience store to use the restroom. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary, but when I returned to the car, Jacob kept glancing around, and his hands shook even though the sun hung high in the midday sky.
“We need to go. Get in the car.”
His jitteriness made me nervous. I couldn’t see anything around that should, but I climbed into the car as he’d told me to. He reached across and locked my door, and I tensed and sat rigid in my seat.
“What’s going on?”
“Not now.” He started the car and we pulled onto the highway.
He kept looking into the rearview mirror every few seconds, so I turned in my seat and glanced behind us, too. I didn’t see a thing. No one followed us.
“Is it the police?”
He didn’t say anything, but pressed on the gas to make the car go faster. I continued to watch behind us, but after awhile I gave up and turned back around in my seat. I’d no idea why he acted the way he did.
“You’re scaring me.” I watched my brother’s profile. “What’s going on?”
“We’re going to have to cut your hair.”
That took me by surprise, and I struggled to understand what one thing had to do with the other. “What are you talking about?”
“Didn’t you see how those guys back there looked at you?” He turned and glanced at me before staring ahead again.
“What guys?” I had no idea what he was talking about.
“The ones sitting outside the gas station. They watched you the whole time.”
“You mean the guys with the motorcycles?” A couple of bikers parked outside the convenience store hadn’t appeared to be doing much of anything, just sitting there. I’d hardly noticed them at all.
He nodded. “They watched everything you did.”
“I didn’t see them watching me.”
He sneered. “That doesn’t surprise me. You don’t notice anything.”
“So what,” I argued. “So they were watching me. What’s the big deal? Why do I have to cut my hair?”
Jacob breathed deeply and then released it. “Because you didn’t see the way they looked at you.” He kept driving onward. “Sam, don’t you have any better clothes than this?” He tugged on my tank shirt. “You’ve got to get rid of this and those cutoff shorts too. You’re attracting the wrong kind of attention.”
“I’m not trying to attract any attention. I’m not doing anything—”
“It’s not you, Sam,” he interrupted. “It’s those perverts that I’m worried about. You’re growing up and men are starting to look.”
Why would men be looking at a twelve-year-old girl? A chill ran down my spine, and I shivered while looking back out the rear window again. No one followed behind us.
I slumped back down in my seat. “So, why do I have to cut my hair?”
He stared at me and then looked away. “Because, Sam, the best way to keep you safe is to make you look like you’re my brother.”
I hear voices. Tiny fictional people sit on my shoulders and whisper their stories in my ear. Instead of
medicating myself, I decided to pick up a pen, write down everything those voices tell me, and turn it
into a book. I’m not crazy. I’m an author. For the most part, I write contemporary Young Adult novels.
However, through a writing exercise that spiraled out of control, I found myself writing about zombies
terrorizing the Wild Wild West—and loving it. My zombies don’t sparkle, and they definitely don’t
cuddle. At least, I wouldn’t suggest it.
I live on the benches of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains with two lovely children, one teenager, and a
very patient husband. I graduated from Utah State University with a B.A. degree in English, not because
of my love for the written word, but because it was the only major that didn’t require math. I can’t spell,
and grammar is my arch nemesis. But they gave me the degree, and there are no take backs.
As a child, I never sucked on a pacifier; I chewed on a pencil. I’ve been writing that long. It has only
been the past few years that I’ve pursued it professionally, forged relationships with other like-minded
individuals, and determined to make a career out of it.
You can find me at my website, where I blog obsessively about my writing process and post updates on
my current works. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook, but be forewarned, I tweet and post more than a
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