In celebration of finishing a cover and a blurb, here's a snippet:
On the bright side, so would everyone else. She didn’t feel good about it, but her arm reminded her she’d been defending herself. Nobody could fault her for that.
Once inside her tree, she glanced at her arm to confirm it was a flesh wound and wrapped it so she wouldn’t have to mop her floor. She took care of Twix and showered, doctoring her arm with unicorn glue.
She’d had to make sacrifices when she came here, and most of her books had been left behind. When she had money, she’d have to ask her mother to box them and ship them here. The freight would be painful, and in the meantime she’d have to find a library.
She took out her phone and reluctantly turned it on, checking her messages. There were several nagging texts from her mom and matching voice mail, most about her brother. Since she didn’t want to know what her brother had done now, she ignored them.
The phone rang, startling her. She didn’t get many calls, and she didn’t recognize the number. She answered cautiously, “Hello?”
“Hey, Juniper! Just wondering if your tree is on fire tonight, because I could use take out again,” Mia said cheerfully. “Otherwise I’m stuck with paperwork.”
Juniper smiled and sat on her bed, leaning against the wall. “No, but I did run into some monsters.” Human monsters, but still. “Nothing serious, but I did get scratched.”
There was a short silence as Mia calculated her gift for understatement. “I’ll be right there.”
Juniper smiled, warmed by her concern. “Don’t bother; I already glued it.”
“Did they attack your tree, or was it on the way in?”
Juniper thought about the way the gang had waited for her. She needed an early warning system, needed more trees. She didn’t want to be surprised again.
“Juniper?” Mia asked, concerned.
“Sorry. I was wondering how much a bullet proof vest costs. Monsters are one thing, but I need to think about better protection.”
“Someone tried to hurt you,” Mia said flatly. She sounded sure.
Juniper thought about how Kjetil seemed to know her movements, how he’d implied she was being watched. Was Mia’s call part of it? She sighed. “The local gang tried a shakedown. I refused, the leader shot me, and I defended myself.”
“Are they dead?”
“Define dead, because the trees holding them are definitely alive.”
There was a long silence. “Dead would be good. I’m glad you’re okay. Where is the wound?”
“Inside my upper left arm.” Admitting it made her realize how shaken she was. She’d almost died.
“Are you inside your tree now? Are you safe?”
“Yeah. I’ll be all right. I just…needed to talk.” Now that she’d admitted it, she realized she was cold with shock. She tucked her feet under her covers and focused on breathing.
“Do you need me to come over? I’d bring back up.” It was a generous offer, considering Juniper’s address.
“I’ll be fine. I’m heading out early tomorrow, so I won’t be home for a while.” She needed to anchor the second tree, and she would be tired. “I’ll have my phone off, but I’ll try to check my messages tomorrow night.”
“Okay. Please call if you need anything,” Mia said, concern in her voice. “And Juniper? Please be careful.”
“I will. Good night.” She felt better, but it would be nice if she had a tub to soak in. There was plenty of water, but the greenhouse storage tanks only made it lukewarm. Maybe if she had a way to heat it, she’d consider a tub.
She fell asleep to thoughts of water, and dreamed of angry cherry trees.