The White Rabbit Chronicles
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the acclaimed Lords of the Underworld series and more than thirty other books. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Visit her at GenaShowalter.com.
Excerpt from book:
"Please, Alice. Please."
I lay sprawled on a blanket in my backyard, weaving a daisy chain for my little sister. The sun shone brightly as puffy white clouds ghosted across an endless expanse of baby blue. As I breathed in the thick honeysuckle and lavender perfume of the Alabama summer, I could make out a few shapes. A long, leggy caterpillar. A butterfly with one of its wings shredded. A fat white rabbit, racing toward a tree.
Eight-year-old Emma danced around me. She wore a glittery pink ballerina costume, her pigtails bouncing with her every movement. She was a miniature version of our mother and the complete opposite of me.
Both possessed a slick fall of dark hair and beautifully up-tilted golden eyes. Mom was short, barely over five-three, and I wasn't sure Em would even make it to five-one. Me? I had wavy white-blond hair, big blue eyes and legs that stretched for miles. At five-ten, I was taller than most of the boys at my school and always stood outI couldn't go anywhere without getting a few what-are-you-a-giraffe? stares.
Boys had never shown an interest in me, but I couldn't count the number of times I had caught one drooling over my mom as she walked by orgagheard one whistle as she bent over to pick something up.
"Alless." At my side now, Em stomped her slippered foot in a bid for my attention. "Are you even listening to me?"
"Sweetie, we've gone over this, like, a thousand times. Your recital might start while it's sunny out, but it'll end at dark. You know Dad will never let us leave the house. And Mom agreed to sign you up for the program as long as you swore never to throw a tantrum when you couldn't make a practice or a, what? Recital."
She stepped over me and planted those dainty pink slippers at my shoulders, her slight body throwing a large enough shadow to shield my face from the overhead glare. She became all that I could see, shimmering gold pleading down at me. "Today's your birthday, and I know, I know, I forgot this morning
and this afternoon
but last week I remembered that it was coming upyou remember how I told Mom, right?and now I've remembered again, so doesn't that count for something? 'Course it does," she added before I could say anything. "Daddy has to do whatever you ask. So, if you ask him to let us go, and
" so much longing in her tone "
and ask if he'll come and watch me, too, then he will."
My birthday. Yeah. My parents had forgotten, too. Again. Unlike Em, they hadn't rememberedand wouldn't. Last year, my dad had been a little too busy throwing back shots of single malt and mumbling about monsters only he could see and my mom had been a little too busy cleaning up his mess. As always.
This year, Mom had hidden notes in drawers to remind herself (I'd found them), and as Em had claimed, my baby sis had even hinted before flat out saying, "Hey, Alice's birthday is coming up and I think she deserves a party!" but I'd woken up this morning to the same old same old. Nothing had changed.
Whatever. I was a year older, finally sweet sixteen, but my life was still the same. Honestly, it wasn't a big deal. I'd stopped caring a long time ago.
Em, though, she cared. She wanted what I'd never had: their undivided attention.
"Since today's my birthday, shouldn't you be doing something
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