Unfortunately, I got a little distracted over the long weekend... Still, I highly encourage you to check out my review of the book, read the excerpt below and hop over and vote!!!! She totally deserves it and I hope she wins. Today, May 29th will be the last day for voting. I plan to try to encourage people to hop over there (if I'm not further distracted).
He spoke in a low whisper. "Give me the backpack and you can walk away. I don't want trouble. Just pull it off your shoulders and give it to me."
I would normally have just given it over, no questions, no hesitation. Lesson one of self-defense is that you don't argue with the man holding the gun. But the diary was in there.
Pudgy's face was suddenly inches from mine and I felt a crushing pain in my toes as his heel ground into them. He whispered into my ear, "I can shoot you and be gone before anyone knows what happened."
"Doors closing. Doors closing," the automated voice chimed, as Pudgy pulled me with him toward the door. The foot that had just mangled my toes slipped into the opening to prevent the subway doors from sliding shut. I glared at him, then slid the backpack from my shoulders and handed it to him. As he squeezed his chubby frame through the door, he pushed me backward into the train, hard.
I fell against two other passengers. One had on earphones and had missed the entire exchange. He just looked annoyed at my clumsiness, but the woman had clearly been watching. She held a large paper sack in her lap, and my right hand was crumpled into the side of it. "Are you alright?" she asked. "Should I call security?"
"Kate!" The voice from behind me was deep and the slight accent unfamiliar, but I knew who it was before I turned. My first instinct was to run—not that there was really anywhere to go in a closed subway car—but as he moved closer, I glimpsed a familiar blue light shining through the fabric of his shirt. He reached out to take my arm and pulled me toward a seat a few aisles away, out of earshot of the woman who had offered to help.
I sat, but then whirled to face him. "Who the hell are you? Why are you following me and why did your friend take my pack? And how did you get that from my grandmother?" I poked the spot on his shirt where the light of the medallion showed through.
He paused for a second, processing the barrage of questions, and then gave me a small, slightly crooked smile. "Okay—I'll answer them in order. I am Kiernan Dunne," he said. "I was not following you. I was following Simon. I'm not supposed to be here. Simon—the guy who took your bag—is not my friend, Kate. And this key," he finished, pointing at the medallion on his chest, "is not from your grandmother's collection. It was my father's."
He raised his hand and I flinched instinctively. His eyes grew sad and his smile twisted ruefully, as he moved his hand, more slowly now, to brush the right side of my face with his fingertips. "I've never seen you this young." He reached around and pulled the band loose from my hair, so that it fell to my shoulders. "Now you look more like my Kate."
I opened my mouth to protest, but he held up his hand and continued, speaking more quickly now. "We are close to your exit. Go straight to your grandmother's house and tell her what has happened. At least you still have this." He touched the black cord around my neck. "Keep the CHRONOS key on you at all times."
"CHRONOS key? I don't have…"
"The medallion," Kiernan said, again touching the cord.
"I don't have a medallion." I pulled the cord out of my blouse—at the end was the clear plastic holder that contained my school ID, a Metro pass, a few pictures and two keys, one for Dad's cottage and one for the townhouse. I flipped the holder around so that he could see the plain silver keys through the back. "And these are the only keys I have. Could you stop talking in riddles?"
The color drained from Kiernan's face and panic filled his eyes. "Was it in the bag? You should keep it on you…"
"No," I repeated. "I don't have a medallion. Until now, I thought there was only one and to the best of my knowledge it is at my grandmother's house."
"Why?" he asked. "Why in bloody hell would she send you out with no protection?"
"I don't know how to use it! Yesterday, I nearly…" I blushed, thinking back to the scene in the kitchen. "I saw you when I held it. Why? Who are you?"
The train began to slow. Kiernan closed his eyes and rubbed his first two fingers against his temples for a few seconds before looking up and shaking his head. "I didn't plan for this, Kate. You are going to have to run. Take a cab. Steal a car. Whatever you do, get to her house as quickly as you can and do not leave."
He moved us both toward the doors and then turned, pulling me toward him. "I will try to stall them—but I don't know exactly what they are planning, so I have no idea how long you have."
"How long before wha—" My question was silenced as his lips met mine, gentle, but urgent. My body was swept with the same sensations I had felt earlier when I held the medallion—heart pounding, unable to breathe, unable to move, unable to think.
After a moment, he pulled away, a small smile lifting the corners of his mouth. "This was not supposed to be our first kiss, Kate. But if you do not hurry, it will almost certainly be our last. Run. Run, NOW." As the train decelerated, Kiernan reached into his shirt and closed his hand around the medallion. The dark green band that he had pulled from my hair was now on his wrist. And then he vanished.
The woman with the paper bag was staring, her mouth shaped in a large, comical "O," but no one else seemed to have noticed that Kiernan had simply disappeared.
The subway doors chimed open and I ran.