A new home in a new state. The chance to get away from the relentless bullies and reinvent himself. Then on the first day at his new high school, Robin Westmore finds himself in the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time and right back into the role of victim. All Robin can do now is wish for the harassment to stop.
Being the leader of the genie world is not what Desiree expected. The Guides aren’t happy with her or any of the decisions she makes. The only thing they all agree on is that they want their old boss back, but Kaf has vanished, leaving the Guides in shock and Desiree with a broken heart.
While Desiree hides from her responsibilities, Robin disappears into the video game he’s created. There he finds excitement, adventure, and control. When the game presents him with an escape from his tortured life, will he take it?
Maybe I could call in sick. With something fatal. Something so contagious the entire high school would contract it just by looking at me. Was there such a thing? I took out my phone. “Okay, Google. What is visual contagion?”
“Good morning, Robin.”
For half a second I thought my phone had learned my name. And had started speaking in my mom’s voice? I entered the kitchen and found Mom in her pink bathrobe with the tea stain down the front, waiting for me. She must’ve heard me talking to my phone.
“Morning.” I set my messenger bag by the back door and took a seat at the kitchen bar.
Google had only come up with only one direct hit and was now blinking at me, waiting for something that would challenge its storage banks. The ‘contagion’ it presented wasn’t even a disease. It was some company in Vancouver that spread positive messages on organic hemp or bamboo T-shirts. Great. I ask for science, I get hippies.
“Do you think Visual Contagion would be a good name for a band?” I asked Mom as I scrolled through a few of the t-shirt pictures.
“Hmm,” Mom said, tapping her fingernail against her teacup. “A band that plays music?”
My turn to sit and blink. “What other kind is there?”
“Plenty. A wrist band. Hairband. Wedding band. Waistband.”
“Okay, okay.” She’d go on and on and then open the thesaurus app on her tablet if I didn’t stop her. “I’m a guy. I don’t think about hairbands or jewelry. Yes, I meant a band that plays music.”
“Then I’d say no. Visual Contagion, great a name as it is, would not work for a musical group.” She took a sip of her tea, Irish breakfast according to the tag hanging from the string, as she contemplated. “Auditory Contagion could work. Audio? Audial?”
Auditory Contagion would indeed be a damn cool name for a band. Almost made me want to form one. Except I couldn’t play a single instrument. Not even that plastic flute-thing they made us play in elementary school. Maybe I could compose something on my computer. I needed music for my video game anyway.
“Okay, Google. Popular music software.”
“Would you like some breakfast?” Mom asked. “Or are you just going to play with your phone until it’s time to leave?”
My mom wasn’t the most domestic person. She did like to feed people though, and when she took the time to make an actual meal, she was a great cook.
I set my phone in my lap and analyzed my hunger level. “Juice and toast with butter and jam. Two slices.”
“Two? You’re hungry today. What kind of tea?” She held up her Irish breakfast to me with a questioning look and wiggled the box as if that would lure me to the Celtic side.
“English breakfast, please. With cream and two sugar cubes.”
“Off to the range,” my dad said as he entered the kitchen and set a black case—smaller than a briefcase, larger than a lunchbox—on the gray marble counter.
“Before work?” Mom asked.
“I don’t have any meetings until ten today. I want to try out my birthday present.”
Who knew a guy could get so excited over a handgun? Then again, this one did have a built-in laser. Guns weren’t my thing, but if presented with a laser-operated piece of technology I’d be all over it. So, I could understand his enthusiasm to a point.
“Want to come with me, Robin?” Dad asked as he plugged the first of two coffee pods into the machine to fill his travel mug.
“Thanks, but I do have a meeting before ten,” I said. “I have that test first thing.”
“Finally,” Dad said. “I don’t understand the holdup on allowing you to take a placement test. You studied?”
“Of course he studied,” Mom said as though nothing could be more unthinkable than me not studying.
“I did,” I told them. “Don’t worry, I’ll pass.”
“They should put him directly into Calculus and Differential Equations,” Dad said.
“He could handle it,” Mom agreed, “but AP Calculus will be an easy A for him.”
“Good point,” Dad said and clapped me on the back, nearly knocking me off my stool. “Build that killer GPA. Get into the college of your choice and academic scholarships as well.”
“Don’t pressure him,” Mom said, setting a plate with my buttered and jammed toast on the placemat in front of me.
Shawn McGuire is the author of young adult novels that blend contemporary settings and issues with a touch of fantasy and magic. She started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that's episode IV) as a kid. She couldn't wait for the next movie to come out so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then.
Her books deal with harder topics (death of a sibling, divorce, dating violence, bullying, and teen suicide) because she believes it is important to talk about these things. Those kinds of topics can be hard to handle and a bit overwhelming, so she infuses a bit of humor in her work as well because she also believes that a sense of humor can help you get through just about anything.
Shawn lives in Colorado with her family where she spends her time reading, cooking and baking, practicing yoga and meditation, and hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.
Author’s Other Works
The Wish Makers Series