Uncovering Cobbogoth (Cobbogoth #1)Release Date: 05/13/14Summary from Goodreads:Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister.
When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own.
“Norah Lukens,” said a voice close behind me.I froze, closing my eyes. It had been nine months, but I’d have recognized his voice anywhere. I slowly turned around. “James? “My voice came out in a strangled sort of whisper.He grinned shyly at me from the pavilion door.All I could do was stare. It was like I was seeing him for the first time. I noticed the delicate crow’s-feet that still creased when he smiled, his slightly crooked bottom teeth, the way his chocolate-brown curls peeked out of his backward baseball cap, fringing his tanned forehead. Those kind, deep-blue eyes. He was virtually unchanged, except for the scruff from a couple of days dusting his dimpled chin and upper lip—just the way I’d seen him so many times during my runs over the last nine months. Only this was less disturbing because he was actually here. He was real.In and out, Nor. In and out. I struggled to get my bearings as my heart hammered against my rib cage. The strange pull I hadn’t felt since last summer was already taking hold of me.James offered me his hand. “Welcome home, Nor.” He had the subtlest hint of a Bostonian accent; he always sounded so laid back—cool—even when he was angry. And he was the only person who’d ever called me “Nor.”“Right. Thanks,” I mumbled. Our hands met, and I was shocked by the heat. He was uncharacteristically warm. Then that familiar sense of home spread through my fingers, heading straight to my heart. The flush I always got in his presence crept to my cheeks.When our eyes locked, James smiled easily. “Geez, what’d they do? Starve you over there?” He held my arm up and out in order to look at me. “You’re skin and bones.”I lowered my eyes. I was kidding myself if I really thought he wouldn’t notice. I’d dropped twenty pounds at Dunstan before the hallucinations stopped. Why did Uncle Jack ever think this was a good idea?James cleared his throat and shocked me by squeezing my hand.I looked up at him—his eyes were intent on my face.“You okay?” he asked.“Um . . . yeah, sure.” It wasn’t until he cleared his throat again, then shifted slightly, that I realized I was still gripping his hand. “Oh! Sorry.” I quickly dropped it.James chuckled.Get a grip, Nor! Cool and distant—that was the plan. I dropped my eyes and passed him to gather my things.James got there first. “These all your bags?”“Yeah, but I can—”He snatched up the suitcase and backpack in one hand, the duffle in the other, leaving me nothing to carry.“Thanks,” I mumbled and followed him back to the car.James went straight to work packing up the trunk while I slid into the passenger seat. Once I’d buckled myself in, I scanned my brain for any “safe” topics of conversation—topics that didn’t include anything even mildly hinting at last summer. By the time James was sitting beside me, I decided my best chance at not tearing open old wounds was to close my eyes and pretend to be tired from my trip. That way neither of us would feel obligated to speak.It seemed that this was exactly what James was hoping for. I felt him glance over and let out the faintest sigh. Then, without a word, we pulled away from the curb.Thank goodness this was going to be a short ride. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the first of many memories from rushing in, shattering the fragile barrier I’d been building up to protect myself all year.“You ready?” James asked.We stood side by side in the driveway of his house. There was a car parked there. It belonged to the hospice nurse who came last summer, Tuesday through Thursday, to help Gram. James wanted to care for his grandmother by himself, but Gram insisted on hiring help to give him a few nights off each week.James motioned for me to go ahead of him up the winding drive to my own house. I was wearing my hair long and straight that night—something I’d started doing since James mentioned he liked it that way. Subconsciously—or perhaps consciously—I hoped he’d find a chance to run his fingers through it like he had once before.James stayed behind me for the first leg of the path. I was still in the beginning stages of discovering my feelings for him and consequently felt shy.From the side, I saw a pensive smile hitch up the corners of his mouth, exposing my favorite dimple.We were by the hydrangeas, on the way up to my porch when I felt something tug at my head. I turned. James was there, holding up a strand of my hair. He shrugged. “You got snagged on some flowers.”My face felt hot, and I fumbled for something to say. “Y-you know, you didn’t need to walk me home,” I said. “I’m sure there’re a million things you’d like to do tonight.” We were just reaching the top of the stairs leading to the porch.“A million things? Like what?”“I don’t know. Hang out with your friends, go see a Sox game, go play a game . . . ,” I offered.James just shrugged, fiddling with his baseball cap; we were at my door now. “I could do all of those things, sure, but I’d rather be with you.”“Y-you would?” I was facing the door, my hands trembling to get the key in the lock. But I could see the reflection of his face above mine in the window. He was still smiling. Why hadn’t I noticed the effect he had on me until recently?James reached up and placed his hand on my shoulder, turning me to face him. I was so terrified, yet excited at the same time. None of it made sense to me.“Didn’t you know that, Nor?”I shook my head. His hand was still on my shoulder, and he took a step closer to me.“How could I not, when you’re the only person who’s ever made me feel this way?”I gripped the doorknob. “Um, what—what way’s that?”James chuckled, completely bewildered. “You’re the only girl I’ve ever liked and not known what to do about it.”I leaned back against the door. “Don’t know what to do? What do you mean?”He took another step closer, letting his hand slide down my arm till it gripped my hand. “I know what I want to do, but I’m not sure if I should.”I swallowed. “Oh?”“And yet . . .” James leaned forward.But then the door gave way.I stumbled back, my only anchor being James, who tightened his grip on my hand. Then I spun around.Uncle Jack stood in the doorway, a smile that didn’t reach his eyes plastered on his face.“Nilla. James.” He let his gaze slide from one of us to the other until it lingered on our joined hands.Mortified, I quickly dropped James’s hand and moved past Uncle Jack into the house. “I’ll see you later, James,” I called just before darting up the stairs.That night was the first of several sleepless and confused nights concerning James Riley.I shook the memory away. It was one of many I’d tortured myself with the last nine months, trying to understand how I could have misinterpreted his actions. I truly believed he cared about me . . . as a friend, at least. No matter how many times I replayed the events of last summer, I couldn’t convince myself that he didn’t.
Nor? ” James rubbed the sleep from his eyes with the heel of his hand. One look at me, however, and he was wide awake. “What is it? Is it Gram?”“No. No, not that,” I croaked, guilt rushing through me for causing him more worry.The panic left his eyes, and he squinted at me.I shuffled self-consciously. I knew I looked terrible. I’d been up crying half the night after my argument with Uncle Jack about James breaking my heart. Finally, I snuck out my window, climbed down my cherry tree, and headed to the fire station to see James.“Hey, Riley! Cut the lights, man!”James glanced back into the dark, communal bedroom where the rest of the night shift firefighters slept.“Come here.” He took my hand, closed the bedroom door and, in stockinged feet, led me down the hall. A moment later, we were sitting side by side on the stairs. James still held my hand, and I hoped he’d never let go. I watched as he reached into his shirt pocket, fishing around until he found a piece of peppermint gum.He offered me half. I shook my head, so he stuffed the whole thing in his mouth. Then he turned those kind, piercing eyes on me.Growing warm under his gaze, I cleared my throat. “I-I’m so sorry to wake you up,” I started. “I hoped you’d still be awake. It’s just . . .”James mindlessly ran his thumb in circles over my knuckles. I lost my train of thought. Blinking, I took a deep breath and plunged on. “My uncle . . . he wants me to stop spending time with you. I mean, I can still help with Gram and everything, he just doesn’t want us hanging out any other time.” I sucked in another unsteady breath. “But I—I can’t let that happen, James. You’re my only friend.”James was quiet for what seemed like forever. I prayed he wouldn’t just shrug his broad shoulders and shuffle back to bed.To my relief, he reached up, rumpling his chocolate curls with his free hand. “Did he give you a reason why?” he asked, avoiding my eyes. I shook my head. “I think he’s afraid you’ll end up hurting me—that you’ll break my heart. You know how protective he is.”He was silent again, this time longer.Stupid, Norah! Why had I come here? Why did I think James would even care about this—that it would upset him at all?Finally, James let out his breath. And the next moment, he was pressing the back of my hand to his lips.I swallowed my shock. I’d never imagined that his lips could be so warm and soft. The contact sent a shock straight to my heart.“What do you think?” James mumbled a moment later, still contemplating my hand. “Do you think I could hurt you?”I wanted to burst into tears all over again. “I don’t think, James, I know. But it would be worth it.”James chuckled this time, resting his forehead against my temple. “Now that’s a compliment.”I smiled. Having him so close—smelling the fresh peppermint on his breath—was a fierce mixture of agony and ecstasy. They were feelings I’d never imagined I could feel.“I’d never hurt you, Nor,” James whispered at last, and his breath tickled my neck. “Not really.”
James hadn’t always had the power to break my heart. In the beginning, things had been simpler between us—we were only friends, and having never had a friend before, I was perfectly content just being there for him during Gram’s illness.But one day, out of the blue, it all changed.James had asked me to stay with Gram one night toward the end of July. Uncle Jack was on a dig, and James had a shift at the fire station. I was supposed to stay up with her through the night, but around midnight she was sleeping peacefully. I’d decided to lie down for a few minutes in the guest room. I even left the door open so I could hear her if she needed anything, but it turned out that I was more tired than I’d realized.The light of the morning woke me up. I jolted forward, horrified. The door to the bedroom was closed. Why was the door closed? Had Gram needed me in the night? Or worse, had she passed away with no one there to send her off?With no other thought than getting to Gram, I ran to the door and flung it open. I had to make sure she was still breathing.When I stepped out into the hall, I didn’t see the long, knobby bundle sprawled across the threshold.“What the—?” I tripped, heading for a face-first tumble down the stairs, when hands reached up out of nowhere and caught me by the waist. Before I knew it, I was pulled back into cradling arms.“Let go!” I struggled to get away.“Morning to you too, sunshine.” The hall light burst down on me, and I squinted up into a familiar face.“James?” I panted. “What are you doing here?”Lowering his arm from the light switch, he shifted in his sleeping bag, stifled a yawn, and grinned at me sleepily. “Well, right now I’m cuddling a gorgeous girl on my lap. Aren’t you gonna thank me for that extremely chivalrous catch?” He rested his chin on my shoulder and playfully batted thick brown eyelashes at me.I flushed, feeling the panic drain away only to be replaced by something equally unsettling. Knowing it was somehow connected to the way James was holding me close, I struggled to get to my feet again.“Whoa there! Where ya going?” James groaned. “I was just getting’ comfy.” He tightened his hold on me, and I was forced to stop wriggling.“I—well, I just—I need to check on Gram.” James’s breath was tickling my neck. I swallowed a mass of butterflies threatening to burst from my stomach. What was happening to me?“I-I’m so sorry, James.” I managed to scrape my thoughts together. “I totally fell asleep, and I didn’t hear anything in the night. And then—” I shook my head. “Wait. Why are you home?” I finally asked. “I thought you didn’t get off until ten or so.”“It’s eleven.” James pushed his chocolate-brown curls out of his eyes and reached for his baseball cap, which was resting on a nearby chair. “But don’t worry about it. They let me off early ’cause it was a slow night.” He shrugged. “When I got home, you and Gram were both sleeping, so rather than take you home, I thought I’d just wait ’til morning. I stayed out here in case she woke up.”“Oh.” His gaze was making me jittery. I glanced down at my hands. “Did she need anything?”James leaned his head against the wall, watching me with a dreamy sort of half smile. “She slept through the night—first time in weeks. I think you’ve got a magic touch.”I smiled, a strange warmth spreading through my chest.“So how’d you sleep?” he asked, returning his arm around me as if it belonged there. Then he reached up and pushed a wispy strand of silver-blonde hair off my face.My heart went berserk. The confusion mixed with pleasure coursing through me was powerful to the point of painful. “I slept good. Pretty deeply too apparently.”James didn’t seem to hear; he was busy twisting my hair around his finger. “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen your hair down like this. It’s usually in that tight braid,” he mumbled, not meeting my eyes. “Jack’s right. It really does look like vanilla ice cream.”My throat constricted as I swallowed hard. “Um . . . thanks?”He grinned and again pushed my hair back from my face. This time, however, he let his palm linger against my cheek, then trail down my neck. It came to rest on my shoulder.James looked at me with his blue eyes. They were deeper somehow.And then all of a sudden, the recognition of my feelings floored me. I liked James! He was more than just a friend!I’d wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I was trapped in his gaze. I was no match for this new side of James. Up to this point he’d been all friendliness and easygoing comic relief.“Nor,” he whispered, his own rapid breathing making his voice sound a little strained.“Hmm?”“There’s something I need to—”“Jimmy?” Gram’s weak voice trailed down the hall. “You’re home early?”He hesitated a moment, his eyes not budging from mine. Then he sighed. “Yeah, Gram. I’ll be there in a sec.”The moment was gone, and James helped me to my feet. He didn’t say anything more. I was okay with that; I convinced myself that whatever it was wasn’t important. Then I let him lead me down the hall toward Gram’s room. My skin tingled with a strange heat when he placed his hand at the small of my back.“What are you involved in, James?” I whispered, looking around the Rileys’ guest room and wishing with all my heart that I could have the old James—my James—back.
Top 10 things to do in Iceland:
I’ve never actually been to Iceland in real life, but I have been there many times in my imagination and through research—I think I’ve even been there once or twice in my dreams. If I could actually go there, however, these are the places I would visit.1) The Blue Lagoon. This is Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool, and you can bathe in it. It’s huge and is fed by mineral rich seawater that is heated by a nearby geothermal plant. http://www.bluelagoon.com/Geothermal-spa/2) Camp out in the middle of Iceland’s unpopulated tundra, away from all city lights just to watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky. http://www.iww.is/art/shs/pages/thumbs.html3) Visit Gullfoss, Iceland’s most famous waterfall. Take a picnic and hope for a rainbow to show up in the midst of the falls—better yet, get lucky and see a double rainbow, and then ponder about what it could possibly mean. J http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullfoss4) Hike Mount Hekla and know once and for all what the “Gateway to Hell” really looks like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hekla5) While in Southern Iceland, so close to Hella, visit Aegissida farm along the Ytri-Ranga river and check out the 12 Caves of Aegissida—yes they really do exist. These caves look like little houses squished up against a hill side, and were believed to be made by Irish monks before the Vikings even settled Iceland. There are even Celtic markings on the walls of the caves. http://www.nat.is/travelguideeng/plofin_hellar.htm6) While in Hella, stick around for the Icelandic horse races. Just southeast of town is a race course where Icelandic horses (mini-versions of our horses) race. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_horse7) If the thrill seeking type—which I am not—visit Iceland during a volcanic eruption. That could be pretty cool, and possibly life altering—literally. J http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/04/photogalleries/100419-iceland-volcano-lightning-ash-pictures/#/iceland-volcano-lightning-1_19113_600x450.jpg8) Visit the Black Volcanic beach in the town of Vik, located on the southern coast of Iceland. The black sand on the beaches is made from volcanic eruptions over the years, and the mountains close by the shore look incredible! http://www.flickr.com/photos/karnevil/513542117/9) Of course, one should definitely visit Iceland’s capital, Reykjavic. I hear it’s one of the coolest cities in the Northern Hemisphere with great music, happy natives, and some amazing Viking museums. http://www.visitreykjavik.is/desktopdefault.aspx10) Finally, I would check out some of Iceland’s cool elf rocks and their elf/troll museum in. I read an article once that Icelanders still believe that elves and possibly trolls exist, and that they live in the peculiar rock formations that have been created over years of volcanic eruptions and extremely harsh weather conditions. Apparently, if superstitious Icelanders come across one of these rock formations while building a road, they won’t blast through the boulder, or even move it; they’ll build their roads around them. I find that fascinating in today’s world. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHvOeiGHgfw
About the AuthorHannah L. Clark is the author of the YA fantasy-adventure "Uncovering Cobbogoth." It is the first book in a planned 7 book series. It will be released by Cedar Fort Publishing on May 13, 2014.Hannah lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with her husband and son.
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