BOOK DETAILS

The Sara Chronicles: We Were Destined

The Sara Chronicles: We Were Destined

by Laura Hughes

ASIN: B074N2QPFB

Publisher Silverfair

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

A young girl is removed from an unpleasant situation to a strange land, told she has the power to save an entire world while moving through a land of monsters who don't care that she's just a child

Sample Chapter

Into every life some trouble must come. But what happens when trouble is all you know and learning to survive is just a matter of routine? This is the beginning of a story in which struggle builds character and love is something that has to be awoken after a long sleep… And so, this is Sara’s story…

Chapter One

Someone made a terrible mistake twelve years ago, placing a homeless child in the care of Janet and Hugh Finklestein. This child’s life was proof that a higher power does indeed look out for the helpless innocents of this world. Small and vulnerable, this tender life was entrusted to callus, heartless souls who cared for her with less compassion than they might bestow upon an unwanted family pet. Though the Finklesteins were wealthy by the standards of the day, this child didn’t benefit from their prosperity. Her life was one of poverty under a luxurious roof. They did little to make things pleasant for this small child. She wasn’t really theirs, after all. And yet, despite the neglect, the misplaced orphan never got sick or starved. She continued to grow and thrive as if nourishment and care were provided from somewhere deep within.

Whatever her fortification, it kept her alive, even among a hostile family who didn’t even bother to give her a name. But a name wasn’t necessary. She came with one preprogrammed into her soul with an understanding that she would know it when she needed to. In fact, she told them to call her Sara when she was able speak, frightening them with the certainty of her own identity.

At this point in their relationship, both parties knew little about the reason for her being with them beyond their duty to see that she be kept alive. But being alive was far different from being happy, loved and secure in a continued existence. But little did she know, the Finklesteins were afraid to let her die. Not for reasons the average person might understand, more a self-preserving impulse than a moral or ethical one. For whatever reason, her survival, as miserable as it was, was necessary for their own. That Sara grew to be a remarkable young girl, despite the minimal attention given her, was a downright miracle. She was a well-mannered, sweet child, well-thought-of by all who knew her. But the trouble was: no one really knew her. Self-contained, solitary, Sara occupied space in a world of terrifying strangers. This girl possessed unique characteristics, an inner glow that made her stand out in a crowd. She seemed strangely complete inside, like she was carrying more beneath her skin than was immediately apparent. And while the Finklestein family despised her, she had a different effect on the rest of the world. She made an impression that had people staring as she walked across a room. She carried herself well, shoulders straight, with perfect posture. In some cases, too careful, like she was walking on eggshells, as if afraid to become too attached to people and places she might have to abandon at a moment’s notice. In conversation, she spoke slowly, to avoid saying the wrong thing, and never made eye contact, even when speaking directly to someone.

Though never seeking out others, many people wanted to be near her. When she began to attend school, children were drawn to Sara like moths to a flame – a flame she quickly learned to dim until she was almost as invisible as she wished to be. The remarkable girl they remembered vanished into an ordinariness of her own choosing, until most weren’t even sure they’d met her at all. It was safer that way.

There was always an underlying fear in her, a little rabbit in a world of ravenous wolves. For many years, Sara commuted from school to the fairy tale mansion where her time was spent in total misery. Day after day, she plodded through life trying to avoid being noticed by her adoptive family, because if they ignored her, the verbal abuse would not come. She would not be called the skinny little ingrate, the terrible mistake. If they just ignored her, she would not be berated for every action and thought she’d ever had. There would be no problems if she just became so small they didn't notice her. Please don't notice me. Please don't punish me. I’ll be like a little mouse. I don't like the dark room. I don't like being made to sit and go hungry while I watch you eat. Please just pretend that I'm not here at all.

But inside, the young girl had a tremendously strong will, which kept her going day after day. She played their game, listened with one ear, making herself as invisible as possible, always feeling there was something beyond life with the Finklesteins. Though high on the social ladder, the couple was low on the moral ladder. They would lie, cheat, and steal, while conducting themselves in public as if they had no idea what the word dishonest meant. Like poisonous chameleons, these people who called themselves her parents blended into their surroundings, winning the trust of those around them. No one would ever suspect that Hugh Finklestein was the mastermind of many a shady land deal, selling non-existent parcels of land to unsuspecting buyers, that he used stolen credit cards, sold fake identities to questionable characters, and may or may not have engineered robberies with a gang of small-time thugs. Janet was just as bad; her internet sales of low quality and illegally obtained products earned them millions of dollars. They had moved many a time to remain ahead of the long arm of the law; because Hugh was very good at covering their tracks, hiding behind many false businesses and sometimes changing their names altogether. In fact, Finklestein, though it was the only identity she could remember, may not have been their real names.

Sara accompanied them on all the wild flights from place to place. They didn’t want her but seemed afraid to let her go, even though she was told daily that she was not their biological child. It was obvious that these dark, burly people with thick noses and even thicker foreheads had not sired a little blonde girl with a perfect oval face, wide eyes and straight thin nose that turned up slightly at the end. While her step-siblings were well-fed, Sara was very thin, almost painfully so. Most people said that a good meal had passed her by many a time. Pale skin desperately in need of a little sunshine was accentuated by bright blue eyes that carried a sad, faraway look. She knew she belonged somewhere else. The Finklesteins were, to say it kindly, not very attractive people and not just in matter of appearance; they were ugly in the way that they acted towards others. Janet and Hugh, not Mom and Dad, were kind only in the regard of furthering their livelihoods. They were quite the benefactors, donating generously to the local school and other local charities. Throughout the years, they had learned something quite interesting – acting rich attracted other rich people. And knowing rich people was very good for business. They would seek out and cultivate the most influential citizens of the town and help them to make investments. These investments would sometimes pay off a little, and helped maintain a degree of legitimacy. Most of the money went into their pockets but they could explain away the losses by saying that investments were risky. People tended to accept that as a well-known truth. “Got to be careful,” Hugh would say. “Don’t mess with anyone too close to home. That's how you get caught. I’m too smart to get caught.” Then he and Janet would laugh about how there was a sucker born every minute, you just had to have the skill to spot them.

The Finklesteins liked the little town of Midland and planned to stay awhile, so they kept their business affairs mostly long-distance and low-key. Their children, Amy and Andy, were horribly spoiled and selfish. They had all the latest gadgets: cell phones with every imaginable feature, laptop computers, expensive entertainment centers in each of their rooms. Yet they had nothing: no character, no kindness, no love for anyone other than themselves. The two children were mean to Sara because their parents were. It was an accepted fact that she just wasn't part of their real family. She was just there because…well, they weren't sure why she was there. Amy had asked her parents once why they had brought this child home ten years ago. Her mother had looked her right in the eye and said that they couldn't really avoid taking the girl in. “Money’s money no matter where it comes from.” She'd said and would explain no more, soothing her children with kisses, candy and gifts to ease her conscience.

When she first arrived, the children, not yet having been corrupted by hate, tried to provide some comfort. They soon learned that their parents did not like this at all. Amy and Andy were strongly discouraged from showing any kindness to Sara. They now felt perfectly comfortable with calling her all kinds of names and giving her their chores to do. In time, they ignored her altogether; the stupid girl didn't even fight back. Sadly, in addition to having lost their compassion, Amy and Andy had lost their will to do anything constructive for themselves. They were beyond overweight, massive frames straining at the seams of their designer jeans, providing an interesting contrast to Sara's emaciated body. Each of their plump faces were blighted with shiny pustules that could easily be solved by proper diet and exercise, but most likely never would. Any friends the pair had were a result of their parents’ wealth. At such a young age, Amy and Andy were set on a tragic path, one they might never stray from as they had no other examples to follow.

While Amy and Andy's every need was attended to, Sara learned to work to obtain the things she needed. All her possessions were bought with money earned from a paper route she’d arranged for herself. The young girl saved all her pay, going regularly to the thrift shops on Huntington Avenue. It was at these places that the owners allowed her to purchase entire bags of used clothing for ridiculously low prices. She was always so polite and thankful, the shopkeepers went out of their way to find her the nicest things in her size and set them aside for her. The owners thought so highly of the girl, they would have given them to her free, but Sara insisted on paying; it was the right thing to do. She knew somewhere inside that she had to do her best, no matter what happened – it was expected by… the answer to that dangling question evaded her. Maybe it was the feminine voice in her head she had come to call her conscience. Don’t be like them the voice said to her on more than one occasion. You are meant for better was another of the messages that came through in the silent time just before sleep overtook her. She wanted to ask the voice why she was here and why it didn’t love her enough to help her leave, but it didn’t work that way. There was no predictable pattern to the messages she would receive and what she heard didn’t always immediately make sense. The silence would stretch out for long periods only to re-emerge when she felt control had left and she couldn’t endure another moment of life as it was.

That something that shared her mind chose not to relieve her suffering only to keep her alive. Knowing only that she couldn’t give up, the resourceful girl even managed to stash some groceries in her bedroom so that she would not starve. Mostly fruit, chips, and canned meats. Not the best of diets, but any food was better than no food at all. Survive, the message played in her head over and over, so she listened and continued on as best as she could. This thought carried her through days when she didn't think she could endure another second in this place.

Day after day, she got up early, delivered her papers, and continued to attend school because somehow it was all very important, she just didn't know why. School was Sara’s saving grace. The Finklestein’s allowed her to go because it was against the law to forbid it. Try as they might to deny her, she was a registered member of their family in the eyes of the law. Others were aware she existed and it was necessary to go through the motions of normalcy. Sara loved school and excelled in all her classes. This was of no comfort to Janet, who had to poke and prod Amy and Andy to attend. If they made a D+ on their report cards, it was an occasion to celebrate. To Sara, school was a welcome escape from the negative atmosphere of home. Her teachers praised her efforts and encouraged her to participate in extra-curricular activities. This, of course, was not welcomed with a positive response from Janet. The answer was no. “Sara has too much to do at home.” she had said when asked. But it had given Janet an idea. If Sara was doing so well in school, maybe she could use it to her advantage. It was around that time that Amy and Andy’s grades had drastically improved. It was not that they were putting in any effort, it was because Sara was now doing all their schoolwork. To try and keep up, Sara began doing homework from the minute that she arrived home from her paper deliveries. She was still doing homework until about eleven o'clock each evening, and that was on a good day when she didn't have to familiarize herself with new information (Amy and Andy were two and three grades ahead of her – and had been for several years). Maybe this year they would pass on to the next grade.

For the fourth time that week, the family went out to dinner without Sara . Seeing this as a welcome respite, Sara sat at home completing a report on scientific advances in health care for Amy to turn in. The small girl sat in her dimly lit basement room, shivering from the cold, pulling her sweater closer about her thin frame as she tried to concentrate on what she was reading. In contrast to the luxury home above her this was the slum section, yet she tried to make it homely. Sara had purchased a few heavy quilts from the thrift store to keep her small bed warm. The bare concrete floor had a few brightly colored rag rugs scattered here and there, and two small space heaters kept some of the chill away. Pictures of smiling family groups torn from magazines graced the walls; families she liked to pretend were her own. This was her refuge. Thankfully, the Finklesteins would not go beyond the basement steps; they considered it a nasty, filthy place that they were too good to enter and she was very grateful for that.

Sara sat at her small desk made from cinder blocks and a plank of wood painstakingly poring over the information in front of her. She was very tired and had to read the paper carefully because the words were beginning to blur. Struggling to stay awake, Sara finished the last sentence, walked up three flights of stairs with heavy legs, and laid it on Amy’s dresser. The sounds of the girl’s snores serenaded her on the trip back downstairs. Then, using her last bit of strength, she walked back to the basement, collapsed on her cot, and fell fast asleep.

Continues...

Excerpted from "The Sara Chronicles: We Were Destined" by Laura Hughes. Copyright © 2017 by Laura Hughes. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Laura Hughes

Laura Hughes

Laura Hughes- the author of five books in The Sara Chronicles series- is also a Registered Nurse and avid runner. A wife and mother of two, she works in a hospital during the day and writes at night.

View full Profile of Laura Hughes

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