Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Show Me a Sign by Susan Miura

Seventeen-year-old Nathan Boliva is under investigation by the FBI for a kidnapping he didn’t commit. Deaf and beautiful Haylie Summers agree to go on a date with him, then disappeared the day before. When the Feds discover a text was sent from Nathan’s cell phone, asking Haylie to meet him behind her garage, Nathan becomes a prime suspect.
Tied and blindfolded, Haylie struggles to grasp Nathan’s role in her captivity. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would kidnap her. Then again, if  he didn’t, who is holding her hostage, and why?

Desperate to solve the crime and rescue Haylie, Nathan and his best friend, Alec, set out at midnight to gather intel…and end up with far more than they bargained for.

Book Excerpt

BEING DEAF HAS ITS ADVANTAGES. People think I have a sixth sense, but it’s just a matter of noting the shift in a person’s eyes, the prickle of electricity in the air when a storm is miles away. And when I pray, there are no noises filling the space between me and God. But I’m not praying now in this alley. No, I’m caught up in that fat harvest moon, a cosmic jack-o-lantern illuminating the autumn night. My eyes break away to scan the alley one more time.
Something’s wrong. Nathan should be here by now. It’s weird enough that he texted me to meet him behind the garage. The least he could do is show on time. A breeze scatters leaves along the alley, shooing them behind garbage cans and fences like a mother hen hiding her chicks from a fox. I zipper my hoodie to block out its chill and watch pewter clouds drift in front of the moon, obliterating its friendly light. Fear crawls up my spine with its prickly spider legs, lingering at the base of my neck.
The something wrong isn’t Nathan.
Vibrations come from behind me, followed by familiar waves of warmth. A car. How long has it been there? Before I can turn, an ogre hand clamps over my mouth, jerking my head backward as other hands pull me toward a silver coupe.
Wide shoulders, thick arms, definitely men. Black knit ski masks obscure their faces, but not the creepy eyes that glare rivers of terror through my heart. Screams quiver my flimsy vocal chords, their sound blocked by a salty, sweaty hand. I strike out in every direction. One feels like a bear, but I keep fighting. From the shallow front pocket in my jeans, my cell phone crashes to the ground.
There goes my lifeline.
My right foot lashes out frantically and strikes a shinbone, my fingers find flesh and dig in like tiger claws, but in the end, these small victories matter little. Despite my best efforts, the whole grab-n-go takes less than a minute. Rough hands shove me into the car.
No, please—not the car! Not this! Now they can take me anywhere, do anything. Anything. The battle is lost…but there will be more. I am not done.
In the back seat, I am gagged with a cotton rag and bound with plastic ties. An icy wave of despair sweeps through my body. The large man ducks as though searching beneath his seat, then turns toward the driver, his lips impossible to read in the dark. Nodding, the driver reaches under his seat and pulls out a gun.
Oh, God!
I send up desperate pleas to heaven, but no angelic armies swoop down to block their escape. No lightning bolts or knights in shining armor. And as the car speeds off into the darkness, even my sixth sense fades in the face of a black tidal wave.

Gone with the Wind

Thursday evening

I know, there’s always a girl, but Haylie’s different. Really. She has this wavy hair that drapes down her back and sways like summer wheat. Wouldn’t say that to my friends, though. She’d be “Wheat Girl” from that point on. She’s a junior, like me, and she’s deaf—not much to explain there. Haylie isn’t hot like Pom Pom Anna, or drop-dead gorgeous like that brainy girl on Student Council. She’s what one of those sappy poets might compare to something like a spring rain. But the most important thing about Haylie, at least for now, is she’s missing, which is why I’m sitting in FBI headquarters. The absurdity of it bangs around my head like a pool ball. I mean, I didn’t have anything to do with her disappearance, but try telling that to them.
“Are you absolutely sure you have no idea where she is?” The gray-haired agent, Alessio, leans forward, his words probing but not accusing. “Think about it. Take your time. Maybe something will come to you.”
Like what? The acid churning in my stomach? Haven’t felt that since last spring, when everyone was counting on me to win the hundred-meter Butterfly at Nationals. Which went much better. “No, I told you.” Let’s try this again, guys. Don’t they get it? If I knew, I wouldn’t be able to tell them fast enough. “Check at the zoo. Her stepdad’s the head of something. She hangs out there sometimes, helping with the animals and stuff. Maybe something weird happened.” I rub clammy hands on my jeans, hoping they don’t notice. Wishing I were anywhere but this stuffy room.
“As in?”
“I don’t know. Maybe an animal hurt her and she can’t reach a phone. It’s worth checking out, right?” Watching all those crime shows never prepared me for this. I am completely at their mercy, possibly going straight to jail from here. Tattooed skinheads, strip searches, steel bars—the images pummel my brain.
Agent Alessio sighs. Kind eyes gaze at me like I’m a wounded creature caught in a bear trap. “Nathan, you realize you are not under arrest and you can leave any time, right?”
There are two problems with that. One, Dad would kill me. He wants me to cooperate with them. Two, I’d look guilty as sin. He waits for me to nod my understanding.
“We just want information that will lead us to Haylie,” he continues. “Anything. Would you like your mom or dad to join us? Or perhaps a child advocate?”
“A what?”
“An adult who will look out for you, make sure your rights are not being violated.”
Does he think I’m a kid? I can answer questions without my parents, or a child whatever. I’m almost eighteen, old enough to vote for the leader of our country, or risk my life protecting it. The last thing I need is Mom sitting here teary-eyed or Dad telling me how to answer.
I sit up a little straighter. “No, I’m fine.”
He pulls out a chair and sits down across from me. Seems like this whole thing’s wearing him out. “You have the right to ask for a lawyer, if you feel you need one.”
Yeah, that would only cost about a million bucks, and there goes college. Anyway, I have nothing to hide, so it seems kind of stupid to pay a lawyer. “No. I can answer your questions just fine on my own.”
The two agents continue grilling me in this CSI-style room, complete with two-way mirror, wall phone, and air left over from the 1960s. They are highly skilled at rewording the same questions over and over, like the truth will slip out if they use that clever technique. Problem is, I’ve been telling them the truth the whole time.
“Tell us again about meeting Haylie.” Smirley, the younger agent, glares at me with unblinking snake eyes.
I suppress a sigh, knowing attitude will only drag this out longer. “I’d wanted to talk to her for a while, but I guess I didn’t know what to say.” Warmth creeps up from the acid pit and floods my face. Even I can tell how lame that sounds.
Smirley scribbles some notes. “Do you have a problem talking to people? Do you have friends, or do you spend a lot of time alone?”

Clearly he sees me as a social outcast, talking to other whackos in chat rooms and Googling ways to make bombs or homemade poison. Shifting in my seat, I wonder how to tell these suits about how pretty she is, how smart, how classy. They wouldn’t understand. 

In this book, Haylie Summers is terrified she may become a victim of human trafficking. Though Haylie is fictional, her fears reflect a horrific and escalating problem in our world that is painfully real. Half the author’s royalties from Show Me a Sign will be donated to one of the many organizations working to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking.

About Susan:

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, longing for a horse and reading books by Marguerite Henry, Walter Farley and Anna Sewell. After attaining my goal of becoming a newspaper reporter, I moved to New Mexico, until my heart led me back home to Illinois. Love, marriage, children and a career in public relations made for a challenging and satisfying life, but I still needed a release for the stories in my head. When they wouldn’t stay captive any longer, I began a fiction journey, rough and rocky, but blessed with people who loved, mentored, cheered, taught, critiqued and believed in me.

In addition to my full-time job and writing fiction, I write a column for a daily newspaper, review books for Faithfulreader.com and give travel presentations. I am a member of Willow Creek Community Church and the American Christian Fiction Writers. My lakeside home, where I live with my husband, children and Cleo-the-cat, is located near the school that inspired Show Me a Sign’s Beethoven High School. Additionally, my large, multicultural family serves as an inspiration for all of my stories. 

To buy Susan's book:

Susan Miura is giving away a copy of Show Me a Sign. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Jackie McNutt said...

Thank you for the review. I want to thank Susan for the concern she has for victims of human trafficking. Her book seems really interesting.

sm said...

I would love to win a book about signing. Never read one like that. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Deb R. said...

Human Trafficking seems to be showing up in more and more novels. Not something comfortable to talk about but certainly needed. Thank you for bringing this issue some more attention. cjajsmommy [at] gmail [dot] com

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