I am so excited to be promoting the new cover of Dream Student, the first novel of my good friend, J.J. DiBenedetto. I loved this book. Took me right back to my days as a college coed.
For a limited time, it's bargain priced at 99 cents, so snap it up while you can. But I'm warning you - these books are addictive. I bought this one and immediately purchased the rest of the books that were available at the time. I've now read all six, and I'm fortunate enough to be one of J.J.'s beta readers for number seven. Read the excerpt, and you'll see what I mean. And did I mention it was available as an audiobook as well?
Here is the purchase link.
Link to audio sample.
We stop at McDonalds for a quick bite on the way home, and we just sit for a few minutes after we’ve eaten. Dad is staring longingly at his autograph. “This is beautiful,” he says, a faraway look in his eye. I look at Brian’s gift. Mike Schmidt signed it, “Brian–Go get ‘em, slugger!–Mike Schmidt, #20.”
He’s going to love it. How could he not? I just stare at the words, picturing Brian opening up his gift, imagining his reaction, feeling him holding me, kissing me…
There’s a sound, my Dad clearing his throat, and I’m back in the here and now. He looks at the picture in my hand, and then, with a very odd expression on his face he wags his finger at me. “I think I need to meet your young man.”
“You’re going to, Dad. On Sunday.” What’s going on?
He’s still got that expression. He’s looking at me as though he’s noticing something he’s never seen before. “I see so much of your mother in you. I don’t think you realize how like her you are,” he says, finally.
I do, actually. I look a lot like her. I’ve seen pictures of her when she was young, and if you didn’t know it you might think you were looking at me. I start to say that, but he shakes his head.
“It’s not just that you look like her,” he says, reading my mind. “It’s–well, I was watching you just now. I saw how your eyes lit up when you were thinking about your Brian.” How long was I staring at that picture?
“Nobody else has eyes like yours. Nobody else’s are that bright. Nobody else’s light up the way yours did just now. Except…” and now he chokes up a bit, and he has to have some water before he can go on, “Nobody except your mother. How you looked just now, that’s how she looks sometimes, when she’s looking at me.”
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Aunt Laura and I rode home in an awkward, tense silence. I guess she knew me well enough by now to know when I wasn’t in a ‘talking’ mood. I spent the drive fuming over Blondie’s ‘I get you, Hannah’ attitude.
Aunt Laura’s green eyes were bright with worry when we got back to her house. She pulled into the driveway, turned off the engine, and turned to look at me.
“Hannah,” she began, reaching for my hand.
I didn’t give her a chance to go on. I snatched my hand back and jumped out of the car.
“I’m going for a run,” I said before slamming the car door.
I took one glance over my shoulder as I headed toward the path. Aunt Laura was still sitting in the car, head on the steering wheel. I tried not to think about the pain I must have caused her as I headed down the path.
I really couldn’t understand why everyone was so bent on me ‘remembering’ and ‘talking’ about what happened. I wished I could go back to the first days after. Before I remembered anything.
As I ran, feet pounding the familiar cadence, thump, thump, thump, my mind involuntarily drifted back to when I first woke up in the hospital. Aunt Laura was the first person I’d seen which confused me. Where were my parents? I’d never so much as cut my finger without one or both of them taking care of me.
I was still in shock from her explanation when a detective came to my room to ask me questions about what I remembered. He explained that it was important to get any information, any detail, about what I might have seen while it was still fresh in my mind. The thing is, at the time, there was nothing in my mind. At least not about the day my parents died.
It wasn’t until the nightmares started that I began to remember the rest...
When I opened the door the streetlight outside gave just enough light for me to see the foyer table. There was a bank envelope thick with cash. My mind didn't register the significance of that until much later...when I began to question the 'home invasion' theory of the police.
Every room in the house was dark. Now that was weird because we always left a light on over the sink in the kitchen. Always. That’s when the feeling hit me. It started as a gnawing in the pit of my stomach and raced around inside of me until I thought I would throw up. My heart started racing, and I could barely breathe.
And I was afraid.
I sat my backpack on the end of the table very quietly instead of just tossing it on the couch like usual. My eyes began to adjust to the dark, and I remember my senses being heightened. I saw that a picture had been knocked over. I knew without picking it up that it was a studio picture of me with Mom and Dad.
I gradually became aware of a strange, nauseatingly sweet odor. As I moved from the foyer to the living room, I tripped over something. My hand fell into something warm and sticky, and the meaning of the odor began to slowly make its way into my awareness.
I heard the sounds of a struggle.
My heart was pounding so hard I thought it might rip out of my chest.
“Mom?” I gasped.
“Don’t come in here honey. RUN!” Her voice. Strangled. Panicked.
The bile rose in my throat. I wanted to run, I tried to scream, but I could not move.
I heard the sound of my mother’s voice being muffled…and then the sound of a body falling to the floor.
My muscles shaking, I tried to stand up. My eyes adjusted to the dark, and I realized that I’d tripped over the body of my dad. The warm, sticky substance on my hand was his blood. My stomach heaved. I became dizzy then everything went black...
I forced my mind back to the present...the forest...running. I'd had enough remembering. It was then I realized I still had the notebook set Dr. Henderson had given me in my hands. I sat down and wrote:
Remembering what happened to my parents makes me feel like h---.
That's me. Wife, mom, former teen, and writer.
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