A Bonus Scene from Now That You're Here by Amy K. Nichols

The Date: A bonus scene from Now That You’re Here
By Amy K. Nichols

While I’m here doing a guest post to promote While You Were Gone, the second book in the Duplexity series due to be published by Knopf on August 4, I decided I wanted to share a bonus scene with you from the first book in the series, Now That You’re Here.

First, though, a little background.

While You Were Gone tells the story of Danny, a boy who jumps to a parallel world where he’s no longer an orphan, where he has a cool best friend, and where he even gets the girl. But the society his parallel self lives in is a police state about to implode. The people there are weighed down by and fed up with constant security and surveillance. Surprisingly, Danny’s jumping holds the key to solving the problem. With the help of super-secretive Warren, they devise a plan to take down the entire system. If their plan fails, though, they run the risk of sending Danny back to his old world for good.

While You Were Gone is the flipside of the first book, Now That You’re Here, which tells the story of the alternate Danny and alternate Eevee. Danny jumps from a police state to a free society, only to discover his parallel self is an orphan living in a foster home. He’s a lonely loser who has no friends, let alone a girl. Still, super-smart Eevee who sits next to him in English agrees to help him figure out how he jumped there. With the help of her best friend Warren, they devise a plan to get him home, but now that he has Eevee, he’s not sure back home is where he wants to be.

If you’ve read Now That You’re Here, you know about the date between Warren and Missy Bivins, which happens off stage. You also know about the date’s wider implications. Today I want to share with you that scene, in all its nerdy splendor. If you haven’t read Now That You’re Here, I hope this scene piques your interest enough to give it a try. It’s a lot of fun. And be sure to check out While You Were Gone, which hits shelves August 4.

Without further ado, I give you…

Caterpillars, Bantha Steak and Secrets

Captain’s Log Stardate 92799.92: I set course to rendezvous with a fascinating life form approximately 1.6 meters tall with astronomical mathematic skills and brown hair typically worn in braids. Melissa Bivins. Missy.

Also in the honors track at Palo Brea, Missy sits next to or near me in several classes. She smells of citrus blossoms and potassium iodide. On a number of occasions I’d considered pointing this out, but didn’t want to state the obvious. It’s my understanding that females tend to be deliberate about matters such as perfume choice. Besides, orange trees are in bloom in Phoenix this time of year. Most residents probably carry a certain amount of pollen, and thus the scent, every day without even knowing. Still, I’d resolved that, should the subject come up over the course of the evening, I’d mention it.

That moment came approximately three minutes after she answered her door.

“Hi Warren,” she said, turning a braid around her right index finger.

I moved my goggles—my best pair, the antique aviators—up onto my forehead and said, “Hi Missy.” Then we looked at each other for another minute and a half, and I said, “You smell like citrus blossoms and potassium iodide.”

My keen observation skills must have impressed her. “Thank you,” she said. “I like your shirt.”

I’d chosen the quasi-steampunk Tesla portrait for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being that Nikola Tesla is one of the greatest scientific minds to ever live. Second, the scrollwork and stylized font make it look classy and I wasn’t sure what Missy had planned and if we were going somewhere nice. Also, my favorite shirt, the cosmic Einstein, was dirty. “Tesla was one of the greatest—”

“Scientific minds ever,” she finished and we both smiled.

I followed her through the house to the backyard where she led me up a ladder into the limbs of an enormous mulberry tree. Of course she’d have a killer fort. Inside, the Milky Way stretched across the ceiling. “Did you paint this?”

“My father helped me. He’s an architect.” She picked up a mulberry flower that had fallen through the open window. “They look like caterpillars. Spilarctia luteum maybe?”

I picked one up, too, and inspected it, my mind spinning. A lepidopterist, too? Missy Bivins was full of surprises. “Or spilosoma lubricipeda.”

She held out her pseudo-caterpillar and I touched it with mine. “Cheers.”

We sat on a blanket set in the middle of the fort and ate the dinner she’d prepared with her mom. Lamta, hubba bread, bantha steak soup. The choicest selections from Jun Seros’ diner in Mos Eisley. “It’s really couscous,” she whispered, pointing at the lamta, but we agreed to pretend.
When the sun went down, the Milky Way above us glowed. We ate sugar-dusted pallie and talked about school and the severe lack of challenging homework. We debated DC versus Marvel and tried to solve unsolvable math problems. Then, in a most surprising turn, Missy reached across the blanket and took my hand. “Tell me a secret.”

My mouth went dry. Of course my first thought was the Faraday cage and EMP device I’d been building with Eevee in my garage at home. I wanted nothing more than to tell her about Danny Ogden. If he really had jumped here from a parallel universe, then we were sitting on a discovery that would blow the scientific realm wide open. The words gathered at the front of my brain like podracers revving at a starting line somewhere in the Outer Rim. But secrets are called secrets for a reason. I couldn’t tell her.

Or could I?

Lle quena i’lambe tel’ Eldalie?

Her eyebrows furrowed. “Is that Italian?” she asked, confirming my suspicion that she wasn’t familiar with the languages of Middle Earth.

In perfect elven, the secret poured forth from my lips. Somewhere, Tolkien smiled down on me.

“Amazing,” she said, her face beaming despite having no idea the incredible tale I’d just told.  
Bolstered by a mix of relief and confidence, I added, “Oio naa elealla alasse’.” Ever is thy sight a joy.

At the end of the evening, when all the pallie and blue milk had been consumed, she walked me to her front door and kissed me on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said, and her finger went back to turning the braid.

I moved my goggles down over my eyes. “Lissenen ar’ maska’lalaith tenna’ lye omentuva.” Sweet water and light laughter till next we meet. Then I turned and walked home, filled with a sense that all was right in the world—or worlds, plural—all the while reciting the names of the stars above.

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