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Stranger in Paradise by Eileen Goudge (Excerpt)

Stranger in Paradise by Eileen Goudge (Excerpt)

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Read an excerpt from Stranger in Paradise, the first novel in Eileen Goudge's addictive Carson Springs series.
Read an excerpt from Stranger in Paradise, the first novel in Eileen Goudge's addictive Carson Springs series.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Nov 18, 2011
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09/29/2013

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STRANGER IN PARADISEA Carson Springs Novel (Book One)By Eileen GoudgePrologue
She chose a seat in the back of the bus so as not to draw attention to herself,a girl just shy of sixteen who could have fit the description on any one of ahundred missing person posters: 5 FEET 7 INCHES, BROWN HAIR,BROWN EYES. LAST SEEN WEARING JEANS AND NAVYSWEATSHIRT. A girl with nails bitten to the quick and a silver stud in her nose, an army-green backpack wedged between her grubby sneakers. Itcontained a change of clothes, forty dollars in crumpled fives and ones, a pack of Winston Lights, and keys to an apartment on Flatbush Avenue,where at that moment a man lay dead in a pool of blood.She sat bolt upright until the bright lights of the city had dissolved intothe flickery, undersea darkness of the interstate. She was long pastexhaustion, but sleep was out of the question. Tiny muscles jumped under her skin. Her eyes were like dry, hot stones pounded into her skull. Shewould start to drift off only to be jolted awake as if violently shaken, her head teeming with nightmare images: the dark hole in Lyle’s chest, the redcircle widening across his ribbed white undershirt. It hadn’t fully registeredat the time, but now, in the sluggish current of heat that rose from the ventsat her feet, she couldn’t seem to stop shivering. She held herself bracedagainst the gentle rocking of the bus, muscles tensed to the point of 
 
 
cramping. As if her life depended on staying alert. Which, in a way, it did.The girl was asleep nonetheless by the time the bus reached Harrisburg.She slept straight through to Columbus, curled on her side with her nylonwindbreaker pillowed under her head, unaware of the zipper that by morningwould leave a row of red welts like stitches down one cheek. In thedarkness, with the highway’s fractured lights flitting across her slackenedface, she looked far younger than her age: a peacefully slumbering childwith someone to meet her at the other end.At the rest stop in St. Louis, she got out to stretch her legs, the sun alurid smear along the horizon. She lit a cigarette and leaned against thecinderblock. Her eyes were empty, staring out at nothing. Smoke rose in athin gray scrawl from the Winston Light cupped in her loosely danglinghand. When it had burned down to her fingertips she blinked andstraightened. The butt made a sizzling sound as she flicked it onto the pavement. Shivering with cold and holding her thin jacket wrapped abouther like an old peasant woman’s shawl, she shouldered her way inside.After a trip to the ladies’ room she joined the line in front of thevending machine, which grudgingly coughed up a packet of beer nuts and aMountain Dew. She wasn’t all that hungry, though she hadn’t eaten since breakfast. It was just to prevent her stomach from growling, keep othersfrom casting curious sidelong glances. Long experience had taught her whatmost kids her age never had to know: how to be invisible. The rules weresimple:
 Don’t raise your voice when speaking around adults. Don’t drink too much water (or your frequent trips to the bathroom will arouse suspicious looks).

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