Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Life gets a bit more complicated. And a lot less normal - Kate Triumph by Shari Arnold

Published October: 16th 2014


Normal is so overrated. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Kate Triumph tells herself everyday. But the truth is she lives in constant fear that someone will discover how not normal she really is. With her startling speed and her unusual ability to heal, Kate believes she’s something of a freak.

Then Andrew Shore arrives.
He claims he’s her father, sticks around for a few days and leaves her a plane ticket. “Come to Mercer Island,” he says. “Give me a chance to get to know you.” Soon Kate is floundering in a world of new: new address, new car, new high school and, of course, new father. Not to mention Zack, her intriguing new neighbor, who makes her want to abandon her steadfast rule of never allowing anyone to get too close. But when she discovers someone is trying to kill her, life for Kate gets a bit more complicated. And a lot less normal.


There is always a story behind the story when it comes to writing a novel. With KATE TRIUMPH I was actually working on something completely different when her name popped into my head. The name was so strong and intense I knew she had to be something special. My husband thought the name sounded like some kind of super hero but I didn’t want to write a super hero. I wanted her to be amazing but I also wanted people to be able to relate to her. 

And then it hit me. What if James Bond had a daughter? What if she was stronger and quicker and all the things you’d have to be to do the things a spy would do, and yet she’s living in the real world. Oh, and she’s seventeen. I knew she’d have an overprotective parent, one who wouldn’t want anyone to know about her abilities, and that Kate herself would feel like a freak.

And once I knew these things I immediately had to abandon what I was originally working on and move on to KATE. She was that insistent. When I finished the book I thought I was done. But that wasn’t the case at all. She made it clear she was edgier and a bit more vulnerable. Her sense of humor needed to come through as well. Kate is definitely one of my favorite characters I’ve written. All those years of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars definitely paid off. She’s spunky like Veronica and intense like Buffy. Not to mention she will always win in a fight.


“I was thinking we could chat for a minute before Andrew gets home,” Zack says.

“I’d really love a shower,” I say.

“Well, I think it’s a little soon in our relationship for that, but, okay,” he drawls.

I whip around and find him leaning in the kitchen doorway. His arms are crossed in front of him and he’s laughing at me. At least his eyes are. The rest of him appears relaxed and too damn sexy. “It’s just a chat, Kate. I’m not asking for anything more than that.”

But I don’t believe him.

“Alright,” I say, and when he doesn’t immediately respond it’s my turn to raise an eyebrow. “What did you want to chat about, exactly?”

“You.” Zack smiles when he notices my frown. “What? I thought all girls loved to talk about themselves.”

I shrug. “I’m not exactly up on what other girls do.”

“Yeah, I kinda guessed that about you.” He moves into the room and sits on the arm of the big black couch. “I’m not sure if Andrew has told you or not but Brandon and I lost our parents a few years ago. Brandon was fourteen and I was sixteen.”

“He didn’t tell me.”

“Yeah, well, Andrew’s not much of a talker.”

“Neither am I,” I say.

Zack’s eyes narrow and then he smiles.

“You’ll get along fine then.”

When he doesn’t say anything more, just continues to stare at me with those eyes of his, I say, “what happened to your parents?” I didn’t want to ask but I get the feeling if I don’t contribute to this conversation soon he’ll just continue staring at me until I melt into a puddle right here on the stairs.

“My parents were killed in a small plane accident down in the Caribbean.”

“I’m so sorry.” I know it’s the proper response. I’ve heard it enough lately to know it by memory but it feels strange coming from my lips.


“I can’t imagine losing both parents. That really sucks.”

“Yeah. It does. You’re lucky to have Andrew.”

“Yeah, lucky.”

“You disagree?” he asks.

“Sorry. I just really hate that word, lucky. It implies that life is occasionally fair, and you and I both know that’s not the case.”

“Why, because we lost loved ones?”

“That’s one reason.”

Zack shakes his head. “That isn’t why I told you, Kate.”

“You mean you didn’t want this to be one of those bonding moments when two people realize they have something in common and suddenly a friendship is born?” I shrug my shoulders and take another step up the stairs. “I’m sorry about your parents.”

Zack slowly gets to his feet. I watch him take one step and then another until he’s standing right below me.

“No, I’m sorry, Kate.”

“About what?”

Zack’s eyes are narrowed on me now. The friendliness replaced with something else entirely. Something I can’t place. “I didn’t realize you thought I wanted to be friends.” His eyes drop to my mouth and hover there, until I’m so self conscious I pull my bottom lip in and bite it nervously.

“Okay, so you don’t want to be my friend,” I say.


“Then you won’t mind if I go upstairs now?”

“Actually I do.” He grips the railing on either side of me and leans so close our foreheads are almost touching. It’s way too close for me but I refuse to be the one to back away first. “Is this what I have to do to get you to look at me?” he asks.

“You mean invade my space?”

Zack’s smile turns into a smirk.

“What’s your problem?” I ask when he doesn’t move away.

“That’s funny,” he says, and his breath tickles my eyelashes. “I was just going to ask you the same thing. I get that you’re sad. It sucks to lose someone. Believe me, I know. But I don’t think that’s what this is. This, I don’t give a damn, persona of yours. No, I think this is something else.”

“I don’t care what—” I stop talking when his eyes drop back down to my lips.

“What, Kate? Am I too close for you?”


“Am I making you uncomfortable? Asking too many questions?”


“Would you rather I stay on the other side of the room, maybe stop looking at you altogether?”

“Yes, I mean, I don’t really care what you do.”

“Really? I find that hard to believe.”

“Why?” I say far too softly.

Zack has me trapped on the stairs, my body bent backward to keep from touching him, but his eyes are like bands around my wrists, holding me in place. They burrow their way into my mind so that even when I blink all I can see are his gray-green eyes.

“What do you want, Zack? I’m tired and wet and I’m not really enjoying this game of yours.”

“My game?” he says with a laugh. His white teeth flash at me and then his lips cover them with a smirk. “You must have me mistaken for someone else. I don’t play games.”

“Okay. You don’t play games. So this,” I point my finger back and forth between the two of us, “this is what you’d call chatting?”

Zack just smiles.
I’m not used to the wetness of the road, the slick gravel under my feet. I concentrate on the neighborhood around me, memorizing each street sign I pass so I can find my way back to Andrew’s house. But soon the fog moves in, swallowing first the houses and then each and every last street sign. It closes in on me like a cocoon of white and my chest tightens with alarm.

I have no idea where I am. Or how to get home.

I pull my cell phone out of my pocket but it’s dead. I forgot to charge it last night.

I’m cursing my stupidity when just off in the distance I hear it.


I turn around and wait for a figure to arrive — hopefully someone who might know where Andrew lives — but the footsteps stop.

All I can hear is my breathing and a bird chirping somewhere in the neighborhood.

I take a few more steps and when I hear them echo back I pause again.

Tiny tingles of unease trickle down my back but the fog continues to keep its secrets.

I wait for the footsteps to catch up, still convinced they’re helpful rather than dangerous. They’re moving slowly, almost hesitant, as they close the gap between us.

I have to admit as much as I want to see whoever is out there, the idea of someone breaking out of the fog so close to me kind of freaks me out.

I start walking faster this time, almost a jog, but with each step I take, the footsteps echo back twice. Finally, when our steps are in sync I stop and peer through the fog.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” I call out. I grip my arms around me, suddenly cold.

But no one answers me.

I imagined it. That’s the only explanation. I shake it off and start running again, my pace much slower than normal. Then I stop. Nothing. I take four more steps. Silence. A couple more. More silence.

I take a deep breath and relax. This was a stupid idea, running in fog. Next time I’ll know better.

Something sharp is poking my foot from inside my shoe and when I bend down to investigate I find a small white pebble has wedged itself between my shoe and sock. It only takes a second to dig it out and toss it into the road, but when I straighten up I hear it again.

Footsteps. Slow at first and then they quicken to a run.

Are these footsteps new? Or are they the same ones from before? I decide to wait it out before I start moving again.

A twig snaps directly behind me and then the footsteps stop.

I spin around. Nothing. No face, no motion in the fog.

I open my mouth to call out once more but something tells me to stay silent.

A low guttural laugh breaks through the fog directly behind my right ear and my heart stops altogether.

About the author:

Shari Arnold grew up in California and Utah but now resides in Connecticut, with her husband and two kids, where she finds it difficult to trust a beach without waves.

She writes Young Adult fiction because it's her favorite. And occasionally she takes photographs.

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