Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sneak Peak: Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill

 After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.
Laura works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media manager and is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s Festival of Flowers.
Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be published in July of 2015. Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York. Her writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.
She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in interactive technology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Upstate New York and currently resides near the Alabama Gulf Coast with her two children

The truth could cost her everything. 

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand.
Or is it?
When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It's temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.
If only Ava could believe her own excuses.
Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.
Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game? Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

Pre-Order your copy today.

Chapter 3
Wednesday, March 24

If I were The Flash, we’d be there already, since he thinks and moves at superhuman speeds. No stopping for red lights, having to stick to roads, or speed limits. I’d never have to do this crazy rollercoaster ride to the hospital. I grip the sides of the stretcher as the driver turns like he's on two wheels. Everything, including me, leans to the right. We speed up, swerve to the left, and stop suddenly in front of the emergency room.
I squint at the bright sunshine as the back doors fly open. The EMTs pull me out of the ambulance, push me down a painfully-bright hallway, and park me in the ER. The Flash would have just jetted through the walls using vibration. Problem solved. But since I’m in the ER, and not a science lab that’ll be hit by lightning, the chances of me turning into the new Flash today aren’t great. There’s always next time, right?
            I press my neck against the pillow, shifting to look around. Everything’s white, shiny clean, and new. It’s almost like a fancy hotel, except for the machines, and little buttons making robotic beeps. There’s a gross antiseptic smell, too, but I decide it isn't so bad after a while. My jaw hurts a lot, though, and there's thick tape and a big bandage on my chin. A tall, silver IV pole and tubes sit next to the bed, but luckily, no one's come in to stick me in the arm yet.
            A few seconds later, a burly man in scrubs walks in and throws a salute my way.

            “Hey, Dr. Max.”
            Behind his thick glasses, one huge gray eye winks. He bends closer to get a better look at my chin. Dr. Max peels back the gauze and whistles out loud at the gash.
            “Good job. Part of our frequent-flier program now?”
            “Frequent-what?” I tilt my head and the paper behind my neck crackles.
            “Never mind,” he laughs. “What’s the latest count?”

            I rattle off my list:  “Um, one broken leg—tree house; two sprained ankles—soccer; three bruised ribs—swing set; a fractured wrist—monkey bars; sixteen stitches in my left arm —chain link fence; seven more on my right hand—glass window.” I pause. “Did I miss anything?”
            The idea kind of makes my stomach churn. “Uh.” I think of when my mom died. It rained and everything smelled like dirt. Everyone was crying, except me. I made myself into a rock so I didn’t have to feel anything.
            I rub at my eyes, hard, and try to forget it. It doesn’t work.
            “Don’t you do plaques like that for dead people?” I ask.
Dr. Max raises his eyebrow. “Ah, Jack,” he winks. “Don’t worry about that. Your plaque would be of an honorary nature—a special award.”
            Dr. Max scribbles something on a chart. “Keep that gauze on there now, the Lidocaine will help numb the area. We’ll give it a few more minutes to work.”
Dr. Max and I both look up as an office lady from my school pulls back the nubby curtain and steps inside. She smells like roses and baby powder, even from a few feet away.
“Anne dear, is someone from Jack’s family on the way?” Dr. Max asks.
My memory snaps back. Of course. Miss Anne from school and Dr. Max are married.
She bobs her head and tugs at a thick rope of pearls. “Any moment now.” She looks worried and small, standing nearby in her navy blue dress.
            My stomach lurches. “Who’s coming?” I ask, pressing against the bed to sit up taller. “Please tell me you called my dad. It’s kind of a rule. He likes to know everything first, even if he can’t make it.”
            “Um, sweetie,” she says. “The principal had some trouble getting in touch with your dad. But your mom will be right here.” Miss Anne stumbles. “Ava . . . I mean your stepmom.”
             I grin. “Ava adopted me,” I say. “Well, we adopted each other. That’s what she says. It was final and all last week. Dad took us out for a big dinner to celebrate.”

             “I’m so happy for you all.” Miss Anne claps her hands. “Now, if she’d just come back to school . . .”
            I roll my eyes. “Not gonna happen. My dad won’t let—” I stop. A warning sign flashes bright red—TMI—too much information. “She’s staying home with Sam.”
            “Of course.” Miss Anne, who’s staring at me, coughs into her hand. “Yes. Right. I’m sure your father knows what’s best for her and the baby. We just miss her.”
            I gulp and grip the sheet. For a second, I think about life without Ava.      
“Yeah, I would too.”