Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman present the third and final book in a trilogy that stars a spunky teen who must escape assassins, stalkers and solve murder cases -- all while dealing with boyfriend troubles.
Read an excerpt of "Cathy's Ring" below and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.
Mom was at the hospital working the graveyard shift, and I was alone in the sweltering house. I turned off the air-conditioning as soon as she left for work, trying to save money. On hot nights like this, going to bed felt like I was pitching a tent in a toaster oven. But, in view of my spectacular failure to pay my share of the mortgage, it seemed like the least I could do. Summer was getting on, and it had been months since the dust had tasted rain. Wildfire season had started: a twenty thousand acre blaze in the Sierra foothills, and closer to home big grass fires were burning near Gilroy and Vacaville and Palo Alto. Dozens of smaller fires had left patches of blackened grass along the freeways all the way into San Francisco.
I changed into my lightest PJs, but after a second I decided not to take off the good luck charm my boyfriend, Victor, had given me—a Chinese coin threaded on a slim silver chain. He said he'd picked it up at the hospital gift shop earlier in the day. The unfamiliar weight swung and bumped against my collar bone as I trudged into the bathroom to splash my face with cold water. The eyes looking back at me from the mirror were bloodshot and exhausted. I shambled back into my bedroom and opened the window wide. There was no breeze, just the smell of burning, as if someone in the distance was holding a match to the darkness and waiting for it to catch. I shoved the blankets off my bed and lay down on top of the sheets to wait for sleep. It had only been ten hours since I'd seen a man shot. Every time I closed my eyes I saw him looking at his bloody chest in surprise: the red blood soaking into the carpet and spattered on the wallpaper behind him. In the darkness the scorched air smelled like gunpowder.
The dead man's name was Tsao. The last thing he said before he died was, "Cathy, I will love you forever."
They say love warms the soul, but it burns it sometimes, too.
It was after midnight when I gave up trying to sleep. I crawled out of bed, turned on the bedroom light and closed my window. I dug a perfume bottle out of my purse and sat on the end of my bed to examine it. The bottle was almost round, shaped like a piece of crystal fruit, an apple or a peach. The heavy stopper had been fashioned into a stem with one leaf still clinging to it. The liquid inside was the color of sunlight with a teaspoon of blood mixed in.
I brought the bottle of perfume up close to my face and took out the stopper. I used to smell things by leaning in and sorta sucking air through my nose, like most people do, but when I was being trained as a perfume demonstrator at the mall they told me you actually get more fragrance if you breathe normally with your mouth a little open and waft the air toward you with your hand. I let the scent curl around me, a sweet odor like peaches with an ugly little undertone of formaldehyde and smoke. It smelled like desire without hope. Like angels burning.
My phone rang, and I picked it up instantly, thinking it would be someone in trouble, Emma or Victor. I was half right.