Sixteen-year old Emma Braun got off the school bus and strode down Stockel Square toward her home. She glanced up at the October sky and wrapped her wool scarf tighter around her neck. Heavy dark clouds threatened a downpour.
As she passed a newspaper stand, the headlines on The Brussels Gazette caught her attention:
ANOTHER VIOLINIST VANISHES!
Emma stopped. For a moment she could only stare. She dug into her jacket pocket for coins and bought a copy.
The newspaper article left her stunned. Not only because three well-known violinists had gone missing in the last several months, but because the latest one was her teacher, Monsieur Dupriez.
The news story seemed so hard to believe, she stopped at the next street corner to read it one more time.
It was the last week of October, and the shops and homes were lightly adorned with Halloween decorations. Pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns sat on doorsteps. Witches, broomsticks, and black cats hunkered down in windows and shops. Just last evening, Emma had sauntered along this street with her best friend Annika, unconcerned and looking forward to Halloween. Now, everything had turned dark and ominous.
The strange incidents she had experienced for the past two weeks added to her stress.
At first she had thought they were a string of coincidences, but not anymore. While scowling at obnoxious Billie Lynam during school recess, for instance, she wished he would fall flat on his face… and half a minute later, her wish was granted. On various occasions she guessed people’s thoughts before they spoke. And yesterday, on her way home from school, she accurately guessed the meal her mom had left on the table for her.
Was she some kind of a psychic? If so, why now? People didn’t develop powers like these overnight. Did they?
She hadn’t told her mom about her new abilities yet; only Annika knew. Maybe she would tell her mom today, after she shared the news about Monsieur Dupriez.
As Emma approached her home, she quickened her step. By the time she reached the door she was almost running. She raced into the hallway and dropped her book bag on the floor.
“Mom!” she called, looking in the kitchen, then in the living room. The house was silent. “Mom!” she called again, racing up the stairs to the bedrooms. Entering her mother’s room, Emma found her sitting very still on the bed with a crumpled letter in her hand.
When her mom saw her, she hastily put the crumpled piece of paper into her pocket and rose from the bed. Her arched brows were furrowed with anxiety.
Emma momentarily forgot the newspaper article. “Are you okay, Mom?”
“I’ve just received some unsettling news,” her mom said. “I must make a trip to see your Aunt Lili. She’s ill. She…I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”
Aunt Lili? Emma frowned. More surprises. Emma had never met her mom’s eccentric only sister, who lived alone in the Hungarian mountains secluded in an old chateau surrounded by dark woods—or so her mom said. Though again, her mom hardly ever mentioned her.
“What’s wrong with Aunt Lili?” Emma asked. “Can’t I come with you?” She had always been intrigued by her mysterious aunt.
“No. You’ll stay with Grandpa. You enjoy working with him, don’t you?” Her brown eyes met Emma’s before turning away, and though her voice sounded matter-of-fact, Emma detected a trace of ambivalence.
Emma sighed. She loved violin making with a passion, but Grandpa was a bitter taskmaster. No matter how much she tried to please him, she never could. Maybe that’s why her mom often seemed so reluctant about her apprenticeship.
“I’d rather go with you,” Emma said. “Plus, next week is holiday.” All Saints holiday week—or Toussaint, as they called it here—almost always coincided with Halloween.
“That’s out of the question. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. Besides, you can’t miss your violin lessons, not with the Christmas competition at the academy coming up soon.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Emma said gravely, extending the newspaper.
Her mom took it. “What’s this?”
“This is why I came running up the stairs.”
Her mom read the headlines. She gasped and looked at Emma. When she finished reading, she sat on the edge of the mattress and stared into space. “Oh, my God…” she whispered.
Emma sat next to her mom. “It says Monsieur Dupriez disappeared in his study. The doors and windows were locked from the inside. The police don’t have any explanation. How can this happen? It’s not logical. It’s not humanly possible.”
“No, not humanly possible…”
“Just like the other three—that German violinist, the French one, the American. Nobody has explained their disappearances. Who would want to kidnap violinists?” When her mom didn’t answer, she began to gnaw at her fingernail.
As if by reflex, her mom pulled Emma’s hand away from her mouth.
“Sorry,” Emma mumbled. “I’m just worried about him.”
“Poor Madame Dupriez. We must visit her. She must be in quite a state.”
“Can you call her now?”
Her mom sighed. “I will. In a moment.” She looked at Emma, her features softening. Gently, she smoothed Emma’s glossy chestnut locks and side fringe away from her face. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine. You mustn’t be afraid.”
“Afraid? Why would I be afraid?”
“I mean, about Monsieur Dupriez.” Her mom appeared flustered.
“I’m not afraid. I’m worried, and angry. I want to find out what happened to him. Without him, I don’t even want to take part in the competition.”
Monsieur Dupriez had been Emma’s teacher since she was four years old. But more than teacher, he was her mentor.
“You will do your best at the competition—with or without Monsieur Dupriez. Do you hear me?” her mom said. Then her voice softened. “Listen, darling, I know how close you are to Monsieur Dupriez, but you cannot allow his disappearance to destroy your chances at the competition. I’m not asking you to win, only to do your best. You have great talent, a gift, and your duty is to use it to the best of your ability. Never forget this. Monsieur Dupriez would never want you to forget this.”
“You still haven’t told me what’s wrong with Aunt Lili,” Emma said, changing the conversation. “Why must you go to her now, after all these years?”
Looking into Emma’s face, her mom hesitated, as if unable to decide what—or how much—to say. “You know she’s always been ill, a recluse. She…” She rose from the bed and walked to the window, then opened the curtain. It had started raining, the drops pelted against the glass. “This time it’s serious. She may die.”
Emma couldn’t help feeling a twinge of suspicion. She hated distrusting her mom, whom she loved more than anything in the world, but this time her mom was lying. Emma trusted that feeling, another of her freaky new abilities. She felt an overwhelming urge to chew her fingernails, but tried to control herself. For her mom, a violinist’s hands were a work of art.
“But what’s wrong with her? What kind of disease does she have?” Emma insisted.
“Her heart is very weak.” Her mom turned away from the window to face Emma. Her voice was laced with impatience.
And again Emma thought: She’s lying.
“Please don’t worry about it,” her mom went on in a lighter tone. “I’ll try to come back soon.”
“As soon as I can manage.”
“Grandpa is always in such a nasty mood,” Emma complained.
“Well, that isn’t news, is it?” Her mom stared down at the floor, as if absorbed by her own thoughts. After a pause, she added, “He’s old and his back always hurts. You know that.”
“I love Grandpa, but he’s so freaking…” She tried to come up with the right word. Bizarre. Instead she said, “Mysterious. You know, with his violins.”
Her mom looked at Emma and frowned, as if waiting for her to say more.
“You know what I mean, Mom. With that room at the top of the stairs. The one that’s always locked.”
Her mom’s features hardened. “He keeps his most valuable pieces in there. You must never disobey him. He would be very disappointed.”
“Who said I would go in there?” Emma asked, trying to sound innocent. If there was something she intended to do, it was going inside that room. Once she’d almost been successful. For some crazy reason, Grandpa had forgotten to lock it one day. But the instant she touched the doorknob, he had called her from the bottom of the stairs, his wrinkled features twisted into a mask that had left her frozen. He had appeared enraged and afraid at the same time.
“When are you leaving?” Emma asked, shaking off the past to focus on the present issue.
“As soon as possible. Tomorrow, probably. I’ll get the plane tickets today.”
“Emma, please. If you’re going to complain or say anything negative, I don’t want to hear it.”
Fine. Obviously, this wasn’t the best time to bring up her new psychic powers. She headed to the door.
“Where are you going?” her mom asked.
“To my room.”
“I’ll call Madame Dupriez to see if we may visit her after dinner. In the meantime, I want you to pack. You’re moving to Grandpa’s tomorrow.”
In her room, Emma dragged her suitcase from the top shelf in the closet and set it on the floor.
“Hi, Sweetie,” she said to Blackie, her rabbit. “Want to get some exercise?” She opened the cage door so Blackie could hop out and roam about her room. Blackie was housebroken, and smart as a cat—or close to it.
She stared at the elegant taffeta gown hanging from her wardrobe door, a strapless design a la Anne Sophie Mutter she’d already bought for the upcoming violin competition.
Slumped on the bed, Emma wondered for the umpteenth time about Monsieur Dupriez’s strange disappearance.
Where could he be?
Tag Archives: Juniper Grove Book Solutions
Title: The Luthier’s Apprentice
Author: Mayra Calvani
Published: May 15th, 2014
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 12+
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…
When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.
But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?
Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…
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Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.
$25 Amazon Gift Card OR Paypal Cash.
Title: Leighton’s Summer
Series: SYNSK # 2
Author: K.C. Finn
Published: April 15th, 2014 by Clean Teen Publishing
Word Count: 76,000
Genre: YA paranormal Adventure
Content Warning: Mild Violence
Recommended Age: 16+
Synopsis: A teenage boy with something to prove gets caught up in a web of crime and deceit in England, 1945.
In the weeks leading up to his sixteenth birthday, gifted psychic Leighton Cavendish finds himself suddenly packed off to Blackpool, a glittering, teenage paradise filled with plenty of opportunities for amusement—and trouble. With only a preoccupied grandmother to keep an eye on him, Leighton’s desperation for adventure leads him out into a world of holidaymakers, candy, and carnival rides—the ideal place to spend six weeks away from home.
But Leighton’s psychic visions are encroaching on his fun, trying to warn him of the danger that lurks beyond the shimmering lights of the Golden Mile. Who are the mysterious thieves Leighton sees in his head, and what do they want with the children they seek? A girl called Faye holds the answer, but she has enough problems of her own.
Amid the climate of a tourist town recovering from the impact of the Second World War, two lost teenagers will discover a shocking truth about human greed. Together, they will try to fight against it. For Leighton and Faye, this will be a summer to remember—one filled with challenges that must be overcome.
A summer that turns a boy into a man.
Excerpt:“Look,” I began, knotting my fingers together to try and hide the blood, “those lads I was with… I don’t want anything to do with them really.”Faye bit her lip. “They’re bad kids,” she agreed, “I didn’t think you were like that.”“I’m not,” I promised, once again resisting the urge to grab her arm and insist, “I just… I didn’t know they were bad before I started going around with them. I only met them yesterday.”“Opinions can change quickly, can’t they?” she snapped, her mood shifting once more.“Charming, that is,” I bit back, throwing myself away from her, against the bench, “Well you can keep your changing opinions to yourself, because I know which way my mind is set.” I felt all my emotions bubbling up to the surface, brimming like a wave ready to crash against the sand. I tried for a moment to hold them back, but it was no good, all the agitation and anger spilled over and I couldn’t stop myself from speaking again. “You want to know why I went with them? Because they’re hard lads, apart from Freddie, and there’s four of them laying on the persuasion. And frankly, I quite like my face and I didn’t fancy getting it smashed in so I’d look like a mosaic for my sixteenth birthday, all right?”My voice had risen during the altercation and I found there were people looking at me as they passed us by on the bench. I imagined what a state I must have looked with dried blood on my face and only a vest on. I leaned away from the passers-by, upset to find that tears were once again escaping from Faye’s silent face. I felt awful instantly for exploding at her; I had no right to upset her after what I’d done.“Would they really smash your face in?” she whispered.“I reckon so,” I replied, gulping down a dry breath. I was grateful for the nosebleed in that moment; my face didn’t have enough blood left in it to glow crimson and show her how embarrassed I was.“Are you mad at me?” Faye asked, her lips shaking like they had on the Ferris Wheel.I let out a laugh, some of my tension going with it.“What would I be mad at you for?” I replied.She gave a little shrug. “For thinking you were a crook? For spying on you? For not telling you yesterday that I had powers of my own?”“No,” I said simply, realising that it was the truth, “I shouted at you for no reason and ruined your handkerchief, so I’d say we’re about even. Besides, it won’t do to be mad at you like that if we’re going to be friends.”She wiped her last tear away and gave me a more hopeful look.“Can we be friends?” Faye asked, like she wasn’t even sure that it was possible.“I think we have to be after all this palaver,” I said with a grin.A wave of thoughtfulness washed over her features for a moment, but then she nodded.“Right then,” she answered, “shall we go somewhere and get your face cleaned up?”I waved a hand at her. “I’ll dunk my head in the sea. It’ll be fine.”
About the Author:
Born in South Wales to Raymond and Jennifer Finn, Kimberley Charlotte Elisabeth Finn (known to readers as K.C., otherwise it’d be too much of a mouthful) was one of those corny little kids who always wanted to be a writer. She was also incredibly stubborn, and so has finally achieved that dream in 2013 with the release of her first three novellas in the four-part Caecilius Rex saga, the time travel adventure The Secret Star and her new urban fantasy epic The Book Of Shade.
As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.
Clean Teen Publishing Links:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
- Reader’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing digital book and a bookmark swag pack.
Giveaway is International.