Book Spotlight And Excerpt
Ashlynn’s Dreams (Devya’s Children)
By: Julie Gilbert
Before she was kidnapped, Jillian Marie Antel Blairington was just an average bright, brave, headstrong child. She was excited for life in a new house with her Momma and new Daddy. Afterward, she’s all that … and so much more.
Held in a scientific facility, Jillian discovers her past-a family she never knew and a power she doesn’t understand. With her ability now activated, she can enter and even shape a person’s dreams. Jillian’s been kidnapped, and her Gift has been triggered, so she can locate and save Benjamin Connelly, a brother she never even knew she had. She’d better master this strange ability quickly, though, because her life isn’t the only one at stake. Her babysitter, Danielle Matheson, is being held as a hostage to ensure Jillian’s full cooperation. Slowly, Jillian begins to learn more about her captor and the other genetically altered children held at the facility.
Join Jillian as she tries to survive the training being forced upon her, find her unknown brother, escape with Danielle, and work her way back to a normal life once more.
Julie mainly confines her writing to three genres: Christian inspirational, YA real-world science fiction, and normal science fiction.
She likes teaching, writing, reading, sleeping, doing puzzles, and hanging out with friends. (Not necessarily in that order)
Writing has made her super picky about the things she reads but normally, her reading list includes something that fits under the thriller, mystery, science fiction, or fantasy.
Occasionally, she attempts short poetry. The poems turn into songs, which she sings with abandon when nobody’s looking.
Excerpt From Ashlynn’s Dreams:
ITEM 13: Jillian’s second post-kidnapping journal entry
Item Source: Jillian Blairington
Kids don’t get to control much, and in that way, I ain’t much different than any kid. On the other side of the toast, not many kids get to say they was kidnapped by a couple of complete strangers and lived to scream another day. I wasn’t alone that day, nor on the long twenty-one days afterward. Danielle Matheson, my babysitter, was there the whole time. I think it was probably scarier for her than me though ’cause people kept threatening to hurt her.
If someone ever prints this for the public, Dr. S. says we gotta change all the names ’cause we don’t wanna go messing up other people’s lives none, even if they more than deserve it like Daddy Three. I don’t gotta worry about that now though ’cause this is just for me. I kinda wish this dumb typing program would quit trying to correct the way I spell things. It’s my story; I’ll tell it how I wanna. In any case, I can’t remember what all Dr. S. said about writing this, but she was real eloquent—that means her words were real pretty. I almost cried. I do that a lot around her.
Danielle is the type Nana would call a real sweet, straight-laced lass. It goes without saying that she’s older than me. She’s real smart in a lot of ways and real dumb in others. I ain’t saying that to be mean or nothing, just stating facts. She works hard, too, both at school and at the pharmacy next to my New Daddy’s candy shop. That’s how my New Daddy met her.
When we was living in Georgia, I didn’t need a babysitter ’cause Nana was always there if Momma needed to have a night out. But now that we’ve moved and Momma’s in the family way, she and my New Daddy have been going out real regular-like so as to pack in the fun while they’re still somewhat free. Babies mean work even before they get here.
Danielle had been my babysitter for at least a month or two before the horrible day. I remember it was a Saturday in May ’cause Momma and my New Daddy had gone to walk the boardwalk by the beach at Point Pleasant. What a weird name. Doubt Momma and my New Daddy will go there again for a while ’cause they got some not-so-pleasant memories of the day.
The sun was showing his cheerful face most of the time that morning, so I got banned from using the computer until night. I couldn’t show Danielle the new game I’d gotten for my birthday, but I was fine with that. I like being outside. There’s a small creek in back of our new house. It ain’t got nothing on the stream in back of our old place, but it’s still pretty to watch and interesting to dig in. All streams have lots of critters in ’em. Danielle don’t care all that much for critters, but she did identify a few for me. We found several types of earthworms. Some were too skinny for fishing lures and even the decent ones were a bit thin. It’s just as well. Danielle don’t cotton much to fishing, and there ain’t nothing to catch in that tiny little creek anyway.
“Let’s go in and eat something,” Danielle said, eyeing some dark clouds in the distance.
I didn’t really wanna go in, but I could see she’d had enough of fresh air. She was shivering ’cause the wind was picking up and she only wore a light, long-sleeved T-shirt. Although the day was pretty warm to my tastes, like it was supposed to be that early in May, we’d recently had a cold spell, and the weather people had been predicting a storm or two. Just about then big, fat clouds covered the sun, which made the temperature drop right quick. Guess I took pity on Danielle ’cause I didn’t pitch a fuss like I wanted to. We’d only been out there an hour, and I like being caught in the rain.
“I’ll race you,” Danielle offered, trying to cheer me.
“I don’t race if I can’t win,” I replied.
She made a little face like what a strange thing to say.
We began to walk back up to the house.
“Why don’t you think you could win?” she asked a few moments later.
“I would win,” I corrected, “but only ’cause you’d let me and that ain’t fair to neither of us.”’
Danielle looked a bit surprised and guilty.
“You’re on the track team, ain’t ya? And anyways, your legs are a whole heap longer than mine,” I explained, though I knew she could work all that out for herself. I waved a hand at her long-sleeved T-shirt which had “Go Tigers” written on it.
“You’re very observant,” Danielle noted in a very neutral tone that said she was a little annoyed that I didn’t think like a normal twelve-year-old.
“Nana says it’s a blessed curse,” I said as we climbed the back steps to the deck that would lead back into the kitchen.
Danielle smiled and opened the back door for me.
I was just gonna dive into the pantry to see what I wanted for lunch when Danielle’s firm hands on my shoulders steered the way to the sink. I sighed. Grownups, even almost grownups, are all the same; always making a body wash. It ain’t no use arguing with people bent on making ya wash up, so I didn’t bother. I learned that lesson well enough with Nana. Nana didn’t mind if I made mud pies or worked on my Worm Paradise, but she wouldn’t let me anywhere near the kitchen until I done washed my hands twice through “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I hummed the song as I washed even though I don’t have to no more since Nana ain’t here to give the Evil Eye if I cheat.
By the time I’d finished washing up, Danielle was making toasted cheese. I smiled ’cause that’s probably what I woulda asked for anyway. I’m a bit of a critter of habit that way.
“Why don’t you go change while I finish making this? Then we can eat and continue our game of Monopoly.”
We’d been playing on and off for almost a week, since Danielle comes every day after school while Momma makes dinner and does house stuff like painting the baby’s room. I can’t say I was all that eager to jump back into the game though. Danielle kinda controlled a huge chunk of the board, hotels and all. Nearly every roll woulda had me leaking money like a holey bucket leaks water. Anyways, they ain’t gonna find out if it’s a boy or a girl, so they’re painting the room a light green that neither type could make a fuss at. Momma and my Old Daddy thought they was gonna find out what I was, but the doctor said I’d be a boy, so my old room was blue. I didn’t mind, but I can see why Momma and my New Daddy are just gonna take what the Good Lord gives.
I nodded, just as a rumble of thunder made the sound of mighty hungry heavens. I looked longingly outside.
“Go on,” Danielle said. “We can watch the storm while we eat. There’s a better view from the playroom.”
I told ya Danielle’s real smart in some ways. She outright tricked me into a good mood. She knew Momma wouldn’t have liked me to go running through the storm, dodging lightning and such, but she also knew that eating in the playroom is highly frowned upon. She was willing to encourage that lesser form of rebellion to prevent me from having my way with the storm. Besides, it’d probably be easier to clean up the playroom than hide soaking wet clothes.
We didn’t get to do either of those things. By the time I’d finished changing, the storm was full into its fit, throwing down rain like it was mad at the trees. Lightning sizzled through the sky and thunder went from rumbles to harsh-sounding cracks that made the whole house shake.
The front door banged open, just as we sat down to enjoy the toasted cheese. I could tell the two sandwiches apart ’cause Danielle made hers with tomato in it. I like tomatoes well enough but not on toasted cheese. Tomatoes get too hot and end up burning my lips ’cause they’re hard to cut with teeth. Anyways, at first I thought the wind had opened the door. I forgot we was in a new house and the doors just don’t willy-nilly open like they do on older houses like the one in Georgia.
Danielle had picked up her sandwich but not gotten to take a bite yet. Her head whipped toward the door, nearly crashing with mine ’cause it was doing the same thing. Two soaking wet men squished their way into the front hall.
A lot of things happened at once. Danielle let out a surprised sort of yelp, dropped her sandwich, and stood up so fast her stool fell over. I took a long, one-second look at the two men and thought they was trouble. Danielle seized my arm and yanked me behind her. It must be some motherly instinct like Momma’s air seatbelt whenever she’s gotta stop somewhat swiftly.
A half-groan, half-whine slipped out of Danielle as she muttered questions like “What do you want?” and “Who are you?”
My brain was firing those questions as well, but I couldn’t get ’em out ’cause Danielle had backed us into the corner by the stove. I kinda had to concentrate on breathing. Danielle grabbed the hot frying pan by the handle. She yelped again, and this time it had a note of pain in it, so I guess the pan was still hot. It said something of her sheer stubbornness that she didn’t drop the thing outright.
The second man laughed at that, but he didn’t get to laugh for long ’cause he slipped on water from the first man’s sneakers. He said one of the bad words.
About this time, Danielle and I kinda came to the same conclusion. She abandoned the frying pan, giving it a small toss toward the first man, and lunged for the screen door leading from the kitchen to the back deck that leads down to the yard.
“Run!” Danielle ordered, fumbling with the lock and shoving the door open.
She didn’t have to tell me twice. I slipped past her and bolted down the stairs. Rain soaked me instantly. I was amazed at how dark it had gotten, though it couldn’t have been past two o’clock. A scream stopped me. A huge crack of thunder shook the ground beneath me, but my feet seemed frozen in place. Dread and cold made me shiver. I stood with my feet planted firmly at the bottom of the steps, unwilling to turn and unable to continue.
“Get back up here!” the first man roared. His voice, for all its bluster, sounded distant to me. He didn’t exactly sound like the friendly sort you’d want to rush to for a hug.
This time Danielle’s voice failed to unstick my feet. Then, I couldn’t hear anything, but I knew a struggle was going on above me. I turned and placed one foot on the stairs to climb to the deck again. Looking up, I saw two figures emerge from my house onto the deck, one clearly in control over the other. I think if I’d had a full bladder, I woulda peed my pants right then and there. Not that it woulda made much of a difference given the rain trying to make the whole world a swimming pool around me.
The first man had forced Danielle to her knees. He was speaking, but I couldn’t hear anything he said. I don’t think he was even talking to me.
My hearing returned and the sound of rain filled my senses. Everything smelled earthy and fresh. A flash of lightning emphasized a picture I’ll probably always carry in my brain. Danielle gazed up toward the heavens, eyes shut as if praying, with tears streaming down her face. Through all the rain, it’s a wonder I recognized the tears, but I could tell they were there.
The second man joined the two figures on the deck. He had his arm extended toward me. I couldn’t see the gun he held until a flash of lightning made everything bright for one horrid second. My only chance to run disappeared. My stomach hurt, twisting itself about inside me. No one could miss at that range, and he didn’t.
ITEM 14: Danielle’s first journal entry
Item Source: Danielle Matheson
I screamed as I watched Jillian fall. If I hadn’t been on my knees already, I’m pretty sure I would have fallen over. The ache in my arms and the sting from holding the hot frying pan in my hands hardly mattered now. I looked hard at her, waiting for a spread of blood to indicate that her life was flowing out of her. All I saw was a slow motion pitching of her body sideways. It was like something had sucked all the bones from her body. One second she stood poised to climb back up and the next instant she just collapsed.
Not sure what I expected, but that certainly wasn’t it. A dozen scenarios darted through my mind, and not one of them made much sense. The Blairingtons had a decent house, but they were nowhere near rich enough to warrant a ransom kidnapping. The attack was too brazen to be a robbery attempt. The attackers themselves were too old to be thrill-seeking kids or gang members doing initiation deeds.
What do you want?
I wanted to scream the question at the men invading the Blairington home. A sob caught in my throat, burning like I’d swallowed a hot coal. Tears got lost in the rainwater streaming down my face. I was soaking wet and scared stiff. Guilt brought a flash of heat to my cold cheeks. Jillian had come back because of me. Here I was supposed to be the babysitter, the responsible one, and my charge had come back to protect me.
I thought things might slow down then, but they sped up instead. The man holding on to me bound my arms behind me and pulled me back into the kitchen. His partner came in a moment later cradling Jillian in his arms. The picture of the man gently holding Jillian’s small form looked oddly incongruous.
Pitching my body back and forth only got me thrown into a counter. My head struck the granite, giving me an instant headache. Stunned, I had no energy to offer further resistance, though everything in me wished I did. Part of me shouted coward, and all other parts of me were completely numb.
“Just let me shoot her,” said the guy carrying Jillian.
“Drop the kid and go get the van,” replied the man holding me. His tone added idiot.
His disgust triggered the recent memory of the threat he’d uttered mere moments before.
There are only two ways for this to end; we take you or we leave your body.
What seemed like hours later, though it was probably only a minute or so, I heard the garage door open then close. Not knowing what else to do, I let myself be dragged to the two-car garage where I was forced into a dark blue minivan with a bumper sticker that declared “soccer mom” on the back. The absurdity of that struck me funny, but I couldn’t conjure even a small smile.
The guy who had retrieved the van hopped out of the driver’s seat and ran into the house. I assume he’d gone to get Jillian. I never found out, not then anyway, because the unsavory type holding me shoved me onto the van’s floor. Then, kneeling on my legs, he jammed a needle into my upper left arm, and I passed out.
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