Overview: Vampires aren't real, but I just might be one...
Well, sort of. I, Olivia, was a normal high school senior until being moved to Moon's Peak with no explanation by my mother.
Then I met Riley, a hot, dark young man in leather. He rides a motorcycle, sneaks us into the town's carnival after hours, and dispatches creepy, abnormally strong men who try to attack me. What's there not to like?
But now I wake up with my pajamas covered in blood. And then Riley drops the news: I must be a Nightside, a rare type of vampire, and a mutation woke up when he, a Trueblood vampire, touched me. And what's worse? The Truebloods don't like us. We scare them. And if Riley's coven finds out about me, I'll be dead before Riley and I can hatch a plan to keep me alive.
The problem is, they run the whole town, and they already suspect me, and Riley of working with the enemy. We're both in danger. And if I don't embrace my nature, I may not live to see graduation.

 

NightSide by Holly Hook Book Chapter One

 

"Why are we going to the middle of nowhere in the first place?"

Yeah, that’s a stupid question to ask my mom. I bet it's woven into the fabric of the minivan's seats at this point. But after three days, I'm tired of sitting in this car and wondering why my life is falling apart. I'm tired of wondering why Mom is so insistent about moving to a small coastal town. Well, I know why, but I don't want to say the reason out loud. This is all Dad's fault and we both know.

"Moon's Peak will be a new start, Olivia," she says. After ditching Chicago and going to Oregon—and what's here other than rain, anyway?—bags hang under Mom's eyes. Her mood matches the gray ocean at the bottom of the cliff side road.

Stupid Dad, leaving in the middle of the night six months ago. One day, he took us out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, and the next, his truck had vanished from our apartment complex, along with a bunch of his clothes from the closet. Yeah, he just up and left in the middle of the night without warning. The whole thing confused the heck out of Mom. She had no idea he was unhappy, even though the atmosphere in our apartment seemed tense for about a week before The Leaving.

I lay my head on the window. "What do people do in small towns, anyway? Watch the sunset?" I try not to sound rude, but my question hangs in every statement I make. Not that I can help it. I enjoy the city. There are things to do. There are museums to visit, theaters to waste weekends at, and lots of shopping malls to mill around in with friends.

"Our house will have a direct view of the ocean. And don't worry about any disasters. We're not in line for any hurricanes." A hint of irritation creeps into Mom's voice, and I know I’m not making this experience a Hallmark moment.

"But what about the tsunami that's supposed to wipe out the West Coast? I saw a documentary about it a few years ago and scientists are saying it’s not an if but a when." I'm grasping at straws.

"There is plenty of high ground here if we ever have to run. They do drills for this sort of thing all the time." Why did she insist on Moon's Peak, anyway? Last time I checked, it was just a dot on the map, hugging the coast. Mom could have chosen any other escape.

"That makes me feel better," I mutter to myself. There's no college out here. I might get trapped working behind a store counter for the rest of my life because I can’t get into a good university. What am I going to do now? I have to start all over with the application process.

Thanks again, Dad.

"We had to get out of there before the memories consumed us," Mom peels a strand of dark hair, complete with split ends, away from her temple and tucks it behind her ear. New wrinkles have formed around her eyes. My heart aches for her. "You know we couldn't stay, Olivia."

But I won’t tell you why. Mom hasn’t given me a compelling reason yet why we had to pull our roots up.

"I'll try to make the best of it." My pulse hammers in my ears and I fear I'm going to lose it on my mother, a woman who's running from a nightmare and forgotten that I'm along for the ride. Letting out a breath, I turn my focus on the curvy road. A few driveways lead uphill to large houses hidden in the pines, and some of them are nice places with big balconies and enormous windows. I take another breath, forcing my heart to calm down. Mom doesn't need a bitch daughter right now. If Dad were here, I'd let him have it.

Mom had no idea their marriage was on the rocks.

A few raindrops splatter against the windshield.

We round a curve and a beach stretches out below, covered in sand and gravel. The setting sun makes everything look dull. Another driveway appears inside the trees, and I glimpse the orange side of the moving truck farther up it. My stomach drops to my knees. We're here, and I follow the drive with my gaze up to a brown, old, two-story house. It hides in the trees as if ashamed to show its face to the ocean. And I can see why. The large porch is unpainted, with moss and probably dry rot creeping up its edges. The last owner, an old woman who died and left it to the bank, seemed to have tried to paint the house red, but being right off the beach has done a number on that, too. The peeling coat is the color of rust.

"Is this place condemned?" I blurt.

Mom sighs. "It was the best deal. The interior is better than the outside." She pulls into the driveway behind the moving truck. Two men haul our leather couch inside, faces red. Yep. Our place. Its official name is the Derp House.

"I hope so," I say. Maybe most of the houses along the beach are like this, worn down by the ocean, and we won't stand out too much.

We get out. My joints pop as I stretch my legs. The sprinkle turns to a misty drizzle—a phenomenon I've heard is near daily in Oregon—and I pull my hoodie over my hair to protect myself. Mom does the same and waves me through the door of the Derp House, which the moving men have cleared.

My phone chirps some kind of warning as I step over the threshold. Mom's right: the interior isn't too bad, if you like old hardwood floors, Depression-era wallpaper, and old chandeliers. Well, it has charm, and it's not rotting. I take a breath and don't sneeze. There's that, too.

"What do you think?" Mom asks.

"It's okay." I pull out my phone and snap a picture, trying to think of some witty comment to send to Cammie. Hey, look who just arrived in the Old West? But when I hit the send button, the little spinning circle of doom mocks me.

Then I realize that my phone has zero bars, and I'm not even on roaming.

"Mom?" I ask, but she's already walked into the kitchen to talk to one of the moving guys  about boxes and house keys.

Don't tell me I have zero reception out here.

"Mom?" I repeat.

"Yes, Olivia?"

"We have no cell service. Looks like no Internet, either," I say, stepping into the kitchen and holding up my phone. "The guy's coming out to hook everything up soon, right?"

Mom's standing at the counter, among stacks of boxes marked fragile. The bags under her eyes seem to deepen as she takes a breath. The last time she did that, she was about to tell me Dad was missing in action.

Uh, oh.

"If you need the Internet, there's a library in town that’s not too far away. We need to be distraction free for a while so we can collect our thoughts."

If I were in a horror movie, creepy music would crescendo in the background. "What are you saying? We have zero connection to the outside world?"

"When at home, it will be good for us to have some time away from the chaos of the world."

"What if there's an emergency? And what are we going to do for entertainment?" My voice rises with each word.

Mom grabs the counter. "We'll just have to deal with it for the time being, and besides, we’ll have a landline to get us through for a bit. Maybe in a few months we can have Internet. You can hang on until then."

The walls seem to close in. The moving men all head outside as if sensing the oncoming storm. The air, clean before, now smells stale and full of dust. I'd been looking forward to keeping contact with Cammie and promised her I’d message her as part of a daily ritual. It was the only thing that made leaving home bearable.

"Olivia?"

"I'm going for a walk. I have to stretch after sitting in the car for hours." Pulse roaring, I storm to the door and tuck my useless cell phone away. What have I done to earn this punishment?

The light outside has almost faded, and now the clouds are parting. The air is still damp and the men are inside the moving truck now, grabbing an end table. I storm down the driveway, unsure who to be angrier at: Mom for omitting the whole isolation thing or Dad for starting this little adventure. Now I can't even text Dad a picture of our predicament. Not that his cell phone works anymore. Ever since The Leaving, dialing his number just gives us an out of service message.

Pulling my black jacket around me, I find a gravel path sunk into the ground, surrounded by dead pine needles. It crosses the road to the beach and after that point the rocks are a little slippery, slowing my progress, but I take the path down to the ocean. The moon's rising, full and orange, and as it peeks over the horizon, it forms a shimmering orange reflection on the water. I stop when I reach the sand and stare for a minute. Back in Chicago, light pollution made it impossible to see much of the sky at night, but here the stars are easily visible. At least one thing isn't horrible.

Walking at night in Chicago is lunacy. Small town beaches must be safer, and besides, I need to cool off.

I walk along the sand, listening to the water lapping against the gravel shore. I'm tempted to remove my shoes, but the air is cool and my feet would probably freeze. My breath spirals in front of my face. Maybe this isn't the idyllic beach I thought it was, but at least it's quiet. Up in the trees, lights shine from windows. I keep walking, putting more distance between me and the Derp House. What's Mom going to do? Call me?

The last of the day's light fades as I gather my thoughts. I look back, trying to see where I came from, but the beach has turned into an expanse of darkness. The moonlight is all I've got. I continue on for a few minutes, trying to rope in my swirling, angry thoughts, and it works. Just being able to move and burn off adrenaline makes me feel a lot better.

Until a prickle runs up my back and I suck in a sharp breath.

I stop for a second, but nothing and no one stands on the beach ahead. The prickle comes a second time, like someone's staring at me from behind, and every hair on the back of my neck rises. My legs move again, this time on their own, carrying me further down the beach.

This doesn't feel right.

The last time I felt like this, I was walking home from school and there turned out to be a mugger standing in an alley nearby. I was probably twelve and my friend Shawn pulled me over to the other side of the road before I walked out in front of the guy.

Never ignore that feeling, Dad always said.

I up my pace, but the prickling remains, and a dark dread fills my gut. My breath comes in ragged gasps. I want to look, but I hate the idea because seeing someone following me would justify this horrible feeling. But I can’t keep going up this beach forever.

Okay, Olivia. Just do it.

I stop on the sand and whirl, catching my breath, but no one's nearby. The creepy feeling remains despite the darkness behind me.

The beach is empty. Well, until I squint.

"Shit."

Three human figures, walking side by side, approach from a few hundred feet away. They're shadows against the faint moonlight coming off the ocean.

Okay. This is real. My heart leaps into my throat. The figures loom larger the longer I stand there, and my pulse races in panic. If I can see them, that means they can see me. All three seem to be men, with broad shoulders, and they're not small guys, either. They walk with purpose and they're approaching quickly.

Moon's Peak is more like Chicago than Mom thought.

Instinct wins. I break into a run.

"Yoo hoo!" a man calls from behind me.

Yes. Running is the number one choice here.

My sides hurt as I struggle through the sand, but I don't care. The beach grabs at my feet, trying to slow me. I can see the news story now. Girl found dead on the beach. Motive unknown. That and worse.

Sucking in gasping breaths, I work my legs as fast as I can. Laughter rings out. I eye the tree line, having serious thoughts of banging on some rando's door and yelling for help, but I've left the beach homes behind. Only a dark tree line, black against the stars, stretches out along the beach. The men behind me laugh again. I'm a game.

I pull out my phone.

No reception.

I'm going to die. Checking behind me, I see they've closed half the distance already. I glimpse leather jackets. Tattoos etched on pale skin. Bad news all around. My mind spins. I could run into the trees and hope to hide or I can stay on the beach with a minor chance of someone finding me before they—

"What are you doing out here?"

I skid to a stop. A guy around my age stands in the middle of the beach, blocking the way forward. His deep eyes open wide with concern and he holds up a hand for me to stop. I skid to a halt. Dark-haired and otherwise gorgeous, he's wearing a long leather coat. He might me one of them.

I let out a small scream.

"Were those guys bothering you?" He peeks over my shoulder.

So he’s not with them, and if he were, he would have nabbed me already. Turning my head, I watch as the three men give up the chase. The trio shuffle back up the beach and towards the trees, vanishing into the dark.

I let out a breath.

I will not die. Maybe. After making sure the men have left, I turn back to the new guy who so far hasn't drawn a knife. He nods with a cute grin. "You can thank me now."

"Who are you?" My voice comes out higher than I'd like. "Those guys. They've been following me all the way down this beach. And thank you. I don't know how you scared them off, but I don't care."

"Are you sure?" He lifts an eyebrow.

"Yes. Sure. What is going on? I just moved here."

"So that's why they were chasing you," he says.

"Does this town like, hate new people?" I ask. "Real friendly."

"Look," he says. "You shouldn't be walking out here at night. Alone. I don't know what suburb you came from—"

"Chicago. And I know that," I say. "I didn't expect to have a city experience here in a small town, is all. Never been in one before."

The guy frowns. It's cute. "Okay, so fair enough. Sorry we broke your expectations. And don't worry. Those guys aren't coming back."

I check again, following his gaze, but the beach stays empty. Good. But something's not adding up here. Why would those guys fear someone my age unless he's got a weapon or he's the sheriff's kid? He doesn’t look like a cop’s kid, so I cross off that theory. I check the guy over, but his jacket hides his body. And as I check him out, he smiles, drawing a blush to my cheeks.

"Are you sure?" I ask.

"Oh, I'm sure. Are you okay?"

I'll take it. I draw a breath and exhale all my terror and tension. Maybe I won't die on my first night in Moon's Peak. The boy shifts, all graceful. Yeah, perfect skin on a teenager. Rare. Now that my pulse is slowly calming and I can get enough air into my lungs, I can see him. Dark-haired, with perfect eyebrows that slant upward near the top. Prominent cheekbones and smooth, unblemished skin. Proportioned body. Muscular chest. How possible is that for someone around seventeen or eighteen? Especially the smooth skin part?

"I said, are you okay?"

I jolt. "Yeah. I'm fine. Just need to get home now." I try to sound tough and fail. Great.

"Cities aren't the only places with danger, you know," he says. "Come on. I'll walk you back to your place. You must have a beach house?"

"Well, yeah." I can't stop staring at the guy. At least I've found someone who isn't trying to kill me. Well, I think. The creepy tingle's gone and I've got none of that you'd better run dread left, so that's a plus. "Is it always this creepy at night?"

"Until you're used to it, yes." He walks over to stand by my side. "Let's get you back to your house."

As much as part of me wants to tell him I'll be fine on my own, a stronger half urges me to take his offer. "Sure." I won't mind the eye candy which is a nice bonus after the day I had. "You know, those guys still outnumber us and they could come back with weapons. And better yet, my phone doesn't work here. Weird."

He snorts. "You really are from the city." He casually flicks a strand of hair from his face and stuffs his hands in his coat pockets as he walks beside me. "We don't see that often here. And those guys won't come back tonight. Trust me."

"You know them?"

The mystery dude stares straight ahead at the sands and the moonlight reflecting off the water. "No. But you shouldn't be out walking alone at night around here."

"So it's dangerous. Well, I'm dumb."

"You're not dumb. You just expected different," he says as we walk. "I think we go to the same school unless you've graduated already."

"Not for several months." I won't spill how this move potentially ruined my life. Not when some random hottie has taken an interest in me. I won't thank him by complaining. "I'll see how everything goes."

"Understandable. You must feel out of place here."

"No kidding." Tingles sweep over my body. A pause stretches out as the ocean continues to lap against the gravel. Sand and tiny pebbles crunch under our feet as we walk, though Mystery Guy is quieter and much more graceful than I am. Just watching him walk is almost hypnotizing and makes me forget about those jerks. There's something perfect about his gait.

"Is Moon's Peak like, super dangerous?" I ask.

"There are dangerous people here, yes. Don't walk by yourself down this beach again."

"I didn't see a sign. Isn't this a public beach? Who were those weirdos?"

"People who take advantage of having no witnesses," he says, leaving it at that. "And you’re new here, so that makes things even more dangerous for you."

Well, that makes me feel better. After a few more minutes, lights poke through the trees and I hear the motor of a truck start—the moving truck. We’ve arrived back at the Derp House. I don't even care that this stranger is going to see it. I stop at the gravel path that leads through the trees. Mom's turned all the lights on inside as if waiting for my return.

I won't get too mad at her. Not after this. I'll at least get to see her again.

"Well, this is my house," I say, glad it's dark. "Thanks for walking back with me. Strength in numbers, right?"

"Exactly," he says with a smile. "I'd better get going. Those guys have left the area, but they might not stay gone for long." As he speaks, he backs away into the sand and gravel, leaving me standing there by the mouth of the gravel path. How can he be sure those goons aren't staring at us from the shadows?

Behind me, the moving truck pulls out of the driveway and gets quieter as it vanishes down the road. Heavy silence falls.

"Wait," I say. "I'm Olivia. What's your name?"

He doesn't answer. Instead, my new friend turns and runs into the night, merging with the dark.