Griffin Colburn knew something was wrong the moment he slid into the driver's seat.
Excerpted from Sleepless by Cyn Balog Copyright © 2010 by Cyn Balog. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
It was a twinge. Nothing more. He shook his head, blinked. Pushed it off.
His Mustang started fine, like always. He revved the engine a few times, like always. He always said it was to keep it from stalling, which it sometimes did in cold weather, but really he loved to feel the power behind the car. It was old, but still fast and dangerous.
He wouldn't know how dangerous, though, until that night.
As he backed out of the driveway, Julia blew him a long, exaggerated stage kiss, as if he were shipping off to war. As if she knew she'd never see him again. Then she wiped some nonexistent tears from her eyes and pretended to sob hysterically into her hands. His headlights illuminated her slight, pale body, crowned with long reddish hair. She squinted in their glow and then smiled toothily, like a preschooler.
He fed a Sinatra disc into his CD player and grinned back at her, then listened as Ol' Blue Eyes crooned, "Someday, when I'm awfully low." The tinkling of the piano keys drowned out the screeching of his tires, and as he began to sing along, he felt it, fiercer now. It started in his temples, trailed behind his eyes, the momentary shiver that comes somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. Twinge. Twinge. For a second, he felt as if he were falling. He blinked again, gripped the steering wheel to steady himself.
This time, he squeezed his eyes closed, only for a moment. In that moment, the image of the beautiful young woman appeared.
Whoa, he thought. Too many late nights. He sat up in the driver's seat, stretched his spine. Usually when his mind wandered, it went to NFL playoffs. Or to the scantily clad, Playboy Playmate type of beauty. And yet, when he blinked again, he could see her, as plainly as if she were sitting in the passenger seat next to him. She was dressed in the pink silk of a fairy-tale princess, braiding her black waist-length hair. When she batted her heavy lashes, a slow smile spread on her face.
Then her eyes focused on him. Shark's eyes, two emotionless black buttons.
He shook his head, rubbed one temple with his free hand, checked the seat beside him again. Nothing but his baseball glove and a grease-stained fast-food bag. I definitely need more sleep, he thought as he sped out of the neighborhood. He was halfway down Peasant when he felt a slow, warm caress run up his neck, down his chest--twinge. His whole body lurched forward. It was almost like he skipped forward a few moments in time. He must have driven right through that stop sign on Peasant, because he couldn't remember coming up to it. Instead, he found himself on Main Street, at an amber light, which normally he would have sped through, but sensing something was off, he slowed. Suddenly--twinge--he blinked and it was green again, without ever having turned red.
"What the . . ." He gripped the wheel tighter.
He thought about turning back, but only for a second. Griffin Colburn didn't have a reputation for spinelessness. Just a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes and I'll be in bed. He pressed down on the accelerator, thinking of home.
He blinked again. Twinge.
And she was there.
This time, clearer.
Beckoning to him.