Gem Stone (A Gemma Stone Mystery, Book 1)
by Dale Mayer
Published by Valley Publishing (Indie)
Length: 200 pages (eBook format)
Contains elements of action, adventure and mystery/thriller
A juvie kid trying to stay on the right path stumbles into trouble...
Gemma takes her camera everywhere. From juvie hall to a halfway home, the new hobby gives her a focus she'd never had before and... hope in a future. Until she takes pictures of something that could get her killed.
And not just her...after she and another juvie girl are chased by a stranger to the halfway home that same night, the other girl goes missing and Gemma knows she needs help. But who can she trust?
Not the authorities that's for sure. Trusting them is impossible for a girl with her damaged history, and besides, who cares about a troubled kid...especially when trouble just naturally seems to find her.
Damn Misty. Forcibly keeping her expression neutral, she struggled to match it to her voice. "I'm sorry to hear that, sir."
"I'm going to ask you once and once only. Did you cheat?"
"No, sir." She didn't need to cheat on exams. School was easy for her.
"Did you help anyone else cheat on their exams?"
At least she could answer honestly again. She looked him straight in the eye. "No, sir."
"That's not what I'm hearing from other sources." He studied her intently as if hoping to read a different truth on her face. "I wouldn't want you involved in anything that would make me reconsider your placement here."
Shit. Misty was a bitch. The girl would do anything to avoid getting into trouble herself. Including throwing Gem into the mess to confuse the issue. Again.
"People will always talk, sir."
"Yes. They will, won't they? Well, we will leave it for the moment. As long as you realize, that if I receive one ounce of proof that you cheated, your permission to stay here will be rescinded. Got that?"
"Yes, sir." She dropped her gaze to her feet and the almost-too-short jeans. There were a lot of good things happening here. She didn't want to leave. She also didn't dare let him know how much this mattered.
Gemma risked a quick look at him. He was staring at a thick file open in front of him. Her file. Gemma groaned silently.
"I see you're still busy with that camera of yours…"
Was that a question? Gemma didn't know what she was supposed to say. "Yes, sir."
"You know better than to take pictures of people and situations that you aren't supposed to, right?" His pale gray eyes lifted from the desk, flicked to the field outside the window then back, catching hers.
Acid bubbled in her stomach. Did he know?
"We wouldn't want you ignoring other people's privacy now, would we? Even if the pictures don't turn out well, people might think you captured events you weren't entitled to see. Understand?"
A frisson of fear slid down her back. He couldn't know, could he? She didn't even know what she'd seen. She gulped and nodded once. "I'm very careful."
"Yes. Careful. That describes you very well. Careful in what you say. Careful in what you do. Careful in how you act. Always. What goes on behind those big brown eyes of yours, Gemma? You're always quiet. Deep. You've been here with the others for several months now and yet, you're still essentially a loner."
And what was she supposed to say to that? She remained silent.
"A word of warning, there will be several new girls arriving over the next few weeks, so expect to go back to sharing your room again." He studied her carefully for a reaction. "And still you stand there and say nothing." He closed the file before resting his interlocked fingers on top. He stared up at her, a frown creasing his forehead. "I'm not a big fan of mixing boys and girls at your age. Unleashed hormones and troubled kids make for a nasty mess." He narrowed his gaze and added, "Make sure you don't contribute to the problem."
"No, sir. Are we done here, sir?" Gem stared down at her standard-issue running shoe. Like all her clothes. The home provided everything, slightly less institutionalized than at the center, but still generic. Soon she'd be allowed to get a job, then she could buy her own clothes.
He studied her bent head.
"Never an ounce of give in you, is there?"
"Sir?" She eyed him curiously.
"Never mind." He picked up her file and added it to the stack on the right. "Yes, we're done."
She took that as a dismissal. "Thank you, sir." Just before escaping down the hallway, she popped her head back in and said, "I don't cheat."
He looked up in surprise. "I know that. You don't bother reading the textbooks either, do you? But not everyone here has your IQ. Make sure you aren't helping the others cheat. It won't do either of you any good in the long run."
She nodded. She had no intention of helping anyone cheat, but that didn't stop them from cheating off her. Though it would have been easy to point the finger in the right direction, she wasn't Misty. She wasn't going to turn anyone in to make it easier for herself.
Life here hadn't changed the first rule, learned the hard way on the streets and reinforced in juvie. That rule was to keep your mouth shut – no matter what. Or else.
She bit her bottom lip as she raced down the hallway. She didn't want to miss dinner. She'd already outstripped most other girls her age, for height. She could only hope one day, she'd match them for curves. At least she had them all beat for brains.
It was a relief to get out of there, but she'd feel better if she understood what was going on by the creek. And why Creepers cared.
Without warning, a bright light flashed on, then its beam circled through the woods around them, shining light where there shouldn't have been any.
"Come on. Let's make a run for it." Gem stood up and at a dead run, bolted for the opening in the stone wall behind the center.
They were almost there, with Misty crashing behind Gem, when the searchlight swung toward them from the right.
Pouring power into her muscles, Gem ran faster. Realizing the light was going to catch them, she snagged Misty and pulled her to the ground.
"Shit. Shit. Shit," Gem whispered softly, turning to stare at Misty sprawled in wide-eyed panic while the light panned above their heads.
"What do we do now?" hissed Misty.
"We keep our heads down, wait a few seconds longer for the light to move off, then we run. It's not far. Let's bail through the wall into the backyard and run around to your bedroom. One, two three… Go!"
The one good thing about Misty was she understood and took orders well. Jumping to her feet, she sprinted the short distance, her legs pumping as hard as they could. Gem's longer legs easily caught up and passed her. At the wall, Gem dove through, grunting at the hard landing on rocks and gravel on the other side. She'd be covered in bruises tomorrow.
"Hurry up," she whispered to her friend. "Come on!"
After Misty clambered through, Gem quickly replaced two of the rocks in the wall. She needed it to look like nobody had gone through.
At her side, Misty gasped for breath and held her side. "Damn, that was close."
"I don't think we're out of trouble yet," Gem warned. They both hunkered down at the edge of the wall and watched the brilliant beam of light bounce toward them through the cracks and holes in the wall.
"Are they chasing us?" Misty's horrified voice had risen to a high-pitched squeak.
"Shhh!" Gem pulled Misty back down to the ground when she tried to stand for a better look.
"We didn't do anything wrong." Misty said it in a normal voice, as if she didn't understand what this was all about.
"Doesn't matter. Shhhh." Gem's heart stopped at the crunch of footsteps coming toward them from beyond the fence. Her heart slammed against her chest.
Reflexively, Gem slapped a hand over Misty's mouth as Misty tried to speak again.
Neither moved. They stared at each other in frozen horror.
"I thought they went over here?" shouted a deep male voice. "Could they have jumped the wall?"
"Don't think so. There's no sign of them anywhere."
Gem closed her eyes and shuddered with relief as the footsteps retreated, the voice fading slightly as it called out, "Let's check the woods on the left."
She waited another long minute. Then removed her hand from Misty's mouth. "Come on. Let's get back inside."
Moving quietly, they headed around to Misty's bedroom window. Giving Misty her knee as a step up, they both almost fell back in shock as Mark's shadowed face appeared in Misty's window. He grabbed Misty's arms and hauled her up.
"Get in here before you're seen," he hissed. Gem jumped up to where she could pull herself in and found Mark's strong arms reaching around her and dragging her inside…just ahead of the searchlight's cycling beam. The two stood locked in place behind the curtain as the light bounced off the window and onto the wall beyond.
Gem shuddered when it passed by. Thank you.
About the Author:
Dale Mayer is a prolific multi-published writer. She's best known for her Psychic Visions series. Besides her romantic suspense/thrillers, Dale also writes paranormal romance and crossover young adult books in several different genres. To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the
mortgage system. She has recently published her Career
Essentials Series . All her books are available
in print format as well.
Visit Dale online at:
Website - http://www.dalemayer.com
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/dalemayer
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/dalemayer.author
BOOKS BY DALE MAYER
Psychic Vision Series
Hide'n Go Seek
Single Title Romantic Suspense/thrillers
Touched by Death – out now!
It's a Dog's Life- romantic comedy
Young Adult Books
In Cassie's Corner
Dangerous Designs – Book I
Deadly Designs – Book 2 – out now!
Vampire in Denial – Book I of Blood Ties
Vampire in Distress – Book 2!
Gem Stone Mystery Series- out now!
Career Essentials: The Resume
Career Essentials: The Cover Letter
Career Essentials: The Interview
Career Essentials: 3 in 1
My 5 Star review
This is now official I really love Dale Mayer's books. She rehabilitated me from not reading YA books completely.
What an exciting read. A Thriller/Mystery I enjoyed from page one. I love this genre immensely This book had it all. The perfect plot, strong characters, flowing story line that kept you on the edge. I could not put down the book, it was just that good. In the future I would definitely recommend this authors books to all lovers of YA. A good clean read for the young adults. And I do not do that easily.
We are introduced to Gemma, Mark, Reid, and Misty 4 Juvie kids that came to live with John and Doris on their farm. Gemma's love for taking pictures brought the plot and element of mystery down on the small group bringing them closer as a family. Which ultimately caused Misty to end up in hospital after a badly going wrong abduction drug overdose.
These three young people who had a bad start in life grew on you. Each bringing their own unique characteristics to the plot. Creating and exciting story. Gemma's tenacious behavior sorted through the evidence, making back ups, trusting her instincts. Not trusting the grown ups. Her observations and sorting through the pile of stuff to get to the bottom of this.
Mark's ability to keep them close, protecting the three. This for a young man that did not understand the inner workings of a family due to a horrible past.
Reid the geek and his sharp, intended look and actions saved them a few times.
John and Doris who find themselves in the midst of all this confusion holding on to the unit, fighting for the kids, saving them.
Water contamination, criminal elements walking around town with badges and counterfeit ID's, Abductions. Slow working sheriff that did not believe them at first and at times I have to admit that I could shake the man myself. Could this man be so stupid? So glad for the community that demanded actions, finally something going their way.
Fixer, the main bad element had me going for awhile but I was glad to figure it out and once his true identity was revealed I could slap myself with congratulations. But I have to admit the author had me guessing for awhile.
The suspense building up to the final page to bring everything together in a beautiful conclusion.