BENEATH THE VOID by Elisa Dane
Sadie Reynolds is drowning.
Months have passed since Ian Daniels and Newton Daily opened fire at Atwood High school, killing dozens of students before turning the guns on themselves.
Determined to pay tribute to her fallen classmates and teachers, Sadie’s thrown herself into the memorial project at the newly rebuilt school. But it’s not enough. Horrific dreams of the shooting intertwined with memories of the night her mother was murdered keep her up at night and haunt her during the day.
The constant stream of hate raining down on her from faceless social media trolls only make matters worse. Her boyfriend, Hayden brings the only source of relief when he sneaks in to sleep next to her on nights her dad is at work.
Desperate for normalcy, Sadie fills every waking moment of her day with anything to take her mind off her pain. If she’s exhausted, she’ll be too tired to acknowledge the new threat gunning for her.
BENEATH the VOID is book 2 in Elisa Dane’s Fighting Chance series, a hard-hitting and unapologetically raw look at teen violence in schools and the aftermath of learning to pick up the pieces and heal.
Interview with Hayden Pope by Elise Dane
Hi, everyone! Elisa Dane here. It took some work, but I was able to wrangle an interview with Hayden Pope, the male lead in my Fighting Chance series. I’m sitting in a corner booth at Moe’s Diner right now, anxiously awaiting his arrival. I’ve written two books about him, so we’ve spent a lot of time together, but meeting him here at Moe’s alone is a first for me. I’m both excited and a little nervous. I mean, c’mon, the kid is H. A.W.T hot! I feel a bit creepy admitting that since I’m 44 and he’s 18, but it’s the truth. The kid is a stud.
The door’s leading into the diner just jingled, signaling the entrance of a new customer. I look over toward the entrance and my heart races, a small thrill zinging up the length of my spine. It’s him. It’s Hayden, and man-oh-man, does he ever look good. He’s wearing a pair of faded jeans that look like they’d been created specifically for his body, and a white T-shirt that clings to his upper body in all the right places. His hair is styled in messy disarray at the top front of his head, and his bright blue eyes grow warm when they land on me.
I squirm in my seat, finally understanding what it is Sadie feels each time he’s around. Hayden Pope’s presence is off the charts magnetic.
He strides toward me with a lazy, comfortable gate that demonstrates a tiny portion of his cool confidence. He lifts his chin at Frannie, one of the diner’s long time waitresses before sliding into the booth opposite me.
His voice is deep and buttery, and it caresses my senses like silk against highly-sensitized skin.
“Hi, Hayden,” I manage. “Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today.”
He gives me the chin lift, which in turn makes me melt a bit more on the inside. Hot damn. How on earth does Sadie do it? If I were 18 and his girlfriend, I’d be plastered to his side and throwing myself at him 24/7. Yeesh!
How I manage to collect myself, I’m not sure, but I snag my pen off the open notebook it lay on and smile across the table at him. “I know you’re a busy guy, so let’s get right to it, yeah?”
The corner of his mouth curls up into a lopsided grin and he nods once. “Sounds good.”
I suck in a quick breath. “Okay, then. I’ve never interviewed one of my characters before. I want this to be fun for both you and the readers, so I’m kinda winging it. Bear with me.”
His expression is gentle as he nods yet again, then reaches for the water Frannie had placed on the table prior to his arrival. He lifts it to his mouth and takes a healthy gulp, the muscles in his neck bunching and rippling with the movement.
Knowing this interview will take all day if I don’t stop staring and get down to business, I lean forward, place my elbows on the lip of the table and start. “Let’s start with an easy question. What’s your favorite color?”
Hayden sets down the glass of water and leans back into the padded cushion of the booth. His smile grows wider as he quickly answers, “red.”
My brow lifts into my hairline. “Any particular reason why you like the color red?”
He chuckles and lays his forearm onto the table all cool and lazy-like. “I’d think it’s pretty obvious. My girl’s hair is red. Red makes me think of her, so I like it.”
I jot down his answer with a whispered, “Okay,” then move on to the next question. “ How would you describe yourself?”
Hayden scrunches up his face and shakes his head while trying to suppress a laugh. “No disrespect since you’re my creator and all, but that’s not a fun question. You said you were going to make this fun, and that shit is boring.”
My eyes flash wide and I can’t help myself, I cough out a surprised laugh. “Boring, huh?” The last thing I want is for him, or my readers to think I’m boring. I narrow my eyes and pin him with a determined expression. “Okay, then, Mr. Excitement. What’s your spirit animal?”
Hayden makes a “psh” sound and leans forward, clearly more interested in this question than the last. “That’s easy. Bear. Next.”
I jerk my head back and hold up my hand, palm out. “Slow your roll, Bear Boy. Why that animal? Why a bear? Inquiring minds want to know.” I wanted to know. Screw everyone else.
He crossed his arms on the table and stared at me with a look that said I should already know the answer. He shrugged. “Bears represent strength and confidence. I’ve got both.”
He wasn’t wrong. The boy possessed both of those traits in spades. I quickly scrawled his answer into my notebook and went on. “A zombie apocalypse is upon us. What is the first thing you do?”
He beams at me then. Straight beams at me with a full on toothy grin. “Now we’re getting to some fun stuff.” He drums his fingers on the top of the table as his eyes dart down and to the side, his expression one of deep thought. It takes only a few seconds before he looks up at me, his eyes burning with excitement. “First thing I do is find Sadie and her dad. I get her dad to bring all the fire power and ammo he can get his hands on to the ranch and he hole up.” He shakes his head, the movement quick and filled with excitement. “No, wait. We build a kick ass fence around the ranch before we hole up. That way any zombies or douchebags who want to steal from us can’t get in.”
I can’t suppress my giggle. “You a fan of The Walking Dead?”
Hayden looks at me like I’ve suddenly grown a penis out of my forehead. “F@%k yeah.” His eyes go momentarily wide and he quickly adds, “Damn, Elisa. Sorry for swearing.”
I wave him off as I jot down his answer. I can’t fault him for his filthy language when it comes from me. I swear like a sailor, and often. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is what it is. “Okay,” I say, trying to think of something unusual and weird to ask him. An idea pops into my head, so I go with it. “Have you ever eaten food you’ve dropped on the floor?”
Hayden raises a brow, then stares at me with disappointment in his eyes. “Do I have a dick? Yep.” He shakes his head. “We’re backtracking, Elisa.”
Panic swirls in my chest and I know he’s right. A million questions whirl through my head, but since he’s a YA character I can’t ask him ninety percent of them, even though he is technically an adult. “Crap.” I shake my head in frustration. I tap my pen against my mostly empty notebook. “$hit.” My mind is filled with a thousand questions all of which are either boring, or grossly inappropriate. “Crap!”
Hayden grins across the table at me. “You got issues with your stomach?”
That yanks me out of my stupor and I stare at him. “What?” Then his little play on my choice of expletives dawns on me and I roll my eyes. I shake my head with a soft chuckle. “No. No irritable bowels here.”
He nods and smiles. “Good.” He leans forward, reaches an arm out, then taps his pointer finger onto the table near my notebook. “You’re struggling, so I’m gonna make this easy on you.” He holds my gaze, then looks at my hand. “Get your pen ready.”
Mesmerized, I do as he asks.
Leaning back into the booth, Hayden runs a hand through his hair in that utterly cool guy way that drives girls (and older women) mad and begins. “If I could choose a super power it would definitely be super strength. I gotta protect my girl, and no one is gonna come at me, or Sadie if they know I can rip their limbs off and beat them to death with them.”
The pen in my hand is flying across the paper as I frantically write down what he’s saying. I jot down a note in parenthesis that says “Strong Protective Instinct.” Sadie is a lucky girl. Hayden would clearly do anything to keep her safe, and it appears that’s his main goal in life.
Hayden continues talking. “I don’t f@#king take selfies on my phone because I don’t give a $hit about that kind of stuff. Unlike that tool that won’t stop flirting with Sadie, Caleb West. His ass is metro and prissy, and I guarantee you he’s got about a hundred selfies of his pretty boy ass saved on his phone.”
My hand is starting to cramp I’m writing so fast, but I can’t complain because what Hayden is giving me is pure gold.
Hayden clears his throat, after which he politely apologizes for having done so, then continues. “I prefer chocolate chip cookies to cake, sunsets to sunrises, and my favorite thing is the smell of my pillowcase after Sadie’s slept on it all night.”
How I didn’t melt into the seat after that last little bit I’ll never know. I stopped writing and looked across the table at him, my head tilted to the side, a sappy smile stretched across my mouth. “That’s probably the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard any guy say.”
Hayden shrugged and stated matter of fact, “It’s the truth. My girl is the best thing in my life. If that makes me a pussy for admitting it, I don’t f@#king care.” He grinned then, and added, “Whipped dudes see a lot of action. I’m more than happy to admit she’s got me wrapped.”
His cell phone starts to ring, at which point he pulls it out of his pocket and places it to his ear. “Hey, Ginger. I was just talking about you. One second, yeah?”
He pulls the phone from his ear and looks to me. “We done?”
I nod, smiling. “Yeah. We’re good, thanks.” I gesture toward his cell. “Go talk to your girl. Tell her “hello” for me.”
He nods at me as he slides out of the booth. With a smile and a chin nod, he heads toward the exit with his phone pressed to his ear and a wide smile on his face.
I can’t help it, I sigh with a mixture of contentment and awe. Hayden Pope is one swoony guy, and Sadie Reynolds is the luckiest b%^ch on the planet.
(enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card & an e-bopy of Beneath the Void)
Elisa Dane is represented by Brittany Booker of the Booker/Albert Agency, and has published a NA paranormal series under her real name, Lisa Sanchez.