Today we're excited to spotlight Tara St. Pierre's novel Mirror Me.
Read on for more about Tara and her book, plus an excerpt and giveaway!
Meet Tara St. Pierre!
Tara St. Pierre has been writing for over two decades, but her muse only sporadically provides inspiration. Her laptop is filled with incomplete manuscripts and other plot outlines, and she feels blessed when one finally pushes its way through to completion--no matter how long it takes!
She enjoys classic science fiction movies and television shows. When driving, she sings along with the radio loudly and off key. She prefers tea over coffee, spring over autumn, vanilla ice cream over chocolate, and caramel over hot fudge. Though she lives by herself, one of her two cats enjoys cuddling with her.
Meet Mirror Me!
Hannah McCauley doesn’t look at herself in the mirror anymore.
After a rebellious past, she now attends a strict private school in a new town, where her recently divorced mother has put her on social lockdown. No driving. No bad grades. No skipping classes. No unapproved friends. No makeup. No boys. And the subject of her best friend from her old school is definitely forbidden.
Hannah is being punished for something that happened a year earlier, something that she would like to put behind her. But strange occurrences frighten her, and she’s accused of breaking rules and doing other terrible things without any recollection of them. No one believes her, so she starts distrusting everything, even her own reflection.
Is she being haunted by her past? Stalked by someone with a grudge? Or is it all in her head? If she doesn’t figure out what’s happening fast, her existence could end up irreparably shattered.
> Chapter Four <
I wake up the next morning, groggy as usual after another late night of homework. Yawning and stretching, I look at my alarm clock, which reads about an hour before it’s set to go off. I groan and flip myself over, burying my head under the blankets. I try to will myself unconscious, anything to get the extra sleep so I can feel more like myself. There’s an uncomfortable sensation in my stomach that tells me that I had a restless night. It’s a hollow feeling, almost like something’s missing inside me.
My eyes won’t stay closed, and I toss and turn. I can’t stop thinking about last night’s homework. I did all my other assignments before starting my history so I could at least finish everything else. I resisted the temptation to use Grace’s binder, leaving it closed on my desk. The course isn’t easy, but I want the satisfaction of conquering it on my own terms. Essays, timelines, and concept maps—Mr. Hodgkins piles the work on like there’s no tomorrow, which I guess is fitting for someone who exclusively lectures about yesterdays.
It feels like the full hour has passed, but when I poke my head out from under the covers, the clock tells me it’s only been ten minutes. Time is mocking me; it flew by when I had all the schoolwork to do, but now it’s going to drag when all I want is a little more sleep.
But my brain’s too active to get back to sleep. I wrestle with my thoughts and bedsheets for another fifteen minutes or so before surrendering myself to being awake. Reluctantly, I climb out of bed, and I shiver in the air beyond my blankets. My feet slog through the carpet as I instinctively stagger across the room, and I stumble forward until the dresser stops me from falling.
Keeping my gaze on the mahogany surface, I reach to my right for my phone, so I can verify that the time is earlier than I need to be awake. Like yesterday, my phone’s not where I left it. After finding it in the wrong place, I made sure several times before going to bed that it was where I usually keep it. This time, I immediately reach to my left and pick it up. There are two logical explanations why my phone migrates during the night. Either I’m so stressed that I’ve taken up sleepwalking and am moving it myself without realizing it, or my mother really is screening my call log and text messages.
I stomp into the hallway and shout, “If you’re gonna spy on me, you don’t have to make it so obvious.”
As soon as the words leave my mouth, I regret my outburst. I expect my mother to emerge from her bedroom and ground me. I prepare an apology in my head: a claim that in my early-morning daze, I spoke without thinking first. Maybe I’ll escape with a reprimand or extra chores, but I’m ready for the worst, which would be handing over my phone as soon as I get home from school. I clutch it tightly in my hand so she’d have to pry it out of my grip.
There’s no reply. There’s not even a sign of her.
The bathroom door is open, so she’s not in there. I quietly cross the small upstairs hallway, the hardwood floor cold on my bare feet. Lightly rapping on her bedroom door, I say, “Mom, are you in there?”
I call down the stairs, “Mom, you down there?”
Again, there’s no answer, so I conclude she’s not in the house. I doubt I’ve been abandoned, and I doubt anything bad happened to her. I don’t pay attention to the portion of her morning routine before I’m awake, so I assume she’s at the townhouse community’s fitness room squeezing in a workout—whatever it takes to keep her body firm and youthful. There’s no competition for the bathroom, and I could use a long, hot shower to soothe me and wake me up in the process, so I check the time on my phone to estimate her likely return.
But there’s something wrong with my phone’s display. It’s backward.
Since the phone is old, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a short circuit or loose connection or something. I give the back of the phone a few smacks, hoping I can jostle the display back to normal, but nothing changes. My mother could’ve somehow messed it up when she checked my messages. Now I’m frustrated because I need more privacy and a new phone, but there’s nothing I can do or say about it until she returns.
I head back to my room and grab my robe, and then I go into the bathroom, slamming the door behind me. Once I’m inside, I chastise myself for making such a protest when there’s no one else around to hear it.
Reaching into the shower, I turn the faucet and let the water run. It takes a few minutes until it’s hot enough. Steam fills the room when I step inside and slide the door closed. Shutting my eyes, I back into the spray and let the water soak my hair. The snarls and tangles wash away, and my locks cascade down my shoulder blades. I savor the sensation of the heat against my skin before I start lathering soap into my pink netted bath sponge. For the next ten minutes—maybe a little bit longer—I can ignore everything else and be alone. No thinking about homework or phones or mothers or rules or punishments or a friend that I miss.
My breathing is slow and steady, and I feel both awake and relaxed, almost ready to face the day. I reach for the shampoo, and when I scrub some onto my head, I hear a noise. It could be anything, maybe even a rattling pipe, so I ignore the sound and start rinsing the suds out of my hair.
There’s a second noise, a little louder than the first, and it sounds like the door clicking shut. My eyelids pop open and are invaded by some of the soap pouring down. I tightly close my eyes, trying to get rid of the stinging from the shampoo, and I shiver in the warm water. I’m not cold, but I sense that I’m not alone.
My voice wavers as I ask, “Mom, is that you?”
An answer doesn’t follow, so it can’t be her. She’s not the type to play pranks or sneak up on people; it simply isn’t dignified.
“If someone’s out there, this isn’t funny.”
I crack open my eyes, but between my soap-blurred vision, the frosted plastic of the shower door, and my bath towel hanging over that door, I wouldn’t be able to see the silhouette of anyone outside without moving. And I don’t want to move. I’m frozen in my spot.
There’s another sound, softer but closer, and I realize that if it’s an intruder, I’m trapped and naked. I feel helpless and afraid, but I have to do something. Just like I should have done something more back then.
My eyes don’t hurt as much, so I look around for something to defend myself with. All I can find is a razor. It was new when I last shaved my legs, so I hope it’s sharp enough to at least startle the intruder. A well-placed and unexpected nick could stall an attack.
There’s one more click, and I spring into action. I grab the towel and wrap it around me. My right hand brandishes the razor, and my left hand shoves open the shower door.
Some steam escapes, only to be replaced by cooler air. Through the mist, I don’t see any sign of life in the room. I glance at the floor, looking for footprints or any depressions in the white cotton shag bath mat. Nothing. No one.
The towel gets heavier and clingier as it absorbs the pouring water. I don’t care that it’s soaked; there are more in the linen closet. I turn the faucet off quickly, and there’s a squeal behind the wall. Maybe all I heard was the pipes, but I stand there dripping and waiting for silence to make sure the coast really is clear.
There are more noises from the wall behind me—some clicks and muffled voices. The neighbors? Adjacent townhouses are mirror images of each other with thin walls separating them. I’ve heard their television through the living room walls when they’ve turned the volume up too loud, but I’ve never heard them talking through the bathroom walls. But then again, I don’t remember the last time I showered so early.
I exchange towels to dry myself off and then put on my robe. Plugging in and turning on my hair dryer, I look at the medicine cabinet above the sink. I didn’t turn on the exhaust fan, so the mirrored door is covered in condensation, preventing me from seeing a clear reflection. That’s how I like it. Because I was in the shower slightly longer than usual, I don’t even see a dark blur where my head should be.
A knock at the door startles me, and I almost drop the hair dryer. I turn it off and clutch my robe closed. “Mom?” I say, hesitantly turning toward the door.
“Hannah, have you seen my keys?” she asks.
I answer her with a simple, “No.” Then I bite my bottom lip to stop myself from saying what I really want to say. Why would I know where they are if I’m not allowed to drive her car? I don’t ever touch her keys.
When I look back at the mirror, most of the fog has evaporated. I catch a glimpse of my reflection, but it’s enough to see the look of exasperation in her puffed cheeks. Not how I want my day to start, so I unplug the hair dryer and put it away. My hair isn’t completely dry, but maybe Zo will appreciate the stylish damp look and not try to give me another homeroom makeover.
Out in the hallway, my mother is rummaging through the drawer of the small table. “You’re done early,” she says without looking at me. “Go get dressed and help me look for my keys.”
Turning on my heel, I head to my bedroom. She never misplaces anything, so confronting her about my phone in her harried state isn’t an option. I’ll save that battle for when we’re in the car—if we ever find her keys.
“Where have you already looked?” I call from my room while I get into my uniform.
“On the table, the kitchen counter, in my purse,” Her voice gets fainter as her list continues; she must have moved to her bedroom. “They’re not locked in the car. And I looked outside in the driveway and front yard, in case I dropped them last night.”
That explains why she wasn’t around when I first woke up. Probably for the better. If I had come out swinging while she was aggravated, who knows what kind of clash there’d have been.
She mutters from her room, “I wouldn’t have brought them up here.”
I secure my tie through my collar and grab my backpack. “Looks like you’ve covered the whole house,” I say as I trot down the stairs.
When I turn the corner into the kitchen/dining area, I stop in my tracks. Her keys are on the table, not hidden inside the basket of fruit or anything, but in plain sight. The brass keychain with her real estate agency’s logo is unmistakable. “They’re down here!” I shout up to her.
“You found them?” Her heels clack on the stairs as she descends. “Where were they?” She sees where I’m gesturing and scoffs at me. “I would have seen them there, Hannah. Where did you really find them?”
“Right there.” I point. “That’s where they were.”
“Don’t you think I would have seen them there?” She picks them up and shakes them in her hand, so they clang together. “I don’t think it’s very funny. You obviously hid them on me and put them on the table when you came down here.”
“What? That’s where they were, Mom.”
“Keys don’t move around on their own, Hannah.” She takes a compact out of her purse and opens it to make sure her hair and makeup are flawless.
“Neither do phones,” I mumble.
She claps the compact closed. “What was that?”
I’m caught, and I know that brushing the comment aside or not giving an answer will make matters worse. Watching my shuffling feet, I say, “My phone has been on the wrong side of my dresser, instead of where I left it, two days in a row now.”
“I see.” She puts the compact in her purse and delicately closes the clasp, all cool and collected, which makes her more intimidating. “And you think I took it to see what you’ve got on it?”
I’m embarrassed, remembering that whenever I persuade myself that I can stand up to her, I cower once it happens.
“I’m going to ask you this once, Hannah, and I expect the truth. Is there any reason I should check what’s on your phone?”
I know I’ve kept my phone free of anything she’d deem questionable, but it feels like she’s asking me a trick question. Accepting my no-win situation, I answer, “No.”
“You’ve been good so far this year, so I’ll chalk this little stunt with the phone and my keys up to you seeking attention. After all, that is what you and Nikki used to do.” My mother doesn’t hide the contempt when she utters Nikki’s name. “Don’t give me a reason to doubt you, Hannah. Now be in the car in two minutes.”
She turns and starts walking away to gather everything she needs for work. I follow for a few steps, holding my phone in the air to show her its reversed display screen, but I think better of it. After getting called out for past behavior, insisting I need a new phone probably isn’t the best idea. I’ll find a way to read the time and the few messages I get from right to left instead of from left to right.
Or maybe I can turn the phone off then back on, and the problem will fix itself.
Puzzled, I stare at my screen. Not only is the display back to normal, but there’s a text message from a phone number I don’t recognize. It reads: Will catch ya later, Han.
This is exactly the kind of reason my mother would want to check my phone, and I panic. I almost delete the text, but curiosity gets the better of me. It can’t be a wrong number because the message is obviously intended for me, so I quickly type: Who is this?
My heart beating faster, I wait for a reply. My mother honks the car horn, and I take off for the door, disappointed. Once I’m in the car, the phone goes away, and I’ll have to wait until I get to school to see who the message is from. I can’t delay her further, so I start moving.
Once outside, I lock the front door, and my phone vibrates with an incoming text. As I dash to the car, I take a quick and final look at the screen, and the pace of my steps slows. The name staring back at me both intrigues and alarms me.
Author: Tara St Pierre
Publish Date: July 25th, 2017
Publisher: Tara St Pierre
Two winners will receive a copy of Mirror Me (Tara St Pierre) ~ (US/Canada Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*