Radioactive #2

House of Cinders

by Rachel Anne Jones

House of Cinders by Rachel Anne Jones

College Bucket List
- adapt
- avoid 5G
- defeat the Samurai
- find the gold

Summer’s almost over. Amy’is more than ready to return to normal following a harrowing escape from an armed missile silo complete with an insane cult leader and his zealous followers, the Children of the Sun. Her new romance with Austin is perfection, but will it stand the test of time and distance when she goes off to college in the Fall? Amy’s not so sure. She’s excited for her next chapter in life, and anxious to leave recent events in the past, but some doors won’t stay closed.

When unexpected trouble follows her to college, Amy’s next home visit is sooner than she planned. Amy discovers her dorm room isn’t the only invasion that happened overnight. Her mom’s new houseguests are five beautiful Russians, a mysterious samurai warrior, and some hidden gold. Can Amy handle the chilly visitors, Austin in such close proximity, acing gen eds, and whoever chases the gold? One thing is for certain, her freshmen year is already full of surprises.






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Chapter One
All Day Long

My hot and memorable summer is almost over. Given my latest make-out session with Austin, it’s a good thing I’m going off to college. Between his delicious kisses and his dreamy love-eyes, that boy is too smooth for his own good.

I consider our bumpy beginning. It’s definitely one of a kind. I can’t decide if it’s humorous or terrifying—maybe both. Austin is my step-brother, so technically we met through marriage. We didn’t start dating until we were stuck together in a doomsday missile silo, and we thought we might not make it out alive. I guess a human pressure cooker was the catalyst in our relationship. To say we have a bold and fiery love is not an exaggeration. Looking back on those few days, it’s scary to realize how much danger I was in but didn’t even know it, because I was so caught up in the moment.

Being with Austin feels a little like that too, I may not need a live grenade or an AK-47 to survive the eventual end of our relationship, but I’m awfully close to falling over the edge with him. He’s way too easy to love, and we’ve been through so much together in such a short time.

“Oh, no. She’s got her moony eyes on again. Oh, to be young and in love.” Glynn’s embarrassing words interrupt my musings as I stand behind the register absent-mindedly checking over my work-station supplies in case a last-minute, closing-time customer sneaks in the front door. I can’t believe it’s my last day of work at the Full House coffee shop where I’ve spent most of my summer perfecting my coffee-making skills under the experienced tutelage of True and her three Queens, as I like to call them.

Learning to avoid the steam from the espresso machine was nothing compared to guarding myself against the hard kick of a machine gun against my shoulder at the sink-or-swim survivor weekend boot camp a few days ago. I absent-mindedly run my fingers over my bruise and brush off the memory as I catch the sparkle in True’s eyes.

True is the best boss I’ve ever had! Her smile is like a personalized ray of sunshine that greets me each morning. True flips her long, wavy brown hair over her shoulder as she looks over at Kris, who reminds me of the blooming flowers of spring in her loose-fitting blouse and flowy dark pants. True winks at Glynn and then back at me. “We’re sure going to miss you when you go off to college, Amy.”

Barb pops her head in from the back room in her signature worn tee, dark blue jeans, and ever-practical sneakers. “Yeah, be sure and write or e-mail; whatever it is you kids do these days.” She smiles her warm, friendly smile. “I’d love to say more, but I’ve got get back to the inventory. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

Glynn faces me. “I know I’ll miss you, Amy. Once you’re gone, I’ll have to get up before nine.”

Kris laughs. “Oh, Glynn. I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re up at seven most mornings.”

Glynn raises her eyebrows along with her coffee cup. “Yes, this is true, but I’m up in my house.” She makes a face. “I don’t clean up and put my face on until eight.”

Kris winks at her. “What’s wrong with your face, Glynn?”

Glynn shoots a half glare in Kris’s direction. “My face knows I’m sixty-three, Kris, but the rest of me doesn’t have to like it.”

I smile. Glynn and Kris are so funny. They love to go back and forth.

True smiles again. “Well. I’m just going to sit over here and dream about my November cruise with Lara. Now that’s something to look forward to.”

Glynn chuckles. “How many cruises have you two been on?”

True sits back in her chair. “Nine or ten I suppose.”

Holy moly. That’s a lot of cruises. Glynn turns back to me. “So, Amy. Do you think you’ll meet any interesting young men on campus?”

My mind flies to Austin. Just yesterday we were making out, a little, before Hank dragged Austin out the door on some errand. I swear. Ever since Hank decided not to bed and wed me, he’s been awful concerned about preserving my flower. I blush at the thought. I’m not anywhere anxious for that kind of relationship with Austin, I’m just saying. It’s not really Hank’s business, even though technically he’s my older brother now.

There are strange dynamics in our home, but it’s never boring. My mom and stepdad kind of adopt strays; but if you ask Simon, my youngest adopted brother, he’ll tell you he’s in the Witness Protection Program and it’s all highly classified; and that’s also kind of true. All I know is my life got a whole lot interesting the moment I set foot in the state of North Dakota to infiltrate a missile silo complete with armed guards.

Glynn clears her throat, bringing me back to the question. “Oh, I don’t know. I imagine I’ll keep busy enough with my studies and all. Texas Tech is pretty serious about their education.”

Kris laughs. “I suppose. Just don’t forget to appreciate the scenery. There’s some pretty handsome blue eyes hiding beneath those cowboy hats.”

Glynn winks at me. “I can appreciate a pair of hot buns in tight denim W’s.”

I choke and sputter on my coffee. True kicks Glynn’s foot. “Glynn! What a thing to say. Don’t corrupt my innocent barista!”

I blush clear to my roots and turn away from the women and busy myself with scrubbing down the counters and cleaning up my espresso tools. I start with the frother nozzle. I love frothing milk.

Kris steps up to the counter. “Good luck at school, Amy. We’ll miss you. If you ever come back on the weekends, stop by. We’d love to see you.”

I smile at her kind words. “Thanks, Kris. I will.”


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