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Mar 26, 2013

Cover Reveal - Small Things by Joe DeRouen

Cover, Excerpt & Book Trailer Reveal

Small Things by Joe DeRouen

Small Things Trilogy Book One

It’s a hot June morning in a small Midwestern town when fifteen-year-old Shawn Spencer arrives at the church for his best friend Tanner’s funeral. Though his drowning was officially ruled an accident, Tanner’s sister Jenny swears she saw something rise up from the Carthage Lake to pull the struggling teenager beneath the surface. Shawn doesn’t believe in monsters… but he will…

The real threat, however, lies in the man behind the monster, a mysterious old man who has vowed to settle an old grudge and regain something that was stolen from him decades earlier. To survive the dark days and nights ahead, Shawn must not only decipher what the man is after, he must move past his own grief, fears, and insecurities, and learn to trust in Jenny, the disgraced town sheriff, and, most importantly, in himself.

And there it was again. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled, and the flash of something dark, something that shouldn’t be there, opposite Tanner’s coffin and across the hall, outside the heavy wooden doors that hung open exposing the church to the rest of the world. He clenched his teeth and moved forward, ignoring his racing heart.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: December 6, 2012
Publisher: Small Things Press

Excerpt & More

Someone had been following him ever since he returned home. The hint of movement outside the window, just beyond his line of sight, or the sense that someone had quickly stepped behind a building or a tree mere seconds before he turned around; nothing concrete to prove his suspicions, but someone had been there, of that he was dead certain.

Even this morning, getting ready for his best friend’s funeral, he’d felt a pair of eyes following him as he climbed into the back of his dad’s station wagon. He hoped that whoever it was hadn’t followed them to the church.

Lost in his thoughts, he could almost forget Tanner’s death, if only for a moment. Breathing deeply, he forced himself to take stock of his surroundings.

Shawn Spencer sat with his parents inside the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church of Carthage - a hot, stifling building that he had only visited a handful of times before. They occupied the third pew from the front, just behind Tanner’s family. The air inside the church was stuffy and the seats were hard and uncomfortable, and Shawn tried desperately to tune out the droning voice of the priest whom Tanner’s family had chosen to lead the service.

When he closed his eyes, he could still see Tanner dressed up in his Sunday best, his mouth molded into an unnatural smile and his skin a color in death that it had never been in life. It just wasn’t Tanner. And he hated those clothes they’d put him in. If he was going to have to spend eternity underground, couldn’t they at least have picked out more comfortable clothes?

Tanner had drowned just three days ago. The two had been inseparable since the middle of fourth grade, and he couldn’t quite grasp the thought of life without his best friend.

“Shawn,” whispered his father, the word coming out in a choke, “we’re pretty much done here, unless you want to go up and say goodbye one last time. I think it’s about time to go to the cemetery for the burial.”

Shawn’s stomach clenched at his father’s words, and he looked across the rows of wooden pews to the coffin where his best friend lay in his uncomfortable suit. A quiet murmuring chatter danced among the mourners, pleasantries exchanged about what a good boy Tanner had been, how the family had endured more than their share of tragedies over the years, and why it was perfectly understandable that Tanner’s sister was having a hard time coping with her loss. Shawn just wanted them all to shut up. He needed this day to be over. More than anything, he desperately needed his friend back.

He snuck another glance toward the entrance to the church – nothing – then watched as the other mourners filed past the coffin, some pausing to say a prayer or to drop something in the casket, others rushing past without so much as a glance. Two of Tanner’s cousins paid their respects, followed by a teacher from school, and finally a blonde-haired man in a trench coat. A strange choice of dress for a hot summer morning, thought Shawn, but then the procession began to slow, and he knew it was his turn.

And there it was again. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled, and the flash of something dark, something that shouldn’t be there, opposite Tanner’s coffin and across the hall, outside the heavy wooden doors that hung open exposing the church to the rest of the world. He clenched his teeth and moved forward, ignoring his racing heart.

He didn’t want to say goodbye, didn't even know how, but he knew he had to do it. Moving closer to the box of burnished wood, he noticed Tanner’s sister putting something inside the coffin. He caught her eye and she blushed, her cheeks turning a shade of crimson to match her long, red hair and freckles, as she pushed a pair of tortoiseshell glasses further up the bridge of her nose.

“Hi Shawn,” Jenny smiled shyly. “Mom said it was okay to put something in with Tanner. You can too, if you want.”

“Like what?” Shawn asked, confused, his eyes darting between the girl and the doorway beyond the church. “What would he need, now that he’s… well, you know...”

“Yeah, I do know,” said Jenny, her emerald green eyes welling up with tears. “Sorry,” she sniffled. “Well, Mom put in a poem, Grandma put in a Bible, and Dad put in a few of Tanner’s favorite comics. I put in his Galahad doll.”

Action figure, he silently corrected her. Girls.

He studied the eight-inch plastic knight lying atop Tanner’s cold body: The Mego figure’s armor had a small split and was missing his helmet and visor, though at least he still had his sword and shield. That in itself was amazing considering how many adventures Tanner and Shawn had put their figures through over the years.

Shawn’s Ivanhoe was in a similar state of disrepair, having long ago lost his weapons and both of his boots. Though they didn’t really play with them anymore, both he and Tanner still had their figures proudly displayed on bookshelves in their rooms.

His eyes swept the rest of the offerings: there was the Bible and the comics, along with some photos, Mrs. McGee’s poem, a little silver cross, and an old mason jar of change. Shawn stared at the jar, thinking for a moment that it was the same one they had found earlier in the summer, but of course that couldn’t be the case. He knew Tanner had been saving money for a new bicycle, so maybe his parents had included the jar along with the rest of the offerings.

“Jenny, I don’t have anything to put with him,” Shawn apologized, firmly positioning his back to the door lest he be compelled to look again. And then he remembered the nickel.

Earlier in the summer, just two weeks before the start of summer vacation, Shawn and Tanner had finally managed to get into the old Spencer house on Randolph Street. The huge three-story spread, abandoned for years, had fueled their imagination for as long as he could remember. After all, it was Shawn’s birthright: Charles Spencer, the last known occupant of the house, had been Shawn’s great-great uncle. And that’s where they’d found the nickel.

“Well, I guess I do have something after all,” reasoned Shawn, reaching into his pocket. Bypassing his pocketknife and two pieces of Bazooka bubble gum, he pulled out an old Buffalo nickel. “Think this’ll do?”

“Couldn’t hurt,” Jenny smiled, adjusting her glasses. Taking the nickel from Shawn’s outstretched palm, she blanched as she noticed a wet stain of blood on the coin. “Hey, did you hurt yourself?”

Looking to his bleeding thumb, he thought he’d probably pricked it on the old pocketknife when digging around for the nickel. “My pocketknife. I guess I need to get rid of that thing,” he shrugged, sucking the blood from his finger. “Sorry about that.”

Answering his shrug with one of her own, Jenny returned the nickel before slowly walking away to rejoin her parents. “I’m not sure what he could buy with a nickel, though,” she called over her shoulder, giving Shawn a half-hearted wave.

“I’ll miss you, buddy,” said Shawn, flicking the coin into the air toward Tanner’s coffin. The coin landed on Galahad’s head, bounced once, rolled down the toy’s torso, and finally settled between his legs and the dead boy’s hand. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there,” he whispered, turning away from the coffin to follow Jenny back into the world of the living.

Find Joe DeRouen at:
Twitter: @jderouen
Joe DeRouen Amazon author page

Be on the lookout for Joe DeRouen's next book, Threads, coming Fall 2013

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