From acclaimed thriller-suspense novelists Heather Graham and Jon Land comes a story of action, X-Files-like mystery, and the endurance of young love in The Rising.
Twenty-four hours. That's all it takes for the lives of two young people to be changed forever.
Alex Chin has the world on a plate. A football hero and homecoming king with plenty of scholarship offers, his future looks bright. His tutor, Samantha Dixon, is preparing to graduate high school at the top of her class. She plans to turn her NASA internship into a career.
When a football accident lands Alex in the hospital, his world is turned upside down. His doctor is murdered. Then, his parents. Death seems to follow him wherever he goes, and now it's after him.
Alex flees. He tells Samantha not to follow, but she became involved the moment she walked through his door and found Mr. and Mrs. Chin as they lay dying in their home. She cannot abandon the young man she loves. The two race desperately to stay ahead of Alex's attackers long enough to figure out why they are hunting him in the first place. The answer lies with a secret buried deep in his past, a secret his parents died to protect. Alex always knew he was adopted, but he never knew the real reason his birth parents abandoned him. He never knew where he truly came from. Until now.
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
HEATHER GRAHAM is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than one hundred novels and novellas, including Phantom Evil, Ghost Walk, and Heart of Evil. A recipient of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet, she has been honored with awards from Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, RT Book Reviews, and more.
JON LAND is the USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels, including Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller), and Strong Light of Day (winner of the 2015 Books and Author Award for Best Mystery Thriller and the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery). Land is a graduate of Brown University. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Read an Excerpt
By Heather Graham, Jon Land
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2016 Heather Graham and Jon Land
All rights reserved.
"ALL RIGHT, VISITING CAPTAIN, the call is yours."
Alex Chin watched the referee toss the ceremonial coin into the air, watched it spiral downward upon the St. Ignatius College Prep turf field set on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the Sunset section of San Francisco.
"Heads," he heard the captain of the Granite Bay Grizzlies say.
"It's tails," the referee said, stooping to retrieve the coin. "Home captain?"
"We want the ball," Alex said, long hair matted down inside his helmet.
His gaze drifted again to the man in the wheelchair situated just off the sideline. He was clapping up a storm with the rest of the jam-packed crowd on the home side, gathered to watch the Central Coast sectional championship game between Alex's St. Ignatius Wildcats and the Grizzlies of Granite Bay, a public high school near Sacramento.
Tom Banks was as close to a legend in these parts as there was, quarterback of the last Wildcats football team to make a run at the state title until a vicious hit out of bounds put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His son Tommy played linebacker for the team now and had cracked the starting lineup earlier in the season. Alex had heard Tom Banks hadn't been back to this field in all the years since his injury, tonight marking a quiet, unceremonious return just to watch his son play. The first time Alex had heard his name was when his own parents brought it up as a rationale to keep him from playing football.
As a result, Alex had joined the freshman team four years ago without saying a word to Li and An Chin, except to make up lies about where he was and what he was doing when he was really at practice. They didn't find out until the local paper ran a story about the Wildcats promoting a freshman to start at quarterback for the first time in the school's storied history. They'd been oh-and-four when Alex took over but then won five out of their last six games to finish at five hundred. The team upped that to seven wins Alex's sophomore season, then eight his junior, before going undefeated this fall and earning a home play-off game.
Alex and the other two Wildcat captains switched positions with their Grizzly counterparts at the fifty-yard line to mimic the direction in which each would be going to start the game. The Cats were representing the Western Catholic Athletic League, and the Grizzlies, the Sierra Athletic Conference, with the winner advancing to the Division 3 state championship. St. Ignatius had taken the ball, instead of deferring possession until the second half, because they'd scored all eight times this year when they received the opening kickoff.
We want the ball.
Right now, though, Alex stooped and picked up the game ball the ref had laid down in the center of the Wildcat logo smack dab in the middle of the field.
"That's not yours, son," the referee scolded.
But as his fellow captains rushed into the pile of teammates cheering and jumping in a tight mass on the sideline, Alex tucked the football under his arm and jogged out toward the end zone near where Tom Banks sat alone in his wheelchair.
"That's unsportsmanlike conduct!" he heard the ref call after him. "Fifteen-yard penalty, son!"
Alex still didn't stop, didn't even look back.
"This game's for you, sir," he said, handing Tom Banks the ball. "We're gonna finish what you started."
He watched Banks tuck the football under his arm the way he must have when he, like Alex, was an all-state quarterback. The man's eyes teared up, the two of them looking at each other until Alex threaded a hand through his face mask to wipe his own. Then he ran off to a ripple of applause through the crowd, toward the sounds of Coach "Blu" Bluford yelling for him to get with it, the game was about to start, and what the hell was he thinking, anyway?
Alex knew his parents were up there somewhere, soon to be holding their breath as always in fear of his being injured. They may not have yelled at him the way Coach was yelling right now, once they found out he was playing football, but they'd been pissed too.
"Why can't I play?" he'd challenged. "It's my life."
"You don't understand," his mother said.
"We are doing this for your own good," his father added.
"You have to trust us."
"No," Alex said adamantly. "I want to play football. I'm going to play football."
He remembered how his parents had looked at each other in that moment. Not angry, not disappointed, more like ...
Alex threw himself into the lurching pile of teammates pounding each other, swarmed by them and he felt the energy radiating like the air on the hottest day summer had to offer. The referee blew his whistle to summon the teams out for the kickoff, the crowd rising to its collective feet, stomping on the bleachers.
"What are we?" Alex shouted from the center of the swarm.
"Glue!" came the deafening response.
"What are we?"
"What are we?"
"Then let's stick together and play some football!"
And with that Alex led the kickoff team out onto the field where the referee was waiting for him, tucking his yellow flag back into his belt.
"So was it worth it, son, was it worth fifteen yards?"
Alex turned toward Tom Banks, now cradling the game ball in his lap.
"Absolutely," he said to the ref. "No question about it."CHAPTER 2
GO, TEAM, GO!
"SO, SAMANTHA," CARA, THE head cheerleader, said to Sam Dixon after the Wildcats had gone up seventeen to ten in the second quarter, "you make up your mind yet?"
"Yes, call me Sam."
Cara rolled her eyes. "That's a boy's name."
"It's been a boy's name for the whole twelve years we've been in school together," Sam told her. "And it's what you've always called me until, like, yesterday."
Cara rolled her eyes again. "Really? Fine. Whatever. Just tell me if you're going to help us out or not."
Sam was spared an answer when the upcoming kickoff forced Cara back to the rest of her squad.
"I'll take that as a yes," she yelled over her shoulder above the cheering crowd, smiling. "I know you won't disappoint the CatPack. We're your friends."
Sam lifted her backpack from the concrete and laid it on the bleacher seat next to her in the very front row. Earlier in the day, Cara had stuffed Monday's AP bio exam, pilfered over the Internet somehow, into one of the backpack's side pockets after a request, more of a demand, that Sam provide the answers over the weekend. The cheer squad liked calling themselves the "CatPack." But Sam preferred to think of them, less affectionately, as "Cara and her Clones." And now they wanted to be spared the bother of studying for a test none of them stood any chance at all of acing, maybe not even passing. They didn't even belong in AP bio and Sam had no idea how they'd managed to qualify, wanted to tell Cara maybe the CatPack should just transfer into a different class.
But she hadn't and now the test for which Sam was supposed to provide the answers made a slight bulge in that side pocket of her backpack, overstuffed to the point of being stretched at the seams.
You make up your mind yet?
The truth was she hadn't, and Sam turned back to the game to distract herself. She understood the concept of football. She just wasn't sure that she liked the game. It was everyone trying to get the ball over the goal line — and willing to crunch, bang, and shove one another to do so.
But Alex played football, and while Cara (of course) was dating Alex, it didn't stop Sam from admiring him from a distance. In Sam's code of honor — perhaps a foolish one at times — friends didn't betray friends. In this group, she'd seen a lot of cheating and lying, and she kept her mouth shut when someone had said something in confidence. She wasn't sure that paid, really.
Sam was sitting down low in the stands, in the closest seats to the field, the only reserved ones, because Cara had secured the ticket for her. A nice gesture, Sam thought, until Cara had stuck the stolen test into her backpack along with the ticket.
"We're counting on you, girl." Cara winked and bounced off with her tumbling hair glimmering over her shoulders in her prissy cheer uniform.
Sam hadn't had any intentions at all of going to the school's first playoff game in fifteen years, but now she had a ticket and, well, her own reasons for going. All of which were spelled A-L-E-X.
The thing was, Sam liked being friends with Cara, even though they weren't friends anymore, not really. Sam holding on to what they used to have because some part of her still craved it, and Cara holding on for reasons akin to the test now stuffed in Sam's backpack to claim her expert scientific eye. That must've been the main reason Cara seemed so happy when Sam landed the internship at NASA's Ames Research Center, home to the Astrobiology Institute, located down in Silicon Valley. She should've just said she wasn't about to answer the exam questions ahead of time and chance being caught as a cheater herself. Risk maybe her whole future, because she didn't want to be the outcast she often felt like, because she was afraid of running afoul of Cara and the Clones, who could make her life a living high school hell.
Well, screw the CatPack.
Easier said than done, of course. The school belonged to this group, who loved parading about in their clingy uniforms, the halls lacking only red carpets rolled out ahead of their strut.
Yeah, screw them.
The cheer ended and Sam watched Cara shoot her a look that stopped just short of a smile, more a warning than a glance. Help us or else. Sam always helped because she didn't want to find out what "or else" entailed.
Sam imagined herself dressed in a CatPack outfit, bouncing about and playing to the crowd.
No, actually, she shouldn't imagine the sight because when she did, she'd see herself jumping about while trying to keep her glasses on at the same time — a book or her iPad stuck in the extra pocket she'd sewn into her short, short skirt falling out with each bounce. These girls didn't care one iota, smidgeon, gram, molecule, or some infinitesimal quantum particle about anything in any way involving a worldview. Their lives were limited to the confines of the school and the city where they were treated like royalty simply because of who they were. Never mind the fact they hadn't contributed or discovered a damn thing, never anything of worth to anyone beyond themselves.
Sam, on the other hand, had just made an amazing discovery she couldn't wait to share with Dr. Donati, her supervisor at Ames. Not that Cara and the Clones would understand, much less care. But Donati surely would, because the pattern she'd uncovered was undeniably there.
Sam wanted a career in NASA. She wanted to become an astronaut and go into space as part of the next phase of the manned program. She wanted a different kind of crowd than this to applaud, as she made her way to the capsule of some futuristic spaceship.
Now flying for the USA, Samantha Dixon!
Just as she finished that thought, the crowd jumped to its feet, cheering. Sam returned her gaze to the field to find Alex Chin strutting away from a ball carrier he'd deftly avoided for a twenty-yard gain on a quarterback keeper, to the high-fives of his Wildcat teammates. She felt her own heartbeat slow again, after fearing herself caught in a fantasy.
But she wasn't a cheater in the fantasy. There was no place for cheaters at NASA.
APPLICATION FOR SPACE PROGRAM SUMMARILY DENIED.
Sam saw that in her head now, her whole life ruined by one stupid mistake because she wasn't brave or strong enough just to say no. Maybe she could tell Cara she'd lost her backpack, and thus the test.
Maybe she should just tell Cara to go to hell. A year from now, she'd be at Harvard, or Brown, or MIT, or Stanford. But they didn't accept cheaters, either, much less give them the financial aid Sam needed with her overgrown-hippie parents too busy making pesticide-free products to make any money. Setting up "grow" communes for anyone who paid them a small deposit, with the balance almost never paid in full. No money, but a fridge full of tomatoes and a nook full of homemade jellies and jams. Wonder if one of my schools of choice might accept those in lieu of tuition? Strange how all Sam could think of was growing up while her parents never seemed to have grown up at all. Her father still called people "dude."
Now they had taken to growing medical marijuana, having secured their grow license for a local dispensary. It had made her very popular in school once word got out, since any number of kids who'd never said a single word to her thought it would be no problem for her to clip a few buds off the plants for them. Sam reminded them that constituted a crime; "Just say no," the saying went, and that's what she did.
To distract herself as much as anything, Sam turned her attention back to the game, seeking out Alex, who was calling the signals from behind center. At least when she tutored him, she got paid. Even though she would've done it for free. And there was at least one good thing about being at the game tonight, at field level, no less: she got to watch Alex play, the crowd cheering as he threw a perfect strike over the middle for a thirty-yard gain that put the Wildcats in easy range of the Granite Bay end zone. The crowd leaped to its feet en masse, pounding the stands so hard the ground actually shook. In front of Sam on the sidelines, the CatPack bounced as if their sneakers were equipped with springs, pompoms shaking in rhythm.
That's when she felt a man squeeze into the flat bleacher seat behind her. Sam smelled something like motor oil combined with fresh tire rubber and figured he must be an auto mechanic. But a quick glance revealed him to be well dressed all in black, the hands pressed atop his knees looking so clean the skin seemed sprayed on. Their eyes met but the man's didn't really regard her, and Sam turned away fast, trying to figure out why she suddenly felt so unnerved.CHAPTER 3
THE SECOND COMING
"HEY, STAY DOWN, FOOL! Come after me, and that's how you land!" Alex Chin taunted, as the running back he'd drilled into the turf from his free safety position on defense was helped back to his feet and moved woozily toward the sideline. "Yup, yup, time to leave the field and don't bother coming back!"
The other team's trainer came out onto the field to help number twenty-four, as Alex summoned the defense back into the huddle. They were taking the game — but he didn't like the way it was going, just one score up late in the fourth quarter after a glut of penalties called on the home team had kept the game close. Maybe the ref was still pissed at Alex for stealing the game ball prior to kickoff.
He hadn't thrown his flag once for all the hits after the whistle Alex had taken while in at quarterback. Alex had the feeling that the coach of the visiting Granite Bay Grizzlies had put a bounty out on him or something — free pizza for whoever knocks Alex Chin out of the game. Even on defense, the fullback hadn't just tried to block him on the last play; he'd tried to elbow-jab him in the back between the ribs. The blow had stung and stolen his breath, but Alex showed no response at all, didn't even complain to the ref. There were better ways to get even.
"This is our house," he told his teammates, back in the defensive huddle. "Fourth quarter and they're still trying to play dirty. Let them. One stop to go for the CCS championship. We own this field. Let's send them home! Let's go to state! What are we?"
The defense clapped in cadence and fanned out to take their positions, then rapidly shifted about as Alex called out defensive signals. Pretty much the only television he'd been watching lately had been the opponents' game films, something he was much better at studying than his senior year subjects. Every time he resolved to pay more attention to this or that subject, there was an offensive tendency to be studied or defensive weakness to be exploited. That was the thing about calling signals on both offense and defense. You had to know your opponent on both sides of the ball, instead of just one.
"Forty-three Juke!" Alex called out, as the quarterback backpedaled from center into the shotgun set. "Forty-three Juke!"
He could tell from the tight end going into motion that Granite Bay was going to run a screen to that side, hence his defensive signal to shift the Wildcats' outside linebacker into a slot where he could disrupt the play. Alex rotated toward that side at the snap, saw the screen taking shape, and outside linebacker Tommy Banks, all 150 pounds of the legendary Tom Banks's son, propelling himself toward an offensive lineman who looked twice his size, moving out to block.
Alex heard the bone-jarring impact as he rotated into position and charged the line, the crackle of helmets and shoulder pads crunching against each other. Tommy Banks disappeared under a sea of churning feet and black pellets kicked up from the turf field, as Alex knifed in through the gap Tommy had created and tackled the running back, who'd caught the screen low, for a five-yard loss. Then he bounced back up and moved straight to Tommy, who'd just made it up to his knees.
Excerpted from The Rising by Heather Graham, Jon Land. Copyright © 2016 Heather Graham and Jon Land. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
From an Anonymous Journal,
Four: Ashes to Ashes,
Six: MONTER_Y MO_T_R INN,
Seven: Meng Po,
Nine: End of the Road,
Ten: Laboratory Z,
Epilogue: The Road Ahead,
From an Anonymous Journal,
By Heather Graham and Jon Land,
About the Authors,