Author: Beck Medina
Title: All the Stars on Fire
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: December 20th, 2019
Natalia Morales has a secret...she's kind of a superhero. Natalia dreams of joining the Action Team, the newly banded and young heroes that protect Angel City and just may stop at anything to make it happen.
Alyse Morales knows her sister's secret and wants Natalia to give up on her dangerous dream. When Alyse gets hurt one night while Natalia is crime-fighting, Natalia promises to end her run as a hero. But when the Sorceress appears in Angel City, and Captain Force, the leader of the Action Team, enlists in Natalia's help, she may have to break her promise in order to protect her family and friends.
Will Alyse ever forgive her? Is Natalia actually capable of saving the day? All the Stars on Fire is the story of following your dreams, what it truly takes to be a hero, and leaping into the unknown.
I go into my backyard and toward the fence that separates Boston’s house from mine. I lift up a broken piece of wood on the fence and crawl through it effortlessly into Boston’s backyard.
“You made it,” Boston exclaims as soon as I step off the ladder and climb into the treehouse.
Boston is sitting cross-legged, reading a worn-out copy of A New Brain for Lavender Cross by Luke Danielson, a favorite of ours that came out this year. It will be the third time he’s devoured the book. One time more than me.
There’s a plastic coffee cup on the floor beside him and a perfect view of my driveway from here.
“What are you drinking?” I ask.
“An iced mango tea.” He picks it up and holds it out in front of me. The water from the melted ice has already soaked his hand wet. “Do you want to share it with me?”
I accept the cup from his hands and take a sip. When I hand it back to him, I wipe my hand against my joggers.
“Do you think your aunt will let me keep this?” Boston holds up a piece of paper labeled Serum 451 ActiveIngredients List.
I forgot that Boston even that had. Back when Max and I were in Project 451, my parents were mailed a list of the ingredients that were in the serum before we were injected just in case anyone had an allergic reaction to it. A lot of people did. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but at least half of the volunteers got so sick within days after the injection and had to withdraw from training. Even Max caught a bug, but he quickly recovered from it. I don’t know anyone else in Academy that was susceptible to the serum-like me, but Boston and I have had discussions about it. He thinks I may have already built up a tolerance to the ingredients.
Boston found the list while we were rummaging through the old filing cabinet that Aunt Rosa keeps all of our 451documents in. We weren’t looking for anything in particular. Boston is obsessed with Project 451 and I’m always willing to feed into it. I let Boston borrow the list over the summer as long as he gave it back before I left. He knows everything about Project 451 even though I‘m technically not allowed to talk about it with anyone. I signed an agreement, but Boston is my best friend, and it's not like he has anyone else to share our secrets.
The aspect we talk about most is the451 Serum. The 451 Serum alters our DNA so that we can alter people’s emotions. He couldn’t believe it and begged me to alter his emotions despite my being prohibited from doing it outside of training. I made him feel the excitement, nothing harmful. Then I forced him to promise me that he’d never ask me to do it again. I don’t like being in control like that. Max is the one who wanted to become a Peace Officer, but I knew during our very first field lesson that I wouldn't be taking my final exam. I just didn't know how I would be getting myself out of it. Thankfully the project got shut down before I had to come up with a way.
“You’re not going to try to make your own serum, are you?” I joke.
Boston huffs. “Yeah right, that would be so expensive.” Boston looks over the ingredient list for--most likely--the hundredth time. I know he has it memorized by now. “Most of the equipment used isn’t easily accessible, you know. Except in labs. I just thought it would be a cool thing to hold onto. Like I have a little piece of actual history with me.”
I smile. Boston’s intentions are always sweet. It’s his best quality. “You can keep it,” I say. “But maybe we should photocopy it in case Aunt Rosa needs it for whatever reason.”
Boston nods, his excitement radiating off his face as he holds the list close to his chest.
“Hey, I have something for you,” I just remembered that I hid Boston’s birthday present in his old toy chest.
I go to the toy chest and take out his present, wrapped in blue flannel wrapping paper from our party pantry. Boston accepts the present with bright eyes and places it on the floor in front of him so he can open it. He unwraps it with care, and I can tell he really loves to milk the process. Like savoring a delicious meal.
When he sees what it is, he practically screams. “Whoa! You did not get this for me!” He tears what’s left of the wrapping paper like a rabid animal and holds up the microscope. He admires the display picture on the box, which will be more difficult to take apart. He’ll have to open it up at home.
I didn’t think it would touch me this much to see how happy he is with his gift. I saved up all summer for it. He already had a microscope for kids, but I thought he needed a real one now that he was turning seventeen.
“Thank you,” he tells me, a little awkwardly. Boston’s shy about showing gratitude. I think it embarrasses him. He peers at the ground, then back up at me.
Then, impulsively, I hug him, burying my head into his chest. “Send me a letter as soon as you get settled at Crystal Lake.”
“And you can visit my grandma anytime. She’s only a five-minute walk from your guys’ cabin. I googled it. She said she’ll make tamales for you if you give her a heads up.”
Boston bobs his head, and I feel him start to pull away from me. “I can’t breathe, Natalia. You’re really strong.” He pulls his knees to his chest. “Good to know that serum is still working.”
“Natalia!” I hear Aunt Rosa calls from the car. “It’s time to go!”
I turn back to Boston. “I guess Saturday family breakfast is starting earlier than expected.”
“And if your dad forgets to cook dinner and you're ever hungry, just go to my grandma’s house. She keeps the most amazing food stocked in the freezer.”
“Okay,” he says again, annoyed this time. Boston is all okays. I hardly know what he means by them anymore.“Natalia, don’t worry about me. I can survive two weeks without you.”
“Right,” I nod, realizing that I must be smothering him.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean, don’t feel sorry for me, okay?”
I nod. I know I’m being especially maternal, but Boston’s mom left his dad just a few months ago, and his sister Shannon moved to New York to start her first year at Syracuse last week. Boston doesn't have anyone to look out for him anymore. The problem is Boston’s dad is a total workaholic. He’s so focused on work that he remembers the things he's forgotten to do well after he should have done them. “Damnit! I forgot the milk,” he would say out of nowhere in the middle of watching TV. Or, “The sink! Your mom told me to call a plumber about the sink!”
About the Author
Beck Medina is a California born and raised author and podcast host. Beck's work includes 2016's A Fantastic Mess of Everything, 2017's Or Best Offer, and her highly anticipated fantasy novel All the Stars on Fire (December 2019).
When Beck isn't writing, she's the host of the My Best Life Podcast, a health, wellness, and business podcast for creative entrepreneurs. A few of Beck's favorite things include pop music, iced coffee, teen dramas, and her two cats, Olivia and Dupree.
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