Moonlight and Oranges
by Elise Stephens
A timeless tale of young romance.
Lorona Connelly is ready for a change from her carefully planned, bookish life. When sparks fly at a costume party, she embraces a chance for romance with the handsome Kestrin Feather. However, she quickly realizes that even love and destiny may not be enough to overcome the reality of an overprotective mother-in-law and Kestrin’s long, tarnished history of relationships.
When Lorona’s curiosity leads her to Kestrin’s journal, doubt plagues them both with insecurities and threatens the relationship. Can true love overcome the odds, or was their whirlwind romance just a frivolous crush? Author Elise Stephens shares a journey of young love, fate, and wounded trust in the story of Lorona and Kestrin, a couple who must learn to overcome their fears to share a life together.
An Excerpt from Moonlight & Oranges
Lorona rolled her eyes and surveyed the long line of girls fidgeting outside the tent. In a gust of alien tractor-beam light, the entrance flap jerked open and a huge woman in a swath of blood-red velvet swept majestically into view.
Behind her, a skull-sized crystal ball glowed on a pedestal. A slender girl with almost-white hair stood just inside the tent, clutching her purse. She smiled timidly at the imposing bulk of Madame Ovary’s enormous shadow before scuttling like a mouse freed from a trap and collapsed into the arms of her waiting boyfriend. She was whispering something into his ear energetically and Lorona looked away, groaning in disgust.
“Please tell me you know I don’t believe in any of this stuff.”
“Yeah? Well, neither do I.” Yuki shrugged with exaggerated carelessness.
“What about the horoscopes you read in the newspaper?”
“I just think they’re quaint.” Yuki tried to laugh lightly, then said, “This will be a good distraction for you.” She grabbed Lorona’s elbow. “I’m taking you in whether you like it or not, babe.”
“She’ll just put bogus stuff in my head and then I’m supposed to believe that it’ll come true.”
Yuki took a clipboard from an attendant who wore smoky eyeliner. “Then why do the police hire psychics? Explain that.”
“I don’t know, but—”
“Do you want to know why I think you should see this psychic?” Yuki brandished a pen at Lorona like a wand. “Because I’m afraid you’ll get stuck in the past. I could see it in your eyes. If what she says is junk, it will at least make you think of the future.”
“Isn’t this a little premature? It’s not like I’ve been locking myself in my room and not eating.”
“Oh, but you were going to. I could see the ‘I’ll just have tea diet’ all over your face. I don’t need to be worrying about your health while I’m at work.”
Lorona felt her nostrils flaring.
“I know you.” Yuki thrust out her chin. “I might have psychic blood, too.”
Lorona looked at the clipboard and her subconscious thrust a new agitation to the surface. She knew why she didn’t want to see the fortune-teller. It made her think of Kestrin’s dream. Real or not, he was definitely submitting to its voice, and this made Lorona angry. An amorphous force was fencing her out and probably looking down at Kestrin right now and laughing.
Bizarre survey questions covered the clipboard, asking for her name, which she said was Martha Washington, and birth date, which she wrote truthfully but changed the year to make herself four-years-old, and then the questions turned to things like,
Have you seen any of the following animals cross your path with a high level of
frequency (cat, dog, raven, owl)? and Have you ever woken with a sensation that you were not in control of your body?
Lorona drew a line down the “no” boxes.
Yuki snorted as she peeked over Lorona’s shoulder. “You’re impossible.”
Lorona handed the sheet to the attendant, who glanced at the answers before giving her a withering look.
“If that woman is a real psychic, she’ll know I’m lying,” Lorona muttered.
“If she’s a real psychic, she’ll give you what you deserve and scare your panties off,” Yuki whispered back.
“I went commando today. Too bad for her.”
They were both snickering when the tent opened and Madame Ovary practically threw her client out. The girl never stopped running. She skirted the crowd and vanished, her face round and white as a full moon.
“Next,” Madame Ovary boomed, her eyes roaming the line. She raised a finger and pointed, not to the first in line, but farther down, near where Yuki and Lorona stood at the end.
“What did she just say?” Lorona whispered.
The assistant examined the list on her clipboard quizzically as Madame Ovary stared right at Lorona. Lorona’s Adam’s apple froze into a lump of ice. Yuki turned to a pillar of stone beside her, pinned under the same burning glower.
“You’re here for your fortune, yes?” the psychic said, clearly addressing her.
“Uh, yes,” Lorona managed in a voice that was not nearly as skeptical as she’d planned.
Madame Ovary crooked her finger.
Dragging their feet, Lorona and Yuki filed past the column of eight girls, ignoring the glares for line-cutting. Yuki squeezed Lorona’s hand tighter and tighter with each step.
“Just you,” Madame Ovary ordered Lorona. “Your friend can wait outside.”
Yuki throttled her hand and all five of Lorona’s knuckles
popped. She slipped gratefully away as the tent flaps fell and whispered to Lorona, “I’ll be right outside.”
Madame Ovary turned to face Lorona, her giant shoulders silhouetted by the glow of her crystal orb. She didn’t smile or say a word. She just stared at her.
About the Author
I was raised by a very loving family who home-schooled me through most of high school before I moved on to college and a Creative Writing degree at the University of Washington. I started reading at age four, drawing picture story books at age six, typing stories on the computer at age ten, and I haven’t stopped since.
I love Jesus, beauty, art, and truth. When I’m not writing, I enjoy live theater, swing dancing, eating tiramisu, singing, painting, and laughing till my stomach hurts. I crave Dilettante’s chocolate-covered fruit medleys in case you’d like to know how to bribe me. I live in Seattle with my husband.
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