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 takesto be a hero, and leaping into the unknown.
I go into my backyard and toward thefence that separates Boston’s house from mine. I lift up a broken piece of woodon the fence and crawl through it effortlessly into Boston’s backyard.
“You made it,” Boston exclaims assoon as I step off the ladder and climb into the treehouse.
Boston is sitting cross-legged, readinga worn out copy of A New Brain forLavender Cross by Luke Danielson, a favorite of ours that came outthis year. It will be the third time he’s devoured the book. One time more than me.
There’s a plastic coffee cup on thefloor beside him and a perfect view of my driveway from here.
“What are you drinking?” I ask.
“An iced mango tea.” He picks it upand holds it out in front of me. The water from the melted ice has alreadysoaked his hand wet. “Do you want to share it with me?”
I accept the cup from his hands andtake a sip. When I hand it back to him, I wipe my hand against my joggers.
“Do you think your auntwill let mekeep 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 theingredients that were in the serum before we were injected just in case anyonehad an allergic reaction to it. A lot of people did. I can’t remember the exactnumbers, but at least half of the volunteers got so sick within days after theinjection and had to withdraw from training. Even Max caught a bug, but hequickly 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 aboutit. He thinks I may have already built up a tolerance to the ingredients.
Boston found the list while we wererummaging through the old filing cabinet that Aunt Rosa keeps all of our 451documents in. We weren’t looking for anything in particular. Boston is obsessedwith Project 451 and I’m always willing to feed into it. I let Boston borrowthe list over the summer as long as he gave it back before I left. He knowseverything about Project 451 even though I‘m technically not allowed to talkabout it with anyone. I signed an agreement, but Boston is my best friend, andit’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 beingprohibited from doing it outside of training. I made him feel excitement,nothing harmful. Then I forced him to promise me that he’d never ask me to doit again. I don’t like being in control like that. Max is the one who wanted tobecome a Peace Officer, but I knew during our very first field lesson that Iwouldn’t be taking my final exam. I just didn't know how I would be getting myself outof it. Thankfully theproject got shut down before I had to come up with a way.
“You’re not going to try to makeyour own serum, are you?” I joke.
Boston huffs. “Yeah right, thatwould be so expensive.” Boston looks over the ingredient list for--mostlikely--the hundredth time. I know he has it memorized by now. “Most of theequipment used isn’teasily accessible, you know. Except in labs. I just thoughtit would be a cool thing to hold onto. Like I have a little piece of actualhistory with me.”
I smile. Boston’s intentions arealways sweet. It’s his best quality. “You can keep it,” I say. “But maybe weshould photocopy it in case Aunt Rosaneeds it for whatever reason.”
Boston nods, his excitementradiating off his face as he holds the list close to his chest.
“Hey, I have something for you.” Ijust remembered that I hid Boston’s birthday present in his old toy chest.
I go to the toy chest and take outhis 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 frontof him so he can open it. He unwraps it with care, and I can tell he reallyloves to milk the process. Like savoring a delicious meal.
When he sees what it is, hepractically screams. “Whoa! You did not get this for me!” He tears what’s left of the wrapping paper like a rabid animaland holds up the microscope. He admires the display picture on the box, whichwill be more difficult to take apart. He’ll have to open it up at home.
I didn’t think it would touch methis 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 nowthat he was turning seventeen.
“Thank you,” he tells me, a littleawkwardly. Boston’s shy about showing gratitude. I think it embarrasses him. Hepeers at the ground, then back up at me.
Then, impulsively, I hug him,burying my head into his chest. “Send me a letter as soonas you get settled atCrystal Lake.”
“And you can visit my grandmaanytime. She’s only a five minute walk from your guys’ cabin. I googled it. Shesaid she’ll make tamales for you if you give her a heads up.”
Boston bobs his head, and I feel himstart 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 callsfrom the car. “It’s time to go!”
I turn back to Boston. “I guessSaturday family breakfast is starting earlier than expected.”
“And if your dad forgets to cookdinner and you're ever hungry, just go to my grandma’s house. She keeps themost amazing food stocked in the freezer.”
“Okay,” he says again, annoyed thistime. 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,” Inod, realizing that Imust be smothering him.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I justmean, don’t feel sorry for me, okay?”
I nod. I know I’m being especiallymaternal, but Boston’s mom left his dad just a few months ago, and his sisterShannon moved to New York to start her first year at Syracuse last week. Bostondoesn’t have anyone to look out for him anymore. The problem is Boston’s dad isa total workaholic. He’s so focused on work that he remembers the things he’sforgotten to do well after he should have done them. “Damnit! I forgot themilk,” 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!”
Plus there’s the kiss. On the daythat Boston’s mom left, he kissed me in the treehouse we’re sitting in now. Wenever talked about it and it didn’t happen again, but I feel obligated to lookout for the boy who’s as much my first kiss as he is my best friend. Mom wouldtell me not to think so fondly of any boy, especially a teenager full ofhormones that he can’t control, but I could control them for the both of us.And Boston’s been my best friend since we were six. I trust him with my heartmore than anyone.
I’ll admitthat I’ve developedfeelings for him after the kiss, but he never acted on it again, so I acceptedthat he probably did it out of fear or a need for comfort. But we remain eachother’s protectors nonetheless. I think I have every right to make sureBoston’s okay on his trip.
Max told me that Boston’sat thatage where he is ready to be a man and take care of himself. I guess Max must know from experience. But I know Boston better than anybody, and I can tell heappreciates that I do things for him. I can tell by the way he smiles tohimself when he thinks I’m not looking.
Prima (I’m assuming) honks our car’shorn.
“I have to go,” I say.
Boston nods, and we make our waydown the ladder.
A small part of me wishes I could haveworked up the courage to give him one more kiss goodbye, but I refuse tobelieve that I have to act out of desperation for a romance to develop betweenus. If Boston wants to be with me, he’ll be with me when he’s ready.
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.