Show Stealer by Hayley Barker
Today is my stop on the Show Stealer blog tour and I’m here today with an extract from the book! This is the sequel to Show Stopper so make sure you read that one too!
About the Book
Once we’re at the door, the black suit guy releases me from the cuffs and pushes me inside, slamming and locking the door.
I’m all alone, for the first time in almost a year.
Alone in Arcadia.
What is this place?
The last time I was inside a circus building, it was the arena: a traditional big top, with circular rows of plastic chairs surrounding the central ring and the smell of sawdust and sweat and stale beer.
This place is completely different. I’ve never seen anything like it before; I’ve never heard of anywhere like it before.
I’m inside a forest.
Great gnarled trees curve around the edges, ancient and majestic. Way up high, the branches strain together so that they arch overhead in a leafy canopy. The air feels lush and alive; they must be real. Sunlight twinkles through, or what feels like sunlight, warming my back and casting dappled spots on to the springy grass beneath my feet. It’s dotted with tiny daisies, yellow buttercups and delicate blue forget-me-nots. I reach down and feel it with my fingers.
Dozens of tiny yellow birds – canaries, I think – are flitting about the branches. They sing and chirp continuously, their creamy voices soaring high into the air. It’s just an illusion, it has to be, but they’re buying into the myth. There are other birds too, their wings beating vigorously while they sup the delicious nectar – hummingbirds. On the ground, real peacocks strut around, ignoring me completely, their tails fanned proudly.
There aren’t chairs; the places where the audience will sit are mossy indents, formed somehow in the grassy slopes which meander towards the stage where the woodland theme continues.
The trees up there are tiny and adorned with thick blossoms. I breathe the heady smell in; it fills my lungs with perfume. The law of the seasons don’t apply in this wonderland; it’s spring, summer, winter and autumn all at once, for the trees bear fruit too – their boughs laden with golden pears, yellow lemons, shiny red apples. Vines, rich with clusters of purple grapes, curl around the trunks, entwining themselves among the branches.
There’s a high waterfall, right at the back, gushing down serenely. The water cascading down is rainbow-coloured, changing mid-flow from red to orange, from blue to green, twinkling and dancing under the lights as it rushes down to a bubbling brook below.
I tread my way over to the stage and reach up and pick a cherry from the nearest tree. I put it tentatively to my lips, but it’s real. It explodes in my mouth, the rich, sweet juice trickling down my throat. I take another one, and another one, and another one, cramming them into my mouth. I stand on the spot and rotate around and around, captivated by the smell of the blossom, the song of the birds, and of the babbling stream, the waterfall, the sights so rich and lavish.
Who created this place? They’ve surpassed themselves. How much did it cost? And what on earth happens in here? It might look like the Garden of Eden, but it can’t be anything good.
The door opens, and there she is, framed in the sunlight, the serpent herself: my mother, Vivian Baines.
“Well, well, well,” she says. “After all this time, the return of the prodigal son.”
About the Author
I cannot imagine what my life would be like without literature in it. Before becoming published, I was a secondary school English teacher and books have always played a massive part in my day-to-day to life and have made me the person I am today. Being an author is a dream come true for me and I feel so lucky to be spending every day doing what I love.