Lucky Strike (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

Anyone in Paradise Beach would tell you if one of their three hundred thirteen residents was going to be struck by lightning—struck out of the clear blue sky on their birthday— that person would be Nathaniel Harlow.

Because wasn’t it Nate whose hound dog was snatched up by a tornado, dog house and all, never to be seen again? And wasn't it Nate who never, ever in the history of his eleven years on God’s green earth won a coin toss, or found a prize in the bottom of his Cracker Jacks box?

Bad luck seemed to dog Nate Harlow’s heels like his long-lost hound. Scrawnier than most, hunch-shouldered against the bad luck that rained down upon him, that boy was pure unlucky.

Nate awoke that spring morning of his eleventh birthday with an unaccountably light and fluttery feeling in his chest. He lay beneath his covers and listened. He heard his grandpa snoring on the couch in the living room of their tiny trailer. He heard the mockingbird singing its heart out in the magnolia tree outside his bedroom window. He heard the hum of the refrigerator and the steady thump thump thump in his chest. He did not hear anything that might account for the tiny flicker of hope fluttering like a moth in his heart.

“But it is my eleventh birthday,” Nate declared to the mockingbird. “It’s the eleventh of May on my eleventh birthday. That must mean something.”