"Wings Of Hope"

Chapter 1

"The Letter"

I twirled my pewter dragon ring as I watched my three best friends. It was early November and we were enjoying the last days of fall. In a week, Spokane expected to get two inches of snow.

I had invited Joshua, Alex, and Emily over for the afternoon. We had taken up residence on my second-story porch. I leaned against the railing and watched as Joshua reenacted a football tackle he had recently done in the game against Central Valley. Alex and Emily leaned on the other end of the railing.

Joshua's black wavy hair fluttered in the breeze as he smiled over at me. I felt my heart skip a beat as I smiled back. Alex and Emily shared a knowing smile; it was common knowledge at Gonzaga Prep that the cutest and nicest senior had a huge crush on me.

Alex put his arm around Emily's shoulders and I shared a smile with Joshua; Alex had let us in on his long-kept secret that he liked Emily just last week, although we already knew it. She tucked her short blonde hair behind one ear and smiled. The breeze grew stronger and Alex's short brown hair whirled around.

I reached over and took a handful of grapes as Joshua asked, "So did anyone go to the mixer last night?"

We all shook our heads in unison.

"The mixers are terrible this year," voiced Alex.

"All they play is really bad techno songs." Emily added.

"And all the dirty dancing that goes on disgusts me." I chipped in.

Joshua shrugged. "I didn't go either. I gave up on the mixers being any good after last year."

I swallowed the last grape and hopped up to perch on the railing; Joshua visibly cringed.

"Would you keep your feet on the ground for once?"

I quirked an eyebrow as I smiled, while Emily and Alex choked back laughter.

"Why? Does it bother you?"

"Don't play coy with me!" he grinned mischievously. "I might just push you off that ledge!"

I pretended to be indignant.

"Just because I spend most of my free time sitting on the roof with a notebook to write doesn't mean that you have to insult me!"

I turned my nose upward and folded my arms across my chest. Alex and Emily burst out laughing.

Joshua sighed. "I'm sorry; but I swear you're giving me gray hairs with all of the crazy things you do!"

I chuckled. "You need more excitement in your life besides football. It's my mission this school year to make you live on the edge a little bit more."

My mom slid open the glass door.

"Caelyn, honey, there's an envelope from Tyndale in the mail. I think that now would be a good time to read it."

Only my mom called me Caelyn, everyone else called me Jack. My father had given me the middle name "Jacqueline" and he had called me Jack for as long as I could remember.

I jumped down and grabbed the white envelope from her hand. Everyone crowded around me as I ripped it open. I unfolded the page and scanned the lines looking for what I had hoped for. I found it and dropped the page in shock; then the excitement hit me like a brick wall.

I pumped a fist in the air and yelled, "Yes!"

Emily snatched the letter from the deck and held it while I jumped up and down with excitement.

"They've requested that I send in the full manuscript for 'Dragon Rider'. They're going to publish it!" I shrieked.

"You're kidding!"

"No way!"

"Really?"

I grabbed the letter from Emily and read a sentence out loud.

"'We would like to request that you send in the full manuscript for your novel called 'Dragon Rider.'"

I looked up at their beaming faces with a gigantic smile.

"I can't believe it!"

"Oh honey! I'm so proud of you!" my mom said with tears in her eyes as she hugged me. "I'm going to go call the family."

She slid the door closed and left the four of us alone.

Emily recovered first. She practically crushed me as she hugged me. Only when I gasped, 'I can't breathe!' did she let go. Then Alex lifted my feet off the ground when he hugged me. Joshua finally recovered too. He picked me, swung me around, and set me down. He kissed my forehead.

"This is great! My best friend is going to be a famous writer!"

I giggled as I looked up at him.

"Did you see that?" Emily whispered to Alex.

"He kissed her," he replied. "They're definitely in love."

"Oh stop it you two." Joshua said pretending to be grumpy, even though he wore a huge grin.

He gave me a gentler hug this time.

He whispered into my ear, "I'm so proud of you."

I sighed with contentment as I let him go. My world was about to be turned upside down. I was getting my first book published, my best friend had finally shown that he liked me, and my two other friends were well on their way to becoming lovebirds.

Joshua grabbed the digital camera from the table and stood in front of the sliding glass door. He motioned for the three of us to stand in front of the railing.

"I want to get a picture of this. Jack, stand in the middle and hold the letter. Alex, you can be on the right. How about you stand on the left Emily? This is going to look great with the sunset behind you."

We all turned around to gaze at the blue sky that was beginning to become pink with orange and purple clouds. We turned around again and Joshua snapped the picture.