written by Nadia Simonenko
published by Nadia Simonenko
About the book: “I wish I didn’t have to go home. I wish I was someone else — someone with a future…”
For sixteen-year-old Nina Torres, it feels as if life is nothing but a dead end. Despised by her rich classmates and afraid that she’ll become just like her drug-addicted mother, Nina’s future seems to get dimmer every day.
There is one bright spot in her life though…
Sitting beside her one night, the only person in the world who cares about her makes a promise. No matter what happens — no matter how much Isaac’s wealthy family disapproves — he and his girlfriend Nina will be together forever.
Fate plays a cruel trick on Nina, though, and a visit from Child Protective Services the next morning turns Nina Torres into Irene Hartley, a woman with a future but who will never see her beloved Isaac again.
Nine years later, a blind and incredibly handsome young entrepreneur hires Irene to be his personal assistant. Terrence Radcliffe reminds her so much of Isaac that she can hardly believe her eyes, and she’s falling for him fast. Irene knows that fairy tales don’t come true, but she allows herself one last wish. She wishes that she could finally say goodbye to Isaac and let herself take a chance on Terrence.
What she doesn’t know is that Terrence is also searching for someone: a shooting star who streaked through his life nine years ago, and he won’t give up until he finds her…
Chasing Wishes is a powerful contemporary tale of lost love and wishes come true, recommended for ages 17+ due to adult content.
“Glad you could make it, Miss Hartley,” he tells me. “Or is it Missus?”
“Um… Miss,” I answer, “and you can just call me Irene, sir.”
“Only if you stop calling me sir and just call me Marcus instead.”
“Oh, I can’t do that,” I counter. “You’re…”
“Old?” Marcus finishes my sentence for me.
Well shit. I’ve blown the interview already. That’s exactly where I was going with my remark, wasn’t I? I try just once to pay an elderly man an ounce of respect and instead call him a dinosaur. That’s so like me.
My face turns bright red and Marcus chuckles quietly.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Irene,” he says, gesturing me toward the house. “You’re quite charming without the Rapunzel wig.”
“Err… thanks,” I stammer embarrassedly, nearly tripping over my own feet as I follow behind him up the path.
Leave it to me to turn into a social failure on a job interview. Why am I only a klutz at the worst possible times? I have to pull myself together; if I’m this bad right now, how am I going to handle myself when I actually see Terrence? He’s going to ask me questions for the interview, and I can just see myself standing there drooling over him. It won’t be pretty.
Watch me insult his disability by accident, I think nervously. That’d be the perfect endnote to the whole interview.
The mossy, flagstone path goes on for what feels like forever and Terrence’s estate looms larger and larger as we slowly approach. Jesus, how big is this place? It looked huge from street, but it just gets bigger and bigger with every step I take.
“The house is enormous,” I whisper in awe. “Why does Mr. Radcliffe need this much space if he’s living alone?”
“Oh, there’s more here than just a house,” answers Marcus. “Terrence moved here two years ago and built the laboratories for his company in the south wing. I live here as well, though none of the other scientists do.”
“Any reason in particular to live here?” I ask, trying my best to keep my attention on the conversation and not on the mansion’s decadent copper rain-gutters and elaborately carved fountain.
“Because until now, I’ve been both his senior scientist and his personal assistant,” he answers. “Terrence is blind, in case you don’t remember.”
“Yeah, I remember. He had a bit of a habit of… well…”
Marcus finishes my sentence once again as I fumble for words.
“Invading your personal space?” he finishes, and I nod appreciatively.
“That’s a good way to put it,” I say. I remember how he leaned in so close to Susan. I was actually jealous until he did it to me in the cafeteria and I realized how uncomfortable it felt.
“You’ll get used to it,” Marcus assures me. “He doesn’t mean anything by it; he just hasn’t gotten used to things yet.”
I raise an eyebrow at Marcus, hoping he’s going to elaborate on his remark, but he only shrugs and goes silent for the rest of the walk to the door. No matter how nice a house Terrence has, I still don’t think anyone needs a lawn that takes a full minute to walk across.
“Irene? I have a request for you before we go inside,” Marcus tells me, stopping and turning to face me.
“Sure, what is it?”
“Tell me what you see, please.”
I study his face for a long time before answering, but I have no idea where he’s going with this. He’s completely unreadable to me.
“Sorry… can you explain, please? Do you mean, like, right here and now?” I ask, puzzled. “The house? Lawn?”
“Um… I see a house,” I tell him, shrugging in confusion. “It’s a really big, pretty house with an enormous lawn right on the river.”
I look around again, trying to see if there’s anything in particular he’s hoping I notice. The mansion’s stone façade has worn smooth over the years from the heavy coastal rains and deep green moss grows in every crack and crevice, but there’s nothing particularly unusual. The lawn is well maintained and the gardeners somehow mowed it in a way that leaves a crisscrossed diamond pattern like something out of a baseball stadium’s outfield. It’s perfectly manicured but a little over the top for a house, I think, especially set against the fountain with its marble and granite fish spitting long arcs of water from their mouths.
Where is Marcus going with this? Is this some sort of trick question?
He sighs and shakes his head before opening the door for me.
“I don’t understand what you’re asking me for,” I tell him, shrugging helplessly.
“I also only see a house,” he says. “I see a big, old house set on a green lawn.”
“So then what…” I start to ask, but he cuts me off.
“Terrence has only been blind for five years,” he whispers, “and just between you and me, he needs a personal assistant with a talent I lack. Keep that in mind when you meet him, dear.”
I follow Marcus into the house and hold back a gasp of delight. The entrance foyer is brightly lit by an enormous chandelier—so large it might not even fit in my tiny bedroom—and a winding, dark wood staircase makes an enormous semi-circle around the room as it rises to the second floor. It’s stunningly beautiful, elegant, and…
…and completely unseen, I suddenly realize. Terrence has never once seen his own gorgeous estate.
Marcus leads me up the stairs, and I stop halfway up to stare at the nearly six-foot-tall oil painting of a wind-swept man with a black, scruffy beard hanging over the foyer.
“An ancestor of the estate’s former owners,” explains Marcus. “He was a sea captain back when the Mystic Seaport was more than just a tourist attraction.”
“He just looks so familiar,” I say, squinting and trying to think of where I’ve seen him before. I swear I’ve seen this guy before, maybe in a book somewhere.
“Were the old captain still alive, I’m sure he’d be disappointed to hear that,” says Marcus, and I can’t tell if he’s making a joke at my expense or the Captain’s.
The elderly man quickens his pace, and I hurry up the stairway behind him, each step groaning loudly beneath my feet. The great hallway of the north wing feels like it goes on forever, and the floor-to-ceiling windows, as beautiful as they are with their wrought-iron inlays and subtle staining, still make me feel as if I’m in a fish tank.
Marcus slows his pace at the end, opens the door on the right and sticks his head in.
“Terrence, sir? Miss Hartley is here for the interview.”
“Show her in, please,” answers Terrence from inside.
His low, soft voice somehow makes my legs feel even weaker than they already were. If I get the job—and fat chance of that—can I even handle it? Just looking at him makes me feel mushy, and I’ll need to be attentive to him all day long as his assistant. It’s like the setting for a cheesy chick flick, now that I think of it. Personal assistant to a sexy blind man… all it needs now is Tom Hanks and a love triangle with my arch-nemesis.
Marcus holds the door open and I walk nervously into the room, wincing as my heels echo loudly on the marble-tiled floor with every step.
The first thing I notice is the towering ceiling with its high, decorative arches and faux-Baroque paintings of melancholy cherubs. I could go on and on describing it, but it’s just so over the top that it’s plain hideous.
The second thing I notice is the monstrous hell-beast of a dog racing toward me with its teeth bared.
It’s so fucking big. It’s… it’s huge. It’s like something that’d make the Baskervilles’ old pet look like an asthmatic Chihuahua. I want to scream, but a tiny, nervous squeak is all that escapes my lips. It’s like I’m frozen in place as it bares its fangs and charges at me.
I’m so dead.
Just when I’m certain the monster is going to leap up and rip out my throat, it instead stops dead in its tracks before me, rolls over on its back and looks excitedly up at me with the happiest grin on its formerly slavering maw.
I’m such an absolute baby. My demon dog is a perfectly dopey German shepherd.
About the author: Nadia Simonenko is a scientist and author currently living in Pennsylvania with her husband, two cats and a dog. When she isn’t writing, she develops new drug compounds and dreams about someday painting her office to look like a forest.