Read an excerpt from Joanne Macgregor’s Fault Lines, the latest in the Samantha Steadman Eco-Warrior series
The eco-warriors are now in Grade 10 at Clifford House boarding school but this year, cracks are beginning to appear in their friendships, romances and their belief in themselves.
When Samantha Steadman joins ecological activists to block fracking in the Karoo, she expects that her best friends will be right alongside her in the fight. But Nomusa takes a very different view of the controversial issue and Jessie, under the influence of a glamorous new girl at the school, is too obsessed with her weight and appearance to care about ecology. Samantha feels very alone as she tries to deal with pressure from boys, school and her poison dwarf of a science teacher, all while uncovering a personal mystery from the past and struggling to save the Karoo – as well as her friendships – from splitting down their fault lines.
About the author
A born and bred Joburger, Joanne Macgregor is a Counselling Psychologist in private practice, where she works primarily with victims of trauma and crime. She started her professional life as a high school English Teacher and has always been in love with words.
Read an excerpt from Fault Lines:
The room looked like a beauty bomb had been detonated. Clothes lay strewn across the bed and floor, the smell of deodorant filled the air, and make-up, brushes and toiletries littered the dressing table.
Sam stood in front of the full-length mirror and narrowed her eyes at her reflection. This was her third change of clothing and she was still not satisfied. She wanted to look perfect – pretty, but casually so – for Apples’s arrival. First, she’d dressed in denim shorts and a blue tank top, but a glance at her appearance had her second-guessing her choice. Maybe it was too skimpy? Next up had been jeans and a T-shirt, but it had looked – and felt – much too hot. The midday summer sun was baking the semi-desert outside and she didn’t want to be a hot, sweaty mess when she finally saw Apples for the first time in five weeks. Off came the jeans and on went a sky-blue cotton sundress. It looked pretty and brought out the colour of her grey eyes, but it also looked like she was trying too hard, so she stripped and put the shorts and blue top back on again. It would just have to do.
Shoving the scattered clothes back into the wardrobe, she gave her sandy brown hair another quick brush, grabbed the book she had been reading and ran downstairs. From the shady front verandah she could keep an eye on the sand road which led up to the guest lodge. She’d see the tell-tale cloud of dust signalling the arrival of the boys long before she heard the car’s engine over the distant bleating of sheep. Her brother Dan and his best friend, Alistair Appleton, had caught an intercity bus from Jeffrey’s Bay to Graaff-Reinet and Sam’s father had set off an hour previously to go fetch them from the sleepy little town.
Hamish the parrot was bouncing on his perch at one end of the verandah. “Red card, red card!” he squawked, as he always did when he wanted a treat. Sam looked around, saw that a half-eaten sweetcorn cob lay on the floor below his perch and went over to retrieve it. When she offered it to the parrot, he took it between the finger-like claws of one foot and screeched, “He scores! Go Bokke!”
“You’re welcome,” said Sam.
She parked her butt in one of the cane chairs on the verandah and sipped a glass of iced water. Although way too excited to read, she kept the book open on her lap as a prop, hoping it made her look as laid-back as she didn’t feel.
“Tackle him, tackle him!”
This time Hamish was objecting to the meerkat who had crept cautiously up the side of the verandah and now stood upright with his long tail pressed against the red cement floor for balance. For a few seconds he alternated his wary gaze between Sam and the pellets of food in the dog bowl. Sam held herself still until, by some silent signal, the meerkat indicated to the rest of his family that it was safe, and a clutch of babies scrambled up onto the verandah, shepherded by another adult. They scurried over to the dog bowl and immediately began raiding the contents, seizing the pellets in their tiny hands and nibbling at them with sharp teeth.
The pups were adorable – all fuzzy hair and dark eyes and clumsy feet, clambering over one another to get to the food. Then a sharp bark sent them all scattering. Tripod, the farm’s three-legged Jack Russell terrier, was dashing across the sandy forecourt to defend her territory.
“Tackle him! Red card!”
In his excitement, Hamish had dropped the cob again and when she got up to retrieve it, Sam saw that a car was coming up the road to the lodge.
Fast as a meerkat, she ran inside to the mirror in the dresser by the front door. She bent over and then gave her hair a final flip back, applied another coat of tinted gloss to her lips and slapped her cheeks – half to give them some colour and half to smack some sense into herself. Then she ran back outside, flung herself into the chair in what she hoped was a relaxed pose and lifted her book just as the car came around the side of the massive shearing shed with a jaunty hoot.
Sam lowered the book slowly, gave a casual wave and eased herself out of the chair. The boys were already climbing out of the car, stretching their arms and cracking their necks. Tripod had now been joined by her sister, Quad, and both dogs were running circles around the car, barking madly and leaping up at the new arrivals. Even the sheep seemed excited. They ambled up to
the fence of their enclosure and bleated loudly.
“Well, check this out,” said Dan, looking unenthusiastically around at the sheep and sheds and dust.
Sam had eyes only for Apples. He was wearing skinny jeans and a T-shirt with the faded picture of a skeleton surfing an enormous wave. His thick black hair was longer than she had ever seen it and his eyes were a vivid blue against his tanned skin. He was gorgeous enough to make her forget how to speak.
“Hey, Sammikins, howzit,” said Dan, giving her a brief side-hug.
“Hey, Sam,” said Apples. He walked around the car and gave her a longer and tighter hug. “It’s good to see you.”
“You too. You got taller.”
“Ruck and roll, ruck and roll!” screeched Hamish from the verandah.
“Dan, Alistair, I’ll leave you boys to unpack. There’s a Coke inside with my name on it,” said Mr Steadman, heading inside.
“Man, but it’s hot here – it’s like the inside of an oven. Tell me there’s a pool, sis.”
“There’s somewhere to swim,” said Sam.
“Great, my brain’s already baking. Here, carry this for me.” Dan handed her a bag, then gave her face a double-take. “What’s that on your lips?”
Sam wiped at them self-consciously.
“And I’ve got to say,” said Dan, waving a disapproving hand at her shorts, “you’re not wearing enough fabric for a sister of mine.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I think she looks great,” said Apples with a wide smile.
Sam blushed but Dan just scowled at them both.
“Get a room, you two. No – wait, what am I saying? Don’t you dare!”
“Here, I’ve got that,” said Apples, his fingers brushing Sam’s as he took the bag from her hand.
“Offside! Are you blind, ref?” Hamish yelled in such a human voice that Apples looked around to see who had spoken.
“It’s the parrot,” said Sam. “He catches me out, too.”
“Lead the way there, Sammy,” said Dan. “Is it too much to hope for air-conditioning? I think I’ve started to melt. Let’s dump this stuff in our room and get changed and then you can show us the pool.”
“You’re upstairs and to the right,” said Sam as they walked through the front doors. “In the twin room just past the crocodile.”
“The what?” asked Apples.
“We’re sharing? Ag no, man. One day, when I’m rich, I’ll have entire suites to myself. Penthouses!” said Dan, climbing the broad, carpeted stairs. “With aircon and mini-bar fridges and jacuzzis. And babes in bikinis.”
“And what?” demanded Sam, outraged.
“You must be loving this place,” said Apples to Sam, running his eyes over the gallery of stuffed heads.
“Oh, yeah, it’s my best.”
“Hey, what’s with all the dead animals?” Dan said as he and Apples reached the first floor. “It’s like Pet Cemetery, Extreme Edition in here.”
“Wait ’til you see the baboon,” Sam called after them.
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