Full of competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, daynight is Megan Thomason’s debut young adult dystopian novel and first in the daynight series.
The harsh lights and cameras startle me. An announcer welcomes the crowd to ‘The Dating Game’ and I realize I’m in the hot seat. Oddly, I’m not stressed to be here. Sixties-style decor, dominated by a ghastly orange overpowers the small studio. Four shadowed figures sit across from me, and I can sense their stares; maybe even a couple smirks. A couple profiles seem familiar, but I can’t put faces or names to them. The cameras shift from me to the guys to show the viewers at home what I’m not allowed to see. I strain my neck to see past the equipment, but I can only discern hair color. Light blonde, dark blonde, dark with platinum streaks, and dark brown. A producer steps forward, fully blocking my view, and in a hushed voice explains the game basics. I ask the questions provided on the teleprompter and they all must respond.
“Welcome, Kira Donovan,” a tall, lanky man with wavy chocolate hair and glasses says. “Let’s get started, why don’t we.” Yes, let’s. I want to see these guys fully lighted, and the only way to get my wish is to play the game.
The teleprompter suggests an opening question, tamping my nerves. “Where did you grow up?” Should be simple enough.
Contestant one, the dark-haired blonde says, “San Diego, California.” My hometown. Do I know him? The voice sounds so familiar, and memories prick the edge of my consciousness, but don’t penetrate.
Contestant two, the boy with platinum streaks in his dark hair, says, “No place you’d know or want to know. It’s a bit off the beaten track, and so primitive you’d think we were cave men.” He chuckles, obviously privy to a joke he’s not willing to share.
I want to delve further, but the mic shifts to contestant number three, the one with dark brown hair. “Well, Kira,” he says with a nervous chuckle, “I spent my early childhood pretty isolated… in a town called Garden City, far from here.”
Before I can ask more, contestant 4, the light blonde pipes up with “You could say I grew up in the Heart land, but we travelled so much that I really felt like the worlds were my oyster. In fact, I’ve been to all of these fair lads’ hometowns.” The words roll off his tongue like honey. But, ‘worlds’? And, if contestant 2 grew up in an unspecified location in the boonies and contestant 3 lived in a city I’ve never heard of, how could contestant 4 be so confident he’d been there? Perhaps they shared stories with each other before the show started.
The teleprompter flashes, interrupting my thought process and I stumble over the words, “What would you consider to be the perfect date?”
Contestant 2 begins this round. “I’m thinking high adventure. Not for every date. Just the first. Skip the heavy makeup and heels. We could zip line. Bungee jump. Surf. Board. White water raft. I don’t really care what it is. Just something where I can see what you’re really made of, and not just what you pretend to be for a guy.” OK. I get it and appreciate the sentiment. There’s so much pretense that goes with dating. We girls don a pretty mask, speak words that want to be heard, and mold our personality to fit the guy or situation.
Contestant 1 goes next. “We’d have a great time, gorgeous. I’m thinking steak and lobster. A bottle of champagne. Maybe a little hot tubbing later on. I’ve got the perfect gold bikini in mind for you,” he says, licking his lips. I can feel all 4 guys and all the men in the audience picturing me in contestant 1’s bikini. Super. I smooth out my floral dress, in effort to cover up a little more of my legs.
I imagine contestant 3 rolling his eyes at 1, before saying, “I’d want to take you someplace we could talk and get to know each other. Like a picnic on the beach at sunset.” Ah, the romantic of the bunch. I’m up for some romance.
Contestant 4 says, “The perfect date? Whatever would make you happy, love.” I can’t help but smile at the sweet talker, wondering how many hearts he has broken.
The rounds continue. From what I can tell, One is a real tool. Sure, he has charm, but everything about him screams ‘player.’ Two’s all over the map. One minute he seems annoyed to be here and not the least bit interested in me. The next, he shows real vulnerability, drive, and appealing character. Three oozes sex appeal. But, he shies away from talking about himself, but I managed to learn that he’s in law school, lives with his uncle, and has some real issues with his parents. Apparently his parents follow some really antiquated customs that he wants no part of. Four’s a real enigma, his words carefully chosen and laden with meaning. His favorite virtue? Patience. Most attractive thing about a girl? Her thoughts—beyond simple intelligence, but how she sees and processes reality. His voice and words envelop me, confuse me, mesmerize me.
Finally, last question. “Why should I pick you?” The boys visibly squirm in their seats and adopt defensive body language.
Four: “I don’t see this as a competition, love. Some are meant to be. Some aren’t. The heart will want what the heart wants at each appointed time.” I want to listen to him talk all day; to comprehend his meaning, but can’t without more clues. A facial expression or gesture, perhaps.
Three: “A girl like you will have her choice of any guy. And I won’t claim I’m perfect. I’m flawed. My own parents probably wouldn’t think I’m worthy of you. But, I think they’re wrong and I’d like a chance…” His voice trails off. Sweet, sexy and humble.
Two: “I’ve never been one to really need anyone else. To depend on another person. But, I just get the sense that we’d be amazing together… better together than apart. Like we could really accomplish something great.” I do get the sense that Two has the potential for greatness. And that being with him would be a continual adventure.
One: “I’m feeling the chemistry, gorgeous. Like really feeling it. You are stunning. I’m not going to lie. When we get together it’s going to be so hot, there’s going to be fire… an explosion. I know you’re feeling it, too.” Modesty is not One’s strong suit.
I’m supposed to pick. Without seeing them. The announcer says my choice will be for life. What the hell? No freaking way will I agree to be with one of these guys for life after a few questions answered in vagaries. It’s supposed to be the Dating Game, not Mating Game. I will the lights to turn on. My protestations turn verbal. The guys each step from the shadows towards me and encircle me. I spin, taking them each in. One: Bodybuilder frame, dark blonde hair and familiar warm chocolate brown eyes. Two: Runner’s build, dazzling emerald green eyes and platinum streaked dark hair. Also, familiar, but from where? Three: Wavy brown hair, stunning sapphire blue eyes, and a five o’clock shadow. Holy smokes, he’s hot. And, Four: disheveled light blonde hair and blue ringed, gold eyes on the face and body of a god. Easily four of the most beautiful guys I have ever laid eyes upon. I continue dizzily spinning, knowing I have to stop on one, but how to choose? Just when clarity hits, a loud noise pierces my consciousness.
I awake to my alarm, heart hammering, breathing belabored. A dream. It seemed so real. The details grow fuzzy, faces blur together. Bizarre. Thank goodness I’m in no position of having to choose who I want to spend the rest of my life with on a whim. I check my clock. I’ll need to hurry to make it to iHop to meet Tristan and Bri for breakfast before I spend all day taking my Recruit test for The Second Chance Institute. I don’t want to take the test, but the promise of a full ride college scholarship in exchange for a year’s service is too appealing to ignore. Wait, forget the test. Something’s bugging me. Was one of the guys in my dream Tristan? I shake off the sensation that I may have dreamt my boyfriend was a complete tool. We’re in love. I’d never even consider choosing anyone else. Even if things have been less than perfect lately. I shrug it off, drag myself out of bed, and get ready. Dream dismissed and focus shifted. Time to spend time with my boyfriend and best friend, and then go win myself a scholarship.
Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn’t typing away on her laptop, she’s reading books on her phone—over 600 in the last year—or attending to the needs of her family. Megan’s fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel & fast cars and hates paperwork & being an insomniac. Daynight is Megan’s first published novel, but fourth written one.
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