Sneak Peek Wednesday: Under the Milky Way by Vanessa Barneveld

Under the Milky Way
by Vanessa Barneveld
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication date: Aug. 10, 2021
Genre: Young Adult Romance

Nothing ever happens in Dawson, Colorado.

Until high school senior Cassidy Roekiem’s mom checks into a “wellness center,” but nothing is wrong with her.

Then people start seeing lights in the sky and missing chunks of time, but the town insists nothing is going on.

And now Hayden, the new boy at school who keeps to himself and is more than a little mysterious, starts to notice her like it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Suddenly, “nothing” is starting to feel a whole lot like something. And everything leads back to Hayden. The boy she’s starting to fall for. The boy with too many dark secrets for his kind heart. The boy she’s pretty sure isn’t human…




“What’s the hurry? Is that storm getting closer?” From our hilltop vantage point, there’s no sign of the lightning I’d spotted earlier. The night’s so clear I can practically see the entire Milky Way. 

As he stares at his watch, he swallows. “It’s late, that’s all. Wouldn’t want you to break your curfew.”


“Hayden, please. The sun only went down an hour ago.” But it’s sweet of him to worry. Twisting my mouth in skepticism, I power the window up and grab my bag and the Tupperware container.


On the curved brick path to the door, my legs feel kind of numb. I stumble and hold out my arms for balance.


“Are you sure you’re okay?” Hayden grabs my elbow.


I wince as his thumb presses into me. He stares at me like he’s trying to read my mind. His pink mouth is pursed tightly. Is he holding his breath?


“Yep, totally fine.” I wish he’d stop asking me that. Although, come to think of it, I don’t feel so hot. The spot where he grabbed my elbow is throbbing. I just want to crawl into bed and sleep for a week.


“Okay.” Hayden escorts me to the hefty front doors.


If anything, I should be worrying about him. Aside from being fundamentally hot, he looks like hell.


“Maybe we’re both coming down with something,” I admit, trying to put the key in the lock. Keep missing it. My coordination is out of whack. Maybe he was right about me swerving on the road. “You know, because I fainted for no apparent reason. And you seem kinda feverish.”


“That’s…a possibility.”


Pointing at the key in my hand, he asks, “Need help with that?”


“I’ve got it.” The door swings open.


I put my bag and the Bolognese on the hall stand. Soft light rains down from the chandelier when I flip a switch. Rolling up a sleeve, I check out a zit-sized red bump in the crook of my right elbow. It looks like a fresh insect bite, but I don’t remember how or when it happened. Frowning, I wipe away a speck of…blood?


“What is that?” Hayden stares at my arm and absently scratches his leg.


“It’s just a mosquito bite,” I say, scratching the bump. “I’ll live.”


Hayden nods slowly. Peering around me and into the house, he doesn’t seem to be in any hurry. He finishes scanning the foyer and sends me a fleeting smile.


“So…thanks for seeing me home,” I say.


“You’re welcome.” He clears his throat. “Do you want me to stay?”


“Um…till Dad comes home?”


Hayden looks over his shoulder, then back at me. His face is deeply troubled. “I mean stay the night.”


“You want to stay here? Overnight?” Collapsing into my warm, comfy bed is all I can think of right now. “Why?”


He sways ever so slightly and says, “For protection.”


At least, I think that’s what he says. His voice is so soft.


“You don’t need to protect me. I can look after myself,” I scoff. What century does he think we’re living in? “But if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll try to remember the alarm code and switch it on.”


Blinking hard, he steps back. “Sorry. I don’t know why I said that. Sorry, Cassidy. Just…erase everything from… Just erase it all.”


Before I can even draw a breath, he slams the door shut and jumps into his truck. He literally burns rubber on the driveway. The acrid smell lingers. By the time I wrench open the door, Hayden’s taillights are already disappearing over a crest.


Zombie-like, I close the door and grab the Tupperware. It’s only when I put the food down on the kitchen island bench that I realize the container that was superhot when I left Hayden’s house is now cold.


Puzzled, I tilt my head and catch sight of the oven clock. As the colon between the bright green numbers blinks intermittently, my heart pounds in time. Hard.




“That can’t be.” But the phone I fish out of my jeans pocket confirms it.


I’ve lost over two hours of my life.




Meet Vanessa Barneveld

Australian Vanessa Barneveld lives in a 19th-century house in inner-city Sydney with a 21st-century husband, two eccentric cats and one ghost—all of whom provide inspiration for her spirited novels. In addition to her writing career, she’s part of a crack team that produces closed captions for deaf TV viewers and audio descriptions for the blind.

An avid traveler, she enjoys the journeys almost as much as the destinations. She freely admits to being food motivated and will stop at nothing to find the perfect hot chips wherever she roams around the world.

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2 Thoughts on “Sneak Peek Wednesday: Under the Milky Way by Vanessa Barneveld

  1. I just adore that cover, and I am not a fan of illustrated covers. But it has a feel of charm that I am drawn to!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. That excerpt was so intriguing. Now I want to know if he’s human or not. An if not, what is he.

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