It’s here! It’s here! Ted Saves the World is now available on Amazon. You can buy the book for 99 cents for a limited time. If you’d like to try before you buy, here’s a reveal of the first chapter below. I hope you enjoy it!
“You know, you aren’t very manly, Ted.”
Natalie sipped the last of her chocolate and vanilla milkshake when she said it. Ted looked away from her deep, brown eyes. He zeroed in on one of the first edition manuscripts that lined the walls of Page’s, his favorite after-school and Sunday brunch spot. You could only read two pages in each of the framed copies, but Debra Page, the diner’s second-generation owner, always had a few copies of each book lying around. If he had his choice between the inevitable heartbreak of continuing the conversation or burying his face in a copy of Moby Dick, he’d go with Melville any day.
Ted knew Natalie was right. She was the kind of person a team would snatch up first in a pickup basketball game. He would be last, despite his recently acquired extra height. Ted took a deep breath and looked into Natalie’s eyes. She could win a staring contest against a bull.
“At least I’m in touch with my feminine side,” he said, ripping off a piece of paper from a straw wrapper and rolling it between his fingers.
Three months ago, Natalie might have laughed. Instead, she glowered. He looked back down at the newspaper comics underneath the glass tabletop.
“You’re a great listener, but you never take action. I always have to do everything first. Everything. It’s embarrassing.”
Ted loved Natalie’s voice, with its slight regional break that made her stand out in the suburbs. It even sounded great when she was insulting him.
It was about six months ago when the two of them kissed for the first time. As always, she had her black licorice hair pulled back to reveal her tan neck and collarbone. He went in for a peck on the cheek and she took control, turning it into a standing make-out session. It was amazing to kiss someone he cared about, but he never would have done it on his own. It was his nerves. They kept him from doing just about anything but cracking jokes.
He took another piece of the straw between his fingers.
“I’m all about equal rights, but it feels like I’m missing out,” she said.
Ted rolled the paper as tight as it could go and placed it with the other paper balls. He didn’t want to look up at Natalie, but he knew he’d stared at the table too long. Everything about her was robust. Her jaw was like a linebacker’s, nothing ever broke her eye contact, and her hair was thick from too many training sessions in the pool. For Ted, those features came together to make Natalie look more Amazonian princess than heavyweight wrestler. When the other guys in his grade found out about the relationship, the word that kept coming up was “impressive.”
“I don’t disagree with you, Natalie. You’re the strong one.”
“But I didn’t expect you to be so scared. So weak. So powerless.”
Ted never got comfortable being in a relationship. Every time they kissed or held hands, he felt as nervous as he had the first time, no matter how many times he told himself to be manlier and more confident. He didn’t take chances on starting things because he was afraid he would screw things up and they would end.
He didn’t want a day like today to come.
“At least you don’t have to be worried that I’ll beat you in one-on-one,” he said.
Natalie smiled at that. It was the first time he’d seen that expression all morning.
“I don’t have to worry about anyone beating me one-on-one. Not in this town.”
Ted grinned until Natalie reverted to neutral.
“But none of that really matters. In fact, I find some of it cute. The real problem is that you’re still in love with someone else.”
Ted’s mind raced. He cared deeply for Natalie, but he wondered if his heart was still with the girl next door.
“She may not even be alive, Natalie.”
“Whether or not she is, she broke up your friendship. Heck, I only asked you out because we were such good friends.”
Ted’s parents were the ones who got him to put down the books to go out and meet people. He found a best friend in Dhiraj, a teammate on his township baseball team. Neither of them were any good at it, so they found common ground in comic books and movies on the bench. Dhiraj wanted to be the next Mark Zuckerburg. He was never afraid to talk to anyone, not even Natalie, who scared just about everyone back in middle school. The first week she moved to town in seventh grade, she destroyed the point guard from the eighth grade boy’s varsity team in a gym class basketball tournament. She didn’t say much back then, but Dhiraj coaxed her out of her shell. The three of them hung out, playing Ping-Pong in Dhiraj’s basement and ultimate in his backyard. Ted became attracted to Natalie, which helped him to get over his former childhood crush and best friend who’d become far too popular to pay any attention to him. It took two years for Ted to realize Natalie felt the same way about him. It was a classic opposites-attract scenario. When Natalie asked him out at the mall food court, he spilled a drink all over himself in response.
“Ever since I said those three magic words, you’ve acted differently,” Natalie said. “Like this relationship means more than you thought it meant.”
“I do want to be with you. I’m just an idiot.”
“Do you love me, Ted?”
Tears formed in Ted’s eyes and he tensed his face to keep them from coming out. There was nobody he wanted to spend his time with more than Natalie. Except for Erica. Natalie took Ted’s pause for an answer.
“Ted, it’s over,” she said. “Unless you have some kind of objection.”
He had a million, but he also had a problem. She deserved better if he couldn’t give himself completely to her.
“I’ll get the check,” he said.
“I’m breaking up with you. The least I can do is buy your waffles.”
Natalie put down a twenty and stood up. Ted considered doing the same, but he didn’t move an inch, as he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to look up at her without crying.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t give you what you wanted, Natalie.”
Ted thought he saw tears in Natalie’s eyes as well. The only time he’d ever seen her cry was at the end of the movie Rudy.
“I shouldn’t have tried – I shouldn’t have assumed that you would change,” she said. “You don’t always get to choose who you love, I guess.”
“I wish you could,” he said.
They looked at each other for a long moment.
“I’ll see you in gym tomorrow.”
As Natalie walked out of Page’s Diner, so ended Ted’s first relationship. He felt more and less nervous at the same time, as his eyes settled down on the laminated comics under the glass on his table. He fixated on a sad animated child watching a balloon float into the sky.
“Just like me. Unable to hang onto the good stuff.”
He looked over his shoulder and saw Natalie hold the door open for a group of five tough-looking men with strange tattoos. He wondered if Natalie would look back. She didn’t. That’s when he started turning blue.
A blue pulse of energy began to course through his hands and arms. It felt like pins and needles on his skin. Ted looked around to see if anyone else noticed the phenomenon. Everyone around him continued to munch on, unawares, as the blue light moved to his shoulders and chest. Along with the light came energy that felt like a mild current of electricity.
Is anybody seeing this? he thought.
Ted’s waitress, Sandra, was chatting with four of the gruff-looking men. He wondered where the fifth guy had gone, as the energy moved into every part of his body. He began to shake, and when he gripped the booth to stabilize himself, the table shook as well. He imagined he was causing a spectacle, though nobody seemed to notice him at all.
“A breakup and spontaneous combustion in one day. What are the odds?”
He laughed to himself as his teeth chattered.
“I knew I shouldn’t have ordered the blue plate special.”
He tried to smile as the energy began to tickle and burn. Ted heard a scream from the kitchen. His glance in that direction made him realize all the blinds had been drawn. One of the thugs chatting with Sandra jumped up on the table.
“This here is a robbery,” the man said before cracking a smile. “I always wanted to say that.”
The thug was confident and British. He waved his gun in the air, causing several diners to cower and shriek. Ted had never seen a gun this close up, but the current pulsing through his body made him numb to emotion. He noticed a woman at the table next to him begin to sob silently, her tears dripping onto her patty melt and soaking into the bread.
“Anyone sends a text, they get a bullet in the head,” the man on the table said. “Toss the phones in the bag.”
Ted complied as another tattooed man passed by and collected his phone. As he did, Ted noticed a reflection of himself in the screen. There was no blue wave around him, and he wasn’t combusting. He was just normal and sad and getting robbed. The energy sensation dipped to a low hum.
“Ask yourselves who you are,” the man on the table said.
His tone was unwavering. It was as if he’d practiced the words over and over again in the bathroom mirror.
“Have you done everything you’ve wanted to in life? Of course not, because you’re too limited. If you could trade places with a billionaire or a movie star, you probably would. The person you are isn’t the person you want to be. But today, we’re going to help you with that problem.”
The patrons looked at each other, unsure how to react. Ted wondered who he would trade places with before he recalled that he was in a hostage situation and that he’d probably switch with nearly anyone right now. He looked at the pile of rolled-up paper balls on the table. Instinct made him reach to take one, but before he could grasp it, the paper balls shot out in every direction, scattering to cover the entire tabletop. He hadn’t even come close to touching them.
There you have it! Intrigued enough to get the book on your digital shelf? Grab the book today on Amazon for 99 cents.
What’d you think of the first chapter? What are you excited to find out about as the story continues? Let me know in the comments below.