Today I’m pleased to introduce you to debut author MacKenzie Morganthal. MacKenzie has a burden for human trafficking and her novel, Not Abandoned, reflects that passion. As a homeschooling mom, I’m especially excited that MacKenzie is a homeschool graduate. Read on for more about MacKenzie and an excerpt from Not Abandoned.
MacKenzie Morganthal is an eighteen year old, Christian, Homeschool graduate. She loves writing, music, and most importantly Jesus. She resides in Pennsylvania where she keeps busy as a freelance author, worship leader, and creative arts director. She also loves going to concerts, and all things chocolate. While some people say she can be a little crazy, she always takes that as a compliment. She has been writing stories for eight years, and “Not Abandoned” is her first self-published novel.
Two words….human trafficking.
Four different lives…are altered forever.
Haley, a police officer in training, is thrust right into the heart of an organized human trafficking ring when a family friend is mysteriously abducted. Once the problem hits even closer to home, Haley will stop at nothing to see justice prevail.
With no way out once trapped inside the trafficking ring, is there any hope for rescue? When trouble arises and Caryn’s life is compromised, will she be able to survive or will help come too late?
Strength is tested and trust is broken in this mystery of seemingly impossible rescue and God’s loving redemption. After hearing those words, human trafficking, these girls will never look at their lives the same way again… and neither will you.
Not Abandoned Excerpt:
It was a prison like none other. With boarded windows and a tall fence, I’d almost forgotten what it looked like outside. The bars that caged me in were strong, but not as strong as the bars I’d put up around my heart. They could hurt me until I thought I was going to die…but they could never make me cry. Those bars around my heart made sure of that.
How long has it been now that I’ve been here? Too long for me to keep track. I was only fourteen when I was brought here. But for such a young age, I work long hours in this prison cell. Day and night. The few hours that I would get to rest and just be completely alone were almost filled with more torment than my working hours. Because it was in those hours of solidarity that memories would flash through my head. Memories of my life before this hell-like prison. Memories of days when I was young, free and innocent. And then they’ll be interrupted with a recent memory. My bright eyes turned dull and empty…my vibrant smile turned upside down…my olive colored skin turned bruised and dirty. Would I ever escape and become that carefree girl again? I’ve given up hope for that.
I slowly open my eyes and glance around at the other girls in this room. Girls just like me. We all come from different backgrounds and have different stories, but we’ve reluctantly resigned ourselves to the fact that we all have one thing in common. And that’s our bondage to this prison that we’ve been forced to call our home. I hadn’t meant for my life to turn out this way. Neither did any of the other girls that I live with. Our lives don’t always turn out the way we want though…but I’d rather die than continue living the way I’ve been forced to live.
There’s something else you must know about these prison bars. They don’t confine thieves and murderers, or law-breakers and criminals. No, not one of us has committed any sort of heinous crime. That’s the job of our captors. They are the criminals. Nevertheless, they are free and we are bound, forced into a life none would choose for themselves.
Welcome to life in a brothel.
Is there anyone who can save me?
“If I have to tell you to get down here one more time…”
Caryn cringed at the tone of annoyance in her mother’s voice. “I’m coming!” she called back quickly.
“That’s what you said ten minutes ago, Caryn!”
With an irritated sigh, Caryn dropped the ribbon she was trying to place in her hair and just allowed her golden curls to fall to her shoulders. She stood up and stared at herself in the mirror, her chocolate brown eyes scrutinizing every inch of the reflection.
“Sorry, Mom,” Caryn mumbled as she hurried down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“Let me see you,” Kathy Hampton instructed her daughter. As Caryn turned around so her mother could see her, Kathy got tears in her eyes. “You look beautiful, sweetheart,” she whispered, kissing her daughter’s forehead.
Caryn smiled and stepped forward to give her mother a hug. “Mom, I’m so nervous,” she whispered into the woman’s hair. Her tone was low and she sort of hoped that Kathy hadn’t heard her.
Kathy pulled back from their hug and took her daughter’s face between both her hands. “I was nervous my first day of high school too. But don’t worry. You are going to be just fine. Come home and tell me all about it, okay?”
Caryn nodded and readjusted her backpack on her shoulder.
“That would be your sister waiting on you.” Kathy blew the young teenager a kiss as she walked towards the door.
Caryn glanced back over her shoulder at her mom and waved. Despite her mother’s comforting words, she still had butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. I wish I didn’t have to do this.
“Hurry up, slow poke!” Avery called in a huff to her sister from the open window of her new Honda.
Caryn opened the passenger door and flung her backpack into the backseat before sliding in. She barely had her seatbelt secured before Avery was flying down the driveway and out onto the main road.
“Next time you’re totally taking the bus,” Avery grumbled, looking in her rearview mirror as she steered the car through traffic.
“You know Mom and Dad don’t want me to take the bus as long as you have your license and can drive the both of us,” Caryn reminded her, leaning her head back against the seat and closing her eyes.
Avery rolled her eyes and smacked her glossy lips together. The seventeen year old checked her reflection in the mirror quickly before turning her sky blue eyes back to the road and the traffic jam that they were stuck in.
Caryn slowly opened one eye to peer at her older sister. The two blondes looked a lot alike, but they were complete opposites in everything else. They used to be close when they were younger, but had drifted apart as they grew older. Caryn certainly would’ve rather taken the bus than put up with her sister this early in the morning, but her parents had strict rules about that. They were to only take the bus if necessary and they were to never walk to school alone.
Caryn felt her cell phone buzz in her pocket so she fished it out and opened the text message. It was from her oldest sister, Haley:
Good luck today! You’ll be fine 🙂
The message brought a smile to her face. She quickly closed her eyes and imagined Haley’s smiling face. Haley had beautiful auburn hair that really brought out her green eyes. She had a smile that could light up any town and those green eyes always seemed to sparkle. Caryn sighed deeply. She missed her twenty-one year old sister who was attending college somewhere out west. Caryn could never remember exactly which state her sister was in; she just knew that it was a long way from New York. Even though she missed Haley greatly, Caryn was proud of how well her sister was doing in school. The young college student was training to become a law enforcement officer. Ever since she was little she had wanted to major in criminal justice, so Caryn was happy that her older sister was following her dreams…even if it took her so far away.
“Hello?” Avery snapped her perfectly manicured fingers in front of her sister’s nose. “Earth to Caryn.”
Caryn rolled her eyes and pushed Avery’s hand away. “What?” she asked rudely.
Avery pointed out the window. “We’re here,” she replied, quickly exiting the vehicle. “But if you want to be late for class, that’s not my problem.”
Caryn groaned and slammed the car door closed behind her. After the dirty look she got from her sister, she didn’t even bother saying goodbye as she hurried in the opposite direction of Avery.
Caryn quickly pulled out her cell phone to type a message back to Haley before she walked inside.
Wish you were here. This is going to be a long day…
“What are you looking at?”
Haley whipped her head around to see a young man standing over her shoulder. “Oh hey, Jake, I didn’t even see you there,” she smiled up at him as she lifted up her cell phone, “I was texting my sister,” she explained, continuing down the college hallway towards her dorm room.
“Ah, you never told me you have a sister,” Jake noted, stepping in front of her and leaning his tall figure against the doorframe with a heart-melting grin.
“Well, you never asked,” Haley teased, reaching past him to unlock the door.
“How old is she?” Jake prodded.
“Fourteen,” Haley answered slowly, giving him a sideways glance.
“So does your family live far from here?” Jake asked curiously as Haley sorted through her mail on the kitchen counter just inside the dorm room.
“Boy, being nosy today, aren’t we?” Haley walked back over to the doorway and crossed her arms as she smiled and raised an eyebrow at the young man standing before her.
Jake shrugged. “I just want to get to know more about you, Haley,” he flashed that award-winning smile and added, “So how about we go out sometime?”
Haley laughed, “Still trying to get me to go on a date with you?” She pretended to punch his arm.
“I’ll think about it and text you later, okay?”
“Okay, but don’t make me wait too long,” Jake called over his shoulder as he disappeared down the hallway.
Haley rolled her eyes. She hadn’t known Jake very long; they had just met at the beginning of this semester. But even still he could make her heart race with just one word. He was such a nice guy, and she blushed at the thought that he seemed genuinely interested in her.
Haley shook her head. She couldn’t think about Jake right now. She was too busy with her studies and couldn’t possibly consider a relationship on top of all that. School would just have to come first.
“Was that Jake?” Anna, Haley’s roommate, asked curiously.
Haley nodded absentmindedly as she pretended to sort through the mail again.
“You need to give the poor guy a chance, girl. Get a social life,” Anna instructed her as if reading her previous thoughts.
Haley sighed. “I don’t have time for that.”
“Make time,” Anna commanded, “You’re in college now. You’re supposed to have fun and party in college. Once you graduate and go to work full time, then you won’t have time for anything. Have fun while you’re in school.”
Haley grinned at her friend. “Are those words of wisdom supposed to impress me?” she teased.
Anna nodded. “Oh yeah, I worked hard on that speech.”
Haley threw her head back and laughed. “Take your own advice, girl.” She grabbed a bag of potato chips and opened them, popping one into her mouth. “You haven’t gone on a date since last semester.”
Anna grinned. “I prefer to give the speech instead of taking the advice.”
Haley laughed again and pulled her cell phone out of her pocket to glance at the last text message her little sister had sent to her. She sighed and looked up to gaze out the window of her small dorm room. She wished she could be back in New York with her family. Colorado was so far away…the miles were too long.
Maybe by the middle of the semester the homesickness would ease down. But somehow Haley wasn’t so sure about that.
copyright 2015 MacKenzie Morganthal