Flynn stared up at the cold stone walls of Caldwell Manor, amazed that he felt nothing when he gazed upon it. He had expected at the very least to be unsettled. It was a challenge to muster disdain.
It was squat, inelegant. There were no details, no flourishes, no love lost between these walls. The brick was a dark gray, the roof a dark slate, the windows lightless.
Flynn tilted his head and his gaze roved over the ivy locked in its winter sleep. The land that surrounded had long gone to weeds.
“Can’t bother with the mower, Caden? Is it below you?”
Caden ignored him, shouldered past on the cobblestone path. He headed toward the large and heavy wooden front door with its heavy iron knocker.
Flynn turned to glare at Caden’s car, parked haphazard across the lawn. He had left it with one tire mashed down over a struggling sapling,
“Why do I even ask? He can’t even bother to park straight,”
A light flicked on from the hall.
Caden’s voice called out from behind the half-closed door,
“Are you going to come in out of the rain? Or are you going to continue to chastise someone who doesn’t care about what you think?”
Flynn’s head dropped to his chest and he resumed his trudge towards the mansion. When he reached the door, he reached out and rested a hand on the knocker. It was carved in the shape of a hyena head, its mouth snarled around the iron ring shaped as two shooting stars. He paused for a moment.
“I know we said goodbye, once. But don’t get used to this. I won’t be here for long,”
He didn’t wait for a response. He entered the warm hall, and his damp clothes steamed as he closed the door behind him.
“They seem to be here,” Finnigan observed.
Carmen nodded, gaze lost in the distance.
“Feel like we should have organized a party,” Finnigan lumbered to his feet, numbed by the whiskey and the heat. He trudged toward the door, assumed that Carmen would be on his heels.
But Carmen had not shifted an inch.
Finnigan frowned, waited. He knocked on the frame,
“Hello? Earth to Carmen? We have to go greet Flynn. Are you coming?”
A shiver ran down Finnigan’s spine.
He approached Carmen’s chair, rested a hand on a rigid shoulder. No reaction.
He swung the chair around on its pivot, which rocked Carmen slightly.
Carmen’s eyes had rolled back, face stone cold and still.
Finnigan sighed, planted a hand on each armrest, and leaned forward, until their noses almost touched.
“Carm, dear, you’ll have to come back from there. Now isn’t the time,”
Despite the unsettled roll of his stomach, he stared into the whites of Carmen’s eyes. He willed a return to their normal dark, dark hazel.
Several heartbeats thudded by. Finnigan waited.
Caden’s voice called from a distance. Finnigan disconnected, straightened away from Carmen’s prone form. A sudden gasp, a deep and rough inhalation of air, and Carmen had returned with a shake of the head.
Finnigan crossed his arms, lips pursed.
“You could warn me next time you go on a stroll, Carm,”
Carmen blinked, looked around and scrambled up from the chair.
Carmen headed toward the door, a sudden thunder of feet in haste to welcome their guests.
Finnigan shook his head and followed quickly after. He was vaguely confused, Carmen had not acknowledged the momentary absence.
You were asleep, who knows how long Carmen was really gone…
Finnigan brushed the thought away and ran his fingers through his hair. It had been too long since he’d seen Flynn, wondered how he looked. He steeled himself for the rush, the confusion. Hardened against the flip in his stomach that always accompanied the thoughts of socializing with his younger brother.
It sounded as if they had entered through the east wing. Caden’s voice boomed from somewhere below, echoed off the tapestried walls.
That was the problem with this house. Anyone could be anywhere, the walls distorted the truth at every possible junction. Finnigan followed the sounds. He had trained his mind to ignore the illusions and to adjust for the discrepancies.
He’d lost Carmen again, this time in the physical realm. There were many secret doors and hidden corridors, revolving bookcases and false floors, it was easy to slip off through a shortcut without a sound.
Finnigan adjusted his rings as he strolled, straightened his cuffs, his collar. Another anxious hand ran through his hair of its own accord.
What am I doing?
He would only delay the inevitable with his spastic grooming.
He voyaged down the wide and sweeping marble staircase. Each tread was warm and worn and glowed in the light of the chandelier that demarked the exact center of the residence. His eyes traced the path of wet footprints that crossed the large paneled room. The came straight from the east corridor as he had guessed, and into the south.
“Of course, you horrid, messy beast,” he cursed Caden.
Voices came from ahead, the glow of the fire bright in Carmen’s office down the hall. He swept past the framed portraits of the Caldwells long dead and gone. They all had the same angular faces, and the dark, deep hazel eyes. They appeared to stare at him as he hurried. The idea that he had delayed the sight of Flynn, had become a horrible joke in his mind. He stumbled at the threshold, paused, waited for a sign that he should enter.
“You look exhausted, Flynn, was the trip so terrible?”
Carmen’s voice sounded pleasant enough. There was no note belying any concern as it had only hours before.
Finnigan put a hand to the door, attempted to envision Flynn inside.
The response was much raspier that he expected, the voice lower than remembered.
He sounded old to Finnigan’s ears as if more than five years had passed. Perhaps ten, twenty. But he knew, he knew deep down, it was that house that had done it. It had to be.
“Your brother’s driving must have taken several years from my life if that’s how I look,”
Carmen laughed in response. Finnigan could almost see the glad-handing, the shoulder-clapping.
Ah, how funny it must be.
Finnigan rolled his eyes.
“How long are you going to lurk, then, Finnigan? I know you’re outside the door. As usual,” Caden’s voice accosted him from within the room. A round of laughter punctuated the accusation.
Finnigan almost turned tail, almost fled down the hall. His skin had grown cold, despite the warmth of the Manor. There was something else here too. Once he had stopped focusing on the others, his muscles relaxed, he could feel it. A low lurking in his gut that had nothing to do with his lunch.
The door swung open, and Carmen stared at him intently.
“What are you waiting for?”
It didn’t like this place.
The warmth, the noise. Too much talking. It hissed as it crawled. Undulated. It packed itself tightly into the corner. It glared suspiciously at a spider that pattered off at the interruption, a half-eaten snack abandoned.
It longed for the whistling windows of the Freemont house, the frosted glass from the storms. But it had to follow him. It had to know, it had to remind him that he belonged at Freemont. Not here. Not here.
It had gotten as far as the golden rosy chandelier, the twinkling lights too bright, too sickly sweet for the eyes. It had grumbled. Reversed directions. Slipped through a grate in the wall, and felt the way along under the floorboards. It crawled through a layer of dust and decay, reveled in the cool brush of it. It emerged through another iron-clad opening, having circumvented the brilliance of the central room.
Flynn’s heartbeat pulsed up ahead, a hollow thud that guided the Dark to where it needed to be.
It needed to watch.
It would wait.
Flynn would sleep once more.
Finnigan attempted to contain his surprise at the sight of his brother.
Caden should have warned them, should have called. This was a situation for delicacy, and Caden had not observed the basic guidelines of society. If he had, Finnigan could have arranged his face into any other shape than poorly contained horror.
But he hadn’t.
And now here Finnigan stood, and he gulped like a fish. He flushed from the embarrassment of his incorrect reaction.
“Flynn! You made it!”
A moment too late.
He stumbled over his words, over his feet, moved forward in an awkward attempt at a handshake, a hug, and their elbows knocked into each other. They almost smashed their foreheads together.
Flynn brushed a hand through the long side of his hair, a shock of white that ran across the left side, neatly divided at his part. It was so pale in the flicker of firelight that it glowed in stark contrast to the dark cherry red of the rest of his short trimmed hair. It was a popular cut, Finnigan silently recognized, but certainly not in those shades.
And his eye.
Oh, his eye.
Faded to a blue-grey, a blinded shade, the pupil glazed, frozen.
It appeared to Finnigan as if one side of him, the left side, had been permanently and irreversibly affected by some sort of horrible catastrophe.
Finnigan clicked his mouth shut, realized he had stared at Flynn for far too long.
Flynn smiled, seemed unaware of his appearance. He turned to Carmen and Caden and thumbed toward the door.
“I am exhausted, though, to be completely honest. Is there any chance my old room is still available?”
Carmen nodded warmly, ever the gentile host, and gestured toward the door,
“Please, let’s walk. I’ll show you where the linens have moved to since you left. I’m so sorry I didn’t prep the room in advance, I was worried Caden wouldn’t be convincing enough,”
A smile flashed in Caden’s direction, a laugh in response from Flynn, and then they were gone, the door pressed firmly closed behind them.
Finnigan wheeled toward Caden,
“What the HELL happened to him?!”
Tag Archives: new author
One of my favourite parts of putting together a book project is sourcing locations for the cover art, and promo images.
It combines my love of research, my love of Google Maps, and my passion for road trips. What could be better than piling into a car, coffee in hand, camera in bag, and best friend in tow?
The difficulty I had with this book, is that the environment of the region I live in isn’t great for my vision. I don’t live near an ocean. I live on the wrong side of the Great Lakes. The crags and the cliffs and the waves are on the westerly side of the Lakes, which unfortunately is in Northern Michigan. Not unfortunate because it is Michigan, but unfortunate because it’s several hours drive away.
So I have scouted a couple of locations that go in a circuit that will hopefully fulfill my hopes and dreams. Who knows?
The trend so far has been that art has approached me in the most unexpected ways, so I will leave my heart and mind open to possibilities and opportunities, and trust in the vision of my photographer.
Until then, loyal readers.
I love being excited about a project again. The thrill that’s felt in creating something new is uncomparable.
It’s no secret that I had felt bogged down with “The Scars That Bind Us” – it was a lot of work and not much reward. I did some editing, got near the end, threw away a middle piece, and stared at that manuscript for weeks. And it laughed back.
I needed to take a rest, and I needed to stay creative.
I am so thankful that NaNoWriMo came into my life because it spun a new story out of my heart and mind. It also gave me a whole new backstory that could be hitched to the world of TSTBU and TSTLU and maybe make something, even more, one day.
And that’d be nice.
I have to sit down now, and I have to write the dreaded blurb. That little piece of writing that’s supposed to decide for the potential reader if they are going to go along for the ride. Or not.
How do you consolidate, an entire novel, into only a few words? Better yet, a consolidation that gives away no pertinent spoilers and doesn’t leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth? It’s definitely a struggle.
I’ll share below my mood board for “When Shadows Creep” because it was definitely a fun and entertaining side project that helped keep the juices flowing.
Until next time, honorable readers.
So the trip finally happened.
The once planned three week road trip from Boston to San Francisco, in an attempt to replicate the steps of the Byrnes and Masterson troupe, was finally planned and consolidated to a one week melee of absolute insanity.
And I had a blast.
Several glitches led to a late flight the Saturday, whirlwind tour of Boston on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, flight Wednesday, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday in San Francisco, with an early flight Sunday.
What. A. Week.
The thing that stuck with me the most from the whole thing – not the Yankees vs Bosox game, not the humpback whales in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, not the late night Pho trip or climbing Lombard street or riding a street car or traversing the Golden Gate Bridge or visiting Alcatraz at night – the thing that’s haunted my thoughts every day since – the surreal coast of California at sunset. The wind howling. The foam from the crashing gilded waves rising into the sky with every heartbeat of the ocean. Every grain of sand silhouetted against the drifting dunes. The islands rising from the surf. The ever-present sensation that the fog will roll in and engulf you from the distance – and yet never does. I believe it’s the closest I will ever feel to being on another planet – and it’s a sensation I want to capture.
It’s the yearning. The wanderlust.
I’d drop everything in a heartbeat for another hour of that wild, racing fury.
If I can even pour a portion of this into Book 2, I will feel that years of work will be worth it.
I’ve been absent, my friends, I’m sorry!
And apparently I use too many commas.
I’ve been toying with a concept for The Scars That Bind Us that involves the cover. As you all know, the cover for The Spark That Left Us is an (interpreted) silhouette of Deke against the background.
What if the sequel featured a female silhouette? Round it out?
Gives it continuity, while also providing contrast.
The Spark That Left Us was, at the root of it all – Addy and the influence of Deke suddenly appearing in her life – while The Scars That Bind Us is arguably about the influence Addy has on Deke’s life.
But then again, you haven’t read it yet, have you?
Please tell me what you think!
It’s amazing how writing can surprise you.
I mean, it’s coming from your own brain. Your own thoughts, inside your own head, and yet, out of nowhere, your creative juices will suddenly shout,
And you sit there, thinking to yourself, no way.
Of course – then ensues the eternal struggle with the answer to the question “is this actually cool, or am I a spaz who needs to stop writing?”
Does self doubt win the day, or do you let that plot twist shine?
How complex does it make all other points in the story?
Is there any small fact or figure or date or action that now makes no sense?
Does it connect the dots?
I am pleased, currently, with the twist. But then again, anything that brings heartache and strife to my story is always welcomed – maybe not by my readers… but generally.
I take joy in it.
You’ll let me know though, honest readers?
I can’t wait for you to come back, and find this post, perhaps cross-reference the dates – and shake your fist.
Sometimes coming up with the title helps me think, focus, and refine.
My problem though, comes from my need for symmetry.
I’d love to name the sequel to The Spark That Left Us in a similar format – but unfortunately, unless I am trying to translate a horribly grammatically incorrect phrase, it is giving me issues with balancing. Options are:
The Scar That Binds Us
The Scars That Bind Us
I am leaning towards the second one personally, as it is far more open ended.
What do you say, kind readers? I’ll allow suggestions as well 🙂
“I met Addy about four days later. It hadn’t really sunk in yet. I hadn’t even realized what I’d done. Levina had showed up, so quickly. Put me to rights. And then I was saved in other ways, by Addy, by the marks, by the bunch of you. And I had hope again. Briefly. It wasn’t until after, standing on that hill, staring at the place where I had died, that I realized if I’d succeeded the first time, nothing could have ever been right again. Horrible, terrible things had happened to me, I’d broken in every way that mattered, and yet, the people in my life did everything in their power to give me that chance to breathe again. And nothing will ever take that feeling, that love, away from me,”
Felt like sharing some more of book 2, working title “Sparks Ignite”. This is unedited, so bear with me, I just really wanted to share.
“Why didn’t you tell me everything before, when we were here?”
The question hung heavy on the air, and I breathed in a long breath, inhaling the sunset, the golden light playing through my outstretched fingers, wind ruffling across my palm.
“Tell you what?” Mateo cocked an eyebrow in my direction before returning his focus to the road, the sunlight filtered between the scraggy pines, a flickering slideshow across his face.
I brushed the outstretched tip of a pine bud that nearly touched the window as we slowed to a stop. Why was there even a stop sign here?
“About the rest of this. About the past. About Rowan. The pull this place had on you,”
I squinted up into the trees, scanning the dark branches as Mateo pulled the van ahead once more, urging the lumbering vehicle back up to speed.
Mateo chewed his lip briefly, considering his thoughts.
“Would you have wanted to hear it? You knew nothing about this place, except it was where your world shattered. Why would I spring it upon you also that it was where your family was bent and broken before you were even born?”
I settled back in the seat, folding my hands together and staring back out the windshield at the twisting road ahead. The ground cover was becoming scrubbier between the trees, waving broad bladed grasses that glowed in the lowering light.
“I never thought I’d be back here. Never thought we’d end up chasing Reggie again, following him to the end of the earth. Last time was supposed to be just that. The last time, but here we are, and I wonder if it’d be different if I’d just known,”
Mateo sighed, clapped a hand on my knee before returning it to the steering wheel.
“That was a choice Reggie made. It wasn’t right, I’ll never say it was, just as Clara’s choice was never the right one. But you’re here now, and without either of them, so it goes to show, you know what they say about hindsight,”
“You’d think after all that, and all the problems that stemmed from lack of communication, you would have explained everything so it didn’t happen again,” I commented dryly, looking back out the window.
The trees had faded away, replaced by dunes, the sunset momentarily blocked by the hillocks, their crests golden with sea grass.
A note of exasperation escaped Mateo’s nose.
“And when mariposa, pray tell would I have done that? When you sat catatonic on the hillside for two days, ignoring us entirely? Or how about when in a fit of rage you lit Levina’s house on fire, rampaging around with gasoline and matches? Or, oh this would have been perfect, when you refused to get out of bed for three weeks after the funeral? I’ve yet to figure out how you survived on stale pizza and gummy bears but I’m still of a mind to make Deke learn a lesson for it,”
I rolled my eyes. Deke had tried, he really had. But he’d lost someone too, and misery loves company. Especially when it boils down to darkened rooms and lazy fans, and sleeping for what only felt like days on end. I couldn’t handle the sun shining on another day that didn’t have my brother and my sister in my life. It wasn’t until Mateo had stormed in that day, sick of knowing I’d locked myself away, and dragged me kicking and screaming back into the light that I’d finally realized I did in fact have to keep on living. I did relapse a few times. I’m not going to lie. But that October was the end of it. I’d promised myself. Mateo smirked, hazel eyes gazing along the horizon, idly, then continued,
“What it boils down to, is there was never a right time, and as much as I love you I didn’t want to rip those wounds open again. You’re all I had left, and I needed you whole,”
Mateo slowed the vehicle down, signaling his turn toward the beach.
“At least I made sure to get anything useful out of the mansion before I toasted it,”
I sounded petulant. I didn’t care. I crossed my arms across my chest, rubbing at my elbow.
Another indeterminate sound escaped Mateo.
“I should have done the same. About thirty years ago,”
I chuckled, quiet and adrenaline driven. It sounded weird in the car, sounded weird as soon as it escaped me. We were almost at our, my, final destination.
“And yet unlike me, you resisted the call of arson, and you became a cop instead,”
Mateo shrugged resignedly, peering through the windshield for the cut-off to the parking lot, the sand drifting across the road in the high wind.
“It’s what she wanted. She needed someone on the inside that could work around the corners where they were blind. In exchange, you three were safe and provided for. Still provided for, thankfully. I can’t imagine where the bunch of you would have been, fending all on your own,”
I shifted uncomfortably. It was true that Mateo had ensured, through careful coercion and outright lies that Levina should ensure that a portion of her amassed wealth and fortune through her hundreds (thousands?) of years on this earth be allocated toward the only blood ties she had – us, but the thought of it still made me uncomfortable. It was blood money, however it was obtained. But as much as I liked to insist to myself that my freelance work was enough, and would be enough, with the addition of several more people to my home, I’d come to lean on the income much heavier than I ever had growing up. Keeping my head down and ignoring where it could have come from had always been the unfortunate truth.
“Point taken,” I muttered.
“Well, I’m sure eventually, the insurance money will come through as well, and then you’ll definitely be in a good spot, right?”
“As long as they never prove I was here, pouring gasoline on everything,”
The van slowed to a stop, lonely at the crest of the hill, looking down on the rushing blue of the ocean, the waves cresting and disappearing rapidly, a lone gull swerving away overhead. I worriedly ran my fingers through my hair, chewed my lip nervously.
Mateo engaged the emergency brake.
“Don’t worry, I erased all the gas station tapes,”
He threw a wink at my gaping mouth as I swiveled in toward him in disbelief, and clicked his seat belt open, hauling himself out the door, groaning from the cramped driving position. I stared at him through the window, appreciating just for a moment everything that he was.
Maybe I should forget about this. Just go home.
Mateo rubbed a hand across his chin, and shook his head, moving toward the beach.
I scrambled out of the car after him, and joined him where he stood at the top of the nearest dune, the wind whipping his clothes around his lean form, eyes narrowed against the brilliant glow of the sunset.
“Are you ready for this?”