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 book
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.
Everyone has had one of those nights.
You’re out under the stars, all manner of night creatures peeping and buzzing and the air is thick and roiling.
It’s usually July.
The grass prickles at your back.
You’re torn between wanting to run through the woods barefoot, or never getting off the ground until dawn.
So torn, you can feel an ache down the center of your rib cage, begging you to make a choice before you’re ripped apart.
Maybe there’s lightning bugs, flickering in the grass, tiny fairy lights, beckoning – come find us.
This part of the sequel to The Spark That Left Us – is an ode to those nights.
Somewhere in South Dakota, we’d parked for the night, exhaustion finally numbing us to a halt around one in the morning, I’d listened, half-awake to the sound of bullfrogs in the swampy area near the highway.
“Are you asleep?”
The words came muttered from the backseat, quiet in the dark, a question thrown half hoping to be ignored.
I twisted under my jacket in the passenger seat from where I’d been facing the cooler breeze coming through the open window, towards the sound of his voice. The breeze kept the smothering in my throat at bay, the taste I couldn’t wash from my mouth.
Fresh air was the only thing keeping me from screaming.
He was nothing more than a shadow against the white leather, my eyes adjusted to the waning moon and the starlight enough to see his outstretched hand, the cast that bound his shattered arm a dull white against his jeans. I was still vaguely bewildered by the absence of the silver pupils, of the wolfish glow to his eyes I’d become accustomed to.
The damp had left his fingertips cold where they gently sat in my palm, resting our hands and his broken arm on his bent knee.
Deke swallowed, hard, took a deep breath. I felt him shift, brushing the hair from his forehead.
“This darkness. Not being able to see. I’m still not used to being blinded by the night,”
I squeezed his fingers. I could only understand so far. I didn’t know what it meant for him, to be normal once again. Maybe he hated it, maybe it hurt him to feel human again.
I had half dozed off once more, his thumb stroking the back of my hand, listening to the peepers that punctuated the silence between the croaking of the larger bullfrogs. Pure exhaustion was the only cure for the bruises and battered nerve ends, the only thing that would let me sleep.
His voice came from close to my ear, and I turned my face toward where he’d sat up, forehead resting on the back of my seat.
Deke cleared his throat,
“Will you do me a favor?”
A coyote howled, far off in the hills, others taking up the plaintive calls with answering yips.
They were hunting something, a rabbit maybe.
I said a prayer for the rabbit.
I ran a hand through his hair, pulled his forehead to mine,
“If I ever go back to that. That thing. Whatever I was, please, just. Just,”
A shaky exhale.
A beat passed by, two, and three.
“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,”
I know it’s been forever since I posted. It’s the curse of being a part-time writer, life sometimes gets in the way. You want all the facets of your life to play together nicely, but it doesn’t always happen.
I do sit there sometimes, and worry about my characters, wonder how they’re doing. They’re stuck, you see, frozen in the limbo where you leave them between writing.
I feel myself dragging my feet as well, because I am nearing the end. A first draft has been printed, a few minor holes here and there that need to be lovingly and wittily filled. I’ll miss them. These characters have changed so much since The Spark That Left Us, they’ve grown into interesting people with lives and pasts and memories that you, as readers, have been along for the ride.
Mateo is struggling, Addy is trying to be brave. Deke is afraid of who he’s becoming after the curse was lifted. Rick and Connor are trying to sort out who they are now that Reggie is gone, as gaping a wound as a missing limb that will never be replaced. And under it all, they’re trying to deal with their own guilt and the stress of returning to a world that doesn’t see between the layers of reality.
I’d love if this book could be released by Christmas, that would be amazing. But who knows?
Life will always get in the way of living.
Mateo watched the trio head towards the van where he sat, impressing the images of them into his mind. Since the moment they’d gotten on the plane, he’d felt sick. Anxious, stomach writhing within his body. As much confidence as he tried to portray, as strong as he tried to be for them, there was so much he couldn’t see. Too much he didn’t know.
Everything felt like a failure.
Deke, too bony, too haunted, dark circles under his eyes and electricity crawling under his skin, carrying both of their bags crisscrossed over his shoulders, fingers entwined with hers.
Addy, exhaustion scrawled across her face, a dip to her shoulders that had never straightened after that night in Purissima, the weight of Reggie’s sacrifice pushing down on her every damned moment.
And Rick, that poor boy. He should have done more to get him out of this life. How could he call himself a mentor, a teacher, when all he’d ever done was expose him to the worst in the world? And yet he still smiled, cavorted. He still made sure everyone around him never had to feel the way he did.
Mateo squeezed his eyes shut tightly, against the glare of the brilliant halogen lights, against the memories of everything they’d lost.
When would it end?
The quiet in the van erupted into chaos as Deke hauled open the sliding door, Rick tossing his bag in the back before clambering into the front seat, clapping a hand onto Mateo’s shoulder in greeting. Addy still chatting away about the absurdity of the number of people awake, the sun barely coloring the edge of the horizon.
The sun would be rising soon.
As it always would.
But that didn’t help the fear in his heart.
None of them were eternal. The universe had no more need for them than the stars needed a grain of sand in the moonlight below.
The racket settled, Rick lounging in the seat, foot up against the dash, limbs loose.
His head swiveled toward Mateo, eyes wide,
“Dude, that’s deep and all, but I’m going to need you to think more positively,”
Mateo shook his head, and shifted the van into drive.