I’ve been surprised by how much readers have enjoyed the character of Lawrence, who is the primary “bad guy” in book 1 and book 2. (And I don’t want to reveal too much about book 3 yet, but let’s just say he’s in that book, too.)
Lawrence has an interesting back story, one that I’ve always wanted to share with readers. After thinking about it some, I decided that my next project after book 3 will be a stand-alone novella about this enigmatic character.
So today I’m sharing the prologue of this novella, but let me warn you that it’s in rough, rough draft form. So rough I haven’t even proofread it yet.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
You probably don’t want to read below this line until you’ve finished The Girl Between Worlds!
The Exile: Prologue
I fell to my knees and slipped both arms under my father’s back, trying to sit him up. Already his eyes had started to go glassy, vacant.
“Father!” I cried, but of course he couldn’t respond. I patted his cheeks, calling his name.
Blood pooled around him, soaking his shirt and mine, making the earth beneath us wet and sticky.
So much blood. So much blood!
He opened his mouth to say something, but blood came out instead of words. Then his jaw fell slack, hanging open like it did when he fell asleep in the easy chair.
Gone. He was gone. I tried to wrap my mind around the concept, but came back numb and cold, as if a part of my heart had died with him.
Not knowing what else to do, I laid him gently on the ground.
My hands looked like I’d dunked them in cans of bright-red paint. Desperate to get the red off, I wiped them against my jeans, then the ground. It didn’t help; it only smeared the blood into new crevices, caking my nails with black dirt.
I stared at his prone form. One of his legs was still bent underneath him at an awkward angle, revealing how it had collapsed underneath him when the knife struck his chest. Traitor. It abandoned him at the moment he needed it the most.
I wrapped both hands around the knife, which was still buried to the hilt slightly to the left of his sternum. I pulled, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Unnnh!” I grunted, a sound composed of both exertion and frustration. I could have used my mind to remove the knife; it would have required less strength. But I wanted to touch it for some reason, this enemy that had murdered my father, this unseeing drone with no conscience or heart. Steel and polished wood. An instrument with no ability to comprehend how it had just altered my whole universe.
I pulled again, and this time it jumped free, sliding backwards through gore at an alarming speed, rocking me back on my heels.
A wail sounded, low and slow at first like an emergency siren, building into a frantic, high-pitched piercing scream.
The scream morphed into words. “Leros!” yelled the banshee who was my mother. “Wa fuja jiva!”
She used the language of my childhood, the language of my past. We hardly ever used those words in my family anymore; they were all but forgotten. Even my mother usually used English, albeit with a heavy accent that few people other than her children and her husband understood.
The shock of the blood before me, of the knife’s polished wooden handle in my hand, made the words sludgy and slow inside my ears. She was already lifting her hands by the time I turned around to answer.
“No, muja!” I said, because “mother” was one word we never used English for. “I didn’t kill him!”
She pointed, tears streaming down her face but rage smoldering in her eyes. “That. That is your knife.”
She opened her palms towards me, releasing a blast of wind so powerful that it lifted me from my seat on the ground. I flew backward as she advanced, slamming into the wooden privacy fence that marked the back edge of our property. The force of hitting it knocked the wind from me. I gasped for breath, but she only sent more air against my spread-eagle form. She wanted to collapse my lungs. And I knew she was capable of it.
“Leros,” she said, walking past my father’s cooling corpse and closing in on me. Everyone always said I had my mother’s eyes, but I hoped they were wrong. Because now, as she got closer, her eyes were two cold, black pits. Devil’s eyes. I hoped my eyes would never look that evil.
She said my name again. “Leros. You finally got what you wanted, didn’t you? You killed your father.”
I would say “No,” I would explain to her what had really happened, but for there to be words, there first had to be air.
And my mother, as she always had, controlled the air itself.