Ceruleans Anniversary Party!
Excerpt (Death Wish)
A noise from behind startled me, and I tore my eyes open and swung round. I couldn’t make out anything other than grass and gravestones. But then, in the opposite corner of the graveyard, I caught a flash of movement.
I looked away and hastily mopped up tears with a sleeve. I was embarrassed to be caught out like this, publicly venting feelings that were private. I thought perhaps I’d wait quietly and hope the other person got the hint and left, but then a frantic thumping sound and a high-pitched squealing ripped through the calm. An animal; it was an animal, and it sounded distressed.
I rose quickly and picked my way across the uneven grass. After several paces I realised my mistake – it was an animal, but there was a person too. Male, judging by the cropped hair and square shoulders. From this angle, coming up behind, it was hard to judge what was going on, but then I saw strong hands gripping grey fur and the creature thrashing and shrieking in a way that conveyed terror, and I didn’t think, I just ran.
‘What are you doing! Stop that! Leave it alone!’
The man didn’t so much as flinch, but remained kneeling over the creature, pinning it down – it was a rabbit, I realised as I closed the distance, its eyes wild, its fur matted.
Just as I took the final steps, determined to stop him, the man – no, boy, I realised; he couldn’t be much older than me – turned and looked at me and smiled. And I pulled up to a stop so suddenly I had to reach out and grab the nearest headstone to steady myself. That this boy had the delicate looks of a model, that his hair was so blond it was almost white, that his eyes were a startling smoky grey – all of this was true. But that was not what made my breath catch in my throat and my heart rattle in my chest. His hands, his hands that were firmly holding the rabbit to the ground – they looked… wrong. Surreal. Like something out of the church’s stained glass.
The boy looked at me for a beat, warmly, openly, the smile fixed on his face. Then he returned his gaze to the rabbit and released his grip. The rabbit quietened at once and stood hesitantly. It sniffed the ground, then hopped away under a gap in the stone wall and out of sight.
I looked once more at the boy’s hands, and they were just hands. In focus. Not… ethereal, as I’d thought. A trick of the mottled afternoon light slanting through the branches of the oak above; it must have been. Still, I stared at them, bemused.
‘… been a fox…’
He was talking to me, I realised, his voice melodic.
I started and looked up, away from his hands. Which were definitely not glowing.
‘I said, it must have been a fox that got it. I’ve seen them around the church. Still, it soon bounced back…’
I found my voice again; was surprised by its hardness. ‘What were you doing?’
He thought for a moment. ‘Calming it, I suppose.’
I shook my head, confused, replaying the scene I’d stumbled upon – this boy restraining the rabbit; the rabbit frightened and in pain. Was he torturer or saviour?
Before I could make up my mind, the boy was on his feet and moving sinuously towards me, hand outstretched, and from deep inside panic swelled. I backtracked quickly. But my heel met the edge of an old horizontal grave marker and I fell backwards. An elbow broke the impact, and a jolt of pain shot up my arm.
The boy halted in his advance and raised his hands before him in a gesture of surrender. ‘Hey, sorry!’
I touched my elbow and felt dampness seeping through the fabric of my cardie: blood.
‘You okay?’ said the boy, crouching down beside me. It struck me that this was the second time today a stranger had had cause to ask me this.
I nodded but said nothing. I couldn’t work out whether this boy was friend or foe.
Serious now, he leaned forward. ‘I’m very glad to meet you,’ he said, ‘… Scarlett Blake.’
Word sure spread fast about the new girl in town. ‘You know of me?’
‘I know you,’ he replied in a low voice. He looked at me intensely and then added, ‘You and Sienna have the same eyes. Green like the jewels of glass that wash up on the beach.’
I drew in a sharp intake of air. He knew Sienna. Feelings swamped me. Grief at the very sound of her name. Delight that already I had found someone who knew her. Fear of what this boy may know.
All at once, the day was too hot, suffocating, and this boy, this stranger, was too close. I moved to stand, but wavered as my throbbing elbow complained at taking my weight, and before I could push it away his hand had encased mine and was pulling me up. His touch sent shivers of warmth up my arm. Quickly, I wrenched my hand away. Then, without another word – because I couldn’t think of any explanation for what I was about to do – I turned and walked away, across the graveyard, away from this boy who made me feel.
I did not look back.
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About the Author: Charlotte Wilson
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We'd like to say thank you to Charlotte for reaching out and allowing us to be a part of the anniversary party for Ceruleans! She's super sweet and awesome, and we featured the Ceruleans on the blog before, so we were more than excited to do it again. Hopefully this little bit of excerpts and teases got you hooked -- pick up a copy of the book for yourself today! Happy second book birthday! :-)