Chapter 1 – KEYSTONE- Pages 9, 10, 11
WARNING: This is an excerpt from Keystone, the second book in the Cornerstone Series. This excerpt will definitely contain spoilers for the first book. Please feel welcome to try out the first five chapters of Cornerstone at: http://mistypro.blogspot.com/p/cornerstone-chapter-one.html
This excerpt is part of a Blog Hop. In order to read the entire first chapter, please visit all the awesome Blog Hop stops listed here: http://mistypro.blogspot.com/ to find the other pages!
When I try to force my eyelids open, the light burns so much, I gasp. Then, the burst of air sticks in my throat like Chinese Stars. I groan and Mrs. Reese blasts me with another whisper.
“I’m sorry, honey,” she says. “You’re choking on the dust in the air and there’s nothing I can do for that. All your senses are going to be in overdrive for a little bit. Did you get to see your mom?”
I let my head drop in a miniscule nod, loving her voice and wishing she’d stop using it.
“Good,” Mrs. Reese whisper-shouts and pulls the sheet up to my shoulders again. Every fiber feels like a metal sliver. “Don’t forget to hum. And use your mantra.”
I forgot all about using the mantra, even though it’s not hard to remember the word that Mr. Reese had me choose when he first taught me to use my field. I chose the one thing that always brought me comfort. Someone that can’t anymore. Mom. I hum her name over and over again and it feels like lullabies.
It takes hours before I can even get my eyes open enough to squint. The colors in the room – the dull beige walls, the cream sheet and even the flushed shade of my own skin – are blinding. Mrs. Reese’s feet, shuffling over the floor, are each a roar of thunder and when she snaps off the bedroom light, the sound is like slamming my head in a metal door. I grit my teeth.
“A candle will be easier on your eyes,” she whispers. Her voice is still so loud, an involuntary whine slips out of me. Then she says, “Not yet, Garrett. You’ll have to wait.”
I try to pry my eyes open to see him, but the candle roars to life and blinds me. It snaps and sputters and I break out in a sweat beneath my steel wool sheet. I choke on the smell of wax and smoke, but then Mrs. Reese kicks up a windstorm trying to wave away the smell from over my head. I force my lids open, letting my lashes filter out most of the light, but Garrett is not here.
And the walls are not on fire. The room isn’t even filled with smoke.
There is only a tiny candle stub on the bedside table, with a pinky-nail-sized flame jumping inside it. The small light is so powerful, it might as well be a spotlight blasting me right in the face. I close my eyes on all of it.
And I hum. This time, I use Garrett’s name.
I swear I hum for hours and hours, as the new nerves poke around inside me. I keep thinking the pain will hike back up and blow me over the edge, but the more little threads that grow through me, the more diluted all the feelings and smells and sounds get. It’s a long, long way to get back to normal, but the blazing colors of the room become colors I can actually recognize again, behind my eyelash filter. The stone wiggles in my palm and I let it go. My inner ear throbs when it hits the floor.
“Well, you did it,” Mrs. Reese says. “You made it. Just like I knew you would. You’re Contego now, like us. It’s a good thing too, because I don’t know if I can keep Garrett out much longer. Would you like to see him?”
I want to see Garrett more than anything, but I still can’t get my eyes open all the way. And there’s no way I want him seeing me like this…finally a Contego, with a raging hair nest. Talking makes my whole head vibrate like it’s about to spin off, so instead, I hum to her, “Uh uh.”
As in: no. Not yet.
And Mrs. Reese gets it totally wrong.
“Alright then.” she says cheerfully as she opens the door to the hallway. I listen in horror as her footsteps move away, down the hall. I try to hear what she’s saying and like bat sonar, I pick up every word from wherever she’s gone to. At least from this distance, it doesn’t hurt my ears so much to listen.
“Is she done cooking?” That’s Brandon’s voice.
“No.” Mrs. Reese’s answer sounds like it’s frowning.
“Oh man…she’s gotta be the slowest Contego ever,” Mark says. I hear him bounce his Hacky Sack twice off his foot. I listen hard for Garrett’s voice, but the whole house becomes one big brick of sound. There is a CLANG from a pot lid that makes me jump beneath the sheet. Then someone coughs and I think my head will explode with it and then there’s a sharp tink of silverware that hits the middle of my ear like an ice pick. Finally, I hear Garrett.
“Is she okay?” he asks. I hear him and everything else melts away. The concern in his voice gives my stomach its own twirling heart beat.
“She seems fine,” Mrs. Reese says. “Come see.”
Come see? The words send me into a panic. He can’t see me like this. Not with serious hair trauma and my eyes squinty and no way…I probably stink. The casual shuffle of his footsteps in the hallway send me into a panic. I’ve got to do something. Quick. Even though everything I touch feels like it’s jabbing through my skin. Hide. Even though this room only has two beds, a table between them and a doorway out. I’ve got to do something.
If you are not convinced to try this series check out my review of Cornerstone!