Hi Nely,Thanks so much for having the Keystone Blog Tour splash all over your blog, Chica! (It’s a gorgeous blog btw, nice and homey!)
I’ve long been inspired by your art and how you so elegantly present Creatura to the world. You are amazingly talented and creative, my girl, and I’m so honored to have ‘met’ you out here in the blogosphere.
So, ok, back to business- I’ve brought for you a deleted scene that I hope your readers won’t enjoy as much as the actual book- HA HA! It took me a long time to get Keystone right and the following scene is one that bit it along the way. I struggled with Chapter One like no one should and at one point, I thought that having Garrett opening the book might work. It didn’t, so here you go ~ one of my many ‘mistakes and outtakes’ along the way to creating Keystone. Hope you enjoy and that you’ll all visit around on the tour to hear more about Keystone and enter to win some of our fabulous prizes! Thanks again for having me, Nely!
I want her.
I want her to open her eyes and see me first.
I need her to think of the way I kissed her, instead of thinking about how I found her, screaming for my help as she held the empty shell of her mother. I just stood there, while she begged me to heal her mother, as if I could catch Evangeline’s soul and tip it back into her body through the gun shot wound in her temple. There was nothing I could do. Not even make her let go.
She is curled beneath my comforter now. This is the third day that her eyes haven’t opened and I can’t blame her for that. Once she’s here again, she’ll have to remember and make decisions. I don’t know if, within that spectrum, she’ll remember enough of me to make the decision I’m so desperate for her to make.
I need her to open her eyes.
I need her.
Around noon, Addo knocks on the door and lets himself in.
“Nothing yet?” He says, groaning as he settles down on the edge of the bed across from her. I just shake my head. The Addo’s black eye dominates the side of his face I can see, along with the new sunken spots in his cheek. It reminds me of how severely the Contego have failed, that The Fury were able to get close enough to knock out teeth that used to hold his flesh back. That our branch of the Ianua was the only one able to protect their Addo from death doesn’t lessen the shame. The Contego did not protect the community.
He adjusts the cloth sling that immobilizes his arm with another groan and I notice the Cornerstone in his good hand.
“Why do you have that here?” I ask. He doesn’t answer and I can’t take my eyes off the stone. He can’t be meaning to do what I am thinking. Can’t. I test it by saying, “Do you want me to put it away someplace?”
I give him a minute to give me an alternative or an explanation. He doesn’t. I try to keep the accusation out of my voice as I say, “You’re not planning on her going through with the Impressioning as soon as she wakes up, are you?”
“Certainly. If that’s what she chooses.”
“No way.” I tell him, pushing my shoulder away from the wall. The fear is rising up in me, like a lonely stretch of a road without her. “That’s like not giving her any choice at all. You can’t expect her to want anything to do with the community after everything that’s happened. She doesn’t even know all of it...”
“That’s why I came to speak with her if she was awake.”
“You’re not planning on telling her everything right away, are you?” My anger is scaling up my throat but the Addo just nods his head. He won’t give in. He is the head of our community - the only leader we have left now- and while I expect him to know what is best when it comes to the Ianua, it annoys me that he thinks he knows what is best when it comes to her. I tell him, “If you don’t give her time to recover, you’re setting her up to choose a Simple Life! Why would she pick anything else? She just lost her mom and the war has started. Yeah, it sounds like a great idea- join up and put your life on the line! You need to give her time to recover so she can make a fair decision. Not now. She’s been through too much.”
“I’m aware.” He says simply with a nod and a wince as he adjusts his newly casted arm inside his sling. He tries to cover the pain with a smile. “She’ll do what’s best for all involved, Garrett. Even herself. Try to have a little faith in your Addo, won’t you?”
I sink back against the wall. Faith.
I could lose her.
I look away from his wounds, ashamed, because it’s not the only way I’ve failed him. Addo hasn’t asked me to heal him and I am guilty for not offering. I have not had the ability to focus and project any healing energy since my father died. Although the Addo seems to understand it, my inability to help where it is necessary, once again, only amplifies the guilt.
Addo begins to hum what sounds like the beginning of a reassuring lullaby, mmm hmm, over and over again as he sits on the bed that my brother and I have been sharing. It is the one across from where Nalena sleeps. He doesn’t take his eyes off her as he hums, mmm hmm, mmm hmm as if she’s told him she doesn’t want to wake up and he’s assuring her she must and it will be safe.
She has been sleeping for two days since her mother died. That’s not accurate. Since her mother was murdered by her father. The detail starts me thinking in circles again, reviewing the Fury’s attack on our community and I always come back to how I should have been there with Nalena. I should never have left her and Evangeline unprotected, I should have been there to stop Roger, I should have known something like that could happen. When I think on it too long, I start thinking of how I should have pursued the man my father did- the one who led my father into the ambush that killed him. The Fury always operate in groups. I should have known to warn him. I should have been there to help. I should have been able to do something.
“Stop.” Nok says from the doorway. He is less than half of the doorway in height, thin but proportionate, his skin the color of wild rice and his eyes are wide and flat, Asian. But he is not Asian, not a dwarf. He is one of the Veritas, the listeners, and it is not just a little annoying that he is undoubtedly hearing every weak word drifting through my head right now.
“I apologize.” I say. He is right. Warriors don’t think like this. There is no room for weakness. It’s a disgrace. That’s what got us here to begin with. I will never be useful thinking like this. My father would be ashamed of me. Nok frowns and shakes his head.
“Stop.” He says again and then disappears from the door.
I tip my head at the now-empty space, confused, when I hear her stir. With her eyes still closed, I watch her chest rise with a deep inhale and then she sighs...a peaceful sound, as if life is simple and good. Then, in the split second before she opens her eyes, her eyebrows plummet into the grief she’s left behind.
CORNERSTONE is the story of Nalena Maxwell,
a girl who recieves the wrong dang sign of an ancient
community that is responsible for maintaining the intellectual
evolution of the human race. And if the choices coming aren't
tough enough, there's a boy...one with liquid blue eyes...that
understands exactly who and what Nalena is.
Cornerstone & Keystone, the second book in the Cornerstone Series, are now Available in paperback and ebook at:
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