Sunday, November 25, 2012

Excerpt from Ripples Crossed

This is an excerpt from a story I started back in 2005, called Ripples Crossed. Its about a guy named Rory who has fallen in love with and is pursuing a young woman named Darby. They live on my made-up planet of Osiris. This is one of my favorite scenes. Hope you enjoy.

Leaves crunched underneath my horse’s hooves. The trees closed in on my path and reached out their arms to grab me. I could tell I was getting closer by the time this happened. The river was fast moving and I could hear its waters through the rustling of the trees. But before I could see it, there was one obstacle in particular that I had to force my horse through. A huge rhododendron bush stood right in the middle of the grassy path, and bramble grew on all sides of it. My horse hated this and so did I but we had to squeeze through. As we approached the pink-flowered bush I leaned against my horse’s neck, patting him and encouraging him. He grunted unhappily but I urged him forward. I bent with his head as he made his way around the bush and under the stinging thorns. He had no trouble getting through but apparently my hair did this time. As he lifted his head on the other side and made to move, my head jerked back with the thorns. “Whoa!” I cried, bringing him to a stand-still. Keeping one hand on the reins, I carefully lifted the other to the back of my head. The thorns were tangled right in with my brown hair. I knew I’d gone too long without a haircut and made plans right there to get one as soon as I got myself out of this little dilemma. I let out an annoyed groan as I started to unfasten the stubborn thorns from my scalp. My fingers throbbed as the prickles bit them and I had to take quite a few breaks while doing this. My horse whinnied, growing impatient with my abysmal fine-motor skills. Frustrated howls began to accompany this chore until the birds grew still around me. My fingers were working ferociously and this silence didn’t bother me until it was suddenly broken by a crash to my left. I froze, my ears pricked. My eyes moved to my horse; he was alert as well. The forest was motionless for a minute, then I heard it again. Something was stomping through the trees, and it wasn’t very far off. I couldn’t move my head to look, but I pushed my eyes as far left as they could go. All green to that way – wait. There were two pairs of eyes staring at me - attended by frizzy orange hair. Darby was standing there, watching me.

My heart swelled. I’d finally caught her! I smirked at her, letting her know of my achievement and her loss. She grinned back and suddenly the reality of my situation hit me. Here I was with my hair stuck in a thorn bush, sitting atop a horse that was about ready to bolt from beneath me, and the object of my affections was staring right at me. My frozen fingers thawed and my other hand moved unconsciously to aid it. My horse felt the clutch on his bridle release and did what I had feared – bolted out from beneath me. My feet slid from the stirrups as my legs soared backwards, leaving me swinging from the tree. I heard a snicker to my left and knew Darby was laughing at me. Before I knew it, the branch had broken from my weight and I was on the ground, half a branch sticking out of my head. An advancing rustle told me that Darby was actually moving towards me. A second later she emerged from the trees, her dress torn and mangled from the thorns. I looked pitifully up into her laughing face. It made me completely forget my predicament for the moment. Amusement was etched all over it - in her eyes, her mouth, her cheeks… it lit up her entire body. Her movements were usually dull and slow, but I now watched with amazement as her arms moved jovially to remove the thorns from my hair. They were gone in an instant and she gracefully disposed them onto the ground and stood up. I rose at her speed and gaped down into her face. Her eyes thinned and her face reddened, her freckles flaming. I caught myself and glanced to my right. My horse was standing shamefully on the other side of the bush. I strode over to him, grabbed his reins, and moved back to Darby’s side where I was snapped back into my senses.

“Thank you,” I murmured, looking into her face. She smiled back at me, the amusement still dancing in her green eyes. I wanted so bad to put my arm around her but I knew that would frighten her. So I just gently took hold of her elbow and turned her around. We walked back to town together. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Teaser from the sequel!

Here is a teaser from the sequel, now entitled Going over Jordan. In Wayfaring Stranger, "Jordan" symbolizes the Ohio River, the dividing line between southern and northern states, and an important milestone on the Underground Railroad. This book follows the second Fox sister, Ellie, as she transitions into life in the past and becomes an agent on the Liberty Line, she falls in love. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Chapter 3

The next day I received a message from Philip Caylor, the stationmaster just south of us. There was to be a large load of cargo moving through the next night. Four large packages and three small. I knew there was no way the Burns family in town could accommodate such a large load—they’d have to spend the day in the Collins’ barn. Wes had a small cellar in a corner of his barn, and while not exactly comfortable, it was the best place to hide in the area. And since the night Maddie had thwarted slave hunters there had been no visits at their house, and I prayed it’d continue to be that way.

I lit the lantern and placed it in the window that night. I sat by the fire and busied myself knitting a pair of mittens, grateful Mama had taught me all things domestic. At least I wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb in that regard, like I did in many other ways. I didn’t always sit or talk like a lady—and my slang slipped out too often (“freaking ridiculous”). I didn’t know how to properly interact with others, and apparently, according to Grandma, I told awkward jokes too much. I didn’t know how to speak out in Meeting, didn’t even know what to say. I didn’t know—

A knock at the door.

I jumped up and set my knitting down on the table. I opened the door a crack and peeked out.

“Good evening. Who sent you?”

“A friend of a friend.”

            I counted: four adults and three children. This was my delivery.

            “Just a moment.” I closed the door gingerly, lit a candle, then blew out the lantern. I stepped outside and motioned for the runaways to follow me. One of the children was whimpering, and I feared it’d turn into a louder cry. I hurried my pace but the passengers lagged behind. I knew they must be tired, but they had to hurry.

            “Pick up the pace,” I hissed.

            “Yes’m,” came the wearied reply.

            Suddenly I heard a terrifying sound—horse hooves.

            Hurry!” I hung back and let them pass me. “Hurry!”

            Wes’ and Amelia’s cabin came into sight at last and I didn’t even bother to knock on their door. I ran into the barn and went straight to the northeast corner. I felt around for the door handle. Where was it? I tore through the hay and then finally my fingers hit something hard. I threw open the door and ushered my fugitives inside.

            “Blow out your candles,” I whispered. At last, they all descended inside. I closed the door and kicked hay over it, then ducked behind a tree outside. I had no idea what I’d say if I was found, and I hoped against all hope it wouldn’t come to that.

            I heard the horses come closer and then saw them round the bend into the clearing. One man swung down off his horse and rapped on the cabin door.  

            “Open up!”

            The door opened slowly with a squeak moments later.

            “Can I help you?” came Wes’ tired voice.

            “We have reason to believe you have some of our stolen property,” the man said, then spit on the ground at Wes’ feet.

            Now I was glad Wes didn’t know about the refugees hidden in his barn. He wouldn’t have to lie.

            “I’m sorry, you have the wrong house.”

            “Come on, negro. They’re here. Open up.”

            “You’re welcome to search the house, but you won’t find nobody here. Please don’t wake my wife.”

            I hunched down on my knees and held my breath. Please don’t search the barn, please don’t search the barn….

            “Nobody’s here. Take me to the barn.”

            Wes walked out of the cabin with the hunters on his tail. I figured he must know we were around once he saw the door was open, but….

            “You don’t lock up your barn for the night, negro?”

            “Musta blown open,” Wes said serenely.

            Just then I brought out of my pocket one of the gadgets Mama had sent me from the future. I knew if they stepped over the cellar door they’d hear it was hollow, or heaven forbid, one of the children cried out. I pressed firmly on the high frequency whistle and suddenly all three of Wes’ dogs started barking in the barn. I held my breath and minutes later the hunters walked out shaking their heads. Without an apology to Wes, the men mounted their horses and were off.

            As soon as I could no longer hear the horses, I stole out of my hiding place and knocked lightly on the door. A very haggard-looking Wes answered.

            “Ellie!” he hissed. “Have you been here all along?”

            “Yes, and there are seven packages in your barn,” I said breathlessly.

            “Oh, law. They in da cellar? Thank the Lord they didn’t find them.” Wes nearly collapsed against the door in his relief. Amelia came up next to him.

            “Yes, thank the good Lord,” she whispered. “I trust they are hungry?”

            “I’m sure they are. There are three small packages, that didn’t stop long at our house.”

            “Alright. Well, Ellie, you gwon home and I’ll see they’re fed. Bless you.” Amelia smiled at me, and patted my arm.

            “I’ll be back in the morning to check on them,” I whispered, then headed back up the trail. I collapsed into bed and went straight to sleep.