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Christian Fiction Friday Cavernous #4

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Time again for Christian Fiction Friday, hosted by Hallee Bridgeman and Alana Terry. This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

More from the first chapter of Cavernous, my inspirational YA dystopian.

Three knocks rattle the front door, and I drag myself into the entry to answer. Mrs. Whitman and company stand on the porch with a box full of baked goods and plastic containers of food. “Morning, Callie. We’ve been praying.”

“Morning, Mrs. Whitman. Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Bates.” I dole out hugs, my soft cotton tee catching on their gaudy polyester prints. Two still have hair in rollers. “Thank you so much.”

Mrs. Whitman shoves past me into the kitchen and sets the box on the counter. “This should keep you guys fed for a couple of days. We’ll be by with more sometime later this week.”

“It took forever to get here. Traffic’s backed up on the freeway for miles.” Mrs. Bates wipes a dramatic arm across her forehead. “I don’t know how I’ll get to the hairdresser.”

“Speaking of hair…” Mrs. Spencer lifts one of my matted locks and wrinkles her nose. “Go take a shower. It will help you feel better.”

“I’m sure you’re right.” I force a smile. “Thanks for stopping by.”

Mrs. Whitman shuffles around the kitchen, opening cabinet doors and glancing at the pile of mail Mom left on the counter. “What’s the smell? A candle?”

“Come on, Mary,” Mrs. Parker says. “Let the poor girl rest. She’s had a rough night.”

They tug Mrs. Whitman toward the door, and she pulls away. “What kind of candle, dearie? I’d love to get one.”

I sniff, detecting leftover pizza and the faintest hint of weed. “Um… pine?”

Mrs. Spencer also takes in a deep breath. “Have you been smoking marijuana?”

“No.” Pressing my lips together, I cross my arms over my chest. “No, I don’t do drugs.”

“It’s the college girl,” Mrs. Bates says. “The sister. Leroy always says she’s trouble.” She turns to me. “Is your sister still here?”

Leroy has no idea. “Amber’s asleep. I couldn’t get her to wake up this morning.” I walk over to the door and hold it open. “Thank you for the food. I’ll let you know the moment we hear.”

“Is she breathing?” Mrs. Whitman starts down the hall to the bedrooms.

Mrs. Parker links arms with her, dragging her toward the door. “Mary, we can visit later this week. Let’s go. We’ve got the women’s club meeting, and Ellen has a hair appointment.”

Mrs. Whitman harrumphs and follows the other ladies to the porch.

Outside, summertime dew covers the ground, and it smells like earthworms. I laugh as the ladies take ginger steps through the wet grass to Mrs. Whitman’s car, which is parked too close to the edge of the driveway. Hope she doesn’t hit the mailbox when she backs out.

About the book:

In a divided America, several secessions lead to the formation of a new nation, the Alliance of American States. Fueled by extremists who solicit members via social media, the Alliance has one weak point: Callie Noland, daughter of extremist leader Adrian Lamb. Can she maintain her faith in God and stand up to the man who calls himself Lord and Master?

The mission of the Cavernous trilogy is to incite a revolution for teen girls to delve into Scripture. Many of today’s society grasp at a meme-driven belief system and draw doctrine from Facebook and Twitter statuses. They need strong characters that write the words of God on their heart and take stands against slight untruths and injustices, especially the youth.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

Christian Fiction Friday–Cavernous #3

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Time again for Christian Fiction Friday, hosted by Hallee Bridgeman and Alana Terry. This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

I’ve been working on polishing three different manuscripts this summer–Humbled Goddesses, a series of short stories to introduce my romantic suspense series, Pandora’s Deed, the first book in my series, and Cavernous, my YA dystopian.

Here’s another snippet from Cavernous, chapter one.

Thunder rumbles in the distance while I study Mom’s fake ID. It appears legit, with a barcode and organ donor signature on the back. The plastic’s even scratched a bit. How long has she kept this secret?

When Dad comes home at nine, I show him the license, keeping Amber’s shenanigans quiet. He careens forward, missing the chair and landing on the  linoleum.

I extend my hand and help him into the seat, wincing as he grips my fingers tighter than he should. He sits still for a moment, and then releases me, swinging his arm in a wide arc across the table. The license flies to the floor. “Why? Why would your mom do this to us?”

“Wish I knew.” Kneeling, I pick it up and set it back on the table, unable to keep the quiver from my voice. “Sorry, dad.”

Squeezing his chin with one hand and rubbing his neck with the other, Dad inspects the ID for about thirty minutes. Then he scoots away from the table, bends over double, and rests his elbows on his knees.

I’ve seen him cry one other time, at Grandma’s funeral, and it was nothing like this–a total breakdown in heart-wrenching sobs. Returning to the armchair, I let out wails of my own.

After a few minutes, he excuses himself to the room he shares with Mom, which I’d think would be the last place he’d want to be. His scuffles thud through the wall. He’s probably searching everything she owns for any sign she’s been hiding another identity. With nothing else to do, I crawl into my bed and cry myself to sleep.

Around eight the next morning, the phone rings.

Dad staggers out of his room, glances at the caller ID, and starts the coffee. “Is Amber awake?”

“No. I tried a few minutes ago, but she didn’t budge.”

“I’m going to run by work.” He grabs his bulging leather satchel. “I’ve requested a leave of absence, and I’m getting my courses in order.”

“Okay, we’ll be fine here. You want breakfast before you go?”

“Nah.”

I follow him to the porch.

Dad nods to a woman next door who drags two resistant little girls to a minivan. Four houses down, an older man in a fluffy blue robe walks out to get the paper. Doors slam, men in suits hustle, and car engines rev. Against the skyline, tractors putter across the fields, the part-time farmers returning to their subdivided homes after a few hours of morning labor. Typical day on Sycamore Street.

Dad mutters to himself as he stands between the car and the door. He watches me until I go back in to the kitchen then removes his wedding ring before dropping to the driver’s seat.

Filling a bowl with cereal, I blink away more tears.

Is Mom having an affair? I scan the ID picture once more. The detailed eye makeup and red lipstick take years from her already stunning face. Darker hair highlights her creamy skin, and the slight curl of her lips gives her a sultry air. An affair is a definite possibility.

About the book:

In a divided America, several secessions lead to the formation of a new nation, the Alliance of American States. Fueled by extremists who solicit members via social media, the Alliance has one weak point: Callie Noland, daughter of extremist leader Adrian Lamb. Can she maintain her faith in God and stand up to the man who calls himself Lord and Master?

The mission of the Cavernous trilogy is to incite a revolution for teen girls to delve into Scripture. Many of today’s society grasp at a meme-driven belief system and draw doctrine from Facebook and Twitter statuses. They need strong characters that write the words of God on their heart and take stands against slight untruths and injustices, especially the youth.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

Christian Fiction Friday–Cavernous #2

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Late, but not too late for Christian Fiction Friday, hosted by Hallee Bridgeman and Alana Terry. This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

I’ve been working on polishing three different manuscripts this summer–Humbled Goddesses, a series of short stories to introduce my romantic suspense series, Pandora’s Deed, the first book in my series, and Cavernous, my YA dystopian.

Mom’s been missing four hours. Priorities, Amber. Blowing hard, I puff my cheeks and count to ten. “Yeah, me too.” I head to the kitchen, grab a jar of peanut butter, and slather it on slices of multigrain bread. “I’m worried. Maybe we should call Dad again.”

Flickering candlelight crawls across her face, creating a landscape of shadowy slopes. “Maybe.” She takes a sandwich and downs it in four large bites.

I try his cell. Whatever keeps Dad from answering must be important. Mom wasn’t in an accident. At least I hope not. And he’d tell us. Besides, wouldn’t the police have called?

Another hour passes. The power returns, but wind still jostles the windows. Amber cowers on the couch, watching the radar on our old-school, boxy TV. A hint of her tawny hair peeks from under a blanket, and she resembles a Middle Eastern princess with her striking green eyes and perfect skin. She yawns, long and drawn-out like a cat.

I touch my own face, running my fingers over acne. “You should go to bed. I’ll wake you if there’s any news.”

“I think I will.” She stretches again and drops the blanket to reveal the low-cut tank top she wore under her jacket. Of course, said jacket spent most of the evening draped over the kitchen chair since Dad wasn’t home. She’s going to end up pregnant before my eighteenth birthday. By the boy I love.

“Monster.” I stalk to the opposite end of the couch, my head filling with sinister thoughts I’d never act on—shoving her off steps, tripping her as she crosses my path.

Thunder crackles as if in answer, and I glance at the sky with a sheepish grin. I get it. Thinking it in my heart’s as bad as doing it. Forgiveness and compassion… easier said than done.

I turn off the TV and flop down so hard it unsettles the cushions.

A piece of white plastic catches my eye, poking out from the depths between us. I reach for it, knocking it farther under Amber’s seat. “Get up a second.”

She dives under the blanket.

“Amber. Get up.” I scoop below the cushion and lift, uprooting her slender frame.

Loose change and junk food crumbs litter the burlap covering, as well as a tube of Mom’s favorite lipstick and a gas station receipt. Her purse must have spilled, and she was in such a hurry she didn’t notice. I grasp a plastic driver’s license, photo side down.

As I raise the edge, my heart skips a beat. West Virginia, not Kentucky. I turn it over, revealing Mom’s face underneath a dark wig, distorted by heavy makeup.

About the book:

In a divided America, several secessions lead to the formation of a new nation, the Alliance of American States. Fueled by extremists who solicit members via social media, the Alliance has one weak point: Callie Noland, daughter of extremist leader Adrian Lamb. Can she maintain her faith in God and stand up to the man who calls himself Lord and Master?

The mission of the Cavernous trilogy is to incite a revolution for teen girls to delve into Scripture. Many of today’s society grasp at a meme-driven belief system and draw doctrine from Facebook and Twitter statuses. They need strong characters that write the words of God on their heart and take stands against slight untruths and injustices, especially the youth.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

Christian Fiction Friday: July 3rd

Cavernous Coming Soon

Today, I’ve decided to join in with Jewel Series author Hallee Bridgeman and cohost Alana Terry and participate in Christian Fiction Friday, which is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress!

I’ve been working on polishing three different manuscripts this summer–Humbled Goddesses, a series of short stories to introduce my romantic suspense series, Pandora’s Deed, the first book in my series, and Cavernous, my YA dystopian. For this snippet, I’ve chosen a pivotal moment in Cavernous, where Callie, the protagonist, faces the end of life as she’s always known it.

Enjoy!

Michael backs against the wall next to Dad. “Can we help you?”

The taller man snarls, tugging the waist hem of his uniform coat while the shorter one presses forward with the barrel of his rifle. They resemble Union men in Revolutionary red, like a mismatched reenactment from history class. Strange, and chilling.

He lowers his gun to one side, nodding for the shorter man to advance. “Agent Kevin Wiseman. I’m looking for Callie Noland.”

Me? Why would they be looking for me?

Dad holds unsteady arms in front of him. “I’m Martin, her father. What do you need?”

Wiseman smirks. “I’ll be transporting Ms. Noland to her new home.”

I jolt. Ethan covers my mouth before I can protest, and my shoulders slump. He’s right. I’ll get us all shot.

Face tightening, Dad lowers his hands while Michael steps forward in full courtroom stance. He releases a shaky breath. “Did her mother send you?”

Michael’s scoff shatters the brief silence that follows Dad’s soft words. “Under whose authority? What organization are you with? Where’s your badge?”

“Under her father’s authority.” Agent Wiseman stands even taller, his chest puffing like a blowfish. “That’s all you need to know. Like I said, Ms. Noland needs to prepare for transport.” 

The man accompanying Agent Wiseman lowers his rifle and pulls a folded manila envelope from under his arm. “According to this DNA test, she’s not your daughter.”

Angela, still bustling in the kitchen, drops a full platter of chicken.

Trembling head to toe, I dodge the crumbs scattering across the floor. Of course Dad’s my father. And yet… the driver’s license… Mom’s alias… No, it can’t be true.

“I don’t believe you.” Dad crosses his arms and straightens.

Wiseman hands him a piece of paper, which he scans, his face blanching.

All I can see is a blend of colors—the red flecks in the carpet, the gray steel of the gun, and the gold trim on the agent’s pants—swirling into a twisted mess. It takes a few seconds to realize I’ve doubled over in Ethan’s arms, and my hands grasp his legs for dear life as he tries to help me stand.

Wiseman snatches the paper and tucks it into the envelope, then removes another page. He shoves it in my face. “Your real father has filed for and received custody.”

Dad steps in front of me. “Not possible. When was the hearing?”

“We sent you a notification, and you didn’t bother to show.” Wiseman hands him the document.

Falling against the wall, Dad steadies himself with quivering hands. “I never received a notification.”

Snorting, the other agent turns to me. “Consider yourself fortunate. Provisions have been made for you to attend the Monongahela Military Academy. We’re leaving immediately.”

Ethan’s strong arms loosen their hold of my rubbery ones and his fists clench. The second agent aims his rifle, and Ethan relaxes his posture. “Can she at least have time to process it? Or to say goodbye?”

“I—” A military academy? My gaze darts between Dad’s gaping mouth and Wiseman’s rifle.

“I’ll be waiting by the car.” Wiseman nods to his partner. “Agent Burton will escort you when you’re ready. You have five minutes to gather your things and say your goodbyes, or we’ll have to resort to bigger extremes.”

Chills surge through my entire body. I lick my dry lips, hoping I can find the words to say goodbye. “But most of my things aren’t here.”

He points the rifle out the front door and shoots across the yard. “Five minutes, and no more. Resistance will not be tolerated.”

About the book:

In a divided America, several secessions lead to the formation of a new nation, the Alliance of American States. Fueled by extremists who solicit members via social media, the Alliance has one weak point: Callie Noland, daughter of extremist leader Adrian Lamb. Can she maintain her faith in God and stand up to the man who calls himself Lord and Master?

The mission of the Cavernous trilogy is to incite a revolution for teen girls to delve into Scripture. Many of today’s society grasp at a meme-driven belief system and draw doctrine from Facebook and Twitter statuses. They need strong characters that write the words of God on their heart and take stands against slight untruths and injustices, especially the youth.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.