To celebrate the completion of chapter eight, I wanted to share an excerpt that, to me, is a very powerful scene in the book. It’s a moment where Jeremiah finally has had enough of Chalice’ impulsiveness and becomes angry. It’s a moment where Chalice discovers that the thing she fears most in her life is this man whom she loves. In this chapter, she suddenly discovers that loving another person this way puts her in a very vulnerable position. Something she is not used to. She also discovers the trouble and pain her actions cause others as she tries to walk the tightrope between what she has to do and what she should do.
Chalice is not perfect, not by far (but what fun is a perfect book character? Not very, I would imagine.) She can be mean and merciless to the people she hates. She is also not above lying and cheating if it will aid her in her mission. So, yes, she is all these things, but she is also kindhearted and giving and when it comes to the people she loves, she will defend them fiercely, even if she has to defend them with her own life. Some may see this as a flaw, but I don’t.
Chalice is also not a character I made up. Technically she is, but she isn’t. She popped into my head one day and told me who she is. And she continues to tell me who she is and what she is going to do in any given situation. If I tried to control her or make her “perfect,” it would completely ruin the story. No, Chalice will do what she will regardless of what I want and that is what makes the story what it is. And that is what makes story telling so much fun.
That being said, here is the teaser:
It was strange, she thought, but the closer she came to the cabin door, the more she dreaded opening it. Fighting Draaquans was less terrifying than facing this gentle giant that held her heart in his hands.
What was it about the heart? It was so unlike her body. Her body, she could protect. With her body, she could fight. She could destroy an enemy swiftly without fear or scruple. But her heart was something so completely different. It was like a newborn baby: vulnerable, dependent, trusting. Anyone who had her heart the way he did, had power over her and that was a scary thing. If he wanted to, he could crush her mercilessly and there was nothing she could do about it.
Slowly, her hand reached out for the handle and turned it, pulling the door open. Then, she saw him. He had his back to her, standing just inside the washroom, splashing water over his face. Mostly unclothed, he wore black trousers that hung loosely over his hips. The chiseled muscles of his back rippled as he snatched a towel from the rack and wiped his face. Then, abruptly, he straightened and cocked his head to the side. She realized that he had heard her enter the room. Without turning, without even speaking, he moved his leg back, hooked his foot on the edge of the washroom door, and shut it behind him.
Chalice let out a long, deep breath that she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding. He’s really mad, she thought and quietly shut the cabin door. Laying her bags on the table next to his and placing her cloak and sword belt on the chair, she took a seat on the edge of the bed and waited. A few minutes later, he came out, and without even looking at her, went over to the table and drew out a white cotton shirt from of his bag.
“Are you ever going to speak to me?” she asked quietly.
Jeremiah threw the shirt over his head and slipped it down over his broad torso. Sighing, he looked up at the bulkhead. “I can’t do this, Chalice,” he said finally.
“Can’t do what?”
“I can’t stand back and watch you run blindly into danger alone.” He paused. Jeremiah never raised his voice to her, so she was surprised this time when he did. “We had a plan. You didn’t follow it.”
She flinched back as he turned to face her. She looked up at him hoping to see the soft, warm, chocolate eyes that had always given her love and comfort. To her dismay, that wasn’t what she found. His eyes were not soft or warm. They were dark, cold, and hard as stone. It was the look he bore when he was truly angry. She’d seen it before, as Kirna had said, when they were kids. She cowered back from his glare, as if it could physically cut right into her.
“You get so angry sometimes, Chalice, you don’t think straight. You make rash decisions. When you get like that, you’re not just unpredictable, you’re dangerous. In Ielieria, you put everyone in danger. Everyone! Not just yourself. You lost the Resistance its most important informant and managed to get your father’s city burnt to the ground. All in one evening. So, congratulations. I hope you’re happy.”
She wasn’t happy. She was miserable. But what could she say? She knew she couldn’t argue with him. And she couldn’t tell him about her conversation with Ben, either. So, instead, she made a poor attempt at changing the subject.
“You saw the fires?”
“Of course we did. Who didn’t see them? We could see them all the way from the road out of the city.”
“At least you got out of the gate in time.”
“Barely! We barely escaped! And all this time, we weren’t even sure if you had made it out of the city alive.”
“But Ardenne …”
“No, Chalice.” He cut her off. “She couldn’t sense you anywhere for weeks and we weren’t sure what to do, so we just waited. There was nothing else we could do.” He brushed his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Please promise me you will never do that again.”
Tears stung the back of her eyes. “I can’t, Jeremiah. You know I can’t make that promise. I am a warrior. I have a war to fight …”
“Not by yourself!” He stared down at her sternly. “Yes, you are a warrior, but there is a difference between being a warrior and being suicidal.” Leaning forward he looked directly into her eyes, his stony glare never wavering. “You have incredible power, Chalice. You have abilities unlike anyone, but you are not invincible. You are mortal, just like me. Just like everyone else around you. I swore an oath to protect you, and I will if I can, dammit, but this death wish you seem to have.” He paused, shaking his head. “I can’t protect you from that. I can’t protect you from yourself.”
That is the way I am, Jeremiah, she wanted to say. Would you still love me if I were different? But the words would not come and the only thing she could muster was a quiet, “I’m sorry.”
Without another word, he walked out of the cabin and shut the door behind him, not exactly slamming it, but not exactly closing it softly, either. And that’s when the tears came. His cold anger had broken something inside of her, opening a floodgate of tears that streamed down her cheeks and into her lap. The anguish and guilt she felt inside her chest was so excruciatingly painful, so heavy a weight, she fell back on the bed, curled up into the blankets, and cried herself to sleep.