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Noteworthy

14 March 2011

The Clash Continues

This week's host: Jennifer Slattery

This may very well be my favorite clash yet, for two reasons: 1) We get a chance to meet emerging authors, and 2) Our readers hold the power from start to finish. In case you missed the first two clashes, this month we've decided to let you, our reader, determine which authors will compete in our final two and which will reign supreme. It almost feels like an American Idol show!

So, continuing with our theme started two weeks ago, two new authors jump in the ring. Read both excerpts, vote for your favorite, then come back Monday for the grand finale! Which excerpt will be deemed the most intense? It's up to you, and remember, every vote counts! (And enters you in our drawing for a free book. Hooray! So fb share us, tweet us, leave a comment and cast a vote!)

Excerpt E

My eyes land on a picture farther down the wall, hanging over a folded uniform. A familiar folded uniform.

It can’t be.

“Kate…”

I hold up my hand and let my eyes lead my feet to the display case. The glass is cool beneath my fingers, and I don’t even care that I’m leaving handprints behind on the spotless surface.

That is my father, wearing a Dellinger Racing hat, standing in our front yard, arm around my brother’s shoulders. And that—I lower my gaze to the bottom of the case—is one of his pit crew uniforms. Nate and my dad. Father and son. Full circle.

I take a deep breath. A circle with the Dellinger family planted at its center.

“He was a good man, Kate, in spite of what happened.”

My next breath sticks in my throat. That’s not Ryan’s voice, though something about the timbre of it is the same.

I drop my hands from the case and turn as slowly as I can, bringing me face to face with Ryan in twenty years. The same smile, though a little softer at the moment, tilts the lips. The same joy for living lights the blue eyes. The same expression rests on the face.

Russ Dellinger.

It’s like that disconnect you get when you stare at yourself in the mirror for so long that you begin to look like a stranger, a stranger that you know way too much about. Only this time, it’s the reflection looking back that knows everything.

My eyes flick to Ryan, standing a few feet behind his dad. He moves to step forward, then stops.

When I look back to the older man, Russ’s eyes are damp. For the first time, I realize tears stream down my cheeks. I’ve never missed my father so much in my whole life as right now, standing in front of the man he admired so much, who cared for my family from a distance for so many years, who grabbed my brother by the shoulders and shook him until he came to his senses when he needed it most.

It’s like looking at my father reincarnated.

I throw my arms around his neck and sob, embarrassment coursing through me and mingling with a comfort that defies explanation.

This familiar stranger seems to understand, his hug so much like my father’s used to feel when I was small and scared. He makes me want to pour everything out right here in this pristine glass and tile lobby, where my cries echo like the sound of every tear I’ve ever shed floating back through years of grief.

When every emotion is spent, I manage a shuddering breath and step back, dropping my arms, not sure what to do with my hands, ashamed at the very public display of emotion and the tear-stained shirt of a man I’ve never met yet somehow know all too well, soothed by a bond forged before I was ever born.


Excerpt F

Daphne sat on the edge of one of the chairs. She stared at tightly laced hands. Tears dripped from her eyes and the curtain of hair was pushed back and tucked behind her ears.

“Daphne? What is it dear?” Marian swiftly moved to the chair next to her daughter and her gut wrenched.

“Please. Would everyone have a seat? We have a lot of ground to cover and little…”

“I told you I didn’t do it.” Daphne lifted accusing eyes to her mother. The rage there forced Marian back into her seat and for once in her life she didn’t feel so certain about anything. “But you wouldn’t believe me. You didn’t trust me.”

“Daphne. Please…” Dr. LeDuke flipped a switch on a wall mounted X-ray light. Until that moment, neither parent had noticed the bundle of X-rays that the doctor clutched in a steady hand. “Wendy—the ultrasound technician—called my office as soon as she completed the first round of ultra sounds. She said it was urgent so I came over to see what she had. When I saw the ultrasound results, I had her take a set of X-rays as well.” He clipped the pictures to the light board and pointed out the small mass that was Daphne’s reproductive organs. “It doesn’t show as much as I’d like but I’ve booked Daphne for a C.A.T. scan for tomorrow morning. We’ll know a whole lot more after that.”

Marian looked at him sharply, only too well-aware of the long waiting lists for patients who needed to have that procedure done. “Is it that serious?”

“I’m afraid so.” Doctor LeDuke wore an uncomfortable expression on his face and quickly dropped his stare to the files on his desk. “Perhaps you’d like a few moments alone together. I’ll be just outside.” He clipped his pen to the pocket of his lab coat and retreated through the door.

Marian stared at the tumour taunting her from its place on the wall. Her daughter hadn’t lied. Her daughter was sick. And she had failed her. Choking, she tore her eyes from the offensive mass. “Oh Daphne! I’m so sor…”

“Don’t!” Daphne closed her eyes and balled her hands into tight fists. “Don’t tell me you’re sorry. I told you!” She hissed the words. Marian reached a hand out to her and Daphne batted it away. “Don’t touch me!” She lowered her voice. “Don’t ever touch me again.”

Marian watched as her daughter rose stiffly and yanked the door wide on the startled physician. Shoving past the man, Daphne stomped down the hall to the exit door, punched the crash bar and stepped into the stair well.

“I’ll go talk to her.”

Phillip’s low, gentle tones broke into Marian’s shock and she began to shake. “I failed her Phil. I accused her and I failed her.” She watched her husband pursue their daughter, knowing he hadn’t heard her whispered confession.
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Item Reviewed: The Clash Continues Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jennifer Slattery
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