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Noteworthy

12 September 2011

Staff Clash

Host: Amanda Flower


This Clash is just for fun as two of our staff members go head to head!

EXCERPT A
Not far from the castle’s outer walls at the edge of the forest, Wulf sat on his horse and waited for the Princess to emerge from the gate. The security at the castle was terribly slack. He couldn’t believe it had been so easy.

That woman is far too naïve and trusting…

He glanced down at his clenched fist. The muscles in his jaw hardened. When had the job become distasteful to him? Even though he sensed the answer, he didn’t want to admit it—Lena. Princess Olivia’s resemblance to her had shaken him to the core. He’d killed Lena…and now he would do the same with her look-alike.

Cramps shot up his hand, reminding him to relax his vise-like grip. The sunlight that filtered through the dense trees reflected off the gold pendent that rested in the palm of his hand.

Guilt pricked his heart.

He ought to dash the pendant to the forest floor and let his stallion trample it to dust. Or throw it into the first stream he came across and allow the currents to carry it away. Either of those would rid him of the little piece of jewelry that seemed to scorch his skin. Instead, his fingers curled around it.

Wulf rubbed weary eyes as he continued to wait. Thunder sounded in the distance as a strong wind played with his long, brown hair. The approaching storm intensified the gloomy darkness of the woods around him.

A sigh escaped his lips. There were times, like now, he wished he could get out of this life. Mayhap if he were a different man... But what was the use? He wasn’t different. He couldn’t change what he’d done. What he’d become.

Nothing could.

The Princess rode out of the gate with two guards at her horse’s heels. Hardly near a sufficient number to ensure safety.

This job was becoming painfully easy.

Wulf would prefer having to kill a ruthless man hid behind twenty expert swordsmen then this royal family who appeared like a lamb ready for slaughter. As Princess Olivia and her entourage approached him, he dropped the chain around his neck and hid the pendant within his shirt. He could get rid of it later.

A smile that would outshine the sun on a cloudless day broke across Princess Olivia’s face. “Thank you for waiting, good sir. We can be off now.”

Bowing his head to her, he spun his stallion toward the trail and started at an easy pace. As far as he was concerned, the sooner this job was over, the better.

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EXCERPT B

Lea’s hair hung past her waist in a smooth, silky curtain of blonde interwoven with sunshine. She smiled, and lifted eyes the color of a robin’s egg to meet Kylie’s stunned gaze.

Behind Lea, Trina’s lips and hands moved. She pointed first at Dayna, then Eva Kate, and finally Kylie. Making introductions, of course, but Kylie didn’t hear a word. She heard only the loud purring of her melting heart as she gazed at the face of the beautiful child who surely must be some kind of angel.

As if no one else existed in the room, Lea walked—floated—across the room toward her. Without a second’s thought, Kylie slid off the sofa to kneel on the floor.

The little girl stood in front of her, studying her face. “Kylie. You’re here. He said you’d come.”

“Who said that? Your daddy?”

“No. Daddy only said you made him sad.” Lea tucked Kylie’s hair behind one ear and brought her lips close to it. “Solomon told me,” she whispered.

Kylie opened her mouth, but couldn’t make a sound, so she nodded. Her eyes burned, and she was horrified when tears overflowed them and raced down her cheeks. Lea reached out and caught one as it dropped from Kylie’s eyelash. She brought the wet finger to her own lips and kissed it.

“I love you, Kylie.” Her sweet voice wound a melodic path straight into Kylie’s heart.

Did she reach for Lea, or did the child reach for her? She didn’t know, but the little girl’s arms wrapped themselves around her neck and Kylie pulled the tiny body against her chest and hugged her. “I love you too, Lea.”

While the other women watched in shock and wonder, the child kissed Kylie’s wet cheek, then took a tiny step backward. She lifted Kylie’s hand and placed it on her own scarred and ruined face. “See? It’s nothing really, just a memory from the fire.”

Kylie stroked the tight, puckered skin, but under her trembling fingers, it felt smooth and soft and beautiful. “Yes, I see that,” she murmured.

“I—I want to touch your scar too. OK?”

She took the little girl’s hand and guided it to her eyebrow. But Lea shook her head, and her smile sealed Kylie’s fate. Her heart would forever belong to this angel child.

“No, not that. That’s just a sore spot. It doesn’t matter.” She laid her hand on Kylie’s chest and raised those beautiful eyes to meet Kylie’s teary gaze. “I meant this scar. It hurts the most, doesn’t it?”

Kylie choked back a sob, suddenly sure this was all a dream.

“Don’t cry anymore. We’ll make it all better together. Won’t we?”

“Yes,” Kylie whispered. “We will.” She cupped Lea’s face in both her hands. “We’ll fix each other’s scars together.”

Lea nodded, then turned to her other guests. The spell broke, and Kylie found that she had the strength to lift herself off the floor and back onto the sofa, though her legs trembled as if she’d walked a mile uphill.
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8 comments:

Gail Pallotta said... Monday, 12 September, 2011

Two great excerpts! The readers will have a hard time deciding between these two.

April W Gardner said... Monday, 12 September, 2011

I'm so proud of our COTT staff. Such great writing!!

Lisa Lickel said... Tuesday, 13 September, 2011

Wow, we do look intriguing, don't we? I am so glad I didn't have to choose this one. Good job, Amanda.

Michelle Massaro said... Tuesday, 13 September, 2011

Wow, that's just awesome! =) Great job, ladies. Can't wait to find out the winner!

Eve said... Thursday, 15 September, 2011

Those were great!
Ummm... for some reason I'm unable to vote. I keep getting this message every time I try: "This survey is currently closed. Please contact the author of this survey for further assistance."

April W Gardner said... Thursday, 15 September, 2011

Hi Eve! I'm not sure why the survey closed early, but I just reopened it. Sorry about that! It'll stay open until midnight tonight Pacific time. Thanks for stopping by!

Sheri Salatin said... Monday, 19 September, 2011

Can't wait to see who wins!! :)

Delia Latham said... Monday, 26 September, 2011

This was really fun! I am impressed with the skill of COTT'S youngest staff member. :)

Item Reviewed: Staff Clash Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Flower
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