Tomorrow morning I embark on a trip to a South Carolina beach with my family. I’ll be gone for a week, and while I expect to relax (walk in the sand, read a lot of books, finish editing Paper Crowns, do a lot of handwriting) I will be relaxing without the internet. I’ll miss you all very much, and I hope you’ll miss me! And as a farewell, I’m leaving you some good-sized snippets from a project I’ve been working on called Natural Disasters, + an extended Natural Disasters playlist! Enjoy, have a frabjous week, and I’ll see you next week (here’s hoping I remember to take pictures!)
01 seven nation army (glitch mob remix) – the white strips// 01 the struggle – grizfolk// 03 fighter – christine aguilera //04 the silent comedy – bartholemew//05 with love – christina grimmie// 06 a drop in the ocean – ron pope// 07 titanium – david guetta feat. sia// 08 control – garbage// 09 apologize – timbaland feat. one republic// 10 die young (deconstructed) – ke$ha// 11 fangs – little red lung// 12 hurricane (clean) – theory of a dead man// 13 grow – rae morris// 14 never let me go – florence + the machine// 15 impossible – shontelle// 16 bad moon rising – credence clearwater revival// 17 troublemaker (clean) – olly murs feat. florida// 18 holding on and letting go – ross copperman// 19 kill your heroes – awolnation// 20 gentle folks – hunter hunted// 21 human – daughter
She turned around, a damp cloth in one hand, and saw Adam. His hands were in his jacket pockets and he was frowning at her.
“Sorry, can I help you?” she asked.
He looked out the door at his brother and sister, who were standing under the front awning, waiting. “I wanted to apologize for my sister’s behavior.”
“Oh.” She realized that had come out sounding much too surprised, and winced. “Don’t worry about it,” she said quickly, trying to cover up her tone. “I’ve dealt with much worse than your sister.”
“She’s really a good person,” he said, pulling his frown down in the direction of his shoes. A moment of silence stretched almost to the point of awkwardness before he redirected his frown back at her. “She’s just…difficult.”
Slowly, December nodded. “Really,” she said. “It’s okay.”
He nodded. “Okay. It was nice to meet you, December.”
“You, too,” she said, raising her eyebrows.
Again he nodded. He hesitated, like there was something he had forgotten to say, but it must not have been important because he turned and strode briskly out the door without another word.
“That was weird,” said Bree, coming up to the counter.
December shook her head. “They’re a weird family.”
Devizes, England 1081 a.d.
A hand clamped over Josiah’s mouth. “I’m here! You must be quiet, or Seth will hear you!”
The world was burning. He could feel liquid fire searing his veins, melting his skin. He gripped her wrist and locked his eyes with hers. Right now, she was his only anchor, the only thing he could concentrate on. Focus.
She pressed her hand harder over his mouth as his breathing quickened, and a moan escaped through her fingers. “Please, Josiah! You have to be quiet!”
The door opened and Ruth spun around, her hand leaving Josiah’s mouth. A wave of heat scorched through him and left his mouth in a scream that he tried to suppress.
“Keep him quiet!” Catherine hissed, closing the door quickly behind her.
This time, Ruth pushed both hands across his mouth. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Strands of hair clung to her forehead – holding him down was as difficult as keeping him quiet. “Where is Adam?”
Catherine kept an ear pressed to the door. “He’s bringing Mikael to help.”
“He had better get here fast,” said Ruth, looking down at Josiah. “He’s almost turned.”
Suddenly, she screamed and jerked her hands away from Josiah’s face.
“What is it?” Catherine demanded, whirling away from the door and bending down next to her brother.
Ruth held out her hands. Her palms were hot and red.
The sisters’ eyes met.
“No,” said Catherine, her voice firm in spite of the tremor. “He can’t be.”
Ruth looked down. Josiah’s eyelids were lowered, nearly closed, but a sliver of orange light shone through beneath his lashes.
“He is.” Her whisper grew fainter, and she leaned back on her heels. Her hands fell limply onto her knees. “If Seth finds out…”
Catherine said sharply, “He isn’t going to find out.”
A groan wrenched itself from Josiah. Carefully, Ruth pulled his hair away from his burning face. “We won’t let him.”
She set the phone back down and rested her elbows on the desk. The light from the screen was beginning to burn her eyes, a sure sign she should take a break. She stretched her arms over her head. “I can finish this tomorrow,” she said aloud. No one objected, and she was about to close the laptop when one of the image results caught her eye. She clicked maximize.
“That looks promising,” she mused aloud. She copied it and pasted it into the body of her message to CasusNex along with Does this look right?
His response came a few seconds later. That’s it.
She typed, What do you want me to do with it?
Nothing now, he answered.
Right, she said. Then I’m going to bed.
Goodnight, he said, and disappeared from chat.
The symbol burned into December’s dreams all night long.
Devizes, England 1081 a.d.
“Mikael, where is Ruth?”
The younger boy nodded toward the house. “She’s inside helping mother with the deer you took down.”
“Is father with her?”
He shook his head and turned to fully face his brother. He held an ax in one hand, the blade that had been sharpened not an hour ago now halfway dull. Behind him, a stump sat surrounded by scattered chunks of wood ranging from the length of a thumb to a dagger-blade.
Chopping wood and kindling was Adam’s job, and something Mikael only took over when he was pushed to anger and frustration. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” said Mikael, too quickly.
Understanding settled on Adam’s face. “Seth.”
Mikael wiped his sleeve across his forehead and finally nodded. “He just…” His free hand curled into a fist.
“Is Josiah all right?”
Mikael hefted the ax a few times before answering. “He found out.”
Every nerve in Adam’s body tightened. “Where is Josiah?”
Adam turned to go, but Mikael stepped forward and gripped his forearm. “Don’t.”
“He is our brother, Mikael. I have to do what I can.”
“He’s taking over his training.” The young man’s blue eyes were heavy and sad.
“It’s already begun.”
Adam closed the small distance between them and dug his fingers into Mikael’s shoulder. “Where is he?”
Mikael hesitated before answering. “The river.” His fingers slipped free of Adam’s arm, his broad shoulders sagging under the weight of defeat. “They’re at the river.”
Adam hurried past his brother, raising his voice to be heard as he moved away. “What are they doing there?”
He turned, his heart pumping hot blood madly through his veins. He could feel them throbbing at his wrists, his temple. “What is it, Mikael?”
The ax-head scraped the ground. “He’s drowning him.” Mikael pressed his lips together and met Adam’s eyes. “He’s been doing it all evening.”
He straightened and blew steam away from his cup of coffee. The steam curled away from the rim of the mug in ribbons, and for a moment he watched it in silence. “It’s just…been a very long week.”
She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Why?”
He opened his mouth, but closed it a second later and shook his head. When he met her eyes again, he was smiling. “Let’s talk about something more interesting.”
She smiled back. “Like what, for instance?”
“Like…are you and Bree related?”
“You can tell?”
“You seemed close,” he said. “At the bonfire.”
He was an observant one, Adam. “We’re cousins,” she said. “Also best friends, but there aren’t many best-friend options in a place like this. We were stuck together.”
“It must be nice, living in the same town.”
“Actually…” December, slow down. You don’t want to spill your entire history in him during your second-and-a-half conversation. “We live in the same house. I live with her, my aunt Jo, and my uncle Lucas.”
He took a sip of his coffee, his eyebrows raised in mild surprise. “Do you mind if I ask why?”
“I always have,” she said. “My whole life.” He looked genuinely interested, so before he could ask any probing questions, she said quickly, “What about you? Have you always lived with Mikael and Celia?”
“Always.” He spoke the word with a kind of wistful weight that made me feel there was an entire world of history behind it. And for some reason, she wanted to know what it was.