Warning! Rampant SPOILERS ahead!
So you’ve read Nightfall and you’re eager to hear more? You’ll be pleased to hear Book 2 is currently in the works! Unfortunately, writing is not my only job. I am also a student and a sales associate, so my pace may not be quite what some of you would prefer.
That is why I have chosen to provide a “sneak preview” to part of the opening chapter to the next, currently untitled, book in the series.Keep in mind, this is a very rough draft, full of errors and nowhere near its final form. It may not even be the same scene as the final draft. Nothing is set in stone this early in the game.
The nights are always the hardest.
Tonight marks 120 days since the day the man who fathered me was sentenced to imprisonment. 17 weeks and one day since Zoey almost left us. Just shy of four months since I was saddled with this evil cargo.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that I have to sacrifice my own comfort for the good of people I love. To regret that would be almost as absurd as regretting breathing. I couldn’t do that. My family needed me to step up for them. So I did.
Not wanting to trade it does not make it easy.
The nights are hardest. I listen to Zoey’s soft breathing across the room every night and she reminds me why I fight for this. That girl holds the end of the thread, the tether that keeps me home. She doesn’t know what power she has over me. If she did, I doubt she’d believe it.
She’s sleeping soundly for now. Her dark red hair is sprawling over her pillow. Before her, I’d never known anyone with hair so rich. It perfectly matches the evergreen in her eyes. They’re like emeralds, if emeralds shone so darkly. I’ve never seen that color looking back at me before.
I’ve just never met anyone like her before.
There are so many things in the last few months that she has taught me. Things I don’t think I would have learned if it wasn’t for her. That’s why, to my dismay, I cannot ever let her hear my music again.
It hurts my heart to say that. She loves my music. The soft melody of the piano is the sound she remembers with our meeting. I wish I remembered it that way, too.
She saved me through the music of the pipe organ. I wish I could tell her how much her violin means to me, how much I love the sound of her soft, soprano singing. It’s gotten to the point that even her breathing is in itself music to me. I can’t face the thought of being without her music in some way.
And yet, that is exactly what I’ve done.
My punishment for trapping my father, for refusing the man who hurt us to cut any deeper, is to refuse any music. No more melodies, no more harmonies. No more staccato plucks of the cello strings, no more legato lines on the piano. Nothing. If I even open my mouth to sing a line…I can’t bear to think of what could happen to her.
I almost caused her injury once. I can’t do that again.
I don’t believe Jay will ever forgive me.
Nights are always the hardest. Zoey had been asleep for a while, something I was becoming used to. She usually slept soundly for at least the first part of the night.
I was a wanderer. My nights had never been smooth, but being stuck with my father made the times with no sunlight even harder. Zoey seemed to be my own personal sunlight, but she needed rest. I wasn’t going to take that from her.
That left me wandering the long, winding halls of my home on my own. It was a normal occurrence. I used to enjoy reading in the evenings, but that was before looking at books reminded me of that night-the night she came to us. It would be a long time before I could pick up Hamlet and not cringe.
Stocking-feet don’t make much noise on the floors, but it was all I could do to force every step to be even, measured. If I wasn’t careful, I could easily start tapping out a beat with just the pattern of my falling feet.
That would be too risky, wouldn’t it? What were the parameters around our deal? Would it hurt her?
I remember letting out a soft sigh and making my way to the room that once housed my piano. The rubble was long gone, swept away by the historic society who tended to the home.
I still couldn’t erase the pieces of broken ivory from my memory, nor the dark wood. The memories hurt, like the shards of broken wood had decided to bury themselves into my chest instead of scattering across the floor. The piano had been my journal, for all intents and purposes, for years.
It shouldn’t have made me so angry when the historic society swept the pieces away, but it did. How could they just throw her into the trash? Those strings had made music for me, crafted my thoughts and feelings into flowing lines I don’t know that I could construct anywhere else. Those strings sang for me unlike anything else could even hope to do. Did that make no difference?
Their intrusion usually wasn’t much of a bother except for the couple times a week that they opened the doors to tours. That’s when I took the horses out. Riding was preferable to entertaining an ever-changing host of strangers. This time, though, I wanted to take the horses out for a week. If I could have gone out for a month and refused to return, I would have.
Imagine what that would have done to Zoey, though. If I had stayed out so long, what would have happened to me? I don’t know that I would have cared except that would have hurt her.
Jay often considered running, too. I wasn’t the only one getting tired of these confines.
But that night, that one night in particular, I made a desperate mistake. Something, anything, would have been better than sitting there, watching the pieces of my music room deteriorating around me. Violins are not supposed to lay against the wall for weeks on end. I cringed at how tight the strings were left on a couple of them. Anna’s cello was going to get broken if she allowed it to sit in its case in the center of the room. Guests are not mindful anymore, no matter how much I might wish them to leave our things alone, that was unlikely.
So as I said before, anything would have been preferable to looking around the room, watching and waiting for the next piece of the puzzle to fall to pieces in my lap. I didn’t want to see more scattered ivory.
The pipe organ called to me. It always had a certain power over me, like a Master to his slave. I knew that instrument was where I was supposed to be.
I should have known better. No music. Not a single note.
But I am weak, driven just like most humans are by the allure of instant gratification. How was I supposed to resist something like that?
My stocking feet still made little sound on the floors as I wafted down the hall. I paused for half a moment outside the door to my chambers, just long enough to listen for the steady rise and fall of Zoey’s breathing. She would be okay. I would do anything to keep her safe.
A soft smile came to my lips when I heard the sound of her turning over in bed. The sheets rustled gently against her skin, like it always did when she’d wrap herself in the blankets. She called herself a burrito when she did that. If I’m not mistaken, that’s a type of Spanish food involving many different kinds of filling wrapped in a thin piece of bread. Strange. I’m not sure I like Zoey being referred to as food.
I continued on my way, somewhat more at ease after knowing she was still resting easy. She’d be fine, I reminded myself. I was just going to look, after all.