As part of her tour around the blogoverse, Misty has kindly allowed me to share pages 3-5 of KEYSTONE with you lucky folks! So here goes...
WARNING: The following is an excerpt from Keystone, the second book in the Cornerstone Series. This excerpt will definitely contain spoilers for the first book. Please feel welcome to try out the first five chapters of Cornerstone at: http://mistypro.blogspot.com/p/cornerstone-chapter-one.html
This excerpt is part of a Blog Hop. In order to read the entire first chapter, please visit all the awesome Blog Hop stops listed here: http://mistypro.blogspot.com/ to find the other pages!
I saw the sad sigh escape him and then he groaned and clutched a rib.
A few bites, I suppose, his voice whispered in my skull. But don’t go underestimating the bites. It’s still way better odds than no cookie at all.
I stopped thinking of questions and just nodded. The Cornerstone wasn’t even warm in my hand at that point. It seemed like nothing could penetrate the numbness, so I stacked up the Addo's words, tied them in bundles, and pushed them right to the back of my head. There wasn't much room for anything else inside me anyway, besides:
My mom died.
Garrett is here.
My mom is gone.
I am here.
I left myself on cruise control as the Addo kept on murmuring reassurances in my head. Yes, I was full up on courage a couple of hours ago.
But now, as Garrett lays his hands on me, I can’t even feel one spark of his healing ability leaking from his touch. All I feel are my muscles melting and my body spreading like a boneless puddle across the bed.
"All you have to do is hang on." His voice is steady, but his reassuring grin quivers and he ducks his head so I won’t see it fall off his face. Holding onto the last shreds of my bravery, I watch the light dance across the curtain of his jet-black hair. When he looks up this time, he's got his best look of encouragement cemented in place.
I answer his grin with an even bigger, lying smile.
“I’m going to get through it,” I tell him, but the truth is that I don't have any clue how I'm going to make that happen. Or if I’ve even got the kind of grasp that this takes.
"My turn," Mrs. Reese says from the doorway. She sounds cheerful as she walks in, like we're having a party. Not like she’s grieving her husband’s murder. And not like she notices that I'm lying in a pool of my own skin. Instead, she sounds like she has since I met her…sparkly and comforting, Garrett's mom. "I'll take her from here, Garrett. You go look after Iris, okay?"
But Garrett doesn't leave to care for his baby sister. He doesn’t even lift his eyes off mine.
"I can help," he says, but his mom just shakes her head.
"No," she says softly, "You can't."
“Yes, I can…”
“Your healing won’t work on this, Garrett. Nalena has to do this on her own.” Mrs. Reese turns and gives me a genuine smile. “And you will.”
I nod and grin at them, trying to be metal on the outside, even though the terror is beating against my ribs like an enormous bird. Garrett’s eyes remain fastened to mine for a beat more, like he's trying to leave something inside me, but then he's gone.
And as if the Cornerstone was just waiting for him to leave, the second burst of white hot needles explode in my palm and they obliterate the numbness. My body seizes up with it. All my muscles knot in one massive cramp, but the wave disappears as fast as it came.
I spread out again, like jelly, when it’s over. It was only one little wave and my muscles are already deep-fried. Whatever’s left of my bravery leaks away. The thought of dying has gone from being as small and simple as a pocket mirror to a concept as huge and complex as eternity. I wonder how much it will hurt to die; what it will be like to be with my mom, but without Garrett; and if there’s any justice in the afterlife that will keep my dad out. I wonder who Garrett will end up being without me.
Mrs. Reese fills the spot over my head that her son left behind.
"I'm going to be right here with you the whole time, Nalena," she says. She smiles and pulls the sheet up over my shoulders, tucking me in like I'm as little as Iris. "People have had to be re-Impressioned before. I’m going to make sure you get through this just fine."
But I see her smile twitch. She must know what the odds are and how few cookie bites I actually have. I want to grab Mrs. Reese’s hand and tell her I already know that it's going to be too much. There’s no way I’m going to be able to hang on, not even for Garrett. I want to thank her for being with me while I die.
I'm ready to tell her everything, but when I open my mouth, my tongue doesn't work. All I do is gurgle.
"Oh, that's an excellent sign," Mrs. Reese chirps. “You're going numb. That’s really, really good, Nalena. It means that your body is embracing the re-Impressioning. It means you won’t go into shock when those nerves are removed."
But my numb disappeared long ago and I’m not numb at all now and I can’t tell her anything because my mouth won’t work. What I am is paralyzed. The spit bubbles up as I try to speak. I gurgle frantically and Mrs. Reese just smiles, wiping away the gurgle juice. I blink at her madly, hoping she understands Morse Code for I’m Freaking Out.
GAH!!! How much am I looking forward to reading the whole thing?? THIS MUCH. Well, you can't see, but I was stretching my arms waaaaay wide, there!