The Lost Girl: Excerpt 2

We’re nearing the end of Camp NaNoWriMo so I thought I would share one last excerpt of my novel, The Lost Girl.

This is a short excerpt from the middle of chapter thirteen. This is first draft material, but proofread for typos.

Enjoy!

The Lost Girl excerpt

“Now think of the happiest thought that you can think.” Peter ordered.

“The happiest thought? Like a memory of some sort?” Grace wondered.

“It can be anything you want, but it has to be something real.” Peter explained.

“So a memory…” Grace concluded. She put her hand up to her chin as she thought looking up at the sky. “Okay, I think I got one. That’s easy.”

Peter smiled. He took Grace by the hands again and led her to the edge of the cliff. “Now think of that thought and keep thinking about it!”

“What are you doing?” Grace frowned at the edge of the cliff.

“Are you ready?”

“Not really…”

“Go!”

Peter shoved Grace off the edge of the cliff. She tried to hold her balance at the very tip, but fell anyway. She flailed her arms and legs as her body accelerated faster and faster the closer she got to the water. She screamed knowing that this was going to be it for her. She covered her eyes with her hands bracing herself for impact with the water. If she didn’t die on impact, she would certainly drown.

Grace jolted when she was suddenly lifted back into the air. She dared to take her hands away from her eyes. Peter was holding onto her in his arms and they were heading back up to the top of the cliff. Through the air.

“What is going on?!” Grace panicked wrapping her arms around Peter’s neck tightly.

“Ouch,” Peter winced. “You just pinched my neck.”

“You just threw me off a cliff!” Grace shouted.

“Yeah, I don’t know why it didn’t work.” Peter muttered in sincere confusion.

“What didn’t work? I almost died!” Grace panicked as they made it to the top of the cliff.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Were you thinking about your happy thought?” Peter set Grace back down on her feet and folded his arms his chest deeply thinking.

“No! I was too busy thinking that I was going to die!” Grace yelled.

“You’re going to disturb the whole forest if you keep shouting like that.” Peter said glancing over at Tinkerbell on his shoulder, who was covering her ears. “Besides, you’re upsetting Tinkerbell. Human voices are extremely loud to them. It’s kind of like when you tap on the glass to a fish tank. It disturbs the fish.”

Grace stared at Peter with her mouth gaped open and her eyes wide. He pushed her off a cliff, she almost died, he began to fly, and he was making fish metaphors.

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The Lost Girl: Excerpt 1

We’re almost halfway through April 2016’s Camp NaNoWriMo session. I can’t believe it!

I’ve been working really hard on my novel, The Lost Girl, and so far it’s coming along quite nicely. In my opinion.

I thought I would share a quick excerpt with you guys from the story. This excerpt is the beginning of chapter four, where Peter Pan first joins the party.

This is first draft material, but I did proofread it to clean it up just a bit.

I hope you enjoy it!

the lost girl excerpt rachel poli

Grace looked over her shoulder as the elf-boy led her away from the rest of the boys. She couldn’t see anyone anymore leaving her to believe that they obeyed their leader and had in fact gone back to their duties—whatever that meant.

She looked back ahead of her and stared at the back of the boy’s head. He hadn’t said a word to her since they had left the other boys behind. Where was he taking her? Was she in trouble? Or was he going to help her get out of the forest?

Before Grace could open her mouth to ask, the boy swiped a tree branch out of their way and held it aside for Grace to walk through. He let go of her hand and waited for her to walk through. She slowly took steps on her own afraid of what was going to be on the other side of that tree branch. Yet what she saw in front of her was unbelievable and she stared at it in awe.

“Welcome to my Treehouse.” The boy announced with a smile.

“It’s… Huge.” Grace said softly.

A giant tree stood before. The base of the tree took up space in more than half of the clearing. The trunk was as thick as a ship and seemed to be as tall as the sky. She placed a hand over her eyes shielding her sight from the sunlight as she tried to see the top of the tree. Branches stuck out in all sorts of directions, the branches being about as thick as a normal tree trunk.

“Is this…? This is the Tree of Life, isn’t it?” Grace couldn’t help but ask.

“Huh?” the boy raised an eyebrow in confusion.

“I read about the Tree of Life in school.” Grace explained.

“I don’t know what that is.”

“I read it in my history class textbook.”

The boy blinked at her.

“A book,” Grace stated.

“Oh! You mean stories. I know what a story is. I like stories.” He grinned.

Grace shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, I guess history class is kind of like telling one big story.”

“Anyway,” he patted the base of the tree trunk, “I don’t know what this Tree of Life is that you’re talking about, but this is my home.”

Grace pressed her lips together thinking. Then she pointed to the tree. “So… When you said, welcome to my tree house, you meant an actual tree house?”

“Well,” the boy looked the tree up and down before settling his gaze back on Grace. “It’s my house and it is a tree, so… Yeah.” He shrugged his shoulders.

Grace nodded her head not knowing what else to say. She wrapped her arms around herself holding onto Curly’s cloak again. Sure enough, this all seemed to be happening in real life and not a dream.

“Follow me.” The boy prompted her. He began to climb the tree.

Grace stood where she was and watched him climb a little higher. She had never climbed a tree in her life before, especially not one as big as that tree. Even though he wanted her to follow him, she was going to be perfectly fine standing on the ground and watching from afar.

Then he looked down and slid back down the trunk as soon as he realized he was climbing alone. He walked over to Grace taking her hand in his once more and smiled at her. “It’s a lot of fun. You’ll see.”

Grace wanted to protest, but she couldn’t get her voice to work. Curiosity was taking over again. She should have learned her lesson from the first time, but she was too interested in the tree to mind.

The boy led her to the base of the tree and began to climb once more. He let go of Grace’s hand, but only for a moment so he could get a firm grip on the trunk himself. Then he looked down over his shoulder and reached out to her again. Grace took his hand with a short hesitation and began to climb the tree behind him. Though she wasn’t sure how she was going to climb such a massive tree in a skirt.

He kept leading the way, higher and higher. They dropped each other’s hands once in a while to get firmer grips on their climb. Then Grace would stumble and grab onto his hand or foot or whatever was closest to her.

“You’ve never climbed a tree, have you?” he asked with a smirk.

“Not one this big.” Grace grunted in response. She glanced down over her shoulder and shivered at the height. She was getting tired. Just how far up were they going? And how were they going to climb back down?

“We’re almost there.” He assured her.

Grace looked straight up and narrowed her eyes. They weren’t even halfway up the tree! How were they almost to the top?

It was just another couple of steps when the boy sat down upright on a branch. He reached down, grabbed Grace’s hand, and pulled her up. She sat on the branch in front of him breathing heavily. She gripped the branch as tight as she could; her knuckles began to turn white.

“Okay, now how do we get down?” she asked quickly.

The boy smiled. He reached over behind her and opened a small hatch in the neighboring branch, which looked as though it had been cut off to create a hollow hole. Grace peered down the hole looking into the abyss.

She suddenly felt afraid again. And she wasn’t nervous because of the height.

“It’s fun, I promise.”

Those were the last words Grace heard before the boy pushed her down the hole.

Short Story Sunday 85

SSS SC Excerpt 4

For the month of November, my Short Story Sundays will be excerpts from my NaNoWriMo novel, Second Chances. Please keep in mind that while this has been proofread for my blog, it is still first draft material.

You can also read Excerpt OneExcerpt Two, and Excerpt Three.

Ezekiel balled his hands into fists and clenched his teeth. I sighed knowing that I was making him frustrated. If he would just come out and explain everything to me straight forward then we wouldn’t be going around in circles like this.

“Hunter is being convicted of murder, Lesley. Murder! Guilty or not, his life is never going to be the same. I’m sure you’ve seen trials in the newspapers, haven’t you? Every person believes something different. Some are going to think he’s innocent, others will believe him to be guilty no matter what the jury ultimately decides.” Ezekiel ranted. “Everyone knows his name and face from the news. He’s going to walk down the street and people will either congratulate him or spit on him.”

“But it was just a car accident. It was a mistake, but it wasn’t intentional.” I defended him.

“Not everyone is going to see it that way.” Ezekiel whispered to me. “Don’t you get it?”

I drew in a breath and nodded my head. I understood what Ezekiel was saying even though I didn’t agree with it. But he was right. Not everyone was going to be satisfied with Hunter’s verdict. Things were never going to be the same for him ever again.

“That was probably why Hunter was having that dream. Deep down he knows he’ll never get that back.” Ezekiel looked at me with a soft gaze. I swallowed hard.

“Inside his house with him mother, behind the scenes and away from everyone else, it’ll be as close to normal as possible. But once he steps foot outside his house…”

“I get it.” I held up a hand to stop Ezekiel from talking further.

Ezekiel closed his mouth and continued to stare at me. He clasped his hands together in front of him and watched me as though he expected me to say something.

“What is it?” I asked with caution.

“You really have no idea, do you?” he shook his head in disgust.

I folded my arms across my chest wondering what he could possibly mean. I knew he wanted me to figure it out on my own, but he was giving me absolutely no clues. I didn’t know how I was supposed to figure it out on my own.

“Hunter didn’t tell you about the trial?” Ezekiel asked.

My eyes grew a bit bigger. “The trial?” I repeated.

Ezekiel nodded his head. “He has a court date. They’re picking jury members as we speak. They’re gathering witnesses to testify against him. This is a big deal.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this in the very beginning?” I took a step forward closer to him. I wanted to punch him in the gut, but I knew that wouldn’t solve anything.

“Hunter was supposed to tell you. He wasn’t supposed to keep that from you.” Ezekiel looked down at the ground. “This is what you need to help Hunter with. You need to help him get through this trial and help him get a non-guilty verdict.”

My jaw dropped. “How in the world am I supposed to do that? I’m not a lawyer, I’m not on the jury. I can’t talk to any of these people. How am I supposed to persuade them that Hunter is innocent?”

“You’re a witness.” Ezekiel smiled.

Short Story Sunday 84

SSS SC Excerpt 3

For the month of November, my Short Story Sundays will be excerpts from my NaNoWriMo novel, Second Chances. Please keep in mind that while this has been proofread for my blog, it is still first draft material.

You can also read Excerpt One and Excerpt Two that I have posted.

“Now listen to what I’m about to tell you…” he said cautiously.

My eyes grew wide. I had no idea what he was about to tell me, but judging by his even tone and somber face I had a feeling he wasn’t going to tell me any good news.

“I am going to send you back down to Earth.” Ezekiel began. “You are going to be nothing but a ghost, do you understand?”

I nodded and then raised my hand as though I was in school.

“What?” Ezekiel asked annoyed.

“If I’m a ghost, does that mean I’m able to walk through walls and stuff?” I asked seriously, but by the end of the question a grin formed on my face. I had to admit, that would be pretty exciting if I was able to walk through walls and haunt people. Though I didn’t want to say that to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel took another deep breath. “No. You do not get any powers. You’re a ghost, not an Angel.”

“What’s the difference?” I furrowed my brows. Ghosts and Angels were both dead, so what did it matter?

“Angels have been accepted to Heaven. Ghosts have not. Therefore, you have no powers. Once you get accepted into Heaven, then you will become an Apprentice. Once you pass that, you’ll get your wings and became an Angel. Later, if you want, you can fill out an application to become a Guardian Angel. Need I go on?” Ezekiel frowned seeming bored with the conversation.

“Yes. What’s the difference between an Angel and Guardian Angel, exactly?” I wondered.

“Is that really important at the moment?” he glared at me.

“Fine, can you at least tell me what I’ll become if I don’t get into Heaven?” I wondered.

“You’ll still be a Ghost.” Ezekiel stated. “You’ll just move from Purgatory to Limbo.”

I furrowed my brows in confusion.

Ezekiel rolled his eyes. “Purgatory is where you are now. You have a chance to get into Heaven. Limbo is when you’re stuck in between Heaven and Earth with no hope of getting into Heaven.”

“Where does Hell fit into all this?”

“We do not speak of that place!” Ezekiel grew a little taller looking down on me with narrowed, angry eyes.

“Sorry,” I said gently.

Ezekiel shrunk back to his normal size and took a few deep, cleansing breaths. He looked back up at the clock and let a squeak escape his lips.

“We are really running out of time!” he panicked. “On Earth, you are going to be a Ghost. Like I said, you get no powers. You cannot walk through walls or people and you cannot touch anything or pick anything up. You cannot speak to anyone. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I nodded, “but what happens if I try to talk to you? What if someone hears me?”

“No one will hear you. You can talk to me. I’m just telling you not to bother talking to others. They won’t respond. They won’t even know you’re there.” Ezekiel clarified.

Short Story Sunday 83

SSS SC Excerpt 2

For the month of November, my Short Story Sundays will be excerpts from my NaNoWriMonovel, Second Chances. Please keep in mind that while this has been proofread for my blog, it is still first draft material.

You can also read Excerpt One that I posted last week.

This is the last part of chapter two. Enjoy.

            “Remember I told you that you were going to have to prove yourself if you wanted to get into Heaven?” Ezekiel asked calmly.

I nodded.

“You need to help the man who hurt you the most.” He said quietly.

I didn’t respond. I only stared at Ezekiel as though he had sprouted a few extra heads. I tried to help as many people as I could when I was on Earth. I always tried to make everyone happy. Why was it my job to help someone who hurt me? It didn’t make any sense.

“His name is Hunter Gray. He’s been having some similar problems to you. He is 25-years-old and has no idea what he’s doing with his life.” Ezekiel chuckled, but I couldn’t see anything funny about it.

“You need to help him get his life back on track.” He explained.

I shook my head. “How can I help him get his life back on track when, according to you, I didn’t appreciate life?”

Ezekiel laughed. “Maybe you’ll teach each other something.”

“No,” I sighed. “I don’t even know who Hunter Gray is.”

“Yes you do.” Ezekiel folded his hands together on the surface of the table.

I waited for him to explain, but Ezekiel only continued to smile at me. It was the type of smirk where he clearly knew something I didn’t. It seemed he didn’t have a problem telling me he knew a secret and I wasn’t allowed to know yet.

“So…?” I prompted.

“Hunter Gray was the man who struck you with his SUV.” Ezekiel’s smiles grew and he let out a snicker.

I glared at him. “You mean to tell me that I need to help the man who supposedly killed me?”

“Not supposedly,” he shook his head, “he did. You’re dead.”

“Thanks for reminding me…” I grunted.

I walked away from the table and kept walking. I didn’t know where I was going, as there was no place to go. I wondered if Ezekiel was trying to follow me, but I didn’t want to turn around and find out. I didn’t want to talk to him anymore, let alone look at him.

After a few minutes to myself, I finally did turn around to make sure Ezekiel was still there. Sure enough, he still sat at the table with a smile. I looked around at my surroundings and realized that even though I had been walking, I was no farther away from the table that I was from when I stood up.

I drew in a deep breath and then shrugged my shoulders. “What is it that you want me to do?”

“You need to let Hunter Gray know that life is worth living. Steer him back in the right direction. He strayed from his path long ago and it’s getting harder for him to find his way back.” Ezekiel explained. “Life is like a maze, as I’m sure you know from experience.”

“Experience? I thought you said he was 25? He has five more years than me.” I protested.

“He’s been wandering around aimlessly since he was 18. You only started straying from your path a few months ago.” Ezekiel stated.

“So why is it that I’m the one who had to die? Why couldn’t he teach me how to live my life?” I glared at Ezekiel. I made a few mistakes for a few months and I have to lose my life for it. This Hunter Gray person on the other hand practically gets a free ride.

“He’s too far gone.” Ezekiel whispered. “His Guardian Angel abandoned him.”

“You guys can do that?” I raised an eyebrow.

“It’s complicated up here.” Ezekiel shrugged. “That’s why He wants me to help you help Hunter Gray.” Ezekiel pointed to himself, then me, then at the clouds below us.

I took a deep breath and stared at Ezekiel unsure how to respond.

“Everyone deserves a second chance.” Ezekiel smiled.

Short Story Sunday 82

Second Chances Excerpt 1

For the month of November, my Short Story Sundays will be excerpts from my NaNoWriMo novel, Second Chances. Please keep in mind that while this has been proofread for my blog, it is still first draft material.

This is the first part of chapter one. Enjoy.

            I heard a man’s voice repeatedly tell me to open my eyes. I didn’t listen. I was too afraid of what I might see.

Everything around me was black. I didn’t know where I was, who I was with, or what had happened. My only clues were a man’s deep voice ordering me to wake up and that I must have been someplace cold.

My legs felt paralyzed. My arms were stiff and my face felt numb. Even if I wanted to open my eyes, it was hard to peel my eyelids apart. My chest rose and fell gently with each small breath I released from my swollen lips.

“Lesley…”

My name was being called again. I couldn’t react quickly enough to whoever was calling me. I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t look at the man.

“Lesley, it’s time to wake up.”

Was it morning already? How long had I been asleep?

“Now, Lesley.”

The man’s voice—whoever he was—became increasingly annoyed with me. His tone was firm as he ordered me to open my eyes. I wanted to tell him I couldn’t. I wanted to let him know that I could hear him, but I couldn’t speak.

“Come on, Lesley…” his tone was gentler now. He spoke softer almost as though he was my father trying to soothe my tears from falling off my bike.

I felt something press down on my chest. I let out a small groan at the pressure, but I still couldn’t speak. I didn’t know what was lying on top of me. I had no idea what was going on. I wanted to call out. I wanted to tell the man to stop, to leave me alone.

But all too soon, my body began to warm up. My legs twitched out of their paralysis, my fingers curling into a tight fist. My face tingled as it began to feel again. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter not believing that I was gaining control back over my body.

“There. That’s better, isn’t it?”

My eyes sprung open at the man’s relieved voice. My mouth gaped open as I drew in deep breaths. I had been breathing the whole time, yet I felt like this was the first breath I had taken in ages.

“Finally, you’re up.”

I turned my head to the right and gazed upon the man kneeling beside me. He grinned, baring his white teeth. He stood up, my eyes following him as he grew taller. From the ground, he looked as though he were about ten feet tall.

“You were a lot harder to wake up than you were supposed to be. I thought I had lost you.” He stretched out his hand to me like he was an old friend.

My bones aching, I bent my elbows and sat myself up. I grunted at the pain shooting through my body and winced.

“The pain will pass momentarily.”

I looked up at the man. His hand was still reaching for me. Not knowing what else to do, I took the kind gesture. He pulled me to my feet. I braced myself for more pain, but it seemed to disappear the moment he wrapped his hand around mine.

“There. I’m sure that feels much better.” He continued to smile and I stared back with a straight face, dazed and confused.

The man wore a white robe with a silver rope tied around his waist with a small bulge from his stomach. His feet were bare and his arms showed small muscles. His hair was brown and shoulder-length, tied into a ponytail. He had big, brown eyes that stared at me with hope.

I looked away from him, pulling my hand back to my side. I gazed at the surrounding area. I saw nothing. Everywhere I looked was white as bright as light. I looked down at my feet realizing that the man and I were standing on a long red carpet. I looked past the man to see where it led, but the carpet looked as though it went on for miles and miles. Maybe it never ended.

“I can see you have a lot of questions.” The man folded his hands together in front of him.

I drew in a deep breath and nodded my head. I looked at him again. “Where are we?”

The man looked down at the ground before responding. He then looked back up at me and frowned. “Do you remember anything, Lesley?”

“How do you know my name?” I narrowed my eyes. He knew who I was, but I had no idea who he was.

He chuckled nodding his head. “That’s a fair question. Allow me to introduce myself.” He placed a hand on his chest. “My name is Ezekiel. I am the one who saved your life.”

“Saved my life?” I raised an eyebrow in confusion.

“I’ve been watching you for a very long time, Lesley. So naturally I know who you are and everything one needs to know about you.” Ezekiel explained nonchalantly.

“That’s really weird.” I took a step backwards. I didn’t know where I was supposed to go if I were to try to run anyway, though.

“It’s weird at first, but that’s only because you don’t understand. Lesley, I am your Guardian Angel.”

Excerpt: Hunter

There are about five days left of Camp NaNoWriMo. I have hit 50k in my novel Hunter, but the story is far from being over.

I wanted to post an excerpt to you guys since you’re the one who voted for me to write Hunter for Camp in the first place.

I ended up deciding to post the whole Prologue. I think it’s a pretty decent teaser of how the story is going to unfold.

The prologue is when the protagonist, Cat, is just a baby so she’s not even in it. But you do get a good sense of her parents (and their relationship); especially her father, who is a huge character throughout the novel.

I haven’t worked out the timeline just yet. Cat is 16 in the first chapter, so you can imagine that the prologue is 16 years earlier… whatever year that may be.

Here is the summary of the novel in case of you don’t remember:

Cat Webber is the daughter of big-shot Cedric Webber, founder and owner of X-Terminate; a company that rids mutants off the streets to keep humans safe. Raised as a Hunter, Cat believes all mutants are bad simply because they’re different from humans. However, her morals are questioned when she gets to know some mutants; especially Brandon Hurst.

Brandon Hurst is a mutant who can teleport and bend time. He knows some secrets about X-Terminate and Cedric that Cat doesn’t know. Cat is curious to find out what Brandon may or may not know. It’s not until she discovers her father is killing off the mutants that Cat struggles with her choices: taking her father’s orders or standing up for what she believes is right.

Please keep in mind that the prologue was proof-read for typos and minor errors to be posted on here, but it isn’t edited. This is first draft material.

Enjoy.

            The house was quiet except for the rush of water pouring from the kitchen’s sink faucet. Steam rose from the bottom as the hot water slapped against the dirty dishes. The scent of dish soap wafted in the air as Christina Webber squirted a small dab of liquid soap onto a sponge. She wiped her forehead with her arm, careful not to let the rubber glove scrap against her face. The young woman scrubbed a dinner plate with all her might, sighing as she put it on the drying rack next to the sink. She looked to her left at the digital clock on the microwave.

9:10 PM. He was late again.

Christina grunted in frustration. She was getting tired of her husband always missing dinner. She picked up a baby bottle in the sink and scrubbed that clean. She stared at it before putting it on the drying rack. Her husband was not only missing dinner with his family, but he was missing out on being with their daughter.

It wasn’t until Christina finished washing the dishes that she heard the front door open in the other room. She took off her rubber gloves and placed them in the cabinet under the sink. Her husband would be getting no warm welcome from her.

A tall, stocky man entered the kitchen. He stood in the doorway watching his wife as she folded a dishtowel and placed it inside a drawer. She shifted her eyes trying to see her husband without actually looking at him, but she couldn’t see out of the back of her head. Christina finally gave in and turned around. She leaned against the counter staring at her husband leaning against the door frame.

“Cedric,” she said; it was the best greeting she could come up with.

“Good evening, Christina.” Her husband smiled. He walked towards her with his arms open wide readying for an embrace.

Christina turned her head and walked over to the stove. Cedric stood by the sink with his arms still stretched out for a moment. He frowned, slowly lowering his arms down by his sides.

“Okay… what did I do now?” he asked.

“How was work?” Christina replied wiping down the top of the stove.

“Busy,” Cedric teetered his head to the side as if he was trying to remember what happened that day. He walked across the tiled floor and sat down at the circular kitchen table. He folded his hands together resting them on the surface and watched Christina clean. “How was your day?”

“Fine,” Christina continued to give him the cold shoulder.

Cedric sighed. He scratched the top of his head wondering what to say.

“I know you’re annoyed with me, so just come out and say it.” He said through gritted teeth. He tried not to be angry with Christina, but he couldn’t stand it when she didn’t talk to him like that.

Christina paused in her cleaning and turned around. She leaned back against the stove glaring at her husband.

“What caused you to miss dinner again? I thought you were supposed to be home by six. I had a chicken cooked and ready to eat at six o’clock for you. I waited until 7:30 before I decided to eat without you.” Christina explained.

“I’m sorry. I should have called.” Cedric stood up from his chair and walked over to his wife, his arms stretched out again.

“Should have doesn’t cut it.” Christina glared at him. She walked away before Cedric could pull her into an apologetic hug.

Cedric took a deep, calming breath trying not to lose his temper. He knew Christina had a right to be angry with him; he just didn’t like it.

“I’ll call next time.” He stated.

Next time?” Christina turned around, her narrowed eyes burning into him. “There shouldn’t be a next time! Cedric, you leave for work at six in the morning. Why is it that you need to work over 12-hour shifts? You should be home by three in the afternoon when you leave so early.”

“Do you really think it’s that easy to run a company?” Cedric glared at her, his temper slowly getting the better of him.

“Just because you’re the owner doesn’t mean that you need to be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What about James? He can handle the company while you’re not there.” Christina countered.

“James is busy with other things I give him to work on. I can’t ask him to do everything.” Cedric shrugged his shoulders. “I’m the one in the charge. I have to do the big-boy work. Sometimes it takes all day.”

“Just sometimes? You have a life outside of work, you know. Or did you forget that?” Christina snapped.

Cedric swallowed a lump in his throat. He rubbed the back of his neck, turning around to leave the room. Christina shook her head in disgust knowing that he was running away from their fight.

“How old is Catherine going to be tomorrow?” she called right as he made it to the doorway.

Cedric stopped and looked at her. “Six months. Do you honestly think I don’t know how old my own daughter is?”

“Seven.” Christina corrected, her voice getting caught in her throat. “You’re daughter will be seven months tomorrow.”

“Right,” Cedric cleared his throat, “Seven. That’s what I meant.”

“Where have you been?” Christina whispered through teary eyes. She wiped her face and sniffed before any tears could make it down her cheeks. “You’re missing everything.”

“You and Catherine both will be thanking me 20 years from now. She’ll be  able to go to a good college because we can afford it.” Cedric narrowed his eyes.

“She’s seven months. Do we really need to think about affording college at the moment?” Christina asked softly.

Cedric grunted. He turned away exiting the kitchen. Christina closed her eyes, squeezing a tear out. She took a deep breath trying to compose herself when Cedric walked back into the room with an envelope in his hand. Christina opened her eyes as Cedric waved the envelope in the air.

“I noticed this on the coffee table when I walked through the front door.” Cedric stated.

Christina glared at him. “And you read it?”

“It was opened.”

“I don’t care. It’s a letter addressed to me.”

“Then don’t leave it out in the open next time.” Cedric shrugged.

“Why not? Is this not my house? I can’t leave my things anywhere I want?” Christina glowered at her husband. She wanted to raised her voice, but knew that would only make things worse.

“Why is Robert Acton writing to you?” Cedric demanded.

Christina narrowed her eyes trying to figure out what Cedric was getting at. “I used to work with him before I had Catherine. He writes me every so often asking how we and the baby are doing.” She answered quietly, cautiously. She didn’t know how Cedric was going to react; not knowing what was going through his head.

“You shouldn’t be talking to him. In fact, he shouldn’t even have a job!” Cedric hissed slapping the envelope down on the kitchen table.

Christina raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t want you talking to him anymore.” Cedric placed his hands on hips looking all around to room, avoiding his wife’s gaze.

“I’ll talk to whoever I want.” Christina countered standing straighter.

“You shouldn’t be associated with him in any way, shape, or form.” Cedric glared at her. Christina took a step back knowing this look on his face all too well, but she managed to stand her ground.

“He’s an old co-worker. He’s a friend.” Christina stated as calmly as she could, but her voice shook in the slightest.

“He’s a mutant!” Cedric raised his voice.

“He’s a human being.” Christina retorted. “So he may be a bit different from us, but he’s a person nonetheless.”

“Damn it, Christina!” Cedric shouted slamming his fist on the kitchen table.

Christina watched unblinking as her husband threw a temper tantrum. She didn’t respond, not wanting to feed into her anger anymore than she already did.

A faint cry came through the baby monitor sitting on the counter. Christina closed her eyes, groaning. She glared at Cedric shaking her head.

“You woke the baby.”

“You can go soothe her.” Cedric grunted. He sat at the table with his head buried in his hands. “You’re her mother and I’m apparently not a good father for trying to make money to provide for my family!”

The baby cried louder as he shouted again. Christina rolled her eyes at his dramatic speech. She walked across the kitchen floor to leave the room.

“Then while I’m soothing our child, you can get some extra blankets and pillows out of the storage closet.” She ordered as she left the room. “You’re sleeping on the couch tonight.”

Cedric glared at his wife’s back, but didn’t respond knowing her comment meant the argument was over. He picked up the envelope and took the letter out. His eyes glazed over the words re-reading Robert’s friendly conversation with his wife. He growled through gritted teeth before making it to the end of the letter. He tore the paper in half a few times until it was shredded into small pieces.