This is the second excerpt from my YA novel. It’s fairly early on in the story at a point where Triona is still getting to know Caleb. Don’t forget to comment at the end to win a signed copy.
â€œWhat metal glows like that?â€ I asked curiously.
Caleb smiled; it clearly pleased him that I was taking an interest in the story he was telling. â€œMagic.â€ He raised an eyebrow as if he was letting me in on a secret.
I giggled and wrapped my hands around his arm, resting my head on his shoulder. I remembered reading how even the oil on fingers could damage old pages, but Caleb didnâ€™t seem too worried.
â€œWhen Brigid made the sword,â€ he continued, â€œa piece of herself became part of it, as it does with all artists. Because she was a goddess, it made the sword extraordinary.â€
I nodded against his shoulder, enjoying breathing the fragrant scent that was uniquely him rising from his skin.
â€œEven the light had its purpose,â€ he said. â€œIt blinded whoever fought against it. They didnâ€™t stand a chance even before the sword struck them down. The story goes that when Brigid realized the full power it possessed, she wanted to destroy it, but she didnâ€™t know how. So she waited until Bres was asleep, stole the sword, and fled to Europe where she was killed, but not before she hid the sword, afraid her peopleâ€™s enemies would use it against â€” â€
â€œBut,â€ I cut in, finding a flaw in his story, â€œif the bearer couldnâ€™t be defeated, why would she need to do that?â€
Caleb stared down at the picture with a wistful expression. I wondered if Iâ€™d said something to upset him. He closed his eyes lost in reflection. I lifted my hand to his face and turned him to me. His eyes opened, but he was still far away. It was obvious he was lost in thought, and it made my heart ache for him. Finally, his eyes cleared and he started to speak again as if nothing had happened.
â€œOf course youâ€™re right,â€ he said, â€œbut as it turned out, Bres was a traitor to his own people.â€
â€œThatâ€™s another story completely.â€ He smiled.
I scowled up at him.
â€œI will tell you that story too,â€ Caleb conceded, â€œbut not today.â€
I tried to relax my expression so he wouldnâ€™t see my irritation. Iâ€™d agreed not to push him, but I wasnâ€™t sure how that applied to fiction.
â€œBack to the story,â€ he went on, his voice making butterflies flutter in my stomach. â€œBres didnâ€™t find the sword; it only reappeared years later.â€ Caleb closed the book and picked up the large square paperback he had also taken out, swapping them over and placing the leather book on the ottoman. He flicked through the pages and eventually opened the book wide. â€œHere.â€ He offered it to me.
I unwound my hands from his arm and took the book, laying it across my lap. It lay opened to a picture of a sword almost identical to the last. The only differences were in the artistâ€™s style, and the fact that the swordâ€™s name wasnâ€™t written below it.
â€œAnd?â€ I asked, still in the dark about the epiphany I was obviously supÂposed to be having, judging by the way Caleb was gazing at me knowingly.
He grinned and closed the book on my lap, and my eyes widened slightly. The title read The Legends of Arthur and Merlin.
â€œItâ€™s a tourist book I picked up in England some years ago. It contains copies of illustrations from as far back as the fourteenth and fifteenth century.â€
â€œAre you saying Arthur was one of these god people?â€ I gasped, flicking through the pages of the book.
â€œNo, of course not.â€ Caleb laughed like the concept was ridiculous. â€œMerlin was.â€
I wrinkled my nose skeptically. â€œOh, okay â€¦â€
His laughter stopped short, and his lips pressed into a hard line as he searched through the pages of the book he had just taken from me, finding the picture of the sword again.
â€œLook,â€ Caleb said, his jaw clenched as though he were forcing himself to get through this whether he wanted to or not. He pointed down at the illustration, jabbing sharply at the glossy page. â€œBoth swords were said to emanate light, both were said to be indestructible to any known forces, and both battle scabbards were said to protect the bearer, so why not?â€
â€œIs this what you do?â€ I joked, glancing at the picture again. â€œAre you one of those guys who dress up and go online to play Dungeons and Dragons?â€
Caleb took the book from me and slammed it shut between his palms with a thud. â€œNever mind,â€ he grumbled darkly.
It bothered him that I dismissed his theories so easily. I didnâ€™t know anything about ancient relics, so for all I knew he was probably right about the two swords being the same. But at the very least, I could listen to him talk about a subject he was obviously passionate about.
I placed my hand tentatively on his forearm. â€œIâ€™m sorry. Please tell me more.â€
â€œNo,â€ he barked.
â€œPlease, Caleb,â€ I pleaded. â€œI really want to hear the rest.â€ I really did, because for me to have triggered such a strong reaction, there must be more to this story. Maybe it was an analogy, or maybe he was trying to tell me something else completely, but I was pretty sure he had a reason for makÂing me listen to all this. â€œPlease,â€ I begged again, gazing up at him sweetly from under my eyelashes.
He grimaced at me before sighing. â€œOkay.â€ He was almost as defenseÂless against my pleading tone as I was against his. That was good to know.
â€œSo how did the sword get in the stone?â€
Caleb pursed his lips and studied my expression. â€œMerlin placed it there.â€
I narrowed my eyes. â€œSo youâ€™re saying Merlin really did exist and that he was a god?â€
â€œHe was an earthly descendant of a god, yes. Some books tell of his birth, that he was born after his mother had an encounter with a being that reÂsembled a human but was in fact not. Some even say his father was a demon.â€
â€œA demon!â€ Soul mates, heaven, and now demons.
â€œHe wasnâ€™t a demon,â€ he scoffed. â€œAnd his mother wasnâ€™t human.â€
My breath caught. I didnâ€™t believe in the boogieman as a child or read fairytales, even if Iâ€™d found my own Prince Charming. â€œCaleb, this all goes a bit over my head,â€ I admitted. I gestured, waving my hand over the book. â€œIâ€™ve never heard any of this stuff before â€” not that itâ€™s not interesting!â€ I hastened to assure him. â€œItâ€™s just that you take it all so seriously, almost like you think itâ€™s real and I â€” â€
Caleb blinked and stared at me. The puzzled look on his face was enough to stop me speaking in mid-sentence. â€œAlmost like I think itâ€™s real?â€ he said blankly. â€œWhat else would it be?â€
I laughed uncomfortably. â€œSee, thatâ€™s what I mean,â€ I said, trying to keep my tone light. I didnâ€™t want to offend him if he was really into this mythology stuff. â€œYou say things like that, but you have to let me catch up. I donâ€™t know anything about ancient swords, and obviously I donâ€™t believe in magic. Nobody believes in that anymore â€¦â€ I trailed off, feeling stupid. I should just let this go. Who cared if he was obsessed with some old sword that didnâ€™t exist? Everyone had a hobby of some sort.
Caleb looked at me incredulously. â€œYou donâ€™t believe in magic?â€
â€œNo,â€ I mumbled, twisting on the sofa to look at him. He pushed away from me and stalked across the room to look out the window. His shoulders were tense, but his back was to me so I couldnâ€™t see his face.
â€œThere have always been mysteries, since the dawning of time â€¦ Things that no human has been able to explain,â€ he said. â€œMagic isnâ€™t all about spells and potions. How do you explain us? All of the billions of people floating around on the planet, how do you explain how you and I found each other?â€
To be in with a chance to win a copy of Shades of Atlantis please leave a comment.