Skip to main content

Sweet Romance Reads: How do you celebrate accomplishments?

I’m at the Sweet Romance Reads blog and Facebook group talking about finishing my book and posting a poll about how you usually celebrate accomplishments. Check out the blog or Facebook group to weigh in!

Excerpt - Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

Captain's Log, Stardate 01.12.2009

Kiss
by
Ted Dekker and Erin Healy


Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.
I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend-how could I have forgotten him?-my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true-can it?

I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.

And even worse, I think they want to kill me.

But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?


Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.

After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion.

Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.

In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

Excerpt of chapter one:



KISS



Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)




Prologue



The view from my therapist’s window is unremarkable. Four stories down, the parking lot blacktop ripples under waves of Texas’s blazing summer heat. I stand here facing the view because it’s easier to look at than the two men in the office behind me. There is dear Dr. Ayers, the wisest old soul I have ever met. He might be eighty, judging by that wrinkled cocoa skin and his head of hair whiter than cotton, but he’s agile as a fiftyyear-old. My beloved brother, Rudy, is also here. He has kept me tethered to my sanity in ways that should earn him sainthood.

Rudy comes to these sessions because he knows I need him to.

I come—have been coming for weeks now—because I am trying to put the past behind me.

But today I am here because tonight I will see my father for the first time in five months. My encounters with Landon are hard enough in the best of circumstances. They always end the same, with flaring tempers and harsh words and fresh wounds. But tonight, I must confront Landon. Not about my past, but about his future.

Yes, I call my father by his first name. The distance it creates between us helps to dull my pain.

“So your dilemma,” Dr. Ayers says to my back, “is that you fear the consequences of confronting him could be worse than the consequences of staying silent.”

I nod at the pane of glass. “Of course, I’d rather avoid everything. Even Rudy thinks I should wait until I know...more. But if I’m right, and I don’t speak up now...” Why am I here? I have made a mountain out of a molehill and am wasting everyone’s time. I should drop this. “Landon probably won’t even listen to me. Not the way he listens to you, Rude.”

“He listens to you too,” Rudy says. Always looking for the positive spin.

The truth is, Landon does not listen to me. But Rudy, who is deputy campaign manager of Senator Landon McAllister’s bid for the United States presidency, is following in the man’s footsteps and so has his undivided attention. Also, Rudy doesn’t look a thing like our mother, as I do. Mama was a Guatemalan beauty with a café-au-lait complexion. I have had her personality and her looks since the day my head of thick black hair came in. Even today, I wear my hair short and windblown, the way she did. I have her leggy height, her long stride, her laugh.

Against all odds, our father’s recessive Irish genes won the genetic dispute over Rudy. As for me, I have always believed it is painful for my father to look at me.

“And I don’t think she should gloss over this,” Rudy says to the therapist. “I think Shauna should step very carefully. Avoid burning more bridges with Dad, if it can be helped. If she’s right, God help us all.”

I finally turn to look at my brother. “It’s not my goal to burn anything, Rudy, even though I’ll never have what you have with Landon.” This truth pains me more than the truth of what I’ve learned. And what I’ve learned, partial though it may be, is monstrous.

The tension headache that has started at the top of my spine spreads its fingers over the back of my head. The sickness I feel right now might come from what I suspect, or it might be rooted in my certainty that he will reject me again tonight.

Yes, I’m pretty sure that I am nauseated by the prospect of another rejection.

I’ll never forget the first time my father turned his back on me, though the second time was more painful, and though all the times since have clumped together in a unified throbbing heartache.

Rudy was the unwitting cause of Landon’s first abandonment. My brother came into the world when I was seven, and our mother died nineteen minutes after his birth. I remember not being able to breathe when I heard she was gone. I honestly thought that I might die those first few hours, my mother and I both dead in the same day all because of this baby boy.

My father said it was God’s fault, though he seemed to blame Mama’s passing on me. I guess I was the more tangible target.

After Mama’s doctor delivered the crushing news, my father turned away mumbling something about my uncle and carried Rudy out of the hospital without me. Uncle Trent found me two hours later, hiding behind a chair in the waiting room.

Truth not only hurts, it shames: at the time, I wished Rudy were dead. The day I stood at the head of Mama’s casket, I wondered what would happen to Rudy if I covered his squalling face tight with that silky blue blanket. Wishing that the balance of the universe might require Mama to come back.

It took just one night for me to understand that Rudy’s heart had been broken into more pieces than my own. The tears he cried for Mama came from some well that would not dry up. That night I fed him a bottle of warm milk and took him into my bed, promising to keep Mama’s memory alive in this little boy who’d never met her.

I’m twenty-eight now, and I have long since realized that the wounds of rejection do not heal with time. They reopen at the lightest touch, as deep as the first time they were inflicted. The pain is as real as flash floods in the wet season here in Austin, overwhelming and unstoppable.

The pain, even when I can successfully numb it, has kept me at a distance from people and God. Now and then I consider the irony of this: how it came to be that my mother’s God, who once seemed so real and comforting to me, managed to die when she did.

So many deaths in one night.

And here I am, expecting yet another tonight. The death of hope. For most of my life, hatred of my father and hope of gaining his affection have lived in stressful coexistence behind my ribs.

I’m crying and didn’t even notice I had started.

Dr. Ayers’s voice is gentle. “Do you believe your father is culpable in this matter you are investigating?”

The question behind the question stabs at the tender spot in me that longs for Landon’s love. Do you believe your father is guilty of anything more than hurting you? Do you care about truth or only about the past?

Somehow I care about both. Is that possible?

“I believe he is capable. More than that . . .” I sniff. “I don’t know yet. Very soon, though, I will. Very soon.”

Dr. Ayers leans back in his leather chair and folds his wrinkled hands across his slender stomach.

“Tell me: what do you want this confrontation to do for you?”

Several possible answers rush me. I want to be wrong, in fact. I want Landon to tell me that none of what I suspect is true. I want my father to reassure me that I have nothing to worry about, that he is an upright man who would never do anything so foolish, so hurtful. Nothing like what he has done—

Rudy’s eyes bore into the side of my head, and the truth of what I really want punches me in the stomach. I step to my chair and sit.

“I want to bring him down,” I say before I think it through. “I want him to know what betrayal feels like. I want to get him back.”

My tears turn into sobs. I can’t help it. I can’t stop.

Rudy places his hand on my knee. Not to urge me to stop bawling, but to remind me that he is by my side.

Hatred for my father did not become a part of my life until the second time he turned his back on me.

I was eleven. Patrice had been my stepmother for three days when she took over my upbringing, with Landon’s permission. He claimed Rudy and she got me.

Her style of parenting, if it can be called that, involved locking me in closets and burning the scrapbooks my mother had made me and refusing to feed me for a day at a time. As I grew I quit trying to make sense of such behavior and simply became more defiant. She responded by graduating to more extreme measures. There was no hiding our animosity for each other.

I suspect I reminded her, too, of my mother.

When she turned brazen enough to beat and burn me, though, I broke down and told Landon. I showed him the triangular burns on the inside of my left arm, imprinted by Patrice’s steam iron for my failure to pull my clean clothes out of the dryer before they wrinkled.

Landon handed me a tube of ointment and turned away, saying, “If you ever go to such lengths to lie about my wife again, I’ll bandage those myself. And you won’t like my touch.”

My wife. He had always called Mama my love.

Dr. Ayers makes no attempt to calm me. He has said before that crying is the best balm. Eventually I fumble through my mind for the words to justify what I have said.

“If Landon pays for what he’s done, I’ll get closure.”

“On what?” says Dr. Ayers.

“On my past.”

He takes a few moments to respond. Rudy produces a tissue out of thin air and I try to compose myself.

“So you’re saying that closing yourself off from your past is what you need in order to move on with your life.”

There is more than an attempt at clarity in Dr. Ayers’s tone—a challenge perhaps.

“Yes.” I swipe at my nose with the tissue. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. I want to put the past behind me.”

“By inflicting on your father what he has inflicted on you. By betraying him, you said.”

“No. By forcing him to remember me.”

“Ah! I see. So when he remembers you, then you will have accomplished your goal and can forget your past.”

His words fill me with confusion. The way he says it, I have this all wrong. But in my mind, my goal is—was—clear. Isn’t that how it works? Deal with the past, get justice, make the pain go away?

“Something like that,” I say.

Dr. Ayers nods as if he sees everything clearly now. He rises and comes around the desk, propping himself against the front of it and leaning toward me.

The doctor reaches out with an aging hand and touches my shoulder. “Would you mind if I gave you an alternative theory to consider?”

Honestly, I have no idea.

Dr. Ayers straightens. “It is possible that your plan will only root you more deeply in the pain of your past, not separate you from it.”

My confusion mounts. “So how do you suggest I put my past behind me?”

“It is behind you, dear. And that’s where it will be forever. You can’t make it vanish—”

“But I want to. I believe I can.”

“By creating more pain? The mathematics of that isn’t logical.”

“I can’t just ignore it!”

“No, that’s true.”

“But you think I shouldn’t confront Landon.”

“Oh, I’m not making any judgment about what you should do, Shauna. I’m only talking about your motivations. What do you really want?”

“To forget. I want to forget every single, stinging moment that was inflicted on me by people who were supposed to love me. I want someone to take these memories away from me.”

Dr. Ayers wags a finger in my direction, smiling. “I felt that way once.”

I take a steadying breath.

“You know I used be a reverend before I began helping people here?” He gestures to the modest office.

“Ministry of a different but no less valuable kind. Got thrown out of my pulpit by some folks who said they loved God but hated his black children. I spent a lot of years feeling the way you do now—that if I looked far and wide enough, I’d find a way to erase both the blight of my memory and the stink of people I held
responsible for my pain.”

He leans forward again, encroaching on my space. “But I discovered something better. Shauna, your history is no less important to your survival than your ability to breathe. In the end, you can only determine whether to saturate your memories with pain or with perspective. Forgetting is not an option. I tell you the truth
now: Pain was not God’s plan for this life. It is a reality, but it is not part of the plan.”

I exhale. “God and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms. Especially not about his plans for my life.”

“Pain or perspective, Shauna. That’s all that’s within your control.”

I drop my head into my hands, feeling more certain than ever that absolutely nothing is in my control.

* * *
In spite of Dr. Ayers’s warning, I decided to talk to Landon tonight. Regardless of the outcome—closure for me or more pain for him—I hoped the truth would count for something.

Instead, when the moment came, I tripped all over my words. Landon’s larger than life and had the upper hand from the outset. Instead of staying on topic, I took offense at something he said. I can hardly remember now, something about a man’s world, and when I tried to set him straight he cut me to the floor with
a few harsh words.

So here I am once again, driving fast through the night on a rain-slicked road away from yet another argument with Landon. And as he has so many times before, Rudy has come along to calm my explosive temper. He is smiling slightly at my ranting. Sometimes I think he finds me entertaining.

The hum of tires kissing asphalt through water soothes my anxious heart. “I don’t know why I let him roll over me like that, Rude.”

“You handled yourself just fine. I thought you showed remarkable restraint.”

“But not enough.”

“Okay, not enough.” Truth does not make Rudy flinch. My car follows a downward slope onto a bridge, pointing me east into Austin.

“Underneath it all, Dad worries about you, you know.”

I look at Rudy. No, no I didn’t know. Just as Rudy doesn’t know about my scars from Patrice’s iron.

I’ve told Dr. Ayers, but not Rudy. He and Patrice get along.

“What does he worry about?” The relative unsafety of my little car? The condition of my heart?

My heart is even more mangled than the skin under my arms.

So why have I never stopped wishing? Wishing that Landon would only—

“Watch out!”

Rudy’s cry comes at the same moment that glaring lights from another vehicle blind me. It all happens so quickly that I don’t have time to think about swerving or stopping.

A horn is blaring, and voices are screaming, and then the terrible sound of metal smashing into metal.

Daddy . . .

This is the last plea for help that fills my mind before the world ends.

* * *

He shifted his cell phone to the opposite ear and stared at the hospital entrance through the windshield of his car. The parking lot lights were still on, though dawn had broken the horizon behind him.

“She was in surgery six hours,” he said. “Internal bleeding.”

“Where is she now?”

“Private room.”

“But still in a coma, correct?”

“Yes.” Ironic that Shauna McAllister had dodged death only to end up in a coma. “I can get to her easy enough now. She’ll be dead within the hour.”

“No. Change of plans. Our hands are being forced. I’ll explain later, but for now she stays alive.”

“She’s too big a risk to just—”

“What’s her prognosis?”

“Too early to tell. She could be in a coma for a day or for a year.”

“Or forever. Even if she comes out, she could have brain damage.”

“Yes, that’s possible.”

“So she stays alive for now. She’s not a threat as long as she’s unconscious.”

“And when she comes around?”

“With any luck, she’ll forget everything.”

“I don’t do business with luck.”

“You will today. Like I said, our hands are being forced in this. Her condition buys us time. I’ll call Dr.Carver; he’ll have options for us. If we have to change course, we do it later.”

“What if she remembers?”

“If she remembers, she dies.”

Popular Posts

Bethany House Publishers Cover Survey Invitation

Captain's Log, Supplemental I just got this from Bethany House Publishers: Hello Reader, We at Bethany House Publishers appreciate our readers opinions about the books we publish. Occasionally, we seek your input about upcoming products. Currently, we are conducting a survey about the cover image for an upcoming novel. For your time, we are offering a giveaway in conjunction with this survey. You will be able to choose from ten recent Bethany House novels, and there will be ten winners. Winners will be notified within two weeks. Click here to take the survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete. Thank you for your participation, and feel free to forward this email on to your friends or link the survey on your website. The survey will be available through Monday, September 17. Thanks for your time and your opinions. We value your feedback. Sincerely, Jim Hart Internet Marketing Manager Bethany House Publishers

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Save the Date - Camy's Patreon Launch

My Patreon will launch in 1 week! I took all the results of the poll and I have hopefully created fun and appealing tiers. About my Patreon: I'm trying something new for the next 6-7 months. If it works, I'll continue, but if I end up not liking it, I'll stop it in September or October. I will be starting a monthly subscription membership on a new Patreon account. I will be posting the chapters of my current book ( Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 7 ) so you can read ahead of when the ebook will be edited and published. My current plan is to post 1-2 chapters weekly. One reason I’m switching things up is that I want to get closer to my readers and build a tighter, more intimate community with you. You can comment on each chapter of my book, give a reaction, ask a question, or even correct mistakes. My books will become a dialogue with you. If you subscribe to my Patreon, you'll be charged monthly and have access to all the benefits for the tier you subscribe to. The

「戌年」連載小説 第8章

キャミー・タング著「戌年」連載小説 プロのドッグトレーナーであるマリ・ムトウは、厄年を迎えている。 犬小屋と訓練所の改築をしながら、いつも不服そうにしている家族と同居することになった。母と姉に言わせれば、犬の毛とよだれかけにまみれる仕事は、家族にとって恥ずべきものだという。彼女は元カレを説得し、数ヶ月間犬を預かってもらうことにした。しかし、彼の兄は、数週間前に彼女が誤って車に追突した、怒り狂ったセキュリティ専門家であることが判明する。 アシュウィン・ケイトウは十分な問題を抱えている。叔母が玄関先に現れ、同居を希望している。彼は彼女にすべてを借りているので、断ることができません。母親が家を出て行った後、ネルおばさんはアシュウィンと弟を引き取り、愛のあるキリスト教の家庭で育てた。しかも、弟のダスティもアパートを追い出され、居場所を求めている。しかし、彼は犬を飼っている。そして、その犬の飼い主は誰だと思いますか? しかし、旧友でオアフ島のノースショアでデイスパを経営する私立探偵のエディサ・ゲレロから依頼を受ける。マリの施設で奇妙な破壊行為があり、3年前に失踪したエディサの妹の財布を発見する。エディサはマリが危険な目に遭っているのではと心配する。警備の専門家であるアシュウィンがすでにマリを知っていることを知ったエディサは、忙しい若い女性を密かに監視することを彼に依頼する。 アシュウィンは、活発でのんびりとしたドッグトレーナーに不本意ながら惹かれていく。彼女は、幸せそうな母親を思い出させる。その母親の裏切りによって、彼は人と距離を置くようになったのだ。マリは、アシュウィンの冷たい外見を見抜き、彼が家族に忠実な男であることを認める。彼は、彼女のキャリア選択を批判するだけの母親や姉とは違う。 マリのバラバラな家庭とアシュウィンのバラバラな家庭の中で、過去を隠そうとする人たちから、彼らの周りに危険が迫ってくるようになる。彼らは、影で動く秘密に光を当てることができるのか? 過去に発表されたパートへのリンクはこちら。 *** 第8章 - 恐ろしくも真っ白な不動産書類 『みんな仲良くできないのかな?』 マリは無用に力を込めて箱に本を投げ入れた。最近、なぜ彼女は人生の中で全員と言い争いをしているのだろう?もしかすると、これは本当に悪いアイデア

Tabi socks, part deux

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.25.2008 (If you're on Ravelry, friend me! I'm camytang.) I made tabi socks again! (At the bottom of the pattern is the calculation for the toe split if you're not using the same weight yarn that I did for this pattern (fingering). I also give an example from when I used worsted weight yarn with this pattern.) I used Opal yarn, Petticoat colorway. It’s a finer yarn than my last pair of tabi socks, so I altered the pattern a bit. Okay, so here’s my first foray into giving a knitting pattern. Camy’s top-down Tabi Socks I’m assuming you already know the basics of knitting socks. If you’re a beginner, here are some great tutorials: Socks 101 How to Knit Socks The Sock Knitter’s Companion A video of turning the heel Sock Knitting Tips Yarn: I have used both fingering weight and worsted weight yarn with this pattern. You just change the number of cast on stitches according to your gauge and the circumference of your ankle. Th

I GOT A 3-BOOK CONTRACT WITH ZONDERVAN!

Captain's Log, Supplemental My agent called me today with the great news! Zondervan has contracted me for another three books! Right now, they’re all stand alone books—not a series. The first book is slated to release May 2010 and is tentatively titled The Year of the Dog (they’ll probably change it). It’s a women’s contemporary novel. Here’s the back cover blurb from my proposal: Tessa Ota, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While moving ahead with renovation plans for her new dog kenneling and training facility, Tessa needs to move in with her disapproving mother and her antagonist sister. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate engineer whose car she rammed a few weeks earlier. Charles Bretton has enough problems. His mama has just shown up on his doorstep all the way from Louisiana, and his brother has to move in with him after being kicked out of his apartment—with a dog in tow. And guess who

Toilet seat cover

Captain’s Log, Supplemental Update August 2008: I wrote up the pattern for this with "improvements"! Here's the link to my No Cold Bums toilet seat cover ! Okay, remember a few days ago I was complaining about the cold toilet seat in my bathroom? Well, I decided to knit a seat cover. Not a lid cover, but a seat cover. I went online and couldn’t find anything for the seat, just one pattern for the lid by Feminitz.com . However, I took her pattern for the inside edge of the lid cover and modified it to make a seat cover. Here it is! It’s really ugly stitch-wise because originally I made it too small and had to extend it a couple inches on each side. I figured I’d be the one staring at it, so who cared if the extension wasn’t perfectly invisible? I used acrylic yarn since, well, that’s what I had, and also because it’s easy to wash. I’ll probably have to wash this cover every week or so, but it’s easy to take off—I made ties which you can see near the back of the seat. And

Chopsticks and knitting

Hahahahaha! My husband, Captain Caffeine sent me this cartoon. The Asian and the knitter in me loves this one: My parents taught me to use chopsticks at an early age so they’re pretty comfortable for me. Did you know there are differences between Japanese and Chinese chopsticks? The Chinese ones tend to be blunter and more slippery whereas the Japanese ones are pointier and sometimes have a textured tip to make it easier to grab food. My mom will eat salad with a chopstick, which I have to admit is a bit easier than a fork, for me. Any of you knit? Any of you use chopsticks?

ICRS, part 2

Captain’s Log, Stardate 07.14.2006 For all you writers —check out my Story Sensei critique service Summer Sale ! Ends tomorrow! Blog book giveaway: My Monday book giveaway is ARMS OF DELIVERANCE by Tricia Goyer. My Thursday book giveaway is TANGLED MEMORIES by Marta Perry . You can still enter both giveaways. Just post a comment on each of those blog posts. On Monday, I'll draw the winner for ARMS OF DELIVERANCE and post the title for another book I'm giving away ICRS, part 2 (continued from part 1 ): Sue Brower had invited me to the Christy awards that night and I was so thrilled to get to go. Everyone looked gorgeous. I’ve never seen Brandilyn Collins or Meredith Efken in anything besides jeans before. I hadn’t seen Sue Brower in two years and I was deathly afraid I wouldn’t recognize her, but Wendy introduced me and saved me from doing anything remotely stupid like, oh, walking past her. Sue immediately slammed me with the big dogs—she introduced me to the VPs of sales and

Sweet Romance Reads: How do you celebrate accomplishments?

I’m at the Sweet Romance Reads blog and Facebook group talking about finishing my book and posting a poll about how you usually celebrate accomplishments. Check out the blog or Facebook group to weigh in!