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I tried to wait, I really did. It would have only been 3 more days until I was supposed to post a sneak peek at the second book in The Riverbend Trilogy, Rapid Water. But, I just couldn’t do it!!!! There is still a final edit to be done but this is pretty close to the final manuscript. So, here it is, the first chapter of Rapid Water, due for full release on Kindle and Kindle free apps on December 15, 2012! Enjoy!

Chapter One

Sit and think, sit and think. Lena had been telling herself for weeks that she just needed to sit and think, to clear her mind of the cluttering thoughts that weighed on her. The weeks since Will’s injury had been a long blur of days, one after another, in which Lena made sure to take the time to just sit and think. She had spent time with her mother, sister, and even Will, but she hadn’t been entirely present. While her body was with them at home, in Kennerdell, her mind floated away regularly with worry and anxiety over everything that had happened and she spent countless hours reflecting on those events. What should have simply been a short visit had turned into something else entirely. Lena had been completely taken by surprise, a feeling she despised. She hadn’t felt prepared, organized, or efficient in weeks. Those were qualities she needed to survive, being prepared shielded her against unwanted surprises, organization and efficiency allowed her to keep her life simple. The new circumstances and emotions she now faced complicated her life beyond measure and complications were something that Lena didn’t deal with very well, complications were unwelcome.

The darkening sky rumbled above her as a cool breeze blew through her jacket, chilling her body. She could feel that a storm was coming in and that thought eased her mind a bit. Something was coming, something was going to happen, and she knew about it, expected it, she had heard a noise, seen evidence of what was about to occur, it was predictable and she would be prepared. If only the storm that had arisen in her life had carried with it such forewarning. Lena’s world had been spun around and turned upside down since returning to Kennerdell and she had not had any suspicion about what was coming at all. Sure she had her intuition and presumptions that coming home would be difficult and somewhat complicated, but Lena hadn’t had any idea that things would spiral out as they did. Her anxiety had been misplaced all along. Remembering the immense worry she had about telling her family that she had dropped out of school seemed so trivial now. What she should have been concerned about was the fact that her presence anywhere always seemed to carry a destructive nature. That she now had to live with the fact that her best friend and one of the most important people in her life had been severely injured and it seemed to be all her fault. That her father had left important work unfinished and she couldn’t manage to stay focused long enough to put it all together. Lena had just about given up on the mysterious gift that her and Will had been searching for, she just didn’t see a point in continuing. They had gathered a few facts and had little evidence but it hadn’t really led them anywhere so far and she feared any further involvement would wrap her too tightly in Kennerdell. Sighing deeply, the icy air filled her lungs, refreshing her spirit. She looked down at the cold, hardened ground that she sat upon, playing with the dark, crunchy leaves in her hands, crumbling them between her knuckles. Once the leaves had all but turned to dust she picked up another handful to pulverize. Lena thought she had to have been sitting in this spot for almost an hour by now. The air that rose from the cold ground numbed her legs but her mind was so dominated with thoughts about her predicament that the cold didn’t seem to bother her at all.

It was late October now and had been almost a month since Will had been shot by John Roberts. The weather had dramatically and quickly changed. The sunny and warm afternoons of September had passed and there was bitterness in the air now that only the approaching winter could bring. All of Lena’s plans to return to Georgia had been put on hold following Will’s injury. She couldn’t leave him yet, especially not after his confession of love for her as he lay wounded and vulnerable in the hospital bed. Lena had stayed here in Kennerdell to ensure his well-being and observe his healing process, but she had kept him at arm’s length. The last thing Lena wanted was to give him a false sense of hope for their relationship. She had been friendly with him though, friendly enough, just enough. She shook her head in disappointment with herself. Yes, she had been friendly enough to keep him hooked, friendly enough so that she did not have to risk losing him, but not so friendly as to return his love in the way he deserved. These past few weeks had been spent thinking and thinking with no course of action or plan. Thinking about Will and how much she would miss him when she did leave. Thinking about her mother and sister and the guilt she felt for not truly enjoying the time that she was spending with them. Lena couldn’t come up with a plan that would change anything, she couldn’t think of a solution to her problems and any ideas that did cross her mind would only further complicate matters. Staying in Kennerdell might make the other people in her life feel better, but that would only last a short time. Lena knew she would somehow wreak havoc upon Will Sundback’s heart, he would expect things from her that were normal from one to expect from another and she, being closed, cold, and  unable to give him love, would not be able to live up to those expectations. Her family would enjoy her presence but they too would have expectations that Lena couldn’t live up to and she would only cause them further disappointment. She wanted to leave Kennerdell, to escape back to Georgia, but she couldn’t do it yet. The short visit home had turned into a waiting game. She had to wait for Will’s injury to heal, wait for John Roberts to be sentenced, and wait until her mother would be comfortable saying goodbye. It wouldn’t be a forever goodbye, she would come back to visit now and then, but Mary had not seen Lena in two years until now and wouldn’t let her daughter leave that easily. Lena felt she at least owed her mother that much, to spend some more time with her before she would return to Georgia. So, she would just continue to sit, think, and wait.

She stared up at the smooth surface of the large gravestone that lay in front of her, as she had done so many times these past few weeks. Somehow, Lena felt comfort whenever she was at her father’s grave site. She knew she wasn’t actually close to him and that he wasn’t really there, it was only a placeholder of his memory. His body may be six feet underground, directly beneath the spot in which she sat, but he wasn’t there, his spirit had long gone. It was his spirit, his presence of optimism and excitement that she missed so dearly. She missed being able to feel those things coming from him. Now, she could not feel him around her anymore and she had not been able to since the day that he had died. It was truly the cold solitude of the small cemetery that made Lena feel comfortable rather than the idea of being near her father, it was a place where the same cold solitude she felt inside could blend in perfectly with her surroundings. She didn’t feel disconnected or out of place there. It was a place where her feelings weren’t strange or inappropriate; they were as they should be, cold, dark, and alone. She enjoyed the feeling and wondered to herself if that was terrible, that it was more comfortable for her to feel alone than to have to be connected with other people. Loneliness was a familiar and old friend to Lena that she would never easily let go, loneliness had a way of making life for Lena so much easier.

A cold and heavy drop of rain pelted her forehead. She didn’t move. Another hit her shoulder, and again, she didn’t move. Within minutes frosty sheets of rain began to fall upon her. Lena simply looked up towards the sky, closed her eyes and let the weather consume her. There was something she found so magnificent about weather, the way a storm or a change in the season could reflect her own emotions so perfectly. Breathing deeply, she continued to drink in the rain, the invigorating water refreshing her mind. She felt as though if she tried hard enough maybe she could just become a part of the storm, a violent turmoil of wind and rain, thunder and lightning. She wished she could be absorbed into the massive grey clouds that loomed above her and float away from this place. The cell phone in her pocket began to vibrate, surely her mother or Will calling, wondering where she was and what she was doing. Without even glancing at the screen, she slipped her hand into her pocket and pressed the ignore button. She had everything she wanted right there, in that cold, wet spot and had little desire to leave. Just then, a deafening boom sounded that shook the ground beneath her. The thunderstorm was in full force above her now and the loud sound didn’t cause her to flinch. Lena was unafraid; she was fascinated with storms and felt as though she were one with nature as it released its wrath upon the earth. Again, her pocket was vibrating, and again, she ignored the call. She wished everyone could just leave her alone, at least for a day. All of the love, concern, and care people showed for her irritated her sometimes, in fact, most of the time. Lena enjoyed being independent, she enjoyed solitude, she enjoyed depending on only herself. Just the thought of vulnerability repulsed her. She did not depend on or need anybody else. In fact, she didn’t want to need anybody else. She remembered a time when she needed someone. Glancing at the gravestone in front of her, she read the inscription, “Loving Father”. Yes indeed, he was a loving father. A loving father who she needed once, a loving father who she had depended on, a loving father who, suddenly, was not there anymore. She reminded herself that she did not need him anymore, she did not need anybody.

Her coat pocket shook against her waist again. Annoyed that she could not remain in her state of oneness with nature without interruption, Lena decided to head to the car. Besides, something might be wrong if someone was calling over and over again, there could be an emergency, though she doubted that was the case. Her mother’s definition of an emergency could simply be that she wanted Lena to pick up milk on the way home. Will, on the other hand, had been practically smothering her ever since the John Roberts incident, always wanting to know where she was and what she was doing. Though Lena appreciated that and understood why he was so concerned for her safety that didn’t stop it from being a great annoyance.  She slipped her hand into her pocket and hit the ignore button again, not wanting to take her cell phone out and have it get damaged by the rain, she decided she would check it in the car. She rose from her seat in the cemetery, instantly feeling disconnected from her mesh with nature, her match with solitude and anger. Upon standing, she walked up to the grave stone in front of her and placed her hand upon the top. Heavily, she sighed and whispered “Bye.” This was a usual custom for Lena when she visited this site, she was not crazy or insane, and she did not think she was actually speaking to her father. Still, somehow, she could never leave the cemetery without whispering goodbye. She thought that was partially due to the fact that she had never been able to say her final goodbye to her father in life.

She took her time walking to the car, reluctant to leave her comfort in this place. Looking around at the desolate cemetery, some grave sites were well-manicured, others overgrown with weeds, obviously long forgotten. She felt envy for those graves, the ones that were forgotten. She wondered how long it would be before she too could be forgotten. Most people feared such a thing but Lena felt a strange comfort in the idea, she sometimes longed to be forgotten or at the very least, overlooked. Life would be efficient again, clean and organized. There would be little to look forward to, but also little to worry about.

Once she settled herself into the white Trailblazer, she dried her wet face with some tissue she had found in the center console. Pushing the wet strands of her chestnut brown hair out of her face, she looked into the rearview mirror and reconstructed her messy ponytail, which had been her ordinary hairstyle for the past few weeks. After she was comfortable she pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. There were three missed calls, one from her mother and two from Will. Before calling them back she noticed the icon for a text message at the bottom corner of the phone’s screen. It was from Will. Lena opened the message and gasped in shock.

“John Roberts has been released. Come home now.”

 ###

Copyright 2012 Andrea Goodson

You may purchase the first book in The Riverbend Trilogy here

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