I imagine many of you are just here to read the first part of my new book. :) That's okay. I don't mind, really. I'm just glad the cover was appealing. Since it was the first "real" book cover I've done, I wasn't sure if it would catch attention. I'm happy to know it does.
Creating that cover was quite an experience for me, but it was really fun. I had to learn how to crop someone out so that it didn't look strange and to change the color of the eyes. :) I still have to finish the back of the book once I get the interior layout finalized. (And I can't do that until I have the rest of my snowflakes.)
Anyway, it's been a crazy week. My brother and sis-in-law signed a contract on a rental house last Saturday and my mom, sis and I spend two afternoons over there cleaning it. Today we'll probably be watching at least some of the kids while the others work on starting to move. Tomorrow is the big moving day. Everyone is eager to get into their new house. :)
Okay, I'll cut this short and let you get on with the story. :)
Through the Tunnel
It was all so quiet and still. Lissa drew in a long breath of the cold winter air and relaxed. The beauty of nature surrounded her. The awe inspiring slope of the rugged mountain in front, almost hidden behind clouds, seemed nearly close enough to walk to. Below the clouds, wearing their winter coats of snow, stood the towering pines and smaller, shorter deciduous trees. One tree in particular caught Lissa’s attention. It was a pine, tall and straight like the others, and holding heavy loads of wet snow, but its top was missing. There it stood, as grand as the others, yet it wore a scar which no other tree nearby bore.
“Probably snapped off in some storm,” Lissa mused, gazing at the tree for some minutes before dropping her eyes to the stone bridge below it.
The bridge, when one first glanced at it, appeared to be just another stone bridge spanning an icy river, but a second look showed three arches; the larger and most noticeable one was across the water, while smaller ones on either side, not as obvious, formed tunnels over the walking paths. Piled up on the walls of the bridge were layers of snow, mounded and white. Lissa smiled as she noticed that something or someone had knocked the snow off in a few places, and she wondered who had done it. Had it been knocked into the river, or had someone picked it up to eat? Shrugging, her gaze shifted.
The soft, almost musical melody of the river drifting its slow way between banks of snow was the only sound to be heard, and Lissa’s head, still pounding with the almost constant noise, clatter, and raised voices of a cabin full of people, felt relief, and the throbbing subsided to a dull ache. Along the bank before her, she could see ice had formed along the water’s edge. Rocks, each wearing a cap like the top of a cupcake piled with sugar crystals, dotted the bank and even stuck up through the ice of the river itself, as though the sugar piles were sitting on a silvery tray just waiting to be served.
A rumble sounded in the still air and Lissa glanced around before realizing the sound had been her stomach. “Those rocks are making me hungry,” she giggled to herself. Reaching down, she scooped up a handful of the pure, mountain snow and took a bite. With a sigh, she closed her eyes, reveling in the sensation of the powdery crystals melting into ice cold water in her mouth.
With a glance back the way she had come, Lissa hesitated, then, lifting her chin just a little, she resolutely continued on toward that alluring bridge before her. She knew she wasn’t yet ready to face the turmoil of the cabin again, and she didn’t think anyone would even miss her until supper time. Leigh might realize I am gone. The thought of her twin brother made her look back once more. Perhaps she should have told him she was going out. He might have liked to come along.
But then someone else would have heard, and before I could say anything, they’d either all be coming out and disturbing the quietness or someone would have forbidden me to go out. A slight frown came over her young face. For the seven hundredth time she wondered what life would have been like had she and Leigh not lost their parents when they were two. Bouncing around from one foster family to another for twelve years had been very difficult.
Tears welled up in her eyes, but she blinked them back and continued trudging through the snow toward that tunnel under the bridge.
The call rang out loud and clear in the stillness of the snowy mountains. Lissa recognized her brother’s voice at once and paused, sighing inwardly. She wasn’t ready to go back and face a lecture from Mrs. Grose nor the constant commotion of the cabins. Life had been better before the Grose family had decided to have a family reunion in the mountains. Now seven adults, five teenagers, and half a dozen noisy, crazy kids were sharing two cabins for a long three day weekend. Why couldn’t she and Leigh have been allowed to remain behind? After all, they weren’t a part of the Grose family. Not really.
The soft squeak of snow-boots stepping through the blanket of cold whiteness came closer. “There you are. Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?”
Lissa looked up at her brother. Though they were twins, Leigh was nearly three inches taller than she was and had the build of an athlete. “I would have,” she said, “but you were talking with Tony, and I was afraid of letting anyone else know I was going out.”
“You missed lunch.” It was all Leigh said as he shoved his hands in his pockets and started slowly forward.
“Didn’t anyone miss me? Except you, I mean.”
“Nope. At least no one said anything. Here, I brought you an orange.” Leigh pulled out a golden ball and handed it to his sister.
“Thanks.” Taking the fruit, Lissa slipped it into her pocket. She would eat it a little later.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t know. To the bridge first. I want to see the tunnel.”
The quiet of the winter afternoon was only broken by the soft sound of the twins’ footsteps in the snow as they neared the old stone bridge. Suddenly grabbing Leigh’s arm, Lissa whispered, “This is a tunnel to a new world. The entrance lies before us, and beyond–anything is possible. But we must enter holding hands and not speak a word from the moment we step foot inside this special passageway until we are out on the other side.”
Raising his eyebrows slightly, Leigh stole a quick glance behind them before pulling his gloved hand from his pocket. Sometimes his sister had the strangest ideas, and he wasn’t sure where she got them.
So, what did you think?
You want a little more next week?
How did I guess?