I’m now 26,000 words into No Greater Love, and I’ve written some awesome scenes, so I figured it was time to share some snippets. Enjoy!
Dylan sighed, rolled his eyes, and turned the rock piece that served as a knob.
“There,” he said. “It’s open. And I don’t know why it took you guys so long.”
He did, but since it was the same problem that plagued him, he wanted to cover up his own embarrassment by pointing out theirs. He didn’t know why he did it, since it made him feel even worse, but that was the way it was.
The door was open, but no-one made a move.
Oh, come on.
“Let’s go,” he said and led the way in.
Aaron followed after a moment’s hesitance, but Nathan took longer to accept the offer. Whatever. Dylan didn’t feel like waiting for him to make up his mind about whether he was going to bolt like a scared horse or come in. He would enter the main living area by himself, with Aaron, or all three of them. He cared little how it happened.
But it was going to happen.
How many times before had he walked through this tunnel? The floor was rough with little rock bumps and pebbles. It was cold, and dirt free, since it was swept every day. Dark as black fire, since they didn’t want any light to escape from the rock-posing-as-a-door, but flashlights were in a box about five metres in.
He grabbed one and flicked it on.
It took him his usual time – about fifteen minutes – to reach the inside door.
He let out a deep breath and then pushed the door open, his movements firm and decided. He glanced behind him and saw the beams from Aaron’s and Nathan’s flashlights a little ways down the tunnel. He would go in alone, not wait for the other two.
His entrance was greeted with surprised stares. ~Chapter 1
Zach grabbed his hand. “At home. Let’s go.”
Aaron half smiled and allowed himself to be led. His stomach felt all twisted up in knots, and his heart was pounding wildly. He’d imagined coming home a hundred times, but now that he was here, it was nothing like how he’d imagined. Nothing could have prepared him for the nervousness he was feeling.
Everything he knew of lay between him and reconciliation.
His fight with Dylan.
The horrible, heartless letter he’d left.
And now, finally, returning.
But it was too late to run away, or back out now, so he followed Zach, even though he still knew the way back to their apartments well. All he hoped was that in telling her and his father about how he had left Nathan and tried to help other Existents get home safely, they wouldn’t feel as badly toward him as he knew they did.
Zach pushed the door open. “Mom,” he called. “Guess who came home.” ~Chapter 1
“It’s silly,” he protested. “It’s a cliché. Everyone does it.”
“I know,” she said, grinning. “That’s why we need to do it. To continue the silly, clichéd, but very sweet tradition.” She took the pen knife out of his pocket and handed it to him. He reluctantly took it. Their hands brushed together for a moment before she pulled hers back.
They looked at each other for a moment, and then he went to the business of grumbling about the whole thing again. Inside, he was already resigned to doing it – perhaps even looking forward to it – but he wanted to make her laugh in an irritated way at him. To make her tease him into doing it.
“Well,” she prompted. “Are you going to do it, or not?”
“Not,” he said, hardly keeping the grin off his face.
She shoved him playfully. He shoved back.
“Listen, Dylan. I want this to be serious.”
“How can something that’s not even happening be funny?”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re going to do it. I know you.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Really?” he asked, in surprise.
With a sigh that was supposed to sound exasperated, he fiddled with the pen knife and finally got it open, after much grumbling and muttered comments under his breath. “Where do you want it, Your Majesty?” he asked, sending her a sideways smirk.
She pointed to a stretch of railing right next to her favorite spot with an immediacy that showed she’d been thinking of the whole thing for some time. It wasn’t a silly project to pass the time of day. For her, it was serious, so he decided to stop playing games and be as serious as possible too.
With a bit of grunting, just to show her how hard it was, he chipped out their names in the water spray softened wood. It was crooked and crude and some of the letters were hardly recognizable, but, overall, it looked fine.
She stared at it, a smile on her face.
“Thank you, Dylan.”
He smiled back.
“Oh, put the date in too,” she said.
He did so, and then asked why the date was so important.
“We can take our children here someday and show them, and-” She broke off, flushing bright red when she realized what she’d just said. They weren’t even engaged yet – hadn’t even talked about marriage, much – and she was already talking about their children.
In a way, though, he was glad she’d said what she did. It had showed him her innermost heart, and he was happy she felt that way, because he felt that way too. And that day, sitting in the light mist of the waterfall and looking at the shadowy rainbow made of weak sunlight and water, he promised to himself that one day, he would ask her to marry him. ~Chapter 1
David stalked out of the cave and walked deep into the forest that stood to one side of the hidden cavern. He had never killed any animals – deer, rabbits, foxes, or bears – choosing to practice on tree targets instead. But if his years of preparation were finally going to bear bloody fruit, he might as well begin with less than human targets.
Besides, his men needed meat.
Others had often shot animals, but never him.
For the hunt, he grabbed some plain wood arrows with sharp metal tips, instead of the highly advanced sonic-explosive arrows. Those were too valuable to be wasted on simply getting some food. He sometimes used them for tree targets, just to get used to the rush of energy they gave off as they were released, but not often.
Until a deer or two revealed itself, he would shoot off a few arrows as a relaxant. It always worked that way. He would get frustrated by some petty thing, too tired to care about anything anymore, or something of that sort, and then he would come out to the forest and shoot arrows. In his mind, a good leader recognized when he was over his head – or when his men were – and he would retreat to gather himself together again.
It was best for all parties concerned.
He sighed again and settled his back against a tree. He wanted to try the technique of bracing the bow with his feet and shooting. It was something he’d done only a few times before, mostly because he was terrible at it and he hated the feeling of missing his target. That was a bad attitude to take, but he couldn’t shake it.
Still, he wanted to try and failing again and again was the only way he knew how. ~Chapter 1
“David,” she gasped, as soon as she was able to speak again.
She laughed a little, but there was a strange look in her eyes.
Worry, perhaps even fear.
“What is it?” he asked, looking around. Everything was as it should be.
“Aaron is back.”
He stared at her for a moment, unable to comprehend what she’d just said.
“When?” he asked.
“A few days ago. He and Dylan returned with most of the Existents that were captured last month.” She laid a hand on his arm, her eyes full of concern. “What are you thinking?” she asked. Blond hair fell back from her face as she looked up at him. Her face was worried.
Did she think he would be angry with their son? ~Chapter 2
Something deep inside him warned against the water. It told him that being hypnotized by the stuff was dangerous, something that could result in injury, even death, but he didn’t heed it. The power of nature acted like a drug on his soul and mind, wiping away thoughts of pain and the ache of his heart.
He leaned even closer.
The thunder filled his ears.
Blood pounded in his brain.
Cool mist fell on his face.
And then he found himself slipping away, over the edge, into endless space.
A crack resounded off the cavern walls. ~Chapter 2
No matter what Callie said, he still didn’t trust Nathan.
He was willing to give the boy a try, not irritate him, and listen to him if he had to. But beyond that he still viewed Nathan as a dangerous antagonist, if not an outright enemy. A wrench in his plans. An undetermined quality in the chemical make-up of his home.
Callie stood in front of him, adjusting the pack straps.
“Come home safely, okay?” she said, eyes soft.
She said the same thing every time he left, but it never failed to fill him with confidence and determination. Confidence, because she believed he would come home, and determination, to prove her right and return next Saturday, just as always.
He kissed her.
“Take care of Aaron,” he said, just as he was leaving. “He worried about Dylan.”
“I know,” she said. “And I will.”
Then he was gone. ~Chapter 3
The rustling returned.
He glanced down at the ground from his elevated position. His hand tightened around the smooth wood and metal that made up the weapon. His breath came slow and steady. A figure stepped into the clearing.
It was Nathan, just as he’d expected.
The boy wandered around the camp for several minutes, disappearing into the cave two times. David drew back the taut bow string. His eyes followed Nathan’s every move. He had a clean shot. At any moment, he could take it. But he didn’t. He kept the bow’s sights firmly on Nathan’s head at all times, but he didn’t take the shot.
“Just go,” he whispered. “There’s nothing here.”
Nathan looked around the clearing once more, shrugged, and then disappeared back the way he came. David let out a long, deep breath. Good. That was over. The camp and his men were safe. If Nathan had taken the other path, he wasn’t sure whether or not he would have shot the arrow.
Even if he had, it wouldn’t have been to kill.
A hand, an arm, a leg.
That would have been the beginning and end of it all.
As it was, he was glad he hadn’t taken the shot.
He waited a few more minutes to make sure Nathan was truly gone, and then he eased himself down from the tree. He stretched his legs and arms, and then set off down the opposite trail towards his men. ~Chapter 3
When Callie went to check on Aaron the next morning, the door was open.
That was surprising, but what was even more surprising was the fact that there were three boys in the room, not two the way she’d left it last night. Dylan lay flat on the bed, as always. Aaron had scrunched himself up on the chair, probably trying to get comfortable in his sleep. He would at the very least have a sore neck when he woke. And Nathan was sprawled on the ground, with his back to the wall, and his legs out in front of him.
She stood just inside the room for a moment, looking at the trio.
All so alike, yet all so different. ~Chapter 4
Matthew ran his eyes over the new railing the next morning.
“What do you think?” Nathan asked.
The man didn’t answer right away. He walked over to the railing, and felt it, testing for any imperfections or weaknesses. He took the top board of railing in his big hand and pulled with all his might. The board didn’t move.
Nathan stayed silent through the whole inspection.
Finally, Matthew turned back to him. “It’s good work,” he said. A flicker of a smile broke through the thick, black eyebrows and straight mouth that normally made him look so formidable. It wasn’t a full commendation, but it was enough. Still, Nathan guarded his secret of repairs around the community.
He didn’t want to reveal everything, just because Matthew had given his approval to one job. But he couldn’t deny the satisfaction – even happiness – that swept through him because the man in front of him had approved of something he’d done. All his life, he hadn’t tried to win other people’s approval, and so he didn’t expect any.
Getting some was a new experience.
Matthew glanced over the railing once more, nodded to himself, and left without further word to Nathan. But this time, Nathan wasn’t offended. He grinned so wide his face hurt. Things were right in the world, at least for the moment. Now he’d go find something else to do. ~Chapter 4
Callie’s face was worried. “It isn’t just wanting to know where he goes, you know. They think he’s a traitor. Or, at least, they think that they think he’s a traitor. They say he told the queen all about the Existents and that’s why you were captured. All of you.”
“That isn’t true,” Aaron said, voice shaking.
He thought of Lily.
“The queen would never have done that willingly.”
She quirked an eyebrow.
“I know her. Sort of.”
“Be that as it may, they’re also angry about your father sending out the Existents in the first place. It was Matthew’s idea to begin with.” She drew her hands together. “And even though it was a good plan, and a necessary one, he was very reluctant to accept it. That’s why he always tried to have an older Christian go out with each one.”
She put a hand to her forehead for a moment and closed her eyes.
“Your father has always tried to keep everyone safe.”
“I know, Mom.”
“No. You-you don’t.” Callie took a deep breath. “He would do anything to keep everyone safe. Anything. He takes huge risks every day to do that. He’d sacrifice himself. He’d-he’d do more than he’s already doing. And that is why he can’t share where he goes with anyone. It would endanger everybody.”
For a moment, Aaron thought she would start crying, but she was stronger than that. “That’s why you’re worried about him so much,” he said quietly. She nodded. He stood there, thoughtful. “Thank you for telling me,” he said. “I should get back to Dylan now. We were talking.”
She nodded. “Please don’t mention this to anyone.”
“Of course I won’t,” Aaron said, smiling.
She gave his shoulder a quick rub, and then let him go. ~Chapter 5
What are your thoughts on these snippets? Do you need anything about them explained?