If you missed last month’s excerpt release, you can read it here.
This month’s excerpt is from Chapter 2: Undead. It introduces Camille, the main character, when she runs into an unwelcome visitor at her place of employment. Next month an entire chapter will be released, so check back soon.
Excerpt– CHAPTER 2: Undead
The warm breeze washed over me when I stepped outside to get in my mud-smeared jet-black Jeep Wrangler to head to work. I welcomed the heat, inhaled deeply to let it move down my nose and throat. It felt like blazing fire at first, awakening the long-dormant life hidden away in my haven of a body. I was more than thrilled that it was summertime, had missed the uncomfortable hot weather and all its humid glory. My tank top already damp with perspiration, I stuck to the leather seat, my moist hair blowing effortlessly in the wind. It felt raw. Real. Alive.
I jumped on the highway heading for Lafayette, enjoying the sunshine as I drove, though after a year and a half, I was tiring of the trip to the city every day. I lived in the Breaux Bridge area, but was majoring in Literature at Louisiana State University and worked in Lafayette too. There wasn’t much around my home except wide-open land, sparse neighbors, and a few family-owned restaurants and shops. I needed privacy though, and the rich French culture and history. A short commute to the city was a fair trade for my new life.
In the bookstore parking lot, I put the car into park, lifted up my aviator shades and took a last drag off my cigarette, scanning the lot for any sign of his car. I hadn’t seen him in over a week, and I was hoping he took me seriously this time.
His dark blue Ford pickup wasn’t here. I threw an oversized oxford work shirt over my tank top, always thankful that it covered a multitude of sins, and popped a piece of gum in my mouth, gave a final glance around before I headed inside.
“The new release table’s looking kind of barren, Camille dear,” an annoyingly pleasant voice chimed as I stepped behind the front counter to clock in. Carol, my supervisor, specialized in the completely unnecessary. She watched me walk in the door every day for the past year and a half and do everything she ever asked me to, and then some. She knew I was reliable, that I loved my job, yet she made at least one condescending comment a day to me.
“I’ll be right on it,” I sang back just as pleasant, grabbing a stack of books to take to the new release table.
“Don’t be too long now. I have other things for you to do this morning.” She tilted her gaudy, librarianesque eyeglasses down for a second to look at me and gave me her signature mother hen stare. Rolling my eyes as soon as I had my head turned away from her, I shuffled on over to the table to appease her.
When she was out of sight, I snuck off to the most important section for my weekly ritual. I skimmed through the Hoodoo spell books to find some new protection spells, then slipped into the back room to make copies. None of them had worked yet, but I was new to the whole conjure thing, so I was optimistic.
I tucked the new spells into my pocket while I headed back to the new release table, pondering when would be a good time to swing by the conjure shop.
“So what’s it going to be this weekend, dinner and a movie?”
The question came from behind me. My body tensed, my shoulders instantly feeling the greatest effect. I clenched my jaw and swiveled around to peer up at a poisonous, yet undeniably angelic-looking face.
“You know I hate it when you do this,” I said. “And this is hardly the place.”
Times like this, I was grateful I looked so serious all the time. That helped when I needed to appear angrier. But I couldn’t maintain my stare. I swallowed and looked down first, then back up.
“Well maybe if you didn’t hide away from me all the time and actually answered my phone calls, a visit to your place of employment wouldn’t be necessary,” he said. He smirked, stepped a foot closer to me. “I don’t know why you fight it darlin’, you know you’re all talk.” His whisper trailed off as his sinister smile widened. “We both know you’ll never be strong enough.”
Nausea overwhelmed me when he rubbed his hand on my arm, giving me goose bumps. My body flinched with disgust.
His prisoner, I fought the impending paralysis and blinked my eyes, stretched my fingers outward, reminding them of their function. There were people all around who could see this. I was safe. He wouldn’t be so stupid. Not here. A thousand creeping anxieties scattered through my consciousness.
“Nothing is going on this weekend, Andrew. And we both know that you are going to stay away from me.” I gritted my teeth, glancing left and right to make sure we weren’t making a scene. “I am strong enough. I’ve changed, and I don’t care if you believe that or not–”
He grasped my arm, leaning in to speak directly in my ear. His smoky green eyes bored into mine, appraising me. “Oh, I do believe you’ve changed darlin’. I believe you’re more afraid now than you have ever been. And that fear inhibits your ability to be strong, sweetheart. Whether you believe that or not.”
He let my arm go abruptly and kissed my forehead before he turned to walk away. I shuddered at the touch of his lips on my skin.
“I’ll pick you up at six on Sunday, then.” He didn’t bother turning back to look at me. “Oh — not this weekend, though. Next weekend. This weekend I’ll be out of town, have some things to take care of.” He pivoted his head around, winking at me. “You be good while I’m gone, now.”
Strolling out the front door, he left me like wounded prey to awaiting predators, hungry and ready to pounce.