Okay, you guys. I need to share this with you or I’m gonna explode.
My next novel, The Seventh Seed, has been going through my critique group, and as I weave in CP feedback, I’ve been getting super excited to see it turn into something I think will be really special.
It’s suspenseful. It has mystery and twists. Oh, and it’s the standalone sequel to The Fourth Descendant, so fans of that book will see some familiar characters and elements.
HAVE I MENTIONED YET THAT I’M SUPER EXCITED??
Critique partners finished with the first chapter a while back, so I asked my editor to pretty please tackle that one early so I could share it with you (this post has the first scene. Stay tuned for the entire first chapter as release day nears). He did, and outside of a few likely tweaks, Scene One of The Seventh Seed is fit for public consumption. I hope you enjoy it and are left wanting more.
Javier grabbed the headrest in front of him as the car peeled around another curve. Hale groaned, turning the wheel and keeping them from tumbling over the mountainside. Craning his neck, Javier strained to see the speedometer between the two men’s shoulders. They were already up to sixty.
He squeezed the edge of the seat. If these guys planned to get him to Missouri alive, this was no way to do it.
“Shit.” Hale steadied the wheel with both hands and pressed himself into the seat as he mashed the brake.
The car didn’t slow.
Oh God. Javier held his breath.
In the passenger seat, Sanderson fumbled for the seat belt. “What are you doing? Slow down!”
“I can’t!” Hale’s hand went to the parking brake between the seats.
Jaw clenched, Javier checked the speedometer again—almost seventy-five. This old car won’t do well in a crash.
It swerved into the oncoming lane.
A straight stretch of road appeared, and Hale gripped the brake. “Hold on!”
He yanked on the lever.
The car lurched forward. Javier’s seat belt pressed into his sternum. A bang and a jolt slammed him into his seat as the car resumed its race down the inclined road.
“Son of a—” Hale downshifted past second gear to first and when that only revved the engine, he squeezed the wheel as the car veered around another turn, heading straight for a van coming the opposite way. “Shit!”
Javier grabbed the headrest again. His heart pounded in his ears. The van’s horn blared and Hale yanked the wheel, sending the car over the edge.
It bounced over rocks and scraped trees, filling the cabin with a horrible cacophony of bangs, scratches, and yells.
Javier’s head smashed against the window. He yelled in pain. Black spots flashed in his vision.
Sunlight glinted off the new cracks in the tinted glass.
Javier stared out the windshield. When would they reach the bottom?
The trunk of a massive pine loomed ahead.
“Shit shit shit!” Sanderson held his hands out.
Hale jerked the wheel to the right.
Javier squeezed his eyes closed.
The groan of twisting metal and shattering glass covered the men’s screams. Javier’s seat belt dug into his chest. Then nothing but a hissing sound.
Opening his eyes, Javier ran his fingers over the stabbing pain in his forehead and the sticky trail coating his cheek and neck, ending at the wet patch on his collar.
The tree’s thick trunk rested against the dashboard on the driver’s side, having shoved the engine into the Hale’s lap and crushing him into an impossibly small space. Sanderson was gone. Bloody glass shards surrounding the hole in the windshield told how he’d left the vehicle. Hale would have been similarly ejected, if not for the tree.
Javier shook his head, sending a jolt of pain down the back of his neck and a wave of nausea through his stomach. Fatigue threatened to take him, but he couldn’t stay here. Another pair of men in another old sedan could show up at any moment to finish the job these two guys started.
Pulling on the handle did nothing, so he slammed the door with his shoulder. No good. Leaning across the seat, he kicked the cracked window until most of it broke free and fell to the ground. As he crawled through the opening, a remaining shard sliced his forearm. “Dammit!”
He tumbled over the glass and onto dry pine needles blanketing the ground. The gash on his arm oozed blood. Good. I’ll live. He trudged a few steps to the front of the car and froze.
Sanderson had saturated the forest floor with blood from a gaping neck wound. His bulging, dead eyes glared ahead.
Javier’s stomach lurched. He fell to his knees and threw up.
In the hours since the men had taken him from California, Javier had hoped to convince Sanderson to release him. Hale had been a hard ass. But Sanderson seemed conflicted about their task, as any reasonable human would when told to kidnap a young prodigy and drive him across the country. Javier had suspected Hale would kill him before reaching “the facility in Missouri,” as they had called it. Maybe this wreck was his attempt gone terribly wrong.
With his heart pounding, Javier rolled back onto his butt and squeezed his eyes closed while panting the chilled autumn air. Then a thought hit him: My case! He snapped around, sending another jolt of pain through him.
Rubbing his temple, he hobbled to the back of the car and pulled against the trunk lid. Locked, of course. He moved to the shattered driver’s side window. The key—and the entire steering column, for that matter—were indiscernible. Crap. Returning to his broken window, he eased back inside and examined the seat. These old cars sometimes had a way to access the trunk from here.
Gritty bits of glass mixed with the seat’s fabric moved over Javier’s fingertips as he felt around the space between the seat and the rear window. If there was a release, it would be in this area. Reaching around the back of the headrest, his fingers found a rectangular piece of plastic. He pulled at the edges until one gave way. A snap sounded, followed by the seat pushing against him.
Javier moved to the floor and lowered the seat back, revealing an opening to the dark trunk and more importantly, his silver case, glinting just enough in the feeble light.
With shaking hands, he wiggled it through the gap and lowered it out the window to the ground. Careful to avoid the glass, he slid outside, grabbed his case, and stumbled away from the car.
He walked alongside a river, hoping it flowed into a town. Maybe he would reach a friendly stranger before he passed out.