Advance Excerpt From My Novel, SAWTOOTH
Well, folks, I’ve been tagged.
Writer, runner, mother and lawyer, E. L. Farris, has graciously pegged me as one of seven authors to share an excerpt from a work in progress, known in the writing world as the WIP. The tag is called the Lucky 7, and like most things that get passed around, Lucky 7
has its own set of rules. Here’s what you are supposed to do:
Open your WIP and:
1. Go to page 77.
2. Go to line 7 on that page.
3. Copy the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs as they are written.
4. Tag 7 authors who also have Works in Progress.
Life Beyond LITTLE 15
For me, this comes at a good time. The last few months have required me to have a laser-fine focus on promoting LITTLE 15 and rightly so. Now that I’m a published author, no longer can I just hide behind my computer screen and indulge myself in the creative writing process for hours on end. Instead, now, I must get out there, connect with my readers and build my fan base. It’s an entirely different ballgame of social networking, speaking engagements and blogging. Although I’m enjoying very much this long-needed expansion of my career, I feel as if I’m starting to neglect what got me here in the first place – my writing. Believe it or not, there exists other compelling characters and stories in my repertoire besides LITTLE 15. In fact, I have an unpublished novel patiently waiting in the wings to lure you into its world. I call it SAWTOOTH and it holds a very special place in my heart; not only because it was the very first one I wrote, but also because it helped me land my agent, Evan Fogelman, which in today’s competitive publishing landscape, is extremely hard to do. On a much deeper level, though, SAWTOOTH in itself has been life-changing for me. In writing it, you see, I realized that God gave me the gift of storytelling – and the capability and strength to write and finish an entire 85,000 word novel. And that, my friends, has had a profound effect on my life as a writer, artist and individual.
SAWTOOTH: A Dark Tale of Love Lost and Love Found
I describe SAWTOOTH as a break up gone bad. Like really bad. I’m talking psycho bad. In fact, one early reader of the manuscript told me that he was actually frightened to go to bed afterward. The protagonist of this story is 29-year-old Elena Feather, a public relations professional and running enthusiast (just like you, El!). The novel opens with Elena’s world falling apart as she catches her long-time boyfriend, Jackson, with another woman. Soon after, Elena nearly gets raped by a client. Tired of being pushed around and wanting revenge, Elena sends out a phony news release exposing her no-good client, which inevitably leads to her firing. In the aftermath of her broken life, Elena gets a call from her estranged great-aunt, Ruth Youngblood, who offers her $50,000 to ghost write her memoirs. The catch? Move to the small farming town of Sawtooth, Texas. Jobless and heart broken, Elena takes the offer and uproots her life in Dallas to live with her great-aunt Ruth, who, the last she heard, was a raging alcoholic. In the excerpt below, we find Elena on the night before her move to Sawtooth, doing last-minute packing. So without further adieu, I give you taste of SAWTOOTH © May 5, 2012 Stephanie Saye.
With that, Elena tossed the junk mail onto the trash pile. A faint knocking then drew her attention to the front door. Must be Jodi returning for another goodbye hug she thought, as she jockeyed around the moving boxes in the living room. She swung open the door to find Jackson standing on the other side. Dumbstruck, she stared at him without saying a word, until Otis sprinted between her legs and out the front door.
Together, Jackson and Elena ran after Otis following him to a bush nearby. When they caught up to him, Otis was in the midst of pouncing on a bug, which he quickly devoured in a gulp.
“Gross, Otis. You’re disgusting,” said Elena, breathlessly as she scooped up the runaway feline into her arms. Otis yowled in protest, struggling to break free of her arms.
“Is he okay?” asked Jackson, as he stood looking helpless on the grass. The sound of his voice sent Elena crashing back to reality, although she didn’t turn to acknowledge him standing only a few feet away.
“Of course he’s okay. He just got out. That’s all,” snapped Elena, as she turned and walked passed Jackson, carrying Otis up the porch steps to her apartment.
“Can I come in?” Jackson said sheepishly.
“Sure. Why not.”
Otis’ breakout had actually helped ease the tension a bit. Jackson stood in the doorway with his hands on his hips, moving his eyes over the harvest of boxes and packing tape scattered around the living room. The beige carpet took on a lighter shade in places where a cream-colored sofa and love seat once sat. His eyes looked drab and sunken from a long day at work or a sleepless night, but he remained ruggedly handsome nonetheless. He wore a white button-down shirt and black pants plagued by wrinkles – uncharacteristic of his usual crisp appearance. Elena picked up where she left off in the kitchen, cleaning up the remains of Otis’ countertop massacre of the mail. She felt the urge to bite her cuticles. She thought better of it and decided to break the silence instead.
“Hey, can you close the door. I don’t want another breakout attempt.”
“Oh sure, sure,” said Jackson, jumping to her request. “Can I help you with anything?”
“No, I got it, thanks,” she said coolly.
Another awkward pause. Tired of his impish game, Elena threw down the packing tape in a huff and gave Jackson one of her steely looks.
“So what is it that you want?” she barked, with her hands on her hips.
Jackson fidgeted. “Well, I just thought … I just wanted to come by. You said you needed your things from my house.”
Although she knew they were through as a couple, deep down this wasn’t the response she was hoping for.
“Everything’s in the car,” he added.
“Thanks. I’ll go out and bring it in. I want to get an early start tomorrow.”
Elena headed for the door.
“Wait,” said Jackson, catching her by the waist. “Can we just …well… talk for a few minutes?”
“About what?” said Elena, forcefully removing his hands from her hips. “There’s nothing left to discuss.”
“I don’t know, like what you’ve been up to and how you’re doing. We just haven’t talked that much since…” Jackson’s voice trailed off as his eyes angled toward the floor.
“That’s not my fault.”
“I know it’s not.”
“Not communicating or seeing each other is the consequence for what you’ve done.”
“I know but I don’t like it.”
“It doesn’t matter what you like anymore.”
“I know. I made a mistake.”
“It’s not mine to fix. You made a choice.”
Elena started again toward the door.
Jackson grabbed her arm. “Please, Elena. Just talk to me.”
“Jackson, you can’t do this to me.” Elena could feel herself tremble from his touch. Her pulse raced as she felt a lump form in her throat.
“Look, if I could fix everything I’ve done, I-I-I’d give anything, anything to make things the way they were. You are everything. I mean, I just want to die!”
Jackson placed his hands on her arms and pulled her into him, burying his face in her breasts. Reluctantly, she surrendered, letting him envelope her body into his. His full weight shuddered against her and tears spilled from his eyes – an emotional response that Elena had never seen from him before. Within moments, his tears turned to sobs, as he slid to the floor, clutching her as if holding on for dear life. Conflicted, she rested her pale, freckled hand on his head and gently combed through the sea of black curls with her fingers, all the while denouncing her longing for him. Inaudible murmurs of desire, sorrow and despair spilled from Jackson’s mouth. Elena let herself slide down through his arms until their eyes, heavy with passion, paused to meet one another. And just as fast as they had torn apart, Jackson and Elena fused together – like waves crashing on a shore.
In the afterglow of their lovemaking, Elena and Jackson laid still, skin to skin, on the floor of the living room. The reality of the situation suddenly hit Elena and guilt poured over her. She felt so ashamed of herself – ashamed of her lack of self-control to resist him. She felt used. She had played right into his hands. Pretending to doze, Elena suffered silently next to him, not wanting Jackson to know how much her heart ached. Minutes passed without a single utterance until Jackson sat up, peeling his clammy skin from hers. For several moments, Jackson gazed at Elena lying naked on the ground, her porcelain skin chafed in places from the friction of sex. His fingertips grazed gently over her breasts, making her nipples harden from his touch. “You’re so incredibly beautiful,” he whispered.
Elena swallowed, forcing back tears. Elena knew what was happening.
“I could stay here watching you all night – with you like this,” he said.
But she knew better. He would leave. Elena rolled over onto her side so he wouldn’t see her flooded eyes. Jackson stood up and began collecting his clothes. He told her he had an early meeting. She said she understood. He said he would call her. She told him that she preferred him not to.
“I can respect that,” he said, standing in the doorway, with a look of satisfaction on his face.
And just like that he was gone. All over again.
A few minutes later, Jackson was driving home in his black Porsche feeling uneasy. He reached for his cell phone to make a call.
“Corin, baby. The meeting ran later than expected … yes, I know darling, I should have called … yes, everything’s all right … I’m on my way home … and yes, I love you.”
Here are the seven talented writers I hereby tag (in no particular order):