Last year in The Weaver, writer Laney quickly learns of her unmatchable power when the villain from her manuscript suddenly appears and hurls her down the steps of a subway station. Today, you can read the first TWO chapters of Heather Kindt's sequel in The Weaver Trilogy, The Watcher!
Be sure to preorder your copy of The Watcher today, just in time to join Laney this Tuesday!
“Cassandra raised her head intending to get up, but a shot of pain ran through her back. She winced and took a slow, deep breath to clear the fog. How long had she been unconscious? She had left the house late in the evening, not wanting to wake Natalie. A mother wren ascended to her nest high in the tallest elm, the babies barely audible in her ears. The sun filtered through the thick layers of leaves in the canopy above, its position told her it was about mid-afternoon, but with the impact of the passage, she may as well be measuring her unconscious state in days. She had made it to the Forbidden Woods that now looked slightly less menacing than she envisioned it. Something rustled the leaves a few feet away. She bolted upright. Her heart, now in her throat, beat rapidly as she scurried to her feet and glanced around for some type of weapon. The creatures that lurked in these woods were all too familiar to her. She created them. Her eyes were glued in the direction of the noise, where they settled on a pair of deep brown eyes. “Hey.” The fawn bounded across the meadow followed closely by its mother. Cassandra shook her head and dropped her arms, tossing her weapon to the side. She had to make her way toward Lark, but the village was miles away and darkness would set in long before she reached it. Using the sun as her guide, she headed north with nothing but the clothes on her back. Her pink hoodie shielded her from the coolness that settled into the heart of the wood. Every noise in the forest made her quicken her pace despite the aches that kept her on the ground minutes before. She glanced at each tree as she hurried past, looking for any signs of the outcasts of Myrth—the worst criminals in the land. To warm her hands, she reached into her front pocket; her cellphone still nestled inside from her run earlier that day. She thumbed through her songs to settle her nerves. Why had she come here? How in the world could she do this to her daughter? A forty-year-old woman shouldn’t be chasing after a man in the first place. Erik was the one who’d left.
He had made it clear that his responsibilities in this world came before her, or even Natalie. But why did she feel like she couldn’t live without him? Raising her hood over her hair, she lifted one of the buds to her ear. The sound of hooves echoed through the wood. Cassandra froze. A couple of horses approached rapidly from the darkest part of the forest. She didn’t have time to hide, so she dropped her earbud and picked up a large stick lying on the ground by her feet. Two strangers rode into sight ducking beneath the low-hanging branches. “Halt!” The woman on the first horse grabbed her reins. A male rider slowed behind her; his eyes on the woman, hand on his hilt. The leader of the two was strikingly beautiful with curly, fire red hair that ran past her shoulders. Her black leather clothing clung to her “body and she wore a golden cape down her back. Her violet eyes were wild with electricity that Cassandra wasn’t quite sure she could describe as human. The woman sat perfectly still, taking in Cassandra, gaze stopping for a moment on her earbuds that now dangled down the front of her sweatshirt. “Cassandra Garcia. We’ve been looking for you.” The woman’s bright pink lips curved into a wicked smile. In one swift movement, she swung her legs to the side and dismounted the horse. Cassandra backed away. “How do you know my name?” The woman walked toward her removing her black riding gloves. Her fingernails shone as bright pink as her lips. “I know a lot about you. I know that you left a daughter behind. I know that you’re in love with Erik, the King of this land. I also know…” She raised her hands and spun around, “that you created everything we see around us.” “Who are you?” Cassandra gripped the stick tighter, the bark cutting into her palms. Her legs shook, so she concentrated on rooting her feet into the ground so she wouldn’t fall over. “Oh, I’ve been called many things, but you may call me the Wanderer.” The woman stepped even closer to Cassandra as the man dismounted his horse. He opened one of the side bags and pulled out a large knife. Ice ran through Cassandra’s veins. What would happen to Natalie without a mother or a father? “What do you want?” Her anger bubbled up inside her with the newfound courage that the thoughts of Natalie gave her. “To rid the book worlds of filthy Weavers like you.” The woman nodded to the man “and turned back to her horse. The man broke Cassandra’s stick in half across his knee before he grabbed her hair and pulled her to him. “Natalie,” Cassandra spoke her last word as the Wanderer kicked her heels into the side of her horse and rode beneath the canopy, never looking back. Laney was never one for a sequel. When she found a book she loved, the author always ruined it by continuing the story. Whatever happened to fairytales and living happily ever after following twenty-three pages of delightful illustrations? And yet, here she was, pen in hand, trying to find a way to begin her second book. She grasped at some floating idea while her father hosed down the sidewalk in front of their two-story home outside her window. It was more like a home-slash-business, with their small apartment sitting on top of Holden’s Antiques, her parents’ store. Even at eight in the morning, she had the fan running on full blast trying to minimize the beads of sweat that trickled down her cheek. The entire town of Derry had been locked in a humidity spell over the last week, but her parents refused to break down and invest in a window air conditioner. With the economy in a slump, the antique store wasn’t turning out the profits her dad liked to see, and a half dozen more wrinkles graced his face as a result. Starting the sequel to her book, The Soldier, weighed heavily on her, and working full-time in the store this summer added to the tension. Twisting the end of her brown ponytail around her finger, she thought about her boyfriend, William. He was the soldier in her book—her soul mate, the man of her dreams, and she had created him… sort of. Looking at the clock, she shoved the journal back into her desk drawer, slamming it closed. She ran her finger along the dark circles under her eyes as she checked herself out in the mirror. Day after day of unproductive brainstorming was really beginning to wear her down, and with school starting next week, the cycle would get even worse. She pulled a red t-shirt and a pair of jeans out of her dresser and headed for the shower, ready to wash away the sweaty stickiness of the day. Hours later, the grandfather clock at the back of the store read quarter-past one when the bell above the door rang, alerting Laney to their first customer of the day. Her mother sat at the counter with her curly blonde hair held off her neck by a blue bandana. Fanning “herself with the morning newspaper, Shelly punched numbers into a calculator. Laney’s hair was back in its usual ponytail as she dusted the banister, but sweat still covered her neck, making her morning shower a distant memory. She glanced up at the sound of the bell and her stomach clenched into a knot. A woman entered the store. She appeared much older than she had months before. Shelly walked out from behind the counter. “How are you doing, sweetheart?” She hugged her best friend, held her by the shoulders and gazed into her eyes. The same scene had been replayed over and over the past three months. Her mother’s best friend, Amy Harrison, worked a few doors down at the diner. She stopped into the shop every day during her lunch break. Last year at school, her son committed suicide by drowning himself in a pond.
“Stop worrying about me.” Amy didn’t smile. “I should really start paying you by the hour. Most counselors wouldn’t hold out this long with a tragic case like me.” She forced a smile. “I’m not your counselor. I’m your friend.” Shelly leaned across the counter and took Amy’s hand. “I’ve been through this before. It’s not the same, but I understand.” Laney stared at her mother, wondering if the tears that appeared late at night, when she thought no one was looking, would appear now. Shelly and Tim lost Laney’s older brother when he was just an infant from sudden heart failure. The long banister was the perfect distractor as Laney went back to polishing. A big part of her writer’s block had to do with Amy Harrison. Although the older woman didn’t know it, Laney was the reason for her pain. Suicide wasn’t what killed her son Jason. He was murdered. “Hi, Laney.” Amy drew her back from her thoughts. She held a plastic bag between her hands in front of her diner apron. The fact that she wanted to talk made Laney nervous. Since Jason’s death, they kept it to casual hellos. Amy held out the plastic bag to Laney. “I think Jason would have wanted you to have this.” “Don’t give me anything.” She kept her hands on her dust rag, refusing to take the bag. She increased her polishing intensity. “I insist, Laney. I know you and Jason fell out of your friendship, but you used to be inseparable.” She paused. “And he let me know how he felt about you before he died.” She bit her lip. Did Jason’s mom think the pain of the rejection from her led him to suicide? Not wanting to hurt her further, she “reached out and took the bag. The jersey inside was blue, with the number twenty-four—Jason’s lacrosse uniform. She held the shirt in her hands and seeing this woman before her, Laney knew she could never tell her the truth. The truth about the sapphire necklace encrusted with the golden spider identifying her as a Weaver. The truth that she had the ability to bring the words she wrote to life. The truth that she had lured Jason’s murderer into this world. The thought of putting any words on paper and possibly creating another monster scared Laney more than anything else. She opened her mouth to say something profound but could only muster a thank you. That night Laney lay in bed trying to think of some way to start her book in light of the guilt she felt over Jason. Her only way to reach out to William was through the story, and she needed to know that he was living and breathing between the pages. She closed her eyes, first bringing in his words…a connection that goes beyond the constrictions of time and space. William and Laney definitely had that going on. Keeping her eyes closed, she focused on him—his green eyes, the strong line of his jaw, his shoulder-length brown hair tucked neatly behind his ears and the smile that reminded her that she had to keep trying on nights like these. The nights when he seemed so far away. She stumbled over to her desk despite the late hour. Her new notebook lay unopened next to a stack of books. When she finished The Soldier, her dad had a hand-bound journal made for her. He said it was payment for working in the store. Laney ran her finger along the engraving in the leather—a spider weaving a web. Her father said he decided on the design knowing how much she liked the pendant he gave her as a graduation present from high school. Of course, he didn’t know it would keep her from writing every time she opened its pages. This time, she gathered the courage to face the world she created. She had to write at least a sentence. The only thing she wrote earlier in the summer on the first page was Chapter 1. She opened the notebook, drew in a deep breath, ready to take on the big empty page, but her breath caught in her throat. The contents sent her heart into overdrive. Instead of a vast field of white laid out before her, a thin script filled the page. If she didn’t know better, she would have wondered who wrote in her journal. The journal followed William’s words and actions like it did last spring when he reached out to her through the book.
The modest cottage flashed in and out of view, veiled in a constant downpour just outside of Lexington. The storm positioned directly overhead, was not the only thing keeping the occupants awake that night. A young man, intent on an unknown quest, gathered the items he needed for his journey. “Sarah, will you please bring me two candles from the cupboard?” William placed an extra shirt in his canvas bag. The woman brought the candles to her younger brother. Concern filled her eyes. “Jonathan Miller left a month ago to enlist in the army surrounding Boston. Perhaps, they need more men.” “Perhaps.” William crossed the room to find a flint. He did not care to engage in this conversation. He stuffed the flint into a side pocket.
Sarah’s brother seemed distracted since his injury in the Battle of Lexington and his disinterest in the war made her uneasy. Instead of leaving him to his distractions, she pushed him further. “My good friend Mary fancies you. Maybe if you have her to come home to it will make the battle more tolerable.” “I have no interest in Mary.” William kept his eyes on the map he laid out in front of him. He ran his finger along a road that twisted through neighboring towns. “William. Anne is not coming back.” Sarah emphasized the importance of each of her words. Her brother built a solitary world for himself since the woman he loved left four months prior. Laney stopped reading, marking her spot with a finger. William told her that Anne’s character was so intrinsically tied to Laney when she created her, that they were the same person. When she finished her first book, The Soldier, Anne must have disappeared because Laney was no longer present in William’s world. He didn’t know where she was, and he was blocking out his family because they didn’t understand. “Do not say that.” William brought his fist down on the table. Sarah backed away. She picked up the broom to sweep the kitchen. After giving him time to pour over his map, Sarah dared to speak. “William, I do not want to anger you. I only want to know if you plan to help your brothers in battle, or to search for a love that will never be.” William gazed at his sister and his eyes held a longing that touched her heart. Laney read the page over and over, knowing the meaning in his words and actions. He planned to find the Gate Keeper, the only way he knew to come out of the book and back to her—which meant she had no choice. She had to start her sequel to reach him through Anne. His longing to find her filled her with the courage to touch her pen to the paper: In the stillness of the moment between William and Sarah, a knock came on the door. She waited, her heart pounded, experimenting with their newfound communication device. As she hoped and expected, his actions appeared on the page beneath the words she wrote. The young man’s gaze turned away from his map. Sarah jumped up, shooting a wary look at her brother. She answered the door. The young girl stood outside; her brown hair appeared black in its saturated state. Her long dress clung to her body and her arms were crossed trying to control the shiver that she felt deep in her bones.
“Anne!” Sarah took hold of the younger girl’s arm and brought her in from the rain. “What are you doing? Only a fool is out in these conditions.” Laney’s hand shook so much she couldn’t keep the pen between her fingers. Following three attempts, she finally scribbled out the words William needed to hear. Anne did not answer; her eyes set on the other person in the room. William did not move, standing still as a statue, and never taking his eyes away from hers. Only Sarah’s words broke the trance. “Let me get you out of those clothes, or you will catch a sickness.” Sarah grabbed Anne’s arm to take her into one of the bedrooms. “Wait,” William spoke for the first time, crossing the room. He reached out his hand and touched Anne’s cheek, his eyes never leaving hers. “William, I am so sorry,” she whispered. She’d caused him pain in her absence. Anne followed Sarah into the bedroom and removed her wet garments. She dressed in one of Sarah’s nightgowns and let the older girl brush out her hair. After Anne was dressed, there was a knock on the door of the bedroom. Sarah opened the door for her brother but blocked his entry with her arm. “It hardly seems appropriate…” She glanced at William’s face—desperate to be with the woman he loved. She moved out into the larger room, closing the door behind her. Anne let her long hair fall over her shoulders. She could not find the words to express the love she felt for the man standing before her. He moved closer as Anne stood up, taking her face into his hands. Before she could take a breath, his lips melded with hers. When he finally gave her a chance to breathe, he whispered, “Laney.” He moved his fingers along Anne’s cheeks, wishing he were strong enough to pull the woman writing the words into his world. Tears streamed down Anne’s cheeks. “I’m sorry I left you, William. I am going to find a way to get back to you, but I promise I won’t leave you again.” William leaned his arm against the wall and stared down at his feet. “I need to leave you in the morning.” “But why? We are together again.” Anne thought about his motivation. Could her love hold him from his purpose? “Please stay with me. Do not go to battle.” William grinned. “The only reason I leave is to be with you again. I thought I made that clear to you.” He reached out and grasped her hands. Laney closed her eyes and imagined that William really held her hands, remembering the first time he touched her by the ocean. Her door creaked open an inch. Laney shut her journal and shoved it into the top drawer of her desk, feeling strangely guilty. “Come in.” She flipped open a book in front of her. Brushing away beads of sweat from her face, she glanced towards the door. “I’m sorry to interrupt your reading.” Her dad poked his head in the doorway. His receding hairline gleamed in her bedroom lights, showing his age. Focusing on him, she neglected to guard her own appearance. “Are you all right?” He stepped further into the room. Flushing even more, Laney grabbed a tissue from her nightstand. “Yeah. I’m at the sad part of the book.” She shifted her gaze back to her dad. He would buy her story even though his eyes still held on to their concern. “Could you help me with the computer? I’m trying to post a picture of that ring I bought last week, but it keeps screwing up.” “Sure. I’ll be down in a minute.” He hesitated as he closed the door a couple of inches, opening his mouth to say something then shutting it again. Laney took out the journal, flipping to the page where she left off. “I am coming with you.” Anne had a tight grip on his hands. William sighed, “The battlefield is no place for a young woman. You cannot come with me.” “Once again, William Clarke, you forget who writes the words. I think you will find that I can be quite stubborn.” Anne sat up straight, her resolve unmoving. William laughed, kneeling beside her. He laid his head in her lap. “I think you will find that I am more stubborn than the mule in the backyard when it comes to your safety.” “We will discuss this in the morning, and I had better find you here,” Anne pouted. The discussion had to be drawn to a close. The leather notebook was tucked away once again in Laney’s desk drawer with a few pens and her cellphone bill. She trusted William to wait to discuss the matter further before he left. She didn’t want him taking any risks when she could easily find a way to enter his world from her side of the page.
The moon illuminated a small section of the bed as William laced up his boots. He was still indecisive about leaving Anne behind. On the one hand, he felt guilty about sneaking out and knew that she’d find some way to try to take matters into her own hands. But then, he also wanted her with him. Sarah bent over the hearth, stoking the fire before Father got up for the day to start his early morning rounds in town. Her blonde hair was swept up in a white, mop cap, a strand worked itself free, so she swatted at it with her hand. “Good morning, dear sister.” He placed his bag on the table. He kept his voice low, not wanting to wake Anne or his father. “William. What are you doing awake so early?” Soot stains streaked Sarah’s cheeks. He took a rag from the sink and wiped off her face. “Much better. You want to be presentable for the boys in town.” “You are one to talk about plans with suitors, being one yourself.” Sarah sat down in their mother’s rocking chair. Her cheeks reddened in the glow of the fire as she smoothed out her skirt. “Is Anne with child?” “Sarah, just because Mother is gone, does not mean you can take over her role as my caretaker. You are only two years my elder.” William slung the bag over his shoulder. “And no, Anne is not with child because that would be impossible. I have never… we have never…” Heat burned his cheeks at the inappropriateness of the conversation. “Then it would not be a disgraceful marriage.” Sarah rocked the chair and tapped her foot on the floor. “When will you ask her?” Marriage was the furthest thing from William’s mind. Right now, his mind swam with thoughts of the Gate Keeper and his whereabouts. “When Anne wakes, will you tell her that I will be back soon? She is not to follow me. You know how dangerous of a situation it is with the Red Coats.” “I know.” She ran her hand along the wooden arm of the chair. “But why do you need to go?” “I have been called up.” His heart beat faster with the lie so quickly crossing his lips. “I received the message yesterday from Jonathan, the Miller’s son.” A message from a known Patriot might be more believable to his sister. “Anne just arrived. She will be heartbroken.” “Please give her this for me.” He removed an envelope from his coat pocket and handed it to his sister. “It might give her some peace.” The wind-driven rain striking the Holden’s car in horizontal sheets was supposed to be a remnant of Hurricane Dan. When one of the big storms did manage to meander up the coast to New England, the colder waters weakened it considerably. But the fifty-mile per hour winds and downpour made for a lousy moving day. Laney’s thoughts ran on overdrive with questions to ask William, but whenever she opened her journal, nothing new was added. An uneasy suspicion ran through her that he somehow found a way to begin his quest without her knowledge. Lugging her suitcase through the puddles, Laney’s nerves were on edge. Distractions around her got in the way of the true reality in her backpack. She glanced around her dorm room after dropping her wet luggage in front of the closet. Missy’s sophomore year décor was surprisingly similar to her freshman year décor. Her bed was spread out neatly with the same bedding, her laptop already plugged in at her desk, and the cotton candy pink curtains hung from the large windows. The absence of her ex-boyfriend’s picture scattered throughout the room was the biggest difference. The two girls had decided to stay together “for their sophomore year but switched to the more desirable main quad side of the dorm. Missy wanted to know what was going on, and when it involved her—which she believed it always did. Laney’s dad lugged her black chest through the door, set it down and then dragged it the rest of the way to its spot beneath the window. His hood failed to keep the front of his hair dry and it clung to his forehead in black and gray chunks that still dripped at regular intervals. She opened her trunk and tossed him a towel. He wiped off his face and dried his hair before tossing it back. “Thanks, sweetie.” He stared out the window at the rain-drenched campus, as she dug out another towel for her mother. She’d arrive any minute carrying the next piece of her college essentials. The wind picked up and turned the rain into vertical mayhem. A couple of girls on the quad below held their umbrellas sideways trying to keep themselves dry. The blue and white tent, pitched in the far-right corner of the quad to welcome new students, ripped off its stakes and rolled like tumbleweed “Maybe you’d have been better off if we sent you to school in Seattle.” Her dad turned away from the window. “At least they’re prepared for this kind of stuff up there.” Laney drew her raincoat back over her head, unsure if she’d win the battle with the hurricane. A knock came on the door. Half expecting to see one of Missy’s friends, she was surprised to find her grandfather, Grady, standing there. He held one of her suitcases in his hand. Her mother was behind him carrying a box. “Grady!” He put down the suitcase before Laney tackled him with her hug. Her grandfather looked worn and wet and wonderful. She took his hand, led him into the room, and took his coat from him. Her dad tossed the towel to her mom. “How are you, sweetheart?” Grady’s blue eyes held an unspoken concern meant only for the two of them. “I’ve missed you this summer.” Laney’s grandfather knew about William. He was there when she sent her Watcher back into the book to be healed by his father. Last school year, she learned that he was also a Weaver and shared her ability to draw characters out of his books. Her grandmother, Rebecca, was a character in a story he wrote. Hanging clothes in Laney’s closet, her mother peered over her shoulder. “Are you going to join us for dinner, Dad?” Though her blonde curls frizzed a little in the humidity, Laney envied their individuality. Her straight brown hair hung limply, making her look like a drowned rat. “Dining hall food at Madison College? Wouldn’t miss it.” Grady winked at Laney. Following their gourmet dinner consisting of filleted rubber and charcoal-encrusted, scalloped potatoes, Grady offered to walk Laney back to the dorm. Her dad had parked behind the dining hall after they dropped off her luggage. The tears welled up in his eyes. She thought that a veteran college dad might take the parting a little easier this time. Her arm wrapped around his waist as they headed down the stairs to the car, her head rested on his shoulder.
Grady shook his head. “What are you going to do when you have to walk her down the aisle, Tim? You still hold onto Laney like she’s going to break if you let her out of your sight.” Her dad ignored Grady, stopping at the glass door that led to the parking lot. He held her before him, putting his hands on her shoulders and looking her in the eyes. “You’ve been different this summer. Something happened at school last year that changed you. I’m not saying that it’s good or bad, just different.” “I…” She couldn’t tell her dad the truth. “I feel terrible that I never trusted Jason, and I don’t know if the change has to do with his death, but I have a feeling it’s much more than that.” When he let go of her shoulders, he leaned against the wall and ran his fingers through his hair, making it stick out askew. Normally, she’d have laughed, but she kept her mouth buttoned in a straight line, holding onto her secret. “We’ve never kept things from each other.” His eyes were downturned.
“I know. Don’t worry about me. I’ll come back to you in one piece at Christmas.” If Laney’s plans ran their course, she wondered if her words held any validity. The wind had died down enough that they could open an umbrella. Grady had suggested they take the long way around the quad back to her room. He needed fresh air. All through dinner, he had maintained a conversation with her parents, but she had seen him watching her out of the corner of his eye. “So, when can I award you the Oscar?” He looked down at the path in front of them, his elbow locked in hers to prevent any stumbling. With her other hand, she held the black umbrella over both of their heads. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She wanted to talk about William with him but not about her plans to enter the book. “You need to go on with life. Moping around and crying over William isn’t going to help. It’s only going to cast suspicion on what really happened.” He stopped and put a hand on her shoulder, his old bones shook. A large blue stone in a gold setting stuck out on his crooked finger. “Is that your Weaver ring?” She backed away to get a better look. “What happened to it?” She held onto his hand and touched the stone with her finger. The stone was a sapphire, like her pendant, but the spider was missing, and cracks ran through the precious gem. Grady sighed. “I’ve kept it locked away since your grandmother died. Most of the time, I stowed it in a safe. When I realized that Richard was your history professor, I took it back out. I had to put an end to the complicated monster I created.” He gazed at his finger. “I don’t know what happened to the ring.” He stuffed his hand in his pocket. “The last time I checked on it, the spider was gone.” “Do you think it’s tied to what happened to Richard?” She helped him avoid a large root that cracked the asphalt. His eyes grew wide, and he stopped. “I suspected that but talked myself out of it. Now that you bring it up…"
“I’ll ask the other Weavers if they’ve heard of this happening before. Maybe they know what it means.” “Enough about my ring. Your dad’s going to set you under lock and key if you’re not careful.” He shuffled up a gentle slope in the sidewalk. “Like I said, stop the sad girl act.” “I don’t think my moping and crying is Dad’s problem.” She stifled a laugh. “I kind of turned into a workaholic this summer. He couldn’t get me to stop working.” “Anything to take your mind off William.” “Yes.” The family’s antique store had never looked so clean. Polishing the silver tea trays and costume jewelry had become her obsession, and her dad even tried to set her up with his friends’ sons to get her out of the store. Finally, she had to tell him that setting up play dates for your nineteen-year-old daughter was against the unspoken father-daughter law. The rain let up enough that Laney lowered the umbrella, but she kept her grip on Grady’s elbow. “He’s trying to come back.” Her voice was almost a whisper “as if saying the words any louder might take the truth out of them. “Of course he is. He’s in love with you.” His voice held a definitive edge. “But I know what he’s doing.” She halted their movement again. Her experience with William had to be unique. “What do you mean you know what he’s doing?” “Did Grandma ever try to reach you from inside your book?” Grady never mentioned any communication from Rebecca before she had left the diner to become a part of his life. “I mean… did her words ever appear on the page on their own?” “Is William writing part of the book?” Grady raised his eyebrows. “In a way. The writing appears on its own, showing me what he’s saying and doing.” Her heart beat faster as she thought about his personal messages to her, almost like some type of strange long-distance e-mail relationship. “He uses my name instead of Anne’s.” Grady hooked his elbow in hers again and continued toward her dorm. They had to shuffle around “a couple of puddles that spread over the sidewalk like an endless lake. Two students passed them hand in hand, the girl completely absorbed in what the guy was saying. He watched them walk away. “A Watcher’s love is anything but typical.” Grady nodded his head toward the couple. “When he finds out that she snorts when she laughs, or she finds out that he watches football for hours on end, their infatuation will fade.” The pair stopped to kiss. Most relationships didn’t last, but the ones that did, made it because the couple understood the faults in each other and decided they could live with them. Her parents had their quirks. Her dad obsessed over antiques and history, and her mom read incessantly and cleaned the house sporadically. But their love for each other kept them together. “A Watcher knows all your faults, just like you know all of his. When a Watcher loves a Weaver, no laws of what is real exist. It’s a space where miracles happen.
When she entered Starr Hall, Laney thought about Grady’s words. How many miracles was one person allowed in her life? When William left the book last year and spent a few precious months with her, she couldn’t have imagined a greater miracle. All the physical laws she’d thought existed had vanished when words materialized out of nowhere on the pages of her journal. Her roommate lounged on the bed, reading a book in her pink satin nightgown and fluffy bunny slippers when Laney got back to the room. Missy’s straight blonde hair was dark from her evening shower. “Hey.” Laney crossed the room for their customary hug. “Laney!” Missy jumped up and rocked her back and forth until she felt like she was in a mixer. “Where’ve you been?” “Just saying goodbye to my family. You know my dad.” She rolled her eyes in an attempt to speak Missy’s language. “Ye-ah! Your dad either needs to get a life or seek serious therapy.” She laughed. “So have you heard from “William?” Leave it to Missy to shoot straight to the guy talk. “Um… yeah.” She scrambled to remember the story she had made up last year when William had unexpectedly reentered the book and disappeared from Madison. “He loves it in LA. If he doubles up a few courses this year, he might even be able to graduate early next year. He’s also taking up surfing on the side.” She threw the last bit in for Missy’s sake. She stared at Laney, open-mouthed, uncharacteristically speechless for a second, then grinned and gazed at some spot on the wall over Laney’s shoulder. “I know it’s wrong to picture your roommate’s boyfriend half-naked and surfing, but I just can’t help myself.” Laney shook her head. “So, what about you? Any prospects?” It was only their first day back, but Missy moved quickly. She dated at least three different guys after Brian had broken up with her last January. Missy didn’t know that Brian only dated her to be near Laney. He was the Gate Keeper between her book world and this world. A single touch from Brian could send Laney into William’s colonial land.
“Oh, a few. You know how I like to keep my options open.” She took the hairdryer out of her closet. The hair drying routine usually took at least a half an hour, so Laney took out her journal. Her teeth dug into her bottom lip, seeing William’s new words on the page. She shifted her body to hide the journal from Missy. William walked along the forested path that followed the road to Boston. His only plan was to avoid the Red Coats, stopping in every town along the way to ask about the man in the black cape. He knew the stretch of road between Lexington and Concord well, so he traveled with haste. Laney threw the journal down on the bed and covered her face with her hands. Unbelievable! He had left before talking to her. He was driven, but they were supposed to be a team. She had to find a way to stop him, but in her persona as Anne, she would travel too slowly to catch up. Red Coats could be dangerous. She picked up the journal again, tapped her pen against the paper, and struggled to think of some way to stop him.
Missy’s silver anklet shimmered in the light and sent the words to her. William quickened his pace, hearing a horse on the roadway. He traveled deeper into the woods. The log appeared before he knew it was there and caught his foot at the ankle. He fell to the ground, unable to get up. She didn’t want to intentionally hurt William, but the injury would slow him down. Laney closed the notebook, went to brush her teeth and put on the t-shirt and shorts she wore for pajamas. While she brushed, she thought about sending William’s father, a doctor, past on his wagon. He could take him back to the house and help him heal. This gave her time to find Brian and enter the book before William got himself into any more trouble. Missy stretched out on her bed, reading again when Laney came back into the room. Her suitcase lay half-empty on the floor, so she removed another sweater to hang in the closet. Near the bottom, she found the only picture she had of William. A photographer snapped the shot at the winter formal dance last year, and she kept it on her nightstand all summer. He looked amazing in his tuxedo with his light brown hair tied back, revealing his deep green eyes. She ran her finger over his picture, feeling guilty about hurting his ankle. She placed the frame on her desk. Snuggling down under her comforter, she picked up the journal and thumbed through the pages to where she left off. William pulled up his pant leg, checking his ankle. It appeared sprained but not broken. He rested his back against a tree, elevating his foot on a rock before he removed his map from his sack. ‘Only three more miles to Concord,’ he thought. He could make it by nightfall. “What?” The word came out, and Laney quickly covered her mouth with her hand. “What’s the matter?” Missy looked up from her book. “Can I read that when you’re done? It must be good.” She turned back to her story without waiting for any kind of response. Apparently, it was going to take more than a bum ankle to stop William’s stubborn streak. Laney’s thoughts turned to the one person who might be able to help her, but also might put William in even greater danger.