If you’ve ever wondered about my NaNoWriMo project that I wrote 50k words of without a sustainable plot, here is an out-of-context excerpt from a chapter. Allise is my protagonist.
“Stop acting like you’re better than me.” Catherine practically sneered in Allise’s face. “Because you aren’t. Marianne brought both of us here, not just you. So if you don’t have anything else to complain about, then you can scurry off to your pond side daydreams.”
Allise dropped her head, sighing. “Marianne is the reason I’m here, Catheryn. I came to speak with Nell.”
“What does Marianne have to do with me?” said Nell, leaning against the shed wall and folding her arms across her chest.
“Don’t ever tell her. Promise me.”
“She’s your sister now.”
“May you never take the path I have.”
“She’s going to be just like her mother and that could get her killed.”
“Marianne was your mother.” Allise blurted it out. She almost didn’t. She almost changed her mind and made up some story to cover her mistake. But she couldn’t keep lying to her…sister. Nell had to know. It was the right thing to do.
Nell stared at Allise, her jaw dropped. For once in her life, Catheryn had nothing to combat Allise with. She, too, seemed incredulous. But it was an act; Allise knew it was. Marianne entrusted Allise with little Nell and Allise chose to bring Catheryn in on the secret. That, too, helped create the tension between the two young women. Marianne chose one before the other; she trusted her flesh and blood with one and not the other. Allise was never very good at reading Catheryn but she knew from the moment she told her Marianne’s secret, the other girl hated her every fiber.
“What?” Nell’s voice was terrifying. She spat the question with disbelief and rage.
Allise fought back her guilty tears and reached out to Nell with both hands. “Please, Nell. Forgive me. She told me never to tell you but I had to. I had to because – I had to tell you.” A tear threatened to spill and Allise blinked quickly to erase its presence.
“Why now? The Sisters all say that you found me when I was two years old. I’m fifteen now, Allise. Why, after all the time you’ve had to tell me, did you choose now to speak up?”
“Marianne’s dead, isn’t she,” said Catheryn for the first time in a few minutes. “You’re only telling her the truth about her own mother because there’s no chance she’ll ever get to meet her. Admit it.”
“Yes. She is dead.”
Nell sucked in a breath and spun on her heel. She marched out of the archery shed. Allise and Catheryn were hot on her heels.
“Nell, please, just let me explain,” said Allise pleadingly. She ran to catch up with the furious girl and grabbed her shoulders to spin her around. “Hear me out.”
The cold glare on Nell’s face crumbled Allise on the inside. Her stomach turned and she felt as if she would throw up if she kept looking into those horribly beautiful eyes. This wasn’t supposed to happen. How did you really expect this to play out, argued another part of her mind. Knowing she would destroy her relationship with Nell for possibly the rest of their lives, Allise cleared her throat and spoke.
“Your mother, Marianne, placed you in my arms when I – when we were nine years old.” Allise spared Catheryn a quick glance and withered under the hard stare she returned. “You already know you were two years old when we took you in and that’s the truth. None of us had any idea you even existed before that day. Even the other Sisters who grew up with Marianne were completely clueless. And before anyone could ask any questions about who your father was or if he was still alive, she was gone. I never saw her again. But there were reasons why she told me never to tell you. Reasons I am disregarding because I finally realized that you deserve the truth.
“She told me she was afraid of something. She didn’t know what it was but she knew something wasn’t right. All I know is it – whatever it is or was – drove her crazy looking for answers. To stay with the Sisters would just endanger more people; at least, that’s what she thought. As for you, she believed you would grow up to be just like her. Marianne never fled from danger; she embraced it and thrived on it. At the same time, she protected us from it. She never let anyone get hurt and she -,”
“Unlike you,” muttered Catheryn.
Allise swallowed. Try as she might, she could never repair her relationship with Catheryn. They never really had one to begin with but now Allise realized the depth of the tension between them. Nell looked from Allise to Catheryn to Allise again. Confusion clouded her face and she bit her lip harshly.
“What does that mean, Eryn?”
Catherine blushed and looked away. This was her game, thought Allise. Her forte. Manipulation.
“It’s nothing. I just – I’m just shocked that she would keep us all in the dark like this. Marianne was like a mother to me, too, and to find out that she had an actual daughter is…well, I don’t know what to say.”
“I meant,” said Nell, voice rising with each step she took toward Catheryn, “who did Allise hurt?”
“Look, Nell, just stop asking questions,” said Catheryn, holding up her hands like a protective barrier. To ward off the blame. “It’s in the past. I know Summer doesn’t – I mean, I know nobody blames Allise. Just forget I said anything, okay?”
Nell blinked. She inquired what Summer had to do with anything. Again and again, Catheryn ducked the topic and tried to force the attention away. Allie’s head raced and her skin crawled. Beads of sweat dripped off her forehead and rolled down her cheeks. She raised a hand and wiped the moisture away. Her heart beat quickly in her chest and she tried to stay calm. Breathe in. Exhale. Breathe in. Exhale. She thought of something, anything else. But all that filled her head was an image. An image Raine had described to her. Marianne, dead in a pool of her own blood, cold fist still clutching the deadly knife that took her life. Her soft blue eyes open and matted blonde locks falling over her bloody face.
Allise could hardly contain her anger at the person who did it. She wanted to cry and scream for the only person who ever cared about her to come back to life again. Earlier, with Raine, she had put up a brave face. She convinced herself that it didn’t hurt; that hearing a description of exactly what happened to Marianne didn’t cripple her faith. But it did.
This would break everything.