Chapter One

They say the first chapter in any book is the most important.

Within that chapter, the most important paragraph is the first.

And within the first paragraph, the most important sentence is the first.
Below, I am pasting all three of those things, from my first novel, Between Octobers.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^


My house doesn’t smell like this.
It’s a sort of musty odor, but with a hint of oil.
A horrendous, confusing pulse lashes through my cranium, its fingers reaching into my eyes and neck. Pieces and pictures wander in confusing ways, blurring into strange shapes. I don’t know what they mean.
My body, tight and uncomfortable, feels like jeans tangled inside a washing machine. Blinking—I know I blink because I feel my eyelids move—makes no difference against the blinding dark. My hands are bound together by something. And my feet are crammed uncomfortably against . . . something. My neck is kinked, forced to one side. The position isn’t the source of my throbbing headache, but it’s painfully unpleasant. I draw a deep breath. The air is hot, stuffy. The sound of release drags in reverb, noisy and close. It brushes back against my cheeks.
I focus on tracing the line of my stomach between my forearms. A bump answers from the inside, soothing me.
Something knocks against my head, contributing to the mindboggling ache that turns my stomach. I blink again, feel my lashes catching and shake my head, trying to remove the obstruction.
Entrancing fear cripples me as the room seems to bend. The floor jolts, disappearing for a terrifying second. My upturned face hits something before I slam back onto my side.
Suddenly, the sounds, sensations, and smells all come together but I can’t find the word that describes it. It laps at the edge, blotted out by fuzz.
There was a talk show I watched the other day. The guest was a woman, an expert who gave a list of guidelines about . . . The word isn’t there, but the flood of information is clear. “Never let them take you to a secondary scene,” the expert said. “It’s always a place where there’s little to no chance of reaching help. The captor is in complete control.”
I struggle in the cramped space, but it doesn’t help. It’s noisy, though. A loud crackling din; almost like paper. The word is back, on the tip of my tongue, but my brain can’t make the connection. I remember I was in the kitchen. I broke the coffee pot. The tarp in the garage. She made me close my eyes, and then . . . Pain. Now, I’m here.
I have a captor and I’ve already broken rule number one.
I’m crumpled, stuffed into the trunk of what can only be a compact car. The space is so tiny; it has to be, like, a Prius or something. I try to think through the hazy panic . . .
Lord Jesus, help me remember!
My hands are awkwardly stuck out over my belly; my wrists feel like they’ve been constricted for some time. They’re tingling, compressed by a vise. My puffy fingers feel more swollen than usual. I clasp my hands as in prayer; the same way Caleb does when he begs.
Caleb! Noah!
As far as my mouth can tell, whatever’s binding my wrists is too thin and smooth to be rope. I try with all my strength to stretch the hidden manacles, pushing and pressing into my restraints, popping the joints, but my wrists can’t separate.
It’s okay, my Nurse Voice soothes, I can work with restrained hands.
My feet, however . . . I have no idea what has them trapped. Again, I concentrate but . . . Fragments appear and fly away before I retain them and I can’t tell exactly how I’m wedged. Wiggling my toes, I can tell I’m wearing my shoes. The sensation helps me map my legs. My feet are apart but my knees are stuck against the side of what feels like a milk crate. I can’t get my hands down past my belly to free my scrunched-up knees, to work my feet free.
I try to turn, readying myself for when my captor, whoever it is, opens the trunk. A chilling thought freezes me, mid-roll.
What if they don’t?
No one will know. My boys, my baby, my Noah, Caleb, Lily, Ronnie, Aunt Rose and Evan. Evan, Evan. The faces flash before my wet, blind eyes.

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