Days ago, I got this idea for a great blog post, and I'm so excited to share it with you today! One of the things I'm thankful for during this time of isolation and uncertainty, is more time for writing! I'm still working away at the sequel to No Way but Through, and after hearing the lovely Melanie Dobson speak early last month, I have a few new writing schedule tricks I'm implementing.
I've also LOVED seeing everyone share more of their art and talents on social media. It's a beautiful thing. We, as humans, are doing an amazing job at being creative in how we connect and it's awesome to watch.
In that spirit, I want to offer up part of my book to share! Since we're all spending more leisure time at home, and hopefully devouring our TBR stacks, I'm sharing a big chunk of No Way but Through for all of you to read! So grab some coffee or tea, a cozy blanket, and settle in for a good read.
Emma dropped her purse on the bench inside the front door. A delicious smell wafted from the kitchen. She took a deep breath, trying to let all the darkness of the day melt away. Something still loomed ominous in the back of her mind. A strange tension.
Mom’s off-key hums met her ears.
“Hi mom!” Emma kicked her shoes off and stretched her sore toes as she walked to the kitchen. “Anything I can help with?”
An orange glow of late afternoon sunlight filled the room, shining on every sparkling surface.
“Hi sweetie. You can set the table.” Mom looked happy—her cheeks were rosy, and her eyes danced. It had been too long since the last family dinner.
Emma reached for the forks and released a sigh, absorbing the excitement in the air. Her eyes met Mom’s and they smiled. “I can show Claire my dress—"
A deafening boom filled the house and drowned Emma’s words. Every little part of her body shook from the inside out. An old picture of the family fell off the wall. It landed face down on the wood floor, the glass shattering to pieces.
Emma grabbed the counter to steady herself. “An earthquake?” She looked at her mom.
The light in her mom’s eyes had clouded over. “Let’s turn on the news and find out.”
Emma followed Mom through the dining room into the family room, her hands still full of silverware. Mom switched on the TV.
“Breaking news, Houston has been bombed. This is not a drill—Houston has been bombed. The Russians are suspected to be behind the attack—”
A loud clatter echoed through the silent house as forks and spoons rained out of Emma’s hands.
The TV filled with a live feed of a decimated city. “Washington DC has been leveled by nothing less than a nuclear bomb.” An announcer’s broken voice penetrated Emma’s disbelieving ears. “New York is obliterated too. The entire west coast is gone. Everyone is encouraged to flee. Go south. Get out. Now!”
Emma watched Mom move toward her as if a movie was playing out in slow motion. Was Mom running? Mom’s hand was around hers then, pulling her to the door.
Emma’s feet were like lead. A tingling numbness spread over her body. Shock made it impossible for her to gather a thought. Another thunderous boom rent the air. They staggered on their feet. Mom grabbed both their purses at the front door and called up the stairs to Matt, her voice was panicked.
Emma saw and heard all this as if through a long tunnel. The fear on Matt’s face as he raced down the stairs had a clearing effect on her mind. She grabbed her shoes. She put an arm around her brother as they hurried to the car.
Emma stopped and looked up at the clear blue sky above her. She squinted. There was no sign of anything unusual. Emma pivoted on her heel and saw a plane flying low, right toward them.
Hysterical tears choked her as Matt reached out and pulled her into the car. The cries coming from her lips sounded foreign. A bomb dropped just a few miles away. A blinding explosion. Emma covered her face. A scream came from the back seat. The car lurched out of the driveway.
“Where are we going?” Emma took a deep, shaky breath. Her voice came out high-pitched.
“To your dad.” Mom’s face was set and determined.
“Jack! What about Jack!” Emma couldn’t control her screaming as her chest tightened in fear. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. “No service. Mom, there’s no service.”
Mom didn’t answer. She was driving faster than Emma had ever seen, dodging around debris in the road.
Emma’s phone dropped into her lap as she peered out the window. Whole buildings were caved in on themselves. Rubble and glass lay everywhere, and still fell from the ruins. People ran around in sheer panic. Military vehicles rumbled over the streets, causing other drivers to jump the curbs. The ruined city flashed by.
Matt put a hand on Emma’s shoulder. Tears streamed over her cheeks, her heart pounding.
Mom swung into the parking lot at Dad’s work, which was lacking its usual guards. The parking lot was always full of Humvees.
“Those aren’t American vehicles.” Matt opened his door.
Emma blinked and looked at Mom. “What is happening?”
“Let’s go.” Mom jumped out of the car.
They all ran into the building.
“Joe! Joe!” Mom ran down hallway after hallway, deeper into the labyrinth of the compound.
Emma kept pace with her, dragging Matt along by the hand. The hallways were deserted. Tears continued to flow down Emma’s cheeks. As they rounded another corner, Mom ran into the back of a guard with a large gun.
“Where’s my husband, Joe Smith?” Mom didn’t wait for the man to turn around.
When he did, he looked down at them with a harsh frown. “Come with me.” He had a thick Russian accent.
Emma shook, and her sweaty hand almost slipped out of Matt’s.
I can’t believe this is happening. The Russians are here. What's going on?
“We need to find my husband, Joe Smith. He works here. Where is everybody?” Mom’s voice grew more shrill with each sentence.
The man didn’t say anything but continued down the hall. After several turns, the man stopped at a door and entered a code into a pin pad to unlock it. Dozens of people surrounded a large, oval table.
“Carol!” Across the room, Dad stood, eyes wide, face pale.
Mom gave into her tears as she ran to Dad. Emma pulled Matt along right behind her. She breathed in the comforting, familiar scent of Dad’s shirt as he wrapped his arms around all of them.
“I’ll do whatever you ask. Just keep my family safe.” Dad made eye contact with the man sitting at the head of the table.
He was thick and short and had no neck. Emma suspected he would also have a Russian accent when he spoke. His eyes narrowed at Dad. Emma tightened her grip aroun