Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Excerpt from "Forgiven," by Janet Fox

Forgiven, Janet Fox's second young adult novel - the sequel to Faithful - is scheduled for release June 2, 2011. Here's an excerpt from Chapter One:

With one shaky hand I raised that branch, an inch only. I quaked like an aspen leaf in a tricky breeze. Not from the cold, though there was that. But from the fear.
“Come on out, girl.” The voice of this intruder with the evil snaky eyes rang through the clearing, bell-like in the frost morning.
I eased back deeper into the tangle of chokecherry. Snake-eyes had his back to me, and I fixed my own eyes on the ripped edges at the bottom of his pants leg, watching those frayed threads as the knitted branches that hid me sliced up his form. If I could crawl back silent, if I could just belly back far enough here, if I could get on my feet again, could get enough ground between us so he couldn’t shoot me, I could outrun him. Because when I had to, I could outrun a deer.
“I ain’t gonna hurt you, now.”
Liar. The bruise on my upper arm spoke to that lie. The bruise where he’d grabbed me, surprised me, and I’d twisted around and whanged him good with that fry pan, giving myself just enough time to scrabble into the thicket where I hid now, my stomach on the frozen ground.
I wished I’d nailed him harder and less glancing and laid him flat. I’d be clear to the safety of the fort at Mammoth Hot Springs by now if I could’ve kept on moving.
Snake-eyes grunted as he rubbed at what must’ve been an eggsize lump forming where my whale of a swing with the pan had connected with his shoulder. He moved to the left, shoving the barrel of his rifle into the brush barely five feet from where I lay trying to make myself smaller, invisible. “You come out now, it’ll go easier for you. I’m gonna find you, one way or the other.”
Come back, Pa. I whispered the plea in my brain, begged. I sent that plea out over the trees and snow-dusted hilltops. I couldn’t hide here forever.
Snake-eyes moved away from me, and I took that as an opening. I could ease back a little bit more, just catlike . . .
Snake-eyes whirled, came at me so fast I didn’t have time to get farther than my knees. He reached into the thicket and had me by the hair and he yanked.
Kula Baker doesn’t scream.
“I got you now, you sorry little . . .”
My feet jabbed on the hard ground and slid on the snow patches, as my hands went up for my scalp, where he pulled on my braid so hard I thought he might snap my neck. He jerked me back into the clearing while my feet fought for purchase and found none, and then he threw me toward the fire ring at the center, where the fire smoked and sputtered.
I landed hard on my knees, the winter soil like bare rock. I thanked the good Lord and my pa for those thick denim overalls I’d borrowed, as I rocked forward onto my hands. The pan, my only weapon, lay too far away.
“Now I will ask you nicelike and you will answer.” Snake-eyes cradled his rifle with the barrel pointing in my general direction. “I want something I ’spect to find in this camp. Something of Nat
Nat Baker: Pa. “Then you ask Mr. Baker himself, why don’t you?” I braced my palms on my thighs, trying to coil back, trying to be ready, trying to ignore the smarting pain where more bruises were forming and where I’d surely lost some hair from my scalp.
“I’m asking you.” He leaned forward, his lips curled in a sneer. “If you run, girl, I’ll plug you.” He straightened again. “There’s a box. About as big as a badger. Has a brass clasp and a lock. Now, you tell me if you’ve seen this box.”
Box? What box?
Kula Baker can keep a stony face.
“Spill it, girlie. You seen it, or ain’t you?”
If I told Snake-eyes the truth, he’d plug me. If I lied and he believed my lie, I might stand a chance of escape.
I lied. “I’ve seen it. If I tell you where, you’ll let me go?”
He snorted. “Once I have it, I’ll let you go.”
“Fine, then. It’s about so big, right?” I made a shape about as big as a badger with my hands. “Baker hides it in Cookie’s tent. Underneath the flour sacks.”
“Stand up.” He waved his gun at me.
I stood, wobbly, as if the ground beneath me quaked, and then with all my strength pulled my muscles together, ready.
Snake-eyes looked me up and down. “Thought you was just a girl. You more like a woman.”
He stepped closer. I stepped back.

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Text from Forgiven by Janet Fox, published by Penguin/Speak. Copyright c 2011 by Janet Fox. All rights reserved. Find out more about Janet Fox and her books at her Web site.

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