This week, my nine-year-old pet parakeet injured himself and threw our household into a funk. It’s odd what one little, precious, feathered friend can do to your emotions. His leg went limp, making him cage bound and suddenly, he required lots of snuggle time with his flock. (My husband and me.) Which is why I’m a bit late with this week’s FSS.
I enjoyed writing the below scene — enjoyed it mostly because it reveals a bit of backstory on Luke’s dad. I love discovering backstory of a character later on in a book. Those times when an author reveals something and you go, “Ah! THAT’s why they’re like that.” So, here’s a bit of that.
(To read the full scene, click here. Enjoy the below excerpt from TMC’s chapter 16. Once again, if you’d like to post something here (with credit, of course) please shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
* * *
After a long pause, “Your father was, well…” [Cashal] said. He propped his glasses back on his nose before continuing, “Close to the Mortifer family.”
“And I remember one night, when Sean came to my office,” he continued. “His entire body looked taut. Except, his hands—those he couldn’t keep from shaking. And I heard him mutter, ‘He deserves to die.’ I looked at him, but he avoided my gaze. I asked, ‘Ryan?’ and he nodded. I didn’t take that lightly, but knowing Sean, I’m certain he’d never act irrationally.”
“What, there’s rational killing?”
“I call it self-defense.”
“You think my dad killed Ryan Mortifer, defending himself,” Luke said nonplussed.
Cashal sighed. “Maybe, I’m not sure. All I know is Sean’s innocent, however it happened. He may fire off a diatribe or two, but his heart’s too good for him to act on any threats.”
From his seat, Cashal conjured over several books from one of the tall bookshelves. They flew to him like birds, spines up, covers out, flapping like wings, and set themselves down in his lap. No matter where Cashal was books surrounded him. Luke found it comforting, as if all the answers in the world were just fingertips away from Cashal’s grasp.
A thought came to Luke. “But what could Ryan have done to make my dad so mad? They couldn’t have been that close.”
“He—said some things to Sean in public. Argued, basically.”
“What things?” Cashal wasn’t telling him something. And the frown emerging on his face solidified Luke’s guess.
“About his future, his character.”
“You’d think he’d have said something personal,” Luke said with a chuckle.
The candlelight twinkled across Cashal’s spectacles, his eyes shimmering. He placed his hands on his lap. For a few seconds, he didn’t say anything, just kept gazing at Luke. It wasn’t an uncomfortable gaze; however, Luke shifted in his chair all the same. Not often did he regret what he had said; this time, he did.
Finally, Cashal spoke. “Words, Luke, are powerful weapons. Whether it’s a father’s words or a friend’s words, what they say penetrates your mind, twists behind the corners of reason and emotion, and bites. That bite imbues you with pride or joy or love. Or, a Mortifer’s favorite, malice.
“While I won’t tell you exactly what Sean and Ryan argued about, I can tell you that whatever Ryan said to your father, I believe was hateful enough to provoke Sean’s actions. Words from the right person can kill your spirit, Luke. But I hope that you remember your father’s example when you learn certain things about your past and about the people surrounding your life and your fathers—speak your mind always, but act like Sean and do rationally.”
He finished with a gentle nod, scooped up the books in his lap, and moved to his desk. Luke’s mind was still trying to wrap around the entirety of what Cashal had said, when he realized Cashal had begun to read.
He felt uncomfortable just sitting there. Wasn’t it obvious that Cashal was through? But Luke wasn’t. He still had so many questions to ask, including why Cashal would only tell him so much. It was annoying. And frustrating—but sitting there only made him feel worse. Luke excused himself, made his way out into the library’s hallway and back to the apartment, his mind trying to dissect the entire time, what Cashal had said.