by Eric von Schmidt (Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, 1964)
Okay. It’s time for a teensy bit of name dropping. I have this cousin who is a brilliant singer and songwriter and he’s racked up a few Grammys as well. (Do you say Grammies? I don’t think so.) If you are into good, old-fashioned bluegrass and Americana, check out Jim Lauderdale. Musicians are such great storytellers, don’t you think? Sometimes I wonder if I can pack the same amount of heart and soul into a 500-word picture book that he can in a 3-minute song.
That’s partly why I was so drawn to this book, The Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn. And that was even before I realized that there were all kinds of connections to song. That title begs to be picked and strummed, right?
I purchased this book a while back from Elwood and Eloise on Etsy. The owner, Mallory, also runs an excellent illustration blog, My Vintage Book Collection (in blog form), which is an incredible archive of gorgeous out of print materials. Thank goodness she sells some of her collection, cause I’ve added some sparkle to my own thanks to her shop. (Also, the images in this post are courtesy of her post here.)
This is the story of Jeremy Sneeze. Where he fails as a farmer he succeeds at making children laugh. (Which is to say by wiggling his ears.) He replaces fallen birds nests and makes pictures and poems. And so, of course, the elders of his town denounce his slack and shifless ways. A town meeting. A crow. A spell is cast. A sneeze. A surprise.
This book’s design is reminiscent of a song. Here’s what I mean. That color—washes of analogous color in oranges and yellows and greens, those are the harmonies to the stark black’s melody. It’s steady and rhythmic like the downbeats of an upright bass. Unless they are splashed and chaotic like a mandolin’s intricacies.
On top of stellar bookmaking, the story itself is a sweeping epic wrapped up in the short pages of a picture book. Listen to some of its lines:
Just about then he would get to puzzling about other things like “How high is up?” or “Who plants the dandelions?” or “Where do the stars go during the day?”
And every year all Jeremy had to offer was a big weedy field filled with assorted brambles and unchopped briars, bounded by dirty broken boulders.
Flap-flap, past bats that watched with eyes like razors, past lizards, toads, and laughing spiders, down past rats and rattlesnakes and monkeys dreaming evil dreams of moons.
We have specials today on stars that dance or boiling oceans, and a bargain rate for setting mountains into motion.
He hurled himself at the brambles and flung himself at the weeds with such speed you couldn’t tell which was hoe and which was crow.
True enough he is a sorry farmer. But in his head dwell pictures and in his heart are poems.
The listen-ability, the meter, the storytelling grumble. It’s all here. What a gem.
P.S.—A bit of poking around online still left me slightly confused about the history of this book and the similar-ly titled song. Did the book inspire the song? Did the song know about the book? I think the song inspired the nitty-gritty backstory of the young man who wouldn’t hoe corn. I can’t really tell, so I’ll just be sitting here enjoying both. Hope you are too.
You know, after 5+ years, we’ve covered a lot of writing-related topics at this blog. At times, it’s a challenge to come up with meaningful material that hasn’t been done to death. So I was super excited to receive C.S. Lakin’s post on a topic that we’ve never discussed before at Writers Helping Writers—a topic that I’d never actually even heard of before: using image systems to improve your novel. What the heck is an image system? I’m so glad you asked….
Filmmakers use a term called “image systems,” and novelists can benefit greatly by creating a similar kind of image system for their novel.
Just What is an Image System?
Think of the overall message coming through your novel. What themes are you honing in on? What controversial issues or moral dilemmas are you presenting? What is the “take-home” feeling you want to leave with your reader after she finishes reading the last page. Asking these questions can help you step back and look at the tone, mood, and intent of your story.
In a film, an image system might include repeating shot compositions—for example, a movie might use a certain shape or image in a landscape and repeat it throughout the film. An image system often uses specific colors—some which may not be easy at first to notice or that work on a subliminal level in some way.
Great novelists know the power of motif and symbolism, often using something like a repeated word or phrase, or an object of importance to the character, to bring a richness to the story and to enhance the theme of their novel. In effect, they are creating something similar to an image system. By taking a look at some of the ways filmmakers develop image systems for their films, novelists can learn much and expand their technique.
Get a Clear Vision of the Story You Are Telling
Filmmaker Gustav Mercado says, “If you want to become an effective storyteller, one of the most important things you can do is to have a clear vision of your story, so that it reflects your unique take on it, not somebody else’s. . . . Anything and everything that is included in the composition of a shot will be interpreted by an audience as being there for a specific purpose that is directly related and necessary to understand the story they are watching [or reading, in the case of a novel].”
Writers, as well as filmmakers, need to first identify the core ideas of their story in order to create an image system. Once that is determined, they can design a system that supports and brings out that core idea in either obvious or subtle ways consistently implemented throughout the book.
Ask these questions about each of your scenes:
• What are the main elements (or one main element) that should dominate the scene and be brought to the reader’s attention? Can these be an object or word/phrase or bit of setting that can be symbolic and repetitive in your novel?
• What should and shouldn’t be included in the scene that will help the reader focus on that element? (Think about all that unnecessary narrative or trivial dialog.)
• What meaning will be conveyed subconsciously by these elements you show?
Overlying all this is your main theme or core idea. You’ve perhaps been told you should be able to sum up your premise in a sentence or two (elevator pitch). In that premise lies your core idea for your book. You may have gotten a germ of an idea for your novel, and from that you developed characters with issues and goals, and you came up with settings and scene ideas to play out your storyline. But overlying all that is your core idea.
In Just a Few Words
See if you can encapsulate the main theme or idea of your story in one line or a few words. For example, the core idea behind the movie Rocky might be about gaining self-respect. That’s a simple summation. But if you can come up with a basic thematic concept, you can gear the elements in your scenes to bring out that theme.
Emblematic Shots to Highlight Theme
Think about including emblematic elements that reveal theme and motif.
• Is there a place your character keeps coming back to?
• An emotion she keeps struggling with that can be symbolized by a particular scene composition and “camera angle”?
• A place where she reflects and looks out on the world that can subliminally indicate her mood, self-image, or view of others?
• An object that she studies close up?
Emblematic shots are usually placed at the beginning and end of meaningful scenes, to emphasize them, make them stand out.
Sum It Up in One Picture
Here’s something you can try. Imagine taking one (only one) snapshot of your novel (not of the actual physical book). This picture needs to “tell” what the core idea or theme of your story is about. Think movie poster.
A movie poster has to somehow convey the feel and premise of the entire movie. Imagine showing this picture you took of your novel to a stranger and asking him what he thinks the theme or core idea is behind the photo. Ask him what symbolism comes through. Did you include symbolic elements? What colors did you choose?
Even without knowing the emotional power of each color, we all resonate similarly when it comes to colors. Can you come up with one image that can be the core of your image system? We’ve heard the cliché: a picture is worth a thousand words. If your picture can just speak a dozen key words to you, you can build an image system around it.
Try jotting down six key words that best “represent” your novel. Then think of emblematic images, places, objects, or phrases that will capture those succinctly.
Developing an image system is just one way to infuse your novel with cinematic technique. The more novelists can borrow great “tools” from filmmakers, the more visually powerful and dynamic their novels will be.
What about your novel? Can you come up with some elements to make up your image system? Share your “poster” concept in the comments. Do you have some emblematic objects, places, or phrases that help create an image system for your story? If so, share them!
C. S. Lakin is a multipublished best-selling novelist and writing coach. She works full-time as a copyeditor and critiques about two hundred manuscripts a year. She teaches writing workshops and gives instruction on her award-winning blog Live Write Thrive. Her new book—Shoot Your Novel: Cinematic Technique to Supercharge Your Story—is designed to help writers learn the secrets of cinematic technique. You can buy it here in print and as an ebook. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
The post How Image Systems Can Supercharge a Novel appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Maya! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Maya Banks] Introverted, cave-dweller, book-lover, LOVES-to-dish-romance!, SO grateful to my readers.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?
[Maya Banks] Keep Me Safe is a LONG awaited story for me. I’ve wanted to write this story and book 3 for SO long. I’ve had those two stories in my head for YEARS. But a concise peek (and I’m not very concise!) is that Ramie has psychic abilities, unique abilities, that enable her to track kidnapping victims by touching an object belonging to the victim. She makes a connection to them, but the downside is that she experiences every thing the victim does once she makes that connection. Everything. So it’s rather horrifying. She’s an empath who is only able to feel or detect the evil in people. Never the good. So her “gift” is more of a curse since she’s never able to feel the GOOD.
Caleb hunts her down when his sister is abducted and they’ve exhausted all leads. He knows he’s racing against the clock and when Ramie refuses because she’s at her breaking point, he “forces” her compliance by shoving his sister’s scarf into her hands and holding her hands around it. And promptly sends her to hell.
Horrified by what he’s done, he’s determined to make it up to her. But she disappears and no amount of searching on his part is able to unearth her. Until she contacts him a year later because she’s in terrible danger and doesn’t know who else to turn to.
And well, thus begins their journey
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Maya Banks] As stated above, this is a story I’ve literally had in my head for many years. And the first thing that came to me was a single scene where the hero forces the heroine’s compliance when she initially refuses his request for her to help find his kidnapped sister. The hero has no idea what hell he has just unleashed on the heroine and has no idea the toll it takes on her and is appalled when he discovers just what he’s done.
That scene, which is the opening scene of Keep Me Safe, was the basis for the entire story and subsequent series. Book 3 in the Slow Burn series, Safe At Last, is ALSO a story that I have had the idea living in my head for many years and I’m THRILLED not only to get to write Caleb and Ramie’s story, but Zack’s and Gracie’s story in book 3. (Finally!)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Maya Banks] Everything! Every single word. After waiting so long to be able to bring this story to light I loved every scene.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?
[Maya Banks] Honestly nothing. When you’ve had as long as I have to think about this story you don’t encounter many “bumps in the road” simply because you’ve had so long to go over the possibilities, arrange and rearrange constantly until you KNOW exactly what you want to do with the story.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?
[Maya Banks] Uh well I think it changes often or at least I can’t think of ONE song that would fit me all the time. I’m extremely eclectic and my music tastes range WIDELY.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
[Maya Banks] My laptop.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Maya Banks] While I DO have an office and a desk, I don’t always use it. I tend to switch places (writing spots) and currently my office isn’t it, so my desk is pretty clean!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Maya Banks] Ok as you’re no doubt discovering I’m a really boring person! I honestly can’t think of anyone I’d like to trade places with because I’m a FIRM believer in “the grass is always greener…until you get there”
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Maya Banks] I’ve had VERY little reading time this year because I’ve been sidelines by health issues I’ve mostly been reading my OWN stories as I write them lol. BUT reading is ESSENTIAL for me. Especially after I come off an exhausting, stressful deadline. Reading helps me recharge the batteries and helps me rediscover my love of romance and it motivates me to go write another kickass book.
But at the same time, sometimes, especially when I DON’T have a lot of time, I don’t want to risk a new author or a new title that I’m unsure that I’ll LIKE. It’s at times like these that I fall back on my “comfort re-reads” These are books that I love no matter HOW many times I re-read them. I’ve literally read them dozens and DOZENS of time because I KNOW they won’t disappoint me and the make me happy and motivate me to write something truly special.
So after coming off a VERY exhausting, DRAINING deadline a week ago, I was WASTED but I needed a “comfort re-read” so I chose three of Kresley Cole’s books in her IAD series and just went to bed and curled up with my super comfy pillows (I LOVE my down pillows and I LOVE my bed and down comforter and my AWESOME linens) Bed accessories are my one indulgence. So I took two days and just decompressed and read some Kresley Cole books just to give my brain a rest and make it “happy”
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Maya Banks] I am VERY close to my family. I have an EXTREMELY close and open relationship with all thee of my teenage children. I know, I know! Shocking, right?? And my favorite thing in the WORLD is simply being able to put my work away after finishing a deadline and even if it’s just all crashing on the couch together and watching a movie, or gathering in the kitchen over a family meal and discussing what’s going on with them and school, these are the times I savor the most. I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
I also love to travel and I am NOT a planner. If my husband and I actually try to sit down and plan out a trip down to the minutest detail months in advance, we become overwhelmed and frustrated and can never decide exactly what we want to do. We LOVE taking spur of the moment trips with no more than a day’s notice and we seem to be less frustrated with the “details” when we just GO instead of trying to plan it all out.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Maya Banks] I hang out on Facebook and Twitter quite frequently. And I’m always available via email and my website always contains the latest, up to date information on all my books and releases. Links are below
Keep Me Safe
Slow Burn # 1
By: Maya Banks
Releasing October 7th, 2014
A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks
When Caleb Devereaux’s younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.
While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.
Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie’s vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will do risk everything to protect her—including his heart. . . .
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/keep-me-safe-slow-burn-1-by-maya-banks.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20910177-keep-me-safe?from_search=true
Maya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.
She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.
Caleb Devereaux turned out of the sharp switchback and onto the driveway leading up to the tiny mountain cabin, swearing when he hit pothole after pothole. Fury and impatience simmered in his blood but the anticipation of having finally found Ramie St. Claire after an exhaustive search kept his mood from being completely black.
Ramie was his sister, Tori’s, only hope.
The moment Tori was kidnapped, Caleb had begun his search for Ramie St. Claire. She certainly wasn’t the first person on most people’s go-to list when looking for a loved one. Ramie was psychic and had been helpful in locating victims in the past. While many would be skeptical, Caleb absolutely believed in Ramie’s abilities.
His own sister had psychic abilities.
He and his brothers, Beau and Quinn, had always been extremely overprotective of their baby sister. With good reason. Caleb was the head of a veritable empire. Security was always top priority. They’d always feared kidnapping for ransom, but in their worst nightmares they’d never imagined that Tori would simply disappear and be at the mercy of a madman.
There’d been no ransom demand. Simply a video of Tori bound hand and foot and the maniacal laughter of her captor as he told Caleb to kiss his sister goodbye.
He just prayed he wasn’t too late. God, don’t let it be too late for Tori.
It infuriated him that Ramie St. Claire had simply dropped off the map three months ago. No trace of her, no forwarding address. No evidence that she even existed. How could she simply disappear when she was such an invaluable aid in finding kidnap victims and missing persons? How selfish of her to simply refuse, by her actions, to help anyone?
He’d worked himself into a rage by the time he finally pulled up to the small cabin that looked as though it wouldn’t weather the upcoming winter at all. He wasn’t even certain there would be electricity. Only a person determined not to be found would live in a place like this.
He got out and strode to the ramshackle front door, his fist up and pounding. The door shook and rattled under the force of his knock. Only silence greeted him and it sent his blood pressure soaring.
“Miss St. Claire!” he roared. “Answer the goddamn door!”
He beat on the door again, shouting again for her to answer. He likely looked and sounded like the madman holding his sister, but at this point he didn’t care. He was beyond desperation. It had taken every resource available to him to finally track Ramie down. No way in hell he was leaving until he’d gotten the information he’d come for.
Then the door swung open and he was greeted by the sight of a petite woman with wary, gray eyes. He was momentarily taken aback, going silent as he stared at Ramie St. Claire for the first time in person.
The photos he’d seen of her didn’t do her justice. There was a delicate air to her as though she were recovering from an illness, but it in no way detracted from her beauty. She looked…fragile. He felt a brief moment of guilt for what he was about to ask her to do, but he brushed it away. There was no price too high to pay for his sister’s life.
“I can’t help you.”
Her softly spoken words slid like velvet over his ears, a direct contrast from the anger her refusal caused. He hadn’t even made his request yet and she was already giving him the brush-off.
“You don’t even know what it is I want,” he said in an icy tone that would wither most people.
“It’s rather obvious,” she said wearily, fatigue drooping her eyelids. “Why else would you come all this way? I don’t even want to know how you found me. It’s obvious I did a piss poor job of covering my tracks if you managed to find me here.”
Caleb frowned. Had she been ill? Was that why she’d dropped out of sight so she could recover? It didn’t matter why now that he’d found her. He didn’t care what her reasons were.
“With your abilities why would you purposely make yourself difficult to find?” he demanded. “My sister’s life is at stake here, Miss St. Claire. I’m not merely asking you to help me. I’m not leaving until you do.”
She shook her head adamantly, fear chasing the lethargy from her eyes. “I can’t.”
There was quiet desperation to her words that told him there was more to her refusal than what appeared on the surface. Something was wrong and yet he couldn’t summon any regret for forcing her compliance. Not when Tori’s life hung in the balance.
He reached inside his jacket and pulled out Tori’s scarf. The one item they’d found at the sight where she must have been taken. In the parking lot of a grocery store beside the open door of her car. He should have never let her go alone. He’d failed her. Failed to protect her. Failed to ensure proper security.
Ramie immediately backed away, a desperate cry on her lips. He shoved forward, forcing the scarf into her hands and holding her and the scarf so there was no escape. She emitted a broken sob and she looked up at him, stricken, her face going unnaturally pale. Her pupils flared and then clouded, pain and devastation clearly outlined on her features.
“No,” she whispered. “Not again. Oh God, not again. I won’t survive it.”
Her knees buckled and she would have gone down, but he caught her, ensuring the scarf never lost contact with her hands. He watched in horror as Ramie’s body sagged, slipping from his grasp despite his best effort to support her weight. She was simply lifeless, as limp as a rag doll. He quickly followed her down to the floor, determined that she not lose her grip on Tori’s scarf. But it didn’t seem to matter now. Ramie was somewhere else.
Her eyes glazed over and her body began to twitch spasmodically. She curled into a fetal position, the fragility of such a self-protective measure gutting him. She moaned softly and then began to weep.
“Please don’t hurt me again. Please, I’m begging you. I can’t take any more. If you’re going to kill me, just do it. Quit torturing me.”
Chill bumps spread rapidly up Caleb’s nape as Ramie’s voice, which sounded nearly identical to Tori’s, filled his ears. Dear God, was he witnessing what was happening to his sister through Ramie?
The scene Ramie was painting was horrifying. Not only for the fact that his sister was even now enduring the absolute worse. But from all appearances, Ramie was suffering with her.
He’d certainly done his research on Ramie St. Claire’s abilities but there was little information beyond her astonishing success record. No mention of how she managed to help victims or what it did to her. God help them all. What had he done?
Her body jerked and it took only a moment for Caleb to realize what was happening. It was too unmistakable. Bile rose in his throat and he had to suck in steadying breaths to keep from heaving the contents of his stomach on the floor. Tears burned his eyelids as he helplessly watched his sister being raped through the window of Ramie’s awareness.
Ramie’s weeping tore at his heart and he gathered her into his arms, not knowing what else to do but rock her gently. “Tori?” He whispered his sister’s name experimentally, not knowing if a link had been established through Ramie. “Can you hear me? It’s Caleb. Tell me where you are, honey. I’ll come for you. Hold on please. Don’t give up, no matter how bad it is.”
Ramie’s head jerked sideways and the imprint of a hand immediately appeared on her cheek. Caleb was horrified, unsure of what to do now that he’d crossed a line he couldn’t come back from. He tried to push back his guilt, telling himself that anything that helped him recover his sister was worth it. But was torturing an innocent woman worth it?
He hadn’t given her a choice. She’d told him no and yet he’d forced this on her not knowing the heavy toll it would take. He had no idea how her powers worked and now that he did he was sick to his soul. No wonder she’d been so resistant. No wonder she’d told him she couldn’t do it anymore.
“Ramie. Ramie!” he said in a more forceful voice. “Come back to me, Ramie. Come back so you can tell me how to find her.”
Ramie’s eyes were opened but so distant that he knew she wasn’t here. The imprint of the hand on her face was bright and vivid, red against deathly white skin. There was a look of such defeat and despair in her eyes that once again he found himself battling tears.
Suddenly she hunched inward, her entire body jolting as though absorbing a blow. She wrapped her arms around her stomach and he realized that she’d been kicked. Or rather Tori had been kicked. It was a horrific, helpless feeling to know that two women were being victimized, one because of him.
Then she simply rolled away, her cheek lying against the cold floor, her eyes fixed and vacant. She was completely still and terror gripped him. Was Tori dead? Oh dear God! Had he just witnessed his sister’s murder?
“Ramie! Wake up! God, please wake up. Tell me how to find her. Tell me that she’s still alive!”
He picked Ramie’s slight weight up, swearing because she was so thin and fragile, weighing nothing in his arms. He carried her to the worn sofa and carefully laid her down, not wanting to hurt her any more than she’d already been hurt.
He sat on the edge, gathering her icy hands in his, rubbing, trying to infuse warmth. He had no idea what to do. Should he take her to a hospital?
Then after several long moments, she blinked and seemed to come out of her trance. Pain immediately swamped her features and she began to silently weep again, each tear cutting him to ribbons.
“Is she still alive?” he asked anxiously. “Do you know how to find her?”
“Yes,” Ramie said dully.
Hope surged in his heart and he found himself nearly crushing her hands in his.
“Tell me where,” he urged.
Slowly and painfully she whispered the location down to the minutest detail. Chills once again slithered up his spine at the precision in which she described not only the location but the kidnapper. She even provided a license plate number.
He picked up his phone and immediately called his brother, relaying the information that Ramie had provided. When he was done, he stared helplessly down at Ramie, grateful and yet deeply regretful for what he’d just subjected her to.
“What do I need to do to help you?” he asked softly.
Resignation dulled her eyes even further. “There’s nothing you can do,” she said in a flat voice. “Just go.”
“The hell I’ll just leave you here!”
He was already calculating in his head that he could simply bring her with him. He could get her the care she so obviously needed at the same time Tori was receiving what she needed.
“Your sister needs you. Just go. I’ll be fine.”
The lie was so obvious, but it seemed to be all she could muster. He was torn between rushing to be with Tori and staying to ensure Ramie would be all right. But how could she be? Two women would live with this for the rest of their lives. His precious sister and the woman he’d forced to help him never knowing the price she’d pay.
“Please,” she begged, her voice breaking. “Just go and leave me be. I gave you what you wanted. I helped you, now go. It’s the least you can do.”
Caleb stood, wiping a hand over his hair and down the back of his neck in agitation. “I’ll go, but I’m coming back, Ramie. I’m going to make this up to you.”
“You can never take this back,” she whispered. “There’s no making up for what’s been done. Just go and take care of your sister. She needs you.”
She closed her eyes, tears seeping from her eyelids. How could he just leave her like she asked? And yet how could he not go and ensure that his sister was safely recovered? He’d never felt so torn in his life.
“If you have any humanity whatsoever, you’ll leave and never tell anyone where you found me,” Ramie said hoarsely. “Please, I’m begging you. Just go. He plans to kill her tomorrow. At dawn. You don’t have much time.”
Her words proved to be the impetus, driving him to action. But goddamn it, he would make this up to her. Somehow, someway.
Regret swamped him. Worse was the fact that even knowing now what he hadn’t known before, he couldn’t say he would have done anything differently. Not when it meant the difference between Tori’s life and death. But at least now he better understood Ramie’s resistance. No longer did he look at her and think she was selfish and cruel. Now he realized her disappearance had been self-preservation. He didn’t know she’d survived this in the past. He just prayed he wasn’t the tipping point in pushing her so far over the edge she’d never recover.
Caleb closed his eyes and then gently touched her cheek. “I’m so sorry. You’ll never know how much. My family and I owe you more than I can ever repay. I’ll go for now and pray to God I’m not too late. But I’m coming back, Ramie. Count on it. I’ll make this up to you if it’s the very last thing I do.”
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