Starting today, a new feature:
TASTE THE BOOK
Whenever a new book comes out, the whole month will feature samples, bits and pieces from the pages to whet your appetite.
Today starts the taste tests for SU-MA, Quarry Hall Book Ten, from Desert Breeze Publishing:
"What is it?" Su-Ma stepped around him, to see what had caught his attention on the table. Just kitchen items. Mismatched plates, stock pots, dutch ovens. She was about to make a joke about someone having cleaned out a restaurant kitchen, but George reached out a visibly trembling hand and slowly wrapped his fingers around the handle of an electric teakettle. There were a number of electric appliances, such as three waffle irons, four Foreman grills, an electric skillet just like the one her grandmother had loved -- more than she ever loved Su-Ma -- and two blenders. She wondered what about the teakettle bothered him.
"This is -- no, it isn't the one -- but it's just like the one." George closed his eyes and made a visible effort to let go, but his fingers wouldn't quite unclench enough.
Shuddering, trying not to, Su-Ma inserted her fingers between his and the kettle handle, releasing his hand. She glanced around. No one seemed to notice. Sliding her arm around his waist and grasping his arm pressed between them, she led George away. There was nowhere to sit, unless she took him inside to the food court. If he collapsed on her, would she be able to get him inside?
"I'm okay," George said, his voice just raspy enough she couldn't believe him. He patted her hand. "Snow would laugh. He'd call me a crazy old soft-hearted weakling."
"The old man is dead," he crooned, his voice cracking but managing to hit half the notes of the song they had sung in church two weeks ago. "Long live the new creature."
"I'm okay, honey." He squeezed her hand and hauled himself straight with a shudder. "Did Anne ever tell you what I did to her?"
"What Snow did to her, not you," she insisted. They stepped under the shade of the produce awning and wove their way between shoppers, aiming for the doors to get them indoors.
"You're a good girl. Maybe a little stupid, being so loyal." A cracked chuckle escaped when his words wrung a squeak from her.
"You're punishing yourself, and you shouldn't. You're not Snow. God killed him."
"Shadow killed Snow," he muttered, his mouth flattening, eyes half-lidded, and his voice going cold, just for those few seconds. Just long enough for Su-Ma to glimpse the evil man he had been.