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A short passage from book #2 -- a dire onus

Discussion in 'Self-Promotion' started by Ronald T., Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour


    FREE E-BOOK – it’s yours, only on Amazon. Go to A Dire Onus: Fate stained him with the mark of doom...Destiny endowed him with the power to prevail (The Blood-Rune Saga Book 2) - Kindle edition by Ronald Taylor Smith. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. for a FREE download of A DIRE ONUS, book #2 in “The Blood-Rune Saga” series.

    “I have to admit…you amaze me,” he said. “You can pretend better than anyone I know. In fact, I was completely taken in by your performance.”
    Shartha didn’t even glance at Rucker as they walked in the direction of their ship. The smile she had used so freely with the sellswords had disappeared. In its place, he noticed a sullen frown. Rucker couldn’t help thinking what a shame it was that anything should spoil her lovely features. He found himself wishing for the return of her dazzling smile.
    “If you wanted to survive the disgusting world I was trapped in…you learned very soon how to fake a friendly smile. The girls who couldn’t were among those who ended up dead.”
    Immediately, Rucker knew what a fool he’d been. He intended to pay her a small yet honest compliment while at the same time making a slight joke of it. And all he’d achieved was to cause her pain.
    “I’m sorry for being so stupid. I forget how different your past has been from mine. And sometimes I just don’t use my head.” He glanced at her for an instant, and then turned his eyes back to the dockworkers ahead of them.
    “I hope you can forgive me for my dull-witted insensitivity.” He shook his head and frowned, cursing himself under his breath.
    I need to learn to keep my mouth shut.
    Feeling embarrassed, he walked on in silence.
    * * *
    When she glanced at Rucker, Shartha was surprised to see his pained expression. He truly did feel the emotion behind his words.
    All of a sudden, she too had to recognize how different their lives had been. Over the last four years, she’d trained herself to ignore what people said. It was always just a heap of self-serving bullshit. Soon after her kidnapping, she realized that in order to survive, she needed to figure out what people truly meant and what they really wanted. It was the only way to stay alive in a world full of cheaters, users, and liars.
    Recognizing the naive honesty in Rucker’s words caused her a momentary shock and, for an instant, she resented his innocence. She could no longer remember how it felt to be that clean and untainted, but she knew that somewhere in her childhood  in her distant past  she had been as decent and uncorrupted as Rucker still was.
    This sudden realization of what she’d lost brought her even more grief than recalling all the hated memories of the last four years. Only one thing caused her as much heartache as recognizing the loss of her own innocence: the fact that her father never came to rescue her.
    She did resent Rucker for his untainted naivety. But she loved him for showing her such virtue still existed in the world she had grown to despise.
    Slowly, sadly, she was becoming aware of how much she had changed over the last few years. She was also beginning to realize that the old saying – you become who you associate with – might actually be true.
    As she considered this, a fear began to grow in the darkest corners of her mind, a fear that she’d already been too long an undeniable – albeit unwilling – part of that sick, sordid world of sin and evil, lies and betrayal. She feared that in these past four years, perhaps she had become irretrievably “one of them”.
    Maybe it wasn’t so much a conscious choice after all, but something that happened mysteriously, over time, without the person even realizing just how deeply and completely their contamination had taken root. The possibility terrified her. Then she glanced at Rucker as a horrible thought flashed in her mind.
    “Do you think I’m a lost cause?’” she asked suddenly, stunned to hear the words coming out of her mouth, unbidden.
    When she saw that her question had surprised Rucker, she turned away, unable to look him in the eye. She knew he had no idea what she was referring to, or why she’d ask such a thing. As they walked, she could feel him staring at her, even though she kept her gaze focused straight ahead.
    “What do you mean…‘a lost cause’?” he asked.
    She was embarrassed and angry with herself for blurting out her thoughts. Feeling Rucker’s eyes upon her, she wondered what he must think of her for asking such a stupid question. She had to stop getting so emotional about everything. Strength was all that mattered if she wanted to survive in this world. And she wasn’t going to let anything drag her down.
    “Never mind,” she said with a curt tone. “I was only kidding around. I didn’t mean anything by it…just something that popped out.”
    * * *
    Somehow, Shartha’s words didn’t ring true to Rucker. He couldn’t imagine why she would’ve asked such a question. But he thought it best not to pry. It was easy to see she didn’t want to talk about it.
    Even so, he could feel the pain behind her words, and it made him want to put his arm around her and pull her close while they walked. He chose not to do that as well. However, after a few more paces, he could stay quiet no longer.
    “If you really want to know…I think you’re remarkable.”
    Rucker heard Shartha draw in a sudden gulp of air, and he saw her chin quiver and tears spill from her pain-filled eyes.
    Surprised by her reaction, he turned away to give her a moment of privacy. He was afraid to ask if she was all right. All he could think was that he’d said the wrong thing again  and this time he’d made her cry. Again, he wondered if he would ever learn when to keep his mouth shut.
    The rest of the way to the White Gull they walked in silence.

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