Monday, April 30, 2007

"Second Sight" Excerpt

Excerpt from Second Sight
Copyright Debbie Mumford 2007
Publisher Freya's Bower

Jenny glanced up when Zach strode through the door. His tall form filled the doorway and her world sparkled with possibility. At the same time, the book he carried called her tiger from bondage. The tiny hairs along the nape of her neck leapt to attention. She marshaled all her strength to push both terror and elation from her mind and rose to greet Zach.

“Good morning, Zach,” she said, managing a polite smile. “Shall we start your translation now?”
Zach studied her with a soul-piercing gaze. Her ego squirmed under his scrutiny, but her expression remained impassive—a practiced skill. Finally, he relented and shrugged his broad shoulders.

“It’s up to you, Miss Murdoch. You had a bad reaction to the book yesterday.” He held up his hand to ward off objection. “I’m a psychic and a trained observer. The book upset you. If you’d prefer, I’ll take it elsewhere.”

Jenny closed her eyes briefly, unable to bear the compassion written on his face. There had been little enough compassion in her life. Pity, yes, in abundance, but not compassion. She didn’t know how to deal with it. The tiger paced in the back of her mind, awaiting his opportunity. Ignoring impatient growls, she opened her eyes.

“I discussed the situation with my uncle last night.” She mirrored Zach’s hand gesture to forestall interruption. “Don’t worry. He gave me permission to decline the project. However, I believe I can translate your document and I’d like to try.”

“Where do you want to work? Here, or in the conference room?”

“Let’s go to the conference room. The enclosed space minimizes distractions.” She nodded toward the wide front window and the pedestrians wending their way along the busy downtown street.

They moved quietly down the hall and into the conference room. When they reached the massive mahogany table, he repeated his actions of the previous day, withdrawing and unwrapping the volume with an economy of effort.

Jenny expected him to sit once the book had been exposed, but he didn’t. She had the uncomfortable feeling he wanted to be ready for any unexpected action on her part. He exuded a strange mixture of empathy and reserve. His presence disturbed her balance and she had to work to banish him from her mind and concentrate on the leather-bound book.

Taking a moment to ground herself firmly in the here and now, Jenny drew on her white gloves, widened her stance and planted her navy pumps on the plush forest green carpeting. She gripped the back of the black leather client chair and basked in the room’s familiar psychic aura. Her surroundings oozed comfort, and the man beside her, though potentially distracting, radiated warmth and compassion. She accepted his support and added it to her defenses. Armor fully in place, she reached for the book.

White clad fingers caressed the fine leather of the cover. She acknowledged the tiger’s agitated pacing but kept her attention focused on the runes. She’d never seen this type before, not in any text she’d studied, or in any of the obscure fragments her uncle’s friends had brought for scrutiny. She turned pages at random, stopping here and there to trace a rune with her index finger.

Her finger hadn’t quite finished the journey across one particularly complex rune when she glanced up at Zach. She intended to tell him she couldn’t help, couldn’t find meaning in these symbols, but her finger completed the design and the tiger leapt free of his confined corner, bounded to the center of her mind and roared triumphantly.


Second Sight is available from Freya's Bower!