If you haven't had the chance to read the first installment of The Refuge Trilogy, Annexed, the ebook is available free until the end of December! (Smashwords)
This book is set up a little differently from Annexed. We do get to continue following Narissa's story, but interspersed between the chapters, we get mini-chapters that show Kauri's story.
We get to share with you the first mini-chapter, which starts the book. So, without further ado, here it is:
auri stood in the dark, surrounded by trees; the warmth pouring from the cabin windows taunted her. Finally, knowing she couldn’t put if off any longer, she made her way past a cluster of shrubs and through the yard. Up the steps. Across the front deck. Facing the door, she took a deep breath. She knocked.
As she waited for the door to open, Kauri wanted to turn away. Instead, she placed her feet more solidly. She had a promise to fulfill.
“Kauri, come in,” Leah said, a smile brightening her face. “Narissa isn’t home yet but you’re welcome to join us.”
“Actually, I came to see you,” Kauri said, concerned she might not be welcomed once her news was shared. “It’s about Narissa.”
Leah’s smile disappeared. “Is something wrong?”
“Aye. No.” She took a steadying breath. “It’s somewhat complicated.”
“You’d best sit, then,” Leah said, leading the way into the living room. The rest of the family sat on the floor playing a worn board game. “Kids, we need some privacy.”
“Oh, no,” Kauri objected. “They should hear this, too.”
Curiosity showed on the faces that turned to her. She couldn’t help wondering if it might have been best to speak to Leah privately after all.
“Mac, get Kauri something to drink,” Leah ordered.
An awkward silence permeated the room as they waited for Mac to return from the kitchen. When he entered the room he carried a tray with enough drinks for everyone. After passing them around, he sat on the couch next to his mother.
Kauri sipped her water, trying to choose the best way to say what she’d come to explain. Finally, she came to a decision. “Narissa won’t be home tonight.”
“Why ever not?” Leah asked.
“She—she’s left,” Kauri fumbled. She silently cursed herself. She should have planned this better. Planned what to say. It would have made things go more smoothly, but she hadn’t had the easiest day. It just hadn’t occurred to her to plan ahead.
“What do you mean?” Greg asked.
Only Mac didn’t look confused. “She did it, then. She went through the gateway.”
Kauri nodded, grateful she hadn’t had to say those words. It would make the rest easier.
The room filled with an explosion of sound.
“Please, let me finish,” Kauri begged. When the noise had quieted, she continued. “Narissa discovered where the gateway was, but the only way to learn if it still worked was to try it. She asked me to thank you for sharing your lives with her, and to let you know she loves you all.”
Beth lifted her tear-streaked face. “Why didn’t she say goodbye?”
Kauri fought back a sob, remembering the pain that had consumed her friend. “Her decision was last-minute.”
Greg and Leah sat wide-eyed. Kauri had seen the depth of grief they displayed before, but only at the hospital when she’d been involved with informing a parent their child’s life had ended.
“I’m sorry,” Kauri said, knowing it wouldn’t help. “There is still a chance you’ll see her again.”
“How?” Leah choked on the word.
“I believe she’ll look for a way to return.”
“Why would she?” Beth asked. “She wanted to leave all summer.”
“She loves us, Beth,” Mac insisted, his voice fierce. “Maybe she’ll come to realize how much. She only wanted to go back for her sister. If she finds a way back here, she could bring her sister with her.”
Beth scrubbed the tears from her cheeks.
Mac turned back to Kauri. “How will she get back in? She’s stuck there without help. Do you really believe she’ll be able to figure it out on her own?”
Kauri just stared. Then she realized what she’d left out. “She isn’t alone.”
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About the Author:
Rebecca McKinnon has spent her life in a world filled with books, which she devours at an alarming rate. Her best friends include Bekka Cooper, Lady Katsa, Will Stanton and Ron Weasley. The biggest compliment she can give a book is that it was impossible to put down. She currently lives near Salt Lake City with her husband, three kids and a cat. To learn more about Rebecca, visit rebeccamckinnon.com