(The Prologue and Chapter One will be at the end of this introduction email!)
As you all know, 'Redeeming the Darkness' is coming out this summer! While I'm not quite sure of the exact release date, I am pretty excited to start talking about the book, and like I did with book one, offer up some sneak peeks!
This is obviously the unedited version, but I'm very excited to introduce you to these characters and start talking about this novel. I have to say, even though writing your first book is epic, I think I had a little more fun writing about Ivy and Zane.
Those of you who read book one will be excited to learn that Ivy is the second oldest of the seven children Brennan and Bentley, from 'Finding Home in Redemption' have. She's in her early twenties and extremely hungry for an adventure. Needless to say, adventure finds her in the form of a hunk that needs a wife, and she's not one to shy away from opportunity.
I hope all of you enjoy Ivy and Zane as much as I have. I can't wait for everyone to get to read the full novel in the next couple months!
So, finally, I'm so excited to introduce 'Redeeming the Darkness' to you! Thanks! WMorgan
Redeeming the Darkness -
PROLOGUE - IVY - FIFTEEN YEARS OLD
“Ivy Kendall Murphy! You better get in here right now!” Mom’s voice carried from the kitchen. She’d used my full name and that usually meant business. Dad chose the middle name when I was born, deciding to name me after Mom. She always said it was strange when she would yell it because she felt like she was yelling at herself.
“Coming!” I shouted back to her from my room. If I wasted any time responding I’d have to deal with Dad, so I hurried down. She didn’t hesitate when I rounded the corner, getting right to the point of this meeting.
“Do you know who stopped me when I was leaving the school today?” she asked. I moved to the island and sat down on the bench. Mom was our school’s counselor, so it didn’t matter how secretly I did things, I could never hide anything from my parents. I decided playing dumb would be a mistake and opted for the truth.
“Mr. Carp?” I asked.
“Exactly correct. Mr. Carp pulled me into his classroom and made me sit at a desk like I was a petulant child. And do you know why he pulled me into his class?”
“Because he was missing his toupee?”
“Correct again. Ivy, that’s the third time this year that his toupee has gone missing.”
I tried to stifle my laugh but I couldn’t. Dad walked in, and seeing Mom’s face; he narrowed his eyes at me.
“What happened this time, another fire?” he asked. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked even bigger than he usually did. Why did parents seem so big when you were in trouble?
“Your daughter has been stealing Mr. Carp’s toupee and hiding it in other classrooms,” she said. She acted as if I were murdering innocent people and stashing bodies everywhere. I took my time moving my eyes toward my father. I dreaded his reaction but was surprised to see his expression.
His cheeks were twitching like he wanted to speak or smile, I wasn’t sure which until I looked at his eyes and realized he was about to lose it. Laugh lines on both sides were starting to become more visible as the seconds ticked by and he eventually took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“I’m confused,” he said, tilting his head to one side like that would help him see the situation differently.
“Ivy has been stealing a hairpiece out of a teacher’s classroom. She’s been hiding it around the school for him to go find, Brennan. What about this is confusing?” Mom was waving her hands around like she did when she got flustered. I hated when I made her flustered, because I usually got grounded afterward.
“I’m so sorry, babe, but I’m not prepared to handle this situation.” He turned and quickly walked up the stairs and out of sight.
“I’m sorry,” I tried. I turned and looked back at my mom’s disappointed face.
“I just don’t understand how you keep finding it. Albert said after the teachers bring it back, he hides it in a new spot.”
“His first name would be something like Albert,” I fake gagged.
“Now that’s just silly.” She walked to the cabinet to get a glass and filled it up with water from the freezer door. “Albert is a perfectly normal name.”
“Albert Carp? Nothing about that name is normal.”
“Ivy, how do you keep finding his hairpiece?”
“The real question we need to ask is, why in the world does he have a toupee at school in a drawer? Do you think he’s trying to impress a lady or do you think he wears it for bingo night?” I asked.
“Heaven help me! It doesn’t matter why he has it. I want to know how you keep finding it.”
“I look at it as a scavenger hunt,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
“But why would you want to touch it?” She let a laugh slip and tried to disguise it as a cough.
“I usually borrow the janitor's gloves.”
“You steal George’s gloves?” Shock and mortification covered her features.
“No, he lets me use them!” I said before she thought I was stealing things, too. Stealing things other than Mr. Carp’s toupee, that is.
“He lets you borrow them?” her eyes got a little bigger and slightly crazy looking.
“Mom, have you ever heard how Mr. Carp talks to George? It’s like he’s dirt or something and I can’t stand it! So, me and George figured out a way to get back at the old fish.”
“I can’t listen to this!” She was laughing now. With no way to disguise it she covered her ears and started walking away. “You can’t scheme with other faculty members anymore, Ivy. Daniel almost lost his eyebrows last time.”
“How was it my fault that he lit the fire too soon? He didn’t give me enough time! Mom, Daniel should have been paying attention to my signal, if you ask me!”
“Ivy! Your father and grandfather are respected, retired police officers in this town and I work at the school. You have got to calm down with your insane pranks.”
“They’re not pranks,” I corrected. “I’m just curious.”
“Curious. And what was the goal outcome of hiding the hairpiece?” she asked.
“I don’t want to say,” I answered. I looked down at my hands sitting in my lap and pretended to pick something off my nails.
“Tell me,” she demanded. I took a steadying breath.
“I wanted to see if he would flounder,” I admitted.
My father’s booming laugh broke the silence and Mom was barely holding it in. She pointed to the stairs. “Room, now!”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I said. I dragged my feet all the way up the stairs and into my bedroom. When I got to my bed, I fell face down onto my comforter.
I turned and looked at the wall to my left, staring at the pictures of cool maps I’d collected over the years.
I wished I could have some kind of adventure in my life. I just wanted to explore and discover things on my own. I loved all my siblings and my grandparents, but someone was always trailing me.
I wanted to do something no one in my family had ever done before.
CHAPTER ONE - IVY
I started talking about moving to Taylorsville, Ohio to live with my grandparents when I was sixteen years old. My mom was hurt for a long time because she thought she’d done something to drive me away, but that wasn’t the case at all.
I always seemed to be the Murphy kid that broke all of the rules. It didn’t bother me that that was how people saw me, but when I graduated high school, I was ready to leave that brand behind.
I was ready to experience new things.
I was ready for my adventure.
Not many people would think moving in with your grandparents that were in their seventies would be an adventure, but those people had never met Pop and Gram.
Mom and Dad tried to convince me to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Murphy, and while I loved them and would miss them so much, it wasn’t far enough away. I think after a while Mom finally understood moving was something I didn’t just want, it was something I needed.
Pop said I could live with them and I was beyond grateful even though I wanted to work hard to get out on my own. Gram told me to take my time, but I knew I wanted to be independent more than anything. They were both so happy to have one of us living near them since we’d been a three-hour drive our entire lives.
Pop offered me a job cleaning cars and doing janitorial things at Cooper’s Cars & Stuff, the business he built from the ground up. I accepted the position immediately and became the fastest car cleaner they’d ever seen. I was technically quicker than my mother had been, and she’d worked there since she was a baby.
Three years had passed since I moved away from home, and almost two since I’d moved into a small house across the street from Cooper’s. My uncle Ryan happened to be a realtor and owned a few homes in town, so I was lucky enough to rent from him. He started his business shortly after moving to Taylorsville, to be near Gram, and then stayed because he met Aunt Sam. They never had any children, so, as soon as I arrived it became apparent I would be that role for them while I was there.
The day the universe decided to step in and change my life, I was working in the office in the garage. Everything had gone according to plan for the day, so when a hulking giant came in and demanded we fix his car twenty minutes before closing, I was surprised by the turn of events.
I was number three in the chain of command. Aunt Sam ran the place. When she wasn’t around, the title of ‘boss’ usually went to Oliver, the shop’s backup manager that Pop appointed. When they were both off duty, it went to me.
In my months of being a part of that chain, my worst day had been when I realized I ordered four times as much oil as our shop went through in a month. Not only was it too much, but it was also the kind we used the least. I think I sat and stared at the shipment for over an hour before I got the nerve to call Aunt Sam.
That day in June was very different, though. It happened to be my dad’s birthday, and I was on the phone with him when I heard yelling near where I knew the front desk sat.
“Hey, dad, I’ve gotta hop off of here. Some jerk is out there screaming at Randy, again,” I said, standing to head out there.
“That poor kid gets yelled at an awful lot,” he chuckled.
“Yeah, it’s because he’s young. These idiots think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but I’ll teach this one a lesson.”
“Take the wrench with you,” he said.
“Got it. Hope you have a good birthday, I love you.”
“It would be a lot better if you were here,” he said, as usual. “I love you, too, Ivy. Be careful and knock some sense into the jerk.” I loved that he had complete faith in my ability to take care of things. I think it was something he learned about women when he met Mom.
We disconnected and, after grabbing the heavy piece of metal on the shelf beside the door, I walked out to the front desk.
I came face-to-face with a man that was six foot three, easily two hundred and fifty pounds, and a face that conveyed enough anger to convince me he was part rodeo bull.
I was going to need a bigger wrench.
“What’s the problem here?” I asked, bringing the metal up and resting it on my shoulder. It landed a little too hard, and I flinched.
“Nothing for you to worry about, little girl,” he snarled. I didn’t believe in werewolves, but he resembled one at that moment. All that was missing was the venom dripping from his fangs.
I needed to stop watching sci-fi so late at night.
I scrunched up my nose and looked down at my frame. I was 5’4, and a half (the half was critical to me) and had enough curves to prove I was a woman. It’s possible that the dark purple shirt with the pink hearts and pink shorts made me look young, but it couldn’t have been that bad. My shoulder length light brown hair was a little messy, but I hadn’t brushed it that day after my shower, and I may not have had a lot of makeup on, but I knew I at least had mascara framing my gray eyes.
All in all, I think I looked decent enough for a twenty-one year old. I looked a lot better than I did when I woke up that morning!
I don’t think Mom or Aunt Sam would be upset with the implication that I was the owner in this situation, so I pulled out my inner Cooper. “First of all, you twit, I’m not a little girl. I’m a stinking lady so watch your mouth. Second of all, I run this place, so whatever your beef is with Randy, who by the way is in high school, should be with me.”
He looked at Randy and I like he was waiting for the punch line of a joke.
“Did you just call me a twit?” he asked.
I paused to go over the rant again in my head, and sure enough, I had called him a twit. I switched my weight from one foot to the other.
“I did,” I admitted.
He looked from my eyes to the wrench sitting on my shoulder and pointed a large hand at it. “Why are you holding that?”
I pulled it away to look at it while I thought over my answer.
“I was probably going to hit you with it if you got feisty,” I answered.
“You were going to hit me? You would have landed me in the hospital! Do you have any idea who I am?” he yelled. He seemed a little angry, maybe even uptight. The man needed a coffee or a cinnamon roll or something.
“I know exactly who you are. You’re the guy that needs to stop shouting before he gets knocked upside the head with a hunk of metal. I don’t care if you end up in the hospital, no one is going to come in here acting like a fool and get away with it. Now, what’s the problem? You might want to hurry up with your answer before I decide your business isn’t wanted here.”
His hands had formed fists where they sat on the counter and his knuckles were already white from the strain.
“I need my car fixed. I have somewhere to be in less than an hour and this is the only place that has an auto repair shop near where I’m trying to get.”
“Where are you trying to get?” I asked.
“About ten miles away from here.”
“And where would that be?”
“That’s none of your business,” he exhaled harshly. “Listen, lady, can you get someone in here to fix my car or not?”
“I told him we were closing soon and that I didn’t have any men here available to help,” Randy said to me. I nodded my head and looked back at the angry man.
“What’s wrong with the car?” I asked.
“My check engine light is on, and I think the back tire is low. I put air in it a couple of days ago, but something is going on with it.”
“Go ahead and pull it up into this bay right here,” I said, already turning and walking toward the back wall. “Randy, come watch so you can get some practice in.”
I grabbed Aunt Sam’s old hat and put it on to keep the hair out of my face since I didn’t have a ponytail holder. I pushed my legs and arms into the coveralls and watched him pull the car in. He got out and gave me a weird look.
“You’re not working on my car,” he said.
“Beg your pardon, Sir, but if you want it fixed, I’ll be the one to do it.”
“Do you know what you’re doing?”
Randy laughed, and I sent him a look that he hopefully interpreted as shut up. It worked.
Ignoring his question, I opened his door and plugged one of our scanners into his car and waited. After a minute the scanner told me what was wrong.
I rolled my eyes and popped the cover off of the gas tank then walked back and tightened it. Once I rechecked the engine light, ensuring it went off, I walked to the tire the customer said was low. I turned on my cell phone's flashlight and after searching the tire; I saw the nail.
“You have a nail in this tire. Unfortunately, we don’t keep a lot of tires here, and I know for a fact we don’t have any that will work for you right now. Do you have a spare you can use for tonight? If you bring it back tomorrow, I can have a tire here by two in the afternoon.” I looked up at him and he was frowning. I wasn’t surprised.
“There should be a spare in the back.”
I looked at him and he looked at me.
“Do you want me to change the tire?” I asked. Surely he knew how to do that.
“If you don’t mind,” he replied. He was looking everywhere but at me and I hid my smile.
“Since we aren’t in a bay with a car lift, we’ll just do this the old-fashioned way,” I said, speaking to Randy. “Go ahead and grab the tools and the jack.” I looked at our customer and asked, “Where’s the tire?”
He pointed to the trunk and I opened it. Tucked underneath a piece of flooring was the spare, and I waited. After a few minutes, I peeked around the car to see the guy leaning his back against the large toolbox, and he arched his eyebrow when he made eye contact.
“I might know what I’m doing, but I can’t lift this tire up out of here.” He got the hint and came over to pull the tire out. He sat it beside me and I rolled it to the side where Randy was already jacking the car up.
Fifteen minutes later, and a little help with pulling one tire off and putting the other back on, we lowered the car down.
“You’re all finished,” I said, backing up to give him room to leave.
“How much do I owe you?” he asked. He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and waited.
“It’s on the house.”
“I’m heading out, boss,” Randy said from behind me. “My mom’s going to be so mad I’m late for dinner again tonight.”
“Just have her give me a call if she needs to, and I’ll explain it was my fault,” I said and waved goodbye to him.
“You have to let me pay you,” he said once Randy was out of earshot.
“It’s after hours. Seriously, don’t worry about anything tonight. Tomorrow will be another story, though, because the tire costs money and my aunt, Sam, will be here.”
“I thought you owned this place.” His eyes narrowed.
I shrugged and tried not to laugh. “I may have lied a bit. My family owns it, but I am the one in charge tonight.”
“Why didn’t you just say that?”
“You freaked me out with your crazy eyes and the yelling.”
He pocketed his wallet and had the decency to look embarrassed. “Okay, that’s fair.”
Without a thank you or goodbye, my nameless customer climbed into his vehicle and drove away.
Little did I know, he’d be coming back the next day, asking for a lot more than a tire.