Amber Lynn Natusch - Got Caged
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Got Caged? Blog Tour
by Amber Lynn Natusch
When I was asked to compose a guest blog post, I had no idea what to write. As an author, it was an especially low moment. Then a great friend suggested that I take an excerpt from the first novel in my series, Caged, and explain what I loved about it. Genius! Times like this illustrate my need for a team of levelheaded people around me?an entourage of rational thinkers.
The unfortunate reality for me was that my favorite scenes from Caged all contain spoilers, but I still managed to find some good ones :) For this blog, I chose a scene that illustrates the game of cat and mouse that Ruby and Sean play throughout the book. You can just never quite tell what Sean is up to, or if he can be trusted. Their banter is always entertaining, even in stressful situations, and I think that speaks to their connection, be it good or bad. So, without further ado, I give you Ruby and Sean in the “parked car” incident.
I changed quickly after class and put on my iPod before waving in the general direction of everyone as I walked out onto the street. I secured my messenger bag so that it wouldn't bang around while I ran back home. My legs seemed especially tired that evening, so I started off walking, hoping that they would quickly be inspired to get with the game plan to run home.
The trip through town could be a bit unnerving in the dark. Winding through the main streets of the city was safe, but I could freak myself out sometimes, ducking down alleys and roads that weren't well traveled during the evening. There were always people out when I hit the bar district, but other than that, they were few and far between.
I'd never actually walked home before, and after about ten minutes, I started to realize why. Running seemed to numb my awareness of certain things in a way that walking did not. I didn't get as much time to focus on the upcoming dumpster and what could be lurking behind it, or what could be around the dimly-lit corner laying in wait. Even worse than the general anxiety I was giving myself was the very definitive feeling that someone was following me. I was picking up on something that was not especially warm and fuzzy, but whenever I turned to see if someone was there, I was alone. Very, very alone.
And I slowly started to panic.
My legs soon realized that running was in our collective best interest and off we went. As I began to run I hoped the malevolent energy around me would lessen but it didn't. With my increasing panic came increasing speed. I hurdled over objects in the street and wove through parked cars like a heat-seeking missile aimed straight for the warmth of home. I didn't look back anymore, knowing that whoever was throwing that energy my way would inconveniently not be seen. Common sense dictated that it would be best to take out my earphones, but the thought of hearing my pursuer disturbed me too much. Beyond that, I needed the adrenaline rush that Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of" was giving me, although the title wasn't very reassuring.
I was about two minutes from home when I neared Market Street. There would be people out for sure on a Saturday night, so I thought I'd be in the clear. I rounded the corner to see precious few walking the streets. It was an improvement, but not what I'd hoped for.
As I neared home, I reached around to my bag in a desperate effort to find my keys, all the while chastising myself for not having them already in hand. Personal safety was never my strong suit and I was painfully aware of it at that moment. After two blocks of searching, I managed to pull my keys from the bag, only to immediately fumble them. They flew through the air in slow motion as I helplessly watched them crash to the pavement and skid underneath a parked car.
“Shit!” I muttered angrily to myself.
My timing couldn't have been more off. At that particular moment the street was clear of any life that I could see. Still, I felt that negative energy there, nagging at me. It wasn't getting stronger, but it wasn't getting any weaker either. Having no other options, I threw myself onto my hands and knees, trying to figure out the best way to retrieve my keys from under the high-end Mercedes that was running some wicked defense. When I realized I couldn't reach them any other way, I flopped down on my belly and wiggled under the perfectly engineered undercarriage, midway back towards the far tire.
I had my keys in hand and was ready to inelegantly worm my way back out the way I'd come in. I turned to check my trajectory and felt ice immediately shoot through my spine. In my line of sight was a very large and very manly pair of shoes. As I lay there sweating, trying to concoct a plan, my attention snapped to the two pairs of equally masculine shoes on the other side of the car. Great...they're multiplying!
"Hey, Jay? Did you park the car on a girl again?" an unfamiliar voice shouted.
"Nope. This one wasn't there when I pulled up," replied the man I assumed was Jay.
"Have no fear gentlemen, I know this one. I seem to get this view of her often."
I launched myself from under the car to see him smiling down at me first before his gaze drifted over the top of the car to his friends. I was certain they were finding great amusement in both the situation as well as my general appearance. I was covered in sweat and dirt, and wet from the puddle I'd managed to land directly in under the car.
"Is there a reason you were getting familiar with my exhaust system? You wouldn't happen to be a fan of German engineering, would you?" Sean asked.
"Actually, I am,” I replied with a haughty tone. “I dropped my keys...I had to get them. This is your car?"
"It is,” he said. “One of them, anyways. We were just heading home. Where are you headed looking so..." he asked, gesturing at me strangely. I couldn't tell if he was amused or confused by what I had going on.
"Home," I replied, trying to wipe some of the nastiness off of my shirt.
"You seem stressed. Something wrong?" he asked with obvious curiosity.
"Uh, no. No, everything is fine," I said unconvincingly. I did realize as I was saying it that the energy that had me diving under his car was gone. Completely. "I'm just hungry. I need to go home and eat something."
"Do you need a ride?" he asked while looking me up and down, no doubt assessing the damage my dirt-covered body would do to his car's leather interior.
"Nope. I'm good. Thanks," I blurted as I started off down the street.
"Do you need an escort?" he asked, my back still facing him.
"Not necessary," I said without looking over my shoulder. Mortified didn't begin to cover what I was feeling at the time. I wanted, just for once, to not make a complete ass of myself in front of him, but that seemed too much to ask.
He said nothing in response, but I heard the growl of his car's engine as it started up. I continued down the street at a brisk pace; running was out of the question as my body was way too spent. The threat appeared to be gone anyways.
The Mercedes purred as it pulled up slowly next to me, the window lowered so he could speak.
"Be sure to keep a firm grip on those keys, Ruby."
"I'll be sure to do that, Sean," I said, forcing a smile.
He smiled back, turning up the stereo as he pulled away. While his speakers pumped The Fray's "I'll Look After You", the words hauntingly echoed through the street. And my mind.
I guess he believed in theme songs too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
If you’re dying to know more about me, allow me to put you at ease. I’m a sharp-tongued, sarcastic cancer, who loves vegetable smoothies, winter storms, and the word portfolio. I should NEVER be caffeinated, and require at least eight hours of sleep to even resemble a human being. At thirty-four, I just now feel like I can keep a straight face while saying the word “rectum” (which is actually a huge lie because I just laughed out loud while reading this to my husband). I live with my iPod firmly affixed to my body, drive too fast, and laugh/cry at inappropriate times.
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