It’s only 2 days until you can read The Shattered Heart for yourself! In the meantime, here’s one last deleted scene that takes place just a couple of months before The Shattered Heart begins. Warning: it’s about to get real.
Somehow Adam drove from home to the edge of town without even noticing.
When he got in his car, planning a quick visit to the Gylf, he had started thinking through all of his questions again. When Alex had been attacked last fall, they had assumed Candice’s pet was crazed from the loss of its mistress, but after Dom and Logan had nearly lost their feet to frostbite, they were forced to admit that someone was still out to get them. Even though the papers they had taken from Candice’s cave had seemed useless, they were still the closest thing the Circle had to a clue about their enemy. Adam had been puzzling over them for the last few months without making much progress.
Candice’s notebook mostly just outlined her plan for attacking them last summer. The margins were filled with hateful comments. It wasn’t a pleasant read. Adam was more interested in the stack of letters that had been tucked inside. Someone was communicating with Candice on a regular basis, but it was impossible to tell who. The letters were written in come kind of code that mingled banal phrases about the weather with nonsense words. Nothing Adam had tried so far had helped him make sense of them. His latest attempt was to make a list of all the words that had to do with plants and animals and ask the Gylf what they knew about those things. It was a long shot, but Adam was desperate. So far, the worst damage they’d received was Logan losing all the toenails in his right foot, but it was pure luck that nothing worse had happened.
They couldn’t count on luck forever.
Adam slammed on the brakes when he realized that he had just driven past the Gylf forest. The road was deserted out here, so he backed along it until he came to the spot where he usually parked.
“You’re an idiot,” he muttered to himself. “You should know better than to think and drive.”
Grabbing his notepad off the passenger seat, Adam jumped out of the car. He figured he had about an hour before his mom would be expecting him for dinner. Being late wasn’t an option.
The grass by the side of the road had grown tall, and Adam pushed through it impatiently. It was a relief to reach the edge of the forest. Under the trees, he knew the going would be easier. They all walked the path often enough to keep it clear.
Adam rounded the first big tree trunk and, out of habit, ducked under the low-hanging branches on the other side.
Two steps later, the ground erupted in front of him as a thousand stinging insects swarmed out toward his face.
Adam threw his hands up in a futile protective gesture. His notepad dropped unnoticed on the forest floor.
All the world was buzzing and dozens of pain points erupted on Adam’s arms and neck as he was stung over and over. There was no defense but to get away.
Adam ran, fleeing up the path toward the Gylf’s home, batting away insects as he went, forgetting everything but the instinct to get to safety.
The pain on his arms and neck spread down his back and then to his face. It was getting harder to see, and he realized his eyes were swelling shut.
Adam tripped on a branch and stumbled to his knees. Standing up again was impossible, so he curled into a ball, his face tucked into his legs, his arms covering his head. He could still hear buzzing all around, mixed with smacking noises that made no sense to his fuzzy brian.
He waited for more stings.
He waited to die.
The next thing he felt was the pressure of tiny hands pushing his arms aside. Through the slits that were his eyes, he saw several Gylf examining his injuries with concern.
“All is well now, Adam,” a soothing voice said. “Your attackers are gone. Terfol is being brought. He will tend to your wounds.”
Adam tried to express his thanks, but only a croaking sound came out.
“Hush,” said the voice. “Do not try to speak. Rest now.”
Adam slipped into a dark dream, only surfacing from time to time. Once he felt something cool being pressed against his neck. Another time, he heard many voices. He thought he recognized Logan’s, but he slipped away again before he could be sure.
When Adam came fully awake, it was dark in the woods. A fire crackled nearby, and he saw dark figures sitting around it. His eyes opened a little further than before, and the unbearable pain of earlier was reduced to a dull ache and some itchiness. He tried to lift his head, but that proved impossible.
“He’s awake,” Eve said. “Hey, Champ. How you feeling?”
A grunt was all Adam could manage.
“That’s about what we figured,” Eve said. She and Alex crouched over him, working together to lift his head slightly and drizzle water into his mouth.
“How long…” he managed once he had swallowed some.
“A few hours,” Alex said. “It’s about 10 o’clock. Don’t worry. Your mom thinks you’re spending the night at Logan’s house.”
“Yeah, they did a number on you,” Eve said, “but the Gylf say you’re going to be okay. Luckily for you, you ran right into a group of them taking care of an abandoned baby fox. They fought off the stingers…and paid the price for it.”
“It’s nothing you need to worry about now,” Alex said. “Terfol wants you to rest tonight. If you do, he thinks the swelling will be down by tomorrow, and you can go home.”
She turned away, but Adam grabbed her arm. “Alex…?”
She sighed and shook her head.
“A few of them got stung,” Eve said. “Terra got it the worst. She was hit several times. She…she didn’t make it.”
Adam dropped his hand. Alex’s shoulders were shaking.
“It’s not your fault, Adam.” Eve’s voice was angry. “If the Gylf hadn’t been here, it would be you that would be dead. No one is blaming you. It’s whoever is sending these attacks. They don’t care who gets hurt.”
Her words washed over Adam with no meaning.
Terra. He thought of her dark hair and expressive eyes. She was the first Gylf he had ever met. How could she just be gone?
He should have seen this coming. He should have known. He should have taken it all more seriously. He should have…
“We’re going to find who did this,” Eve said. “We will.”
Yes, they would.
“We’re going to find them, and we’re going to end them.”
Adam closed his eyes and held onto her words with all his might.
Just two more days!