**** Round Three is ongoing. These characters are no longer in the race.****Well, would you look at that! Caleb and Draven beat out their worthy competition in their perspective polls to make it into round 2 of the Smackdown. So I’m here to ask you to keep supporting them and to help get them through to round 3.
In case I’m not convincing enough, here’s a little something from each of their books.
I spun around, my toe pick catching in the ice and almost bringing me crashing down but for the hands that caught me. I locked my fingers around Caleb’s arms. Even with the unexplained brief warning I always got when he was near me, he still managed to catch me off guard.
“Caleb.” My voice caught, a strange combination of joy and shock. “What are you doing here?”
He was helping me to stand, but I was still having some balance issues, not something that normally happened to me on the ice. My heart was beating furiously, and I tried desperately to control it. It wasn’t fair he could show up after two weeks of silence and my body reacted to him without my brain’s permission.
“Eh, skating,” he laughed, standing me up and circling backward in place as a demonstration.
I scowled. “I meant in Camden?”
“I live here.” He spoke slowly like I was suffering from a blow to my head instead of my ego.
“Why aren’t you in New York with your — ” A small boy of nine or ten rushed past behind me at lightning speed, sending me flying into Caleb’s chest. The force of the blow knocked me breathless. He held me in his arms for a moment, and I thought he wasn’t going to let me go. No, no, no, I wasn’t going to start thinking like that again.
I pushed away from him with both hands, refusing to look into his shimmering blue eyes, and skated away without another word. I knew he would follow, and I knew there were several pairs of eyes belonging to people from school watching our exchange. Caleb and his relationship status was still hot gossip for a lot of women in town, and our exchange was making me part of the gossip by association.
“I think I probably owe you an apology,” he sighed guiltily.
Caleb glided expertly, keeping pace with me and looking perfectly at home on the ice. I glanced at him, disgruntled. Unfortunately, he looked really great, wearing a dark blue jacket over a black turtleneck and jeans. His gloves and skates were black too, coordinated and casual. Casual looked good on Caleb.
Stop it! I told myself.
“I didn’t intend to be away for so long, but it was necessary, I assure you.”
I stopped abruptly, and the speed of his reaction surprised me. He stopped at the exact same time. “You think I’m annoyed because you were gone so long?” I demanded.
“You’re not?” His eyebrows knitted together in confusion.
I darted forward to leave the ice. Caleb skated beside me. “I don’t know who I’m most annoyed at,” I told him, “you or me.” My tone was harsh, but if I didn’t stay angry, the other feelings might come rushing back.
Caleb stalled behind me, but I didn’t stop. “Triona,” he called out. “Wait.”
I sighed and turned, knowing I would eventually give in anyway. Of course, as soon as my anger was allowed to slip and I looked into his eyes, my stomach gave a jolt and my knees turned to jelly, not good when you’re balancing on two blades on top of a frozen expanse of water. My right blade caught awkwardly underneath my left, and I toppled over. A burning pain shot through my right ankle, and I landed heavily on my backside.
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Draven surveyed the city before him. The view from this part of Acheron differed from the one he had grown used to recently, and the constant droning of alarms melded together to resemble an air raid siren. Even the smell bothered him. The river snaking through Acheron didn’t flow near his home. Around here, the pollution turned the water a moss green and filled the air with the repugnant stench of rot. He grimaced. The smell would be hideous come summer when the heat intensified the stink. Of course, that was if they made it through winter.
He could practically taste the pain and suffering radiating from the residents in the surrounding buildings. His flesh crawled with their misery. He closed his eyes to it. The action only helped to concentrate his hearing so that he picked out the cries of the child who hadn’t eaten all day. Somewhere else, a drunk hurled verbal abuse at his wife because she couldn’t stretch their meager household budget to pay for his brand-name beer and had bought generic instead. In the same home, pop music played and charcoal scratched over paper. He wondered if that was where the money had really gone. In an alley on the other side of the building, a junkie attempted to score a fix from her dealer, without the money to pay. He dared not imagine where she would end up tonight.
Draven could ignore his gift for the most part, but his highest senses tingled in this part of town and sent chills deep into his bones. Nausea made his stomach curl, and his cotton shirt irritated everywhere it touched. His feet itched to the point of being painful. He could bear the clothes on his skin as long as his feet remained uncovered. It grounded him, like rubber soles for an electrician or
a metal rod with lightening. Then there were times that it wasn’t feasible to go barefoot; a man walking barefoot through the city in winter was bound to draw a few speculative glances.
A disturbance in the breeze at the back of his neck followed by a muffled thump warned him company had arrived.
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Thank you for getting them this far!