Hey my friends!
Today I get to share the new cover for Two For Tea An (Off-The-Rails) Ice Era Chronicle.
I am so excited to show this off! This cover really says "Tea" to me.
If you are a reader of the Ice Era Chronicles, you might remember Tea from the end of 2:05 a.m. She was the one that was trying to save "Mother" the woman who was the head of The Originals. This book is her story. Here is part of the first chapter. Keep in mind it might still have a mistake or two but I just had to share! Two For Tea will be coming out at the end of August.
Place: Train platform outside Water Base Azul in the Northern Earth Dens, C.T.O.N.A. (Confederate Territories of North America)
Time: 1:55 a.m.
Tea pulled her coat tighter over her blood-soaked clothes. She wove through the busy hallways of her home water base and neared the main entrance. Her eyes stayed glued to the cement floor as she passed the guards. She must get past the men who checked folks into the main gate without being observed. Tea made sure not to make eye contact with anyone. Being noticed was never good. At the age of eighteen, she’d learned that “noticed” equaled beatings.
The bandage around her neck slipped. Tea put pressure on the torn skin near her collar. She prayed the blood flow would slow. Dizziness stole her confidence that she could get out of the base before the H.S.P.C. agents saw the dead bodies. Ducking quickly onto the train platform, she dodged a man carrying a door and noted a set of harvester trains parked ahead of her. She scurried toward the first train right as the vehicle’s whistle blew. The ear-piercing shriek bounced off the rock ceiling of the room, but for how loud the sound was, the screech also gave her a surge of hope.
At the last second, Tea changed direction. She picked the train that appeared ready to leave the tracks. The huge vehicle was also a harvester train, but longer than the one she’d spotted up ahead. Her hand slipped over the metal handlebar as she hoisted herself up into the train car. Once inside, she wiped the blood on her palms by rubbing them on the front of her pants. After her hands were clean, Tea yanked her sister’s floor-length jacket tightly around her small frame. When she appeared in the first train car, only five men looked up at her hurried entrance. She kept her head down and slipped through to the next area.
The new space had some type of game in progress.
Three men had their pants around their ankles. Their bare asses shone white in the poorly lit train car. Another group of three harvesters was on the opposite side of the area. They threw an oblong orange ball at the genitals of the bent over men. The ball hit the man in the middle. When the ball struck his sack, he dropped to his knees as he screamed in pain. Laughter and cheers went up. Huge handfuls of HOCs exchanged between the men.
“Who are you?” A young dark-skinned man leaned on a tall carved walking-stick. His eyes scanned Tea. She jumped then scrambled out of the car. Tea didn’t know what to do but talking to anyone was bottom on her list. Right now, the urge to fight prickled under her skin and she didn’t even know why. It was time to run.
Ignoring the way her muscles bunched, Tea exited the boisterous train car. When she opened the door to the next room, she realized this space was vastly different than the openness of the previous area.
The narrow hall was strangely quiet, and it only included one person. A poised woman stood with her back to Tea.
“Mother.” From a white pocket door to Tea’s right, an older man in his sixties with a stock of white hair came out of the room. The stranger paid no attention to Tea as he scurried down the hall toward the strange lady. The speaker came to a stop in front of the regal woman in the thin green skirt. From Tea’s vantage point, the willowy woman he referred to as “Mother” couldn’t be that guy’s mom. This lady was way too young to have a sixty-year-old child.
“Mr. Putnam.” The dignified lady inclined her head, but the movement was barely an acknowledgment.
“Where is the Snow Flu suit I asked for?”
“My apologies. I couldn’t get one.”
“That is a lie. Why bother to lie to me? I can see the future.”
“No, Mother, I mean it.” The older man shook his head. “Honest. I don’t have one for you.”
“That is more true. You have it, but you’re using it and do not want to give it to me.” She spoke as if considering every word that left her mouth. “As you wish.” She shrugged then pointed to the door directly next to her. “You can go into my private quarters and give Weaver water as you are. No suit.”
“But I... I…” the old man stammered. “I can’t do that. Weaver has Snow Flu. I’ll get Snow Flu if I go in there. I’ll die. Let the harvester die instead.”
“You’ve made your decision.”
“Mother, please. What can I do?” Putnam asked.
“Do? You’ve given the suit to your children. You’re using it, but the protective gear wasn’t for you. Weaver will have the cure to Snow Flu, and for the greater good, we must keep that harvester alive and with us. Your wife and children must be sacrificed.”
“Mother.” Putnam looked around the hall like another set of gear would appear. He was screwed. Only the H.S.P.C. had those outfits. “I can get another one.”
“You’re out of time. Now you must go into my sleeping quarters and care for Weaver until either he is better or until you die of Snow Flu.”
“Or?” Putnam ran his hand through his white hair in agitation.
“Or you can die out here.” Mother patted the door lovingly. “You will die one way or another for disappointing me. I don’t accept anything other than complete servitude. I am Mother, Head of The Originals. Only I know the way the world will heal from Snow Flu. I alone know the way out of the ice. I will stay on this path. We must continue this way if we are to survive the ice that seeps toward Earth’s heart.”
“I can’t go in there,” Putnam begged. “I have a family.”
Tea found herself holding her breath.
“You made your choice.” With a quick yank of her arm, Mother pulled a metal item from the pocket of her long green skirt. There was a flash of a silver blade right before the knife sliced into the belly of the other man.
Putnam stumbled backward holding the knife handle in his stomach. He gurgled a few words and then dropped to his knees.
“Mother,” he gasped.
Tea was still staring at the dying man when Mother turned around. Her eyes zeroed in on Tea like Mother knew she was there the whole time. Tea jumped. Her heart started to pound. Even though she wanted to flee, her muscles refused to do anything.
Mother slowly approached. The lady drifted down the hall like she had all the time in the world. Tea held the bandage tighter around her neck. Quickly, she tried to read the other woman like she used to decode her grandma when she was in a foul mood. There was something about this stranger, however. Mother was an enigma. The lady could be young or old, tall or short. There was a mystical veil over the stranger. The only feeling she got from the other woman was that there was an essence of power and control that rolled off Mother. If she had only one word to describe Mother it would be authority.
“Teagan.” Mother stopped in front of Tea. Again, that power wafted from her like perfume.
“I…” Tea stammered. “How do you know my name?”
“I’ve been waiting for you. You’re a little early.”
“I am?” Tea glanced around. All she could hear was the gurgle of the dying man on the floor and the swish of the train.
“You’ve just turned eighteen, right?” She smiled. “So naive for one so old.” Mother glanced back at the man on the floor then to Tea again. “And you’re looking for your sister? Teresa.”
“Yes, my sister.” Tea exhaled relief. That’s how Mother must know so much about Tea. She met Teresa. “Have you seen her?”
“I’ve seen her. We can talk about Teresa.” She pointed to the far door. “But first we’ll clean you up and bandage your neck properly. Once you do a few favors for me, then I can take you to Teresa. I help you after you help me. That’s how this...” Mother paused. “You like the term game. So, that’s how this game will be played.”
“You’ll fight for me, like a junkyard dog.” Mother offered Tea her hand. “You’ll be my protector. Your gift is growing inside of you even as we speak. Soon you will crave the battles, and I’ll give you what you need. You will eat, sleep, and breath the violence until only two things bring you peace.”
“What two things?”
Mother shrugged then extended her hand a tad closer. “You won’t find them on a train.” She laughed to herself.
Tea stared at the slim, delicate fingers in front of her. This lady’s words didn’t make any sense. She also didn’t want to take the offer, but Tea had to find her sister. When she found Teresa, Tea would say she was sorry and fix what happened. “I don’t want to fight anyone.”
“Soon the urge will take over, and you won’t be able to control it.” Mother laughed another throaty chuckle like Tea had told a joke.
“I just need to find my sister.”
“I’ve seen your sister. Come with me, and I will help you.”
Tea would have to play this game. Her eyes dropped to Mother’s outstretched hand.
***Thanks for Reading!!!***
Our Ice Era Chronicles in Order:
All future dates are subject to change.