As promised (many months ago, sorry), here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of my book. As it always will be until it’s in book form, the text is subject to change.
Hope you like it!
The Secret of the Codex – Chapter 1
University of Central Florida, Anthropology Department
Dr. Kayla Harrington looked up from the papers she had just finished grading to see a young blonde-haired, blue-eyed student standing in the doorway of her office with a messenger bag slung over her shoulder. She couldn’t have been more than twenty. Kayla could almost remember being that young – when she wasn’t trying to forget.
Kayla smiled and motioned her in.
The girl smiled timidly in return, tentatively entering the room. “I brought your mail.”
Kayla nodded her thanks, reaching for the stack of papers and scanning the first few items with idle curiosity. Nothing good ever came in the mail anymore.
She’d gotten through a few pieces of mail before she noticed that the girl hadn’t left yet. She slowly drew her eyes up to meet the girl’s gaze. “Yes?”
The young student flashed another timid, almost apologetic smile before responding. “I know you’re about to leave, but I was wondering if you had my final graded yet.”
The flight! Kayla’s heart skipped a beat. She’d nearly forgotten about it. Her eyes flew to the clock on the wall.
Her heart slowed down. She still had a few minutes. She offered the student a sheepish smile. “Sure, I should have it right here…” She shuffled the papers in front of her and quickly found the student’s final. Sorting the students’ papers alphabetically may be a little obsessive, but it did have its advantages.
After a brief once-over, she handed the paper across her desk with a wide smile. “You wrote a good paper. The conclusion was a little weak and didn’t sound like you’d thought it all the way through, but all in all, good job.”
The student smiled in return, more confident this time. She eagerly scanned the front page, her eyes quickly lighting on her grade. She looked happy with a B. “Thanks, Dr. Harrington. See you next semester.”
Kayla offered a quick wave as the young girl rushed out of her office. Kayla glanced over at the clock again. Ten minutes until she needed to leave for the airport. Enough time to finish looking through the mail.
Most of it was junk mail, magazines, and a stray bill that somehow got sent to her office instead of her home. But near the end of the stack, wedged between a magazine and a furniture ad, was a small, manila envelope.
Kayla’s brow furrowed as she turned the package over in her hands. No return address. She reached for a letter opener and sliced open one end. Then she upended it, dropping its contents on her desk.
There, sitting atop the stack of newly-graded papers, was a silver charm attached to a long chain, almost like a necklace of sorts. Kayla leaned down without touching it, scrutinizing it for a moment, then picked it up, laying the charm in her left palm. From end to end, the charm nearly stretched the length of her palm. The metal was haphazardly chiseled into a crude rendering of the symbol for lightning. But the way it was rendered… something seemed oddly familiar.
She slowly stood, stepping around her large suitcase on her way to the overfilled and overflowing bookcases that lined the far wall of her small office. They were too big for the space, but she didn’t care. They served their purpose. Barely.
She quickly found the book she wanted – she could always find things in her “organized clutter” as she called it, though no one else ever could – and she reached up to pull it out of its slot. It slid out easily, too easily – she had to jump under it to keep it from crashing to the ground. Her hands were the only thing that kept the large tome from hitting her in the head.
She flipped the book open quickly, stealing a glance at the clock. She needed to leave soon.
But not quite yet. She scanned the book, trying to find what she was looking for. Then, abruptly, she did.
She laid the charm in the book, right beside the picture on the page, comparing the two. The distinctive way the symbol was drawn pointed to a very specific origin. She didn’t know why she didn’t recognize it immediately.
Now she really did have to leave. She returned the book dutifully to its proper place, draping the long necklace around her neck and dropping the charm beneath her shirt, then stepped over to the worn leather couch to retrieve her luggage. She leaned down and picked up her large suitcase by the handle, slung the strap of her smaller bag on her shoulder, and started for the door.
Then she remembered the papers she’d just graded and turned quickly to snatch them up – the way she kept her desk semi-organized in neat stacks ensured that she didn’t grab anything else in the process – just before leaving and locking up her office. She placed the newly graded papers on the front desk counter with a bright smile to the department’s long-suffering receptionist before leaving the building for the summer.
Lamanai Archeological Project, Northern Belize Rainforest
Kayla stood up and stretched, yawning. Her long auburn hair fell down her back as she closed her eyes to the blinding glare of the sun. It had been a long day, and it wasn’t even close to being over. She was fairly certain that this day still had quite a few more working hours in it.
Kayla blinked and shielded her eyes with one hand as she glanced down at the sandy ground where a dusty terracotta bowl was lying in pieces at her feet. After half a second’s deliberation, she called over a nearby grad student to finish up the analysis. The monotonous portion of the work – though in truth she really didn’t mind it – didn’t need to be completed by the person heading up the dig; plus, it would give one of her favorite students much-needed field experience.
After letting the student know where she was going, Kayla trudged to her tent, pulling her gloves off on the way. She smiled serenely as she reached the entrance and eyed her cot. Without stopping to remove her shoes, she flopped down on the makeshift bed.
After a few minutes of trying to sleep – though she’d known it would never happen before she’d even started trying – she reached for the necklace she still wore, the one she’d received just before she came here. She held the charm up to the light, turning it over and over, and stared intently at the lightning-shaped charm between her fingers. She had spent the entire plane ride here trying to figure out what it meant.
She didn’t know why, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a warning of some kind. But a warning against what?
A polite voice interrupted her reverie. “Knock, knock.”
Kayla sat up and smiled up at the pretty young student she’d left with the terracotta bowl, the charm in her closed fist. “Hey, Jackie. Are you having trouble with the pottery piece?”
The girl called Jackie smiled back at her, flipping her long black hair out of her face. “Nope, all done.” Her grin widened, and Kayla thought she saw her eyes begin to sparkle. “Dr. McGready is asking for you. I think they found something.”
Kayla blinked. The dig had only been up and running for a few short months – and they had already found something? She hurriedly dropped the charm beneath her shirt and jumped up with a grin. “Coming.”
There it is – my writing is finally out there in the world! You’ve finally met Kayla, and if you’ve read this far, thank you! Please let me know what you think – if you’re intrigued to find out what happens next, to meet my other characters (I have four main ones alone), to see where the story takes them (and us!). It’s been so much fun writing – I hope you have as much fun reading!
Until next time! *love*