Serial Chapter Two

Here’s the second chapter of the serial novel. If you missed chapter one, you can find it here. If you’re enjoying this, please share the links so others can find it.

Chapter Two

            Dawn’s Aunt Mariel met her at the front door before she had a chance to use her key or knock. “It’s late,” Mariel snapped. “Where were you?”

“I had the audition for Camelot this afternoon. Remember, I told you? And it went really, really well!”

“But you’re just now getting home?”

“I stopped by the drugstore afterward to tell Lucy how it went.” Dawn swept past her aunt into the entryway. “And I didn’t want to walk home alone. It wasn’t long until Lucy got off work, and then we could go home together.”

Mariel slammed the door shut and followed Dawn into the living room, asking, “Then what were you doing in the car with that boy?”

“That was just Jeremy giving us a ride home. You’ve met him. Remember? We’ve been friends since we were eleven. Lucy was in the back seat.” She stood on tiptoe to kiss Mariel on the cheek. “You’re so sweet to worry about me.”

The other two aunts came out of the kitchen to join the conversation. Aunt Miriam was shorter and softer than Mariel but was still very stern when she asked “So, nothing’s going on with you and this boy?”

Dawn laughed. “With Jeremy? We’re just friends. Besides, Lucy likes him.”

The three aunts exchanged meaningful looks. “You’ve never done anything like kiss a boy?” Aunt Matilda asked with a teasing smile as she tucked a stray gray curl behind her ear.

“Should I have kissed someone by now? I’m sure I could find a boyfriend if you think I should.”

“No!” Mariel snapped, then said more gently, “It’s not necessary. Everything in its time.”

“We were simply curious,” Matilda added.

Dawn sighed in relief. “Oh, okay. Because I don’t really have time for a boyfriend with play rehearsals and choir and all, and the boys in the drama club don’t seem too interested in having girlfriends.”

Miriam winced and glanced at the others. “Is acting a suitable profession for you?” She sounded almost nervous as she asked the question. “I know you enjoy doing the school plays, but you don’t want to make a career out of it.”

“Of course I do! There’s nothing I want more. All I want to do is go to New York and be a star on Broadway.” With a big grin, she launched into “New York, New York,” linking her elbows with Miriam and Matilda and doing a few kick steps.

Matilda tried to get in step with her, but faltered when Mariel said firmly, “We’ll worry about long-term plans when the time comes. In the meantime, it is time for dinner. Please go wash and change clothes.”

Dawn kept singing as she went down the hall, coming to the big finish as she entered her bedroom. As far as she knew, she was the only kid in school who was expected to dress for dinner, but her aunts were terribly old-fashioned that way. She didn’t mind humoring them, since they’d been so kind to her, bringing her up after her parents had died when she was a baby. She put on a simple black dress that was very much like what her aunts always wore, only without the stiff white collars that made them look like the Puritans in history books, then brushed her hair and tied it back with a faded black ribbon.

As she came out of her room and went down the hall to the living room, she heard the aunts talking. They sounded like they were trying to talk in whispers, only they kept raising the volume to talk over each other. Dawn stood quietly in the hallway so she wouldn’t interrupt their conversation.

“I hate for her to get her hopes up like that,” Matilda said. “What do we do?”

“Time itself will take care of it all,” Mariel said. “We won’t need to do or say anything until the time comes.”

“It will be quite a shock for her, though,” Miriam said.

There was a loud shushing sound, then Mariel whispered, “She should be coming back at any time.”

Dawn tiptoed back to her room, then walked normally down the hallway, singing to herself so they’d hear her coming.

“There you are,” Mariel said when she entered the dining room. “I don’t know how it can take you so long just to change clothes.”

“But you do look nice, dear,” Matilda added, adjusting the ribbon in Dawn’s hair.

Mariel clapped her hands for attention. “Enough talking. It’s time for dinner before it gets cold.”

The four of them gathered around the dining table, which was set with mismatched, chipped china. They followed all the formal etiquette rules as they passed dishes around the table to serve themselves. “No, dear, that’s not how you do it,” Miriam said as Dawn scooped mashed potatoes from a serving dish onto her plate.

“Sit up straight,” Mariel ordered before Dawn could take a bite of food. As soon as she took a bite, Matilda chimed in to tell her to take smaller bites. I’ll be grateful someday when I’m a big star invited to dine with royalty, Dawn told herself.

Mariel opened her mouth to say something else, but stopped and frowned. “Where is your necklace, young lady?”

Dawn touched the base of her throat, only then remembering that she’d given the necklace to Lucy. She was so used to wearing it that she could still feel it hanging around her neck. “I let Lucy wear it.” All three aunts glared at her, so she hurried to explain. “She gave me this bracelet as a birthday gift.” She held up her wrist and shook it. “See, you can add charms. I can get one for each show I do. But I didn’t have anything for her, so I let her wear my necklace, just for her birthday. She has to do an oral report for history class, and I thought she could use a good-luck charm since I won’t be there to cheer her on.”

“How could you—” Mariel began, but Miriam put a hand on her arm.

“I think it’s a lovely gesture,” Miriam said. “It was very sweet of you to let your friend wear your necklace on her birthday.”

Mariel’s eyes went from squinting in a frown to wide with realization, like she was only then figuring something out. A second later, Matilda gasped, then smiled and breathed, “Oooooh.”

“Yes, that was a nice gesture,” Mariel said. “After all, you won’t be seeing anyone tomorrow, and she’ll be out and about, so it’s a good time for her to be wearing that necklace.”

Matilda bounced up from the table. “Dessert time!” She collected their empty plates and disappeared into the kitchen. Dawn let herself sigh with relief that she wasn’t in trouble for giving Lucy the necklace. Moments later, there was a crash and the sound of breaking china. “Mariel!” Matilda cried out from the kitchen.

Mariel jumped up from the table, but Miriam stayed and caught Dawn’s wrist in a tight grasp before Dawn could go help. “I’m sure they can handle it,” she said.

Soon, Matilda came back to the dining room, carrying a tray with a pie and dessert plates. Mariel came behind her, then went around the dining room and living room, shutting the windows, blinds, and drapes. While she did that, Matilda served the pie as though nothing had happened, but Dawn noticed that her face was nearly as pale as her stiff white collar. When Mariel returned to the table, she, too, was unusually pale. The dish Matilda had broken must have been a favorite, Dawn thought.

The four of them ate their dessert in silence, the aunts all looking like they were listening for something. After a while, Dawn wasn’t sure if it was her imagination, or if she heard the sound of hoofbeats on the road outside.


            Lucy was having one of the worst birthdays ever. Her mom had left waffles and a gift for her, but it was depressing eating breakfast alone on her birthday. The gift turned out to be a new watch. It was nice enough, and Lucy had been under no illusion that she’d find a new car with a bow on the roof in the driveway, but a watch wasn’t exactly something she’d asked for or needed.

She’d thought she’d done a brilliant job on her history report, but the teacher had disagreed, insisting that a report on sumptuary laws in the Middle Ages didn’t prove that clothes were important to history, and therefore didn’t prove that there was a good reason to read Vogue in class. To top it off, she faced her driver’s test that afternoon, and she wasn’t sure her mother would let her get her license anytime soon, even if she passed. Her mom was still too paranoid about cars after the wreck that had killed Lucy’s dad.

The only bright spot of the day was Dawn’s necklace. It was a constant reminder that she had a sweet, generous best friend. Just having the necklace around her neck made her feel strong and powerful, almost invincible, and she carried that feeling with her as she went to the back parking lot, where the driver’s ed classes were held. Today would be the day she conquered parallel parking and passed the test, and then she’d go home to her birthday dinner and find out what surprise Jeremy had for her. Maybe he’d give her a locket or something heart-shaped to show they weren’t just friends.

Lucy was the first one to show up for driver’s ed, and the teacher hadn’t even arrived yet, so she went over to the nearby ag department animal enclosure to pet the sheep. They were spoiled rotten and rather friendly, but they probably thought she was going to feed them. “Sorry, guys, I don’t have any food,” she told them with a laugh as they competed to get close to her.

She glanced at her new birthday watch and realized that she still had ten minutes before the session started. That was almost enough time to run downtown and check the audition results so she could call Dawn as soon as she got home, but she didn’t want to take the chance of getting stuck to be the last one to drive. With any luck, as the first one there, she’d get dibs on the first turn at the wheel. Then she could take the test and get out of there instead of having to wait around and watch other people drive.

The sound of hoofbeats on the pavement made her look up. It sounded a lot like what she’d heard the night before, only louder and closer. A trio of men on horseback rode from the town to the back parking lot, toward the forest that started just beyond the football practice field. They were dressed all in black, with armor and helmets and swords at their sides, and they wore black cloaks that swirled around them. It looked like someone was taking the Camelot auditions way too seriously.

She thought the men would just ride by on their way to wherever it was they were going, but before they passed her, the leader came to an abrupt halt, raising his hand to signal the other two to stop. Then they all turned to face her. She almost felt like the leader had x-ray vision, from the way he studied her. She was sure he could see every detail of her appearance, and probably the state of her internal organs, as well.

“She is the one!” he shouted, and suddenly all three riders were coming right at her. Her instinct was to run, but she was trapped against the fence. The fence was too high for her to jump, so she could only run along it toward the metal shop. There were usually a few tough guys hanging out in there after school, and while they weren’t what she’d consider chivalrous, they also weren’t opposed to fighting. From what Lucy knew of their reputations, they were very likely armed.

In case they couldn’t resist a damsel in distress, she shouted, “Help! Someone! Please!” as she ran desperately toward the shop.

The shop door opened and a shaggy head stuck out. “Whoa, dude!” the guy said when he saw Lucy running toward him, three black knights at her heels.

“Help me! Do something!” Lucy shouted.

“Like what?”

“Like stop the freaky knights from getting me!”

He tilted his head to stare at the riders. “Whoa, so you mean they’re really there?”

It looked like she couldn’t count on the shop guys taking any initiative, so she made for the shop door, intending to throw herself inside and have the guys weld it shut, if she could make them understand that concept. Unfortunately, the horses were faster than she was, and the riders really knew what they were doing. They turned to ride alongside her, then the leader bent down, grabbed her arm, and pulled her up into the saddle with him. She tried to scream for the shop guys to call the police, but her captor got a hand over her mouth and pinned her against his chest with an arm that felt like a steel beam. The riders wheeled around and galloped into the forest.

They hadn’t been riding long when something loomed ahead of them. Lucy hadn’t explored this end of town much, but she was fairly certain that a giant, glowing gate wasn’t normally there. As they drew closer, Lucy could see that it wasn’t a physical gate. It was more like light in the shape of a gate, and what she saw through it didn’t at all match what was on either side of the opening. It was still a forest, but it was a different kind of forest, old growth hardwoods instead of the pines that surrounded the town. Wherever they were taking her, she had a strong feeling it wasn’t anywhere in Texas.

She held her breath as they neared the gate, and the tingle she felt when they passed through made her gasp. She craned her neck to see around her captor once they were out on the other side, but there was nothing behind them but forest.

She was stuck in another world, the prisoner of a trio of dark knights. This really was the worst birthday ever.

Continued in chapter three.

3 Responses to “Serial Chapter Two”

  1. New Serial Story! - Shanna Swendson

    […] Continued in chapter two. […]

  2. Heather

    Love it. Can’t wait for part 3.

  3. Serial Part 3 - Shanna Swendson

    […] on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The first chapter is here, and the previous chapter is here. Feel free to spread the word to others who might enjoy it. For updates on when each chapter is […]

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