I just finished creating the book cover for my upcoming novel, “A Courageous Heart”! I’m so excited and I’m really pleased with how the cover turned out! I was rushing to get this one finished so I could display it at the book signing I’ll be attending this weekend! I’m working to get this novel published and available sometime this summer, and then I’ll be sharing the progress of another book that I just finished writing! A Courageous Heart is the third book in my “Hero at Heart” series! Check out the first two books here on Amazon.com! Now, for a glimpse at “A Courageous Heart”! Here is a sneak peek of the first chapter!
Chapter 1: Courageous Thoughts
Emiline stared into the darkness, her heart racing with fear. A low, terrifying howl broke the silence of the icy night. Then the noise of paws in the snow began to reach her ears. It was a pack of wolves, and they were coming for her.
“What do I do?” she wondered frantically. She had no one to help her. She wanted to run, but what good would that do? She would have to face them. There was no other option.
Soon, the bright eyes of the wild dogs began to appear and the footsteps came nearer and nearer. She was trapped. They had made a full circle around her. Some stood ahead of her, some behind. Each licked their chops and panted as they went.
“Be brave!” Emma told herself, gripping the handle of a knife at her side. Right then, one of the wolves let out a vicious snarl and charged forward. She pulled her knife out in a hurry, but before she could use it, she felt the wolf lunge on top of her, forcing her down to the ground. His paw weighed heavily on her chest. The moonlight glinted on the dog’s wicked teeth.
“No!” Emiline cried. She gave a wild struggle. But as she wrenched away from the weight on top of her, she felt herself rolling downward and suddenly she hit something hard.
With a startled cry the girl woke up, Her heart was still pounding in terror. But the cold night was gone and all she could see were dusty boards and a feeble glow of winter light.
“Thank goodness it was a dream!” she thought in relief. But she still felt like something heavy was weighing her down. She glared up at a golden-haired child who was lying on top of her. In the panic of Emiline’s bad dream, both of them had rolled out of bed, but Elizabeth was still fast asleep. Emma let out an irritated grunt and shoved her sister away.
“What a way to wake up,” she grumbled inside. “Falling out of bed!” But at least her bed hadn’t been far from the ground. She and Lizzy had been sleeping on a pile of pillows and blankets that were stacked in their little attic. With a moody huff, Emma stumbled to her feet and brushed the lint and dust off of her night gown.
“I’ll be glad to get out of this ugly room someday,” she thought. But, as her grumpy sleepiness wore off she began to think more reasonably. “I guess it isn’t so bad,” she told herself. “And it’s been worth it.” If she hadn’t given up her beautiful bedroom and slept in that dingy attic, her grandmother wouldn’t have had a place to stay with them. Grandma Adler had come for a long, long visit. But now that winter was falling over the town, it wouldn’t be long before the old woman headed back home. Emma couldn’t help but feel a little bit eager. She liked her grandmother’s company, but she couldn’t wait to sleep in her own bed again.
In a couple of minutes, Emiline was ready for the day. She had brushed her dark, brown hair until it looked like satin, and she had put on a tidy looking pinafore.
A pouty sort of noise reached Emiline’s ears as her sister began to wake up. The little girl was still lying on the hard, board floor, tangled up in a cocoon of blankets.
“Emma,” the girl whined, “I’m stuck!” She wriggled around, but it was no use. The best she could do was get her head out of the covers and look around in a mopey way. Confusion wrinkled the little girl’s brow with a frown. “Why am I on the floor?” she grumbled. Emma’s cheeks warmed up with a touch of guilt.
“I guess I shouldn’t have shoved her on the floor,” Emiline thought with a cringe. She knew that it had been all her fault, but she didn’t want to admit that. What Elizabeth didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
“Here, I’ll help you up, Lizzy,” she said, ignoring the question.
The delicious smell of food was floating up into the room. It was making Lizzy and Emma feel hungry. Trying not to waste any more time, they flew downstairs and darted into the kitchen. There, Mother had just pulled breakfast out of the oven, and the coffee was still hot.
“It’s almost time for school,” the lady said.
“I know!” Emiline cried. She took a heaping portion of the steaming, bread pudding and drenched it with creamy milk. It was a meal fit for a queen, but she hardly tasted it in her haste.
“Oh, Mother, I hope I’m not late for school!” she said between gulps of food. “Miss Weed said she was going to teach us to sing O Holy Night for the Christmas Party! I don’t want to miss it!”
From the other side of the table, Grandma Adler listened with a pleasant smile.
“Then you’ll have to run, Deary,” she laughed teasingly. “It’s getting pretty late.”
“And,” Mother added, “You still haven’t done your morning chores.”
“Oh, chores!” Emiline moaned to herself. “I really will be late if I have to do chores!”
“Your father already milked the cows, but I need you to tidy up a bit, and make sure when you sweep the floor that you sweep behind the furniture too! And don’t forget to fold the laundry neatly.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Emma said with a sigh. She never understood why her mother always liked things done a particular way. Emiline liked to get things done as fast as possible. She didn’t like taking the time to smooth each wrinkle out of the clothes as she folded them.
In a hurry, Emiline scooped the rest of her food into her mouth, ran to do her chores and then left with a rushed goodbye. She threw her coat on as she ran out the door and headed down the hill.
A burst of wind made Emiline shiver. It was a cold, December morning but winter hadn’t quite set in with it’s usual force yet. The world was still bright with a glimmer of sunshine and the fallen aspen leaves were glowing like gold on the ground. Emma’s heart filled with joy as she looked around at the countryside. Even in the winter, the woods and the hills had a certain beauty that played with the girl’s imagination. The pine needles were trembling in the breeze, and the creek was rimmed with ice. Then, high above the forest, there was a snow capped mountain that rose into the air like a towering castle.
It was quiet. But, as the girl hurried on, looking all around in joyful wonder, she began to hear a distant noise; the sound of heavy footsteps. She didn’t think much about it at first. This was the main road, and any of the townspeople could have been traveling it. But…what if it wasn’t a person at all? What if it was a horrid creature that was sneaking up on her? Emma’s blood ran cold and her dream about wolves flashed back into her mind. Did she dare to look back?
“What would I do if a wolf really was after me?” she wondered fearfully. “Would I have the courage to defend myself?” She shuddered at the thought, but then she drew in a determined breath. “I would have to!” she decided. “It would be a matter of life or death! Either I’d win or I’d die trying!”
The footsteps were getting closer than the girl realized. As she walked, dreaming about courage and danger, it stole up behind her and came near. Suddenly the girl heard a strange noise and felt a puff of hot breath on her neck. With a shriek, she flinched and braced herself for the worst. But her cry of fear was muted by the loud neigh of a horse and another startled voice.
Looking up with wide eyes, Emma saw a huge, black stallion faltering and rearing backward in nervous fear. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or even more terrified. A boy was clinging onto the wild horse’s back and it looked like a dangerous struggle to stay in the saddle. But there was no fear on Peter McDougall’s face. His eyes were bright with the joy of his challenge, and as he gained control of the spirited creature, he laughed in victory….
There’s more to read in this chapter. Once I get the book published, the first few chapters will be available to read on Amazon.com! I cannot wait to share this book with you all! Stay tuned for more updates! And, if you like what you’ve seen, don’t forget to give this post a like and hit follow! I love making new friends here on WordPress! Have a beautiful, spring day!