Blood Debt (Touched #1) by Nancy Straight
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Release Date: July 15, 2012
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Her whole life, it had just been the two of them. Before her mother’s last breath, she gave Camille the information she had craved her entire life: the identity of her father. Daring to contact him, Camille was welcomed by an entire family she never knew existed. But nothing comes without a price, as she discovers when her family claims a legendary heritage tracing back to a centaur touched by Zeus.
As she learns the secrets of her Centaur bloodline, she is drawn into a forbidden love with Drake. Her life may be the blood debt required to pay for her mother’s transgressions. The same person who once held her mother captive, and forced her into decades of hiding, now controls Camille. Her only chance is to seek a piece of her mother’s past that will win her freedom and the life she desperately wants.
“Mom, do you remember when you forced me to ride a bicycle? You thought it would be fun to ride by the ocean? I begged you not to make me do it. I pleaded with you to let me sit on the beach. You wouldn’t take no for an answer. You worked double shifts for weeks so you could buy us matching bikes.
I still remember looking at it in the store: the pink tassels, the big white banana seat. It was so beautiful at the bike shop. I wanted you to be proud of me, but I was terrified when you took them both out of your van in Carlsbad. I knew everyone was watching me, and I was scared. Do you remember what you told me?”
I waited, hoping she’d answer me, hoping I could hear her just for a second. “You said bravery is measured by how hard you try, not by whether you actually succeed. We went home from the beach that day with my skin gone on both knees, both elbows and my cheek. I never did learn how to ride it, but you still told me I was the bravest person you’d ever known.”
I looked for her face, begging her to show me the same grainy image of herself that she’d shown me at Bruce’s wedding. I confessed, “I don’t know how to be brave unless you’re with me. I need you to show me how to be brave again.”
When my mother didn’t show herself, I believed it was because my heart longed to see Drake. She knew me better than anyone on the planet, and she must have known that it was Drake I needed to see. Her loss had broken my heart, but his death was my fault. Zandra had killed him because she knew he was who I wanted.
I needed to tell him how sorry I was. I’m sure Phineas could hear me through the door, but I didn’t care. I sat on the edge of the bed, feeling the place where he’d lain. I smoothed my hand over the pillow that had cradled his face. “Drake, I don’t know if you can hear me. I hope you can. I was just scared, okay? When I found you, you were everything I’d ever dreamed of. No one’s supposed to get everything they want. No one is supposed to be perfect. It seems like every time I feel a sliver of happiness, a machete comes from out of nowhere to remove whatever I love most.”
I felt hot tears dripping down my cheeks, my vision clouded, my throat was tight. “If I’d broken the engagement like you asked me to, maybe you’d still be here. Or maybe I’d be with you right now. You told me my plan was ridiculous, you didn’t need to know me better – the truth is, I didn’t need to know you better, either. You were the one.”
I took my palms and wiped the moisture from my cheeks, drying my hands on my jeans. “I know I don’t deserve a do-over. I should have seen you for what you were when I had the chance. I’m so sorry.” My voice lost its volume. I whispered, “I love you, Drake. I always will. There’ll never be another.” I buried myself in the pillow he used, trying to drink up whatever scent was left.
I slept, wishing for dreams of Drake, wishing to touch his skin, to feel the stubble on his face one more time. I wished I had known how I felt about him while he was still alive. I tried to communicate with my mom’s and Drake’s spirits all the time. I kept thinking of it like a television station that was just outside the range of my digital receiver. Nothing worked. I never heard, saw, or felt either of them.
I LOVE Starbucks’ White Mocha Latte and Mountain Dew, (but not together). I have a lead foot so I set cruise control when I drive, even in 25 MPH zones. I almost never win when I play Angry Birds, but have my 8 year old close, so he can clear the hard levels for me. I grew up on a farm and am opposed to eating fresh chicken (not opposed to meat - just opposed to any meat that was alive a few hours before lunch). I am a huge fan of the show, Big Bang Theory, on CBS.
I have a stray cat that I feed every night and morning but she’s never let me get closer than within 3 feet of her – I keep thinking eventually I’ll wear her down and she’ll let me pet her. I share my life with two fantastic sons, three rotten dogs and a husband that I adore.