HOLD(Gentry Boys #5)

By: Cora Brent

“…and for all the messy, beautiful pieces the

human heart manages

to glue together.

Love each other.

Hold each other.

For now and for always.”





CHAPTER ONE


CORD



I paused in my storytelling to adjust my tiara.

Two wide-eyed little girls watched me and waited while I firmly resettled the rhinestone and plastic piece. I made a mental note to keep my chin tilted up so it wouldn’t slide off my head again.

The girl on the left, the one who looked the most like her mother, sat up on her knees and bounced, unable to wait any longer.

“Keep going, Daddy! Tell us what happened next,” she begged, bouncing more excitedly and knocking a stuffed hedgehog to the floor.

“Hey,” complained her sister as she reached for her favorite toy.

I scooped up the doll and pretended to examine it closely for damage.

“You all right, Miss Happy?” I placed the thing’s mouth against my ear and nodded. “All right. I’ll tell her.” Gently I passed Miss Happy back to her impatient owner. “Here you go, Cassie. She said she just needs a hug.”

My daughter reached out and carefully cradled the stuffed animal in her little arms. “It’s okay,” she soothed in the same maternal tone my wife always uses when she’s trying to calm the girls.

“Come on,” urged my other daughter, beginning to bounce again, “keep going!”

They both had their mother’s luminous green eyes and they were born on the same day. Cassie will likely keep the wispy golden curls that tumbled past her shoulders at this point. Even though she passed her third birthday several months back we can’t bear to cut any of it off. Cami’s chocolate brown hair was shiny and thick, just like Saylor’s. She pursed her lips together and the impatience that flashed in her eyes was such a mirror image of the look I’ve seen from her mother a thousand times I had to struggle not to laugh out loud.

Instead I masked my amusement with a stern throat clearing because I was in the middle of a serious story. No room for hysterics.

“Where were we?”

Cami jumped in right away with an answer. “The evil giant was trying to hurt the brave knight.”

“That’s right. Thanks, sweetheart. The knight found himself in the lair of the evil giant.”

“What’s a lair?” asked Cassie, frowning and clutching Miss Happy.

“It’s the evil giant’s house. It’s dark and smelly and filled with nasty things like snakes that hide in corners, just waiting for a chance to strike. The knight knows he can’t let his fear get to him. The evil giant stomps in his direction, thump, thump thump. acting like he’s going to step right on the knight with his fat, ugly giant feet.”

“Oh no!” gasped Cassie.

I put a finger to my lips. “But the knight won’t be easily defeated. He holds his sword in the air. ‘You will pay for what you’ve done!’ he shouts.”

I glanced at the girls. They were enraptured. I cleared my throat and dropped my voice to a malevolent rasp.

“‘I will destroy you like I have destroyed the rest,’ sneers the giant. He raises his massive foot higher and higher, ready to bring it down with deadly force.”

The girls were silent, staring at me with such intensity it was like the fate of the world hung in the balance. I leaned closer and continued.

“The knight remains steadfast and clutches his sword. He is a good fighter, maybe even one of the best. But the giant is so strong and has destroyed so many. The knight knows if he does not strike first and strike hard then it will not be enough. He thinks of his home, back in the peaceful kingdom of Templeton. He thinks of the beautiful princess who loves him. He had promised her he would return. He knows he must keep his promise. He must find a way to defeat the giant.”

The girls didn’t move. Usually they were only this still when they were asleep.

“The evil giant laughs and gives the knight a rotten green-toothed grin. He is completely confident that he will easily destroy the knight, as he has destroyed everyone else who has ever stood up to him. It’s what evil giants like him do. He ruins all that is good. And once the knight is gone there will be no one to stop him from invading the peaceful kingdom and attacking everyone and everything in his way.”

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