I am pleased to participate in the Book Blitz hosted by Xpresso Book Tours for Jordan E. Rosenfeld's Forged in Grace.
Jordan E. Rosenfeld learned early on that people prefer a storyteller to a know-it-all. She channeled any Hermione-esque tendencies into a career as a writing coach, editor and freelance journalist and saves the Tall Tales for her novels. She earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the author of the books, Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books) and Write Free! Attracting the Creative Life with Rebecca Lawton (BeijaFlor Books). Jordan’s essays and articles have appeared in such publications as AlterNet.org, Publisher’s Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazine. Her book commentaries have appeared on The California Report, a news-magazine produced by NPR-affiliate KQED radio. She lives in Northern California with her Batman-obsessed son and Psychologist husband.
One lucky winner will win a digital copy of Jordan's Psychological Suspense novel, Forged in Grace.
AUTHOR: Jordan E. Rosenfeld
PUBLISHER: Indie-Visible Ink
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2013
FORMAT: E-book, 304 pages
GENRE: Psychological Suspense
Grace Jensen survived a horrific fire at age 15. The flames changed her: badly scarred in body and mind, Grace developed an ability to feel other people’s pain. Unable to bear human touch, she has made a small life for herself in Northern California, living with her hoarder mother, tending wounded animals, and falling a little in love with her former doctor. Her safe world explodes when the magnetic Marly Kennet reappears in town; Grace falls right back into the dynamic of their complicated friendship. Marly is the holder of many secrets, including one that has haunted Grace for over a decade: what really happened the night of the fire?
When Marly exhorts Grace to join her in Las Vegas, to make up for the years they have been lost to each other, Grace takes a leap of faith and goes. Although Marly is not entirely honest about her intentions, neither woman anticipates that enlarging Grace’s world will magnify her ability to sense the suffering of others—or that she will begin to heal wounds by swallowing her own pain and laying her hands on the afflicted.
This gift soon turns darker when the truth of Marly’s life—and the real reason she ended her friendship with Grace—pushes the boundaries of loyalty and exposes both women to danger.
Marly’s shriek of alarm wakes me. I am alone in her bed, still in my clothes. On her night table sits the bowl I cleaned her face with, the bloody water now a murky brown. Marly shrieks again, the sound coming from the bathroom. My leap is so fast that the skin of my right leg stretches painfully in indignation. In the bathroom she is turned sideways inspecting herself in the mirror.
“Don’t look. It makes it hurt worse when you look.” I know exactly what it’s like to wake up totally changed from your former self. I can remember Adam as a young resident in training, holding a mirror tilted upward at a careful angle so that all I could see in it were the tiny pinhole dots of ceiling tiles—a galaxy of symmetry. Thirteen years before I raised that mirror with terror, bits coming into view as foreign as if I had stepped off the plane onto Mars. There was no me in this view, only raised, raw, red mounds of flesh. Chewed, ruined, scourged, masticated, swollen, raw.
“What did you do to me?” she says now in a tight, low voice.
Why didn’t I call 911 and make them take her to the emergency room? What kind of a friend am I? “I’m so sorry Marly. I just didn’t want to fight you…”
Slowly she pivots toward me.
“That’s…not…possible,” I say when I see her.
No bruises. No swelling. No traces of blood. Her few chicken pox scars are gone and her skin is truly glowing. I am grateful to have so few hair follicles, for those remaining are all standing painfully on end. Marly walks toward me and I have the urge to back away, like she has been made undead.
“You healed me, Grace.” Marly’s eyes are wide and bright. They unnerve me.
“That’s ridiculous.” My voice is a barely audible whisper. “That’s impossible.”
“Grace, I’ve read about this type of thing. Marly runs her hands across her face. “I looked like Mike Tyson’s handiwork last night. There is a bowl of bloody water by my bedside, so you can’t tell me it wasn’t real.” She runs a finger down her smooth cheek. “You have a gift, Grace.” She sounds euphoric, like she is about to fall at my feet and kiss the hem of my skirt.
I’m not saying it’s possible but…How? Why now?”
The top of her head seems to grow taller with the widening of her eyes. “What do you mean ‘why now!’ Grace, you always…always saved my ass.” She bows her head, and I have a bright and unwelcome flash of memory: Marly in a yellow dress, smeared with blood. “You’ve never tried until now, have you?”
I stare at her, forming a protest. Of course not! Touch is painful to me. I close my eyes, rest my palms against my cheeks, and take a deep breath, wondering if I’ll feel that serpent-like energy again.
Marly circles her right wrist with the fingers of her left hand with a suddenly wistful expression. “Oh,” she says softly. “It’s gone.”
She looks up at me with ocean-dark eyes. “Oh…it’s stupid.”
“Well now I want to know for sure.”
“I had a scar from the fire.” She sounds afraid of what I’ll say.
“I had a scar from the fire.” She sounds afraid of what I’ll say.
“I always wondered if you had any, if you were burned.” A laugh, slightly hysterical, wants to escape but I bite it back.
She keeps rubbing the skin, as though burnishing a piece of silver. “It was a part of me I was used to. But it’s gone now.”
There’s something more under the surface that I can’t read, but I’m so shaken by what’s happened I can’t begin to sort out her unspoken feelings, too.
I stand there for several minutes, breathing in and breathing out, trying to clear my mind. If I could, if I did remove Marly’s scars, what could I do for my own body? I hold an image of my cheeks as they were before…smooth and freckled, my eyelashes long and reddish-blonde. I’d thought myself plain, especially in comparison to Marly. Now, I’d consider myself a supermodel to look that way again. Foolish as I feel, I place my hands on my face. After what must be ten minutes I feel something—the strain of holding my hands up to my face. My shoulders ache and I drop them with a sigh.
Marly looks at me, hopeful.
“It was real,” she says, “what happened. You can do it again.”
Her certainty makes me uncomfortable. I want to put our feet back in the real world. “Whatever happened, you do realize we have no proof now that Loser attacked you. There’s nothing to take to the police.”
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March 8, 2013.