Thursday, February 16, 2017
Trials of the Maid: The Search for the One by Vi Zetterwall
The search for the One continues...
In book two of the Maid of Salerno series, Cassie Serrell faces a series of challenges as she reaches adulthood and strives to improve life in New Salerno. She yearns for the man she loves and a calm, peaceful life, but the Magistrate has other plans for the young woman who has become a thorn in his side.
Meanwhile, Whitaker Reynolds and others are given the task of finding the One—the One who will guide them out of the Days of the Darkening to better times. Somewhere in New Jersey, their paths will cross.
Cassie pushed the shovel’s end deep into the dirt and pushed again to get a larger amount of soil onto the pan. She pulled it up and flung it onto the pile above. Again, hardly taking a breath between, she pushed it deep into the dirt.
“Cassiopeia Serrell!” Whit called it out as loud as he could as he approached the dig area.
Cassie shot up, looked over the edge of the pit, and saw a determined-looking Whitaker Reynolds striding toward her. To her surprise, it appeared that half the town was walking with him and behind him. She climbed out of the pit, deciding to meet boldness with boldness.
Standing with her feet firmly planted two feet apart and her hands on her hips, she stared back at him and said, “I already told you no. I’m not going. What part of that did you not understand?”
Shouting back at her from eighty feet away, he hollered, “You’re going to New York. You’re supposed to and you know it!”
He walked up to within ten feet of her. About forty townspeople were bunched up another ten feet behind Whit, waiting to see events unfold.
Speaking in a calm, controlled voice, Cassie firmly stated, “I made that mistake already. Ain’t gonna happen again.”
“It wasn’t a mistake, Cassie. He was going to come back for you. Jordan stopped him. You can’t make a mistake twice if you never made it the first time.”
“Why won’t you go away? I don’t want to go.”
Whit shook his head. “I think you do. I tell you what. I believe so strongly that this is supposed to happen that I’ll do anything you say. Give me some difficult task. Something humanly possible but something you don’t believe I could ever do in a thousand years. If I can do it, then you go with me. And if I can’t, I’ll leave and never return.”
Cassie stared at him. “You say that but you already left once. Now you’re back. Why should I believe you?”
“Because I don’t plan to fail and because you know me and you know I tell the truth.”
Cassie struggled with the simplicity of that answer. She found she had no comeback. She looked around, seeking inspiration. There, hidden in the sea of faces behind Whit, stood Hisashi and Zara, eyes squinting against the sun. To their right, she spotted Eulah. Sweet Eulah with her big brown eyes smiling back at Cassie. As she looked back at her she felt the situation had evolved into two difficult choices.
Please Eulah and go or obey Nana Rose and follow her rule. How am I supposed to—
Suddenly it came to her. “OK, I’ll give you, um, a task. I’ll name a champion, and if you can beat him in a fair fight with your fists, then I’ll go with you. If not, you leave.”
Whit immediately agreed.
Cassie looked at the crowd and spotted Jimmy. “Jimmy, do me a favor. Go get Trajan and tell him I need him to stand up for me.”
Momentarily stunned, Jimmy recovered and said, “OK, Cassie. I’m on my way.” A murmur ran through the crowd.
Whit smiled. He thought about all the lessons he had taken with Morse and knew he was ready. He felt nothing could stop him from winning with all this on the line. “Good, bring him on,” he said with as much bravado as he could muster.
Ten minutes later, Trajan showed up. As Whit took his first look at his six-foot-seven, two-hundred-eighty-pound opponent, he blanched.
Cassie smiled wickedly, enjoying her surprise just a little too much.
“Trajan, this fellow wants me to do something that he thinks is a good idea and I don’t. We made a deal. If he can beat you in a fair fight, I’ll go to New York with him. If not, he leaves and I don’t have to see him again. I know you don’t like to fight that much, but I didn’t know who else to call. Will you be my champion?”
Always a bit short on words, Trajan simply looked at her and nodded.
“OK, everyone knows the rules. No weapons allowed. First one to give up or fail to get up within ten seconds is the loser. Whit, you have anything to say?”
“You mean like famous last words or something?”
“No, I mean you don’t have to do this. You can just give up now.”
Whit stared at his shoes for a moment, clearly contemplating the many virtues of the path of least resistance. Then he looked at Cassie and said, “That’s where you’re wrong. I do have to do this. And I have to win.”
Cassie connected eye-to-eye with Whit for a second, and in that moment she realized she didn’t want him to be hurt. She also knew it was too late for that.