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Shattered: A Shade novella, Page 1

Jeri Smith-Ready




  Table of Contents

  Dedication

  Acknowledgments

  Author’s Note 1: A wee Scots language primer

  Author’s Note 2: Punctuation, grammar, and spelling

  Shattered

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  About “Shattered,” Zachary, and Jeri (including buy links)

  Copyright

  Chapter One of This Side of Salvation

  To Team Kilt,

  for getting us here

  Acknowledgments

  Thanks first of all to my amazing family, friends, and agent (Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown), who supported me through a roller coaster year as I fought to bring “Shattered” to life. Your strength helped me find my own.

  Cheers to an astonishing array of insightful beta readers and critique partners: Karen Alderman, Jennifer Armentrout, Judy Gabbett, Stephanie Kuehnert, Frankie Diane Mallis, PT Michelle, Lindsay Ribar, Cecilia Ready, Rob Staeger, and Jennifer Strand, most of whom heroically read multiple drafts.

  Special thanks to Scotland natives Sya Bruce and Fraser McFarlane for help with location and language. I can never hope to do your country justice with my writing, but at least you helped me get closer. And sorry for any mistakes I introduced after the last draft you read—my bad.

  Counseling psychologist Elizabeth Venart, M.Ed., NCC, LPC, helped me understand the struggles of those suffering from PTSD. Any inaccuracy or misrepresentation of the disorder is on me. I hope Zachary’s story can provide hope to those who share his difficult journey.

  People who helped without knowing they helped (which will henceforth be a regular feature in my acknowledgments): Glaswegian comedians Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges, Robert Florence, Louise Stewart, Iain Connell, and Brian Limond, who taught me much about daily life in Glasgow, most of which can’t be repeated in a YA book, even one as “edgy” as “Shattered.”

  My amazing assistant, Melissa Jolly, provided hours of support in more forms than one. No one short-circuits a major author meltdown like you!

  Once again, I’d like to thank the members of the most amazing fandom in the history of literature (well, to me, at least): Team Kilt! Without you, “Shattered” would never have happened. You all know why.

  In alphabetical order by first name they are… *deep breath*

  Aeriell Choquette, Aine, Alana Fligelman, Alicia Ester, Alyssa Anne, Amanda Wolfbauer, Amy Jacobs, Amy Pittel, Amy Stewart, Ana L. Arroyave, Angela @ Reading Angel, Anna Heinemann, Annette Stone, Ariel Boeger, Artemis Grey, Ashe Terry, Ashley Gafford, Ashley Lauren, Ashley Morrison, Ashley Nicole McKinsey, Ashly Ferguson aka Lostnthestacks, Aydrea Rickert, Bailey Hewlett, Bailey Purvis, Barbara Walker, Becky Boyer, Beth Hickey, Bethany Larson, Bobby-Jo Boxall, Brandi Gardner, Britney Wyatt, Brittany Howard, Brooke “Team Logan’s Empress” Goldetsky, Carli Bandeira, Caroline Kimsey, Casse Narome, Cassie Pendino, Cassie Rosario, cegluna, Christie Taylor, Christine Danek, Christine Ko, Christine Manzari, Christy Bennett, Christy Kamphilay, Christy/@starrebelle, Claire Huggins, Claire Wong, Courtney M. Heitman, Cristina Escalante, Cyndi Martin, Cyndi Tefft, Daisy de Bruin, Dayna Pearce, Deanne Dekle (@librarychickD), Debra Elsner, Deena Graves, Diana Chao, Edesa Y., Elsie Chan, Emily Pazienza, Epic Lynn Marie, Erin Stout, Flo, Frankie Diane Mallis, Fraser McFarlane, Gabriela Navarro, Gabriella Turner, Ginger @ GReads, Grace, Grace Lo, Grace Smith, Heather Burke, Heather Elia, Heather Harris McFarlane, Heather Rosdol, Heidi Stegmann, Ida “TeamKilt’s Crazymember” Bosita, Iris Fligelman, Jacinda & Jasmine @ The Reading Housewives, Jackie Burris, Jaime Arnold, Janae Haygood, Janette Derucki, Jazmin Naomi Labrada, Jen Duffey, Jen Fisher, Jen Kentfield, Jen Kovacs, Jen Stewart, Jen Watson, Jena M. Freeth, Jenn Martin, Jennifer M. Nix, Jennifer Sanders, Jennifer Strand, Jenny Vasquez, Jesse Grant, Jessica Arb, Jessica Corra, Jessica Drake, Jessica Ware, Jessica Woodward, JoAnne Claudio, Joanne The Fairytale Nerd, Johanna Reinberger, John F. Gardner, Joli @ Actin' Up with Books, Joti Bilkhu, Judy Gabbett, Julianna Helms, Julie Jones, Julie Montmarquet, Kailia Sage, Kara Lang Guminski, Karen Alderman, Kasey, Kasey Hilyard, Kasey Paradis, Kat Chamsay, Kelsey Jones, Kendra McCormick, Kim Mathwig, Kimberley Steel, Kimberly Brasher, Kimberly Callegan, Kissha Ann Peddy, Kris Viers Armstead, Kristin P. Jones, Laura Young, Lauren Goff, Leilani Lopez, Lindsay Cox, Lindsey Redding, Lindsi King, Lisa Hoag, Lisa Sperry, Lona Queen, Louisse Ang, Lucy D. Briand, Lynn Marie Spinks, Lynsey Newton, Mag @ Geek Chic, Mandie Baxter, Maria Laura Alvarez, Marissa Odom, Mary Quiggle-Pickering, Megan Kyser, Megan Zaiser, Meghan Raine, Mel Boulrice, Melanie Stang, Melissa "Litzalou" Layton, Melissa Driggers, Melissa Fonseca, Melissa Garner Mitchell, Melissa Gibson, Melissa Layton, Meredith from Mint Tea and A Good Book, Michele Blanchard, Michelle Coffey, Michelle Long, Michelle Molenderas Santiago, Michelle Nadeau, Miri Epstein, Miss Jessica S., Misty Evans, Nancy Ouellette, Neil Raz Ipong, Nerissa Luna, Nikki Baldwin, Nikki Oldenburg, Nikki Ulmer, Panagiota Kalogeroudis, Pao Mtz Parente, Paris Hansen, Patricia Mendoza, Pavan Hansra, Pavlina, Pyxi Rose, Rachel Clarke, Rachel Isom, Rachel Patrick, Raychelle Smith, Rebekah Millet, Renee Combs, Saleana, Samantha Heck, Samantha Stoner, Sandra Werbunat, Sarah "Sarbee" Brown, Sarah Hardie, Sarah Mäkelä, Scarlet Rose, Scott Romanski, Shannon Condie, Sharon Mostyn, Shell Bryce, Smash Attack, Somer, Stacey Canova, Susan Jakubowski, Suzanne Rauch, Suzanne Waligora, Tabitha Qualls, Tabitha Williams, Tamara Bašić, Tara @ Fiction Folio, Tara Gonzalez, Teri aka Dirtybrit, Tiffany Webb, Tina Ljujic, Tori Reul, Tracy Hudson, Tristan Bruce, Victoria Anne, Victoria Lee, Wen Yan, Wendy Adams, Yiling Ni, and Zeinab Zmurrod.

  Whew! I hope I got all those names right. If not, email me and let me know!

  Special thanks to the phenomenal lasses who led Team Kilt—Amy Oelkers and Jennifer Strand—and to those who’ve contributed to the Shade fan site (KiltandKeeley.com): Karen Alderman, Jennifer Duffey, Brooke Goldetsky, Julianna Helms, and Mike Pooler.

  Lastly, thanks to my husband, Christian Ready, for his love and patience, and for holding the torch in the darkest tunnels.

  Author’s Note 1:

  A wee Scots language primer

  Scots is considered by many to be a language in its own right, one related to English and German, with a Scandinavian influence as well. It’s spoken mostly in the Scottish Lowlands, including the city of Glasgow, where ‘Shattered’ takes place. (If you ever read Robert Burns’ poetry in school, you’ve read Scots!) The degree to which Scots is spoken and the level to which it’s interspersed with English varies widely with location and situation.

  Since I’m treating Scots as a language and not a dialect, I’ve used full words without apostrophes or other indicators of slang.

  For example, the words wi and no are actual Scots words, not simply slang-shortened forms of with and not. So when you see them appear in dialogue, I promise they’re not typographical errors.

  Scots words that might confuse, along with their English meaning:

  awfy (awfully, very)

  aw (all)

  baw (ball)

  burd (bird)

  cannae (can’t)

  deid (dead)

  didje (did you)

  didnae (didn’t)

  dinnae (don’t)

  fur (for)

  gaun (going)

  gie (give)


  gies (literally give us, but usually meaning give me)

  heid (head)

  nae (no, as in lack of)

  naw (no, as in the opposite of yes)

  no (not)

  pish (piss)

  polis (police)

  tae (to)

  whaur (where)

  whit (what)

  wi (with)

  widje (would you)

  ye (you; the pronunciation is closer to yeh than yee)

  yer (your)

  yersel (yourself)

  Scots is not to be confused with Scottish Gaelic, a language related to Irish and spoken mostly in the Highlands and Hebrides. In the ‘Shattered’ scene in which Gaelic is spoken, the words are italicized.

  You might notice Zachary’s Scots usage varies along a spectrum from none (with his mum) to some (with his dad) to lots (with a large group of his mates). Pretty typical seventeen-year-old boy, aye?

  Author’s Note 2:

  Punctuation, grammar, and spelling

  I chose to follow British English rules rather than American English, to give ‘Shattered’ that extra Zach-y flavo(u)r, and because I’m a bit of a masochist.

  The New Oxford Style Manual was used for copyediting and proofreading purposes, but I’ve undoubtedly made a few errors out of ignorance. Those knowledgeable in British English should feel free to email corrections to [email protected]

  Shattered: a Shade novella

  by Jeri Smith-Ready

  ‘Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.’

  ― Lao-Tzu

  Chapter One

  You’re free. You’re safe. You’re going home.

  I silently recite the words I was told upon landing at London Heathrow half an hour ago. My escort and temporary physician (Tina? Tara? Can’t remember her name.) thought those phrases would reassure me in my ‘disorientation’.

  Disorientation doesn’t … quite … cover it.

  After eight weeks of complete solitude, the opposite is almost harder to bear. The crowds lining the international arrivals corridor are putting me on edge, despite the sedatives my doctor gave me. My brain feels like it could pop out of my ears.

  So I keep my focus straight in front as I stride towards my mother, who waits apart from the throng. She must have been warned I needed space.

  At the sight of me, Mum’s hopeful smile twists with sorrow, but she raises her arms for an embrace. I stop short, perhaps ten paces away.

  During my first month in Area 3A’s solitary confinement, I craved a thousand things – fresh air, television, the sight of my girlfriend, Aura – but those longings paled next to my need for human touch. I would beg for a handshake, a hug, even a beating.

  The second month changed me. Now the thought of another’s flesh against mine makes me feel I could disintegrate.

  Mum drops her arms, but only for a moment. Then she lifts her chin and holds out her hands again, this time supporting rather than pleading.

  I step forwards. Perhaps it’ll be different with her than it was with my guards when they brought me out of my white-grey cell yesterday morning, or when the doctor checked my pulse on the plane. Perhaps Mum’s touch won’t send me spinning.

  ‘Zachary,’ she whispers when I’m within reach. ‘You’re here.’

  ‘Aye.’ I take her hands. Her fingers are cold like mine, but soft and strong. I lean over and kiss her cheek, and as I do, I smell her, same as always, that mysterious mix of perfume and lipstick and sometimes sugar. The smell of home.

  ‘Mum.’ My knees bend so my arms can wrap around her. She hugs me hard, exhaling all the way so that not even the air in her lungs comes between us. For one moment it’s perfect.

  Then panic hits me, quick and sharp and staggering as lightning. My pulse pounds and my arms spasm. I let go quickly, afraid to shove her away, but even more afraid to crush her. Taking a step back, I curl my arms around my own waist, an instinct I can’t fight.

  Mum tries to speak, pale lips trembling. Was her hair always so silver, the skin round her eyes so creased? How long was I gone, again?

  I save her with an easy question: ‘Where to now?’

  She blinks, then clears her throat. ‘It’s, eh, Terminal One. Our flight to Glasgow leaves in two hours.’ Mum reaches for my hand as if I’m a six-year-old wean, then thinks better of it.

  ‘Need the toilet first. Then ring Aura.’ I move away, leaving her with my doctor, who can update Mum on my state of mind. (Two words: Un. Balanced.)

  On my way to the gents’, I check the arrivals board for the time and date. One minute before five a.m. on the twenty-sixth of August. I repeat these facts with each step, memorising them so as to confirm later that time has moved forwards.

  Just inside the loo, a businessman stands before the full-length mirror, adjusting his tie, so it’s easy to avoid a look at myself as I pass. When my captors cleaned me up with a shave yesterday morning, I saw a reflection of the pale, thin, feral-eyed beast they’d created.

  I lurch into the closest cubicle and slam the door shut. With my forehead and palms pressed against the cool metal divider, I try to calm my breath.

  ‘You’re free. You’re safe,’ I whisper. ‘You’re going home.’

  I was going home once before, with Mum and Dad, on the twenty-second of June. But when the ghost of my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, Logan, appeared to me at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, I couldn’t miss the chance to go off and speak with him in private. To make peace, for her sake.

  You’re free, inhale. You’re safe, exhale.

  The delay saved our lives. We missed our flight, which soon crashed, leaving no survivors. Since my family’s escape was my fault, we became suspects in the disaster; it was assumed I’d been forewarned by the bomber.

  You’re free, inhale. You’re safe, exhale.

  Stunned at our slip from tragedy’s grasp, I went quietly into custody at first – until the authorities threatened my mother and my sick father, at which point I may have said, ‘If you fucking touch them, I’ll punch you so fucking hard, you’ll have eyes in the back of your fucking head.’ Or something like that.

  That was the last I saw of my parents, or anyone I knew—

  You’refreeyou’resafeyou’refreeyou’resafeyou’refreeyou’resafeyou’refreeyou’resafe.

  —until yesterday. After the DMP released me, the kind folks at Immigration let me visit with Aura for five short minutes. As we spoke through a thick pane of glass – and then didn’t speak, when words became unnecessary – my eyes devoured every detail: her dark, wavy hair bunched up on one side as if she’d just woken, her slightly chapped upper lip, her shirt collar brushing the hollow of her throat (the place on her body I most loved to kiss).

  You’re free, inhale. You’re safe, exhale.

  I hold onto this memory of Aura with all the strength left in my mind. My breath turns slow and even, and my pulse softens from a throb to a thrum. I stand up straight, then wipe away the sweat my palms and forehead left on the cubicle wall.

  I will see Aura again someday, and when I do, I’ll be the lad she fell in love with. Not this cracked shell of myself. I’ll find a way to fix things. For us.

  * * * *

  ‘Zachary, we’re home.’

  I wake from a light doze to find us taxiing towards the gate at Glasgow Airport. As we pass a small white-and-blue jet with Loganair on its side, I feel an inexplicable urge to smile. Then I shut my eyes against the mass of humanity around me, poised to leap up the moment we stop. When they do, they’ll make this plane so very, suddenly tiny.

  ‘What time is it?’ I ask my mother.

  ‘About half seven.’

  ‘“About” half seven?’ Not good enough, after two months with no clocks or calendars. ‘What time is it exactly?’

  ‘Just a moment. My phone’s still powering up.’ There’s a vibrating sound and an electronic beep. ‘It’s seven twenty-eight. I’ll ring your fat
her and tell him we’re getting off last, so he won’t worry. Martin’s there to keep him company.’

  The seat belt sign dings. ‘Martin Connelly?’ My best mate’s name feels far away, even as it trips off my tongue.

  ‘Yes, he drove our car. He’s been to the house quite a bit this summer, entertaining Dad for a few hours when I’m at work, or fetching what we need from the shop. He’s ever so concerned for you.’

  I open my eyes but glue my gaze out the window as the other passengers get to their feet. ‘Does Martin know where I’ve been?’

  ‘We couldn’t tell anyone, for fear of jeopardising the negotiation for your release. Your friends all thought you were in prison for disorderly conduct – wrongly accused, of course. That was the official story.’ She lays her hand on my seat’s armrest, then hesitates, tapping her ring nervously against the surface. ‘Now you’re out, you can tell the truth.’

  Not the whole truth. Not even half of it.

  ‘Of course,’ she continues, ‘some of your friends might think it “pure dead bril-yint” you were in prison.’

  I grimace at her remark, not just for its mockery of my old mates. The English are shit at Scottish accents, and my mother’s no exception. But it’s sort of a relief to know some things haven’t changed.

  ‘How are you feeling?’ she asks twelve minutes later, as we’re making our way from the gate towards the exit.

  ‘Fine.’ It’s a relative term.

  ‘I’ve told your father you’re feeling a bit sensitive at the moment. He knows to give you your space.’

  Fuck that. I will hug my father, no matter how hard it is. And I’ll shake Martin’s hand, clap him on the back like always. Otherwise he might think I’ve gone all homophobic or something.

  (On the other hand, this is Britain, where no one touches if they can help it. So there’s an out if I need, God Save the Queen.)