Authors: Courtney Cook Hopp
“Claire Claire?” Quentin asked as his thumb drew lazy circles around my knuckles. Unable to stand being cooped up in the house any longer, he’d carried me up to my sanctuary where we lounged on the couch, my burnt legs propped over his. All was quiet. Normal. For now. “Is your name really Claire Claire?”
It had been three weeks since the accident. Twenty-one days since Foster had restored my sight and Aunt Lucy groveled for forgiveness after she released Dad from his long endured blindness. A darkness he’d become trapped in after granting a vision about my mom. The first and only vision he’d granted, causing their car to spin out of control.
“My parents thought too much alike.” I tried to explain the secret ballot scheme they’d hatched before I was born, sealing their favorite names into envelopes. “After I popped out, they ripped open their exchanged envelopes like a couple of giddy school girls and realized they’d chosen the exact same name. So, in a moment of brilliance, they gave me both.”
He lifted my hand to his lips and trailed a line of kisses up my arm. “You were a moment of brilliance.”
I pulled my arm from his grip, embarrassed by the compliment. “Now you’re just brown-nosing me, because you want your Christmas gift.” I reached over the back of the couch and pulled out a canvas wrapped in brown paper and handed it to him.
“When, exactly, did you get out and shop?” he teased, knowing full well I hadn’t left the house since the accident.
Everyone had come to visit at first. Their words of concern emphasizing how lucky I was to have survived such an ordeal. But none saw under the bandages on my legs. Not even the green-eyed boy sitting next to me. He was the only person that still came almost every day. Sometimes we would talk or watch a movie, but mostly we sat in silence as I selfishly held onto the illusion that he would still be here once the bandages came off.
I shrugged. “Just open it.” I didn’t know how long my nerves would hold out before I snatched it back.
He lifted the paper off and turned the canvas over, exposing a wash of reds and silver, my own words embedded between swirls of thread and wire:
I thought to be brave,
I had to not be afraid.
But in truth,
it is about being terrified
and forging forward anyway.
The clock ticked loudly in the endless silence, while his eyes roamed across the canvas. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath until Quentin quietly said, “CeeCee, this is beautiful.” He looked up and snaked his hand around the back of my head, drawing me to him. “Truthful.” His lips fastened tight on top of mine.
He released his hold on my head and said, “I have something for you.”
He leaned the canvas against the couch and reached in his pocket, pulling out a small black box topped with a perfect silver bow.
“You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“I didn’t,” he answered slyly.
I quickly pulled off the bow and lifted the lid, gently pulling back the folds of tissue. My breath caught. My heart raced. The past bounced beautifully back into my future. The pearls I thought lost forever, peaked out from where they were safely nestled on the tissue.
I bit my lip to hold back the water works that threatened to unleash. “I thought it had been destroyed . . .”
“No, it was in my pocket.” He took the necklace from me and pulled it over my head. “The clasp was broken, but not anymore.”
My hands wrapped around the sides of his face as I scooted closer. “Who are you? Where did you come from?”
“Your imagination, I suspect,” he answered with a grin. A beautiful, raw, heart-melting grin.
“My thoughts exactly.”
Honestly, I don’t know where to begin, because if it takes a village to raise a family, an entire city is needed to write a book!
First, I would like to thank my muse, my confidant, my best friend, my sister, Carrie Cook Minns (carrieminns.com), who's writing talents are the benchmark I strive for. To my late mom, dad and brother, Tim, who have unconditionally supported me in all of my many creative and crazy endeavors.
To the ever
-amazing Linda Anderson, my writing and critique partner — what would I have ever gotten done without our weekly check-ins? And to the wise and wonderful Peggy King Anderson. I could not have asked for a better coach and cheerleader.
To Linda Keeney
and Tegan Tigani for championing me and continually reminding me that it just takes one brave thing a day.
To Ken Grant at MotivatedBranding for giving me the swift kick I needed to climb over my hurdles.
It’s all about the boots, right?
To Christy Watson for red penning not one, but three full manuscripts.
To Myra Waddel, Erika Fox, Tami Kays, Lisa Aldofson, and Alison Shane for taking fresh reads and giving me insightful feedback. To Michelle Perkins for margaritas on the front lawn, because what is better than that?
To my posse of moms: Alison, Tami, Trish, Rocio, Jenni, Jamie, Iveth, Suzann — you are my sanity.
To Katy Tuttle and her ever amazing talents of making me look good.
To all of
the readers who rolled the dice, took a chance on me, and gave me the thumbs up.
And last, but most
definitely not least, my guys — Patrick, Rylan, and Kincaid. How did I ever get so lucky? xoxo
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I dream. I spin. I create. I write.
And somewhere, from the dark corners of my mind, shadows emerge, slipping in and out of my conscious. They move closer, come to life, and grow, until my imaginary friends are as real to me as anyone I’ve known my entire life. It is then I sit and begin to type.
I type with a spirit for the
young at heart — the ones who set the tone of my characters and reveal their direction, their nuances, their meaning. It is a privilege and a gift that continually awes and inspires me.
I studied art at the University of Oregon and am a member of the Western Washington chapter of SCBWI International.
When I’m not behind my computer typing, writing and developing my stories, I can be found flitting around the beautiful, creative island and hub I call home, a stone’s throw from Seattle, Washington, with my husband, two boys, and one nutty dog.