To kick off Music Monday I’ve chosen Everyday by Dave Matthews. One of my favorite Dave Matthews songs.
I paired it with a deleted scene from Birch’s Faith. I kept the song listed even after I deleted the piece from Birch’s Faith because I wanted to share the scene in my Music Monday group.
We need more positivity, and the official video has a guy going around giving hugs. I like that he’s at ease with himself enough to do that and to handle ridicule and rejection when it presents itself with grace.
Instead of hugs, for me the song captures both Zev and Birch’s ease with one another as well as the give and take in their relationship. Zev has no problem asking Birch to show him how her slider works while Birch entrusts him with her most precious possession. And because of it they have a lot of fun doing an activity they’ve both done separately when on the trail. An activity so repetitive it became a chore when riding alone.
Joy can be found in the smallest of things especially with those we love…
“The slider is similar to the Z’ers and Liners with a few modifications. This button next to the right handlebar starts it.” Birch pointed to the button.
“Okay.” Zev focused on the control panel.
“Pull this back to make it go faster and release it to slow it down. The brake is here where your right heel is. Tap it once then push it firmly to make it stop.”
“What are the blue and green buttons?” Zev pointed to the left handlebar.
“Never press those. Devon and Kael, my brothers, made a few specialized weapons for me, in case I was caught in the open during a scavenger attack.”
Zev shuddered and his hand drifted across the three scars on his face. “Weapons will only slow them down, Birch, if that happens, run. Don’t look back, run. You do not want to be caught by them.”
Hmm. So, that’s what happened. There was more to the story, but Zev’s expression was filled with pain. Instead of asking him about it, she turned his attention back to the slider wanting the excited twinkle to return in his eyes. “Well, if you saw the weapons, you wouldn’t worry too much. After we get these people to safety. I’ll show you what they can do.”
His eyes lost the chilled cast of memories and took on an eager light to try the weapons.
Boys and their toys. Birch mentally rolled her eyes.
“This last button here, that’s a bubble, it’s something Kael’s been working on.” At Zev’s questioning look Birch tried to explain. “Okay, say I can’t outrun the scavengers. This button puts a force field around me, but it drains all the power in my slider. It sends out a distress call to Pop and Ketewah, so they know where to find me, but I have to sit in this little space and pray that a thin, filmy substance doesn’t give out before help arrives.” She shivered at the thought of being trapped under a moving mass of scavengers. “I’d rather fight than ever deploy that button.”
Enclosed spaces had never been her friend.
Admiration lit his eyes. “But that button could mean the difference between life and unimaginable torture.”
“That’s why Kael has been working on this. Not just to help me but everyone in the Western Villages. We’ve all lost so many to their brutal attacks.”
“If your brother could make something like this work, it would save a lot of lives.” Zev touched the button reverently.
Birch nodded in agreement. “You think you’re ready to take it for a spin?”
“Then let’s get going. We need to check the trails ahead to make sure no one is setting up an ambush.” She stood back and waited for him to climb on, then she hopped on behind him. She wrapped her arms around him and hummed in pleasure as she pulled herself snuggly against his muscled back.
“No sniffing or you’re liable to distract me,” Zev said with a smile.
Birch laughed, laid her cheek on his back and shut her eyes. Please, please don’t let him wreck my baby. She wanted him to enjoy the freedom of the ride as much as she did, but she didn’t do well in the passenger seat. Especially, when they were driving her slider.
If he enjoys it, I’ll see if Kael and Pop can fix a slider up for him. Maybe one with a little more substance. She realized how much larger Zev was to her slider and could appreciate now why he compared it to a broomstick.
The machine purred to life under them as Zev tested the controls. He took off like a shot, her ass slammed into the seat. Surprised, her grip loosened on him as she was almost ripped from the slider. Birch gasped. After the first rush of unexpected speed, the ride suddenly smoothed out. Then they were flying through the thick forest. Dodging trees and bushes, breaking free in clearings which allowed him to gun the vehicle faster. He slowed marginally when they dove back into the woods on the other side.
The cool air whipped Birch’s braid behind her and brought tears to her eyes. When she heard Zev’s quiet laughter, she knew there would be no question of him stopping to let her grab the goggles she’d forgotten to put on. As she had this thought, she felt the slider decelerate and then he came to a skidding halt.
“Can’t see,” he said.
“Hang on.” Birch scrambled from behind him as he wiped his eyes. She dug out the pack she’d brought with them. A few seconds later she had goggles for both of them and handed a pair to him. She slipped hers on.
I can at least see if we’re about to hit a tree. She shook her head at the absurd thought.
“How the hell do these work?” he asked, the goggles looked like two small, clear eggs, with a strap tying everything together, in his large hands. “Very different from the visors we were issued with the Frontliners.”
“Yeah, us villages are low-tech. No custom visors for us.” She took the gear from him and adjusted the leather and pulled the clear lenses a bit further apart. Done, she passed them back to him. “That should help.”
He shifted the plastiglass to a better fit. She jammed the bags back into the saddlebags on the slider, climbed behind him, and they were off again. A few minutes later they came abreast of the first group of Kliendorvians. Zev swung the slider west and sped ahead of the group to check the trail the villagers would take, when she felt they had covered enough to be safe, Birch tapped him on the back. “Turn around I want to check their back trail.” She shouted to be heard.
Zev almost slung her off again when he turned back. She giggled at the adrenaline rush. They zoomed past the motley group of sledders and transport vehicles. The flat black sledders from the MFZ’s group looked small, and sleek, next to Cymek’s larger mismatched sledder Pop had built for the Wanderer. And the sand colored transport vehicles of Kliendorf blended well with their surroundings. The transport doors were open, so more people could fit into them. The younger men were hanging from the sides as they sped over the forest floor. Birch and Zev reached the end of the hodgepodge wagon train where they found Cymek. Zev pulled alongside the man.
“Is this everyone?” Zev asked.
“Should be. Jace and Dahlia are near the front,” Cymek said, then he smiled. “You better not hit a tree with that thing.”
Puzzled Zev replied. “I hadn’t planned on it, but if I did, it’d be an improvement.”
Birch snorted. Her slider might look like a stiff breeze would break it apart, but this piece of machinery had gotten her out of more than one tight situation.
Cymek laughed. “Not if she shoots you before you hit the tree.”
Birch shook her head in exasperation. “I’d have only shot you Cymek. Zev’s safe.”
Zev laughed, while Cymek sputtered. “What?!? Why me and not him?”
“I’d think of something else as punishment for him.” She laughed at Zev’s surprised look.
“Punishment my ass!”
“Exactly–” Before Birch could tease him more, Zev stole her breath when he whirled the slider around and headed back to the front of the caravan.
Birch’s Faith is in Amazon stores now.
To see if Birch’s Faith is for you, check out another excerpt from the book HERE.