Ice Floe Excerpt: Chapter 6
We’ve been sitting on the ledge a while now, mostly staring at the view. I steal occasional glances at Tucker. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a force between us. Energy. A pulse. A magnet. Something. Every time I focus my thoughts elsewhere, he pulls me back in. It’s distracting.
“You ready to head down?” he asks.
“You might as well get started. I can’t climb down with all your equipment in the way.” “I have an extra harness. You should come down with me.”
He reaches for his pack and stands up.
I jump up to join him. “No way. I’m not hooking myself into that death trap.”
“Glacia, come on. This cliff is super challenging, and it’s way more difficult to climb down than up,” he says, his voice growing louder. Here we go again.
“I’ll be fine once you get your stuff out of the way.” I raise my volume to match his. “It’s not safe. I would feel horrible if I let you climb down and you got hurt.”
“Not let you. It’s your choice.” “I choose NO.”
He clenches his jaw tightly and grinds his teeth. I take a few steps back in preparation. There’s enough room up here to land a solid kick to the face. That should knock him out, then I’ll have to figure out a way to climb down his cat’s cradle setup. Tucker crosses one arm over his chest and raises a hand to cover his mouth. We glare at each other – at an impasse.
“Let’s make a deal,” he offers. “You climb down with me using a harness and rope, and I’ll take you on a boat ride.”
This catches my attention.
“That’s right, I saw you light up when I mentioned my dad’s boat shop,” he continues with a cocky air.
He’s more perceptive than I gave him credit for. Volatile and perceptive. A hefty combination.
“Have you ever been on a boat?” he asks.
I shake my head. I would love to go on a boat. Tucker knows how to fix them and can teach me everything a trainer could, plus more. What am I thinking? This is crazy. I can’t go on a boat with a human. What excuse would I give if I got caught? I can’t pretend I’m seducing.
Everyone knows that’s not high on my priority list, and you’re not supposed to seduce alone. Maybe I could say that I’m collecting information to share with the girls I teach… Hmm. That’s almost believable, given my dedication to the studio.
Tucker can tell I’m on the fence about it and ups the ante. “I’ll teach you to drive the boat.”
Unfair. Of course, I want to learn how to drive a boat. That’s a beyond useful skill in my back pocket. I peek down the cliff face to assess the reliability of Tucker’s wedge-rope system. Stupid. Like I know what I’m looking for.
“Fine,” I agree. “We need to be hooked together, so if I die, you die.”
“AND I get to drive the boat.”
“Deal. Let’s see, today is Monday, and I already have plans tomorrow. Wednesday?”
“Eleven a.m. on the Ula pier.” “I’ll meet you there.”
Tucker flips his pack around, unclips a belt, and offers it to me. “Do you know how to wear a harness?”
I snatch it from him, compare it to his gear, and step into the leg holes. When I have it all clipped in, I throw my hands on my hips.
“Now what?” I ask.
Tucker leans in toward me, rope in hand, then pulls back and reconsiders. “That’s not quite right,” he says haltingly. “Can I fix your harness?”
“I already agreed to this mess, didn’t I?”
He rolls his eyes. “I think that’s a yes. Pull the harness up – it has to sit higher on your hips.”
I follow his instructions, and he flops the rope over one arm. He moves in closer and bends down to reposition the harness. His fingers wrap around the loop against my leg as he pulls it up below my hip. My heart beats faster and my insides twists. I evaluate the top of Tucker’s head in an effort to distinguish these sensations from other emotions. He secures the loop and raises his gaze to meet mine.
“Is that too tight?” he asks. His hazel eyes penetrate mine. The edges are a deep brown that blend into a murky green with an amber starburst around
the pupil. I shake my head and look away. I hope he can’t tell how disoriented this is making me. “Pull the tabs on your waist tighter,” he instructs.
I cinch the waist while he rearranges the other loop on my leg. Why is this making me so agitated? He’s only fixing my gear so I don’t fall to my death. Tucker gathers the rope into his hand and reaches out to tie it to the front belt loop. As he does, his fingers brush my skin just below my belly button. A jolt of electricity shoots through my body. I take in a small gasp of air and hold my breath. He freezes, his fingers lingering on my stomach. Did he feel that too?
1. What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration for Ice Floe started in college as I learned more about sexism and gender inequality. I wanted to use creativity to highlight the importance of conversation on these topics. Couple that desire with a fascination around all things mermaid and ocean-related, and you have Ice Floe. A story designed to take you on a fantasy adventure, while hopefully making you stop to think about how humans treat each other in real life today.
2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
This is my debut novel, so I think it’s faster to tell you what I didn’t learn. I already knew how to use Microsoft Word and had my main character’s name picked out… and that’s about it. Every other writing-related skill I learned from scratch. How to finish a draft, hack it to pieces, and edit until the story is almost coherent. How to collect feedback from alpha and beta readers then continue with revisions. All the self-publishing processes including working with an editor, commissioning cover art, deciding on publishing options, and an author website. The end-to-end process of launching a novel from start to finish is a marathon. Sometimes you feel strong. Sometimes you cry and get a leg cramp. Mostly you grow!
3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
I was most surprised at how much the novel changed after my alpha readers and editor provided initial feedback. I cut out entire chapters that simply weren’t necessary. Reorganized a ton of material and clarified my focus. The final story is much better as a result of being open to feedback, and I’m grateful for all the suggestions.
4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
The title’s not exactly a spoiler, yet the explanation hints at the trajectory of the plot, so I’ll pass on this question.
5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
I’ve had the privilege of living in many states in the U.S. I’ve also enjoyed international travel and working with people from all over the world. The characters in Ice Floe are a blend of many first-hand experiences, as well as stories shared with me by others. My family, friends, and colleagues have all contributed to this novel with their shining personalities, quirks, and willingness to experience this crazy life with me.
6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
The book has themes around gender equality and justice. Although I barely scratch the surface of the topic, I hope the concepts in Ice Floe make people think about how we treat each other.
7. What is your favorite part of the book?
The sparring scene. I won’t give it away; you’ll know it when you read it!
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Surprisingly, Glacia’s niece, Trita, gave me the most pause. Trita is four years old, and I haven’t been around children that age in years. I kept having to stop and think…how would a four-year-old react? What would she say or care about?
9. What are your immediate future plans?
I recently submitted a novella to my editor for initial feedback. Think of it as book 1.5 in the Ice Floe series, told from a different character’s point of view. At the same time, I continue to work on book 2 in the series and have that queued up for the editor this summer. I’m hoping to share the novella with readers in Fall 2022 and book 2 in early 2023!
The blood moon set high in the sky was the Earth’s guardian angel tonight. It stood watch while all the Earth’s blessed and damned creatures roamed freely. It guided them to their redemption or eternal damnation.
The enchantress took a deep, channeling breath while she absorbed the magic and the energy this night brought forth. It was the perfect time to seek the answers she’d long sought.
If the omnipotent transcendental powers would not reveal them to her tonight, then all hope was lost.
She perched the silver chalice engraved with defined runes on the altar in the garden. She poured the spellbinding liquid into it and began to chant the spell she’d memorized.
At first, nothing happened, but like everything else in life, she needed to be patient and persistent. She continued on with the ritual until the potion started to twirl, then churn. It soon glowed a celestial blue.
Peering into the aquatic abyss, she asked, “Reveal to me the means to restore the harmony. The balance must be brought back to the line.”
An image gradually morphed in the chalice. It appeared to be a tall, thin girl with unruly shoulder length red hair who knelt on the floor. She seemed to have fallen and had scraped her knees because blood trickled onto the uneven
The enchantress cocked a brow while she curiously observed the scene. Why was the Voyeur Chalice showing her this teenager? The girl was no older than seventeen. How did she fit into the whole scheme?
Knowing that she wouldn’t get more answers until she performed the next part of the ritual, the enchantress raised the chalice and languidly sipped the elixir. The bitterness made her shudder until a transcendent voice spoke to her in her mind.
The enchantress’s eyes glazed over and she remained perfectly still paying acute attention to what was said.
Once the answer and all its details were divulged to her, she lit the candle ending the liturgy.
With leaden legs, she walked back into the building. The ritual had taken its toll on her. She’d need to rest to fully recover. But before she could, she had to send a message.
The kindle needed to be laid down so that the catalyst could catch fire and set off the next chain of events.
Unprecedented things would soon begin to happen.
About the Author:
Athena Floras is a wife and proud mother of three who loves to read and write suspenseful and romantic stories. When she isn’t busy being a mom, she spends her spare time in her den, totally immersing herself into the whimsical, fantastical world of fiction. She hopes the stories and characters she creates will bring readers as much pleasure and entertainment as they have her.