Exclusive Excerpt from Melanie Rawn's FIRE RAISER + Giveaway

Here's an excerpt from Melanie Rawn's Fire Raiser, sequel to Spellbinder. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Bestseller Melanie Rawn plunges down the back stairs of the old South into a dark world of family secrets and the international flesh trade that lies underneath the surface of small town politics and romance.

Holly McClure and Evan Lachlan have survived the fiery beginning of their romance and left Manhattan for Holly’s ancestral home to raise their children. Evan’s the county Sheriff; Holly is still a trouble-making Spellbinder trying to manipulate her family as if they were characters in one of her novels.

But something’s not right in Pocahontas County. Churches are being burned down in mysterious arsons with a taint of magic on them. Sheriff Lachlan suspects that they have something to do with the new owners of the old Westmoreland plantation, now a very upscale Inn, but even if he could find proof, it’s going to be hard to bring a case of Black Magic before a Judge -- even in Pocahontas County, where witchcraft is the family business of all the oldest clans.

And to double the fun, in addition to the extract which follows, Tor Books will hook up two lucky winners with a copy of Fire Raiser!

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "FIRE RAISER." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!


He was fourteen years old when he found it.

It was summer, and his dad was traveling on business, so Cam was staying at Woodhush for a month or two. Holly, having just graduated from high school, was even more of a pain in the ass than usual--obsessing about college and clothes and guys. Cam tuned her out whenever possible. His own life had been getting more interesting lately, as he suddenly seemed to be making quantum leaps in height, musicianship, and magic.

As for the first--Lulah had found some old overalls that had belonged to her brother, and Jesse had contributed some aged Levi’s, for otherwise, Cam would have been condemned to wearing only cut-offs or pants that no longer had even a speaking acquaintance with his ankles. The overalls made him look like a refugee from the Depression, but they were surprisingly comfortable. The Levi’s were a little tight in the seat, but at least he could wear them into town without feeling like a complete dork.

The music was, as always, his comfort and delight. The ancient upright piano had been hauled up from the cellar, tuned, and a couple of the cracked keys replaced so that Cam could practice. For something that dated back almost a century, it had a unexpectedly sweet and mellow voice. In the wobbly bench he’d found sheet music for everything from Scott Joplin rags to Classic Opera Arias for Piano, and happily spent most afternoons and evenings sight-reading and then memorizing as he played.

As for the magic…Jesse was teaching him smithcraft, and he dabbled every so often over at Clary Sage’s whenever Holly could be persuaded to drive him. Mainly he learned from Lulah. And only four days into his stay, they’d finally found out what his specialty was.

Among the family treasures were quilts dating back four and five generations, needlepoint samplers created (possibly at gunpoint) by Flynn girls for at least three hundreds years, and a peculiar collection of crocheted and tatted doilies and tablecloths, not one of which matched any of the others. There were saddle blankets and bed blankets woven with varying degrees of skill at the loom featured in one of the portraits on the staircase, and knitted things ranging from tea cozies to very silly hats for golf clubs. The most interesting, however, had come out of a box found only this past spring: a half dozen pieces of lace. They were fine, cobwebby silk, incredibly fragile, patterned in lilies and roses. It was Lulah’s idea to preserve and conserve them under glass in frames, and as the three of them worked on the delicate fabric, Cam found himself nudging the weaving back into place every so often, repairing the lace without even thinking about it.

Lulah noticed first. After a few shrewd questions that he couldn’t really answer, she took up the scissors from the table, reached over, grabbed the hem of his t-shirt, snipped--then yanked with both hands. The material ripped halfway up his chest.

“What the--? Are you crazy?”

“Fix it,” she ordered.

“You are crazy!” He looked an appeal at Holly, who folded her arms and pursed her lips and refused to say a word. “Fix it, she says,” he muttered, looking down at the ruin of his vintage Meet the Beatles t-shirt, torn right through Paul McCartney’s face. He thought about it, then thought some more.

“You’re intellectualizing,” Holly admonished. “Did you have to think when you mended the lace?”

“So speaks the expert Witch,” he shot back, and was instantly ashamed of himself. Holly couldn’t work hardly a lick of magic of her own; it was her Spellbinding blood that made her valuable. She was, understandably, touchy about it.

“Fix the shirt, Cam. Don’t think. Just do.”

Cam thought about the magics he’d learned so far in his life; no help there. Then he thought about music. The printed notes required his attention so he could memorize the piece and figure out how it worked. But when he knew it, and simply played it, thinking wasn’t involved. Instinct was.

He looked down at the cloth, seeing how the cotton yarn was interlocked. Then he bit his lower lip and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the Cute Beatle was gazing soulfully from the silkscreened photograph once more. There was no sign that the material had been rent at all.

Over the next week or so there were consultations with various of the Witchly relations, and some experimentation. From simple repair work (he learned to look on it as simple, anyway) he moved on to spellcasting directly into fabric. Nobody knew yet how long the workings might last; he wouldn’t be trying any using Holly’s blood until they got an idea about the natural duration and strength of his magic.

What with helping out around Woodhush, his music, daily rides, and now his new studies, he was exhausted by the time he got up to bed every evening. But one night in late July it was simply too hot and humid to sleep. He did the usual toss-and-turn routine. He lay naked on his stomach under the ceiling fan with a wet washcloth across the small of his back (Lulah would have knocked him silly for courting pneumonia). He thought long and hard about spelling coolness into the sheets, eventually deciding his control wasn’t good enough yet and he’d probably end up lying on a layer of ice. He even thought about some of the other distractions that had been occurring more and more often lately, embarrassing things that his body seemed determined to do without his conscious consent. But he shied away from those thoughts almost at once.

So he turned to an older method of self-distraction, one that dated to the year his mother had died. He turned onto his stomach, hands flat against his chest, face scrunched into a pillow, and dreamed himself someplace else.

He never went to real places. Over time he had built up a small library of imaginary ones: mountain lakes, castles, beaches that weren’t quite California, where he’d been born. There was a house where the whole second story was crammed with books, and a luxury hotel with a weird elevator that ascended in an impossible spiral through an atrium with redwood trees growing three hundred feet high. Sometimes he was in a sailboat with blindingly white sails, and sometimes he was behind the wheel of a 1930s vintage Rolls Royce, and a few whimsical times he held the reins of a coach-and-four only slightly less ornate than the one British monarchs rode to Parliament in. When he couldn’t fall asleep, he could imagine himself into one of these scenes, and whether he truly slept or simply kept dreaming while awake didn’t really matter.

That night he sorted through his mental file, wanting something that would banish the sticky heat and raucous insect chorus from his conscious mind. Someplace cool and pleasant, with music…well, of course. His personal version of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle as seen at Disneyland when he was about four. It even came complete with a Tchaikovsky soundtrack. He smiled into the pillow, thinking how ironic it was for a family of Witches to be visiting the Magic Kingdom.
Through the dark, narrow hallways he went, up stairwells, through vast chambers of his own devising, decorated with tapestries and huge heraldic war shields--prominently featuring Irish harps and Welsh griffins, of course. He chose a turning at random, opened a wooden door, started up another staircase. He could feel the thick nap of wool beneath his bare feet, smell the mothballs--

Wait a minute.

Cam flipped over onto his back and sat up. Mothballs?

His gaze unfocussed as he concentrated on the picture within his head. It was a new aspect of the castle, this set of stairs with its heavy flowered Persian carpet. No castle had wallpaper, much less the same wallpaper as the closet in Holly’s room: Regency stripes of dark crimson and cream, unfaded in the more than a century and a half since its finely woven silk had been pasted onto the walls….

That wall right over there. The one behind the dresser.

He got out of bed and pulled his boxers on, staring at the wall. The full moon outside was low and bright enough to let him see what he was doing. Hoping Lulah and Holly were sleeping better in the heat than he could, he carefully moved the dresser to one side. He felt quite impeccably stupid as he flattened his hands against the wall--but beneath layers of paint and paper and glue, he sensed silk. He had been working with the lace for a couple of weeks now; he knew exactly what silk felt and tasted and smelled like to his magic. There was an impression of metal that confused him until he realized he was venturing within the wall itself, and the metal must be electrical wires threaded down from the attic directly above his room.

Cam took a step back, chewing on his lower lip. There was no indication from this side that the wall was anything other than a solid wall, solidly plastered and papered, with a layer of sunshine-yellow paint on top. But he knew there was a staircase behind it. Running his hands over the slightly rough surface, he searched a long time for a seam or crease that would indicate a hidden doorway.

If there wasn’t a way in or out here, there had to be one someplace. If he could find the carpet again with its faint stink of mothballs, he might be able to follow it to…where did secret doors hide anyway? Fireplaces were standard in movies, and of course revolving and/or fake bookshelves. There was the ever-popular trap door beneath the rug. Oh, and big portraits of the ancestors that swung out from the wall….

He sat on his bed and considered. There were three fireplaces at Woodhush, using two chimneys: the back-to-back hearths that served the kitchen and dining room, and the big one in the parlor. The shared back wall of the double had been torn out years ago, and redone so that you could look--or yell--through it into the kitchen. Ripping it apart would have revealed anything odd about it. He was pretty sure there wasn’t enough room on the north side of the house, where the parlor fireplace and chimney were, for a staircase to be tucked inside the wall. And anyway, exploring would not only cause comment, he’d get filthy.

It was entirely possible that there were about five miles of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in Woodhush, all perfectly real and solid as far as he knew. There could be trap doors concealed anywhere in the hardwood floors throughout the house. Family portraits were all over the place. And what about all the quilts displayed on the walls? What could be hiding behind them? If there was an architectural drawing of the house, he’d never seen it, so he’d probably have to make his own survey to eliminate those places where it would be impossible to fit a staircase such as he’d seen--how thick was a standard wall, anyhow?

He was being stupid. Why did the hidden staircase have to conform to the laws of physics? After all, he’d originally sensed it with his magic, hadn’t he?

Hell’s bells, as his dad would say. But he’d only really been at this magic thing for less than a year. Like the majority of his male kinfolk, puberty triggered more than whiskers. The girls were different--Holly had been, anyway, her Spellbinder blood evidently operational since birth. Still, she’d never really learned to think like a Witch, had she? Not the way Lulah and Jesse and Clary Sage did, anyhow. The way he himself would have to learn how to do.

So he set himself to it, sitting there on his bed at well past midnight of a sultry, stifling summer night. His only real accomplishment was that he forgot about the heat.

The next morning, after Holly had driven into Flynton for yet more shopping and Lulah was busy in the stables, Cam acted on the results of his first attempt at thinking like a Witch and climbed up to the attic. With his newly discovered sense of silk and wool and magic, he found the upper limit of the staircase. It took some shifting around of trunks and boxes, and some serious sneezing at the dust thus disturbed, but at last he found the plank of the interior wall where a knothole had been punched out of the wood. He felt around with his fingers, then with his magic, and then with both.

The hinge really ought to have creaked and squealed, he thought. No time-honored atmospherics at all to this secret door. It should be ashamed of itself.

Bending almost double, he squeezed through--wondering irritably why he couldn’t have found this a year or so ago, before legs and arms started growing to unmanageable lengths. The steps were there, and the heavy flowered carpet. It seemed to have been woven specifically for this purpose, because it took the turns of landings in ways no ordinary staircase runner should. He grinned to himself. Magic carpet.

There was no dust here. The rods securing the carpet to each riser were shiny brass, untarnished. As he stood at the very top, looking down, he smelled the mothballs that had so disconcerted him the night before and wondered why nobody had spelled the wool to protect it. Maybe the reason was simple practicality--why use magic when a nonmagical solution worked perfectly well? Or maybe there was already so much magic at work here that even that little bit more would be too much.

Cam mulled that over, recalling something his father had told him. “Don’t mess with physics. Most Witches stick to ordinary things--herbs, rocks, tea leaves, wood, stuff that’s perfectly comfortable with itself in the everyday normal world--and juice it up with their magic. Major work, distorting physical space or playing around with gradations of reality, that takes a pile of effort and insane amounts of power. And the laws of physics will have their revenge sooner or later.”

So he restrained his natural impulse to see if he could do a banishing spell to keep moths from the carpet, and started down the stairs. Keeping a mental drawing of the house in his head did him no good at all. Someone had warped the laws of physics pretty thoroughly to make this staircase, which led through most of the house. He paused every so often to put his hands against the wall in an attempt to figure out what room was on the other side. Sometimes it worked. There were quite a few doors as well, most of them locked in ways he couldn’t understand. The three he could open led into the kitchen, the Wisteria Room, and the upper landing of the real stairs. Keeping alert for any sound that would mean Lulah had returned, he stepped out of the magic passage and into the real house and back again, making note of where the doors were and how they worked from each side. From the unspelled side, there was no hint that there was anything behind the walls except timber and the wires for electricity and phones. He was intrigued by the wiring, because he knew about how old it had to be--the first decade of the century at the earliest--yet there was no place where the sheathing had frayed. Somebody had been efficient with a preservation spell.

At last he climbed back up to the attic door, emerged from the staircase, and slid the opening shut. Two hours of piano practice later, he had decided that the secret passage would remain his secret for now.

Because even if he hadn’t heard all the gruesome details of the Salem Witch Trials from kids who were his fellow descendants, he’d had the lecture from Holly--and Lulah, and Jesse--about Witches and secrets.

“Learn to keep your mouth shut, Peaches.”

“It pains me to say this, because you’re a sweet child without a deceitful bone in your body, but there’s just a lot of things we don’t talk about.”

“You’re truly one of us now, and that means we all keep each other’s secrets --sometimes from each other.”

Okay, he did talk a lot (not as much as Holly). And he did have a tendency to blurt at times. But if what he was beginning to suspect was true about him--something that had nothing to do with magic--he would have to get good at keeping secrets. He figured this would be good practice.
He never did get around to mentioning that staircase.

* * *

“They’re not just secret,” he told Evan. “They’ve both got magic all over them.”

If he had expected Lachlan to say something like, “Okay, I am now officially weirded out,” he had underestimated Holly’s husband. There was not a single demand to have things proven to him. Cam wondered what Evan had seen and experienced of magic that had--well, not made him at ease with it, exactly, but at least had swept away the usual skepticism and discomfort.

What Evan said was, “Woodhush and the original Westmoreland were built about the same time, weren’t they?”

Cam nodded. “Before 1760--the basic fabric, anyway. There were additions and refurbishings, but the structure stayed the same.”

“So why are you sensing magic here? I thought Lulah and Jesse cleaned this place out years ago.”

With an elaborate shudder, he replied, “Don’t ever call her an amateur to her face!”

“I’m not,” Evan said mildly. “I’m saying that if they got rid of the magic at Westmoreland, somebody since has put it back. So what do we do with this secret staircase, Cam?”

He hesitated. “I really want to say that we leave it alone--”

“--but you’re not gonna say that, are you?” The older man grinned suddenly. “This’ll be fun.”

“Do me a favor, huh? Don’t ever ask me to represent you at a sanity hearing.”

“Aw, c’mon. You want to get in as much as I do.”

“I concede the point.” He ran his hands over the wall again, his magic pushing through it to the passage hidden inside. Once again, as at Woodhush, it was the carpet he sensed most strongly. But it wasn’t bespelled, it had never been touched by fire-- “Shit!” he exclaimed as he finally got a sense of its pattern. “It’s new!”

“The passage?”

“No, that’s old, probably as old as the first house. I’m talking about the carpet on the stairs in there--it’s Berber wool, and it’s brand-fucking-new!” He stood back, palms pressed together. “And so is the magic.”

“Okay,” Evan said. After a glance at his watch, he nodded to himself. “It’s ten o’clock, this place should be cleared out downstairs in about an hour. Take your suitcase back up to the room and leave it there. I’m gonna go talk to Holly and phone Lulah--” He stopped, cussed under his breath, and snagged his cell phone from his jacket pocket. A few tries yielded nothing. Cam brought out his own, handed it over. More nothing. Evan looked grim. “Somebody was telling me that he couldn’t get his phone to work tonight. The sign at the entrance is just to throw everybody off.”

“Isn’t that assuming kind of a lot? I mean, I’m pretty sure I saw somebody on the phone this afternoon when I came in.”

“One of the staff, or one of the guests?”

Cam thought for a moment. “Guy in a pale blue windbreaker--” He wanted to smack himself upside the head for sheer stupidity. “--with Westmoreland Inn and Spa in purple letters on the breast pocket.” When Evan nodded, Cam added stubbornly, “But I still think that’s a pretty big leap you’re making.”

“The sign asks people to turn off their cells. Anybody expecting a call is asked to leave the phone at the front desk, and they’ll come get you if the call comes through--and how much do you want to bet no calls ever come through?”

“Suppose somebody keeps his phone and keeps it on--”

“Malfunction, dead battery, interference in the signal to a tower--how many ways are there to explain it? Mine doesn’t work. I’m the sheriff--I make damned sure all my phones are working at all times. How about you?”

“New battery yesterday,” he admitted.

“Phones don’t work. Lulah felt blind here. You felt something weird with the bedspread. There’s a staircase hidden inside the walls--with new magic. How does that add up to you?” Evan paused, frowning, and for the first time Cam felt the power behind those hazel eyes as they searched his own. Not magic, but power all the same. “Okay, what else?”

“When Holly and I were outside earlier, I thought I saw something when I looked at the house. I don’t know what, so don’t ask. Just…something about the windows that’s not quite right. But why was somebody talking on a phone--”

“I think you got played. ‘Griffen’ isn’t a common name in this county, but anyone who’s magically connected would check out the locals pretty thoroughly. No Witch in this county knows anything about this place, which means that whoever’s using magic wants it kept secret.” He ran a hand distractedly through his hair. “Shit, I knew Weiss was hiding something! The guy you saw talking on the phone was doing so for your benefit, Cam. Just in case you might think you sensed something--which you did, when you lay down for a nap. When did you make your reservation?”

“A week ago. That’s plenty of time to have me checked out, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Look, why don’t you take your stuff back up to your room, and meet me downstairs in ten?”

“You have a plan?”

“Since I can’t phone Lulah, I’m sending Holly back to Woodhush to get her.”

“I like this part of the plan.” He brushed his fingertips across the wall one last time. “It may take me a bit to figure out how to get into this thing.”

“That’s your part of the plan.”

* * *

It was fast becoming Holly’s plan to find her husband and her cousin and get out of here. There had been a brief renewal of her discussion with Reverend Wilkens, which ended rather precipitously when Louvena Cox, bless her, sauntered over and said, “Reverend, y’all got a uterus? No? Then hush up. Holly honey, we have things to discuss. ’Scuse us please.”

After Louvena gave her a quick summary of her conclusions regarding magic and the church fires--mentioning that she’d told Evan the same things earlier--Holly promised to tell Lulah at the first opportunity. Louvena nodded satisfaction and went back outside to sit on the verandah with her second bottle of California champagne while Holly went in search of Tim and the vodka tray. But the Pledge of Allegiance’s “Under God” coterie tried to draw her into their discussion--on their side. Telling herself she really shouldn’t, she asked whose God they had it in mind to be under--Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, Muslim? While they (variously) gasped, spluttered, marshaled their arguments, or simply stared at her rudeness, she resumed her quest for the Stoly. Tim was nowhere in sight. Damn the boy--

Jamey approached her and said, “I’m supposed to give a speech about why we’re all here, and I can’t find Evan to give me the latest.”

“There isn’t any ‘latest’ that I know of.” Giving him a long look, she went on, “What you really want to talk to me about is Cam.”

“Well, yes. But I do have to give a speech.” He glanced around. “Spectatum veniunt; veniunt spectentur.”

She sighed, privately bemoaning the day he learned his first Latin declension. “Caesar? Suetonius?”

“Ovid. ‘Some come to see; some come to be seen.’”

“What’s the Latin for ‘You are being a smart-ass; do so no more’?”

He laughed. “I’d have to look that one up. Could you do me a favor and check my facts on the church fires against your famous memory?”

She listened as he summarized. Old Believers Baptist, September 29, 2005. October 9, Calvary Baptist. Third was on November 8, First Baptist. December 10, the Lutheran church. Then a break until February 21, when the Methodists had been hit. Sixth had been the Anglican church on April 8. Finally, on August 2, Gospel Baptist.

“So it’s a month since the last one,” Jamey concluded. “And God grant that it was the last one. Has Evan got anything I can use tonight to reassure people? Are we anywhere with the investigation?”

“I’m assuming you won’t be discussing the similarities and anomalies--none of which make any sense.”

“If any of this made any sense, we’d have somebody in custody right now.” Jamey started to chew a thumbnail, caught himself at it, scowled, and stuck his hand in the pocket of his black leather jacket. “None of it makes sense,” he reiterated.

“Some of it does,” she said without thinking, cursing herself when his eyes lit with speculation. She’d almost told him that Louvena had figured out there was magic at all but the Methodist fire. Sometimes she came close to forgetting that he wasn’t one of them, that he didn’t know anything about Witchcraft in Pocahontas County. “They almost all started at night--is that significant?” A lame save, but a save nonetheless.

“I thought maybe you or Evan had thought of something,” he said, disappointed.

“He’s the cop, not me. I keep telling you guys, I’m no good at mysteries and clues and things. If you were thinking of reiterating the facts about the fires, my advice would be don’t. We all know why we’re here.”

“Yes, and I’d only be emphasizing that Evan and I are stumped.” He shifted restlessly, then glanced at her. “So here’s a mystery I’m trying to solve. When I interrupted just now, you were looking rather puckish. Who were you planning to eviscerate?”

“Take your pick. You know the one about the Lord High Executioner?”

Jamey laughed. “He has a little list--and they never will be missed.”

“My object all sublime,” she agreed. “So what were you and Cam up to in the garden?” As his eyes widened, she grinned. “Gotcha.”

“Dear lady,” he said pleasantly, “I refuse to become a source of innocent merriment, even for you. Oh, God--there’s Mr. Weiss and the microphone. Wish me luck.”

Finally catching sight of Tim, she pointed an imperious finger. He looked around with exaggerated innocence as if wondering who she could possibly be indicating.

“Mr. Weiss deserves our deepest gratitude for opening up the Westmoreland Inn tonight for the fundraiser,” Jamey was saying. The crowd duly applauded; Weiss nodded in several directions, a modest smile touching his lips.

Holly fixed Tim with what she liked to consider her most evil glare. He only grinned. Vile, loathsome child--

“I was hoping to bring you some encouraging words tonight about the progress of the investigation,” Jamey went on. “There are things we know, and things we’re going to learn, and that’s really all I can say at present. But this terrible series of fires has taught me something about the place I’ve made my home, and I’d like to share those thoughts with you.”

Holly held up her hands just high enough for Tim to see them, and pantomimed closing her fingers around his throat.

“We have our differences here, just as every community in this country has its differences. The conversations I’ve heard tonight have been about pretty much every issue and idea current in the national debate. Opinions come from all sides of each question. Tom Brokaw has said, quite rightly, that patriotism is not a loyalty oath. I think the most patriotic thing a citizen of this country can do is question the government. This is the remarkable thing about the United States--and it’s exactly what our Founders wanted and indeed demanded of us. The free exchange of questions and ideas. When that freedom is threatened--by the destruction of places in which so many of us meet in order to express our beliefs in company with each other--we come together as we have tonight in order to rebuild those places. Because that’s what a community does.”

Holly forgot about her drink.

“Now, I’m very new to Pocahontas County. I like to think I’ve been useful thus far--I guess I’ll find out in November, because even though I’m running unopposed--which is a very great honor--I still have to win a majority of your votes. But these church burnings have made me feel pretty damned useless. And that makes me angry. Sheriff Lachlan is just as angry as I am. So you’ve got two incredibly angry officers of the court working this thing, and that’s what we’re here for. That’s our function. I think, though, that what you’re here for--contributing to the repair and renewal fund--is even more important in many ways than what a sheriff and a district attorney can do. We’re supposed to find these criminals and stop them. You’re contributing to the future, making sure it will be built--you’re saying that the future is going to happen. And that’s the most basic faith a citizen of this country can have.”

She was aware of someone standing behind her now, but was so riveted on Jamey Stirling that it took her a moment to recognize Cam’s touch on her shoulder.

“America is a work in progress. Yes, I know, it’s a cliché--but think about what it means. America, it seems to me, was never meant to be completed. We were never meant to be a finished product, a thing that at some point would get a final polish and we could all say, ‘Okay, all done!’ and hold a champagne brunch to celebrate--and then not bother to think about it anymore.

“We have to think about it. We’re not a finished thing. When somebody calls the Constitution a ‘living document’ don’t they mean it’s supposed to do what all living things do--grow and change? So America is pretty much meant to be unfinished. It’s challenging work that puts us through a spiritual wringer, that demands our best--because America is the most important work in history.

“Now, anybody who’s ever heard me speechify on the subject--which now includes all of you!--knows that I pretty much go off the deep end when I talk about the Constitution. A lot of people wonder why. After all, it allowed slavery, repression, injustice. It forgot to give women the right to vote until nineteen amendments later. One of the amendments turned out to be such a lousy idea that another amendment was needed to repeal it--and then we could all legally enjoy our bourbon again. But the deficiencies aren’t in the document. Mistakes were made by those who interpreted the document, who wrestled with moral, intellectual, and spiritual questions--and sometimes got it wrong.

“The reason I get long-winded about it--I prefer to think of it as ‘lyrical,’ by the way--is that in the document are found the means for change. For correcting mistakes. For righting wrongs. For doing the work that brings progress. Where do we want to go, and how will we get there? What kind of society do we want to live in--and what are we willing to do in order to establish it? And, yes, to protect it. To form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare--and secure the blessings of liberty. Not the perfect Union, but a more perfect Union. The Founders knew we’d never get there--but they provided the means to keep working on it.

“And that’s what we’re all here doing tonight. Discussing our different views of what this country should be, where it should be going, what it should be doing. How to establish, ensure, provide, promote, and secure. Making certain that those places that were damaged will be repaired and restored, because that’s what communities do.”

He paused, and all at once seemed to shake himself slightly. A tiny smile curved his lips. “I’m a lawyer and a politician--give me a microphone and I’ll talk all night. But there are Labor Day picnics tomorrow all over the county, so I’m guessing you’d all like me to shut up now so you can go home. Thanks for being here tonight.”

“Damn,” Holly muttered as she joined the applause. “I could just kiss that kid right now.”

“Me, too,” Cam agreed softly. When Holly looked over her shoulder at him, he shrugged and showed both dimples. “What can I tell you? He’s always been like that. You should’ve heard him practicing opening arguments and summations--even during first year.”

“You’re an idiot,” she told him affectionately. “Where’s Evan?”

“Why am I an--no, don’t answer that. I thought Evan would be here already.”

“Haven’t seen him in awhile. Go find him, okay, so we can get out of here?”

“That’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about….”

3 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone happen to know if she's ever going to write Captal's Tower. I gave up looking for info about 5 years ago. Never could figure out if she didn't want to write it or if it was a publisher thing.
Pete in Sheboygan

LuAnn said...

A unique time in history! Sounds like a great read.

Deliia said...

Pete in Sheboygan -
You should visit the Melanie Rawn Bulletin Board for that sort of info.
Long story short, after recovering from a long bout of depression, Melanie felt that she needed to do something totally different - hence the Spellbinder books. Once they're finished, she may write CT, or she may not.