Tag Archives: Cecelia Brayton

Another birthday for Cecelia

Today is Cecelia Brayton’s birthday!

Character Study - Cecelia


To celebrate Cecelia’s awesomeness, here is a short list of Cecelia-related stuff:

Your Questions Answered, Part 2 – Where I answer questions about the linking phenomenon, and Tubac AZ.

Cecelia + Felix: Wherein I write about Cecelia’s complex history

Cecelia’s Death:  A past Cici birthday post where I explained what it was like writing Leah’s experience of Cici’s passing.

Linking (A Shift Series Novella) on Amazon, BN.com, and Kobo – this is Cecelia and Felix’s origin story.

Waiting –  Cici’s final days and Ferris’ big decision

Waiting (Shift Series 3.5) | The End

Chapter 12

My ear was still aching by the time dinner rolled around.  And everybody had matching earrings now: single, flat, bright red disks, rimmed in silver, shining like beacons in the newly inflamed cartilage of everybody’s right ear.

Beside me, Collin’s toes were tapping out a rhythm under the table.  On my other side, John’s fingers were drumming the table top.  For my part, my fingers continued to tap against my thumb, playing an imaginary song on an imaginary piano—the only difference now was that the tempo was a little faster than it had been before.  The stress was palpable at the table.  Hell, the entire room was emanating stress.  Without thought, my hand went to my belly, but as soon as I realized what I was doing, I closed my fingers like I was scratching an itch.

“You okay?”

I looked to see Collin looking at me.  There was a look in his eyes I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen before.  It wasn’t fear, and it wasn’t sadness, but whatever it was had both of those ingredients within it.

But before I could say anything in response, Collin’s attention was pulled away.  I followed his gaze to see a woman approaching our table.  A shifter—a fellow prisoner.

Nobody ever approached our table.  I’d seen people talking, moving table to table and sitting with different people during dinner each night, but not our table.  We all sat together, and nobody generally approached us.  I’d seen Harris go over to another table once, and Harris and Sam together another time.  I’d assumed they were talking to a friend or someone they knew, but nobody had ever come up to our table before—at least not that I’d seen.

Collin drew a slow sigh as the woman approached Samantha, who turned in her seat so she could face the new comer.

“We all feel it,” the woman said.  “Is it Cecelia Brayton?”

Nobody at the table moved or even breathed as Samantha appeared to force a swallow.  She nodded and, after pressing her lips together a couple of times, then looking away and drawing a breath, she looked to the woman again and nodded.  “We don’t know for certain—it may be.  It’s the only person who makes—“  her voice broke, and her applied calm fractured along with it.  Hand to her mouth, she turned back to the table, shoulders shaking and tears falling into her food.

Harris put a hand on his wife’s shoulder and looked at the woman.  “Yes, we think it may be Cecelia. Please let word spread so those who know her can prepare themselves.”

The woman looked so genuinely sad, so genuinely concerned for Samantha.  She nodded in response to Harris, then put a hand on Sam’s other shoulder.  “I’m so sorry.  She is a great woman, and she will be missed.”

It wasn’t until Samantha began pulling herself together and the woman looked up and saw me that I realized I had been staring.  When the woman saw me, she smiled—but I averted my eyes, embarrassed to have been caught staring no matter how odd the scene had been to witness. It had just been such a strangely open, surreally genuine interaction.

After a moment, the woman went down that side of the table.  Trying to look like I wasn’t looking, I watched as she took each person’s hands in her own and wordlessly held them for a moment at a time.  She’d smile sadly, give a nod, and then move on to the next person.  Before long, others were coming to the table and following suit, taking the hands of those of us sitting, especially Samantha, Harris, and John, giving a nod, or saying a few words.

“Do you know Cecelia Brayton?”

I looked up to see a girl, not much older than me. She was looking at me like she expected me to respond.  “Uh…” I had to clear my throat.  This was all way bizarre.  “Yeah.  I just met her this summer.  But her niece is my best friend.”

The girl reached for my hands and I found myself lifting them to meet her.  Her fingers were thin but when she squeezed my hands there was strength there.  Her warmth was subtle. “I’ve never met her, but everyone says she’s wonderful.  My grandmother died last year, so my heart goes out to you.”

Words skated right out of my head.  “Uh… thank you.”

The girl smiled and moved on, leaving me frozen.

“It’s a show of solidarity and sympathy,” John said quietly, apparently seeing my confusion.

“Huh?” I felt sort of lost, like a child stepping into the unknown.

John smiled like he could see I was feeling that way. “Everyone here knows of Cecelia, and many of them know her by warmth, even if they don’t know her personally,” he said. “Traditionally, shifters took one another’s hands as a loved one passed as a way to share their warmth, share the burden.  Like giving those closest to the one passing a bank of warmth to pull from. They know that the Kings are very close to Cecelia.”

“Wait—how do any of them know she’s so sick?” I asked. I only knew because she’d told me—and then asked me to keep it to myself.  I hadn’t told anybody.  So how did anyone else know she was dying?

“The fidgeting,” Collin said, having been listening on.  His voice was low.  When I turned to look at him, his eyes still held that same haunted look as they had before.  “You see how nobody can sit still? You feel the tremor in your skin—your fingers won’t stop moving.”

I looked around like I needed confirmation—but I didn’t, I’d already noticed it. And of course, I felt it.   “Yeah but… I don’t understand.” What did any of that have to do with Cecelia being sick?

“That’s the feeling of a shifter you know by warmth passing.  The closer you are to them, the more intense it will be as they go.”

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Waiting (Shift Series 3.5) | Chapter 11

“I love you.”

I’d stopped mid-motion as I rummaged through my duffle bag, my search for a clean pair of socks abandoned.  But I didn’t turn around.

“It’s okay,” Collin had said.  “You don’t have to say it back. I get it if that’s not where you’re at.”

I hadn’t been able to respond or even move for a moment or two, staring into my duffle bag, unseeing.  Then, finally, when I stood up from my couch, I stared at him.  “It’s not that I don’t,” I said.  “It’s just… how can you even think about that right now?”

He leaned back into the pillows on Mallory’s bed and crossed his arms comfortably over his chest. We’d been about to get in bed for the night—the first night in days we’d slept in a real bed.  The first night in longer than that that we’d had any semblance of privacy while we did it.  We had Mallory to thank for this private moment: she and Megan—who had greeted us just hours ago with the business end of a shot gun—were sleeping in Leah’s parents’ bedroom.

“Me saying that I love you has nothing to do with any of this…this crap,” he’d countered, but then he’d shrugged.  “Or maybe it does.  Maybe all of this has just given me the balls to actually say it—I don’t know.”

I’d laughed a little and crawled onto the bed beside him.  It felt funny to share a bed with him like this, almost like playing house.  Like I expected a parent to come in and catch us at any moment.  Even though I knew that was a sad impossibility.

“We just almost saw Leah get her head blown off,” I said, serious but half joking, too.  It was true that that had just happened—but it felt ridiculous to say it nonetheless. “And I’m pretty sure Drake was about to implode or something.  So…”

Collin had laughed.  “Yeah, I thought Drake was straight up gonna puke for a minute there.”  He looped his arm around my shoulders as I settled in beside him.

I listed to the side until my head fell to rest against his chest.  “Let’s just…” I sighed and shook my head.  “Life is too complicated right now. I love what we are—let’s not make that complicated too.”

He’d nodded and taken my hand, then brought the back of it to his lips.  “Deal.”

Then words had leapt out of my mouth—as unexpected as they were completely true: “I do, though.”

The warmth that eeked from his skin to mine had kicked up a notch.  He’d sighed a laigh, a low, private sound, and turned his face into my hair.  “I knew it. But always with the thinking and analyzing.”

I had smiled as I turned and met his lips with mine.  “It’s what I do, I guess.”

“Mm,” he’d sighed without removing his lips from mine. “And I love you for it.”

“We’ve established that.” My words had come out mumbled against his mouth.

“All this privacy…”  he’d murmured.

“Should we analyze it?” I sunk down further beneath the covers, taking him with me.

He’d laughed in his throat and kissed me harder.  “Definitely not.”

I had been uncertain of a lot of things over the past weeks—that night, however, left no room for uncertainty.

Collin always knew exactly what he was doing.  When we kissed, his lips were the perfect answer to my unspoken questions; his hands were the gentle strength of silk—or the refined roughness of polished wood.  He always said the right thing, the most beautiful things—reassurance when I needed it, lovely words when that’s what I wanted, and gently funny quips whispered into my ear when it was exactly the right thing to say.  His body quenched a thirst and lit a fire in my veins.  And the things he could do with it… every inch of him left me breathless.

“How many girls have you been with?” I asked him later that night while we lay together under the blankets, warm and comfortable.  My bones had felt like jelly.

His smile had been begrudging.  “A few.  What about you—there’s no way I’m the only guy you’ve been with.” His eyebrow quirked with suggestive question.

I’d smiled.  “You’re not.”

“You’re the only shifter I’ve ever been with.”

“What?” That had surprised me. I’d pulled my face back by a couple of inches so I could see him more clearly. I mean, he was the only shifter I’d ever been with, but that was hardly a feat.  Collin on the other hand… well, everybody knew Collin.  “Really?”

He’d nodded.  “Being with another shifter always seemed…I don’t know—sharing the warmth always seemed more important than just a one-night-stand, I guess.  And I never met another shifter that was worth it.”

That was the night I told him I loved him.

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