Title: The Wounded
Series: The Woodlands Series, Book 3
Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published: February 28th, 2014 by Clean Teen Publishing
Word Count: 91,000
Genre: YA Mature Dystopian Romance
Content Warning: Graphic Violence
Recommended Age: 16+
Synopsis: You think you’re in control. That it’s your hands on the reins. But I’m starting to think either someone else is driving, or the reins are attached to nothing. Just flapping and snapping in the breeze. What could be simple, never is.
Rosa doesn’t want to get used to being separated from Joseph, from Orry. So she must find the strength to battle her way back to her family, while mustering the courage to face her father, his secrets.
With her best friend, Rash, by her side, she feels blessed and cursed. He is her saving grace, but will Joseph accept him and forgive her for leaving?
Rosa must pull these threads together as she hacks her way to The Wall with the aid of her new companions but, heartbreakingly, without the one person she’d planned to save.
Finding her way home is only the beginning. The biggest changes, the shocking truths, are waiting, hovering over the town like a menacing vapor.
The Wounded have waited, nursed, and been dormant for too long. And now they’re coming… dragging the ghosts of their lost ones behind them.
~ Excerpt ~
I’m collapsing into a dream. Folding in on myself over and over until I’m nothing but a pinch of paper.
I know I’m not where I’m supposed to be.
The arms holding me are the wrong arms—wiry and warm. But it is unwelcome warmth.
The slosh of mud lapping around boots was my first reminder. I screwed my eyes tightly shut, trying to keep it out as it rapped loudly on my aching head. My boots swung limply back and forth past the trees. My trees. I let the smell of wet fronds and bent pine needles swirl around me, grateful I was at least back in the forest. I imagined myself cradled in a bough: Leaves swept across my face, branches held their slender limbs across the tree’s mouth-like hollows and whispered, ‘shh’.
“Shh! She’s waking up.”
Movement ceased, ejecting me from my dream. Smooth fingers grazed my face. The wrong fingers. I opened my eyes warily. It was unfamiliar, yet not, like half of me wanted to nestle into his chest and the other half knew not to.
As I let the light in, the exposure cleaning up and drawing the fuzzy shadows into sharper images, the first thing I saw was my own eyes staring back at me. I closed mine slowly, hoping the view would change like a slide clicking over. But when I reopened them, I still saw my eyes in a man’s face. A worn face, which once you rubbed back the lines and pulled up the skin, was a face that looked just as I remembered. A ghost. I shouted out and sprung from his arms, landing in the mud and splattering everyone’s concerned faces.
“You,” was all my feeble head could come up with as I stumbled woozily for several seconds, pointing my shaky finger accusingly at the tall, dark man in front of me. As I connected the random pathways that brought me here, threads of sense drifted in front of my eyes, but I couldn’t quite pull them together. The daughter in me was stubbornly fighting against the truth.
I ran my hands through my hair and grasped at the strands, pulling them together into a thick rope in my fist. I shivered, the air wet and sludgy around me. My aching head took in the darkness creeping away as morning peeled back, slow and heavy like the night didn’t want to give in.
He approached me gently, hands held out in front of him like he expected me to climb back into them. I shook my head, feeling nauseous and upended. When he made a sudden move towards me, I startled like a deer. He pulled back, looking hurt. He would never harm me, but I was afraid of what he might say. I leaned airily, putting my hand out to steady myself, but connected with nothing. Rash was quickly at my side, and I held onto his arm to stabilize myself physically and mentally.
Rash. I had Rash. My heart pumped faster, and my blood warmed as I felt the real fleshiness of him. I looked down at my feet, twisting my ankles and burying them in the mud. “How long?” I asked the ground, little bubbles popping around my sinking boots.
About the Author:
Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honors in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.
After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.
In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released in August 2013 and quickly became a best seller. The second book in The Woodlands Series titled: The Wall, was published in October 2013 and followed suit, maintaining it’s position on the best seller charts for three months in a row.