We’re thrilled to bring you this little taste of Anise Eden’s All The Broken Places! This brilliant blend of paranormal, psychological, and the romantic is available now.
All The Broken Places Excerpt—Tai Chi Class
The exercise studio was located in the church’s basement. Multicolored Indian tapestries with elaborate geometric designs hung on the walls. There was no furniture in the room, and the floor was lined with large, gray gymnasium pads. Four new faces—two men and two women—had joined Ben in the small, windowless room. They, too, wore navy-blue sweats and all appeared to know one another. After a moment of brief panic at finding myself in a group of strangers, I noticed with relief that I wasn’t getting slammed by anyone’s feelings. None of them must be in emotional distress, I concluded.
Ben waved me over to a back corner of the room. He switched on a stereo that began to play ambient music. The others spaced themselves out and stood up straight, facing the front of the room with their hands at their sides. Ben said, “Watch me and do your best to follow along. I’ll come help if you’re getting into trouble.”
I leaned towards him and whispered, “Are these the other clients?”
Ben gave me a brief look of surprise. “No, we’re all staff members. You’re the only participant in our program right now.”
The only participant? I’d never heard of a treatment program that could survive on one client. While I tried to figure out what that might mean, I did my best to blend in. I stood up straight and faced the front of the room with the others. Ben went to the front and assumed the same position, standing with his back to the room. Then all at once, the group started to move in unison, slowly and gracefully, as though performing a carefully choreographed dance.
I did my best to follow along, managing a poor imitation of the others’ movements. After several minutes, though, my self-consciousness got the better of me. I gave up and slumped against the back wall.
Ben gestured to the others to continue as he came to the back of the room. “Don’t stop now,” he murmured. “You’re doing great. Come on.” Reluctantly, I followed him out onto the floor and held my arms up like the others were doing.
“Try dropping your shoulders,” he whispered.
“What do you mean?”
He positioned himself behind me and rested his hands on my shoulder blades, pressing gently downwards. As I allowed my shoulders to fall, a layer of tension I hadn’t known was there melted away.
“That’s it.” Ben reached out and supported my hands lightly with his. “Form is the most important thing. Relax for a minute and let me guide you. We’ll focus on the arms for now.”
I let my arms go limp. Ben stepped in closer. My breath quickened. Was I that out of shape?
Ben noticed as well. “There’s no need to be nervous. Just try to breathe normally.”
Where Ben’s hands touched mine, my skin tingled. Like a water faucet being turned on, a tickling warmth began to flow down my arms. What is this? I wondered. Some sort of tai chi thing?
As he guided my movements, his breath fell on the back of my neck and I shivered. The warmth from my arms spilled into my chest, and a heavy heat began to move through my body like a lava flow. Lulled by the sensation, my eyes closed and my head tipped backwards….
“Cate?” Ben asked. “Are you all right?”
“Oh! God.” I whirled around, snapping myself away from him.
Ben took a quick step back. “What is it?”
“Nothing.” I looked everywhere but into his eyes. “I just—give me a second.” I rushed into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. Leaning against the sink, I tried to catch my breath.
Author and plant lover Anise Eden spends most of her time tucked away in her writing nook imagining things that aren’t there. On those rare occasions when she emerges from seclusion, Anise may be spotted in coffee shops, staring at her laptop screen and silently moving her lips as she reviews bits of dialogue. Although Anise claims that she’s the one in charge, the characters in her head do sometimes make her laugh out loud at inappropriate moments.