Book Length 214 Pages
Book Name: Shade’s Champion
Release Date: 18th December 2015
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Cover Art by: Kellie Dennis: Book Covers by Design
Shade has been kept in the dark for eight long years. Now he’s facing a world that terrifies him. A world that seems to hold no place for him.
When the authorities are unable to find a home for Shade, Penny, reluctantly accepts him into the secure school she manages, despite thinking it’s the wrong place for him. Penny fears for his safety among the other troubled children. In an attempt to forestall the disaster she predicts will happen she appoints one of them as his champion.
Dory, an engaging seventeen year old with mental health issues, is proud to be chosen as Shade’s champion and throws his heart and soul into the job. In doing so he is forced to face the thing he fears most – his own emotions.
An unexpected friendship begins to grow into something more, until a spiteful act tears them apart and leaves them broken.
When Dory falls ill, Shade is forced to face his demons and struggles to find the strength and courage he needs to fight for the right to love, and to be there for his champion when he needs him most.
“How much does the boy know about Shade’s past?”
“Why not ask him?” Dr. Blake’s voice was clipped and made Dorien squirm.
“Um….” Dorien felt cornered and panic flickered through him. But again he thought of Shade and got it under control. “Not much. He doesn’t say very much at all.”
“I know that. I’m not interested in what he doesn’t say. I’m interested in what he does say.”
“I was getting to that.” Dorien glanced at Penny, who smiled and nodded. “He told me he was a prisoner in a dark place for a long time. And that he was afraid of being outside, but you made him go and it made him even more scared.” Dorien couldn’t help a touch of accusation creeping into his voice, and he glared at Dr. Padfield. The image of Shade scared and confused, being dragged outside made him angry.
“Shade is suffering from severe agoraphobia. We’ve tried a range of therapies to help, but he’s persistent in his non-cooperation.”
Dorien’s lips moved as he worked through the sentence. Persistent non-cooperation?
“You mean he keeps telling you he’s too scared.”
“You say it as if it’s a bad thing.”
“It is a bad thing. He can never overcome his fears if he refuses to face them.”
“Refuses? I don’t think he’s refusing, he just can’t.”
“Are you trying to tell me my job?”
“Don’t be silly. You’re a doctor and I’m just a kid, but I know how Shade feels. I know what it’s like to be so scared of something all you can do is curl up in a ball and concentrate on breathing until it goes away. I know what it’s like to not be able to say a word because the fear won’t let you speak. And I haven’t even had all the bad things happen to me that happened to him.
“He’s never been outside in the sunshine, or to the park, or to the beach. The bad man wouldn’t let him out. He kept telling him there was only one thing he could do, only one thing he was good for.” He petered out and glanced nervously around.
“And what was that?” Dr. Padfield asked maliciously.
“You know very well what it was,” Dr. Blake snapped. “It’s alright, Dory, you don’t have to talk about that.”
“Did he really have sex with his father?” Dory clapped his hand over his mouth. He hadn’t meant that to come out, but it was so unbelievable he could barely believe Shade was capable of it.
There was absolute silence for a moment, then Dr. Blake smiled awkwardly. “No, Dory, he didn’t. He tried but…. His father reacted very badly. Shade was beaten and had to be taken to the hospital.”
“His father beat him up?”
“This is not an appropriate conversation,” Penny cut in. “Dory, the reason we asked you to come to this meeting is because we would like you to go on trying to help Shade, but it’s a big responsibility, and we don’t know how Shade is going to react when he starts working through his problems. You only touched on them yesterday, and you saw what happened.
We’re concerned about you and whether you could cope.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Shade’s a very troubled young man. He’s tried to hurt himself many times, and he might try to hurt you if you get too close.” Dr. Padfield said. “Or he may try to make… other connections.”
Dorien blushed deeply. Ah hell, did they know?
“That’s one of the things we’re really worried about, Dory. You have your own issues to consider, and I’m not sure you could… control yourself if something like that happened.”
“Oh, yes, I could. I know I could.”
“I know you believe—”
“No, I know.” There was no point trying to hide it now. “Last night he… well he… tried to kiss me, and I was scared, but it was fine. We didn’t do anything.”
“Shade tried to kiss you last night?” Penny and Dr. Blake exchanged startled glances.
Dory dropped his head and cursed himself for having opened his mouth. “Yes.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
With a huge sigh, Dorien raised his head. He’d really done it now. There was no point trying to lie, they’d know. He bit his lip, fighting tears. They were definitely going to stop him being Shade’s friend now, and they were probably going to take him back to the hospital and give him more drugs, and maybe even not let him come back. This was worse than the anger, he knew it. With anger he’d just hit out, with sex he might…. He shivered. He really, really didn’t want to rape someone, and he knew that’s what they were afraid of.
He realised he’d been staring at the wall while everything was rushing through his head. “I…. He… he tried to kiss me… well he did kiss me. He pulled me down and kissed me, and I’ve never been kissed like that before, and I liked it. Well… at first I liked it, but then I realised what we were doing and I stopped. He was really upset and very scared, but I told him I wasn’t going to hurt him, and that’s when he started to tell me about stuff.”
“You stopped it?”
“Yes, but I didn’t want to. I’m really sorry.” His composure started to slip and his hands started shaking. He gripped them together as tightly as he could. Emotions were flooding him and he was starting to lose control.
“It’s alright, Dory. It’s okay.” Dr. Blake was crouching next to the chair. When had she got up? “Take some deep breaths and relax. It’s alright. You didn’t do anything wrong. You did really well. Really well. I’m proud of you.”
Dorien blinked in shock. “You are?”
“Yes, I am. You were kissed, and you wanted more. You wanted it badly, and you were with someone who would have given it willingly. But you knew it wasn’t right, and you stopped it. It doesn’t matter if it was hard. Of course it was. It would have been hard for anyone. But you still did it. You showed control, a lot of control, and I’m proud of you. It makes me a lot more comfortable with going ahead with this plan.”
“Hold on a minute,” Dr. Padfield chipped in. “I’m not so sure the plan is relevant any longer.”
“We discussed this.”
“We discussed your patient’s issues at length. My concerns, however, have nothing to do with him. He might have shown restraint, but my patient clearly didn’t. His inappropriate sexual advances are something that have been worked on intensely in therapy, and we believed it had been brought under control. It would now appear it has not.”
Meet The Author
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and menagerie of three cats, a dog and a dragon. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close.
Immersed, as always, in the world of fantasy, she maintains a burning desire to share the stories and these days it’s in the form of books which all contain her spark and unique view on life, the universe and everything.
Where to find the Author
I have two copies of the ebook to give away to randomly selected commenters on the Shade’s Champion cover reveal or blog post on my website http://cherylheadford.com/