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THE OBSTACLE

THE OBSTACLE Series, Book One

A deluxe excerpt of this new and exciting novel by Frank Casso & Chris Casso.


This partial excerpt has been edited and formatted specifically for presentation here. Copyright © 2014, Frank Casso & Chris Casso  Any reproduction or transmission in any form is strictly prohibited.

TABLE OF CONTENTS (Partial)


PROLOGUE


CERQUE’S PROLOGUE


THE END OF INNOCENCE


The Plunder of Thieves; The Announcement; The Day Before; The Arrival of Salm; The Choice; The Abduction and The Crisis; The Aftermath; The Many Questions; The Council; The Reason We Fight; The Prank; The Plea; The Decision and The Return; The Interrogation; The Confession; The Sweet Goodbye; The World Has Changed

THE END OF INNOCENCE


The Plunder of Thieves


Beads of sweat dripped down the side of Relle’s [RELL’S] face. Her mouth slowly moved, silently forming words as she prepared to watch the scene before her unfold. “Go!” she mouthed without making a sound.

The brunette a few feet away saw her, and then nodded affirmatively. Quickly and cautiously, she started tip-toeing on the white floor tiles down to the open door at the end of the hall. Relle waited with bated breath as she watched her friend, Ash [ASH], go into the room. For her sake, she hoped that it was empty. It should be right now. The Superiors were never in the office during this hour.

Another accomplice, Kediri [Keh-DEER-ee], was quietly standing alongside Relle, holding her hand and squeezing it intermittingly.

“It’s going to be fine. Ash will make it,” Relle tried to comfort her.

Kediri’s large brown eyes looked up at her. There was a considerable height difference between the two. “Where’s Mol [MALL]?” Kediri asked, fearing for her friend.

“Around the corner keeping watch,” Relle responded.

Nodding, Kediri focused her eyes back on the empty doorway, desperately hoping Ash would come out soon. “Maybe this whole thing was a mistake,” she half heartedly whispered.

“Well, I told her not to, but you know how stubborn she is,” Relle quietly answered back.

Several minutes passed, and still no Ash. This wasn’t like her. She had been doing this type of thing for years. But why was it taking so long this time?

Mol, another cohort, motioned to the duo, “We have to go!” she said silently, but clearly expressing urgency.

Too much time had passed. If they stayed any longer, they might get caught.

Relle’s eyes focused down the hallway where she had seen her friend disappear through the door a few minutes before. “Come on, Ash. Forget about it. It’s not worth it. Just get out now, she thought.

“Let’s go!” Mol quietly mouthed again, this time using hand gestures.

“Come on!” Kediri pleaded to her friend in a loud whisper.

Relle’s blonde hair fell over her bright blue eyes as she lowered her head, unsure of what to do.

Suddenly, the girls heard loud, heavy footsteps.

With one quick look at her friends, Mol took off running down the hallway, leaving Relle and Kediri all alone.

“Come on, Ash!” Relle thought.

Kediri grabbed Relle’s forearm and started dragging her away. “We have to get out of here,” she said sternly.

Hesitantly, Relle started running with her friend, although she continued to look back at the door, just hoping Ash would come through it.


***


The three girls met up in their room only minutes after they had run away from the would-be crime scene, with still no sign of Ash.

“Do you think she made it out?” Mol asked, still heaving from running.

“I don’t know,” Kediri said in between breaths.

“Ash is smart,” Relle added, “she’s going to find some way out of it.”

“I did,” said a familiar voice, somewhat arrogantly.

The three girls turned around to see their friend standing in the doorway, bundle in hand.

“I am clever, aren’t I?” Ash smirked at her own thievery. “It wasn’t too difficult, considering the Superiors are so dimwitted. But then again, I’m also very good at what I do,” she smiled from ear to ear.

“You’re very good at stealing?” Kediri joked sarcastically.

Ash took a step forward, “I prefer to think of it as helping those less fortunate than the Superiors.”

The girls shared a laugh as Ash handed Relle the package in hand. “Happy birthday, kid,” she said happily.

“What is it?!” Mol asked excitedly.

“You know my birthday’s not even—” Relle began.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever . . . blah, blah, blah. Just open it, Blondie!” Ash interrupted, still pleased with herself after the successful caper.

Quickly, Relle set herself on the bed, her friends surrounding her. Slowly, she pulled back the corners of the cloth.

It was donuts.

Real, genuine, cream filled, jelly laden, frosting covered, donuts. Five precious round circles of dough lay there on the napkin, slowly staining it with sugary, fatty goodness.

Relle’s look of surprise was priceless. “Ash, this is—”

“You can thank me later,” she smiled at Relle. “It’s all yours, baby.”

As Relle looked down at the sugary confections, she honestly couldn’t remember the last time she had had a donut. They had been one of her favorite foods from childhood, but how long ago was that?

“I couldn’t possibly eat this by myself,” she protested.

“You can if you want to, Relle,” Kediri added, although she looked on with great interest.

Stifling a laugh, Relle looked at the silly faces her three friends were making. They looked like puppies begging for a morsel. “Here,” she broke the donuts into several pieces, handing some to her friends. Then, holding up a piece of her favorite kind to her own lips, she ogled it for a moment, and popped it in her mouth. She smiled broadly and let out a sigh of satisfaction as the sugar dissolved and jelly oozed onto her tongue.

“Oh my gosh, this is sooo good!” Ash said as she stuffed another piece in her mouth.

“Thank you, Ash!” Mol and Kediri exclaimed in unison.


As the girls sat and laughed about their success, Relle couldn’t help but want to make the moment last. It had been a long time since she had done something fun like this. When was she ever going to get a chance to do this type of thing again?


Suddenly, the House’s loudspeaker came on overhead.


Attention, Ladies, attention. This is your Head Superior speaking.


Relle lowered her next piece as she cringed at the sound of the voice.


There will be a meeting in the courtyard in fifteen minutes, where I will be personally addressing all of you. It is mandatory that this be attended by all Daughters and Superiors of the House. I advise everyone to be there, attentive and on-time, or there will be severe consequences for everyone. Thank you.


Ash burst out, clearly upset, “Sometimes I wonder just who the heck she thinks she is!”

“What does she want?” Mol questioned.

Kediri’s eyes grew wide with fear. “Do you think it has anything to do with the stunt we just pulled?”

Relle’s stomach seemed to sink as she realized the celebration was over and that perhaps they were in trouble. “Maybe we shouldn’t have swiped the donuts,” she said regretfully.

“Come on, Relle,” Ash began, “we wanted to do this for you. You deserve something special. It wasn’t your fault . . . if anything, it would be mine. I’m the one who sneaked into the office and took the donuts.”

Kediri looked at Mol and Ash with a serious expression, “I think we need to agree that if we get called out, then the three of us have to take the fall. Relle’s almost out of this place; we can’t mess that up in any way.”

“I agree,” Mol nodded.

Relle tried to protest.

“No—I don’t want to hear it,” Kediri interrupted.

“Yeah, we’ve got your back,” Ash smiled.

Relle was about to respond when, just then, a younger girl ran by their door.

“Hey, you guys might want to hurry up!” she said hurriedly and took off down the hall.

“I guess the celebration is over,” Mol said sadly.

Relle patted her on the shoulder, “Just for now,” she smiled and carefully stashed the leftover sweets underneath her bunk. A Superior, she thought, probably wouldn’t look there anytime soon.

Ash and Mol were already in the hallway when Kediri looked back at Relle placing the donuts under the bed. “You’ll get to enjoy that later, I bet.”

“You mean we’ll get to enjoy that later,” she grinned, and followed Kediri out.



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