C.M. Guido Presents: An Excerpt from Secrets of the City of Gold

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Hey all! How are things going? As Secrets of the City of Gold is nearly two-thirds completed, I wanted to share a little excerpt with you~! I am so excited to share the ending result!

A scene from Chapter 14, my male lead, Seville’s P.O.V.

Three quarters of the way across the aged rope footbridge, we were confident that we would pass unscathed aside from our nerves on the fray. My hands inched along the splintered and weathered catenary rope, feet heeding step-by-step as we proceeded.

The humid wind began to pick up in strong bursts, causing both of us to gasp as we held tight to one another and the bridge, seizing up motionlessly as we waited for the gust to pass, rocking us side-to-side less than delicately. However, our weight combined with the indeterminate suspension of the overpass, the creaking of the rope had begun to shift into one of stress. Evolving from the groans of age to one of reaching the end of its lifespan as the rope became tenuous and ultimately snapped.

The bridge evenly disconnected, dropping planks of wood as we wobbled, severely underestimating its structure and convinced ourselves it was sounder than it actually was. Either way, acting swiftly, I lurched forth and grasped onto the thick wooden post that was fixed into the ground. Struggling to catch my breath, I proceeded to pull myself up with what felt like the last of my strength and onto the edge of the cliff.  

Only, I felt lighter than I should have. I had surfaced alone.

A piercing shriek drowned out amid the snap and crash, Loredana clung firmly to the wooden plank, as it was one of the few to remain attached, momentarily gluing her to the side of the cliff—for now, at least.

“Oh…oh shit,” I murmured. “Loredana, hang on!”

“Wh-what else would I be doing!?” She testily retorted.

Time was not on my side. Another decent gust would surely ease her struggling latch from the plank and drop her into the rapids below. Bringing myself onto my stomach, I progressed to inch myself over the edge—just enough to gain leverage by bracing my knee against the wooden post I had desperately gripped. The strong fixture would undoubtedly hold—at least, so I hoped.

“Reach for my hand!” I directed.

With her eyes clenched shut, my instruction had gone ignored.

I tried again, “Lore…I know you’re scared, but it’s either you reach for me, or you’re reaching something else you’re not going to like.”

“Are…are those my only two options?” She shakily snapped, her resolve dissipating with the wind.

This time, the rope was beginning to make the decision for her. Whatever was left of the bridge had begun to relay exactly what it intended. Nothing was to remain. Whatever, or whoever was guiding us along this journey may possibly have intended that only one of us see it through. Unfortunately for our overseer, that was something I couldn’t allow.

Perhaps a different approach was in order. Licking my drying lips, I inhaled before roughly exhaling, “Listen, we’re going to do this together. I’ll be damned if I’m letting you fall, do you hear me? I need you to trust me.”

Slowly, she peeked an eye open, the fear expanded in her large eyes reflected back the determination searing in mine. Emitting jagged breaths, I reached a little further for her. Slowly again, fearful of an erroneous move transitioning to the secondary collapse sooner than anticipated, her wrist emerged from its protective hold on the cracked wooden slab.

The stress grew louder, tightening, and tensing with each passing second. No, a wrongful move was unaffordable. We had to see this through.

“Seville,” she chokingly pleaded, her hair and skirts whipping in flutters around her, “please don’t-”

That taunting snap of the rope reverberated in my ears, volumes louder than the initial one. I looked for this one; furthermore, I was expecting it, only hoping to have been proven wrong. “No!” My hand had snagged something. I prayed it wasn’t rock.

But what was grasped in my hand wasn’t the coldness of stone, it was a warm and thin wrist. Cries flooded next, desperate hollers as the woman in my hold swung like death’s pendulum. If she slipped, it was over. Quickly, her flailing arm swung around in a series of attempts, finally suctioning my hand, initially jerking me forward. Gritting my teeth, I readjusted my leg upon the wooden post to reposition my hold, knee digging further into the dirt. I strained to uphold my bearings and her dangling weight, motioning her upward in increments towards me and the cliff’s edge.

When she was high enough, she scrambled to climb over me, her nails bit into my back as she pulled herself upright and sprawled out onto the ground beside me before assisting me with shaking hands from hovering in midair. With both of us secure, panting, exhaling ragged breaths of relief, I took hold of her by the wrist again. Matching streams of tears ran their rivers of terror and alleviation. No sooner did I pull her to me and relished the pounding of our hearts thumping in unison, our trembling forms holding onto the most precious thing we had at the moment, which was one another.

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