Saving Sarah Jane is the work-in-progress sequel to Ballroom Secrets, which will be coming out on August 1. After Sarah Jane’s tyrannical husband, Bertram Jackson, takes their son to New Orleans, Sarah tries to busy herself with household duties,her music, and teaching Isaiah, the cook’s young son, to read. However, one summer day her life is literally spun out of control as a tornado destroys her home. The scene is as follows:
Sarah Jane took off her hat and tucked the damp hairs sticking to her forehead and neck back into her bun. She used the hat as a fan and exhaled deeply. The weather was oppressive; it had been so for three days. Thankfully, she could see a bank of dark clouds off to the west, and she welcomed a coming storm. Anything that broke the heat would be appreciated. It had been almost a week since there had been any real rain, and even the house provided little respite. Tying her hat into place again, she resumed her pruning, hoping to get all the weeds eradicated before the clouds were overhead.
A little over an hour later, Sarah Jane was seated in her parlor with the window open, a cool glass of tea in her hand. Thank goodness for the ice storage that her father had built in the cellar. She’d have to being rationing it if the heat didn’t break soon, but for now it was heavenly. Sighing, she pressed the glass to each cheek before taking a sip. She drank the entire glass and nibbled on a sandwich before retreating to her bedroom, where she could safely remove her layers of clothing and rest a while.
As she washed her face in the basin, Sarah heard the beginnings of rain outside and smiled. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and her body relaxed. Wearing only her pantaloons and stockings, she climbed into the big bed and pulled only the sheet over herself. The last sound she heard before dozing was the sound of rain getting harder on the roof.
A loud clap and simultaneous flash woke Sarah Jane from a deep sleep. She sat up and listened. The rain was still heavy, and she heard the branches of the old live oak outside her window beating the glass. When she walked to the window and pulled back the curtain, she stopped breathing for just a moment. The wind was whipping wildly, the rain was falling at a wild angle, and the sky had turned from deep gray to a brownish green. She knew what that could mean, and she closed her eyes and breathed a silent prayer. The sound of rain began to be mixed with tapping and snapping sounds, and she knew without opening her eyes what it was – hail. Sure enough, hail had begun to fall, and she watched as the ground quickly began to look as if snow had fallen. Somewhere in her mind an alarm sounded, but she couldn’t seem to move away from the window.
Until she heard the roar. The roar immediately snapped her to attention, and grabbing her robe, she ran down the hallway, into the kitchen, and opened the cellar door. She called to her maid and cook, and soon the three of them were racing down the rickety stairs. There was a small closet in the corner of the cellar, and Sarah Jane and her staff huddled inside with the door latched. The cook’s little boy whimpered as she held him and hummed softly. Sarah Jane’s ears began to pop, and the air inside the little room was oppressive. Overhead, the sound of a thousand horses stampeding shook the house. The flimsy closet door rattled, and the little group backed against the far wall. Sarah Jane willed her eyes to stay open until the roar became so loud that she was too terrified to look. Later, she would understand that it only lasted a few seconds, but as she sat curled against the wall, it seemed as if the roar would never end. There were crashes and shattering sounds and unimaginable deafening creaks and groans. Water began to drip from above, and something struck the closet door with such force that all three of the ladies screamed, and little Isiah began to wail.
And then everything was quiet.