Keeper of the Lost Cities - Deleted Scene #2

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Deleted Scene from Exile was a moment I created to show that something might be wrong with Sophie’s abilities. But I realized after I wrote it that it didn’t really sell the idea that she was “malfunctioning.” If anything, it made her seem even stronger, so I cut it out. And I’d considered including the skill in a later Keeper book, but I decided it was too confusing trying couldn’t do. So I dropped the idea from the series entirely. —Shannon

B

IANA YELPED AND JUMPED OUT OF HER

seat. “Don’t do that!” she screamed, flinging a cookie at Fitz’s head. “Did I miss something?” Sophie asked.

“Yeah, Biana’s afraid of the dark,” Fitz told her. “More like my brother loves torturing me with his evil mind

games,” Biana corrected. “Actually, it’s a highly developed skill,” Fitz explained with a smug grin. “I bet even Sophie can’t do it.” His eyes narrowed and Biana screamed again. Even Keefe jumped—though he tried to cover it with a cough. Sophie frowned. “I don’t get it.” “You didn’t see the giant shadow wolf that just attacked us?”

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Biana asked before screaming again. “There—right there. You really don’t see that?” She pointed to the fire, but all Sophie saw were the dancing rainbow-colored flames. “Okay, you guys are starting to freak me out,” Sophie admitted. “What’s going on?” “He’s impelling,” Alden explained as he joined them by the fire. “That’s what we call it when a Telepath pushes a shadow of a thought into someone else’s mind to make them see something that isn’t there. It’s mostly a novelty—and a bit of a gray area when it comes to the rules of telepathy. But it appears your unique blocking protects you.” “But that doesn’t make any sense,” Fitz argued, narrowing his eyes yet again and making everyone except Sophie flinch. “I can transmit to her now—shouldn’t I be able to impel?” “Impelling reaches a different part of the brain,” Alden reminded him. “And your connection to Sophie is limited. You can’t even read her thoughts—only make her hear yours.” Keefe laughed. “Foster loves keeping her sense of mystery.” Fitz frowned and Biana screamed again, clinging to Alden’s arm. “Dad—tell him to knock it off!” “I think that’s enough impelling for one night, son. Though, I wonder . . .” Alden turned to Sophie. “Would you like to give it a try? All you have to do is concentrate on a thought and push it toward us—without opening your mind to ours.” “I guess,” Sophie mumbled, not loving the way everyone was staring at her. She felt too frazzled to come up with anything original, so

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she copied Fitz’s idea and imagined a shadow wolf with hackles raised and fangs bared. When she could picture every strand of its bristled fur, she narrowed her eyes and shoved the thought toward her friends. “What the—” Keefe shouted, covering his ears as Alden ducked and Biana and Fitz screamed. Sophie cleared the image from her head, and everyone slowly straightened, blinking at her with wide, haunted eyes. “Did you open your minds to ours?” Alden asked. Sophie shook her head. “Why?” “That was no shadow,” Keefe mumbled, looking paler than she’d ever seen him. “That was a full-color, twenty-foot monster. I swear I could even smell the dog breath.” “Me too,” Fitz said quietly. “And I could hear it snarling.” “It was so real,” Biana whispered, hugging her dad and glancing around like she expected the wolf to emerge from the shadows any second. “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean . . .” Sophie fumbled for her home crystal. “Wait,” Alden said as she held her pendant in the firelight. “You don’t have to leave—you didn’t do anything wrong.” “I nearly gave you guys a panic attack!” “Yeah, you did,” Fitz said, trying to smile but not pulling it off. “I almost peed my pants,” Keefe added. Humiliation burned Sophie’s eyes. Why did she always mess everything up? “Your mind is stronger than we’re used to. That’s all,” Alden assured her.

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“Well, that’s still a problem,” Sophie replied. She didn’t know her own strength. And if she couldn’t understand herself—who could? “It’s really okay, Sophie,” Alden insisted. “Please stay.” She tried to stand a little taller as she shook her head. “Honestly, I . . . have a headache now. And I’m sure Edaline’s waiting for me. Thank you so much for dinner and the aurenflare. I’ll see you guys at the Opening Ceremonies, right?” she asked Fitz, Keefe, and Biana. They nodded, and everyone tried to smile as Sophie let the warm light whisk her away. But Sophie would never forget the look on their pale faces. Fear. Maybe even terror. Like she was the monster. And Sophie had a horrible feeling that they might be right.

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