We’ve survived another storm. I sit at the kitchen table and stare at the carnations my wife brought home for me last weekend. There’s sunshine leaking onto the floor by the fridge, a reminder that the end of winter is quickly approaching.
Work comes and goes. I fold laundry. Life happens in a blur around me.
March is a fickle mistress. There’s frost on the grass in the morning. Leaves have started to sprout from every tree down the street. There’s a fresh energy to the air. In the same breath, I feel I can do everything I’ve ever imagined and that I’ll never do anything more than manage the monotony of my average day.
It’s a lot to handle at any given moment.
There have been some successes this week. I wrote the next full episode of Lore, making this episodic series an amazing 30 episodes long. My editor gave it her full approval and I’ve hit publish on vella just before starting this blog. It should be processed and ready to read by Friday morning 🙂
Henri just got started today. We’re moving slowly through this next space, but I’m sure it’ll be a fun ride once we pick up momentum.
I picked out my next dialogue prompt. I’ll be doing a werewolf and a vampire trying to come to an agreement. I’ve already gone off the rails creating stories for these two characters and, if I’m up to it, might do the same story from each of their separate perspectives. Maybe! We’ll see :p
It’s Wednesday, readers! We’ve made it halfway through another week. I have one more full day of flipping burgers and cooking chicken while running around a hot kitchen before my days off for chores and family errands and some more writing.
We can do this 🙂
Take an extra minute this week to enjoy that morning cup of coffee. Make a new dish for dinner just because. Put a movie on in the living room and try to master a new craft, but inevitably fall asleep with yarn in your lap and drool on your chin.
There’s still time to get things done. There’s still time to take a moment for yourself and rest and relax. Do what is best for yourself these next few days.
Three different outfits, a compact bow hidden in an alcove, and a single arrow tucked into the seam of my tights. There’s been weeks of planning in order to get to where I am tonight. I can last a few more minutes.
Sweat drips down the back of my neck. There’s leaves in my braid. My shoulders tremble from the weight of the taut string in my hands.
I have one shot.
It’s meant for the lord of the castle.
Women in pastel dresses twirl along the floor. He’s been out there dancing for over an hour. A servant took his suit jacket a few minutes ago. In only a white shirt and tie, the blood will be quite prominent when I let go of my arrow.
When… If… I still can’t believe I’m up here.
It started as a passing joke. The lord himself put the money up. Should anyone be capable of stealing his heart, they would be given a bounty.
Over a hundred men have attempted this particular job. Some were brutes who crashed through the front door and were shot down before they could make it to the Lord’s chambers. Others were sneaky. They crept along the outside of the castle, pulled themselves up to the highest windows, and snuck in during the earliest hours of the morning only to be caught in traps and sent scurrying back to their hovels with tales of horror to recount to any who would hear. One person tried to lace the Lord’s food and accidentally killed a passing serving girl instead. He was sentenced to death by the same poison.
Every entrance to this castle has been monitored since then. The windows are rigged with bells and spikes to deter assassins. The lord doubled his prize, tempting anyone else to try their hand at his death while also testing out his security.
Of course, no woman has attempted before me.
The men posted at the doors hardly glanced my way. No one saw me change out of the maid’s outfit into that of the kitchen staff. None still caught me pulling off the apron to stand in this tight suit at the balcony. I climbed the rails, pulled myself up towards the ceiling, and made my camp above the ballroom while all of the table settings were still being placed for the guests.
And then I waited.
I’ll continue to wait, my muscles straining and breath barely gracing my lips. This has to be perfect. I can’t hit anyone else. I must strike him in the heart.
I’m going to be the lady of this castle. I’ll never eat out of the garbage again or have to slink through the alleys behind the bar to collect the change dropped by drunken customers. I will have his riches and his home and the freedom I’ve chased since I was old enough to realize that being born a woman was a prison I couldn’t escape.
A servant rings a bell, quieting the band. The women in their pastel dresses do a final twirl and then leave the dancing area. Together with their assorted chaperones, they cling to the edges of the room, looking towards the center for whatever is planned to happen next.
This is it. He’s alone. There’s nothing between us. I have my arrow aligned with his heart.
That prize is going to be mine.
My new life is one breath away.
Before I can release the arrow, he looks right at me and winks.
No. No, no, no. I can’t get my fingers to let go now that his eyes are on mine. This isn’t how this is supposed to go.
I can’t breathe. Can’t swallow. Can’t think.
Why has it never been mentioned before that Lord Durinhan has green eyes?
“Esteemed guests,” he calls out to the gathered crowd, that penetrating gaze never wavering from mine. “I’d like to introduce you to the lady of the night.”
Me. No. How could he have known?
When I don’t move, he clears his throat. “You may come down now.”
This is a trap. It has to be. I’ve heard the rumors of people punished for attempting to take the Lord’s life. Leaving the safety of the eaves could be my last voluntary action on this earth.
I don’t know what to do. I could still let the arrow go. The prize would be mine.
Or he would move. The arrow would pierce his shoulder. He would live and have me executed for this attempt on his life.
“We’re waiting,” he calls from the lower level, his deep voice stern.
I could make a run for it. They can see me, but I’m quick. No one knows who I am. I’ll retrace my steps, jump down onto the balcony and find a window to leap through and not stop running until I’m back…
At the bar. Where I rent a room that takes most of my pay. A place where assault and violence and mishap live hand and hand with strife and despair and the loss of innocence.
“Miss, you can come down or my men will bring you down. Your choice.”
I don’t really have much of a choice, do I?
I’m not going back to the bar. This was my chance to get a new life. Taking a deep breath, I let the string loosen and pull the arrow away.
“How would you suggest I join you?” My voice is trembling, containing none of the power his does.
There’s a mischievous gleam in his expression as he lets his lips pull into a grin. “Since you’re so far up, I could catch you.”
He’s asking me to fall for him. Ridiculous. Disgusting. Lame.
“You could drop your weapon first,” he offers as I try to figure out how to slink off of the wooden beam.
Never. Not an option. Looping the bow string around my left shoulder, I hang onto the shaft of the arrow in my right hand and then swing my legs over the side. It’s a far drop. My shoulders tremble from my weight as I lower myself down and dangle from the beam.
If he doesn’t catch me…
There’s no time to think about it. My palms are slick with sweat. My shoulders scream from the exertion of waiting with my bow for so long only to be forced down in this show of authority. I can’t hold myself.
I’m grabbing the beam and then there’s nothing between me and the floor. Air whooshes by my face as I fall. A gasp rings through the room. There’s no time to cover my face or catch my breath and ready myself for the impact.
Lord Durinhan keeps his promise. He snatches me away from the air’s greedy fingers. Letting out an oof, he crashes onto the ground with me on top.
Guests run from the corners of the room to help us up, but I’m already moving. On my feet, I brandish the sharp end of my arrow like a knife, daring them to come closer. These rich, spoiled people with their thick makeup and frilly clothes let out exasperated cries, stumbling over each other to get away from me. I’m too busy focusing on them to realize that Lord Durinhan has gotten to his feet.
He clamps heavy hands onto my shoulders and lets out a chuckle, speaking over my head to the gathered people. “What an entrance! I believe this will be a story for all to tell for years to come!”
While they titter at his words, he leans down to me, the stubble on his chin grazing my ear. “Come quietly. We can talk in my office.”
“Why not just make an example of me out here?” I snarl back.
He tightens his grip on me. “You’re the closest to winning. Don’t you at least want to discuss a portion of the prize?”
Yes. Of course. This can’t be real.
“But, I didn’t take your heart.”
A shiver shakes my spine as he lets out a low laugh. “You still have time, Miss.”
Happy short story Saturday, readers!
This one was such a fun dialogue prompt to start with. Just two characters. One with a bow and arrow, the other knowing their life was on the line and smiling up at them. I read it on Pinterest and immediately had a spark for the woman who would climb into the rafters and try to win her freedom with violence.
I hope I’ve left you wanting more. Tension and a spark for a story that could be developed into a bigger novel is my specialty here. It’s fun to take breaks from my regular projects to do these little scenes and even more fun to get feedback from all of you!
Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed this story!
I can’t believe that it is already Wednesday again. All of my days have been blurring together. Work, dinner, see my wife for a wonderful few moments, collapse on the couch or in bed or wherever my body finally gives out, and then fumble with the alarm the next morning and beg the heavens for just ten more minutes. It’s a vicious cycle that has no end in sight.
I am excited to announce that I’ve been squeezing in so much writing this week! Henri is all done and ready to be edited this evening. At the end of episode ten, we’re just about done setting up the main plot. I’m incredibly ready to get his story running down the familiar Beauty and the Beast themes while giving his voice free reign to tweak things as necessary.
Ashby got started this morning on my lunch break. He’s in a tizzy trying to stop a murderous psychopath now loose in Gideon’s compound and feeling the strain of trying to keep his brothers alive while still pining over time lost with Lucy. It’s going to be a race to fix these new problems and get Ashby Carter down on one knee to ask Lucy to also spend her life with him.
Read Lore here to see the rest of the drama and theatrics that have led up to this amazing 30th episode: Lore by Angelica Reece
I wrote a new short story for the blog that will be available Saturday! Come back here to read about a girl with a dream to catch freedom with both of her hands, even if the cost is the still beating heart of Lord Durinhan on the end of an arrow. A ballroom, a woman in the rafters, and a game of cat and mouse that you are not going to want to miss.
In other news, I’ve started a new book. “Can’t Spell Treason without Tea” by Rebecca Thorne. I’m one chapter in and already invested in the two main characters of this cozy, sapphic novel. If you’ve read it or plan on reading it, say so in the comments, so we can trade notes! It’s very cute and a wonderful palette cleanse between the spooky world building of King and whatever fantasy I’ll be delving into next.
There’s a storm blowing into my area tomorrow, so I’m going to hunker down with my wife and our dog. I’ve already placed candles on the television center, ready for the worst case scenario of being thrown into darkness during gusty weather. If all goes well, we’re going to have a vampire movie marathon and share a big comforter and remind each other that even in the scariest moments we’re not alone.
Stay safe and dry and try to find a moment to read in the next few days. I’ll see you next time, readers!
It has been a blurry two weeks. The wife and I got the flu. Besides managing to drag ourselves to some work shifts, we’ve mostly taken up residence on the couch and watched a number of cartoons.
Since I was last here, I finished reading Fairytale by Stephen King. After taking almost two months to read the first half, I finished the second half in a record two hours. It was a sprint to the finish. Definitely a book I’d recommend if you’re looking for witty societal commentary stuffed inside the trimmings of a hundred different fairytale tropes. It was such a fun story!
It was impossible to stare at my keyboard last week, so I took a short hiatus from writing Henri and Ashby’s stories. They’re back up and running this week. Henri is getting edited tonight and will be sharing his next episode with the prince this Friday!
Ashby is taking a little longer. We’re introducing yet another new character, spending time with his brothers, and looking for a ring to give to Lucy while slowly weaving in bigger themes for my main novel.
Catch up on Lore here for a fun vampire romance: Lore
What else, readers???
Life keeps moving. Some days it’s a hundred hours to get through a single work shift. Others, I blink and I’m back home, scrambling to not burn dinner while singing to too loud music from the kitchen speaker.
There’s plants to water and a dog to feed.
I have twenty characters vying for my attention. All have more stories. All of them think they’re the next most important project.
After putting it off since last November, I picked up my novel once again and wrote a single starting paragraph for this latest revision. Hopefully, I’ll be able to carve out time to work with Tamyra more often this coming month.
Here’s to watching some more silly television and snuggling under three blankets to stay warm. It’s a good month for being kind to myself and resting for a few minutes instead of racing from one project to the next without taking a breath.
Thank you to everyone who reads these posts. You give me the motivation to keep coming back to write again and again.
Pulling my hood further over my head, I hiss my reply to Tiffany. “I fell in love with him the first time he spoke.”
Seated next to me on the church roof, she goes back to picking her fingernails with one of the twenty knives stashed on her body. “Yeah. When you thought he was a poet. You can’t be in love with the prince who just signed our death warrants.”
She’s not wrong. I’ve already gone and over thought this a hundred times since he was escorted out of the pub last night by the royal guard. My plan had been to break him out of jail. I was quite surprised to find that he knew them personally and merely got a slap on the wrist for being out past curfew. There are others who didn’t make it out of the pub with their lives.
King Richmond decreed the curfew two months ago to keep ruffians from organizing within the city limits. Ruffians. The word always makes me snort. He seems to think that wearing a gold crown can stop the rest of us from doing what it takes to make a simple living or have a drink to take the edge off of the endless monotony of working until we die.
From our position behind two stone gargoyles, I can just barely make out the prince’s blond hair. It looked silky in the dim glow of the stage candles last night. Today, he barely looks at the crowd formed at his feet. His voice trembles as he reads the words scrawled onto the scroll in his hands.
His heart isn’t in it. Not in the way he proudly enunciated each syllable of his poems last night. He memorized those words. He cared to pause and let the audience drink in the meaning before continuing to the next stanza. Once, his blue eyes caught on me and he stuttered.
He felt it, too.
I just know it.
There’s a thread knotted around my rib that ties me to Prince Castyl Richmond.
“If you don’t shut your mouth, your tongue is going to dry out.”
I snap my jaw closed. Tiffany is a good friend. She’s a better bodyguard. I’m going to have to lose her if I want any chance of getting close to the prince.
“Whatever you’re thinking is stupid. Just drop it,” she growls from her spot, those amber eyes watching me squirm.
I gesture towards her as rudely as possible, my left hand thrown in her direction while my gaze stays pasted onto the prince. From the corner of my eye, I see her stick her tongue at me, the silver ball pierced through it catching the moonlight. Tiffany is a good person. She has her life in order, her moral code intact, and no unjustified love interests. She’s the backbone of her clan and in charge of making sure I don’t get into anything too difficult.
Like a relationship with the son of the man who wants us dead.
Gods. I let my temple rest on the stone gargoyle. I can’t help it. There’s…something about him.
Those cheekbones. The way he rolls his words. That bit of electricity that restarts my heart when he looks in my direction.
Like he is…right now.
Tiffany grabs my arm, tugging me down at she hisses a curse. Bad. Nobody was supposed to see us. There’s a yell from the ground level.
“We have to go now.”
I shrug out of her hold, her sharpened nails sticking to the leather of my jacket. “You have to go.”
Her teeth lengthen as she shakes her head at me. “Non-negotiable, Quinn.”
It’s really difficult being accepted into a group of werewolves. Every argument pretty much spirals into long teeth and longer claws and a lot of saliva. I know she has a job to do. I know my place in their pack as the only mage makes me important. Nobody else can replace the wards and ensure the clan’s safety.
There’s just something that I need to do and I don’t think getting caught by the guards would be a bad thing.
“Let me go, Tiff.”
She’s pulling, her brute strength enough to haul me off my ass. “We’re leaving.”
There’s more yelling from down below. I think they’ve called the archers.
I take a deep breath and pull my ring out of my pocket, the magic stone set into it glowing red as it hums to the power flowing through my veins. “I’m not going to tell you again. You go.”
Somebody demands that we put our hands up. Tiffany is growling. I don’t really have much of a choice, do I?
It’s complicated magic to create a portal. Lucky for me, I had time before the prince’s performance and I already set everything up while Tiffany scouted our spot. It’s basically the first rule of life to come to everything with a back-up plan.
Grabbing Tiffany’s hand, I thrust her towards the circle I created in the dirt. It’s a one stop spell. Unfortunately, she’s aware of how magic works.
The wolf grabs a handkerchief from her pocket and shoves it into my mouth while we wrestle in the circle. “You cannot be serious right now.”
I roll my eyes at her. Oh, I’m serious. Seriously going to meet that prince. It’s my fate. I can feel it in my bones.
Tiffany doesn’t believe in fate or love or basically anything besides what she can do with her own hands. I don’t regret it when I stomp my heel into her foot. There’s a crunch. I wore my heaviest boots on purpose.
Cursing, she lets me go long enough for me to stagger back while I rip the fabric out of my mouth. The magic flares to life, a red light filling in the circle. I yell my spell. Tiffany is there. She’s howling and lunging at me. Then, she’s not.
I’ll be paying for that when I make it home.
If I get to go home.
I walk past the scorch mark left on the roof with my hands over my head. There are indeed several archers pointing very sharp arrows up towards me. The prince is looking up here, too.
I think my heart might explode.
“State your business, vagrant.”
Damn. I forgot how gruff the guards could be. It’s been a whole year since I last took up a cell in a dungeon.
“I just want to talk to you,” I say, clearly and calmly, my gaze never wavering from the prince.
There’s a question on his tongue. I don’t hear it, though. An arrow whizzes through the air. I move too late.
Fire burns through my shoulder as I topple forward. Blood drenches my coat. The gargoyle’s wing slips through my fingertips.
The ground is coming fast. I shut my eyes. I suppose my death will at least linger in the prince’s memory for a moment.
Something stops my fall, though. The wind. A strong gust. I open my eyes.
Magic is very forbidden. It’s bad enough that I have magic in my veins. It’s going to be a much bigger problem that the only person here with their hand outstretched is the prince.
Prince Castyl Richmond just saved my life.
And put his own on the line.
I shut my eyes again as I gently drop to the ground and the guards start to converge.
If we make it through this, we’re going to have the most epic love story.
Happy Saturday! Thank you for reading this short story. I got the dialogue prompt off of Pinterest and just ran with the idea of a character falling in love with someone based off of the first words they said.
Let me know what you thought in the comments below!
The sun is setting. There’s four different cheeses in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Pop music swells within the walls of our home.
It’s been a long day. It’s been a long week. I’m tempted to already say it’s been a long year.
Since I was last here, I made it to the craft fair on Sunday. It was a terrible experience. We did manage to make one sale amidst the chaos of a disorganized event and less than helpful weather conditions. To the lovely woman who took home one of my spooky book stacks, I hope it finds the perfect spot next to your current TBR pile.
Writing has been a haphazard event. I’m stuffing words into prompts and then trying to disentangle the mess I’ve made. Some days I question whether it’s worth it to leave my job and try to keep doing this writer thing. My wife promises it is. She reads my chaotic collection of sentences and forgives me for breaking every possible grammatical error.
I read over and over and over again that being a writer is a solitary event. You MUST lock the door to your office and stare at a bright little screen until the wee hours of the morning or you’re not doing it correctly.
That’s not it for me. Sitting in my office typically leads to spinning in my chair or doodling on a scrap of paper or staring out the window at the same damn street. So, I sit at the kitchen table and make small talk while my wife stuffs that cheese into large noodles. We discuss my characters like they’re real people just in the next room over, their fates merely common gossip to be murmured over a cup of tea. I need conversation and a break every twenty minutes to dance to the Spotify playlist.
I need my writing partner who shows up to every week and continues to encourage me while I question how I managed to write nearly thirty episodes in a fan fiction for my novel. Bridgette, you’re a constant source of support and love and I couldn’t do this without you.
I need to be prepping food at work in the morning and let my Mom ask me questions about my novels. Without even realizing, she pokes around my plots and double-checks my theories, giving me the confidence I’ll need in the future to sit on a panel and talk to people about my books.
I need to see that a couple of you, readers, have shown up to my blog or my vellas or simply liked a post on Instagram to remind me that there is a purpose in putting all of my messy thoughts onto this black and white document.
Writing isn’t a solitary event. It doesn’t only happen at a desk. It takes a community to give birth to imaginary concepts and witty characters and at least one or two people to remind the supposed writer that they should, in fact, be writing.
Thank you to everyone who continues to come here and read.
It’s time for this writer to sink into a hot bath and talk to her imaginary friends for a little bit. Have a wonderful week. I’ll see you next Wednesday!
What have I been up to? Everything and nothing. A vicious cycle of work and hobbies and staring at a screen while trying to will the words I need for this week to just write themselves.
Henri’s story is done. He’s going to be edited this evening and posted in time for his weekly update on Friday. Prince Aldric plays an imposing character across from Henri in this Beauty and the Beast retelling. Check out this link if you want to catch up before the new episode drops: A Secret in the Thorns
Ashby is started. He has grand plans for his returned proposal to Lucy. There’s 1500 words already in his story, but it’ll likely be a little longer than usual to find the rest of this particular episode. I have a full cast to balance and every one of these complicated characters wants to shine their brightest. Get caught up on Lore here if you want to be ready for the eventual release of the next episode: Lore by Angelica Reece
When not writing or working or staring at that pile of laundry in the corner, I’ve been embroidering. My next craft show is this coming Sunday at the Bloom festival in Elk Grove. There are so many bright fabrics and tangled threads and obstinate hoops to wrestle through in the remaining evenings between now and then. It’s exciting and nerve wracking every time I have one of these events! I’ll let you all know next week how well it goes!
The world is chaotic. Time seems accelerated. February is as good a time as any for self-care, so don’t forget to take deep breaths and notice the buds growing on the tree in the backyard. Linger in the kitchen, so your beautiful wife will come looking for you and steal a kiss by the stove. Take an extra two minutes to pet the dog. Eat something full of sugar even as the green light on the microwave warns that one o’clock is around the corner. There’s a pile of books on the shelf waiting to be read and a mess around the house, but it can wait a moment more to do the things that matter.
This has been the fastest and simultaneously longest month of my life. I turned 26 and was reminded of all the amazing people who gather together to celebrate me. The wife and I ran into financial issues and had to lean on family to continue forward. A family member was hospitalized and it felt like the world stood still.
It seems there’s nothing better to do than simply hold on while the waves of this world continue to splash alongside our boat.
So, here’s some good stuff:
I wrote! This time last year I was struggling with depression and barely opening my writing apps or journals. It was hard to hear my characters. This month? They couldn’t leave me alone and we managed to add an entirely new cast for my beauty and the beast retelling.
I watched terrible horror films and threw popcorn at the woman I love in the house we own while our dog pranced the room.
We cooked in our kitchen and danced to pop music and kissed where the moon snuck a peek into the window.
Amidst the tears and the panic and the hopelessness crammed into the business of everyday jobs and routines, we laughed and held onto each other and that’s all I can ask for in this life.
If that’s a message that resonates with you, check out Ashby’s new episode coming out this Friday to see the promising proposal between him and Lucy: Lore by Angelica Reece
The princess has a problem with quietly sitting in a room. I’ve tried giving her books and scrolls full of vivid pictures for her amusement, but nothing seems to deter the unwavering focus her lavender eyes seem to have on me.
“Probably,” I murmur, my hands busy polishing the knife in my lap. “It would likely get you killed, too. Your parents are paying a hefty sum to keep your head on your shoulders.”
She sticks her tongue at me. I don’t respond. This is our nightly battle. Princess Iryna is a handful during the day, but she’s mostly occupied with her daily duties of patrolling the estate grounds, tasting different sweets from the kitchens, and pestering the few servants that were shipped out here to stay with us while the war wages back home.
At night, she’s locked in a tower with me. No windows. One door that’s barricaded with a magic spell and a bookcase. It’s my duty to make sure she sees the morning sun once again.
Clearing her throat, she slides off of the bed and claps her hands. “Make the music play, Cai.”
Cailleach is my name. Iryna is convinced its far too foreign for her tongue to work. I’ve given up trying to get her to refer to me by anything except that pet name.
Snapping my fingers, the instruments laying on the side of the room jump to life. First, a sweet lilt of violin. A flute pipes in. Some drums are added. The music plays in a circular fashion, the intruments moving in and out of the tune while also spinning off on their own tangents. It’s something otherworldly, something jaunty enough for a tavern, but unheard of by this spoiled woman in silk garbs.
Twirling in a circle, Iryna hums along to the tune and then holds her hand out to me. “Dance with me.”
I shake my head immediately. “You’re doing fine on your own.”
“We’ve been here for over a month, Cai. Nothing has come to gobble me up. Please,” she bats her eyelashes at me as I sheathe the knife at me side. “Please, just dance with me.”
“If I do,” I start, already regretting my decision to give into her sweet demands, “you have to go to bed after. Guests from other continents are arriving tomorrow and they need to see that you are well. It gives them hope.”
“Hope, hope, hope,” she grumbles, her higher pitched voice pulling at the edges of the word. “I’m more than just a symbol of hope, you know? I’m a person.”
I have to clench my teeth and take a slow breath to keep my eyes from rolling. These royals. They never understand how ridiculous they sound to the rest of us. My grandmother would have given her life to be remembered as a symbol of hope and love and goodness rather than burned as a witch in a world that feared dangerous women.
That same world has asked for my forgiveness and given me a bratty princess to look after. It seems witches aren’t the worst thing on this planet. A witch that’s good with both magic and swords is an expensive kind of bodyguard that only the wealthiest clients can use.
Ones that offered to not keep me in the dungeon for the rest of the crimes I committed before settling down with this job.
“You’re thinking too much and dancing too little,” Iryna prompts, wiggling her fingers in my direction.
I suppose there’s no making this go away without actually going through the motions. Uncurling from my chair, I stand and run my hands down my clothes. My red cloak is draped over the back of the chair, so I’m just in my undershirt and form-fitting pants. I’d be wearing my boots, too, but the princess has a rule about shoes in the tower, so they’re at the top of the steps on the other side of the blocked door.
I look frumpy next to the thin woman in pink silk. She seems to float around the middle of the room. If I didn’t know better, I would think she had some magic in her bloodline, too. There’s no other good explanation for how she convinces me to do these things.
Crossing the room, I hold my hand out to meet hers. Electricity singes my fingertips. It does every time we touch and I try my best not to think too much about it.
Likely her parents had some other witch put a spell on her physical form. It’s that or…
Well, I’m very sure she’s not my mate, so we’re going to leave that possibility out of this current equation.
Spinning for me, Iryna lets out a giggle and then puts her other hand on my shoulder. We’re close. There’s mere centimeters between our chests and hips. The princess leads. She’s the only one here classically trained to do these little dances.
I follow her moves and watch as the glow of the lamps catch her features. There. Her eyebrow is in a spotlight. It’s perfectly arched at me.
And then it catches her left cheekbone. I think poets could fill novels with the curve of her cheek and ballads could be written about the flutter of her eyelashes.
Another ray caresses her throat and I forget for a moment that we’re from separate worlds.
For now, we’re two women locked in a room and only a breath apart.
“You look quite pretty tonight, Cai.”
I shake my head. The princess delights in poking fun at my appearance. I always wear the same things. I don’t know how to apply blush with a fuzzy brush. Red lip stain has never blemished my mouth.
“You are the beautiful one, Iryna.”
And, even if I regret those words in the morning, I mean it. She really is pretty. Pretty beautiful.
She’s going to say something else. I can practically see the words spinning to life in her mind. Lips pursed, but not yet parted, she waits a moment too long.
There’s a yell from outside. I drop her hands and step away.
“So much for taking a night off,” I grumble in her direction as I hurry to fling my cloak over my shoulders.
“You can’t go out there,” she calls as I start to push away the bookcase.
There’s a rumble vibrating the stones of this tower. Whatever has arrived is big. Too big to leave this part of the estate unscathed.
“I can’t let it come up here, either.”
Magic skitters just under the surface of my skin. I’m ready. I’ve trained my whole life to do these kinds of things. A knife in one hand, I start to undo the spell blocking this door.
I don’t answer. I have to keep muttering the words or the whole spell will dissolve in a chaotic fashion that’ll put both of us in more danger than we already are.
“Promise you’re going to come back.”
It’s not a question. It’s a demand. I stumble over the end of the spell, orange sparks glittering around the doorframe.
Glancing over my shoulder, I take in her innocent shape now trembling at the foot of the bed. “I haven’t failed you yet, Princess.”
Then, I’m gone. The door is shut and my boots are left behind at the top of the stairs as the stench of malicious magic wafts up towards our spot. It’s time to earn my wage as the princess’ bodyguard.
I was so excited to sit down and write the first short story of 2023! I hope you enjoyed these two and the upcoming troubles in their world. My wonderful editor put a sticky note on this one for a possible future full-length novel, so, if you enjoyed it as well, please say so in the comments below. Your views and words are what keep me coming back to the keyboard every week!
Thanks so much for being here. I’ll definitely be back Wed for our weekly WIP updates. See you then ❤
Last week’s launch of The Secret in the Thorns was spectacular. You wonderful people really helped make my second vella series feel like an exciting moment, so thank you so much for hopping on board with my next project!
Right now I’m tinkering with the end of Henri’s episode five. He is cold and grumpy in his latest situation. Be sure to check out the vella to see what’s going on this Friday!
Ashby is slowly getting back into action. Episode 26 is being edited right now by my amazing wife. We’re going back and forth with some of the details of this incredible story and trying to figure out what’s next for Ashby and Lucy. This will also be available this coming Friday, so look for it in the kindle app!
What else? What else? What else?
The only thing I have read this week came from my friend’s blog. Check out Bridgette’s writing here if you want to be swept away with magic and whimsy: http://bridgettetales.com
Work has been hectic. I have not been as productive on the rest of my projects as I’ve wanted, but I hope to get back into the full swing of things by February.
Hopefully I’ll have some pics of my new embroidery projects up this coming week as well! We’re having a lot of fun with flower prints and spring themes.
My goals for the next six days? Write, write, write. Dance in the kitchen with my wife once or twice. Step out into the sunlight with my wild dog and forget about everything else to simply live in the moment.