08 January 2017

The way she leaned just slightly toward him in her chair, and he toward her more pronouncedly—they were like two trees whose trunks twisted toward one another as though to become one. Yet neither of them showed any notice of this, and the others around the table waited to see . . . If the two of them would just turn their heads at the right time, even only to look at one another, an inadvertent kiss would be the likely result.

27 December 2016

Next Regency Book Idea

After giving birth, Fae Milne's mother went crazy. She insisted Fae was a changeling, not of the known world. Duncan Olivier thinks it may be true. Fae's sweet temperament and dreamy nature, along with her affinity with animals, do seem otherworldly.

Fae's older brothers Richard and Edward guard Fae's virtue—but is there more to them than meets the eye? Or are they merely doing their brotherly duty?

Duncan Olivier is desperate to find out the truth about Fae and her family, but what will it cost him?

14 December 2016

It started with the low whispers that adults use when something is very wrong. The rapid hissing and sudden stops. If they really want to hide things from children, they should just talk normally.

So it came as no surprise, really, when my father came upstairs, his face drawn and grave. "Lizzie," he said, "sit down."

I obediently took a seat on the edge of my bed, and my father sat next to me. He looked at me for a long time, and I looked back, unflinching, willing him to just come out with it.

After what seemed like years, he said, "Your mother..."

I shifted where I sat, which seemed to break his concentration. My parents were no longer married. Mom lived across town in a nice house that I visited infrequently. It wasn't hers; it belonged to her family, and her two brothers and mother still lived in it. At least, I thought they did. It was difficult to tell. My mother and her family were a strange lot. I much preferred the relative quiet of living with just my father.

Dad got back on track. "She's..."

I squinted at him, trying to see into his head so he wouldn't have to say whatever he was having such trouble saying.

"Dead," he finally said. I wondered whether he'd been testing other words in his mind: gone, passed away... But Dad and I were alike in more than a few ways, and being clear and direct in our words was one of them.

Now he squinted at me, gauging my reaction. "They're going to move us, aren't they?" I asked.

Dad grimaced. "Probably."

I sighed. "Was it because of you?"

"We don't know."

Was it because of me? But I didn't ask that. It made little difference if it was because of Dad or me; we were a package deal. Mom had said so herself when swearing us off, unable to live under the heavy hand of the government any longer.

But that hand had also protected her.

15 September 2016

"You were carved from a flawed piece," Amaurodios said. "Cracked on the inside or something."

Seladion smiled sweetly. "You realize it's blasphemy for you to say so."

14 September 2016

The Last Show (Sel & Am)

Adam craned for a look at the audience from the side of the stage. "They're there again."

Kyle followed his gaze. "They're just groupies."

"They get closer every show," said Adam.

"They've figured out how to get better tickets," Kyle said with a shrug. "Or they've saved their money or something."

Adam chewed the inside of his cheek. These two . . . He didn't even know if they were men or women, couldn't tell, but . . . They were like flip sides of a coin. One was fair, the other dark. Other than that, they were more or less identical. They had long hair and wore trench coats, which was weird, but fans wore all kinds of weird stuff.

"Maybe one of these days they'll get passes for a meet and greet," suggested Kyle. He laughed at Adam's stricken expression. "What? They don't look any more dangerous than anyone else."

"There's something . . ." But Adam had no way to articulate the feeling these two gave him. Dread? That was probably the most accurate word. He stepped back from the stage and turned to hole up until show time. Let security do their job.

_____________

"Tell me again why we keep doing this?" Seladion asked.

"Because it's fun?" Amaurodios answered.

"For whom?" Sel wondered. "We should get it over with. Should have gotten it over with the first time." He looked at Am from the corner of his eye. "You like them too much."

Am didn't answer. What would be the point? Sel was right. Instead he asked, "Why do you do this?"

"It's something to do."

"You like working for her."

"I like working against him," said Sel. "Anyway, I never asked you to follow me. Not to this wretched world, and not in this work either."

Am hung his head, and his long, dark hair fell around him. Every time it came into view, it reminded Am of his betrayal. He supposed that was why Durandios had singed him on the way down—a permanent rebuke. Sel, on the other hand, had retained his silver-white hair. He was as beautiful as ever, at least on the outside. Seladion's burnt pieces were all hidden from view.

"I suppose you want me to wait until the show is over," Sel said. "And don't think to ask for another abstention. I've already put it off too long."

Am wondered that Sel had ever granted his requests to wait in the first place. Could it be that Sel had a care for his feelings? Or maybe Sel simply enjoyed the music. "How does she choose?" he asked.

Sel gave him an odd look. "How should I know?"

But Amaurodios knew Seladion well enough to know it bothered him not to know the system. "You haven't tried to figure it out?"

Sel only shrugged. "You should buy a tee shirt if you're going to," was all he said.

____________

Was it the lights? The music? Am didn't know what continued to draw him. He couldn't relate it to Argyros, not exactly. Argyros was bright and full of music, true, but the emotion was different. Simple joy and pleasure filled Argyros. But the music in this world was dark and thick. Even when considered "happy" it was tainted by angst and fear and sorrow and loss.

It was the difference between vanilla and dark chocolate, Am decided. He liked both, but it surely depended on one's mood. And now he would never taste vanilla again.

"He's frightened." Sel's lips near his ear made Am jump. Am watched the lead singer—Adam his name was—do all the same kinds of dance moves he'd done the previous three times. But yes, there was something in the way Adam rolled his eyes and gritted his teeth that gave away an underlying anxiety.

"He's noticed us," Am realized as Adam's attention came to them time and again.

"We're just faces in a crowd," said Seladion.

"Yes, but we've been in the first few rows of the last three concerts," Am said. "And, you know, we don't look like most people."

Seladion glanced around. "So much the better."

"I'm only saying we're a bit conspicuous, even at one sighting," said Am.

"And whose fault is it we've made it four?" Sel asked. "Oh, don't give me that sad dog look. Come on, we need to do this." He began to move toward the aisle, never bothering to apologize to the mere mortals on whose feet he tread. Most people moved when they saw Seladion coming in any case.

"Before the encore?" Am called after him.

Sel's blue-silver eyes blazed and Am, apologizing profusely, obediently followed.

__________

Adam ducked backstage for a bottle of water and came face to face with the two tall, thin creatures from the second row. "You," he said dumbly.

"Me," said Seladion with a tight-lipped smile.

"Us, actually," Amaurodios amended and handed Adam a water from the ice chest.

"How did you . . .?" Adam glanced down the hall. Where was security?

"It's better not to ask," Am murmured.

"Okay, well, I—" Adam looked at the bottle he was holding, momentarily confused by how it had gotten there. He switched hands and shook the one that was wet with condensation. The roar of the crowd was becoming steadily louder, a thrum like a heartbeat picking up speed.

Seladion reached out one spindly hand toward Adam's forehead. Am could see Adam's desire to take a step backward, but he didn't. He couldn't. He was rooted to the spot. The most he could do was lean back slightly away from the oncoming palm.

"I'll make it quick," said Sel. "Consider it a small blessing."

He is incapable of blessing anyone or anything, Am thought. He is damned. We both are. He looked at Adam, his fear and confusion evident in his eyes.

"Stop," Am said.

Seladion did not lower his hand, but he did look at Am over his shoulder. "What is it?" he snapped.

"This will damn him."

"Look, it doesn't matter what she does with them."

"But maybe it does," said Amaurodios. "What does she do with them?"

"I don't know. I've never asked," Sel said through clenched teeth.

"Let him go," Am begged.

Seladion did drop his arm then, and Adam stumbled a couple paces back. "Really, Am, this is too much. Why would you risk her wrath for him?"

Am looked at the singer. "Go," he mouthed and flapped a hand. Adam needed no other prompting; he turned and hied back to the stage.

Sel sighed. "Now I'm going to have to go get him."

"Don't," said Am.

The music began anew, and Am silently admired Adam's ability to throw himself into it after everything that had just happened.

"You'll have to at least wait 'til they're done now," said Am. "But I'm hoping you'll reconsider."

"And what will I tell her?" Seladion asked. "'Oh, but Am really likes him'? Or were you planning to take his place?"

"I would," said Amaurodios softly. "I'd take all their places if I could."

"You should have stayed in Argyros," said Sel. "Anyway, she has no use for you."

"She has no use for him either!" Am cried.

"They can't live forever, Am."

Amaurodios looked up, surprised by the gentleness of Seladion's tone.

"Go on. You don't need to be here to see it," Sel said.

Tears filled Am's eyes. He turned to go. Stopped. "You'll make it painless?"

"It's never painless," Seladion told him. "But I'll make it as quick as I can."