Brought to you by: The Figment Writers
“When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.” ~Catherine Gilbert Murdock.
The things we don’t say. Wow. I’m at a loss where to start this but here we go but a break from Alexandra’s story is in order.
Confession time. I’m not the greatest communicator. In fact, I suck at it sometimes. I’m more demonstrative than verbal. I believe this is likely because I spent a long time with someone who was big on saying the right things and big on appearances rather than reality. Believe me when I say this is the absolute nicest thing I can say about that situation. In many ways, that situation impacted me in ways that still anger me.
Lost Stars has a lyric that gets me thinking about the above quote…
Searching for meaning, but are we all lost stars
Trying to light up the dark?
I am not sure what the author’s intent was with these lyrics but I know what it feels like to be that lost start trying to find her way in the dark. The road was not easy. In fact, that road was absolute shit. I had to do a lot of work on myself to get from where I was to where I am. I had to find that light and push through the heartache and pain. I had to push through the girl I was and into the woman I am—scars and all. I had to find my footing in this whole writing gig because this called to me. This was my passion. That passion turned into a dream and then reality about my first book publication in 2012. Funny part, that manuscript was done for the better part of eight years before my husband nudged me and said “Go do the thing you want.” So I try to be better about not leaving things unsaid or without a measure of resolution.
I’m not a great talker. I swear. I get flustered. I drop f-bombs at in appropriate times but I don’t know that I would have me any other way. I observe more than participate when situations make me uncomfortable or I am trying to get a feel for the room so to speak. If I don’t like the feel or I am intimidated I tend to withdraw into a shell of sarcasm, cool politeness and trivial conversation. Anyone that knows me well has seen me do it a thousand and one times. How do you deal with those situations? What impacts you to respond that way in social situations? Do you leave things unsaid in your silence? I do. In some cases its better that unsaid thing remain in my head bouncing off a filter. In others, I miss opportunities. After meetings, I have a series of things that occur to me. “Shit, why didn’t I ask that?”
So my advice to you, don’t leave it unsaid. Try not to miss the opportunities—especially the ones staring you in the face. Take a chance. Be brave. Manage the fallout as best you can. In the end, you will be more satisfied with the outcome than if you’d played the “what if” game with yourself after the fact. Get a good support system that will help you sort out the facts from your insecurities.
The Maeseloria Monthly launches in THREE days. If you have not signed up, click subscribe on the right and make sure you confirm your subscription or you won’t show up on the mailing list. I really am proud of what I’ve put together even though it makes me nervous as hell. This newsletter is step out of the proverbial box for me. So I guess it’s my turn to be brave right?
Be good, guys…or at the very least, don’t get caught.
Inspired by: Best I’ll Ever Be – Sister Hazel
Courtesy of: The Figment Writers
So…regular readers, how often do you see this song in the “Inspired by” section of my blog? This song was introduced to me by a friend a few years ago. The song is a lyrical kick in the ass. I have written many shattering scenes to this song because I get this visual of a person standing in the rain over a grave. He’s trying to cope, trying to understand why his life was so drastically changed by a single moment. Will things get better? Here are the lyrics to this if anyone is curious. To me the song is a powerful statement about grief and the cycles of loss. So the following bit of fiction is birthed from that. If the writings surrounding this storyline seem disjointed or not connected; that is completely intentional on my part. Please enjoy.
The graves were echoes of the past. Alexandra mused. How many years had passed since she returned to their little manor just past the realm’s border? Though the building and gardens were in working order, Kira was but a babe when she last saw this place. The graves that lay before her were well tended and no more than place markers of her past. Graves were the best she and Marc could do when their adoptive parents were killed. There were no bodies to bury but the act gave them solace. “We were so foolish and young.” She murmured to the empty night air. Three weeks had passed since Nicholas returned her skills to her. Stubborn was the best way to describe her current state of mind, she mused. Each morning, she worked to touch her skills. Failure was not a state of affairs she accepted well.
Each morning was a test of power versus her sheer will. This morning, she could maintain her skills for five minutes before panic threatened to overtake her. Though Nicholas explained that she would need her shelter when she struggled, no one could manage her powers but her and she refused to allow others to control them on her behalf. Her magic was wild, she knew. Fire itself was a wild element that only the strongest willed could bend. The only more difficult element, she suspected, was earth. How skilled would one have to be to wrest the earth form her Fated course?
That elemental wildness called her here. The palace was home but this place called to her heart too. She was raised here, after all, and spent a portion of her life in blissful ignorance about her true history. “We all suffer from foolish youth.” The voice made Alexandra whirl and begin to draw on her skills. “Most of us outgrow it eventually.” Dominic Devereaux stepped from the shadows. “Light above woman, put those hands down before you ash me!” His jovial tone disarmed her immediate reaction.
Truth be told, she did not leave Maeselorian lands without escort in the form of Nicholas or Marcus. That she could be here alone was certainly a sign of changing times, Dominic decided. Nicholas came to him two nights ago and asked for his help. The man had more than a flirting familiarity with what lengths Dominic went to just to survive in the dark. After all, he was a child of Light just like the rest of them.
“Well if we are to be honest, which I prefer since I know how you Jades abhor liars.” Dominic teased a smile before he continued. “I was sent by more than one party to look after you. They all decided I was the least likely to trigger stress in you or pressure you. I believe a word or two was mentioned about being stubborn enough to try when everyone else was out of harm’s way.” Dominic gentled his next words as much as Fate would allow him. “Those dear to you requested my help.”
She was hardly dressed for court formality. A loose pair of black pants and blouse covered her tiny frame and her platinum locks were plaited back in a wrist-thick braid that bounced against her bottom. His words prompted a brow to perk with curious amusement. “And who were the parties involved in this decision? I feel I may have to address the issue with them directly.” A good natured calm radiated from the man and, though they were not close, Alexandra valued him for the love he bore her cousin Tanya. For the first time in days a smile that was not forced to prevent others from worrying curled her lips. At mention of his assistance, her curiosity grew. “What sort of help could you provide, Dominic?”
“A gentleman does not name names, Lady Jade.” Her pert nose wrinkle at mention of her title prompted his laughter to drift through the night. “You dislike your title as much as another warrior I know. Walk with me a bit?” He offered an arm as was appropriate for a social interaction. When her fingertips rested on his sleeve, Dominic smiled. He knew the lady in question would leave little room for misunderstanding with his beloved. He led her through the rather splendid gardens of the manor. Alexandra’s wards would keep him from the house but the grounds were safe enough. He disregarded her latter question for now. “When did you lay the wards on the house?”
“No, he does not but I suspect my cousin was involved. Perhaps she and Nicholas decided you were the least threatening.” Alexandra indulged in a bit of her own teasing and allowed him to steer her through paths she knew by heart. “When I was a girl not old enough to understand who I am, or what it meant to be a child of Light.” Her answer was quiet, thoughtful as they wandered. She smiled. “We were fighting your former employer, dear boy.” In the next few minutes, Alexandra explained the night her brother was returned to her. By pure chance, she laid wards on the house strong enough to deter any Kindred. The wards, Dominic noted, were renewed recently.
Dominic scowled at her choice of words then chuckled. “I heard stories of his rantings after you escaped his dungeon and he somehow failed to retrieve you. I never knew why for the old demon would never say. He only muttered about how you should not have been able to do what you did. You and that brother of yours have a history of that or so I have come to understand.” He patted her hand as they came to a crossroad in the garden. He looked to the woman beside him and was reassured when she laughed and gestured to their left. “That was the purpose of my visit. You and Marcus are an unknown entity to the realm.”
He steered her to a bench and settled himself next to her. Here at least the blasted wards would not interfere with his skills. “Before you argue with me , allow me the courtesy of finishing my thought.” The chiding brought color to her cheeks, Dominic noted with approval. At least she understood he was not going to preach to her about what she and her brother were fated to be. “Blah blah, prophesied children of Light…restore Light to the realm.” The gesture that accompanied his words made her laugh. “That’s not what I mean. I mean that I have seen people driven mad by war and power. I have seen minds which never recover from that level of power and death. We have all felt your strength of will at one point or another. If anyone can beat this, it is you. None of my brethren ever could.”
Dominic admitted, much to his shame and sadness. “I watched them go mad as war and destruction progressed. Every one of us that were original exiles had to be put down like rabid dogs. I alone survived. Most that you destroyed during the war were third, fourth generation Devereaux. The methods they used to maintain the family cycle was disturbing to say the least. I could not help them but I can help you.” Dominic’s gaze flicked up and met hers. “And I do not mean by running from the problem or putting your skills on hold until you’re ready.” Dominic paused to consider his next words.
“Until you’re ready is for cowards and fools, Lexi. You are neither.” The nickname, often used by her cousin, felt foreign from is lips. That, coupled with his forceful words prompted her to straighten and scowl. This time, Dominic had no gentle teasing in his voice or intent to soothe her. He had her attention and that goal was what he sought. “ What you are doing now, a little every day will help until you can cope with the memories. But again, humor me. Summon a fireball.”
Dominic held her gaze with a steady will that matched her own. How could he know? Alexandra wondered. When she began to close her eyes, he shook his head. “Keep them open. Summon your element. Closing your eyes at first leaves you in the dark and at the mercy of memory.” His directive was blunt and more brutal than Nicholas’ teachings. “I’m not as gentle as he is when I teach. Time altered that in me. Forgive me.”
With a soft snicker, Alexandra humored him and summoned a fireball in the palm of her hand. Her hand trembled as she felt those emotions surface. “Watch me. Right here Alex.” Dominic directed her focus towards him and not was bubbled up inside her. With that easy gesture, the panic eased. “You are afraid. I understand. I acknowledge your fear because I have lived through it. Like you, I am no innocent when it comes to destruction and power but I decided long ago not to be victim to it or allow it to suck me into the past. You are not helpless. You are as in control today as you were the day of the final battle. Keep breathing, Alex. “
Alexandra felt her heartbeat quicken as the elements heat began to build within her palm. Both the paced breathing and Dominic’s words kept her focus on the here and now rather than allowing the past to suck her under. Minutes ticked by as she focused and the intensity of the flame in her palm grew. His words touched her spirit. “You were the most magnificent warrior I have ever seen. Your actions were necessary to not just your survival but the survival of the realm.”
Dominic repeated as he felt her focus begin to waiver. “Keep breathing Alex.” When the memories threatened he told her to breathe to refocus her attention. She was here, in this moment. At times, this very exercise saved Dominic’s sanity over the years. The missions his elders sent him on were often brutal and unkind. They tried to sap his sanity, his reason. Their direction often threatened to get him killed. His little warrior did not understand what he meant when he told her she saved him but he would spend whatever time the Light granted them showing Tanya just that.
“Our Queen would not be on her throne and my beloved dead were it not for your actions that day.” Dominic held her focus. Not once did she look away from the force behind his words. Truthfully, they were words he waited some months to express to her. His gratitude to her had little limit. If not for her intervention, after all, he likely would be skewered on the end of her brother’s sword. “Never discount what you have accomplished. When Fate presents you with a challenge, you survive and overcome. That is your nature, Alexandra Jade. That is your gift.”
A few notes for you, readers.
The Maeseloria Monthly drops in a little under two weeks. To anyone that may have had issues with signing up via the popup form, I apologize. I was unaware that the information was not displaying correctly. So thank you Mr. Galvin for letting me know :). This issue has been resolved. Just click the Subscribe link off to the right and a form will pop up for you to use. Don’t miss out on The Guardian’s Fall and upcoming events! I have a few entertaining items planned for the month ahead. Please join me! I’d love to hear from you.
Inspired by: Crystallize – Lindsey Stirling
Courtesy of: The Figment Writers
Author’s note: This is a follow up to a previous blog I wrote concerning Alex. If you wish to read the what happened prior, check out this blog post before you continue reading. Also, if you have not read Hope’s Child, read on at your own risk.
I feel the lack of you. Alexandra watched the tide roll in as Marc’s words returned to her. His words prompted her to look long and hard at the actions of her loved ones since the war’s end. This was often her place of solace. The tide soothed her spirit when it was aflame with whatever stress or worry troubled her. Her dreams began all those years ago with this very shore line. After all this time, was she bitter that her dreams did not bring what she felt she was promised? Perhaps. The road was so much harder than she could have imagined in her youth. Yet, when she paused to reflect, Alexandra Jade wondered if she would have all the blessings that surrounded her now without the hardship and loss.
“The answer, beloved, would likely be no.” His words prompted a warm smile to drift across her lips. Since her implosion, the nightmares were becoming less frequent. Nearly a week passed since they warded her skills. The panic attacks slowed and for the first time in months she could rest. “You know Fate chooses the path before us—both the blessings and what feel like curses at the time.” Nicholas Taltos looked her over from the top of her platinum hair to the tips of her toes. His life was forever altered by her presence. He would trade none of his past heartache for this moment. Of that, he could be certain. He lowered himself beside her and slid an arm around her. She leaned against him as though she were born to be there. At times, he wondered if that was precisely Fate’s design.
“Wishful thinking.” Her lips thinned to a line as she rested against him. The conclusion she was coming to was not pleasant but needed discussed with the one person who may be able to advise her in some capacity. “Things have been easier since you both sealed my powers for a time.” The truth was the seal remained on her powers only because she allowed it and both men knew that. She could remove their protections at any time with her own hand and, truth be told, she was afraid that the panic and fear and nightmares would return full force if she allowed a return to normalcy.
“You have allowed yourself to feel more.” Nicholas explained on quiet, compassionate tones. “Due to the nature of your skills, you contain your emotions as much as you can so you do not burn the palace down around our ears.” A small smile tugged at the corners of is mouth as he hugged her again. “We appreciate that more than you know, Alexandra.” The teasing brought another smile he would trade his existence for. For a few minutes, he was thoughtful. Nicholas had debated for days how to address this issue with her. He had a suspicion and it was not a good one. His father’s old records spoke of warriors who returned to normal life with scars of the mind. Magic users were often the hardest hit due the nature of their skills and Fate’s blessings. “I am going to remove the bonds, Alexandra.”
With force, she pushed away from him and he noted with approval the emerald shine that shot into her sea shaded eyes. He saw the fear that came with her anger. Before she could rush off in a splendid display of temper, Nicholas held his hands up in an offering of peace. “Hear me, little one, please.” The term of endearment got her attention as it was one that he never used in anger against her. “These terrors, these dreams, I believe they are tied to your skills. My father wrote at some length about war survivors and you are that, my love. This too shall pass if you trust the people that love you.”
“If that is your wish, Nicholas, I will see to the matter myself.” Alexandra shot back and a moment later her skills came flowing back into her body. With it came the images of that final battle, that push of her will and all the dead. The color left her face and she nearly fainted with the emotional force those images brought. “Light damn it.” If she were standing, her legs would not have held her weight. The world felt as though it fell upon her dainty shoulders. Fire’s heat poured through her veins as the wall between her skills and her carefully controlled emotions collapsed. The heat radiating from her spread south into the sand beneath her feet.
Her breath came in short, panicked gasps as her element came to life within her. The images subsided leaving her alone with her body and the fire that burned within her. “Damn you Taltos, why did you need to know?!” She hissed as she tried to slow her pounding heartbeat before the temperature beneath them became too much for either one of them to stand. Light knew she could turn every grain of sand to glass beneath them but the fires involved would kill them both. Did he not understand that her skills could destroy the realm at large? The world was starting to spin before her eyes. How much could she stand before she begged them to take her skills from her? To remove all that Fate blessed her with?
“Calm, my love. “ His soothing voice gained her attention. Steady fingers grasped her chin and tilted her face up until their eyes met. “Breath with me Alexandra.” Nicholas held her gaze to bring her mind back to the present and the now. He took slow deep breaths until her breathing mirrored his own. Fate could only hope his father’s writings were accurate. This was the only hope he had for not only her but them. “Slowly. You’re here. Not there. The past cannot hurt you.” As he spoke, he felt the fires within her recede to embers. The reaction was as he expected. He had waited until she was near enough to the discovery herself to bring it to light. “We will fight this together, I promise you.”
Inspired by: Distant Worlds – Music from the Final Fantasy Series.
Brought to you by: The Figment’s Weekly Writing Prompt
Though there was no stumping this week, our hostess with the mostest got me thinking again. This week’s prompt: “Three things.” So, she got the gears going about what three things I could choose to elaborate on. I opted to take a tack that may interest some and may bore others. Here goes, three things about your friendly neighborhood fantasy author.
I love games. I do. I am picky as hell about them. The first video game I ever fell in love with was Final Fantasy 6. (That would be Final Fantasy III here in the states, on the SNES). My pickiness tends to lean towards games with great story and not overly complicated mechanics. I’m not going to front, I cannot manage overly complicated game mechanics because I get pissed and turn it off. Give me a great storyline and easy mechanics and I’m your girl. My games of choice are Final Fantasy 6, 7 and 10 among the favorites. Outside of that series, give me Tales of Symphonia; Abyss; Vesperia or Xillia. I love strong characterizations and a plot that leaves you wondering. Aeris’ death in Final Fantasy 7 is still hands down the biggest game kick in the ass I’ve ever experienced. I was so pissed I turned the game off for a week before completing it. I have a goal to beat every Final Fantasy title released in the US. So far I am two or three titles from that goal and I am currently stuck on Final Fantasy V. (DAMN you Ex-Death!)
Also, my scope of gaming interest I find is not limited to the controller. I also enjoy board gaming. Our visit to GenCon was more entertaining than I could possibly put into words and will become a Hults family tradition. I enjoy games like Ticket to Ride, King of Tokyo, Coup and many more than I can put into a single blog post. I have also found my footing in Dungeons and Dragons. I played my first campaign with my husband and daughter this past weekend at GenCon and just…wow. It is definitely a game that gets the imagination going. In a more traditional card game sense—I kick ass at Euchre and Gin Rummy. Just sayin. If you’re a gamer, what do you love? What do you hate? Please share!
My first venture into Fantasy fiction was C.S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I was eleven when I first read it. I thought it was an okay book at the time but grew to love it and the series later. The first book I read cover to cover until it fell apart was Stephen King’s It. I got my first copy of that book when I was fifteen and read it so many times the pages fell out. I still pull it out from time to time for a good read. As a reader I love strong characterizations; as an author I try to create relatable characters. When you read It, your heart hurts for Beverly Marsh, Bill Denbrough and the rest of the Losers Club. Since those days, my reading horizons have broadened. I read horror, fantasy, romance, historical fiction just to list a few genres. Again, I am never picky about the genre but I need a strong character base and driving story line. (If you like Stephen King and you’ve never read It or The Stand, I am not sure you can call yourself a fan of his work given the amount of blood, sweat and tears that I’m certain went into creating those stories.)
Right now, I picked up some new reads and GenCon that I’m itching to start. Anyone familiar with Robin Hobb? I picked up one of her books at the convention and I am eager to get underway. Reading for me is always a new adventure. In many aspects writing is the same way. Readers often ask how many books or what is going to happen next with the Maeseloria series. The truth is that I couldn’t tell you because I don’t know! My characters talk to me when they talk to me and tell me their stories. At times, my heart hurts for them and at others I look at them like “Really? I don’t think this is going to end well for you but here goes.” Another book I am excited to get my mitts on is Philippa Gregory’s Three Sisters, Three Queens. I absolutely love her historical fiction. If you love Tudor England and the Cousins’ War, start with The Lady of Rivers and read through the above title. You will not be sorry! The Constant Princess is one of my all-time favorite books. I have read Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Gryffindor FTW and, honestly, Annabeth Chase is another strong, smart character I can relate to. What are your favorite reads? Books you can read until the covers fall off?
Music is an obsession for me. In fact, I get really bored with no new musical influence and my creativity will, on occasion, come to a grinding, irritating halt. I will give anything a spin once…maybe twice. Leading my creative playlists though are artists such as Lindsey Stirling; Nobuo Umetsu (Sound off in the comments if you know him guys. Favorite track?) ; Brunuhville but on the other hand I also rock out to Linkin Park or My Chemical Romance. Just depends on the song and my mood. Right now, Nobuo Umetsu is flat out doing it for me. I am extremely excited for Lindsey Stirling’s new album net week. If you are familiar with her work and haven’t had time, check out Something Wild and The Arena from her new album. It drops on the 19th. Picture me running around like a crazy fangirl and you have the picture. Certain albums speak to my spirit; I was a musician in high school. I sang, I played a little piano and still do—all self-taught.
Musicals are another passion for me and yes, I am currently on the Hamilton fangirl train but I also love shows like Phantom of the Opera, Finding Neverland, Aida, Wicked and Rent to name a few. Again, driving storylines and great characters make the musical for me.
What was the first album that just touched your soul? You love it so much you listen to every track and know every nuance. Me? Two albums off the top of my head still speak to me and both are from my youth. Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing and Hootie and the Blowfish‘s Cracked Rear View. I can listen to them end to end and be touched by those lyrics. The albums were released in a time when I was in desperate need of something to relate to. I found my footing in Black and White and Not Even the Trees. If you don’t know these albums and love strong lyrics, check them out. What music resonates with you? If you write, what pushes your creativity? Email me leave a comment with questions, I’ll feature them in my first newsletter. Three weeks until drop date! Don’t miss out on the short story The Guardian’s Fall.
Hope to hear from you soon guys! Thanks for visiting!
Like the song says…hitting the road in t-minus 3ish hours. Headed to GenCon and four marvelous days of gaming and, possibly, some promotional work for my books. For those of you that may be in attendance; look for me. I’ll be the one reeling my dorky husband in. Or, look for my Harley Quinn backpack. This backpack: (I think it’s pretty epic.)
In other news, I’m excited to meet a few longtime friends face to face and play my first D&D campaign. The game seems complex or I am overthinking it. We shall see. My first character is a Sorceress and a soldier. (Go figure, right?) From what I understand; the event is an amazing experience and I cannot wait. If you are attending, love my work and want to meet up, message me @SandraHults on Twitter. Or drop me an email at email@example.com. Smartphones are wonderful things. 🙂
By the way, tick-tock the clocks ticking until the first issue of the Maeseloria Monthly. If you have not signed up; for the love of Light, what are you waiting for? It’s free! You can’t beat free? Also, stay tuned for special offers via the newsletters possibly another giveaway! For those of you that took advantage of the free digital download of Birth of Light; inbox me for a limited time discount on Duty’s Song. You know…firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to me people! Ask questions! I don’t bite, honest.
Stay safe gang. Take care. See you next week.
Brought to you by: The Figment’s Weekly Writing Prompt
And I’ll rise up like the break of day; I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid. So this week’s prompt was the word “brave”. This has taken a great deal of time and indecisiveness when this prompt was posted. The hilarious part is that this was a prompt I provided and I could not bring myself to decide what I wanted to say about it. I am still on the fence because when I put that word in a personal context; the meaning takes on a life of its own. The meaning to me is a wish to be brave enough to keep going no matter what. I rise up. Every.damn.day. I show up. I push. I keep going.
Brave is having the stones to step outside the little boxes we put ourselves in. The expectations of society; family; whatever floats your wee little boat; whatever your situation is that binds you and causes your stagnancy. I wasted a lot of time trying to meet the expectations of others rather than those I set for myself; rather than going after the brass ring I dream about. A lot of years passed before I learned that meeting other people’s expectations was not the path I needed to be on. Even now the words sound selfish; I needed to forge a path that was for me and not what everyone else required.
“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.”
(Bonus points to anyone who knows that quote.)
So I learned, however painful the cost, I learned. In a way, I suppose, those growing pains fueled my writing. Many people would say this is just the nature of growing up and yet; I see so many people shackled to those same walls rather than knocking them down. Don’t misunderstand; finding that path is absolutely fucking terrifying but again; I learned. I learned I was a fighter. I learned that I can pick myself up by those bootstraps and keep pushing. Hurt like hell but I learned. Caused myself a lot of heartache; but I learned. What do the cheesy old “The More You Know” Commercials say…Never stop learning?
Trite saying but true. To this day, I suspect that was intended to push people to continue their educations and to a degree I agree with that point. To me though, I interpret the phrase to mean never stop challenging yourself to grow. Personally; professionally; whatever; but do not stop. Keep moving. Stagnant spirits die. Be brave. What makes you brave? Sound off in the comments below!
In non-writing prompt related nose…by this time Wednesday night we will be in Indianapolis enjoying GenCon. I’ll have a couple promo copies of Birth of Light; get a hold of me on Twitter.
Our hostess as played stump the author once again with the following quote:
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
And I have to thank her for making me think around corners and about how I want things to develop creatively. What I bring you today is the next installment of the series I’ve been writing about one Nicholas Taltos and Dominic Devereaux. Before I do, however, let me encourage you to sign up for my newsletter—starting September 1, 2016. The newsletter will keep you in the loop about appearances, book releases, and giveaways. I also intend to start a section called “Sandra’s Corner”. Please don’t hesitate to submit your questions via email, direct message on Twitter or message me on my Facebook page. If you closed the pop up when you dropped in, refresh the page and opt in. If you like the blog, you’ll love what’s coming.
Now, with that shameless plug out of the way, let’s get on with the story.
Rain battered the campus grounds as she stared into the storm. Kaylen Burke watched the downpour with a numbed apathy. The university had offered to give her time off to tend to her affairs but, truth be told, she would rather be working to ease the emptiness at home. Her husband was gone. The police had come to her door two days ago to deliver the news and inform her that his body would be released to her once autopsy procedures were complete.
Her home was empty. Her heart was hurting. The history professor’s thoughts scattered. The sleek bob that was her dark hair rested on her shoulders and moved when she did. She was still dressed for the office in a dark skirt-suit combination. At least, she supposed, none of her students had come to offer their condolences. Kaylen did not believe she could sit through another round of apologies and well-intended sympathy. Beyond her, she would swear she saw two figures moving through the increasing storm in the direction of the history building. Who would be fool enough to brave such a sudden, violent storm? Let alone at night?
She sighed and closed her sapphire eyes. At times, she wondered if there was not more to their world than what was on the surface. All her life, she felt as if she was on the precipice of a larger experience, a larger world but could never quite break through the boundary between the normal and the extraordinary. Her thumb traced the wedding band that still remained on her left hand with an absent sort of grace. The gesture was familiar and gut-wrenching at the same time. They had a comfortable life together. She and Brad were married three years ago. They loved each other; shared similar interests but now, now she wondered if she was not at that precipice once again. The thought of more was stirring her blood again.
“Good evening, Professor.” She had not heard her office door open and close but the voice she knew. Director Tammond stood in her office soaked to the skin alongside a man she had only met once before. His name, however eluded her. The director was her immediate report. In fact, the man had been delighted to sign off on her tenure. He said the realm needed more tenacious minds like hers.
Kaylen’s lips thinned to a line as she fought the urge to scream at his sudden arrival. With a breath, she stilled herself and flashed him a small smile. “Good evening Director, what can I do for you tonight?” That was the moment she absorbed the full shock of two grown men standing in her office soaked to the skin. They both looked like drowned rats. “Oh my, was it so urgent that you both needed to brave the storm?” An amusement she was not sure she had a right to feel bubbled up in her throat. The old man, as he was often called by University Faculty, was cantankerous and stand-offish to most but she found him both endearing and gruff. His old eyes held secrets she could not begin to understand but she was never brave enough to ask.
As if he read her mind, he responded. “I did and you should probably get braver.” Nicholas shook the damp from his hair with a brisk gesture. There was an easy long-time companionship between the two men—many faculty members suspected they were gay. That was one of the more prominent rumor on the university gossip mill. Kaylen never sought to dispel the rumors because she knew they were false. Nicholas spoke too often and too with a great deal of fondness of the wife he lost many years ago.
“Will you stop speculating for a minute Kaylen? Light above your mind is making me tired listening to you.” Nicholas interjected. When she was struck dumb by his statement, he continued while Dominic began to laugh. “We have a lot to discuss and very little time. The precipice you were thinking about a moment ago has arrived.” A glare silenced his companion as Nicholas reeled in his impatience. Alexandra’s words drifted through his mind. Be at ease, my impatient heart. Things happen in Fate’s time, not ours. With her warmth acting as a balm, he gave Kaylen a stern glare. “But, for the love of Light Kaylen, could you stop the blasted rain?”
“What?” The disbelief rocked her to the core. Had the man lost his mind? “What the devil are you talking about, Director? I can’t—“ Frustrated, her hands plowed through her hair and mussed the dark tresses into disarray. Her spirit trembled at the force in his eyes when their gazes met. Why had she never seen that sheer force of will before? Why did she never feel the quiet resonance of power that seemed to exude from the man? Kaylen’s gaze flicked past the Director to his pale-skinned companion. The man had taken to leaning against the closed door and watching the scene as if he were engrossed in a good novel.
“You can. You will.” Nicholas stepped forward and wrapped the smaller woman in his arms. She did not know; could not know what she was. She was his. She was theirs. She was a Child of Light and Fate would call her home. Nicholas did not know if she was the last but he could feel that she was both a Jade and a Taltos. He could feel his bloodline singing through her veins. Of greater importance, though, he felt his beloved’s bloodline in her veins. He hugged her tight and set her away from him before he spoke on gentle, consoling tones. “Kaylen, have you never wondered why it rains when you cry?”