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Monday, March 20, 2017

Words From Long Ago

I’ve been nostalgic this morning, thinking about the first novel I wrote and one of the characters, Rhiannon. I remember how sad she seemed and how much I was inspired by her mysterious strength. She was so compelling that I rewrote the whole story from her point of view and then added a couple books about her. One scene in particular has been recurring over and over in my mind, so I’ve decided to share it. I hope you enjoy my words from so long ago.

~ O ~

The warm morning of the Sun Season Ceremony complemented the bright display at Stone Meadow; tall colorful banners flapped on long poles and thin trails of white smoke lifted to the cloudless sky, announcing their host camps and seasoned offerings. Bards in purple tunics, tooling their whistles and drums, mingled in the growing crowd. It was a celebration, and it was summer at its peak. The solstice. I must have been grinning—I could feel my cheeks stretch as we rolled the handcart to our familiar camping spot at the southern edge of the field.

Leila was enchanting. She wore her golden shawl of the Fae with its hood pulled back behind her shoulders. The shawl covered a white gown that trailed to thin leather sandals on her feet. Small white flowers decorated tight braids in her dark hair. Leila swung her arms out and danced in place—the golden shawl draped to the ground like wings—and announced her arrival to anyone watching, showering the air with sparkling gold. “This is wonderful!” she sang, while skipping steps and dancing in circles. Her movement matched the mood of the meadow, and she wasn’t the only one dancing in the tall grass.

When we reached our site, Mother and I began unloading the cart. I piled blankets, and pillows, and bowls, and goblets onto small piles around our camp. Then I went into the forest that bordered the meadow and collected an armful of dry branches from the undergrowth. When I returned, Leila was still dancing.

“Do you know the steps?” she asked. She tiptoed for a moment and sprung into a leap forward. “I’ll wager you can guess.”

I emptied my arms and brushed my hands clean on my apron. I watched my sister move; her dance was familiar. I caught myself swaying to the delicate tune inside my thoughts. “You know that’s my favorite,” I told her. “You make me want to join you.”

Mother turned to watch us, but kept arranging sliced vegetables into piles on a blanket.

Leila grabbed my hands and pulled me toward her. “Step forward, sister. I want to see you dance.”

I couldn’t help myself. I slipped out of my sandals and joined her. Then we danced in the grass. A faerie and her Giver, we wove a circle of crimson and gold. I inhaled the fresh air—it carried a hint of hickory smoke—and whispered the words that I had often sung to myself at the celebrations. The songs we danced had no lyrics, but I had created my own verses, as many faeries did, and many would continue to imagine.

“You’re wonderful!” said Leila, amid the swirling flashes. “You miss it, don’t you?”
I allowed my motion to carry me to a place on the grass away from her, and then collapsed on the ground. “I miss dancing,” I admitted to her.

She raised her sleeves above her head like a bird’s wings and brought them down in front of me.
I winced at the striking breeze that followed.

“I’m sorry; I didn’t intend to do that.” Leila covered her mouth.

“That’s okay,” I said, smiling. “I enjoyed the moment. Thank you.” I fell back and stared at the sky. “Good memories always come with dancing. They carry me to fantastic places and wonderful dreams.”

~ O ~

Happy Reading!

~ Jamie


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

To celebrate Valentine's Day, I'm sharing a scene from one of my earlier books, FROM RISING FLAMES. Happy Reading!

~ O ~

The water was cold; I had forgotten how much when I removed my sandals and stepped to my waist. It was refreshing, though. My feet hurt at first as I stepped on the gravel, but then I enjoyed the feel as I rubbed my feet over and over the rounded pebbles. I removed my dress and dove headfirst into the lake. My body sighed with thanks.
I swam for a moment before returning to the shore to grab my dress and the soap. Darian sat on the shore, watching the sky.
“Aren't you coming in?” I asked. “The water feels wonderful.”
“I didn’t think you’d do that,” he said, darting me a glance. In the dark, I couldn’t see his face, but I was sure from his voice that he was blushing.
“What?” I scooped a handful of soap from the kettle and rubbed it onto my dress. I lowered it into the water and started scrubbing with a flat stone. “Do you want to get clean, or not?”
The man was shy, which made me smile. Men in Aisling were as rough as porcupines. Perhaps that’s why I was becoming comfortable with Darian. He had never threatened me like I had imagined he would. I found his embarrassment charming.
“Come into the water,” I laughed. “I won’t hurt you.” As he inched toward the lake, I tugged at the cuffs of his clothing. “Take off your pants.”
Darian’s voice came out in a squeak. “What?”
I pulled on his leg. “Do you want clean clothes? Give me your pants, I’ll wash them.”
He didn’t argue, but closed his eyes as he removed his leather shoes—and his pants. Then he tossed me his shirt; the blue was fading, but it still sparkled where the blood hadn’t stained. He dove into the lake to hide under the reflection of the stars.
It wasn’t much, but I did my best to scrub our clothes with the soap I had made. I tossed them onto the shore and then covered myself with the white cream. The smell was fabulous. I could feel the smoke pry from my skin as I rubbed everywhere I could reach. Wanting more, but needing to share, I left the last bits of soap for Darian and dove back into the lake to rinse myself.
“Your turn,” I told him, chasing after him in the shallow water. “You’ll smell like a flower afterward, but it will definitely be an improvement.”
He was still shy, setting himself waist deep in the water and scrubbing from head to toe. I had never seen a man bathe before, and watched every moment while wading. Darian was perfect. His dark muscles covered in soap made me want to swim closer. His hair covered his eyes until he wet it and pulled it back with his fingers, allowing it to hang back toward his shoulders.
My stomach twisted and my breath stopped filling my lungs. I suddenly felt distant and alone. I closed my eyes and turned toward Morgan.
“I’m dressed now,” he told me. “You can turn around.” He stood on the shore, the water dripping from his clothes and his hair sparkled from the stars. He looked taller than a moment ago—and handsome.
The feeling in my stomach returned and my boldness left me. I didn’t want Darian to see me—not like this, unkempt and bedraggled. Something—pride, or something more intimate that I hesitated to name—left me wishing that he could see me like I had once looked when I was a faerie. “Please don’t turn around,” I said, dropping low in the water. “I’ll only be a moment.”
I stumbled on the rocks, twisting into my dress, franticly trying to cover myself before he turned to steal a look. But Darian never did. He watched the stars until I touched his arm.
“That feels nice,” he said, his voice melting me as his fingers caressed mine.

I smiled back. The spinning in my stomach and the tingling in my heart reminded me of innocent days and nights like this so long ago. The feeling was the same. Darian was becoming something more than a friend.

~ O ~