Monthly Archives: January 2015

Baring my soul

Have I mentioned yet that there is zero planning going into the writing of my serial – that of Thomas and Celeste, I mean. If I have not, please let this serve as the Official Warning.

This story is raw, unedited. It basically goes: head, fingers, screen. No filter.

I have no idea where it’s headed, except for downhill. It’s all trial and error as I shape the world in which one of my characters is raised.

So yes, it will shift from past tense to present tense upon occasion. I will, most likely, use more passive wording than active.

Did you know that’s how I write anyway? Yep. My rough draft is littered with To Be verbs and a passive voice. Does this bother me? Not even an iota. For me, this is a learning process. Not to mention, I fully believe the rough draft should be a big pile of messiness. You’re pouring your heart onto paper, but you aren’t yet baring your soul to the world. To me, that’s the final product – a piece of your soul give life. With flesh of paper, and blood of ink. In a way, the rough draft is more intimate than the final draft.

So, thank you for joining me on this little journey of self-discovery. Please forgive the mess I will make of things. It’s just what I do.

The destiny of Thomas and Celeste is fully wrapped up in that of Baldwin and Evelyn, but that’s another story entirely. While you will see them  upon occasion, it will only be as they weave in and out of our story. For now.

The tapestry of life is magic, and I enjoy weaving it.

Do remember, feedback is not only welcome but desired.

Advertisements

Coming Home

When last we visited our doomed couple, they were attempting to make a go of it. They know there will never be a Grand Passion, but they believe they still have a solid foundation upon which they can build a successful marriage. 

But is there? There is definitely lust, that we know. What about friendship? Is there the friendship and respect necessary to carry them through those times when lust is not enough? 

Thomas wanted a honeymoon; Celeste did not. Today, we discover why she wanted to go straight to his country estate, Summer Haven. 

And so, it continues… 

Tell me about your home, Thomas. Is it grand?” Celeste leaned forward, peering at Thomas in the dim light. She grew increasingly nervous the longer they travelled, and sought to allay those nerves.

Thomas seemed distracted, worried perhaps. When he answered her many questions throughout the journey, it was with as few words as possible. This one, however, seemed to catch him off guard as he considered it before answering. “Grand? Well, I suppose it is. Summer Haven is nothing next to Spirit of the Forest, which belongs to the Duke of Dalrymple, but it’s a far sight better than many you will find elsewhere.”

“Such unusual names, Thomas. Tell me why you chose the name Summer Haven? Well, I suppose an ancient predecessor chose it.” Am I babbling, she asked herself before deciding: Yes. Yes I am.

“We did not actually choose the name. It was given to us back in… Oh, the early 13th century, I believe.”

“Has the land not always been called Summer Haven, perhaps?” Celeste’s chest hitched as she gulped in the stale air of the carriage. Her instincts told her she had been correctly informed: this marriage would take her home.

“My very distant great-grandfather, Ulric, saved this forest from a great threat. His reward was the title and the lands. He built Summer Haven Court from the ground up.”

Well, that was not very forthcoming, was it?

“My people used to weave stories about this home of yours. The Eternal Forest they call it; home of the Fae.” Looking at him through lowered lashes, she added, “My Nan once told me of dragons living here.”

Thomas looked directly at her at that, eyes widened in shock, and she knew the tales to be truth. He gave away his emotions too easily. The prophecy would come true, after all: one day, the Forest would echo with the laughter of the True People, exiled no more. If only I could let Nan know, she thought.

A hum in her ear told her Nan already knew.

“How do your people know of the forest?”

“Once, it was our home. Before the Romans. Before the Celts. Before even the Fae.”

“Impossible.” Thomas was giving her the Look. The one that suggested she had just told him the sky was purple, or that she had sprouted a second head. “The Fae have always been here. They were the First.”

“I’m sorry, Thomas but that isn’t true. I am of this land; a part of it just as you are.” Reaching out, she touched his knee soothingly. “Let me tell you why my people named your lands Summer Haven, my husband.”

***

Recounting the story as passed down by Nan, Celeste gave the history of the Eternal Forest. Thomas listened in silence, reeling from the similarities. The story he had learned at his mother’s knee told of the Fae, their crafty ancestors, discovering the utopia after being tossed from their own lands.

Celeste spoke to him of a darker history than he recalled, however. One of war, of death and destruction. She told him of a history where her people lived in the forest, crafting the very spells creating the eternal summer; living in peace, tucked away from threats of Outsiders. Until the day they took in a people with no land of their own. She told him how the people they rescued then turned on their saviors, ousting them from the forest, often at the threat of death.

Shaking his head, Thomas refused to believe it could be true. “No. I cannot believe you, Celeste. First of all, my people are peaceful; we would never do that. Second, the land only looks to be in perpetual summer; we still experience the colds of autumn and winter.”

“That is the crafting of my people, as well. The prophecy foretold one of my people returning to the land. But only with the true joining of people will the land heal itself, and return to eternal summer.”

“Then how do you explain the differences in our stories? Why did my mother not mention your people?”

Celeste looked at him, and he swore there was pity in her eyes. How dare she!

“Our stories differ, Thomas, because the land was only abandoned once. It was stolen the next time the tale wove its way through the Akashic records.”

“That does not explain why there is no mention of your people.” Damn it. Her reasoning made sense.

“It is the way of the world, husband. History is written not by the loser, but rather the victor.” Celeste shrugged as if it meant nothing.

Perhaps it really does mean nothing. No matter who was first, we were last. And she and I will bring back the eternal summer. I will be Elder by then.

***

The next few minutes were spent in relative silence. Celeste knew Thomas was digesting her words; likely, he was searching for a way to turn the prophecy in his favor. That damned title would be the death of him.

“I suppose this explains your eagerness to accept my offer.” Thomas broke the silence first, bringing them both back to their present situation; married, and on their way home. “Shall I expect to soon be overrun with the rest of your people?”

“There are no more of my people, Thomas. The life of an exiled traveller is hard. Unlike many of our brethren, we no longer had a place to call home. We had nowhere to stop and regroup; we were constantly on the move.” Sadness overwhelmed her as she remembered losing her Nan, the last of her Clan.

“For that, I offer my condolences, Celeste. No one should ever be the last of any family.” Looking through the side window, he said, “Come. No tears, wife. You are home.”

Following his gaze, Celeste caught her first sight of the Eternal Forest. In her heart, she knew his words held Truth. She was Home. The trees sang through her, pulsing with the beat of her heart. The waters of the forest flowed through her blood. Home; finally.

“Can you stop at the Ancient Tree?” She asked, referring to the oldest living tree in the forest. Possibly the oldest tree in all of Britain. She needed to pay her respects before anything else.

Thomas conveyed the new directions to his young driver, no questions asked.

It was another half hour before the carriage reached the edge of the meadow at the center of the large forest, but once again – Celeste knew where she was before the coach pulled to a stop. She could hear the whispers of the trees welcoming her to the Sacred Meadow.

Without waiting, Celeste opened the door and bounced out of the carriage. She felt like a child getting her first pony.

No thoughts of propriety to caution her, Celeste ran across the meadow, straight to the ancient oak. Big enough that thirty or more could stand round it, the tree towered over everything, reaching high up into the sky. Home.

Bird song filled the air around her as a gentle breeze rustled her loose curls. Her Nan once again hummed in her ear; content that the last of her people had finally come back to the Tree.

Running a hand over the rough bark, Celeste felt a surge of life course through her. Many thousands of years old, the tree cried out, need giving voice to the years of neglect.

Turning to Thomas, who had peered out of the carriage as the eerie screech filled the air around them, she cried. Swiping angrily at the tears slicking down her face she said, “How could you?”

Thomas rushed to her side, concern drawing his brows together. “What is it? Are you ill?”

“Not I — the tree. Oh Thomas, how could this happen? Had I not come, the tree would have died. And with it, all the forest. My people gave their blood for this tree, and your people have neglected your duties.”

“It looks perfectly healthy to me.” Once again, THomas was giving her The Look.

“Looks can be deceiving.” A musical voice broke into their conversation.

Walking toward the tree, the beautiful young girl with the musical voice spoke again, “Not even my touch could help the tree. Your wife is right, Thomas; the tree would die had she not come.”

“Who are you?” Thomas asked, dropping her hand to speak to the stranger. He had eyes only for this girl with curls of fire. And in that instant, Celeste saw the fall of her carefully planned, perfectly cordial marriage.

For this slight girl was the Dragon Bride. She, too, had come home.

What Is the Dragon Horde

Hey Murphy. Now that you’ve mentioned it, perhaps you can explain just what, exactly, the Dragon Horde is, eh?

Sure. Why not. 

The Dragon Horde is a rather large, but silent, organization that exists within England. They were created way, way back in the early 13th Century when the Eternal Forest came under attack. They exist only for two purposes: to protect the dragons that roam the Earth, and to protect the Eternal Forest. 

As said previously, they – and non Horde members – do have magick, but it is limited. 

There are five Houses within the Horde, each a match to an Element.
1. North, Earth
2. South, Fire
3. East, Air
4. West, Water
5. Spirit, All

I know that for some, it would make sense that the Spirit would head the Order, but it does not. One of the council members is a Duke, and the ducal estate will always head the House of Spirit. They were the first, perhaps they will be the last?

As a side note, be on the lookout for a new installment tomorrow. New discoveries.

My World

I realized while reading a tease from a friend’s upcoming novel that I was going to share something about the magick in my “very-slightly-alternate” England.

First, I wanted it to be natural… And as many have pointed out (including my husband), it has to be limited. If I created a magick that was all-powerful, how would my hero and heroine solve their own problems? Well, how will she solve the problems? It’s her journey, he’s just along for the ride.

ANYWAY…

What I’ve come up with is that it is, essentially, elemental magick – they can control the elements. For example, instead of suffering the near-darkness in a night-traveling carriage that a single candle would have created, Duncan is able to heighten the light so that they can see clearly. He is also able to take the heat of the flame and infuse his aura with it. This essentially protected him from the cold because in his rush to leave London, he forgot a coat.

Magick is not well-known or accepted in this world. The use of magick is not limited to the members of the Dragon Horde.

Back to the elements… All this magick kind of crept up on me. I had started the series with magick in mind, but it wasn’t going anywhere so I scrapped the first two “starts”… I was writing this with NO MAGIC, but Duncan said nope.

From the very beginning, this book has been called Midnight Garnets. Duncan’s family stone is the garnet, and a large stone hangs from the pocket watch he carries which identifies him as a member of the Horde…

After writing the scene where the magick first showed up, I found this site… Garnets are a fire stone. These things are uncanny at times, aren’t they?

http://meanings.crystalsandjewelry.com/elements-and-stones/

Keep your friends close…

Before I share this weeks installment, I would like to make a few comments. I had started this post with the title Reality Sets In, but in the end – it didn’t fit what I wrote. I had every intention of writing more, but I caught that nasty cold going round. I actually only managed two sentences for main project between Thursday and Friday. Good sentences, sure…but still. Two. Sentences. Twenty-eight words. 

Because I was not able to write as much as I wanted, I hope to make up for it over the next few days. We’ll see. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this small installment. I’ve a few days off this week so I do plan a page to explain my slightly alternate England. 

Now then…

 

As Celeste danced off to her batch, the memories came flooding back, searing into Thomas’ brain.

It had started just two days prior, with the Council of the Horde meeting to elect the new Elder. He was passed over. Again.

The Elder came from the House of the South; and had done so for generations. When illness ripped away his father’s vision, the Council met. At age seventeen, he had been deemed too young, too rash. Twelve years later, the usurper died of old age, and once again the Council met. Just weeks shy of his thirtieth birthday, and still the answer came back: too rash.

The sting of rejection surfaced once more, bitter bile at the back of his throat. To be denied his birthright – he might well have been stripped of his title. Likely, his father would do just that when presented with the notorious woman he could now claim as daughter-in-law.

Misery enveloped him, immobilized him. He wanted to shrink away to nothing, to let the humiliation wash him away. Curling into a ball, he curse the council – and his father – for being correct.

His actions were rash. Those of someone living in the moment, in the NOW, rather than looking at the big picture.

Twenty minutes later, Celeste returned from her bath, smelling of sunshine and daisies. She could not wait to leave for her new home, the family estate in Lincolnshire. Having little patience for the various tantrums of men, she ignored the ridiculous self-pity taking place upon her large bed.

“Tell me husband,” she said, relishing the word she never thought to acquire, ”when do we set for home?”

“Home? You mean Summer Haven?” He referred to the official name of the family estate; why would she wish to go there? “You wish to leave the glitz and glamour of London for an estate in the wilds of Lincolnshire?”

“I told you at the start: I wish to reinvent myself. It is time the past became The Past. I will come to London in a few years, once my notoriety has died down. Until then, I shall immerse myself in peaceful anonymity.” Looking him square in the eye, she continued, “I want respectability, my lord. You didn’t win me over with foolish promises of love but rather staid friendship. It is all I want.”

“You think marriage to me will bring you respectability?” Clearly, the king’s madness was catching.

Hours later, Thomas stood at the door of Celeste’s comfortable home, saying good-bye to the last of the wedding celebration attendees. Not friends, as she had mistakenly called them. If he were to take away anything from this, Thomas understood at least two things: his wife held unending charm and poise, and these were no friends of his.

What kind of person leaves their respectable wife at home to take their doxy to a wedding celebration, he wondered.

Celeste bore the challenge well. Rather than shrieking in the manner of a boorish fishwife, she stood strong, smiling graciously.

Closing the door on the back of the last guest, Thomas expected to be met with a wife channeling that fishwife. Instead, he found Celeste helping clear the last remnants of the meal from the table in her small dining room.

Standing at the dining room entrance, Thomas marvelled at the dark beauty of the woman he now called wife. She was too dark to be considered a Diamond, with her swarthy skin and inky locks. Harley might be married to the Dragon Queen already, but Thomas knew he had the prettier bride. Likely, the bride Harley took to bed would be a whey-faced inbred monster. He was definitely coming out on top.

Friendship. She wanted his friendship. Likely no one before him valued her mind. And why should they not be friends? Marriage to a friend sounded undeniably better than an arranged marriage with a stranger.

With a smile, Thomas found himself letting go of the bitter feelings and anger. Life is too short for such nonsense,he thought.

“Where would you like to travel for our honeymoon, wife? The sands of Egypt? Perhaps the wilds of Africa? The world is yours for the taking, my dear.” Pulling his wife close, Duncan grew hard as lust surged through him.

“Must we go anywhere? Can we not spend our honeymoon at  Summer Haven?” Celeste moaned as Thomas’ tongue trailed down her neck.

 

Thomas Wakes Up

Sunlight filtered through the gauzy linen curtains, hitting Thomas in the face. With a groan, he blocked the glare of light with one hand while the other searched blindly for the glass of water. Bolt always left one for him after a night of drinking and smoking; it was what a good valet did.

Then it hit him: Bolt knew better than to draw the curtains when his lordship was hungover. And his window coverings would never have the effrontery to be the pale yellow that he caught a glimpse of when he peeked between long fingers.

Where the hell am I, he thought to himself.

Or, aloud, he corrected.

“You are in my bedchamber.” The sultry voice came from beneath the covers next to him. Shoving aside the fine satin sheets to reveal her naked form, the female said, “No. Make that our bedchamber, husband.”

Duncan recalled the sting of rejection when the Dragon Horde council had elected Baldwin Tosca as Elder. The aching loss of the Dragon bride filled his chest once again, a stabbing ache that left him wincing at the memory. They should have been his, damn it.

Instead of being crowned in glory and adulation; instead of waking next to the fair bride, he had slunk off to London and buried his pain in a bottle of brandy, losing himself in the arms of Celeste Mannerly. Rumored to have once been mistress to the Mad King, she was rather selective of those she brought into her bed.

What a lucky fool he was.

But he would never have — no, what she said was impossible. This was a trap, and he would not succumb, no matter how luscious the fruit.

Running an appreciative eye over the dusky skin that revealed her questionable ancestry, Duncan felt himself growing hard. Telling himself he would rectify the confusion later, the Marquis of Blacke pulled the laughing woman close, his hand trailing down her flat stomach as his tongue blazed across her neck.

With an earthy chuckle, the dancer pushed away from him. Padding across the floor, she tossed a wicked grin over her shoulder before disappearing behind the ornate dressing screen in one corner. “Plenty of time for that later, ducks.”

The sensual rustle of cool silk sliding down warm skin assaulted his ears. “Don’t bother covering yourself, Celeste. I’ve a mind to spend the day in bed, and I would hate to ruin any of your frippery by tearing it off,” he said, appalled at the raging lust consuming him, yet eager to slake that lust.

Walking back into view, a black silk kimono clinging to her famous curves, Celeste said, “We have guests arriving in an hour, husband. Your friends from last night, in fact. And my solicitor.”

His friends? Why would they come here? More memories from the night before rolled through his mind: the small house in a quiet, respectable neighborhood, the coach ride there, and worse: his fumbling attempts to undress her in that coach.

None of which explained why she kept calling him husband. Reaching to pull on his breeches, a shining piece of gold caught Duncan’s eye. No, not just a piece of gold. A gold band on his ring finger.

A wedding band.

“Where is my ring?” The question sounded stupid to his own ears, but it was too late to take it back. This had to be a mistake. A joke. A prank.

Before Celeste could answer, the maid arrived with a tray. “The bath is ready, my lady.” A blush stole across the young girl’s plain face as she caught sight of Duncan, sitting naked on the bed. Instead of shrieking, however, she just dipped a slight curtsy as if the sight of a naked man in her mistress’ bed was nothing new.

And it hit him suddenly. He remembered every single word uttered and action taken the previous night.

He was married.

He was married to a woman who had once bedded the Mad King.

He was married to a gypsy dancer.

And it had been his bloody idea.

Warning!!

This is not, as stated previously, a typical romance. There is no happy ever after for Celeste and Thomas, only the consequences of their actions. They made their bed, and now they have to sleep in it.

Thomas has been raised under the assumption that he will be the next Horde Elder, and with it, he will gain the Dragon Queen for bride. Instead, he has seen both the title and the bride handed to his closest friend, Baldwin Tosca, Lord Harley.

Enraged and embarrassed, Thomas flees to London. There to drown his misery in booze and women and gambling, he wakes up to find himself married to Celeste Mannerly, the most notorious dancer in all of England. Rumor has even placed her in the bed of the Mad King.

Celeste, of questionable birth and antecedents, knows she is being used to send a message, but she cares not. She has grown weary of the life of a courtesan, and wishes to escape to the anonymity of a quiet, country life. Boy, the things she doesn’t know about country life!

They vow to make theirs a happy marriage; one filled with friendship if not love. But Thomas can never forgive her for not being the Dragon Queen, and she cannot forgive him for the endless humiliations he heaps upon her.

So, there we are. Two adults who made a mistake in a time before quickie-divorces. And they are adults. He is almost thirty, she – well, a lady never tells.

This is not an outlined story, although I am going to try. This is, at its heart, an experiment; a way to discover more about my hero. I might add one for my heroine. Her back story is just as tragic, and even entwined with that of Duncan, her hero.