Of Dreams And Nightmares

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Inspiration can come in many forms my lovelies and it varies for each writer and each story they set out to tell. It can be a snippet of a poem, a lyric from a song, or the way a color brightens in the morning light that sets our minds buzzing with insatiable curiosity. For me it’s usually music that strikes a chord, but quite a few of my plotlines have come to me in dreams and nightmares.

Some are beautiful and sad, with brilliant colors and emotions so strong I can still taste them after I wake. But others are so dark and frightening they leave me paralyzed for days after, too afraid to fully comprehend what I’ve seen, but unwilling to forget the story I’ve been told. One dream stands out vividly, and I think always will, with its pain, horror, and unimaginable sadness and unthinkable monsters — the likes of which, I’d never come across before. It pulled me in and refused to let me go, even when I woke up multiple times gasping for breath, I only had seconds before I fell back asleep and the story picked right back up where I left it.

There were people I knew in this dream and some places I recognized (markers for characters and settings for the novel, i.e. my best friend was the characters best friend, my love hers etc.) and it was so real. Every moment felt as though it could be my last. There were brief moments of hope followed by crushing pain and always the need to stay alive…to just stay alive no matter what. It was me, but in so many ways it wasn’t, and when I finally woke I knew exactly whose story it was. The character and her story frightened me, intrigued me…and inspired me. I have many WIP’s and planned future stories that happily take up my time and thoughts, but this one is never far from my mind. I hear it’s pain in music and see it in colors that captivate me, and occasionally when, I’m lucky I dream of it again, though it’s never the same dream.

As much as it scared me, I understand now how incredibly helpful that first dream was, it made me understand…it forced me to see things I didn’t want to see. And now I find myself longing to dream it again, to see it as vividly as I did years ago, as it’s faded a bit with time, and there are certain things I don’t remember as clearly. But that is the way of dreams and of inspiration, it strikes white-hot for only a moment before slowly turning into a slightly blurry, haunting notion that tickles your mind and leaves you scrabbling to catch a wisp of it before it disappears forever.

What inspires you my lovelies? Has it ever been a dream or a nightmare?

*Originally posted on 2/26/2014 in response to a Daily Prompt.

The Water Maiden: A Realm of Light Short Story

The closest to restless spirits my Realm of Light  novels (Believe, Prophecy, Ashes, and others) get…

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Water Maiden

She had lurked in the rolling, pounding depths for nearly a thousand years, a presence under the undulating surface with no true form beyond a vague sense of being. Lolling and drifting, she spread like a drop of ink, but never left the waters surrounding the ruins of what had been a mighty castle, the home of the ancient gift-bearer kings. Her memory, still perfect after all this time, recalled those days when the iolite-laced walls were tall, unscarred, and whole and when torches blazed with life and light. She had been born here, in that time once upon a time and had spent her life among the people who had lived within the stone walls. She’d walked the derelict stone corridors, smelled the fresh sweetness of the night-blooming flowers in the gardens, sat on a throne in the great hall, and slept in a lonely tower. That tower with secret winding steps…

She had lived here, loved here, hated here, and died here.

And now she waited, as she had waited for a millennia. All but one had passed beyond her senses, vague as they were beneath the icy waters. When she first woke to this existence all those years ago, it was with no knowledge of what she waited for, merely the awareness that she must wait. It did not take long for understanding to come. At first she felt them almost unceasingly. For centuries the consciousness of what she’d set into motion filled her until the flood slowed into a trickle, then a slow, steady drip. Friends, enemies, strangers, she felt them all and knew she would continue here until all those alive when she last drew breath were gone from the Realm of Light. The passing centuries gave her time to think, to reflect, to know. Her new life was no punishment, but a chance to heal, not just her own Spirit but countless others. And so she waited as the waves washed her Spirit clean of hate. They broke over her, broke within her, shattering and reforming her with each new tide. There was pain but she welcomed it. Centuries more passed with endless tides until only one remained. Only one. Just one.

Until now.

He was here, on the beach beneath the ruins. She sensed it. She sensed him.

At last, she and the water breathed with a releasing sigh. A ripple stirred across the frothy surface as she drifted upwards, gathering into a solid form that coalesced in the breaking of a white-capped wave. Suddenly she was, again for the first time in an age.

He watched the crashing waves, watched the violet-blue water crash down upon itself and turn white. He saw the water gather and fall and the woman form from the sparkling droplets. The fire of her hair caught the scant sunlight and shone, as vibrant as he remembered. It framed her ivory face beckoningly, and for that moment he believed she could truly be a sea siren, a being born of the depths and wilds of the water. By all the Spirits she was just as achingly lovely as ever, so beautiful, pain lanced across his chest, leaving him breathless. Her full wine-colored lips pursed in thought and her golden eyes bore into him as only hers could, leaving him feeling foolishly young – a sensation he had neither felt nor remembered in nearly a lifetime.

For moments they did nothing but stare, lost in thoughts and memories at the sight of each other. Years, centuries, a lifetime faded until they were once again the two people from a story lost to time.

Unused to speech, she fought to remember how to form the words that she must. With slow deliberateness, she opened her lips and thrilled at her voice – a strange tinny thing she no longer recognized above the waves. “Hello little boy,” she said with only a hint of mockery. Kindness, familiarity, and a deep respect echoed in her words. He grinned nervously and ran an elegant hand through his short dark hair. There was still something within her, even now, that left him with that embarrassing sense of immaturity. No one but she had ever made him feel that way, and now nearly a thousand years later he slipped back into the awkwardness of youth.

She smiled seeing his sudden uncertainty and knew she was a bit naughty to tease him so. The boyish vampyre she had known was no longer, this man before her was a hero, a legend in his own right. Even she had heard whispers of his greatness on the depths of the darkness. She had seen the possibility of such a man shining in the boy’s eyes all those years ago and now felt a strange pride in knowing he had become the man she thought he could be.

“I knew it would be you,” her voice carried across the water effortlessly to where he stood on the shore. The air was still and cool against her exposed flesh, but she did not shiver in her thin silk gown. The surging water kept her warm, tugging and pulling at her waist before rising again to brush the underside of her breasts. The tide was slow, hypnotic. “I knew.”

He nodded, not bothering to ask how, there was no point. He had known she was here, not at first, but over the centuries he felt her, heard tales of a water maiden, and knew she waited.

“I’m sorry to have kept you,” he replied, not sorry to have lived his life but that hers had not been. That she had been kept from him for all this time, even after all they had suffered before those last dark days. The injustice of it flashed like a fire beneath his pale skin. Had they not suffered enough in life? Was this really…

“Yes,” she nodded peacefully, knowing well where his thoughts were. “This was necessary.”

A stubborn gleam filled his onyx eyes as his sensuous mouth turned downwards. “But…”

“Nothing. What’s done is done my friend, and for a greater purpose than we may ever understand.” Spoken aloud, the truth of it all reverberated deep in their bones. The last of whatever kept her tied to the sea faded, releasing her to take one small step towards land, towards the fallen castle, towards him. One step, then another, and another until breathless and invigorated she stood in the shallows with only wavelets lapping at her toes. She hesitated then, frightened now that freedom was so close. What if she had it wrong? What if it was taken from her now when she wanted it most?

The man who had been the greatest vampyre king noted her sudden fear and held out a strong hand for her. The foolish youth was gone, he was once again the man he had been for centuries now. The man who never forgot the suffering and strength of this woman he had so missed.

She took his hand with a determined grin, exhilarated at his strength as well as her own as she stepped onto the sandy shore, walking a few steps until she was sure she was free. Joy, elation, excitement, and a small taste of sadness at leaving her home nearly overwhelmed her, crashing over her head like a breaking wave. He squeezed her hand questioningly and realizing she held her breath, she let it go, opening her eyes. Her lips curled into an adventurous, triumphant smile that was mirrored on his own up-turned lips.

“Are you ready My Lady?” he asked, feeling now an insistent tug on the edge of his consciousness. It urged him onward, their time was almost at an end. He did not want to forget her, but perhaps oblivion would right the wrongs of all those years ago. Perhaps they would all do better, be happier, this time. He certainly hoped so, for their sake if no other.

She felt the same tug, the same hint that time was finally coming to an end on this life. What would the next one bring for them all, all the players in the game that was her old life? “Yes,” she said slowly, turning towards the sun. Whether it was rising or falling, she struck out to meet it and he fell into step beside her. “Yes, I’m ready.”

They walked in silence for a time, the tug growing more persistent with every step, until he spoke one last time. “Did you ever see him?”

“No,” she whispered, picturing his face as she remembered it, knowing this was the last time Elesain would remembered Fallon. Their story was finally over, no one would remember him again as she did now. No one would remember her. With a sigh, she met Treyuston’s gaze as they continued walking, hand in hand.

“But I will.”

*This is set in the same land as my first novel Believe and is a short companion story to a future novel I haven’t written yet. I don’t normally jump ahead to future books (usually, though I have done so a bit with Ashes), but this was playing continuously in my head and I wanted to get it down before it disappeared! Hopefully it’s not too confusing, though I know you have no idea who these people are or what happened to them. Suffice it to say the title of the novel this goes with is Wrath, and that should give you some insight 😀

Rediscovering Twilight

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The first time I read Twilight (the vampire hit by Stephenie Meyer) I was seventeen and in my senior year of high school. It had been out long enough that the hardback version of New Moon was released and Twilight was already available in paperback, so I figure I was about a year behind publication wise. But it was New Moon that caught my eye as I perused my local Barnes and Noble (aka Heaven) looking for new reads after my birthday. I immediately stopped and stared at the absolutely gorgeous cover: a feathery white and red flower against a inky black background. Simple, yet effective. And sooo pretty. I just had to take a peek. Just to see if it might be worth my time.

The summery was evocative and exciting (for some reason when it said she cut her finger at a party, I automatically thought she cut it cooking at a party and was like: why on earth are you using sharp utensils at a vampire party?!) and I knew this book was destined to be mine…until I saw that it was a sequel. Sigh, defeated by my own neurosis. I admittedly have a thing my lovelies about reading books in order NO MATTER WHAT. I just can’t handle picking up the third or fourth or even the second book first, I’m just not built that way. And I never read the last page first either. Sacrilege. But anyway…New Moon went back on the shelf and I reluctantly picked up Twilight and gave it a look over. The cover wasn’t as pretty. It was gothic-looking and just odd. So was this really the book for me? I looked back at the other cover, so tragic and romantic. That cover was for me, so if I had to read this book to get to that one then so be it. I promptly bought the book and went along on my merry way none the wiser that I had just purchased one of those life-altering books we all dream about as avid readers.

Skip forward a few days until I actually start reading the book and within a few pages I’m hooked! Screw the pretty flower-covered book, this was my kind of story! Impossible romance, thrilling danger, paranormal themes of a non-scary nature, and a sparkly love interest! Where the hell had this book been all my life?! You know how much I love sparklies my lovelies, it’s a weakness, I can’t help it! Edward was perfection itself and Bella was so adorably relatable, I couldn’t help but love them both. And Charlie. And the Cullen family. I read every spare minute I could find, even going so far as to read during class, which is about as close to teenage rebellion as I ever got. It was like riding a feels roller-coaster. I was on an emotional high for three days, loving every second of it and prepping my mom for reading it next — she very quickly fell in love with the book as well and Edward in particular.

Twilight was a beacon of happiness and possibility for me at a time when I was stressed out with college applications, writing endless scholarship essays, and knowing that every day that passed was one day closer to me leaving my family for college. It gave me something to look forward to and was something my mom and I bonded over book-wise. Twilight was my second Harry Potter experience. It was something I latched onto and wouldn’t let go of for anything. I picked up countless vampire novels afterward, so thrilled to have some new reading area opened up to me, and when I finally did go away to FSU, Twilight started many a conversation in class and instantly bonded complete strangers with their love of Edward and this poignant love story. Life as a Twi-hard was fantastic.

Until the first movie premiered.

As soon as I discovered a movie was in the works — which was early on because the author’s website was a daily stopping point for me — I was uncontrollably excited. I eagerly waited for every new piece of casting information and interview tidbit and very quickly became addicted to IMDb — the king of all movie information websites. Needless to say, when tickets went onsale, I ordered mine online (which was still a new kind of thing at the time) and a group of friends and I arrived at the theater opening night breathless with anticipation. I settled into my seat, the lights dimmed, and I waited for Edward to appear. And sadly, he did appear — to the applause from the entire theater no less — but he so clearly wasn’t Edward. Or at least, not the Edward I knew.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The smooth, velvet-voiced and mercurial-tempered Edward Cullen was now a rude, I-hate-my-life, depressed teenage boy. And Bella was just as bad. Where were her constant smiles and cute awkwardness? Where was his ability to dazzle every woman in a ten-foot radius, and his love of arguing playfully just to get a rise and blush out of Bella? Everything was so sharp, every sentence they spoke to one-another cutting instead of sparring and sweet. And their intimate getting-to-know-you moments (blood testing in Bio anyone) were completely destroyed, rewritten into laughable, hard-to-watch needless drama (I know what you are. Say it…out loud. Vampire.). No…just no. It didn’t work and I left the theater vaguely disappointed but unsure why that was or how it could possibly be. I was supposed to love everything Twilight, so why didn’t I love this? Something was definitely wrong in my Twilight universe.

Things only got worse when the second movie was released. Presented with a down-right depressing and condescending Edward that I just couldn’t stand, I switched teams, becoming a Jacob fan. And let me tell you that caused MOUNTIANS of drama at home when I said as much to my mother. Other friends of mine came home from college with completely new religious beliefs but I came home a Jacob fan and a feminist, what the hell had happened?! My love affair with Twilight was flickering, the movies completely blurred the books for me until I was just too annoyed to reread them because I couldn’t handle getting aggravated by Edward all over again. I couldn’t see my book Edward anymore, only the representation on the T.V. screen. And for more personal reasons, I was discovering I didn’t like controlling men, and Edward definitely had control issues.

By the time the fourth and final book arrived, I was a die-hard Jacob fan and totally enraged at the cop-out that was Renesmee Cullen. I can handle Jacob not getting the girl and all because lets be honest, we all knew he wasn’t going to get the girl, but it was like the author didn’t have the guts to give Jacob an unsatisfactory ending and created this whole new love interest out of frenzied desperation. Think about it, how awkward is it going to be to tell your future love that you had a MASSIVE thing for her mother back in the day, but hey, you know, you’re great too. I’m totally not settling for second best here or anything. Sigh, she was cute in the movie and all, but really just let Jacob go off with Leah and Seth and start a new life slightly disappointed but free to live his own epic love story in the future. But no, you had to shackle him to the kid of his almost-true love and call that acceptable. Nope. Not for me.

Grrr.

So why bring all this up with you now my lovelies? Legitimate question. Well after years of not reading the books and only watching the movies when I had to, I got the random urge to try the books again. Perhaps it was because of all the tenth anniversary hoopla I saw online, but I decided to at least give them another try, just to see if anything was salvageable from my former Twilight ardor. I started reading this past week, forcing myself to put aside all my anger and annoyance which flared to life every now and then when a book scene and the movie scene merged together in my head. Thankfully, this happened only a handful of times.

So what did I find? Was the book everything it was originally? Well yes and no. Yes, in the fact that it was a sweet, teenaged love story and that Edward was once again the boy I vaguely remembered at this point. And although I still had to remind myself to not instantly dislike him, I could see the vampire I fell in fictional-love with again. And Bella was so much happier than she ever is in the movie versions. It was nice, like a cute little memory newly rediscovered. But it also wasn’t the epic drama I thought it was at seventeen. I could now see the somewhat laughable nature of it when they basically fall in insta-love and some of the more creepier aspects of their relationship. But that’s more me growing into an adult than any fault of the book I think. And yes, the writing was not the brilliant prose I remembered, but it wasn’t horrible either. There were definitely way too many descriptions of Edward’s beauty and his likeness to an angel, but you know, in the end, it’s a book for TEENAGERS, it doesn’t have to be perfect, especially for an adult reader. I can appreciate it for what it gave me all those years ago and for the cute story it is to me now. And actually there were some segments of writing that are downright lovely. And I didn’t completely hate Edward! So I count that as a win.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

All that being said, I’m starting New Moon now, so we’ll see how long my new-found Edward acceptance really lasts. I was actually thankful that Jacob wasn’t a major presence in the first book, it gave me time to remember Edward and why I liked him, but we all know New Moon is Jacob’s book, so we’ll see how it goes. 😉 In the end I’m really happy that I gave this book another try, it opened back up a world that I once loved. And even though I can’t fully fall back into that ever-green Forks-centered world, it’s nice to visit again and see some long-lost friends and places. And as tempted as I am to re-watch the movies now to see if I have the same success, I’m going to wait until I finish reading the books, just in case movie-Edward pisses me off again. Though I really love all the movies except the first one, the rest are wonderful for the most part, but I just don’t want to risk movie-Edward ruining all my progress here!

What about you my lovelies, have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite book/character/or series? Did you ever try to revisit them again? What books have changed your life? Be sure to let me know and happy reading my lovelies!

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Thirteen

If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Thirteen

The sun was setting in a blaze of citrine and ruby light into the churning cobalt sea beyond the massive diamond-paned windows when Ratha finally stepped into the glorious St. Clare library. Maddie, Joona, and an unusually weary-looking Eric sat near the warmth and light of a crackling fireplace on the far side of the room, soft conversation enveloping them with the love of longstanding friendship. Each looked up when the door opened, their words halting as Ratha strode towards them, a scowl tugging her lips downward and darkening her bright eyes. Eric St. Clare rose from his seat and moved to meet her with a warm smile, pulling her to him in a brotherly hug that squeezed what little breath she had left from her lungs. Even after all this time, he worried for her safety and to see her and Madeline alive again and home brought him such fierce joy. When he finally released her it was only to lead her to an overlarge chair beside Maddie and to fetch her a glass of port.

Doing her best not to wheeze, Ratha sank into the chair with relief, breathing in as deeply as she could manage in her borrowed gown. She accepted the port with a small smile and took a deep drink, letting the liquid burn it’s way down her throat to her belly, warming her from the inside out. In brilliant contrast to the jagged fire inside her, the crystal goblet was cool and perfectly smooth in her rough, weathered hands. She bit back a rye smile at the sight of her scarred hands holding something so perfect and fragile before setting the goblet down with a decisive clink. Looking back at those before her, she leveled a pointed glare at the red-haired woman sitting before her, her brows arching questioningly.

“Well Joona St. Clare,” she huffed, gesturing down to the emerald gown in disgust. “Why am I in this monstrosity?”

“I think you look lovely Amalee,” Maddie offered with a grin, running an appreciative hand over her own rose pink gown with unabashed pleasure. The sea had yet to take Madeline’s enjoyment of beautiful things and Ratha doubted it ever could. Madeline was born to see beauty in a cruel, sparkling world.

“That’s not the point,” Ratha said with a wave of her hand and a ghost of a smile at her friend’s deserved happiness. But her eyes never left Joona’s. Some new secret lurked beneath their sharp green surface, churning in the depths where love and intellect normally resided. Ratha’s heart beat a little faster. “What is it Joona, what haven’t you told us?”

“There’s a merchant ship moored in our shipyard,” Joona admitted, her mouth a slight grimace. “You’ll have seen it no doubt as you came into port.”

“Yes,” Amalee nodded, thinking back to the ship bearing the garish orange and silver flags with entwined songbirds that had given her pause before she had arrived. A matching grimace turned her mouth downward as well, settling into port with strange ships and crews so close by was never something she enjoyed, but the bulk of the St. Clare’s fortune was made on the seas and ships came and went through their shipyard far too often for it to frighten her away. The vessels never stayed long, and the crews were kept bust unloading a foreign cargo or loading a new one bound for some exotic destination before settling sail on the next earliest tide. Her women had strict orders to stay well clear of the St. Clare shipyard and the men who worked them and the sailors who passed through them. Their names and faces did not need to become known. But her women knew this well and St. Clare had never before felt the need to draw her aside just to mention a ship. Her stomach tightened into a thick fist. “Is it dangerous?”

“No,” Joona said slowly. “But there was a storm at sea some weeks ago and the vessel was badly damaged, the hull breached and a mast snapped in two. The repairs will take some days and in that time the crew will work and sleep aboard their own ship. They will not be a danger to you and yours so long as your women remain out of their way and in their sight. But unfortunately…”

“But unfortunately what?” Ratha demanded, her heart beating so fiercely that sure it would explode out of the confines of her blasted gown at any moment.

“Unfortunately, you have already been noticed. Or rather your beauty has. It seems the Captain was quite intrigued with a certain person, and asked Eric just who the exquisite brunette was wearing men’s trousers and boots as though she was born in them.”

Ratha’s face paled. How on earth did a sailor recognize her as a woman from such a distance, especially with her long hair — her most telling feature — tied up and out of her face?! “What did you tell them?”

Joona held her friend’s gaze, the very air tense with unspoken possibilities before her lips curved upward. “That you were my cousin of course. Fresh from Ireland with a few companions and on the hunt for an English husband to rival my own.”

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Twelve

If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Twelve

A sudden deafening knock shattered Ratha’s morbid recollections and she found herself standing before a large gilt-framed looking-glass, one hand raised to touch the burnished skin beneath her eyes. For a moment the ghost of a lingering bruise darkened her sun-kissed skin before fading back into haunted memory. She shuddered, her stomach roiling sickeningly as the briefest flicker of remembered terror touched her very soul. Ratha purposefully turned away from the mirror, squelching the fear before it took root. It was this place, the past would give her no peace here. She would never feel safe on English soil, no matter how many years since her escape. Perhaps it was a mistake to come back after all.

“Amalee Ratha James!” Madeline called irately from the other side of the bedroom door. “I know you can hear me in there! St. Clare needs to speak with us before dinner so hurry and finish dressing and meet us in the library. Joona’s laid out something for you to wear on the chair near the fire, which I’d wager you haven’t even noticed,” Maddie huffed the last to herself, but Amalee heard her through the door clear enough. “If you need help with the lacing, there’s maid here in the hall.”

Lacing? Ratha flinched, her horror renewing as she turned to investigate the clothes Maddie had rightfully guessed she had not yet noticed, preoccupied as she was with the unnerving eclipse of past and present she always felt in this house. She strode towards the crackling fireplace with misapprehension heavy in her heart before stumbling to a halt with a insuppressibly hiss of displeasure. A sturdy wooden chair stood at the ready, swathed in a vision of frothy, endless emerald silk — the color so deep and vivid the gown nearly burned with a life all its own. Like drops of glistening dew, emeralds and fiery diamonds rained over the bodice and the delicate, gossamer lace net covering the full, wide skirts. The gems sparkled wildly in the dancing firelight, but the corners of Ratha’s mouth turned down in a hearty scowl.

What in the blazing Hell was St. Clare up to?!

*****

Grumbling more than a baited bear, Ratha precariously descended the wide, marble staircase in her borrowed finery, on route to the magnificent St. Clare library. With its dark paneled elegance and diamond-paned floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ever-surging sea below, the library was by far her favorite room in this opulent home. Yet even now, the thought of all those lovely leader-bound books could not rid her of the irritation of drowning in St. Clare’s accursed gown. She pulled at the confines of the gem-encrusted bodice as gently but forcibly as she could as she fought to straighten her shoulders and get in a decent breath of air. The damn gown was pinching her mercilessly and she nearly tripped over the billowing yards of skirts. Again. She yearned desperately for the simple freedom of her fitted leather trousers and the bliss of airy linen shirts. With a misstep of her borrowed heeled shoes, she toppled sideways, righting herself at the last moment, swearing eloquently like the sailor she truly was. And boots. She desperately missed her boots.

After six years at sea, Ratha had lost all appreciation for and what little understanding she had of, the beautiful gowns worn by her sex. With her father’s wealth in relative tatters her whole childhood, she’d grown up in plain, simple gowns and serviceable boots, and after she left home for England, Derek certainly never liked her so fully clothed as all this… So she had been quite happy to trade dresses for trousers and confinement for freedom and in the years since, the occasions she’s had since to wear such frippery were few and each heartily despised.

But it was more than the mere fact that clothing was uncomfortable, it was dangerous. The gown was heavy and far too long should she need to run, and she could barely breathe in such a tight bodice — though she congratulated herself on her own firm refusal to wear the whale-bone corset Joona provided — and more importantly, there was no place to conceal her weapons in a garment such as this. She felt the loss of her array of array of hidden blades usually latched to wrist, thigh, ankle, and stomach, as well as the elegant promise of her rapier on her hips, and the blunt surety of the pair of pistols strapped to her belt. Were it not Joona’s own gown, Ratha would have cut slits into the skirts and other strategic places to hide her smaller weapons before emerging from her room, but as the dress belonged to her friend, she resisted the temptation. In the end, Ratha was forced to comfort herself with the knowledge that she was not completely defenseless. The smallest of her knives rested securely between her breasts and the pins securing her dark chestnut hair were sharp enough to inflict damage, were she inclined to, as well as the small pistol strapped to her right calf, and the longer sheathed knife on her left.

Perhaps it was foolish to worry so in the home of her trusted friends, but Ratha James was an outlaw in this land, and Amalee Richards an escaped prisoner. Should she be taken as either it would surely mean her death. These gowns were lush, extravagant creations of exquisite, otherworldly beautiful art, but there was no damned, beautiful dress worth her life.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Eleven

If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!

Image From Google.

Image From Google. All Right’s Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Eleven

Suddenly Amalee was exhausted. The turmoil, fear, and abuse of the past months bore down on her all at once and she sunk leadenly into the plush cobalt armchair, closing her heavy, dark eyes.

“We had heard about Maddie,” Joona admitted hesitantly after a few silent minutes. The shock of the evening left her voice thready and strained and even with the light of a cheery fire haloing her, there were dark circles beneath St. Clare’s eyes that had not there a few hours before. “Months ago. You and I knew, after the horror of that sickness, that her chances of bearing children were slim, and it has long been my fear that it indeed left her barren. But I so hoped…she’s so healthy now, I thought maybe in time, her body would continue to heal. No one deserves a child more than she, and she’s always wanted a babe so desperately…” Joona stopped, unable to say more until the clenching sob in her constricting throat subsided. “I knew she would take the news badly so I wrote to her, inviting her to stay awhile here with us. I thought the sight and smell of the sea might restore her. Maddie so loves the sea.”

“Eric and I even called on their home in London when the letters went unanswered but Robert dismissed us at the door without so much as inviting us in to speak of her. He said Maddie was indisposed, desolate, and wished to be left to herself for a time. He looked so wretched, I felt so poorly for them. I wanted to see her, but how could I know he was keeping her from us? What if, in her grief, she truly did not wish to see me? To intrude at such a time, I feared losing her, especially after you… I thought…”

“You thought I abandoned you,” Amalee breathed, her voice barely a whisper. There was so much pain, and she was so weary, but she mustn’t sleep, not yet. It was not safe.

“I’m so sorry, please forgive me! Joona cried, unable to hold back her tears any longer. After fearing for her friends for months and now seeing her fears confirmed she was close to breaking. “I should have known that you would…that you would never…But I missed you and you never wrote me and I did not know what to think! I worried of course, but also feared you no longer desired my friendship now that we were here on English soil, where you have risen so high. But this,” she said, touching the blackish bruise on Amalee’s cheek with soft, careful fingers. “I could never have imagined this.”

“Of course not you foolish thing, there was no way for you to know,” Amalee reminded her weeping friend affectionately, but sternly. “This is not your fault Joona. Nor is it Eric’s. I saw the blame in his eyes before and I see it in yours now and I forbid it. You found your happiness together as man and wife and I refuse to let anyone cause you to regret it.”

“We were going to find you,” Joona confessed, dropping her face into her slender hands and taking a shuddering breath. “After a few months with no word, we knew something must be done. Eric was gong to leave right away but I…” she laid a land on her swollen stomach as a new wave of silent tears slipped down her cheeks. “I discovered I was with child. For months I was horridly sick and I was so frightened, for the baby, for myself. I wanted Eric with me and he stayed. But now, I wish I had left him go. He would have found you. He would have never given up.”

Amalee took her friend’s hand, feeling the chill of the pale skin, and squeezed it tightly. “You needed him here Joona. Eric’s place is here.”

“But if I had been as brave as you,” Joona whispered, her sharp green eyes taking in every bruise, both faded and fresh, on her friend’s beautiful face. “Perhaps he’d have found you before…”

Amalee shook her heavy head minutely, bringing Joona’s words to a halt. “He hit me the first day we stepped off the ship,” she said quietly, her voice touched with sadness, regret, and anger at the madness of it all, at being delivered into the hands of a monster. “Before the carriage left the dock. You couldn’t have stopped him Joona. No one could have.”

Musical Fate

Hello again my lovelies! I stumbled across a new song that I’ve fallen in love with over the past week and I thought I’d share it with you, but before I do let me just ask (for my fellow writers out there), have you ever found a song that just speaks to one of your characters so perfectly it’s kind of scary? Or even just fit a scene or emotion just spot-on and it thrills you but at the same time scares the crap out of you that there are others out there who must think like you (how else would they come us with these amazing songs? I mean they clearly must write them only for the sake of our characters right)? I have this happen often enough, I think my characters love music just as much as I do and they all have pretty specific tastes, and I like to think of it as musical fate.

I love discovering these wonderful songs, but once I do I tend to avoid watching the music videos because I don’t want to be influenced by what I’m seeing onscreen and because I already have my own video playing to these songs inside my head and there’s no way the recording artist has made a more moving video that what my characters are showing me at the moment. Now there are some exceptions to this rule, sometimes I see the video first (like in this case), but very, very rarely does something in the video match up to what I’m thinking.  In the case of my newest musical fate finding, I watched the video purely because Colin O’Donoghue (Hook from Once Upon a Time) was in it and really, need I say more? I was shocked to discover that not only did the song itself seem like it was something to be spoken aloud by my one of my female protagonists in a future WIP, but the video had small things in it that hinted at the story I had in my head, especially the flowers! It took my breath away!

So as a believer in fate and magic I have become firmly attached to this song by Christina Perri and it’s beautiful video, so take a moment if you will and just listen to the words of a hopeful young woman trying to breakthrough to a heartbroken man who’s trying his best not to fall in love again, but failing miserably (at least in my story anyway lol!)

So what do you think, it’s lovely right? Have you ever found a song or video that captures a small moment you have written or plan on writing? Isn’t it amazing and frightening, this little touch of fate?

The Water Maiden

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google.
All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Water Maiden

She had lurked in the rolling, pounding depths for nearly a thousand years, a presence under the undulating surface with no true form beyond a vague sense of being. Lolling and drifting, she spread like a drop of ink, but never left the waters surrounding the ruins of what had been a mighty castle, the home of the ancient gift-bearer kings. Her memory, still perfect after all this time, recalled those days when the iolite-laced walls were tall, unscarred, and whole and when torches blazed with life and light. She had been born here, in that time once upon a time and had spent her life among the people who had lived within the stone walls. She’d walked the derelict stone corridors, smelled the fresh sweetness of the night-blooming flowers in the gardens, sat on a throne in the great hall, and slept in a lonely tower. That tower with secret winding steps…

She had lived here, loved here, hated here, and died here.

And now she waited, as she had waited for a millennia. All but one had passed beyond her senses, vague as they were beneath the icy waters. When she first woke to this existence all those years ago, it was with no knowledge of what she waited for, merely the awareness that she must wait. It did not take long for understanding to come. At first she felt them almost unceasingly. For centuries the consciousness of what she’d set into motion filled her until the flood slowed into a trickle, then a slow, steady drip. Friends, enemies, strangers, she felt them all and knew she would continue here until all those alive when she last drew breath were gone from the Realm of Light. The passing centuries gave her time to think, to reflect, to know. Her new life was no punishment, but a chance to heal, not just her own Spirit but countless others. And so she waited as the waves washed her Spirit clean of hate. They broke over her, broke within her, shattering and reforming her with each new tide. There was pain but she welcomed it. Centuries more passed with endless tides until only one remained. Only one. Just one.

Until now.

He was here, on the beach beneath the ruins. She sensed it. She sensed him.

At last, she and the water breathed with a releasing sigh. A ripple stirred across the frothy surface as she drifted upwards, gathering into a solid form that coalesced in the breaking of a white-capped wave. Suddenly she was, again for the first time in an age.

He watched the crashing waves, watched the violet-blue water crash down upon itself and turn white. He saw the water gather and fall and the woman form from the sparkling droplets. The fire of her hair caught the scant sunlight and shone, as vibrant as he remembered. It framed her ivory face beckoningly, and for that moment he believed she could truly be a sea siren, a being born of the depths and wilds of the water. By all the Spirits she was just as achingly lovely as ever, so beautiful, pain lanced across his chest, leaving him breathless. Her full wine-colored lips pursed in thought and her golden eyes bore into him as only hers could, leaving him feeling foolishly young – a sensation he had neither felt nor remembered in nearly a lifetime.

For moments they did nothing but stare, lost in thoughts and memories at the sight of each other. Years, centuries, a lifetime faded until they were once again the two people from a story lost to time.

Unused to speech, she fought to remember how to form the words that she must. With slow deliberateness, she opened her lips and thrilled at her voice – a strange tinny thing she no longer recognized above the waves. “Hello little boy,” she said with only a hint of mockery. Kindness, familiarity, and a deep respect echoed in her words. He grinned nervously and ran an elegant hand through his short dark hair. There was still something within her, even now, that left him with that embarrassing sense of immaturity. No one but she had ever made him feel that way, and now nearly a thousand years later he slipped back into the awkwardness of youth.

She smiled seeing his sudden uncertainty and knew she was a bit naughty to tease him so. The boyish vampyre she had known was no longer, this man before her was a hero, a legend in his own right. Even she had heard whispers of his greatness on the depths of the darkness. She had seen the possibility of such a man shining in the boy’s eyes all those years ago and now felt a strange pride in knowing he had become the man she thought he could be.

“I knew it would be you,” her voice carried across the water effortlessly to where he stood on the shore. The air was still and cool against her exposed flesh, but she did not shiver in her thin silk gown. The surging water kept her warm, tugging and pulling at her waist before rising again to brush the underside of her breasts. The tide was slow, hypnotic. “I knew.”

He nodded, not bothering to ask how, there was no point. He had known she was here, not at first, but over the centuries he felt her, heard tales of a water maiden, and knew she waited.

“I’m sorry to have kept you,” he replied, not sorry to have lived his life but that hers had not been. That she had been kept from him for all this time, even after all they had suffered before those last dark days. The injustice of it flashed like a fire beneath his pale skin. Had they not suffered enough in life? Was this really…

“Yes,” she nodded peacefully, knowing well where his thoughts were. “This was necessary.”

A stubborn gleam filled his onyx eyes as his sensuous mouth turned downwards. “But…”

“Nothing. What’s done is done my friend, and for a greater purpose than we may ever understand.” Spoken aloud, the truth of it all reverberated deep in their bones. The last of whatever kept her tied to the sea faded, releasing her to take one small step towards land, towards the fallen castle, towards him. One step, then another, and another until breathless and invigorated she stood in the shallows with only wavelets lapping at her toes. She hesitated then, frightened now that freedom was so close. What if she had it wrong? What if it was taken from her now when she wanted it most?

The man who had been the greatest vampyre king noted her sudden fear and held out a strong hand for her. The foolish youth was gone, he was once again the man he had been for centuries now. The man who never forgot the suffering and strength of this woman he had so missed.

She took his hand with a determined grin, exhilarated at his strength as well as her own as she stepped onto the sandy shore, walking a few steps until she was sure she was free. Joy, elation, excitement, and a small taste of sadness at leaving her home nearly overwhelmed her, crashing over her head like a breaking wave. He squeezed her hand questioningly and realizing she held her breath, she let it go, opening her eyes. Her lips curled into an adventurous, triumphant smile that was mirrored on his own up-turned lips.

“Are you ready My Lady?” he asked, feeling now an insistent tug on the edge of his consciousness. It urged him onward, their time was almost at an end. He did not want to forget her, but perhaps oblivion would right the wrongs of all those years ago. Perhaps they would all do better, be happier, this time. He certainly hoped so, for their sake if no other.

She felt the same tug, the same hint that time was finally coming to an end on this life. What would the next one bring for them all, all the players in the game that was her old life? “Yes,” she said slowly, turning towards the sun. Whether it was rising or falling, she struck out to meet it and he fell into step beside her. “Yes, I’m ready.”

They walked in silence for a time, the tug growing more persistent with every step, until he spoke one last time. “Did you ever see him?”

“No,” she whispered, picturing his face as she remembered it, knowing this was the last time Elesain would remembered Fallon. Their story was finally over, no one would remember him again as she did now. No one would remember her. With a sigh, Elesain met Treyuston’s gaze as they continued walking, hand in hand.

“But I will.”

 

*This is set in the same land as my first novel Believe and is a short companion story to a future novel I haven’t written yet. I don’t normally jump ahead to future books (usually, though I have done so a bit with Ashes), but this was playing continuously in my head and I wanted to get it down before it disappeared! Hopefully it’s not too confusing, though I know you have no idea who these people are or what happened to them. Suffice it to say the title of the novel this goes with is Wrath, and that should give you some insight 😀

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Eight

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Eight

It was that day that two of the Irish brides escaped their husbands and fled to the only place they could think of: St. Clare manor. Each had been there a handful of times in their youth and knew that it was close to the sea, some miles from London. Convinced that their third friend must have been treated as badly as they, Maddie and Amalee forced themselves to keep going when their tired bodies wanted to stop, to rest. It took two days to reach the manor, and each girl knew the horror that could be inflicted in just two days, and prayed that they were not too late. It was to their great surprise when, in the pitch blackness they found their way to the manor door and discovered that the lady of the house was in and doing well. Being filthy and strangers, the friends were left to wait outside until Joona came to the door to inspect the two travelers who pleaded an audience with her.

Upon discovering her friends, Joona threw wide the door and pulled them into a private sitting room where Amalee and Madeline rushed to tell their stories and to plead for their friend to join them in escaping their English husbands. It was not until Amalee had finished outlining her idea of stealing inside a ship dressed as men that she noticed her friend’s swelling stomach and the smooth paleness of Joona’s face, unmarred by bruises or hidden beneath powder. She reached a hesitant hand out to settle atop the firm swell and was surprised to feel the strong kick of a baby settling inside its mother.

“You have done what we could not,” she whispered reverently, thinking that she too should be this swollen and would be if not for Derek’s temper.

 

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Seven

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Seven

When a breathless, ragged Amalee had arrived on Maddie’s doorstep she was nearly dismissed without seeing her friend, but luckily Madeline had heard her friend’s voice and had flung herself down the staircase to the foyer. The doorman was dismissed and both women stared at each other silently, taking in the other’s bruised face and wasted form. Neither girl moved, far too close to tears to risk movement. Amalee was the first to recover. “We have to leave.”

Embarrassment clouded Madeline’s beautiful face, “I am not fit to leave this house, I am disgraced beyond forgiveness or repair.” Her voice broke with tears and Amalee strode to her friend and threw her stinging arms around Maddie’s shoulders.

“No,” she whispered fiercely. “It is not us, but them. We have to leave Maddie, now before we are discovered. We’ll find St. Clare and run, they’ll never find us! We’ll go back to Ireland, or the America’s, somewhere where they can’t find us amid the hordes.”

“I’m watched constantly Amalee. I am not to leave without my lord’s permission and he is gone to call upon a friend but I expect them back in an hour at the most. An hour, that’s not long at all. We could never be clear of him in an hour. If I left now, one of the servants would alert him within minutes.”

“Then we’ll only have minutes. Would you rather stay here and be battered or at least try. You have to try Maddie, I can’t do this without you, I could never leave you here. Please, come with me, please, let us leave.”

Madeline stared at her friend’s battered face, whatever horrors, she had faced paled in comparison to Amalee’s and yet Amalee still chose to fight back. How could she let her friend down when her own spirit longed to be free of the pain that had been inflicted upon her by her husband? “Go now,” she said severely, as if dismissing someone beneath her station. Amalee frowned but Maddie lowered her voice so that only her friend could hear, “I will meet you at the corner in five minutes but first I have to do something.”

“You promise?” Amalee urged.

“I promise.”