When Catriona’s eyes opened next, the beautiful man was gone. Her skin felt refreshed, clean, smooth. Too smooth. She rubbed her hands up and down her arms and realized the utter absence of hair. Eyes widening, she reached lower to find a remodeled body, taut and youthful and hairless. Turning her head, she felt the slide and heard the rustle of hair. But her hair—at least as she remembered it—wasn’t long. It certainly wasn’t black as a crow’s wing. Even more disturbing, her smooth, satiny skin appeared as though very lightly dusted with colorless body glitter. She rubbed her arm. No, the glitter could not be felt and did not wipe off.
Good Lord, I sparkle. What in the hell happened to me?
Her belly growled and she realized she was ravenous.
“My lady, I have food for you,” a melodious soprano announced softly.
Catriona turned her head to see a lovely young woman approaching with a wooden tray. The delicately fashioned tray held a steaming bowl, a cup, and a pitcher. She struggled to sit. The young woman set the tray upon a small table that Catriona hadn’t noticed and said, “Allow me to assist.”
With gentle competence, the young woman helped Catriona into a sitting position. She retrieved the tray and settled it over her legs.
“It has been too long since you ate, my lady, at least six days.”
Catriona inhaled sharply with surprise. Six days was an eternity to go without food or drink. No wonder her belly thought her throat had been cut.
“Water,” she croaked, horrified at the rusty state of her voice and the parched nature of her throat.
The woman poured water from the pitcher and held the silver cup to her lips. “This is a draft from the Pool of Dreams. It will aid in your recovery.” She tipped the cup and Catriona obediently swallowed the pleasantly cool, fizzy liquid that drizzled into her mouth. “Drink it all, my lady.”
Catriona drank, too thirsty to disobey.
Then the young woman held a spoon to her mouth even as Catriona focused inward upon the warmth and other feelings stirring her blood. She attempted to take the spoon to feed herself, but the woman’s gentle touch easily prevented success. Catriona frowned to know that she could not resist even the slightest bit without her strange new body giving way to defeat. So she obediently opened her mouth and let the woman feed her.
“What is this?” she asked. She wrinkled her brow, knowing that the words she spoke were not English, but a language she had never heard before.
“The court has a pretty name for it, but my family calls it porridge,” the young woman replied with a smile. “I sweetened it with raisins and honey. Do you like it?”
“It’s good,” Catriona replied honestly, although she’d never particularly liked Cream of Wheat, oatmeal, or grits. Perhaps it was so good because she was so hungry?
Spoonful by slow spoonful, she finished the bowl and found herself full to bursting. And drowsy.
“Sleep, my lady. My lord will attend to you soon.”
“Who?” Catriona muttered sleepily as she drifted back into slumber.
“Sleep well, my lady”
When Catriona next awoke, the young woman sat beside her plying her needle to some exquisite embroidery. The handsome man stood at the foot of the bed, watching her. She realized that his white hair fell loose almost to his waist. He wore a loose, flowing white shirt tucked into snug leather breeches. A deep green sash wrapped around his narrow waist, the fringed ends dropping from a complicated knot at his left hip nearly to his knees. Tall brown boots encased his lower legs.
Thelan blinked when his mate opened her eyes. They were purest violet, a precious color that only have been bestowed by the swifts.
“How do you feel, Beloved?” he asked gently, even as his body responded to her lucid state.
“Confused,” Catriona admitted warily, her voice still rusty. “May I have some water, please?”
The young woman poured water from the silver pitcher into the silver cup and held it to her mouth. The man quickly inserted himself between the two females and held the cup for her.
“Drink,” he bade her, his emerald eyes glinting with banked fire.
The young woman handed him a bowl of porridge in which were swirled streaks of dark red. He dug in with a spoon and held it to her lips. She obediently ate.
“This tastes different.”
“The porridge has been strengthened,” the man explained, not mentioning just how it had been strengthened.
Catriona took another mouthful, swallowed, and said, “Who are you?”
“I am Thelan,” the beautiful man replied. “Will you give me your name?”
Book Promos From Authors Attending The Springfield OH Book Fair
I missed last week's blog challenge because of vacation. I didn't go to an exotic paradise, but I did (for the most part) sever my connection to the computer. The brief separation was glorious.
So, here we are, nose to the grindstone once again and diving into this week's writing prompt: creative outlets. Yeah, these are usually found under the term "hobby."
My main creative outlet--writing--was, for a very long time, merely a hobby to be picked up and put down as the mood struck. Circumstances caused a decade-long hiatus in that creative outlet, but it slowly revved back up and stepped into public with the publication of Rowan, the first book in my Tree of Life series. It wasn't intended as the first book of trilogy.
So, writing has become a business, although not much of it can truly be considered creative. What else do I do that might fall under that adjective?
I cook. I seldom use a recipe and frequently cobble meals from whatever I find in the kitchen. The results usually turn out palatable, but sometimes not. I never remember what I did, so "chicken surprise" or "beef surprise" is never the same way twice.
A few years ago I took a class in stained glass. I found it interesting and enjoyed it, but soon realized that working with things that have sharp points and sharp edges isn't my forte. Still, it's an experience that may very well make it into a story, part of that statement "I know a little bit about a lot of things."
My husband enrolled me in a pottery course. I've long been interested in wheel pottery and, as a kid, spent hours with modeling clay. Now I've got the chance to learn and discover whether I have any aptitude for this craft. The first class is this week. Exciting!
I'd enjoy learning to paint. Back in high school I dabbled with water colors, but received no instruction on technique. I sketched all the time, trying out pastels (dismal results) and charcoal pencils (much better). Unfortunately, my skill of my hands never matched the images in my mind. Like most such things, I was better than most, but never quite good enough.
My mother tried to teach me to embroider. Let's just say that didn't go well. She taught me how to sew. I fought her every step of the way, but she managed to pound that skill into me. I still dislike sewing.
Mom also attempted to impart a love of gardening, which only half-succeeded. I love flower gardens; I loathe digging in the dirt. It's a good thing my husband tolerates yard work. The flowerbeds are his responsibility: I decide on the posies and he plants them.
For several years I did adopt one of my mom's former hobbies: Christmas ornaments. Following her example, I used pins, beads, sequins, ribbons, lace, and Styrofoam forms to create sparkly, handmade Christmas ornaments. Most of them turned out well, but look amateurish next to those Mom crafted.
I sure as hell didn't inherit her talent for interior decorating. I think Mom could have made a great career as an interior decorator.
Another potential interest is glass blowing. That's hot, hard, heavy work--physical work--which usually defeats me. But I love art glass and would enjoy at least getting a taste of hands-on experience in how it's made. Maybe next year, if the attempt at pottery fizzles.
By Nancy Flinchbaugh
Every morning for 20 years now, I wake early to write. I call it my spiritual practice. I hope something you read in my books will guide you on your path, scatter some seeds of faith, hope and love, challenge you to unfold your own deep calling to live an abundant life, and find solutions for the challenging times in which we live.
During the adventure of writing my first novel, Revelation in the Cave (2012), my husband and I journeyed to Greece and Turkey. I wanted to revisit the early church, the Roman City State of Ephesus, and the Greek Island of Patmos. I like to call that book a cross between the Da Vinci Code and the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, shedding new light on the book of Revelation. The book introduced the MAMs, the Magnificent and Marvelous Book Club, an eclectic group of ladies who go on an archaeological dig in Turkey, digging up scrolls from the first century.
The seeds were planted for my second novel, Revelation at the Labyrinth, when I studied contemplative leadership with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. I created the Living Vine Labyrinth with friends at First Baptist Church and fell more and more in love with God’s creation of our Earth. I began to hear the cry of the Earth and heard a call to speak up. Other inspiration came as I participated with the local “Circles,” building bridges out of poverty and as I journeyed with a good friend struggling with ovarian cancer.
Instead of going to distant lands, I explored new worlds within my own community. I discovered our wonderful spiritual community of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Ala-non. I signed up to be a mentor in a new Christian recovery/re-entry house for women called Safe Harbor. I became a certified labyrinth facilitator with Veriditas.org, facilitating labyrinth experiences at my church, at the Cancer Center, at the prison, and at Peace Camp. The labyrinth, once a place of pilgrimage in the middle ages, led me on a pilgrim journey as well, as my new novel about the Earth unfolded.
I invite you to read my second novel, Revelation at the Labyrinth (eLectio Publishing: 2017), and join the Magnificent and Marvelous Book Club (the MAMs) on an adventure as they launch a re-entry organic farm for women in recovery. The ancient pilgrim path of the labyrinth leads them all through personal healing and redemption, while finding hope for the planet as they encounter the turmoil of domestic violence, addiction, cancer, and climate change. Thomaseena, a victim of domestic violence, is erroneously sentenced to prison for killing her husband in self-defense. When she is released from prison, Thomaseena moves into the MAMs’ re-entry organic farm and begins to reconnect with the earth, seeking healing, recovery, and a new life path. Meanwhile, MAM Molly Mabra journeys with breast cancer. This lively story of love and transformation will keep you reading and thinking about possible ways to creatively build a future together.
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Join Holly Bargo
Whether you’re into fantasy, mystery, romance, devotional reading or you’re looking for fun and unique children’s books, this event is for you!
The Mid-Ohio Indie Author Book Expo features works of fiction and non-fiction by local self-published authors. It is a free event for attendees but there is a fee for participating authors/illustrators (registration deadline – August 4, 2018).
Daughter of the Twin Moons
Cancer. The terminal diagnosis paralyzes Catriona. Both saved and imperiled, she must navigate a new, immortal life as mate to the Captain of the Seelie Palace Guard.
In obedience to the oracle’s command, Thelan abducts a human woman and takes her to the Deepwood where she is unmade and remade by ancient magic. Thus given his mate, he quickly finds himself enamored of her spirit, intelligence, and uncommon beauty. She arouses his passion and challenges both his control and authority at every turn. Thelan needs to win the heart and trust of this untraditional female whom he’s determined to keep and protect from those who covet control over the moon-born’s legendary influence.
Catriona let them have their way with her, obeying their softly spoken instructions as they massaged her limbs while they cleaned her body. She detected no prurience, no salaciousness, in their care for her and floated on a cloud of pure physical pleasure. She luxuriated in the warm languor, not particularly paying attention to her caretakers’ gentle splashing in the pool until she realized that their play with each other was not so innocent. She closed her eyes against their sexual play until, giggling, the women practically poured her into a long gray gown deceptively simple in its fashion. The neckline swept from collar bone to collar bone. The bodice seams followed the line of the feminine figure to flare at the hip into a full skirt. The hem dragged the floor, immediately darkening when the fabric absorbed the moisture.
“She’s not as tall as one might expect,” the attendant said in dismay as she stared at several inches of wet hemline. “I should find a shorter gown, perhaps in the children’s wardrobe.”
“She was built upon human bone,” Gwenda explained and, with a wave of her hand, dismissed the offer to find a child-sized gown which might be short enough, but would not accommodate adult curves. “The captain appears well satisfied with her small size.”
The attendant smiled slyly. “I would have thought a larger female would be necessary to satisfy one such as he.”
“She is his mate, created for him, tuned to his pleasure.”
Catriona frowned at hearing that. What did Gwenda mean by that? She held her own hand in front of her face, examined the slender, graceful, smoothly skinned appendage that yet glittered faintly as though lit from beneath by myriad twinkling stars. She could not deny that much had changed, but she thought she was still the same person inside the new body—at least her bones were if she understood Gwenda’s oblique reference. She pondered the meaning of the physical change, the extent of the change that made her respond to the handsome captain and forget she had a life, a career, and a family elsewhere. And a date with chemotherapy or hospice. She missed them, didn’t she?
“Will you take her to the dining hall, Gwenda? Or return her to the captain’s suite?”
“The suite for now. She tires easily and must rest.”
“First, take care of her hair, else it will soak the gown.”
The two females escorted Catriona into a warm, arid room and unwound the towel from around her head. Gwenda caught her hair and began running a comb through the long, long strands. Surprisingly, the comb did not catch on any tangles.
Soon—too soon, really—Catriona’s hair was dry. Gwenda efficiently plaited it into a long braid that hung to mid-thigh. Unbound, her hair stretched to her knees.
“Thank you,” Catriona said politely in the new language that came so readily to her tongue.
The attendant nodded acknowledgement and said, “I shall call an escort for you.”
Gwenda, who now tended to her own hair, nodded assent. In a moment, the maid, wearing a moss green dress, and her mistress, wearing a similarly styled gown of pale blue, met a uniformed guard who bowed with stiff precision and allowed the rapidly weakening female on his right to use his strength to walk.
As Gwenda had mentioned, the palace rearranged itself and the return trip to the captain’s suite took less time along a shorter route in accordance to their needs.
Thelan waited for them when they arrived.
“Thank you for escorting my lady,” the captain said with a curt nod of dismissal.
The guard bowed and retreated, steps smooth and quiet and hasty.
“I wondered where you went,” he said quietly in a voice gone soft with menace.
Gwenda turned pale. “My lady felt much recovered and wished to visit the baths,” she replied, head bowed, gaze averted, near to trembling as though she expected a blow.
“Leave her be, Thelan,” Catriona said, drawing his attention away from the maid. “She was only trying to be kind and helpful.”
Thelan’s eyes narrowed at his mate’s acidic tone.
“I am grateful to her,” Catriona added. “And now, I’m hungry.”
Still stinging with the shame of having not anticipated his mate’s hunger after her first awakening, Thelan sprang to fulfill her nutritional needs. He took a chair and drew her into his lap, insisting that she rest against him while he brought choice morsels of fruits and cheeses to her lips.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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