Wednesday, February 29, 2012

P is for Proposal

So, this is the first of the letters that the characters are entirely original, as in they do not appear in any of my books.

I needed a bit of help naming the girl in this story, so I reached out on FB and had a small contest. One of friends, Kelly, won and named Imena!

So, meet Imena and Halden, who will definitely show up later. I love them and I can't wait to write their full story.

WARNING: This is a sex scene. The first letter that is not PG-13. So, if you're under 18 please don't read it. It's not as detailed as Jensen and Kes (On my Pieces of Me page) but it still...happens. Anyway, you're warned!

Hope it helps w/ midweek blues!

            “I most certainly will not.” His chuckle and rakish grin just made her blood boil even more. She backed away when he caressed her cheek. Halden laughed again.
            “You know you want me.” The statement was the confident tone he always used with her. Her cheeks burned and she took another step back. He spoke the truth, but confirmation would never come out of her mouth. She met his gaze head on.
            “I am a lady.”
            “And I am a knight. Who we are has nothing to do with how we feel.”
            He came toward her, his gray eyes half-lidded. Imena gulped. She couldn’t back away anymore or he would have her against a wall.
            “I’ve seen how you look at me, Imena. Neither of us is na├»ve, love. Let’s do what I know we both want.”
            “Don’t call me that.” She crossed her arms over her chest. Her heart picked up speed as his gaze raked her face, then her body. She trembled. He was right. She did want him. She had from the first time she’d laid eyes on him.
            Halden grabbed her hand and pressed a warm kiss to her knuckles. She tried to yank away but he held her fast, grinning against her skin. “I’ll be gentle,” he whispered.
            “No,” Imena answered, shaking her head. He chuckled again.
            “No? You don’t want gentle?” His brow went up and heat crept up her neck. Her chest heaved, her gown constricting. The fire he’d started in the small fireplace must be doing its job.
            He kept advancing, still holding her hand as she backed up once, then twice. The rough wall of the roadside traveler’s cabin hit her back, jarring her.
Halden was close, but they weren’t touching. She could feel the heat of his body, the contrast with the coolness against her shoulders even more prominent.
            The clean masculine spice of him mixed with the cut wood he’d just put into the fireplace. It swirled around her, heady and inviting.
           She should have known better than to agree to stopping for the night in the tiny building, instead of continuing on until they found a village and an inn. The pouring rain had really been the decision maker for them, but Imena didn’t trust herself with him. Close quarters would only make it worse.
            He wouldn’t force her, she knew him well enough to know that, but one kiss and he wouldn’t have to. They’d played this game for months. He’d just been the one to finally speak up.
            Their skin, hers naturally golden—a trait of most Ascovans—and his pale, as he was from the north, made her think of them entwined. Her eyes were glued to his hand on hers.
            Halden stepped forward, his muscled chest pressing against her breasts. Imena was pinned. His mouth came down on hers and then his tongue was there, pressing, plundering. She melted into him on a moan.
            Imena should stop him, she needed to pull away, but her traitorous body was already on fire for him so she leaned in, her hands seeking, her lips rubbing against his more insistently.
            “I want to hear you admit you want me,” he breathed, pulling away from their kiss and staring into her eyes.
            “I…want…you,” Imena managed, her chest heaving against his, her body flushed with warmth.
            His gray eyes flared and he seared her mouth with another kiss, pulling her away from the wall, hard up against his chest.
            She was on the small bed and he was on top of her in moments, the heady rush wiping conscious thought away. Imena was overwhelmed by him. She strained to hold on when he pulled away, his mouth slanting over hers again.
            “Relax, Imena,” Halden said, amusement in his tone. “I just want to get undressed.” He caressed her cheek, then straightened, yanking his tunic over his head and off. She stared at his bare, muscled chest.
            She was really going to do this. She was about to experience her first intimacy with a knight known to be a womanizer. Was she crazy? Yes, crazy for him. She had been from the start.
            Imena would focus on how he made her feel and worry about her heart later…if it wasn’t already too late.
            They were naked and he was back on the bed with his skin against hers too fast for her to be embarrassed about being naked with a man for the first time in her life. He kissed her into oblivion, his hands stroking, coaxing, tender, and all consuming at the same time. She arched into him, kissed him fiercely and begged for more.
            Halden was gentle as he joined their bodies, as he’d said he would be, but Imena clung to him until the pain passed. He kissed her and whispered her name against her mouth. Her heart pounded against his. He was treating her with such care. More than she could have imagined. Did he feel something for her after all?   
            He started to thrust and she whimpered. “Shhh…” he said with another kiss. “Let me show you…” Halden moaned and Imena shot her arms around his neck, trying to get closer.
            She moved with him, under him, needing more. She cried out as he took them higher and higher. Halden had her ensnared. She rubbed her breasts against his chest and they both groaned. She didn’t want him to stop moving in and out of her.
            Pleasure hit her in a wave and her whole body tightened at the same time Halden shouted his release. He yanked her against his chest and fused their mouths as his erection jerked inside her. She shivered in his arms.
            After cleaning them up, he slid back into the small bed, pulling her into his arms. Holding her close, Halden kissed her forehead, cheeks and lips. His hands stroked, comforted, as they caressed her shoulders, moved down her back and Imena snuggled closer on a sigh. He made her feel wanted, needed. Cherished. Her heart skipped a beat.
            “I’m glad I took a moment to prepare the bed,” Halden joked, the rakish grin back in place. Instead of her normal fury at that particular expression on his face, Imena laughed.
            “Thank you,” she whispered, caressing his chest.
            His eyebrow shot up. “For?”
            “Making…it special.”
            “Imena, love, it was special.”
            She swallowed hard. “Now what?” Her father, younger brother to the Duke of Ascova, had plans for her. Plans that didn’t include giving herself to a knight—outside of marriage no less.
            “What do you mean?”
            “My father expects you to see me to Terraquist, to the King’s Court, safely.”
            “I never said you wouldn’t get there safely. You just won’t need to look for a husband.” Her heart stuttered.
            “What are you saying?”
            “You don’t think I would take your innocence and not wed you?” Halden sounded offended. She looked into those steel orbs.
            “If you intended to offer for me, you could have done it without us leaving Ascova.” He grinned and her heart sped up again.
            “Then I wouldn’t have had you to all to myself. Your father, smart man. He watches you closely.” She snorted and his grin widened.
            “If that were true, he wouldn’t have let you escort me alone.” Halden winked.
            “Oh, love. He hasn’t a clue. I told the others to get lost before we left. Paid them off so I could have you alone.”
            “But why?” Her whisper caught him off guard. His beautiful eyes widened and his hold on her tightened.
            “It’s true, I wanted you…had to have you, but…I…” he looked away. She bit back the urge to gasp. The rogue knight unsure of himself? It was unheard of. “The truth is, I love you. I’ve fallen in love with you.” His words were rushed and when he met her eyes again, she could have sworn his cheeks were pink.
            Imena kissed him. Halden groaned and deepened it. Their tongues dueled and she was lost to him, as she would be always.
            He tore himself away, his gaze hazy with passion as their eyes met. They both panted. “Do I get an answer?” he breathed.
            “Did you ask me a question?” Imena moved even closer, her heart thundering. Evidence that he was ready for her again was hot against her thigh.
            “Lady Imena Gallard, will you be my wife?”
            She grinned, throwing her arms around his neck. “Yes, Sir Halden Gardon, I will.”
            He pressed her gently into the bed and showed her how much he appreciated her answer.
All rights reserved; copyright © C. A. Szarek. The text within may not be reproduced in whole or in part or distributed in any form whatsoever OR SOLD without first obtaining permission from the author.

Monday, February 27, 2012

O is for Oracle

This one takes place the farthest in the past as far as my timeline is concerned. The twins in this story are the mothers of Cera (A, E, M--my heroine in Sword's Call) and Avery (B--also a character in Sword's Call)

Hope you enjoy. It's an important look in the past and a clue to Sword's Call's stoy line. ;)

Happy Monday!

“You have told hold my hands, Evie!” Frustration evident even to herself, Emeralda met her sister’s gray eyes—a mirror of her own.
Actually, it wasn’t just Everalda’s eyes that matched hers. They were identical twins, so they matched from head to toe.
“I don’t want to do this, Emie! I told you a hundred times.”
“But I want to know who I shall marry, and I can’t do it without you!” She would resort to begging, but didn’t think it would help much.
Evie had always been upset that her magic wasn’t as strong as Em’s, but at least she still got visions. They just usually weren’t as long or clear as Em’s. But to see the far future, she needed her twin. Although, even then it wasn’t a guarantee.
Their mother’s caution about the misuse of magic flitted into her mind but she disregarded it and stared at her sister. Forcing visions could have consequences. Em would worry about that later.
“I hope you marry an old toad,” Evie said, crossing her arms over her chest. Em giggled. Her sister’s expression was too silly to take seriously.
“If I marry an old toad, so will you.” Her twin bit her lip in an attempt to keep a straight face, but was soon giggling, too. They beamed at each other. “Please Evie? I won’t make you do anything with magic that you don’t want to do, ever again.”
“I don’t believe you.” Evie raised an eyebrow at her.
“I’ll try,” Em answered. She leaned forward, smiling sweetly.
“All right, but you will owe me. No argument.” Em winced.
That was never good, but to find out who she would marry was worth almost anything her sister wanted her to do, even switching with her to take an exam from their hardest tutor. She nodded and Evie grinned.
They joined hands and Em closed her eyes. Evie would do the same, as their mother had taught them. She opened herself to her magic, feeling it tingle along her arms, moving to and from her sister as well.
Sweat broke out on her brow as she delved even further, sensing her twin right with her. She wanted to see her future so badly. Em reached mentally, taking Evie along with her, guiding them because her twin wasn’t strong enough to lead, but together they were stronger.
She heard laughter first. The scene opened unto an unfamiliar courtyard so real it was as if they were really there. It was lavishly decorated with fresh flowers on anything with a surface or a place to hang them. A wedding celebration. Her heart leapt and her sister squeezed her hand. Good, Evie was still right with her.
Em saw a dark haired man with a redheaded girl on his arm. The girl was glowing in the pale green gown she wore. The couple smiled at each other. Love was evident.
But the girl was not Em. Instinctively she recognized the girl an older version of Evie.
Magic told her that her twin felt it, too. Disappointment threatened. Evie hadn’t even wanted to see who she would marry! Her twin sensed her feelings through their joined hands and gave her a squeeze of comfort.
A moment later, out of the castle door, another redheaded girl emerged.
She was holding her pale blue gown high, practically running toward the couple. On her heels was a handsome man with golden brown hair. They were both laughing as he gave chase and Em knew her older self loved the man. He was the man she would marry. Her heart pounded in her twelve turn old body and Evie squeezed her hand again.
It made sense that they would get married together, they did everything else together. The man caught her and swept her up into his arms. Her heart stuttered as he kissed her older self. Evie and her dark haired man smiled at each other as they watched, hands entwined.
The atmosphere clouded, becoming dark like a thunder storm rolling in. The vision they’d sought was taken over, becoming a premonition Em had no control over. It happened like that sometimes, she saw…things. She’d never dragged Evie along with her, but their shared magic would make it stronger.
The two happy couples vanished, being replaced by a dark man riding a black horse. A maniacal laugh jarred Em and she clung to her twin’s hand. Evie held her just as hard, nails digging in.
Scenes flashed before their eyes that two young girls should never see. Death. Blood. Magic.
It moved faster and faster, showing more and more horrors. Someone screamed, but Em couldn’t tell if it was real or a part of the vision. She tried to pull out, stop the magic but she couldn’t. Evie was just as helpless; she sensed her sister’s struggle to keep pace.
Her chest constricted. She couldn’t breathe. It was as if they were drowning.        
“Stop,” she shouted, squeezing her eyes shut.
Em panted, her chest heaving as the images finally ceased. They didn’t fade slowly, like most premonitions, but dissipated at once. Relief washed over her and she opened her eyes, meeting Evie’s gray gaze.
They said nothing to each other. Evie had tears streaming down her cheeks. The twins reached for each other at the same time. Hugging, clinging and sobbing.
Loss of control of her magic was the worst part of an unsought vision and Em had never been so frightened in her life. Her heart was still galloping, as was her sister’s.
“Dark magic,” Evie whispered against her shoulder. Em pulled back and wiped the moisture from her cheeks, then her sister’s.
“You felt it, too?” Her twin nodded.
“We have to tell Mother,” Em said.
“Tell her what?” Evie’s eyes were wide, her body shaking.
“Something’s coming, Evie. Something bad.” Her sister swallowed hard, tears welling up all over again.
The only unknown was when it would arrive.

All rights reserved; copyright © C. A. Szarek. The text within may not be reproduced in whole or in part or distributed in any form whatsoever OR SOLD without first obtaining permission from the author.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Savvy Authors - Pitch your book to Abby Rose of Lyrical Press

Hey to all my writer friends: Savvy Authors is hosting Abby Rose of Lyrical Press today, and she is taking PITCHES!!!!!!!!!! WOOO!

You DO have to be a member of Savvy to do it, but you can join and do it. For those of you who don't know, they are an AWESOME resource!

Here's where you can join and/or pitch:
Savvy Authors - Pitch your book to Abby Rose of Lyrical Press

N is for Night

Happy Friday! *yawn* No coffee yet, but I am on my way...I smell it brewing.

So, the title is a stretch and a play on words. But...I hope everyone loves this one as much as I do. In the timeline, I would say this is a about a year and a half after Sword's Call, and several months after the sequel, which is called Love's Call.

I love ALL these guys and I hope you do, too. Enjoy!
            Laith threw the empty stein at his brother, who of course, ducked. Everyone laughed. “I don’t know what he thinks is so funny, he’s getting married, too.”
            Leargan, his captain, slapped him on the back. “There’s no shame in admitting you love the lass you’re going to marry. None at all.”
            A few of his fellow knights made either amused or disparaging noises, and Laith looked into the crackling fire. He had no qualms about marrying Meara. He loved her. More than he loved his own life.
            He glanced around their scattered circle. They’d done this countless times. These men were all his brothers, despite the fact he only shared blood with one of them. Merrick, several turns older than his twenty, and not his favorite person at the moment, sat not far from him on a logged seat drinking from his stein.
            As if he knew he was on Laith’s mind, his brother grinned and lifted his mug in his direction. Laith scowled.
            “Oh, I was jesting, little brother.” Merrick laughed, as did a few of the other men.
            “He’s regretting his choice of weapon, is all,” Dallon said with a grin, bending to retrieve Laith’s discarded stein. The other knight brushed it off with a linen cloth and tossed it to Alasdair to refill.
            The oldest knight of the twelve, Alas grinned and handed Laith back his almost overfull mug. “Drink up, little one.” Laith cringed at the unwanted nickname. “You might need to be into your cups when you say ‘I do.’ Unless you’ve come to your senses?” A dark brow lifted. Merrick threw his head back and laughed. Alasdair shot him a look. “I don’t know what you’re laughing about, my friend. You’ve lost your mind and crossed over, as well.”
            “Crossed over?” Leargan asked, laughter in his tone. “You act as if marriage is a fate worse than death, Alas.”
            “Indeed. I love the lasses too much to choose just one.” The captain shook his head.
            “And I thought you’d referred to my bride as ‘lovely’ on more than one occasion.”
            “Aye, because she is yours, and not mine.” The men laughed and Laith shook his head. Alasdair went through woman like water.
            “I for one am glad that Mistress Ansley put our captain out of his misery,” Roduch, the biggest knight of the personal guard put in.
            “Thank the Blessed Spirit for that,” Leargan muttered.
            There was a round of hearty “Here heres” from the men and the captain’s face looked as if it would split with his grin.
            Niall, the second in command of the personal guard took a step forward and threw his arm around Alasdair’s shoulders. “That’s just because Alas hasn’t met the right lass.”
            “She doesn’t exist, I tell you,” Alasdair retorted, shaking his head. “I have a theory as to why.”
            “Oh, I can’t wait to hear this,” Bowen said, crossing his arms over his broad chest.
            “Yes, let’s,” Kale added, grinning.
            “Seeeeee…” Alas started, drawing out the word. He stood and commanded everyone’s attention. “There are too many lovelies in fair Greenwald to choose from. I adore Aurelia’s eyes. Maeve’s body was made to please a man. Betha has skills that rival them all and no one has breasts better than Nan. Their attributes are…diverse. I cannot possibly choose between them.”
            Someone muttered, “Oh, please.”
            “And that’s just one of the taverns he frequents,” someone else answered. Alasdair grinned.
            “He’s almost a bard,” Merrick said with a chuckle.
            “Don’t tell him that,” Padraig put in. “It will go straight to his…head.” That got several more laughs and Laith had the urge to roll his eyes.     
“I’m with Alasdair,” Teagan announced. “I’m not a one lass man.”
            “Barely a man at all,” Padraig answered.
Laith sighed. He and Teagan were the youngest of the personal guard, and the jest was not uncommon. The other knight ignored the jibe, though.
            “Have you even had a lass?” Artan asked. Teagan’s face reddened but he held his ground with a growl. Alasdair threw his arm around Teagan’s shoulders.
            “Of course he has.”
            “Tons, I’m sure,” Padraig said, his tone dry.
            “Oh, Paddy. Quality is better than quantity,” Artan said, a smile on his scarred face.
            “Says the foolish married man,” Alasdair said with a curt nod.
            “Marrying Lyde was the smartest thing I’ve ever done,” Niall said, taking a drink of ale and coming closer to the fire. The other married knights, Leargan, Padraig, Artan, and Roduch nodded almost collectively.
            “You always were a bit daft,” Kale teased as he took a long draw from his stein.
            “Well, it matters not what you all think,” Merrick announced, coming over to Laith. “This night is about my little brother and me. Is it not?”
            “Because starting tomorrow, no night will be about you,” Alasdair quipped, starting another round of laughter.
            Conversation became the swapping of reprobate stories, with Alasdair, of course, leading the charge. Laith sat back and listened. No way would he add anything, least of all regarding Meara. What they shared meant more to him than any other woman he’d had. Trysts he now regretted. She’d give him her innocence, a gift he hadn’t deserved.
            He watched his brother laugh and joke with his fellow knights, but Merrick felt the same way about his Daicy. His older brother wasn’t adding much detail to the conversation, either.  
Laith could deal with the ribbing from the men he saw as brothers, but if any of them was serious, he would take care of it. Not that any one of the men, Alas included, would honestly insult him or Meara. The personal guard meant too much to each other.
Since they’d come to Greenwald, life had changed, settled. Merrick, always a bit immature for being the older of the two had grown, and it didn’t only have to do with finding Daicy. Being a member of the Aldern personal guard meant everything to his brother—and to him. These men were family, and all of them, teasing aside, were overjoyed that it was once again expanding by two.
Children would come, his captain’s being the first, and they would grow up together in Greenwald. Laith wasn’t in a hurry to be a father, but he wanted that with Meara eventually.
His gaze once again swept over the courtyard and the fire, and his brothers. He couldn’t wait until tomorrow. This very spot, Meara at his side would begin another new adventure for him.
The first, when he’d become a knight, his older brother the one at his side. The second, when Leargan had asked him to be a part of his command, and the third—most important—when he would pledge his heart and soul to Meara in front of the Duke of Greenwald and the Blessed Spirit.
Laith smiled. He’d finally come home.
All rights reserved; copyright © C. A. Szarek. The text within may not be reproduced in whole or in part or distributed in any form whatsoever OR SOLD without first obtaining permission from the author.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

M is for Mine

This one is right up there with the rest of my faves. Cera is really young here, about 14, which makes this story about 7 years before Sword's Call and even a year before A is for Ash, the first letter short.
Once again, my friend Kerry helped me out. She wanted a bonding story, so here it is!

            Cera snuck into the cave, throwing a glance over her shoulder. Had she really been able to slip by her father’s men? She grinned and kept going, quickening her step.
            Whimpering caught her attention at the same time she heard the low growl.
            “Hush, Otsana. Come, child. Pay her no heed. She thinks she needs to protect her lot,” Karolyna gestured to the white she-wolf and four cubs nestled against her. Two were sleeping, two were not. Their coats were diverse. One was pure black, one several shades of gray. The third was reddish brown and the last, a miniature of its mother. It was the biggest cub and it took a step toward Cera, tiny tail wagging. She slid forward, smiling at the small wolf.
            “Won’t you sit, my lady?” Karolyna indicated a pile of pillows and sleeping furs covering the cave floor. Cera looked around the vast cavern while nodding and sitting down opposite the mage and her wolves.
The place was artificially warmed and lit by magic but not uncomfortable. Cera lowered the hood to her gray cape and spread it out as she tucked her breech-clad legs beneath her.
“It looks as if you have already been chosen,” Karolyna said, her tone pleased.
As she spoke, the white cub headed straight for Cera, tumbling into her lap, a warm bundle of fur. Her hands sought the cub, righting him against her. He licked her knuckles. She wanted to lift him up and look in his eyes, but the she-wolf’s deep growl stopped her.
“Otsana, my love, it is time,” the mage said. “She will belong to him, as I belong to you. She is meant to be his.” Karolyna rested her hand on the she-wolf’s flank. The beast whined but quieted. They locked eyes and the large wolf’s tail thumped.
They were communicating silently. Cera looked forward to that with her own bond, but she already knew how to thought-send. Her father, Lord Falor Ryhan, had been teaching her occasionally. The duke was a powerful mage. She could receive better than send, but she was working on it. She just needed practice.
Squirming in her lap, the cub bumped her hand with his little muzzle, demanding attention. She locked eyes with him and smiled. His were an odd hue, but it was one of changing colors. The blue of birth was fading. Would they settle into brown? Or amber like the she-wolf’s?
“I will be his? Won’t he be mine?” Cera whispered, but she didn’t look away from the creature that would be magically tied to her for life. Excitement flipped her stomach and she hugged him close. She would name him and raise him. They would do everything together.
Karolyna chuckled and she met her pale blue eyes. “Bonding is a partnership my lady, in the true sense of the word, but wolves are possessive. You will belong to him. And since he is male, no doubt he will feel as if he possesses you, his bondmate.”
Cera stared into the little cub’s eyes and lifted him to her face. The wagging of his tail increased and her smile slid into a grin. He lifted his head and swiped his hot little tongue up her cheek. Karolyna wore a smile as well when she looked back at the mage.
“He chose me?”
“It seems so, my lady. Sometimes they do the choosing for us.” Karolyna nodded and stroked her bond. The she-wolf was calmer than she’d been since Cera had entered the cave.
“How does this work?” She was eager to get it done and get home with her new bond. She’d left home alone and on foot. She didn’t have much time.
Her father was in Terraquist with the king and her mother had forbidden her from bonding when Cera had heard of the available litter. Bonding was final. If one party were to perish, the other would soon follow, so her mother would not be able to tear it asunder. She would forgive Cera’s disobedience…eventually. She bit back the urge to wince.
“To begin, we join hands. The cub must be touching your bare skin. Place your other hand on him and keep it there. I will chant the spell and draw the magic into the bond. We must not be parted until it is complete or it will damage you both.” Cera nodded.
“Have you ever done this before?”
Karolyna looked down for a moment before meeting Cera’s eyes. “I know how it is done.” Butterflies flitted in her stomach but Cera nodded. She wanted this. The bond and the wolf. He’d chosen her after all.
            “Let us begin.”
            She put her hand in the mage’s by way of answer. She buried her other hand in the downy fur of the wolf cub in her lap, and he leaned into her instead of trying to move away. It was almost as if he understood what would happen. She smiled and closed her eyes.
            Karolyna began to chant. Cera didn’t recognize the words or the spell, but she concentrated on being open to the magic as her father had taught her. The mage’s grip tightened on her hand but she didn’t pull away.
            Her limbs tingled, then began to burn, but it was a burn of power, not pain. She cracked open and eye and gasped. Her skin was glowing. The cub was aglow as well, and so was the mage. She opened both eyes, unable to look away from Karolyna.
The mage’s chanting increased and she began to rock back and forth. Cera was flushed with warmth and the cub yelped, but still stayed where he was, her fingers clinging to his fur, buried against his warm little body. She began to sweat and the cub started to pant.
Her head tilted back of its own accord and the strangest sensation hit her. Something…or someone entwined with her, but she couldn’t tell if it was mental or physical. And then Cera wasn’t alone in her own head. The cub was there. His thoughts…his feelings.
He loved her.
She looked down into her lap. The cub made an odd barking sound and licked her hand. She released her hold on him but he leapt into her arms, pushing as close to her as he could get. 
Karolyna panted, her chest heaving and face gleaming with sweat. “My lady, it is done. You both did well. How do you feel?”
“A bit…odd. I feel him…in my mind.”
“Good.” Karolyna smiled. “It will only get stronger with time. You must meet with me several times a sevenday to train.”
Cera bit her lip. How would she sneak away? “Would it be something my father could do?” Karolyna’s face reddened and she looked down. Cera waved her hand. “No no, nothing against you. I’m not sure I can sne—get away.”
The mage’s pale eyes widened. “You did not have permission, my lady?” It was Cera’s turn to look down.
“The fault does not lie with you, Karolyna. You won’t get into any kind of trouble.” The older woman didn’t look comforted. Cera rushed her words. “My mother was against it, my father is not in Greenwald, but he wouldn’t have been. I will come back to you and learn what I can. I didn’t mean to put you in an awkward position. I wanted him. I had to have him.”
            Karolyna nodded, but her mouth was a hard line. The cub whimpered and Cera’s breath exited on a whoosh. She stroked his head and the cub cuddled closer.
            “Take care with your emotions, my lady. You are now sharing them.”
“I am, aren’t I?” she whispered, more to herself than to the mage.
“You must name him.”
Cera nodded, lifting the cub so they were face to face. His tail wagged so hard it was like a small fan, brushing air over her wrists. “You’re mine little one. I’ll call you Trikser.”
“A good, strong name.” Karolyna’s tone was pleased and Cera smiled.
The cub’s thoughts swirled around in her mind, more solid needs and vague feelings than anything else.
“Can you make out any of his thoughts?” the mage asked, as if she could sense what she was experiencing.
“It’s hard to make sense of,” she admitted.
“They will get clearer with time, as you and your bond mature.” Cera nodded.
She put him down in front of her and he placed his paw on her hand. The wolfing gazed up at her and thought-sent. It wasn’t a word in her mind, but the meaning was clear. Trikser was saying mine.
Cera grinned.

All rights reserved; copyright © C. A. Szarek. The text within may not be reproduced in whole or in part or distributed in any form whatsoever OR SOLD without first obtaining permission from the author.

Monday, February 20, 2012

L is for Lucan

Hopefully this will get me thru Monday! I had a LOOOOONG w/end and no coffee yet.

Meet Lucan. He's in Sword's Call in a big way and for those who have read the whole thing, I know of two people who have declared him their favorite character. He's a cute lil guy, so hopefully he will worm his way into other hearts. He is the hero of Dragon's Call (of which there is an excerpt on my "Pieces of Me" page).

This is probably a year or two before the Sword's Call.

Hope you enjoy the story. As always, comments are adored! :) 

Have a good Monday!

             Lucan wiped the tears from his cheeks—again. He hid under the bed. He would stay there until someone dragged him out. How long would it be this time? If only his magic could make him invisible. He needed to learn a spell for that as soon as possible. Could he ask one of the masters without too many questions in return?
            “Lucan? Lucan, oh Luuuucaaaan...where are you?” The tone was cajoling. Lucan gulped. That meant he was even angrier than normal. “You’d better come out before I find you. You won’t like it if I find you. I promise.” There was a maniacal laugh. Lucan squeezed his eyes shut.
            What did Drazen want now? When would he leave him alone? What would he have to do to stop the torture? Martis wasn’t around, so the older boy couldn’t help him this time. Though Martis’s help always came at a price anyway. But Lucan would do all the magic Martis wanted him to if he would keep Drazen away from him. He would even make him a pile of gold coins.
They had no value and turned back into whatever he’d formed them from mere hours after their birth, but Martis always seemed to get away with spending them in the market. Neither of them had been caught—yet.
            “What are you doing, ­­­­Drazen?” There was another voice. The elf wizard, Renard, one of the shade taskmasters. He wasn’t particularly nice to Lucan, but Renard was better than Drazen.
            “Nothing, Master.”
            “Come out of here. This is not your room.”
            “I was looking for something. I guess I didn’t leave it in here.” The lie fell from his lips smoothly, but that was always Drazen.
Renard muttered something in answer, but then the door shut. The voices and steady beat of footsteps faded as they got further away. Lucan’s chest heaved with his sigh.
            He scooted out from under his measly bed, sitting on the edge with a thump. When would this all end? Moisture hit the back of his cupped hands as they rested in his lap. He stared there for a moment. Crying again? At least he was alone. No one would see. No one could hit him for his tears.
Renard and Arius, another elf wizard taskmaster, had been praising him lately. They said he was almost ready. Almost ready for what?  It wouldn’t be good news, no matter what.
Lucan didn’t want to be ready for anything that involved Lord Varthan, the true master of all the boys here. Shades, they were called. Their magic honed for Lord Varthan’s use.
The archduke had taken a liking to him, Arius had told him. Lucan had the strongest magic of them all, Renard had said. It was a wonder he wasn’t part elfin, they all whispered. He cringed. He didn’t want to be elfin. He didn’t want to be a shade, or a mage. He wanted to go home. But where was home? He’d come to the compound so young he remembered nothing else. He’d never wanted to be there.
The new boys always cried for their mothers, but Lucan didn’t remember his. Or his father. Did he have siblings? Where was he from? What Province were they in now? Everything was a secret. They were never allowed to go far—never un-chaperoned—and they picked up and moved at least two times a turn. Until Lord Varthan came. Until he picked who he wanted from the boys. Lucan didn’t want that. At all. He shook his head.
            Arius had said he would become one of the elite.
            “No,” Lucan whispered, his head falling into his hands.
            The elf wizards made him—made them all—do horrible things to test magical skill. Being with Lord Varthan would be even worse. Lucan had never been told that, but he just knew.
            Boys would leave to be the master’s elite and never return. He shuddered. Where did they end up? Even without confirmation, the grim set of the elf wizards’ expressions when news was received told the tale well enough. The shades were dead. That was why they never came back.
            Lord Varthan was a cruel man. Looking at him made Lucan want to wince. He rubbed his chin where the master had touched him during the last inspection the archduke had made of all the boys in the compound. The spot had burned at the lord’s touch. It had taken everything he was made of not to jerk away that day when Lord Varthan had titled his head up. Meeting those dark eyes had told him everything he needed to know. His master was pure evil.
            The tremble started at the base of his neck and worked its way down his spine, shaking his small body. His heart pounded. Lucan forced a deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut.
            “Calm. Breathe,” he chanted. When he opened his eyes, he froze.
            He’d done it again. Lucan looked down. His bed about three feet beneath him. Nothing but air between his brown breeches and the thin mattress.
He’d levitated as soon as he’d let his senses go. It had been happening quite a bit lately. His skin was aglow as he extended his arms and legs, concentrating not to fall. He lay back as if the air was his mattress, spreading his magic across his limbs. The radiance of his body increased as he rose higher. Soon he was floating flat in the air as if he was in the lake the boys always bathed in.
This was about all the peace he’d ever get. He reached mentally for the ceiling, guiding himself even as he closed his eyes again. When he was nose to nose with the rough plaster, Lucan smiled. No one could touch him here. At least…for now.

All rights reserved; copyright © C. A. Szarek. The text within may not be reproduced in whole or in part or distributed in any form whatsoever OR SOLD without first obtaining permission from the author.