Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fate's Call #5

Hope you enjoy
I am enjoying writing this.


The closer they got to Dalunas Main, the harder Erron’s heart thundered. She gripped the reins of her mare, Fancy, until her knuckles whitened. She would see Jarek again. Erron shot a glance at her father and squared her shoulders. He couldn’t know her thoughts.
How would she go about it anyway? Norden never left her alone. He would kill her if she ran. If he caught her. No—when he caught her.
It wasn’t fair to drag Jarek into her mess of a life. He had a father, too. What if he had a mother, siblings? They would all be in jeopardy.
Once again, the possibility of Jarek being married danced in her thoughts. What if he had a wife? Erron’s heart stopped. No. But it was possible. He was grown, of a marrying age, probably a turn or two older than her twenty. Tears burned her eyes and she swallowed hard.
What was wrong with her? The pain constricting her chest made no sense. She’d seen the tanner once. Why did the thought of him being married bother her so much? It wasn’t like he would volunteer to save her, anyway.
“Erron,” her father snapped.
She jolted in her saddle and met his irritated gaze.
“What are you doing?”
“N-n-nothing.”
“Pay attention. Take control of Fancy. If she stumbles because of you I will take it out of your hide.”
Erron nodded, but her father had already looked away. He ranted about how he was allowing her to ride his horse. He grumbled that he should have made her walk. She sighed. It was no use daydreaming about the handsome tanner. She would never get away from her father.
When they got into Dalunas Main, Erron’s hopes lifted. Her father directed them to an inn. They were staying in town overnight. Though they often made day trips to market, Norden never brought them into town and not returned back home the same day, no matter the hour.
After complaining about the costs of stabling their horses and a suitable room, her father paid the rotund innkeeper. The older man then led them up rickety stairs to their room. He asked Erron if she required anything.
“She’ll fetch our supper later,” her father snapped.
Erron winced as the innkeeper nodded and gazed at her with sympathetic brown eyes. He excused himself with a slight bow.
She looked around the small room, her heart tripping over itself. If Norden wanted to overpower her, there was no way for her to retreat. The bed took up much of the room, with a window to the left that opened over the busy streets. The furniture was sparse, only a chest of drawers and a cloudy mirror. The privy was in the corner. Small, but private.
At least the room smelled and looked clean. Looking back at the bed, Erron’s stomach clenched. She would have to share it with her father.
“I’m going out.” She met her father’s eyes as he spoke. “Do not move from this room.” He was leaving…without her? She stared at him, fighting not to show a reaction.
“Yes, sir.”
With a grunt, Norden turned on his heel and left, shutting the door with a resounding thud. She studied the warped wood, frozen. He’d left her alone? Norden had never left her alone.
Blessed Spirit, he’d actually left her alone! She rushed to the window. Looking down, she scanned the crowds of people moving toward the busy market center. There were people on foot, people on horseback or leading pack animals. There was even a cart lumbering on its way.
Erron spotted her father’s retreating figure easily enough. He was headed down the road that led to the blacksmith’s shop. Just two streets over from there was her tanner. Jarek. How could she get to him?
∞∞∞∞∞∞∞
            Jarek sighed. Anais continued her conversation with the butcher’s wife even though she’d concluded her meat shopping. Why he’d agreed to her request to go with her to market was beyond him. He was a human packhorse. The woman had bought one of everything. His arms ached with her four—four full baskets hanging at every angle. It was enough food to feed an army. But her smile was bright and she always did so much for him and his father, so Jarek couldn’t refuse her.
She was oblivious to his annoyance as well, but he had no intention to offend her.
“Ready, Jarek, love?” Anais asked several moments later.
“Of course. Where to next?” Home, please.
            “I think I’ve gotten everything we need.”
            Thank the Blessed Spirit. He flashed a smile. “I thought you would never say so.”
            “Oh, hush. You’re a strapping young man, you can handle it.”
            Jarek’s smile slid into a sheepish grin. “My arms won’t be right for days.”
            Anais mock-glared at him. “You’re not too old to have your hide tanned.”
            He laughed out loud, shaking his head. “I’m two and twenty! What’s too old?”
            “Hmmm, you’ll always be my lad.”
            Jarek’s heart warmed. Had he not had arms full of groceries, he would have hugged her. “Thank you, Anais.”
            She nodded and flashed a smile. “Home, then?”
            “Before my arms fall off would be preferable.”
            Anais swatted at his rear end as they headed out of the butcher shop and Jarek chuckled.
            They fell into step and easy conversation as they headed down the road. He genuinely enjoyed her company. How could he nudge his father into making her an official…permanent part of their family? The sooner the better.
            Leading her down the shortest path home, Anais followed Jarek across the street and he gestured for her to step ahead of him as the path narrowed for several feet before widening again. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a familiar figure. He froze and turned around.
            The widow paused, her expression curious as she met his eyes. But Jarek looked away from her, his gaze locked onto Erron’s father as he headed into the blacksmith’s shop.
            “Jarek? Is something wrong?”
            “I…need to go.” His heart thundered. Where was she? He scanned the street. Among the people that were coming and going, he couldn’t spot her anywhere. Was she in Dalunas Main? Was she all right?
            “What are you talking about?” Anais asked, her tone concerned.
            Jarek forced himself to meet her pale eyes. “Remember the girl from the alley Da and I told you about?”
            “Yes…”
            “Her father just went into Hem’s shop.”
            “Go, lad.” No hesitation in her tone whatsoever.
            Jarek nodded curtly. Anais’s support made his decision. “Will you be all right with all these things?”
            “Yes.”
            He dropped a kiss on her cheek and she smiled at him. Anais patted his cheek before taking the four baskets and Jarek whispered his thanks. He slipped away from her then. He had to find Erron.

TO BE CONTINUED: 

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. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview!

I am being interviewed today *squeeeeeee* First time and it's COOL!

On my friend Dawn Alexander's Blog today!

Check it out!

For one lucky person that comments on my interview on Dawn's blog, I am going to give away a SIGNED copy of the AWESOME book, Dragon Lover, by Jeanne Guzman who is one of my Critique Partners! It's a FANTASTIC read.

I will pick a winner tomorrow AM and post it on Facebook.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Goodreads

I am a goodreads author. How cool is THAT?  But what's even cooler is that I already have fans and people have already added Sword's Call on their "To-read" list. *squuuueeeeeeeeeee*

Thank you guys for all your support!

Me on Goodreads

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fate's Call #4

So, sorry this is a day late, but it's better than Friday, right? ;)

It's taking a dark turn, but I hope you still will enjoy it!


Her arms shook, aching from wrist to shoulder as she pushed the plow. Erron’s back throbbed, muscles straining as she did the job minus Angus, their plow horse. Her father’s punishment for running off the other day on their way to market in Dalunas Main. But physical labor was preferable to lying beneath him naked while he took what only a husband should. She shuddered. He’d done that last night.
Screaming and fighting him didn’t help. Erron had long learned he was quicker to finish and leave her be if she didn’t respond to him in any way. Perhaps now anger would keep him away from her longer than normal. She prayed for a fortnight or two.
The dark eyed stare of Erron’s rescuer floated into her mind. Jarek. His name was Jarek. If she closed her eyes she could see every detail of his concerned expression. His handsome face, his gentle touch… If only for a moment, he’d cared about her.
Was he married? It would be pleasant to be with a man like him. So different from…what she knew. Who was she trying to fool? Even if the tanner was unwed, it was unlikely that he’d ever want her. Damaged. Impure. No one would have her if the truth got out. Her father had ruined any chances of a good marriage for her.
Several of the surrounding family farm holdings had sons. Any one of them would make a fine husband. Although she was recently twenty, none had even considered offering for her, so what did it matter?  Erron chided herself for girlish fantasies.
Her mother had passed away just over ten turns before. Erron’s father, Norden, had gone mad with grief. One moment he clutched her tightly because she resembled her mother, and the next he pushed her way claiming the same reason. Not long after, he’d demanded she fill her mother’s place in his bed. Barely eleven, he’d taken her innocence, despite kicking and screaming. Her father had crushed her, body and spirit.
She’d begged, pleaded, and sent countless prayers to the Blessed Spirit, but Erron had been forsaken. She was trapped with her father. Norden would kill her or make her bear his children.
Every time he painfully forced himself into her, fear froze her heart that he’d leave her with his bastard. If it happened, everyone would know what went on behind the closed doors of their home. Whore.
            Erron bit her lip to hold back threatening tears. A pregnancy had never occurred, though she’d bled monthly since age thirteen. Perhaps that was the Blessed Spirit’s one concession.
            “Erron.” Her name was a gruff command and she bit back a gulp, squaring her shoulders before meeting his pale blue gaze.
            “Yes, Father?”
            “You’ve almost finished.” He gestured to the smallest of their three fields.
            She was covered in sweat, pain settling over her whole body, but Erron would not complain. “Yes Father.” She swallowed hard as she stared at his unreadable expression.
            “Use the horse for the rest.”
            “Yes Father.”
            “I expect my supper at the normal time, and you’re taking too long.”
            Erron bowed her head, eyes blurring with tears. Never would she give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Besides, it would likely save her from his heavy hand.
            He said nothing as he turned to go, and neither did she. She waited until his footsteps were no longer audible before she went to the barn to get Angus. At least the old horse was a friend.
∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞
            Erron stared at the bowl in front of her, no real appetite for its contents. Her father ate with vigor as was normal for him, having demanded she refill his plate twice before she’d even had a chance to sit down.
His grunts of appreciation were the only compliments she ever received. But, he ate her food without complaint. That at least was preferable to a slap across the face.
            Her limbs were heavy, every muscle aching. If she did not soak in the bathtub she wouldn’t be able to move in the morning. The farm had to be worked, so that wasn’t an option. Hopefully she could sneak into the barn for a bath without notice. She would wait until her father fell asleep.
            “We’re going to market in the morning,” her father said, his mouth full of stew.
            Erron’s head reared up and their gazes collided. Norden cocked his head to one side. Her heart pounded. She should have masked her surprise. She should have not moved so fast. He would likely hit her—
            “What’s wrong with you?” he snapped.
            “N-n-nothing, Father.”
            He stared a moment longer, Erron’s heart thundered. She bit back the urge to swallow hard and fought for a serene expression.
            “I have business with the blacksmith.”
            “I am to accompany you?” She prayed her tone was even.
            “Of course,” her father growled. “I do not trust you here alone.”
            “Yes, Father.” Erron’s heart threatened to burst from her chest. After running from him, she never imagined he would take her back into Dalunas Main at all, let alone so soon. Jarek. She could see Jarek again.
            “Erron?”
            “Yes, Father?”
            “If you run from me again, I will kill you.”
            Her stomach roiled. Erron locked onto the picture of Jarek in her mind and forced her head to nod. Norden spoke the truth. But could she see her tanner again? The possibility of missing the opportunity scared her even more than her father’s promise.
 TO BE CONTINUED:

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, April 11, 2012

Fate's Call #3

Like the last one, I guess I don't have much to say here. Hope you like it and you check back for the next segment! I am going to Chicago Thursday, so my next segment might be a lil delayed. Forgive me if it's Friday instead of Weds.


Limbs heavy, his chest constricted with crushing disappointment. He couldn’t find her. Jarek had scoured the market and the surrounding area—even three of the better taverns with rooms for rent. No sign of the girl or her father. It was as if the whole exchange had been some phantom he’d imagined. Had his father not been a witness, he really would have thought he’d lost his mind.
Where the hell had they gone? Dalunas Main was not so large that one couldn’t cover it in a day. Were they in Lower Dalunas? Jarek shuddered. No. For the girl’s sake, it couldn’t be.
Evening was settling, and with it a chill in the air. The breeze carried the scent of impending rain. Jarek sent a quick prayer to the Blessed Spirit that she was warm, safe and stayed dry for the night. He admitted defeat. If he didn’t head home, his father would worry. Not to mention Anais.
His father was laughing when Jarek entered their quarters, located on the opposite side of their storefront. Laughing. He stared for a moment, looking back and forth from Kirgan and the woman that sat at the table with him.
Why had he never noticed how lovely the widow was? Anais wore no bonnet, her fair hair neatly coiffed at the back of her head, and her face was radiant as she looked at his father.
Was he intruding? He was hesitant to enter his own home.
“Jarek,” his father exclaimed as he noticed him hovering in the doorway.
Anais shot to her feet as if she’d been caught doing something wrong, her cheeks crimson. Jarek would have taken a moment to reassure her, but it could result in further embarrassment, and he didn’t want that. He loved the idea of them together.
“Where have you been, lad? I was starting to worry,” Kirgan remarked.
One corner of Jarek’s mouth lifted. His father had looked content…and far too busy to be worried about his adult son. But it warmed his heart anyway.
“Let me get you something warm to eat,” Anais rushed her words.
“I’m fine,” Jarek told her with a gentle smile that got him nowhere as she hurried to the hearth. As soon as she lifted the lid from the pot of stew she’d made, the pleasant aroma tickled his nose and his stomach growled. “All right, I’ll eat.”
Anais threw a smile over her shoulder as she spooned his supper in a bowl. “I thought as much, this is your favorite.”
“You know us so well,” his father mused. Jarek glanced at him and saw a tenderness there as the older man gazed at the widow. He hadn’t seen that before. It’s about damn time. What had changed the awkwardness Kirgan had displayed this morning?
His heart skipped a beat as the stunning girl danced across his thoughts. He didn’t know her, yet he could imagine gazing at her in much the same way. She’d enchanted him.
“I should think so,” Anais said, grinning as she came back to the table. “I have been caring for you both for turns.”
Kirgan nodded and Jarek slipped into his normal seat.
“Here you go, love.”
“Thank you,” Jarek told her as his father handed him a spoon. He nodded thanks to him as well.
Anais slipped her arm around his shoulders and squeezed him in a hug before she sat back down next to his father. She’d moved too fast for him to return the affection, but Jarek wanted to. He flashed her a smile instead and took a bite of the thick bread she’d made.
He groaned in appreciation and Anais rewarded him with another grin. She had told him many times that preparing food held no joy unless she could share it with others who would also delight in it. She was a fantastic cook.
“Where did you go?” his father asked.
They both watched him. Too closely. How much should Jarek admit? They would both likely think him foolish. He didn’t understand the drive to find the girl himself, how could he explain it to his father?
“I looked for the lass,” he admitted.
Kirgan’s brows drew together. “But why?”
            Anais’s expression also held confusion, but Jarek didn’t stop to recite the happening of that morning, although his father might have mentioned it.
            “I can’t explain it, Da. I need to find her.”
            His father looked even more concerned. He rested his calloused hand on Jarek’s forearm. “Be sure you’re not concerning yourself with something that is none of your concern.”
            Jarek sighed. He didn’t want to hear the sense of his father’s caution. He just needed to find her. He couldn’t explain the whys.
            “He should find her, Kirgan, if he feels that strongly. Perhaps it’s fate,” Anais said softly. So, his father had told her what had happened after all. Jarek shot her a grateful look.
            Kirgan looked deep in thought for a long moment before he spoke. “Fate?”
            Anais smiled at them both. “Don’t tell me such things are only for foolish women. I’m beyond believing that.”
            Jarek grinned and his father chuckled.
            “I would never call you a fool, my dear,” his father whispered.
            Anais beamed and squeezed his hand.
            “Smart man,” Jarek put in. “If you did, Da, she might never feed you again, and we all know what a horrible cook I am.” They all laughed.
            His father and the widow gazed at each other as if he wasn’t there. Jarek shifted on his seat. Quite odd to be the uncomfortable one in his own home.
Big sky blue eyes and blonde plaits entered his mind again. Why was she haunting him? Did it really mean something? Was there such a thing as fate, as Anais had said?
He excused himself from the table. His father and Anais barely noticed. Jarek was fine with that. When she retired for the evening—provided it was to her own bed—he would tell his father that he had his blessing. Perhaps it would assist Kirgan along with things, although based on what happened at the table, maybe his father had finally girded himself against shyness. He laughed and shook his head. What a thought that was.
Jarek busied himself preparing for bed, but the fair haired girl wouldn’t exit his mind. He was more determined than ever to find her.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'm Official

So, I announced this on FB, Twitter and I guess my blog slipped my mind, dummy me.

My contract is signed and executed. Sword's Call will be published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing and will come out in 2013!

I don't know more than that right now, but of course, deets will follow as I know them! :)


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fate's Call #2

Don't have much to say, other than I hope you enjoy the 2nd section of my serial! And check back next week for the next one!


            Jarek watched the stunning girl leave the alley with the man who’d called himself her father. Instinct screamed at him. Hit him in the gut as sure as a fist. Something was wrong. She’d been terrified. Shaking. That had worsened when the bastard joined them. The grip on her arm hadn’t looked violent, but he hadn’t missed the girl’s wince.

            “Son?” his father asked.

            He shook himself but the worries didn’t exit his mind. Erron. Her name was Erron and she had to be the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.

            Jarek never liked to see females upset, but looking into her sky blue eyes had been different. The tears on her cheeks just about killed him. And he didn’t even know her. Why had he touched her? The move had been…something he’d had to do. Jarek hadn’t even questioned the urge.

            “Jarek?” His father put his hand on his arm and squeezed. “Is something wrong?”

            He turned, meeting the eyes so like his own and forced a smile. “Do you know that man?”

            Brows drawn together, his father shook his head. “No.”

            “Ever seen him at market?”

            “Not that I can recall. What’s wrong?”

            “Something…something about what happened doesn’t seem right, Da.”

            “Oh?”

            His father was too trusting. Always had been. Jarek shook his head. “Never mind. Let’s go inside.”

           “Yes, we’ve work to finish.” His father smiled but Jarek didn’t return it.

            He followed him back into their shop, his thoughts nothing but Erron. He had to find her. He needed to see her again. He needed to make sure she was all right.

∞∞∞∞∞

            Jarek threw his tools down in disgust. His concentration was gone. And he needed to focus, because he had an order for three sets of ladies’ slippers to make for the Duchess of Dalunas. She’d come in personally to put the request in. If he did an exceptional job—and he would—she would come back again. More coin for him and his father, and word of their business would spread to elite customers. But his mind consisted of one thing. Erron.

            Why was she afraid of her father? The man should cherish her. Did he beat her? Or…worse? Every possible horrible scenario marched across his mind, tying his stomach in knots. He shuddered. He needed a distraction. No, he needed to work.

            “Jarek, I’m going to market. The butcher wants to speak of a trade.”

            “Make sure he doesn’t cheat you this time.” He offered his father a smile, rising from his seat. He stretched his arms and back, chuckling when the older man glared at him.

            Jarek didn’t comment, but he followed the Master Tanner to the front door of their shop, giving him an affectionate pat on the shoulder.

            “Kirgan! Jarek! Fine afternoon,” the widow, Anais, called from across the street as she swept the front porch of her weaving shop. They often traded services and it was also many a night when she’d provided a hearty meal for the two bachelors.

            Jarek smiled and waved, but his father looked away. He cocked an eyebrow and looked from one to the other. Was his da blushing? He stared, fighting a gape.

            Anais waved, smiling brightly and obviously trying to catch his father’s gaze. Her affection for his father was nothing new and usually ignored by the older man. What happened to change that?

            Kirgan muttered a greeting and shoved his hands into the pocket of his breeches. He looked down and shuffled off. The widow continued to sweep, whistling to herself. Apparently, whatever had happened didn’t bother her. Jarek shook his head, chuckling as he headed back to his work.

            Anais was one of the sweetest people he knew and had mothered him quite a bit since his own had passed when he was twelve, some ten turns ago. If she could find happiness with his crotchety father, Jarek had no qualms. Kirgan, on the other hand, would have to be convinced. Stubborn man. It made sense for them to be together. Her children were grown, as was Jarek. What was his father waiting for? It was a waste of time. Happiness had to be grasped with both hands.

            Erron floated back into his mind. She wasn’t happy. He would…love to make her happy. Jarek’s heart pounded. Where had that come from? He’d seen the girl once. In the back of his mind, a voice whispered that perhaps once was enough. He ignored it, staring at the work he was avoiding.

            He couldn’t remember ever seeing Erron or her father in Dalunas Main or even at market. Could they be of another Province? Or from an outlying holding away from the city center? Their clothes provided no clues. They hadn’t been particularly rich, or obviously poor.

            The rough man had asked about a blacksmith. That told Jarek nothing either, for the blacksmith forged more than weapons.

            He circled the room, his thoughts chaotic. He had to find her.

            Rushing back out of the shop, he called the widow’s name.

            “Lad? Is everything all right?” she returned, heading to his side, broom still in her plump hand.

            “It is, but I have to leave.” Jarek loosened his leather apron and tugged it off. Anais took it from him without a word. “Can you watch the shop?”

            “Of course.” Her brows drew together, her blue eyes concerned. “Are you certain nothing is wrong?”

            Jarek flashed a smile and pressed a kiss into her cheek. “Everything will be fine. Just wait for my father…tell him I had to run an errand? I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

            Anais beamed, nodding. “I’ll see you later then. I’ll start evening meal.”

            “Thank you, Anais.” 
            “Anytime, my lad.”

            Jarek didn’t answer. He left at a jog, following the path his father had taken moments before. He sent a quick prayer to the Blessed Spirit that he’d find her.

TO BE CONTINUED:

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.