All the Arts

title page: All the Arts

She loved him the moment she laid eyes on him. He was sat on the stage, strumming a guitar, his golden hair lying around his shoulders, his eyes half-shut as he focused on the music.

Her friends were at least as interested if not as truly enraptured.

“I heard he’s an Olympian,” April said. “Javelin.”

Kendra gave a sigh. “I heard he writes poetry.”

“He won that chess championship last year,” Gary put in.

“You would know that,” April said, giving Gary a playful shove with her shoulder.

She sushed them, wanting to hear more of the music. As if he’d heard, he looked up and met her gaze. She felt her cheeks flush as she took in his ocean coloured eyes and the quirk of his full lips.

“A ballad,” he said and began to sing as he played. The melody was haunting, the words in a tongue she didn’t understand, his voice soulful. Tears pricked at her eyes before the last notes faded away.

The audience had swelled as he sang, the club filling up as night approached. The applause was deafening. He bowed in head briefly in acceptance.

“Something a little happier?” he asked and received an enthusiastic response. The tune this time made her heart sing and to the astonishment of her friends she moved to the dance floor. Usually too shy to dance in public, she found herself shaking her hips, tossing her hair, swaying to his voice.

When that song was done he disappeared backstage and the usual DJ returned to play a mix of late nineties tunes. She returned to her friends, sipped at her wine.

“I heard he’s got a degree in history,” April said, staring at the stool where the guitar player had sat.

“His Instagram has pictures of his woodwork,” Gary said, sighing as April giggled. “He’s a carpenter.”

“I bet he is good with wood,” April persisted.

“Uh-uh. Connie showed me a bracelet he made for her. He mostly works with metal,” Kendra said. “Connie said she commissioned him to make a decorative sword for Alex’s birthday.”

She shook her head. No one man could be capable of all those things.

April, in the midst of checking her phone and chattering as she did so fell silent and everyone looked at her before they realised she was looking behind them.

He approached them, tall, broad shouldered and limber, head held high with confidence, a man at ease with himself. She felt she loved him, told herself that was ridiculous.

“Good evening,” he said. “I hope you’re enjoying yourselves.”

April nodded and began gushing, Kendra trying to get a few words in edgeways. Shoved out of the conversation, Gary had given up entirely, looking around to see if John had arrived yet.

“I’m glad to hear it,” he said when April paused for breath and then turned his body to her, all his attention on her in a way that was unmistakable. “And you?”

He’d noticed her silence or her staring? She was flustered once more.

“Your singing is lovely.” Pathetic, trite! She sought to find better words but he gave her a genuine smile.

“Thank you.” He pushed back a strand of golden hair and she longed to reach out to caress the silky lock. “What’s your name?”

“Nas,” she said.

“Nas,” he repeated. He reached out to shake her hand but as she reached out he lifted her hand and pressed his lips to her knuckles. Her stomach clenched, warmth spreading through her. “It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Lugh.”

— — —
Previously I’ve written about a modern day Dionysus and Ariadne. I wanted to test the waters with something a bit different, a modern day Lugh, and maybe write more of this later.

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Fic snippet: Juliet

Opening paragraphs from my first novel WiP, working title “Juliet”

“Marry me,” Juliet said, unable to keep the desperation from her tone.

Sean bowed his head, staring at the grass which was still damp with morning dew. “You know I cannot.”

Juliet’s heart sank. Sean was her oldest friend. He had conducted her marriage to Dayne, the first such ceremony he had ever performed. He had blessed her daughter Sophia when she was born, and was her godfather, loving her as if she were his own child. He had comforted Juliet when she was told of Dayne’s execution, and carried out a memorial service for the man they’d both cared about. Now, in this hour of greatest need, he was unable to help her. Prayer would not be enough.

“I would if I could.” Sean took her hand. “But clerics are now forbidden to marry.”

Neither he nor Juliet had expected the new rule to affect him. He was a loving and compassionate man, but he had never felt desire for anyone. The people of the community were his family, none more so than Juliet. Many clerics however preferred to take a spouse and now most had been forced to surrender their titles. It was a strike against their authority and talents. The queen could not yet destroy the clergy completely but each new law she passed further diminished their influence.

Queen Edda. The bane of Juliet’s life and fast becoming the ruin of her homeland.

Ficlet: A Foolish Fantasy

a-foolish-fantasy-sa

A ficlet taking place in the Sorceress Apprentice world. Pre-canon, a young Bryony watches Emeri at the annual Summer Dance and indulges in a foolish fantasy of being his dance partner.

The Summer Dance, held at the solstice, was one of the most important festivals for the village and the ritual fire dance was the highlight of the celebration.

Bryony watched as Emeri held out his hand to his sister, Sabrina, to join him for the dance. They were so elegant and refined. Emeri was rarely the tallest man in any gathering but he had an undeniable presence, and Sabrina, almost as tall as her brother, drew many an admiring glance.

Logically his dance partner had to be Sabrina, another clan member. Traditionally the dancers were of equal status, and intimates of some sort. Emeri had no wife to dance with and there was no-one else present who was even close to his social rank.

Despite this, Bryony chewed at her lower lip as the music began, longing to be the one to dance. To be partnered with the sorcerer himself. It was a foolish fantasy, childish when she was almost a woman now, but she couldn’t help herself from imagining being in Sabrina’s place.

Kerine clapped along with the music and Bryony joined in with her sister, their mother beaming and fanning herself against the heat of the flames. Bryony had once mentioned her attraction to Emeri and her mother had scoffed. Kerine had gently reminded her that whatever all those love stories Bryony read showed, it didn’t mean that life worked that way.

Of course Kerine was right. Besides her lowly status, Bryony was almost ten years younger than Emeri, and while her skill with a needle was something she could be proud of, her education was lacking. What could a non-magical girl offer such a man as the village sorcerer?

After the dance had finished to thunderous applause, Sabrina linked her arm with Emeri’s and they wandered around, talking to the villagers. Bryony curtsied, heart in her mouth, when Sabrina stopped in front of her.

“What a beautiful dress,” Sabrina said, running her gaze over the emerald green silk. Bryony had purchased it cheap because of some damage to the fabric, carefully cutting and stitching a dress from the best of the material and covering the rest of the marks with elegant embroidery, the highlight being details picked out in metallic threads that caught the firelight as she moved.

“Thank you, my lady,” Bryony said, adding, “I made it myself.”

“It is exquisite,” Sabrina said and Emeri gave a smile.

“The stitching is remarkable,” he agreed. “It is truly beautiful.”

They’d moved off then to talk with the blacksmith, little knowing the effect of their words. The warmth in a giddy Bryony’s cheeks was not merely due to her proximity to the fire.

Bryony went to bed that right reliving every moment of the dance, skirting the flames across from her partner, the music’s tempo increasing and her steps more frantic until at the climax of the dance she was in Emeri’s arms and the villagers cheered them on.

 

 

Fic snippet: A Pleasant Afternoon

WiP: WRE fic snippet. Romaine and El spend a lazy Sunday together. (Note: Armand is Romaine’s middle name.)

coffee magazine
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

After lunch they slumped on El’s sofa, drank more wine, listened to some music. El put the TV on and found a showing of Princess Bride, the movie only five minutes in, and they watched the rest. Halfway through El served up generous slices of chocolate cake and made coffee.

When El had finished her cake she tucked herself up on the sofa, feet on the cushion, knees against Romaine’s leg, one arm against his, sharing his warmth.

After the movie, Romaine stretched, sorry to dislodge El but feeling stiff. “Fancy a walk?”

She nodded. “Want me to walk the Wolf?”

“Would you? Thanks.”

Romaine went upstairs to get ready, El saying she needed to use the toilet, tie up her hair, and find a coat.

A few minutes later she came to meet him, pushing open the door which he’d left ajar. She was wearing a grey hoodie with the slogan “I am a cat” on it and the hood even had little ears sewed on it. Romaine, now in wolf form, snorted at the hiding in plain sight pun and then used his nose to nudge the collar and lead he’d found from a bottom drawer and put on the coffee table.

El put the collar on him but not too tightly. The lead was a slip lead, a green and white striped cord with a leather stopper which she didn’t bother to adjust since he wouldn’t be pulling at her, and a large hand holder loop.

“Keys?” she asked. Romaine whined, having forgot about that and gestured to the key box.

El picked up his keys and slid them into her pocket alongside her own, clipped to the belt loop on her trousers for security.

She pulled the door so it locked behind them. On the way out, they met Mrs Calloway, just coming back in with a newspaper tucked beneath her arm.

“Oh this must be that beautiful dog,” Mrs Calloway said. “Can I pet him?”

Continue reading Fic snippet: A Pleasant Afternoon

Fic Snippet: Survival

survival

(From my WiP Sorceress Apprentice a fantasy romance. Bryony’s sister, Kerine, has gone to bring home the dying Emeri’s sister, Sabrina. Bryony agreed to stay and keep the sorcerer company and found herself studying magic as well as beginning to fall in love with Emeri, but she still misses her sister during the months apart.)


Bryony stared at the ceiling after a restless night. The sunlight had awoken her not long after she’d finally fallen asleep, and for a moment she’d thought about asking Kerine to go with her to the river before breakfast, a pleasant walk to start the day.

But Kerine was not here.

This was what Emeri had meant, when he said waking up could be the worst thing. The realisation of abandonment all over again, though he also had the spectre of death to contend with.

Bryony tried to comfort herself with the thought that Kerine would come back, had to come back. That didn’t mean she couldn’t be sad at the separation however. “Pain is not a competition,” Naomi sometimes said and it made more sense to Bryony now.

She could ask Emeri to walk with her; if he was awake, if he was up to it, for some days were better than others. That could be nice.

Yet it wasn’t the same, not when she wanted her sister. The bond they shared could not be replaced, no matter how much she’d come to care for Emeri and enjoy spending time with him.

Emeri was in his study, making notes, when Bryony finally dragged herself from bed and went looking for him.

He glanced at her dishevelled appearance. “You didn’t sleep well?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know how you’ve survived this long without Sabrina,” she said, hating the tremble in her voice.

He looked away, fingers still marking a passage in the book he was studying, pen poised over the page of his journal. “People can survive many things,” he said. “But surviving isn’t the same as living.”

Another time she might have rolled her eyes and accused him of wordplay. But today she nodded and moved to stand at his side, pressing herself against him. He slipped one arm around her waist and they stayed close and silent for a long moment.

Ficlet: Goats

This is a character moment I wrote about the character’s shared sense of humour. It will require some editing if it’s actually to be included in the novel WiP so I’ll share it here as is. Inspired by this advertĀ 

goats

If there was one incident Romaine had to point to that summed up how he and El were on exactly the same wavelength and thereby such good partners, it was this, which happened three months into El’s probationary period.

They visited a farm where there’d been reports of a sighting of a dangerous supernatural. The farmer who’d reported the creature to the agency eyed them with misgiving, chewing on his pipe. Romaine assured him that he was able to handle the creature and had dealt with them before.

“It’s not that,” the man said. “You’ll have to cross the goat paddock to get to the field where I saw it last. Nasty buggers, some of them. Sharp hooves.”

Romaine and El, in unison, as if they had rehearsed it, said solemnly, “I ain’t afraid of no goats.”

The man, understandably not reassured, shrugged and gestured for them to go ahead, goats, ghosts, hooves or creatures be damned.