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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Fiction: A Sister’s Connection [Part 2 of 2] (626 words)

Hana looked around the room, hoping that Harlowe was going to just crawl out from under the bed or something. Hana took a few calming breaths and turned back to face Conlyn. “Full disclosure, I do have the Sight.”

“I know,” Conlyn admitted sheepishly, “Harlowe told me that you did, but you decided not to be trained by the sisterhood because you thought that your family needed you at home.”

“I’m so glad my sister is good at keeping secrets.” Hana sighed, before deciding that wasn’t the big issue at the moment. “But—What she doesn’t know is—I have been studying with the sisterhood, not training properly, you know, I don’t want to be a sister, but I got worried about Harlowe, something changed in her, so I started studying with them, to learn how to watch Harlowe, to figure out what exactly what was going on. I think that’s what woke me up tonight, the training, knowing that Harlowe was in trouble. If you care for her at all, we need to find her.”

“Okay, in the interest of full disclosure—“ Conlyn started.

“I know.  You and Harlowe aren’t actually engaged.” Hana answered, setting down the lamp on the bedside table and kneeling to look under the bed.  You know, just in case.

When she stood up again, Conlyn looked like a fish out of water, “How? When?”

“Since I met you,” Hana smiled, “First of all, Harlowe would never want to come back to the Sisterlands to ‘settle down,’ not in a hundred years or a million ways. Not unless she was pregnant and abandoned, and then I feel like she would only settle down long enough that her child could survive under my care before she’d run off again. And the way you two look at each other, the way you interact—you’re not in love. You’re not a couple.  I don’t really know what you guys are, I don’t have enough information, and she clearly doesn’t share as much with me for her own reasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that you do care for her—as a friend or a boss or a solider or whatever. Will you help me find her?”

Conlyn blinked. He’d never looked at Hana like this before. He’d seen what Harlowe had told him, Hana was the sweet little sister, the accidental bonus baby who came years after Harlowe, the little girl who wanted nothing more than to study history, care for their house, and never leave the Sisterlands.  The girl who turned her back on the Sight because she was afraid of what she might see.  Harlowe always talked of her sister with love and care, but always like she was a little underwhelmed by her sister—like she couldn’t understand why Hana would settle for as low as what she wanted to settle for.

Had she really never seen this? Maybe it was sibling blindness, the fact that Harlowe did know Hana when she was little, but how could she have missed this, the strong, well planned young woman standing in front of him—who knew more than she ever let on, who was strong enough to keep a secret, to fight her own desires and dreams to protect her sister, the woman who keep the most secrets from Hana, but Hana would make sure that she would be safe, that she would take care of the only family she ever had even if they never took care of her the same way.

She was strong, and she was beautiful. And life was about to get more complicated than Conlyn had ever expected.

After a second, he realized that Hana was still waiting for an answer.  “Yes. Of course, I’ll help you find her.  Let’s make a plan.”

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Stories

 

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Fiction: A Sister’s Connection [Part 1 of 2] (620 words)

 

Hana sat up quickly. Whir was still asleep in his doggie basket, so he couldn’t have woken her up.  Harlowe wasn’t in her bed, so she couldn’t have woken Hana up.  Hana listened quietly for the sounds of her mother moving around the house, but heard nothing.  Hana didn’t like the twist in her gut though.  Something was wrong. She sat and thought for a moment, trying to figure out what some hidden part of her brain was trying telling her.

She found herself staring at Harlowe’s still made bed and felt like she was going to be sick.  Something was wrong, of course, and it had to be related to the only thing she’d trained herself to focus on.  Something was very wrong with Harlowe.

Hana fell out of her bed so quickly that Whir jumped up from his blankets and started barking like the world was coming to its end. Hana didn’t have time for him today.  She threw on a skirt and a jacket over her night-shirt, and moving as quickly as she could down the stairs.  She did have the presence of mind to grab a lantern as she headed out the front door of the house—but forgot some other necessities such as shoes.  But if the road was cold or muddy, Hana didn’t notice it.  She was a girl with a mission.

She swung through the bar room of the Inn without even noticing Charlie behind the bar or the fact that it was the time of night when men and women gathered in their little booths to pretend that they had privacy while ignoring the lack of privacy they could hear from those around them. She moved up the stairs quickly, to the rooms where she knew that Conlyn was staying, and she hoped counterintuitively that she was about to see a lot more of Conlyn and her sister than she ever wanted to.  Because if Harlowe wasn’t home because she was here with Conlyn than that meant that it wasn’t too late, that whatever bad news was swirling around her heart was in the future and they could try to change it, to try to protect her.  She’d gladly be scolded for invading Harlowe’s privacy for the next two days straight if it meant that Harlowe was safe.

But no such luck. The room was silent and the bed was empty.  Hana panicked for a moment, wondering if Conlyn was the one who took Harlowe away, if he was the bad news she was dreading, but then she saw him, his tall figure bent over the desk, seeming asleep on his papers.

“Don’t be dead, don’t be dead, oh please, please, don’t be dead.”  Hana practically chanted as she made her way over to the desk, holding the light high to see if there was any blood or visible wounds on Conlyn.   There weren’t any, so Hana took a deep breath and reached out to shake his shoulder.

Conlyn jumped up immediately, his hand closing down like a vice on Hana’s wrist, twisting her arm away from him.  But, just as fast as he was there, he let her go. “Goodness protect, Hana, you startled me.  What’s going on?”

“Is Harlowe here? Or did she have plans to meet you tonight?”

“What? No. No, she said she was going home.”  Conlyn rubbed at the back of his neck, his brain slowed from the panic and sudden safety again.  He blinked at Hana and put things together. “I’m guessing she’s not at home.”

“No.” Hana said quickly, now at a lost, not sure what her next move should be, “No, she’s not at home.  And I think something very bad has happened.”

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Gravesite [Part 2 of 2] (639 words)

A few minutes of silence passed, Aden wasn’t looking at me anymore, just staring off at the little graves with a look of shock and confusion. I suddenly felt very small, and just looked down at my hands. I couldn’t face him if he was going to leave.  “Of course—the situations changed now.  I mean, I don’t expect you to be involved if you don’t want to.  You’re right, your name did revert when you were declared dead so you’re not technically my husband anymore and since it’s DNA two you can claim it’s not technically yours and I don’t want you to think—“

He kissed me.  It was the first time he’d kissed me since he’d woken up from statis.  For him, it would have been only a few weeks—since I kissed him goodbye as he went off on his little mission.  For me—It’s had been the better part of three years, and still in that moment it felt like we’d never been apart.  Like he might have kissed me that morning before he went off to work. It was amazing.  I melted into his arms like I did every time he kissed me with that kind of force. For the first time, it felt like it wasn’t a dream anymore.  He was really here, back, properly here, sitting in front of me, alive and well, in my arms.  We’d be okay again.

He pulled away, just slightly, not enough that we broke the embrace, but so that he could talk to me. “We’re going to have a family?” When I gave a breathless affirmative, he rested his forehead against mine and let out a happy sigh.

“You’re okay with this? Really?”  It was almost too perfect—something had to be wrong here, didn’t it?

“Yeah.  More than. I mean—I always thought…We’d always talk ourselves out of it, and these things would get complicated–so it’s not ideal, but then again maybe if I hadn’t been in statis, if you hadn’t thought I was dead then maybe we never would have gotten around to actually having a baby. We over think, you and me Brennan.  But we’re going to have a baby.  We’re going to start a family.  It’s more than I could have ever hoped for.”

“I’m so glad,”  I shut my eyes and let myself finally properly relax.  I hadn’t realized how heavy this had been weighing on my shoulders.  “I’m so glad to hear you say that, Aden.”

“I just have one question–if I may be so forward to ask it,” Aden whispered in my ear, and I tried not to tense again.  I knew it was too perfect. “If it’s okay with you, do you think we could go back to your rooms and let me pretend like we conceived it the normal way-if a little late?”  Aden whispered as seductively as he could ever manage.  I might have laughed, if the idea didn’t seem really appealing to me right then.

“Yes. Yes, let’s go back to the rooms.  We’ll deal with fixing your name and the marriage logistics tomorrow.” I’m not even ashamed of how quickly I jumped up and started to pull him along the walkway.

“Tomorrow?” He asked, regaining his balance and matching my step?

“Yes,”  I smiled, “You’ve got three months of birthdays and holidays to make up for, and you were the one who said that you were younger than you should be.  We’ve got our work cut out for us tonight.”

The moan that Aden let out at that was inappropriate for a public space, and I had to take a quick look around to make sure that no one was around to over hear us just then.  “Come on, Mr. Maxis,” I laughed, linking my arm with his, “Let’s go be scandalous before I make an honest man out of you.”

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Stories

 

Fiction: Gravesite [Part 1 of 2] (670 words)

“So, this is strange.” Aden leant down carefully to touch his own name carved into the stone.  “Dead for three years, and yet—here I am.” Aden turned back and offered me a smile.  “I’m sorry.  This must be worse for you.  It’s not been as long for me, since I saw you last—or since I thought I saw you last…or, whatever.”

“Right. About that—there is one more thing that we should probably talk about before too much time passes.   It’s another one of those things that is going to be really strange considering it’s only been a few weeks since you think you saw me.” I indicated to a bench in the shade of a tree, and Aden followed me to sit.  We sat down, and if we looked straight ahead, we could still we Aden’s misleading grave.

Aden sighed—like he was steeling himself, and then offered me a brave smile.  “Are you going to tell me you’re married to someone else now? Because I will fight for you, tooth and nail.  I am two and half years younger than I should be, after all.” He tried for a laugh, but I could see he was afraid. How much had I changed in almost three years?  I wasn’t in love with anyone else—but that didn’t make this whole thing any less complicated, and there was no guarantees that he would like this anymore than his other options.

“No, no. I didn’t get remarried.  I didn’t even change my name when you were pronounced dead.  Legally, I am still Mrs. Brenna Aden Nathen-Maxis.”

“That’s—good to know.”  That childish grin, the same one he had since he was six, spread across his face, and I had to fight the butterflies that were suddenly doing somersaults in my stomach at the sight of him.  “I suppose I should get mine changed back huh?  I reverted to Aden Maxis when I died—Do we have to get remarried? Can you remarry the person you’re still legally married to?”

“Uh—Yeah, I don’t know, but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Oh, right. Interesting news from my complicated wife like person.”  Aden put his serious face on—and I almost laughed in spite of it all.  It was so good to have him back.  It was so amazing to be sitting her, next to my husband again, after three years of absence.  Hopefully, this wouldn’t scare him off.  Not now, not when he just got back.

“Right. Well. Aden, love. Uh, I’m pregnant.”  He blinked at me silently, pulling a face.  “About three months long, actually.  I know I’m not really showing much—but the doctors assure me that a baby is there, and I’ve heard a heartbeat so—“

Aden blinked at me for another couple of seconds longer before looking down to stare blatantly at my belly.  I put a hand on my stomach as if that would somehow prevent him from seeing something indecent there.  Finally, Aden managed to lift his gaze back to my face. “Oh. So, you are seeing someone else, then?”

“Well—no. I haven’t been with anyone since you deployed.”

Aden’s stunned look switched to one of confusion.  “I know biology wasn’t my strong subject but—I’m not sure how that’s possible.  Who is the father?”

“Technically—you are?”  Aden let out a desperate little laugh, and I pressed on—“Two years after you were declared dead in action, Demi petitioned to have your DNA samples released into her custody since you two were the last surviving members of your father’s line and since she can’t have kids, she thought that I should get the chance to have a child with you.  I mean, technically it’s DNA Code Two, so the kid would be technically half clone, and there are some clone complications—but I thought you were dead, and I thought it was our last chance to have a family.  So, Demi and I made it happen.”

I’d never seen anyone look so much like a frozen computer program as Aden did right then.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Stories

 

Fiction: Ages (1074 words)

“How old are you, Conlyn?” they were quickly running out of the more usual conversation starters, and Hana had enough pain relief in her right then to feel loopy enough to ignore normal social protocols. She wanted some answers, and even if she never got them, they couldn’t say she hadn’t asked.

“I–uh, I’m not sure.”  Conlyn answered, “Older than you, younger than Harlowe I think.  I don’t really celebrate my birthday, I don’t know.  This year, I’ve said I’m 24, and maybe I could be—but I could be younger, I could be older. You see, once my dad left, my mom didn’t really care anymore.  She never wrote down when I was born. There were those who tried to help me when I was younger, to make sure my mother couldn’t actually kill me when all was said and done, but they weren’t exactly the kind of people to be overly concerned with paper work either.  And they, of course, abandoned me as soon as I could show any level of self-sufficiency, so even if they had known my birthday I wouldn’t even begin to know where to ask now. When I knew I had to join the *BAD GUYS* I knew they wouldn’t take me unless I was 15, so I told them I was 15, even though I’m pretty sure it was a lie.  But, that was nine years ago, so 24 I am.”

“Oh,” Hana was quiet, subdued, and “Okay then.”

Conlyn counted to three in his head and then sighed.  “Just ask, Hana… I know you want to know, I know we’ve danced around the subject a hundred times before. And if you ask, Hana, I’ll tell you.”

Hana weighed the pros and cons of that in her head.  She wanted to be strong enough for him, to say she didn’t care if that meant they wouldn’t be digging up a bad thought from his past.

But in the end, she was too curious.  And she did want to know.  She wanted to know terribly. “What happened to your dad, Conlyn? Why did you have to raise yourself?”

“As far as I can tell from the pieces my mother slurred out. She was essentially some noble man’s doxy.  But she loved him and she believed that he loved her too, and that he just needed a reason to choose her, to take her away to the high buildings and give her all the splendor she felt she deserved. So, she ignored all the rules that women learn working on the street to keep themselves from getting pregnant, and might have even actively done things to encourage a pregnancy. But–he never loved her for more than piece of ass and the thrill of sneaking around with someone below his status. He learned she was pregnant, denied it was his, and vanished.

“I’m pretty sure I know who he is, though.  Some of the big wigs used to talk about how I reminded him of Charles, a lord of something or other, about 12 or 13 places away from the throne.  When I first joined the King’s guard, well before I could have ever dreamed of getting badged, I heard that he was going to be at some dinner for something or other, so I snuck in to see him.  There is no way that I am not his kid, we’re practically identical expect for the fact that I’m younger.

“I didn’t want anything from him, I never had. I just wanted to see him, you know? Know for a fact who he was.  But I guess he saw me, and knew who I was. Later that week, I was approached by his daughter–my sister, I guess–who offered me a kind smile and a small purse, but said with no uncertain terms that money was mine if I never approached Charles again. I wasn’t supposed to talk to him, go to the same events, allow myself to be put in a situation where we could be compared or people could make assumptions about any relations between us.

“If I didn’t the money was enough, I could send her a letter pretending to be a suitor to make my demands and within reason they would be met.  I didn’t know what to say, so I took the purse and promised to never contact him again.”  Conlyn looked up and offered Hana a little smile, “I was badged within the year, and the only person to have ever done it faster was your older sister.  Charles had to be there, though, he one of the top members of the King’s Guard.  He had to look me in the eye and congratulate me. He had to shake my hand directly in front of the King, who had to see us standing side by side, face to face. Nothing makes a better motivator than knowing for a fact you’re unwanted.  Really fuels a fire.  And as petty as it is, I loved seeing him embarrassed, I loved seeing him squirm.  As long as I never ask him for anything him, or challenge him, he’ll never have to admit he’s my father, but everyone knows what he is. And, Damn, if that doesn’t feel good.”

Hana laughed, at the look on his face.  “Sorry, I don’t mean to–”

“No, it’s okay.  It’s petty, and juvenile, and I should probably act my age, but hell, I could be acting my age for all I know.” He grinned, and Hana laughed a little louder, holding her side for a second where her stitches must have tugged.  “I haven’t even told Harlowe this.”  Conlyn admitted, suddenly looking more sober than before. “I mean, I assume she could see the resemblance that she is one of those court people who now knows exactly who he is, but I never confessed that I did it to spite him. That’s probably not the kind of trait they really value in their badged guards.”

“You’re secret is safe with me, Conlyn. I won’t tell her.”

“I know.”  Conlyn looked up at Hana, and she didn’t recognize whatever was going on behind his eyes, “I know, Hana. I can tell you anything.  I’d trust you with my life.”

Hana had a feeling that something very important had just happened, but she didn’t know what it was. And that scared her just a little. But she smiled back. If she was going to get scared, she’d like to be scared with Conlyn.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Stories

 

Fiction: Interruptions (381 words)

Henry approached carefully.  He was hoping that Charlotte would finish her conversation with the other girl there quickly, but–that didn’t seem to be the case.  He was going to have to interrupt her, and even though he hated himself for second of it, he took another little half step towards her and said, “Hey, Charlotte?”

Her friend rounded on him, fury on her face. “Look buddy, back off.  I’m sure you’re really broken up over Miss Bobbi’s death, but I never saw you around while she was sick, so you don’t get to pester her daughter at her funeral.”

“Ashleigh,” Charlotte sighed, tears in her voice, “It’s–”

“Don’t you dare say okay, Lot, because it’s not.  This guy can wait.” Ashleigh continued to glare him down, but Charlotte pulled herself up out of the chair and came to stand level with her friend.

“Ash. This is one of my brothers. Henry, right?”

Henry nodded, and Ashleigh’s mouth dropped open.  She turned to Charlotte, and as if he wasn’t standing there, “I thought you said the abandoning bastards weren’t coming?”

Charlotte gave Henry an apologetic look over Ashleigh’s shoulder.  He just shrugged. After all, Martin and he had probably said worse about her with less prompting.   “I said I didn’t know if they would be here or not.  Uncle Charlie called them.  And she is their mother too, so, please, don’t offend them at her funeral.  She wouldn’t forgive you for that.”

“You’re right.  I’m apologize. For you and Miss Bobbi.”  But when Ashleigh turned to look at Henry again, he could see that just because she wasn’t saying it aloud anymore didn’t mean she wasn’t thinking it loud and clear.

“Uncle Charlie sent me to look for you.  There is a clause for the three of us in the will, which supposedly relates to what she wants done with her ashes, and the executor wants to get things squared away with us as early as he can.”

“Right.”  Charlotte offered him her best smile, and she looked so much like their mother from when Henry was younger, “I’ll be out there soon.  Just, give me another moment to compose myself.”

“Of course.” and then Henry turned and as good as ran from the back room.  Awkward had never been his strong suit.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2015 in Stories

 

Fiction: Answers (250 words)

We sat in silence for longer than was strictly necessary, but I was so grateful for it.  I was so tired of people asking me how I was doing or what I was thinking about doing next or all those other things that were meant to be well wishing but just made me feel sick to my stomach.  I was sure that Ian had a world full of questions he wanted me to answer but, at least for now, he’s keeping them to himself.

I leaned forward, setting my elbows on the coffee table and putting my head in between my hands.  Maybe if I squeezed my head hard enough, it would pop like a pimple and I’d never have to answer anyone’s questions ever again.  That actually sounded really nice to me.

“You’re just going to give yourself a headache doing that,” Ian offered. “Skulls are surprisingly hard to crush with your bare hands.”

“Don’t even want to know how you know that,” I sighed, forcing myself to sit back up.  I looked Ian in the eye, and he turned his head to the side, looking at me quizzically.  “Well, come on then. Let’s hear it. What do you want me to answer for you? What do you need to know?”

Ian sat up straight again and shrugged.  “There will be plenty of time for that later.  Right now, I just want to know that you’re okay. Or, okay ish, anyways.”

“Okay ish, I am that.”

“Then we’re good.”

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Stories