On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Ghost Seer, Except, Day 6

The remembrance of the lonely melancholy of the Native American pulled at her, along with Enzo’s big dog eyes and huge expectations. So she nerved herself and returned to the ghost.

His passing took a very short time and was unnerving. He’d spoken oddly in her head with more images than language; she’d had to assure him that no one of his tribe remained for him to protect, that his horse was gone, too. Then he’d walked down the rise, sending a cold wind her way, and vanished.

Enzo had congratulated her, but with less enthusiasm than when she’d helped the little girl.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Celta Thursday, pic of T'Ash

At a writing retreat in mtns.iffy wifi, new crew taking care of cats, as well as neighbors looking in. Nearly forgot it's Thursday. Offered City of Heroes pics of heroes/heroines on FB and readers wanted T'Ash. Here he is, but not from City of Heroes.

Ghost Layer Snippet: Day 5

The sparring with the tall skinny white guy with a mustache waxed into points and fuzzy sideburns didn’t go as well as Zach would have liked. He couldn’t take the man down and that was solely because the dude was awesome with a damn cane. At least he didn’t go down himself and was sweating less in his shirt sleeves—ungartered—than the instructor.

Pretty much a draw.

Mr. Laverstock pulled a large white handkerchief from his trousers pocket and wiped his face. “We can work one-on-one as we have now, or I have a schedule of classes.” He walked into the open doorway on the far end of the room and returned with a sheet of paper. Zach glanced at it and noticed it was the same as the one posted on the bulletin board. The class coming up in a half hour was called “Victorian Vixens.”



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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ghost Seer Day 4

“Clare Cermak has decided to face her fears and is going to walk in LoDo . . . where there are quite a massive number of unhappy ghosts,” Zach's elderly landlady stated. “Ghosts of the Chinese who lost their lives in the race riot of Hop Alley in 1880, ghosts of despairing and desperate women who were prostitutes in the red-light district, including three who were strangled by a serial killer in 1894.”

Zach stared at her. “You know a lot,” he muttered.

Her lips compressed into a thin line before she said, “I know the ghosts of Denver, Zach.” A heavy silence. “Since I believe in them.”

He raised his brows. “And you think I should.”

“I think you have a gift—”

“No.”

She inclined her head.

“Are you going to throw me out?” he asked, a pang zipping to his gut. He liked this place. He liked her and Mrs. Magee. He loved the food.

Her head tilted and expression softened. “Not right now. Especially not if you help Clare.”



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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ghost Seer, Day 3 snippet

But nobody other than she could save herself. She had to do it.

Alone. Because who would believe her?

**If you don’t accept your gift that you can see ghosts, then you will die. And if you don’t help the gunfighter ghost pass on, you can go crazy,** her phantom dog said, laying out the new rules Clare had to live . . . or die by.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Ghost Seer, Day 2, Zach Slade and Clare Cermak meet

Ghost Seer, Aug 24, Day 2.

A single woman just inside the restaurant sitting by the window caught his attention. Her conservative gray suit and the clean head-hugging cut of her thick brown hair with gleaming red strands showed that she considered herself a serious professional.

This impression was contradicted by the fact that she appeared to be talking to herself—or, perhaps, reading aloud from the book open in front of her.

He was a sucker for lovely contradictions, and he couldn’t see her eyes behind her shades. Very intriguing.

“Jack Slade!” she announced.

Sounded like “Zach.”

He walked in and gave her a slow smile, moved up to the square two-top. “Yeah? You called?”


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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ghost Seer snippets, Day 1, August 23

Since Ghost Seer is a contemporary paranormal, and today is the start of the book, I'm posting a snippet excerpt (and I'll be doing this through Ghost Talker, which I'm writing now, pretty much until the 3rd week of September)

Ghost Seer, the start of the series, day 1, August 23:

**I like the way you smell. I’m staying,** the figment of her imagination, a “ghost” dog, said. It—he?—sat on the end of her bed.

“No,” Clare Cermak whispered as she slapped a palm down on her buzzing alarm clock. She stared at him in shock. Well, through him. He didn’t have a touch of color.

“This can’t be happening,” she muttered. She was on her third day of denial of ghosts, but that still worked for her. A year might work for her. Forever.

She closed her eyes and scooted under the sheet.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Lost Heart, a Celta Enovella


I have requested to purchase this cover for the Barton Clover-Enata Licorice story currently called Lost Heart. Not sure whether I'll get it, but the order has gone in (about a week after I posted. I really thought about it). As you all may or may not know, I write out of order and then write transitions for my scenes and chapters. So it was easy for me to work the cover into the story (just this morning!) Here it is:


They would leave the mysterious island tomorrow at dawn, probably never to return. [SPOILER CUT]. Sorrow filled her . . . and sleep teased Enata, then vanished, leaving her awake in the dark. As far as she knew, Barton made the rounds of the castle one more time. Finally she gave up on sleep and teleported in her nightgown to the headland opposite the castle, to look at it one last time.

A whisper of sound and warmth at her back told her Barton had joined her.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Celta Thursday: Cut scene idea from Heart Quest

Cut scene idea from Heart Quest: Nothing was so important as understanding her HeartMate. Inhaling deeply of the gentle herbal incense, Trif adjusted the comfortchair one last time before seeking her Flair, her psi power, and searching the past – for Winterberry and his last Passage, his emotional dreamquest.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Celta Thursday -- Pic of BalmHeal garden

Celta Thursday. I remain behind deadline and under the gun for Ghost Talker, so I'm taking the easy way out the rest of the month until I turn it in. :) So here's a pic of the garden I based BalmHeal estate on. :)

Friday, August 07, 2015

Celta Thursdays and the Ghost Seer series

A couple of things. First, I will probably be doing more "bits" for Celta Thursdays. That is, less full fledged scenes, more like a paragraph or two and lines.

Next, on August 21 Clare Cermak first saw ghosts...I'm hoping to post small excerpts of all the Ghost books each day through GHOST TALKER even (the one I'm working on), through September 25th (which I think will be the ending date of Ghost Talker). This is an ambitious project. I am hoping to entice those of you who haven't tried the Ghost books into buying them.
smile emoticon
Also, since my blog feed goes to amazon, to pick up readers there.

That's my plan, just letting you all know ahead of time so there are not many surprises.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Celta Thursday -- Pic of Great Labyrinth crater

Before vegetation set in and before being made into the Labyrinth.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Celta Thursday (though Friday) Cut from Heart Duel

First, family stuff came up yesterday so I had to postpone Celta Thursday, my apologies.

Celta Thursday-Friday: The easiest thing for me to write are "intermals", thought musings, so I look to see if there are too many and some get cut. Here's one from Heart Duel:

Holm leaned against the brick wall of AllClass Healing Hall, eyes idly scanning the street as he waited for FirstHealer Lark Collinson. His personal glider, a small two passenger model, had already been programmed and hovered on the air cushion in the street before him.

He'd made it his business to know everything about Lark, had started gathering information a year ago, after he'd returned from his impossible journey with Tinne.

He'd kept telling himself that he was giving her time to recover from the death of her husband, that Holm, himself, needed to learn each facet of her character in great detail to plot the strategy of courtship. An impulsive man, from an impulsive family, Holm rarely dawdled about anything, but he'd feared to put his plan in action. Tensions between the Hollys and the Hawthorns had been on the rise throughout Holm's lifetime and had heated even more in later years. All of Celtan society was organized into clans and family opinion was formidable.

He was a fighter, happy to feel the zing of life pulse through his veins when he wielded a sword. She was a Healer, with personal experience of the grief that came from feuding, and a contempt for those who sliced open others, making dreadful work for her Flaired hands.

But the time had come and parental pressure had decreed the start of his wooing. Now.

So he waited.

He knew that after a long shift at the AllClass HealingHall she had no energy to spend on teleportation, and that she usually took a public SwiftGo to the AllClass beach to the southwest shore of Pict, the peninsula that Druida was founded on.




And you might note that this is the cover art I received and not the actual cover. I had enough of a warning to change the sword description, though.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cut from Heart Duel

I am at the RWA conference and house/catsitters are helping out enormously. However, here is Celta Thursday, a cut from Heart Duel:
And, Lark realized with a jolt, deep in her heart she simply didn't believe in HeartMate love.

She blinked at herself in surprise. It seemed to be a tenet of Celta, a foundation of their philosophy that should have steeped into her very bones with all her other education. But it hadn't. Perhaps it was the fact that her parents hadn't been HeartMates. Nor had her father's parents. Her FatherDam still lived in T'Hawthorn residence, long after her husband's death. And everyone knew HeartMates died within a year of their spouses.

No couple close to her had demonstrated the deep love that the HeartBond was supposed to confer. The closest she'd been to HeartMates was when she'd participated in NobleRituals and HeartMate couples had also done so. She knew there'd been an unusual strength and blending to their Flair, between the two and when they joined the Circle to build the cone of power, but they had been adults and she had been a child, and kept on the fringes of the Circle to protect her from harm, so she hadn't felt it close at hand.

And there wasn't a HeartMate for her. Not in this lifetime. She hadn't experienced any metaphysical* connection to another person during the Passages that had freed her Flair, and that was the prime indicator that a person had a HeartMate -- some sort of link during Passage. No, her Passages had been stormy, but controllable, but with no outreaching to touch another's soul. With this knowledge, she hadn't hesitated to marry a fellow journeyman Healer. A man with the potential to be a great Healer, a Downwind man who'd grown beyond the disadvantages of his youth. Ethyn. A man who'd been literally cut down at the cusp of his career by a noble sword when he'd gone to help the fallen in a noble skirmish. The manner of his death had been as great a wound as his death itself, to Lark.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A note about Celta Thursdays.

Just reminding you all that what I usually post are CUTS/OUTTAKES, scenes that didn't make the book. Sometimes (like yesterday), they were just first-draft raw stuff. So they are not polished, and they can be clumsy, or irritating, etc. I DON'T reread, or revise. Yup, raw writing here. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Celta Thursday

First, copy edits for Heart Legacy have been turned in!
Next: A cut from Heart Thief.

Ailim struggled to keep her eyes open as dawn lightened the windows of her ResidenceDen. She sipped a cup of hot caff and concentrated on the numbers of the spreadsheet laying before her on her desk. The sheet covered the surface of her desk, lumpy where the outline of her blotter showed beneath. The numbers in all the tiny rows seemed to move around, except the huge, black negative total.

At least she had a new, substantial income to place in the "credit" column. Her judicial record had been reviewed and she'd been appointed the Supreme Judge of Druida. There were few telempathic judges, and she was arguably the most powerfully Flaired. She hadn't had much doubt that she would be assigned the post.

But she had doubted. Before her mother's death, she wouldn't have doubted. It was returning from her circuit rounds to find the Family's financial mess that had shaken her, left her off-balance and still struggling for her feet.

She pulled her gaze from the darkly paneled walls covered with golden-framed antique paintings of still-lifes. Just sitting in this chair caused a resurgence of grief that she firmly shifted aside.

When she'd realized she hadn't the time or the luxury to grieve properly, she'd gone to a MindHealer who'd distanced the emotional storms. Little by little the grief worked itself out of a huge tangled knot into the small, even threads of memory and life.

Ailim sighed and bent again to the figures. She was expected at Judgement Grove by Eighth Septhour chime. At least, she'd already reviewed the several cases she'd be judging. Those were understandable, those were interesting, those were fixable. These figures weren't.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Celta Thursday - Heart Journey, lost Tabacin Diary Entry

HA! I found a Tabacin Diary entry that didn't make it into Heart Journey. The Cherry ancestress who'd been on the starship Lugh's Spear. Writing that was one of my favorite things. Here it is:

Today we finally finished traversing the mountains and there was much rejoicing when we saw people – people! – waiting as we came through the canyon.

I was not the only one to weep. These were some of the other colonists, from Nuada's Sword, and they came to greet us! It was a big group, about twenty, and they said it would only be another three eightdays before we will reach the city.

It was so strange and fearful and good to see faces I've never seen before in my life. Another jolt of this new life. I thought my head would explode.

They don't quite talk like we do, though those "FirstFamilies" who passed the journey in the cryonics tubes spoke more alike than the rest of us.

An incredible day. A day of thanks.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Thief

Celta Thursday: I literally have 3-4 versions of Heart Thief. Here's a cut from version 2:

Two Eight-days Later

"We have replaced the warped panels in the energy storage area," the Ship said.

Ruis smiled. He was getting used to the Ship speaking in the royal We. When asked, it stated it was an amalgam of departments integrated to communicate with him.

"We request further orders."

This made Ruis' smile widen and a kernel of pride in him unfurl. The first time the Ship had asked him for orders had startled him. He, Ruis Elder, the despised, asked for orders. People had always avoided him. He had no good friends and mere acquaintances. Lord and Lady knew, Samba, his only companion, never asked for orders.

"List priorities."

It did.

"Repair additional maintenance androids," he decided.

"Yes, Captain," the Ship replied.

Ruis whistled through his teeth and gloated. He was Captain. The Captain's quarters, his quarters, contained a small room the ship had converted into a workroom at his request. On the table before him was his latest project, an Earth motor the Ship was teaching him to repair and renovate. That was his passion.

He glanced at the table on the right and sighed at the items spread out there, stolen items to be returned when he was emotionally able to do so. That was his disgrace. Now that he no longer needed to steal to survive, his impulsive thefts brought a great wave of guilt.

But it didn't matter what rank he held inside the Ship, when he left its confines and spent time in Druida all the old rage returned as he was cursed, cuffed, ignored and generally abused. He'd tried to keep his hands to himself, but his temper cracked as the disparity between the way he was treated in the Ship and outside in Druida diverged so greatly.

Yet, he'd managed to keep his backsliding ways to only picking noble pockets. Spread on a velvet background were expensive baubles -- an antique haircomb of D'Reed's, a dangling set of sapphire D'Ivy earrings, a brace of engraved silver blasers from the Holly's. No doubt Tinne had endured a tongue-lashing for that loss!

Nothing from T'Oak. The man had stood up for Ruis, in a very minor way. Nothing from D'Vine. She had voted against his banishment and against death. Nothing from D'Ash. Never again would Ruis cross T'Ash, and he still owed D'Ash.

And nothing from D'SilverFir. Oh, he'd been tempted. A haughty woman had swept past him in a crowd, not deigning to even see a person garbed in less than silkeen. His nimble fingers had slid deep inside her sleeve and plucked out a softfur pouch full of gilt. He'd noticed the crest of D'SilverFir and caught up with the woman -- not a lady -- and gently replaced the thing.

However arrogant, the woman had belonged to D'SilverFir. And D'SilverFir was the only woman in his memory that had been personally kind to him.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Heart Legacy Cast of Characters

Coming November:
Heart Legacy Cast of Characters:

Draeg Betony-Blackthorn's Family:
Note: Draeg is undercover as Draeg Hedgenettle.

Corax, his new raven Fam.

Straif T'Blackthorn: adopted father, FirstFamily GrandLord, tracker (hero of Heart Choice)

Tinne Holly: cousin to Straif T'Blackthorn, Draeg's adopted father. Concerned about the old Yew threats against his Family (hero of Heart Fate).

Ilex Winterberry: cousin by marriage to Draeg through Mitchella Clover D'Blackthorn, Chief of all the Druida City guards (police) and formally in charge of the investigation, (hero of Heart Quest).

Mentioned: Draeg's Family

Mitchella Clover D'Blackthorn: adopted mother, interior designer, FirstFamily GrandLady (heroine of Heart Choice)

Antenn Blackthorn-Moss: step brother, architect and inhabitant of the Turquoise House (hero of Heart Fire)

Draeg's full brothers:
Nico
Vesus


Loridana Itha Valerian D'Yew's Family:

Baccat, her cat Familiar companion.

The Residence: the sentient manor house, Yew Residence.

Cuspid Yew: distant cousin, a generation older than Lori, maître de maison. He and the Residence and Folia Yew run the staff of the Residence and the Family.

Folia Yew: thirty-something unmarried Housekeeper.

Vi Yew: Daughter of Cuspid Yew, about a year and a half older than Lori. )Twins
Zus Yew: Son of Cuspid Yew, about a year and a half older than Lori. )

Everyone who lives on the Yew estate and works in the Residence are Family members.

Lori's stridebeasts, two of six named:

Semper
Cana

The horses:
Smyrna
Olusa

Lahsin Holly: Lori's grandfather's (FatherDam's) ex-wife, Lahsin Yew, now Tinne Holly's wife.

Others:

Cal Marigold, reincarnated boy of Draeg's mentor, Tab Holly

Garrett T'Marigold, Cal's father, an ex-merchant guard (hero of Heart Change)

Garrett Primross, Private Investigator, informally in charge of the investigation (hero of Heart Secret).

Nuin Ash: Heir of the Ashes, son of GreatLord Rand T'Ash and Danith Mallow, friend of Draeg. Nuin is a fire mage.

Marin Holly: younger child of Tinne Holly and Lahsin Holly.

Anthema Mayweed: chance met new acquaintance of Lori D'Yew.

GreatLord Rand T'Ash: jeweler/smith/Flair tester, (hero of HeartMate), Fam Zanth.

GrandLady D'Grove: former Captain of the FirstFamily Council.

Avellana Hazel: youngest child of the Hazels, HeartMate to Muin (Vinni), T'Vine. Avellana is a holographic artist.

GreatLord Muin (Vinni) T'Vine: the prophet of Celta.


Some of the last listed have VERY short cameos.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Dance

Dufleur closed her eyes and stood still. Just stood still for once in her life and let things be. She was not pushing, pushing, pushing to get onto the next task. As she calmed, she felt her Flair settle around her like a rich, heavy cloak, seeming to gently filter through her skin and body, then back out, enveloping her.
She breathed.
This was good.
On an inhalation, she opened her eyes. Nearly lost the sweet serenity as she saw a glowing open door before her. A one person sized passage way.
To the past.
Never had she been able to move more than five seconds in the past. Now the door glittered before her, beyond it, the past in darkening shades of gray until the horizon was black.
She could go back in time! Could she return?
No, not if you change events that effect you. It was if time itself whispered to her. In her bones she could see herself of the now being absorbed at some point in time by the changed self then. That was scary. But it might be worth it.
Could she go back to where her father had died? Sidling toward the very edge of the door, she peeked in, sent her Flair probing. My father's death. Far in the distance, miles away, a slight flame shot red. She shuddered. Too far.
But perhaps she could go back to before her fight** with Saille. Now a wall of flame indicated the point. Yes, it had felt that horrible, engulfed in a wall of flame. Maybe she could even go back to...when? When Fairyfoot had dragged in his HeartGift again? A golden glow appeared, several blocks away. Tempting.
She thought of all the mistakes she'd made with Saille. Her lips curved up. She could go back and fix them. Then she frowned. That might be too easy. And hadn't she learned lessons along the way that made her a better, deeper, person? Wouldn't the person she was now be a better HeartMate to him than someone who hadn't faced her own blind faults?
Yes.
Sighing out, she let the air of her breath disperse the door, watched it fade away.
This time.
And thinking of time, it was time for her to go to Saille and see if she could win him back. Her Heartgift! She'd made one a couple of months ago, during her Passage. Where was it?
She'd thought it pretty stupid at the time, to make a ceremonial pillow that held marriage bands during a HeartMate wedding. It was rare for people to use those during a ceremony in this day and age. Unless the wedding was very formal, very expensive. For a GreatLord, say. Her stomach clutched. She should have known, then. Hurrying to a dark corner, she placed a stool under the high corner cabinet that she'd bespelled and opened it, reaching in for the box she'd brought home from the discard pile at work. She took it, then shut the door of the cupboard, stepped off the stool.
Setting the box on her bed, she dispelled the shieldspell and opened it, her breath whooshed out of her at the power of the thing. Sexuality twined around and through her like the long, subtle curves of branches and leaves she'd emgroidered in gold on the scarlet silkeen. Old, creamy lace edged the pillow.
Heat raced through her.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

List

FIRST FAMILIES:

GreatLords/Ladies:

November: Birch/Beith
December: Rowan/Luis
January: Alder/Fearn
February: Willow/Saille
March: Ash/Nuin,
April: Hawthorn/Huathe
May: Oak/Duir
June: Holly/Tinne
July: Hazel/Coll
August: Vine/Muin
September:: Ivy/Gort
October: Reed/NgEtal
13th month Elder/Ruis

GrandLords/Ladies

Thursday: Apple/Quert
Blackthorn/Straif
Silver Fir/Ailim
Furze/Ohn
Heather/Ur
White Poplar/Eadha
Sunday: Yew/Ioho
Friday: Grove/Koad
Spindle/Oir
Honeysuckle/Uilleand
Beech/Phagos
Monday: Mor;Sea

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Fire, After Snack with Antenn at Darjeeling's HouseHeart

Tiana stepped inside D'Licorice Residence and it greeted her, then asked in a female voice, "Do you have a migraine?"

"Not yet. And if I'm lucky–" But she didn't need to finish her sentence, the Residence released herbs that reminded her to unclench her teeth and loosen the muscles in her neck. If she'd been dressed as normal she'd have done a stretching pattern.

She heard a click and turned her head and saw in that in the mainspace to her left, a no-time food storage unit had protruded a tray.

"An energy drink," D'Licorice Residence said
.
She must look very weary if this Residence noticed. She took the drink and sat in a rocking chair. "No one else is around?"

"The Family remains at the PublicLibrary. I am pleased to have the company, Priestess Tiana."

"Thank you."

"You carry an aura of serenity wherever you go,"

Sure didn't feel like that from the inside. "Thank you again, for your kind words and the drink."

"It is the kind you like. It will not cause an energy crash later."

It wouldn't give her the big boost she could really use, either, but she drank it down, then stepped into the center of the rug in the room, grounded herself and said a small blessing for the Residence and the Family in gratitude. The tiny ritual let her ground herself, center all the swirling emotions the events of the day had caused. And as she scanned herself, she had that hint of foreboding of an external problem rather than an internal one.

Closing her eyes, she traced the feeling back to standing in the wind on the plateau, then earlier, to the mention of GraceLord Equisetum, a man whom she'd tried to banish from her thoughts for years. The very idea of him gave her nausea, made her feel helpless. Took her back to the night she'd lost her home to a firebombing mob who'd chased her Family away more than had hurt them, or the house. They'd lost and run. Or had run and lost.

A notion wisped in her brain. She was in the CityCenter neighborhood, where the PublicLibrary and D'Licorice Residence stood. Where the GuildHall stood. Perhaps it was time for her to take a look at the man for the first time in years. "D'Licorice Residence, can you tell me if the NobleCouncil is still meeting in the GuildHall?"

"Yes, Tiana," the Residence said. "There is debate on the requirements for testing from one strata of society to the next – Commoner to Noble, a GraceLord to a GrandLord. A large faction in the NobleCouncil want to increase the level of Flair that must be proven."

"I hadn't heard of that." She wondered if her father had. She frowned. "I don't like that idea.** The most vital society is one that is not rigidly structured, and where talented individuals can rise through the classes."

"That is what we Licorices believe, too. Some go beyond that to think the current Celtan society is too structured."
Liberals like the Licorices took that stance.

Tiana liked the present system just fine...a system where a Commoner like Walker Clover with great Flair could test to become a GrandLord...and on his abilities might rise to the most influential man on this side of the world, Captain of All Councils. A system where a boy from the slums like Antenn Moss Blackthorn could become a top level architect. She shook her head once to dismiss the attractive man from her mind.

"Is GraceLord Equisetum in the GuildHall?"

"Yes. He is vociferous in his support of the tougher requirements."

"Hmmm. I wonder how he might Test in comparison to Walker Clover," she murmured.

The Residence chuckled. "Not a consideration. His Family is nearly two centuries old."

Tiana knew. Not quite as old as the Mugworts. Not nearly as old as the Licorice Family that had been founded, along with the PublicLibrary, within the first decade of the Earthan colonization of Celta.

"D'Licorice, of course, will vote against the measure."

"Of course."

"This issue has split the FirstFamilies Council, t oo. Those who feel threatened by Commoners and their increasing Flair.

"But Flair is increasing across the whole populace."

"We Licorices have researched this, and those FirstFamilies who tend to intermarry, or who do not have a vocation or avocation have not had as much an increase in Flair as those who have gone outside the twenty-five FirstFamilies for their spouses, or have lived in luxury on their wealth and not contributed to Celta. Have not found a passion to pursue. The younger set of Ladies and Lords, are, of course, in favor of a more flexible society."

"The stratified want to remain stratified."

"That is our reading."

"I must be going. May I take the glider you're loaning me to the GuildHall, then home?" she asked.

"Certainly."

She bowed in a circle, once again saying a simple blessing.

"The day is waning and cooling. Take a cloak from the front closet," the Residence said. Obediently she went to the closet, then smiled as she saw one of her own cloaks, dull, brown and respectable, that she'd left.

A few minutes later she took the final steps to the gallery above the NobleCouncil chamber. She vaguely recalled where her father's throne-like chair had been, closer to the speaker podium than Equisetum's. And the chair positions were based on the status of the Family – when they'd been established, whether they had outstanding Lords or Ladies, how substantial their Flair was. Tiana couldn't recall the last time the order of the Nobles had been reshuffled. Though when her father was stripped of his title, everyone would have moved up one, of course.
That still bothered her. It would bother anyone.
She stayed in the shadows of the doorway at the back of the gallery and looked down at the members who were present at the NobleCouncil. Quietly, gently, she opened herself to the spiritual eddies of the room. She found passion, both for and against the issue being discussed.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Celta Thursday: Heart Story from Hearts and Swords

I often write several first scenes or first chapters, this was one that didn't make it, for obvious reasons like the first line...
Druida City, Planet Celta 406 Years After Earth Colonization, Spring

Her mother was dead. Finally. Good riddance.

Now Arbusca Willow – and the rest of her family – was out from under the woman's tyranny and they all could get on with their lives. Some of the women who'd lived in the Residence had already found lovers or husbands of HeartMates.

Arbusca's son had convinced her that it was her turn. But being married was something she'd forgotten how to do long ago, when she'd married the man her mother had wanted, someone rich whom the woman could dominate. A man who hadn't lasted two years. She was fairly sure her mother hadn't actually killed him, though, just intimidated him to death.

So Arbusca paced the private dining room she'd rented at her social club for the first meeting with her HeartMate.

Before last month, they hadn't connected in twenty-five years. Even then, they'd never met, but linked during hot, sexual dreams when their psi magic had been freed during fugue states. Through their link she'd only known that he'd travelled south...all the way to the southern continent.

The bond between them had been the slimmest, she'd suppressed them – if not the yearning for her HeartMate – so long. But in several hopeful moments over the last year, she'd given the bond gentle tugs.

Last month Dri Paris had contacted her, and now he walked into the room. She hid her fisted hands behind the folds of her heavily emproidered silkeen tunic. Her pacing had brought her to the far corner of the room when he'd entered, not graciously by the table ready to pour cinnamon caff. Typical.

His gaze focused on her. The emotional connection between them seethed with feelings.

He was not the tall, lanky boy whom she'd watched from afar, but a solid man of broad shoulders and craggy face. Suddenly this venue seemed over-civilized as he brought the scent of the wilds into the place. Arbusca stilled to immobility.

But his hard gaze found her and softened and as he strode toward her, little flutters of more than attraction – lust – stirred within her. She wasn't a young woman, but he wasn't a young man.
His lips curved and a quick thought from him impinged on her mind. Both in our prime.

Her shoulders relaxed, her hands unclenched enough that she placed them on the table – though not near her cup of cinnamon caff in case her movements went jerky.

Dri wore clean leather trous that were cut narrowly for a working man and heavy leather boots, both in dark brown. His matching leather tunic also was workmanlike with no frills, encasing him from a round neck to his waist. His shirt underneath was a warm cream color of a soft weave, the material itself showed it wasn't a work shirt, and the sleeves had a faint blouse of fashion.

His smile was full as he stopped by her booth. "Well, if it isn't Blush Willow."

She'd forgotten that childhood name and even as he said it, she felt heat flowing up her neck, into her cheeks. So stupid, so unattractive.

"Now that's a pretty sight," he drawled, more than a hint of a southern continent accent in his voice. "Pretty blush on a pretty woman." He reached out and picked up her hand, bowed over it and kissed the back. Tingles sizzled down her nerves, mixing with the flutters in her core.

He smelled of fire – his psi magical power, Flair – and man. Exciting.

His thumb rubbed over her fingers. "So smooth." Gently, he placed her hand back on the pale pink tablecloth and slid onto the maroon leather bench opposite her. Taking his other hand from behind his back, he revealed a large pink rose in full bloom. "A blush rose. Always reminded me of you."

Her cheeks were pinker than that now. She took the rose that had been stripped of thorns. It was plump and full, almost overblown. Like her. "Thank you." She fiddled with it a little, then caught herself. She moved the vase already on the table sporting a daffodil closer and put the rose in, saying a small stay-fresh spell under her breath.

Dri and she stared at each other.

His hair was still ginger colored with only a few strands of silver. Her own dark brown hair was streaked with gray. She hoped he thought it was due to genetics instead of being worn down by a tyrant's demands.

Weathered skin and a touch of lines were around his amber eyes. She fought time relentlessly and her skin was smoother, but she worked indoors. She'd become plump, too.
A waiter showed up and asked what Dri wanted. Dri glanced at the floral china carafe that held her cinnamon caff, the delicate creamer and sweet holders. His nostrils widened. "Cinnamon caff, nice." He looked up at the waiter. "I'll stick with this, thanks."

Arbusca took the second cup and poured as gracefully as she'd been taught, clamping her nerves tight so her hands wouldn't shake, mindful of her long, heavy sleeves.

"Beautiful Blush Willow," Dri murmured. He put his hand over hers as she was about to lift his cup. "Who'd've thought that I was HeartMate to GreatMistrys Blush Willow, of the colonist FirstFamilies?"

Now a tremor shivered through her at his touch...a touch she'd only experienced in dreams...intimate dreams...and her fingers shook.

Dri's eyelids lowered, his smile grew satisfied, and his hand curled tighter around hers. Once more they stared at each other and the only thing she heard was her pounding blood.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cut from Noble Heart in Hearts And Swords: D'Ash Fam Adoption Rooms:

”They’re Fams, they’re intelligent,” Walker said.


“Yes.” Danith looked around, lowered her voice. “Not as intelligent as cats or foxes or dogs, but sentient.” She went over to a big box on the counter at the end of the room, cooed. “Here they are. Adorable.”

He peered into the box and found a huddle of small housefluffs piled together and sleeping. Most women would want one. For himself, he was glad he had an adventurous fox on the way.

“My Fam won’t eat it, will he? Since Sedwy will be my liason to all of you scary nobles, explaning FirstFamily customs, I don’t want to irritate her.”

Danith lifted a small brown housefluff with long ears edged in cream, held it close to her body and stared up at Walker. “She’s going to explain customs to you?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh, good. Someone I can ask when I get confused. Even if T’Ash knows stuff, he never explains.”

“Always glad to be of service. Take the housefluff. You know any good Grove names?” Danith asked.

“Not off-hand. You know those FirstFamilies are weird. Never paid much attention.”

“That’s fibbing, Walker. You probably know every secret this household has and a lot about the Blackthorns.” She tilted her head. “Know more about the Hollys than they’d care for, some about the Furzes. All FirstFamilies.”

“And you are all weird.”

“Not me, commoner, like you.”

“Just go on believing that.”

The door opened and T’Ash stepped in. “You’ve been flirting with my woman all morning long, Clover. The All Councils’ Clerk got tired of waiting for you and left. Your cuzes are still entertaining the other noble reps. Get them all out of the Residence. Take the bunny and go away.” T’Ash’s lip curled at the housefluff. “Sweet pet.”

“Fam!” Danith corrected.

“Fam,” T’Ash said automatically.

Thank you, said a tiny voice. The housefluff opened its eyes.

“It’s not my Fam,” Walker said. “I have a fox.”

“I’ve told you T’Ash,” Danith said.

“Yeah, yeah,” T’Ash said. “Take the thing.”

I am a she, the housefluff said.

“She’s a gift.” Walker stretched out a hand and Danith carefully set the animal in it. His hand was bigger than the Fam. He’d never felt anything so soft. “For a lady. I think this lovely housefluff will be perfect.”

“I think so, too.”

“Wait,” T’Ash said. “Danith, you have a waiting list for Fams.” He looked into the box, rolled his eyes. “Even housefluffs, but Walker gets two?”

Walker stroked the small animal and she relaxed in his palm, seemed to hum with pleasure. “I’m special.”

“Walker’s special,” Danith agreed. “And people who are elevated to Noble class usually get gifts. This can be his. Unless you want to choose something else for him?”

“No. But hurry it up. Walker can get those folks out of our home.”

“Just go in and scowl, they’ll leave,” Walker said.

“I want the house back to normal,” T’Ash grumbled.

Danith put her arms around him, hugged. “That’s not possible. Walker is gone. Our son is growing up, he’s finished his First Passage.”

“Hate to lose you, Walker,” T’Ash said.

“You’ve still got me as a friend.” Walker offered his arm for a grip.

“Good.” T’Ash took it, squeezed, not quite painfully. Removing his arms from his wife, he said. “In the Family dining room five minutes. Later, Walker.” He smiled, inclined his torso. “GrandLord Clover.”

“Later, T’Ash.” As soon as the man had left, Walker said, “Danith, you’re sure this little one is right for GreatMistryss** Grove?”

“I think she needs something young and vulnerable to take care of. Something innocent.” Danith glanced at him. “Especially since she’ll be dealing with you.” Danith paused, brows raised. “You don’t want to ask about her?”

Of course he did. He smiled. “I’ll ask her myself.”

Danith poked him in the abs. “I know that smile, Walker Clover. You’ve talked me into more things with that smile....”

“Good to know.”

“Hmmph.” She opened a drawer and pulled out a square pouch with a long strap. “Carrying case.” She handed it to him.

“Couldn’t Sedwy just put her Fam in her sleeve pocket?”

“I saw the gown she was wearing. Long, elegant sleeve pockets aren’t good for carrying fragile Fams. The pouch is softly lined and will be comfortable for our Fam. It will also minimize the smell or stains of any unexpected accidents.”

“Ah.”

Danith stepped tiptoe, kissed Walker’s jawline. “Take care.”

“I will. I do.”

“I know.” She gestured him from the room and bent toward the housefluff box and Walker pretended not to see the sheen of her tears as he left.
His own footfalls were heavy as he went through the Fam adoption room, then out into the office suite, down the corridor to the Family’s quarters. “Residence, where are the Groves?” he asked the house.

“In the main sitting room. They have excellent patience.”

“Thank you.”

“I, too, am sad to see you go."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Thief

Celta Thursday, cut from Heart Thief: An alarm pealed. Ruis dropped the plans he was studying onto his desk and shot to his feet, then grabbed the back of the chair to steady himself. "Ship, what's wrong?"
"Transmission from T'Elder GreatHouse requesting help from Ruis Elder, FirstSon and Heir to T'Elder GreatHouse."
"Just tell me what's wrong!" Ruis strode to his bedroom and grabbed Celtan clothes, pulling them on.
"Elder Residence states imminent destruction of the HouseHeart by the current T'Elder."
Ruis jolted and his mouth dried. Even he, never allowed in the sacred T'Elder HouseHeart that he could remember, valued it. Something inherent in his very genes.
Ruis cursed. He should have anticipated this action by Bucus. They all should have thought of this. His uncle was just the mean type to destroy what he couldn't have.
Why hadn't he thought! Because he'd been stunned by his own rapidly changing fortunes, appointed Captain of Nuada's Sword, reinstated as the FirstSon and Heir to the T'Elder Family. He dragged on his boots.
"Connect me with T'Elder Residence," he commanded.
"The line -- ah, scry -- is open." Ship had been diligently amending its language to fit Celtan norms.
"T'Elder Residence, this is FirstSon Ruis!" The first time he'd ever said that aloud. He'd have savored the moment if he hadn't been so worried.
"Greetyou, FirstSon." T'Elder Residence's voice was wispy and strained. "We are conflicted. The present T'Elder approaches the HouseHeart with weapons--"
"Stop! As FirstSon and Heir, I order you to take all action to protect the HouseHeart and yourself, T'Elder Residence!" Ruis shouted.
"Thank you," the Residence sounded relieved.
"I'm on my way," Ruis said. "Detain the present T'Elder by any means possible."
"Noted. Thank you," T'Elder Residence repeated.
"Ship, what transport do we have?" asked Ruis.
"We have 'bots fitting a faster motor onto the xx as we speak. It is being prepared in the southern docking bay."
Ruis started to run. As his feet pounded down the hallways of he smiled. He was Ruis T'Elder, Captain of Nuada's Sword and experienced in command, and he was glad. T'Elder Residence needed him, him, the despised Null. And he could help.
He ran faster and grinned at the thought of getting his hands on his Uncle Bucus.
When he reached the docking bay, the transport was revving and the doors opened to the cold night. Ruis vaulted onto the xx, winced at the clumsy vehicle. "Go, as fast as possible to T'Elder Residence."
"The transport** has the coordinates." Ship said. There was a small pause, but as Ruis zoomed out of Nuada's Sword, he thought he heard it say. "Merry meet."
"Merry part!" He turned back to shout.
"And merry meet again," Ship boomed.
Ruis faced forward again and rubbed his hands, then flexed his fingers in and out of fists.
**************
Note, I completely forgot I'd written this.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Celta Thursday: Map

It's been a while since I posted a map of the main continents of Celta. So here it is:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Celta Thursday -- peek at Heart Legacy

Celta Thursday -- peek at Heart Legacy. Since I'm deep in the guts of Heart Legacy, it's easier for me to post from it than spend time looking for anything else, and I've found you all usually prefer words over pics or maps, thus: "We have decided to accede to your request for a horse, FirstFamily GrandLady Loridana Itha Valerian D'Yew," the Residence, Yew Residence, said in its usual arrogant male voice. As if its words were a portentous announcement.

The thick, rich fabrics of the furniture and rugs in the library, even the expensive wallpaper, softened its tone.

Lori kept her spine straight in the chair, but answered with more force than usual. "Oh, thank you!" Since it always monitored her physical reactions, it would have noted her pulse leap and quicker heart rate.

**You are disturbed, FamWoman?** questioned her Familiar companion, Baccat, in a thought to her. Naturally, he'd felt the spurt of her excitement and dismay. He was the only one she didn't keep a barrier of control between her mindshields against, didn't control her every thought and feeling with.

**No, Baccat, surprised. Apparently we are finally getting a horse,** she sent to him mentally. **Can you check out the stables to see if the Residence is . . . fibbing to me again?**

**I spent a septhour in the stables this morning and am enjoying the sun in Our garden,** Baccat grumbled, but she sensed he rose to his paws from a flattened bed of catmint and stretched, rump up. **I will accede to your request and do this for You, MY FamWoman.** (This is the second scene in the book).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cut From Heart Search -- Camellia's HouseHeart Research

Camellia was very proud of the decor and ambiance of her tearoom, Darjeeling's HouseHeart. All in all, it seemed like a HouseHeart to her.

Not that she knew of a HouseHeart personally, she didn't, but she did her research – hard not to do that when one of her best friends was Glyssa Licorice, the Heir to the PublicLibrary Family. So she had seen records describing HouseHearts in general, and even some private records and holospheres of an unnamed HouseHeart or three. Since the destruction of the HouseHeart led to the complete ruination of a Residence, information on them was stingy.

But Glyssa knew what a HouseHeart looked like. She lived in a Residence and was an Heir to the title, so she could spend several hours in her HouseHeart every month. She had done so with her Family's and HouseHeart's permission as research for Camellia. Not only that, Camellia sensed the PublicLibrary itself had something like a HouseHeart since it was supposed to be intelligent, even if rumor said it spoke only to the Licorices.

Camellia's other friend, Tiana Mugwort, hadn't said much but had made comments with pointed glances and innuendo-laden tones. Whenever Camellia tried to think of Siana's home, her brain fogged with some spell, but the place had a HouseHeart.

Furthermore, a new Residence had developed in the last decade or so. That Residence, TQ, was in an upper middle-class, lower noble area that had also been rejuvinated. Camellia had been unable to talk herself into TQ. The renters had preferred privacy...and Camellia had had the odd notion that the family living there hadn't had access to the HouseHeart.

Then there had been the discovery of an old Residence that had been lost, ruins that had been excavated, and the exciting realization that the HouseHeart was still alive, though sluggish. In the first flush of excitement there had been vizes taken of the HouseHeart itself. It had been rumored that the ruins had been the Residence of the only FirstFamily to die out, the Mistletoes. Then the FirstFamilies had moved in and taken over the site with proper compensation. But information had been shut down and even the Licorices didn't get enough to satisfy them. Glyssa had bitterly complained to Camellia for days.

Like many people, ever since the sunken ship had been raised, Camellia had had an interest in archaeology – or treasure hunting. But the foundation of all her dreams had come from that wreck. She'd reclaimed a perfect set of china that had been her Family's and had gone down with the ship. A fifty-place tea set by a now-famous chinju potter. Selling the largest piece, an urn a meter tall, had gotten her the gilt to set up her business, eventually open Darjeeling's Teahouse.

Now she had two.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut Epilogue of Heart Thief

I'd completely forgotten I'd written an Epilogue of Heart Thief. Balsamea is the baby now known as Dani Eve, Diva became Drina, Straif T'Blackthorn's cat.

EPILOGUE OF HEART THIEF
Samba touched noses with Balsamea, then leapt aside as one chubby hand grabbed for her calico fur.
**Time to play.** The Fam jumped down and glided over to the door. She turned and lifted her nose. **I saved you all,** reminding them, as she did every few eight-days.
"Thank you," Ailim replied gravely.
Samba ordered the door open, then she glanced back. **Thanks are enough for me. My sister, Diva, demands adoration.** A gentle sniff. She eyed the baby. **Diva is most particular. She would make a good Fam and needs a home–**
"Hmmm," said Ruis.
Samba whisked her tail just once and left.
Primrose put her paws over her eyes and whimpered.
"No other cat," said Ailim.
"No," agreed Ruis.
The baby made a noise. They turned to her in surprise. It was an excellent imitation of Samba's rumbling mew. "Let's go play!"
Ruis stared at his wife and and their precocious child. He scooped Balsamea up in one arm and wrapped the other around Ailim. She grinned up at him.
A huge wave of triumph filled him, breaking into free and hearty laughter. "The Ship awaits our tour. Let's go play!"
Ailim danced toward the door, tugging at his hand. "Lets!"

Friday, April 10, 2015

Celta Cut: Heart Change

I was requested by a reader on Facebook to post a cut in honor of her birthday, so here it is:

"I think we should go out to dinner tonight," Signet said.
Cratag and Avellana looked up from their craft tables and stared at her.
"Go out to dinner," Avellana said as if it were a foreign concept, frowning.
Signet switched her gaze to Cratag. He'd been briefly surprised but now was impassive. She raised her brows. "You must have eaten out."
"Plenty of times. I was a merchanter guard, you know." His wave was brief. "Ate on the trail, at inns. Stayed at inns between jobs."
"So now you like dining with your Family."
"Why go somewhere else when there's a chef on staff?"
"A Family member?"
"Of course, trained with T'Pepper himself. And if I want something simple, the T'Hawthorn no-times are well stocked." He glanced around. "Like here."
"The food here is excellent," Avellana said. "We've always had chefs and chefs' helpers and cooks and cooks' helpers, but I like D'Marigold Residence's no-time food. Those people who made meals and put them in the no-times were chefs, too."
Signet sighed. She hadn't anticipated this much discussion of something so simple.
"Thank you," the Residence said.
"You're welcome," Avellana replied.
"Why go out to someplace when the food and atmosphere and company here is so good?" Cratag asked. He seemed baffled.
"For a change," Signet said. She glanced at Avellana. "For an outing, an evening outing. We can start with a dinner in a fine restaurant, then go to the theater sometime."
Avellana's eyes widened and she appeared fascinated. "Go out," she said in a hushed voice. "In the nighttime. In Druida City."
There was a moment's silence, then Avellana said with awe, "I've never been out in the city at nighttime, except maybe to go to holiday parties."
"And you, Cratag?" Signet asked.
He shrugged. "All the evening events T'Hawthorn must attend – social and ritual situations. Sometimes I ate, sometimes I didn't."
"Have you ever dined at a fine Druidan restaurant?" Signet asked, then was sorry she pressed when some kind of painful memory flashed in his eyes.
"No."
"All alone in Druida City," Avellana breathed, obviously liking the thought more and more.
"We'll be with you," both Signet and Cratag said at the same time.
"Without anyone from my Family," Avellana said.
"Some restaurants accept and serve Fams," Signet said.
Cratag sent her a glance. "Perhaps we should try dining out in the daylight, first."
That sounded reasonable. "Brunch or lunch or tea?"
"Brunch," Cratag said.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Celta Thursday, Heart Story from the collection Hearts and Swords

I had trouble with the beginning, this was #3.
*The old woman is dead. Finally,* the cat said mentally. *Good riddance,* she sniffed.

Arbusca Willow stopped pacing the private dining room she'd rented for the first meeting with her HeartMate, her fated husband.

She addressed the cat, "Fairyfoot, you aren't even my son's Familiar Companion. You are my daughter-in-law's. You didn't know my mother."

*Saw her long enough to know she was a mean GreatLady. Had all of you under her paw.* Fairyfoot licked her own forepaw. *That's true?*

"Yes."

*Tried to live forever. Lied, killed,* the cat snapped down her paw as if on a bug, looked at Arbusca slyly. *Maybe even killed your husband, years ago.*

Arbusca didn't think so. Her mother, GreatLady D'Willow, descendant of a FirstFamily colonist, rich in psi magic, wealth and power, had only intimidated Arbusca's long-late husband to death. As the lady had intimidated everyone until Arbusca's son had claimed the title. She held up her hands. "That's past. She's been gone more than a year."

*You deserve your own life and HeartMate,* Fairyfoot said virtuously, repeating the oft-said phrase of Arbusca's son and daughter-in-law.

That was true too. Arbusca yearned for her HeartMate, and was nervous about meeting him. They hadn't connected in twenty-five years. Even then, they'd never met, but linked during hot, sexual dreams when their psi magic had been freed during fugue states.

But the cat had an agenda – getting Arbusca, the housekeeper with strict rules for Fams – out of the Residence. She tucked her hands into her opposite long, embroidered sleeves and resumed pacing. "Tell me why I brought you with me to this meeting again?"

Fairyfoot lifted her nose. *You did not bring Me, I came by Myself.*

"That's right." Arbusca stopped pointed a finger at the cat. "You're univited. Leave."

*No, I must report to your son.*

"You're just nosey."

The door opened.

Arbusca swooped down on Fairyfoot, avoided the cat's claws and teleported Fairyfoot back to her room in Willow Residence. "You are gone!"

Twenty-five years since the links had been forged between herself and her HeartMate. She'd known that her HeartMate had gone south, all the way to a different continent. But the bond between them had been the slimmest, she'd suppressed it – if not the yearning for her HeartMate – so long. In several hopeful moments over the last year, she'd given the bond gentle tugs.
Last month Dri Paris had contacted her, and now he walked into the room.

She straightened fast, hid her fisted hands behind the folds of her heavily emproidered silkeen tunic. She was in the far corner of the room, not graciously by the table ready to pour cinnamon caff. Typical of her luck.

His gaze focused on her. The emotional connection between them seethed with feelings. "Who else was here?" he asked.

"No one of any importance," she said breathlessly.

He was not the tall, lanky boy whom she'd watched from afar, but a solid man of broad shoulders and craggy face. Suddenly this venue seemed over-civilized as he brought the scent of the wilds into the place. Arbusca stilled to immobility.

He raised his brows. "No one?"

"Of any importance," she emphasized.

He hesitated, then his hard gaze softened and as he strode toward her, little flutters of more than attraction – lust – stirred within her. She wasn't a young woman, but he wasn't a young man.
His lips curved and a quick thought from him impinged on her mind. Both in our prime.

Her shoulders relaxed, her hands unclenched enough that she curtseyed to him. Deeply, as if to a GreatLord. Smoothly she moved to her place, near the caff set, ready to pour. Her hands were steady enough.

He stopped, bowed, one hand remained behind his back. Dri wore clean leather trous that were cut narrowly for a working man and heavy leather boots, both in dark brown. His matching leather tunic also was workmanlike with no frills, encasing him from a round neck to his waist. His shirt underneath was a warm cream color of a soft weave, the material itself showed it wasn't a work shirt, and the sleeves had a faint blouse of fashion.

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