Stories, Writing

New Amara Intro

I said I was rewriting my Amara story a while back. I’ve made some progress. This is now the opening paragraph!… for now… We’ll see if it stays that way. I’ll post more of the new draft later. Today, enjoy this little teaser!

He pushed her against the wall and smiled at the gasp he forced from her. Her blonde hair fell in her face as he pushed tight against her. Pressing her wrists up, he became distracted by her heavy breathing, her chest heaving. She shoved off the wall and they spun around the room like a pair of dancers. They were light on their feet and precise with their movements. To him, there was no greater ballet, no better thrill, than fighting Amara.

Stories, Writing

Dizzy Dewdropper

Hello there! This is a little exercise I did for my book, Edifice. The intro is in the book, but the rest is not. It’s a little snippet of Lenci’s past. Thought you might enjoy it too. It’s only for fun so I won’t be revising, editing, or expanding on it. It’s rough and that’s alright. Have a read and let me know what you think!

“The 1920’s were an interesting time,” Lenci told him. “So much happened, so much changed.”

Beck laughed. “Looks interesting. Looks like you’re happy.” He ran his fingers over a picture of her and another woman. It was black and white and they were in tasseled dresses with curled hair, elegant headbands, and dark lips.

“I was happy. That’s Bridget, my Keeper before Fredrick. She stayed with me the longest out of all my Keepers. We snuck into a speakeasy even though we didn’t drink. The dancing was to die for!”

“How long was she your Keeper?”

“One hundred and five years. We were close.” Lenci’s face showed the fondness for her gone friend.

Lenci and Bridget: A short tale of a long friendship

1923:

The piano player tinkled away at the keys as everyone bopped around to his fast-paced tune. Lenci and Bridget made their way off the dance floor, beads of sweat starting to form along their perfectly manicured hairlines.

“Two waters, please,” Lenci requested at the bar. Bridget took a seat on the barstool next to her.

“How about I buy you a drink?” A surly man leaned around Bridget to ask her.

Bridget’s bubbly personality always led men to her and it never surprised Lenci when they approached her. Lenci apparently put out a ‘leave me alone vibe’ that kept most men away. But that was exactly how she wanted it.

“Sorry, sugar, not tonight.” Bridget flashed him a kind smile and turned back to Lenci, where their waters had been delivered. The man shrugged and resumed his search for company around the dance floor.

“You sure?” Lenci asked as she hastily gulped down some hydration. “It’s been a while since you went on a date. And you are allowed to drink even if I’m not.”

“I’m aware of the rules, Miss Lenci.” She gave her a criticizing glance. “But I haven’t had any hooch in all our thirty two years and I’m not going to start now! As for men, I think I’m taking a little break from gentlemen callers. It’s not like it can actually go anywhere. I would much rather dance the night away with my best doll!” She nudged Lenci’s shoulder.

“Alright, Bridge,” Lenci chuckled. She knew why Bridget wanted to take a break from dating. But now wasn’t the time to bring it up. Instead, she would take her mind off it for a few hours. “Then we better get hoppin’!” She grabbed Bridget’s hand and yanked her away.

They danced like they always did, like the best of friends that they were. Lenci held Bridget at arm’s length as they shimmied, wearing the soles of their lovely shoes and making the fringe on their dresses whip back and forth. Midnight came quickly and brought danger with it.

Lenci twirled and spun as she kept any men from trying to cut in with Bridget. Normally they would allow dance partners to join in on the fun. Not tonight. One particularly persistent man attempted to whisk Bridget away against her protest. Lenci rolled her eyes and followed as he whirled her off the dance floor and into the surrounding crowd.

“I said, let go,” Bridget’s stern voice came from a back room. Lenci headed that direction.

“Not until you give me what I want,” the man told Bridget.

Great, Lenci thought. One of those guys.

“And what I want is your demon,” he continued.

Not one of those guys. Lenci paused outside the door and listened. She heard Bridget laugh and couldn’t restrain a smile.

“You dizzy dewdropper,” Bridget said amusedly. “You took the wrong woman.”

“You’re not an Edifice?” He asked in confusion.

“No sir.”

“Are you a Keeper?”

“Bingo.”

“Bring me to your Edifice,” he commanded.

“You think it’s that easy? This isn’t the Bible. Those who ask, don’t receive.”

Lenci peeked around the corner and smiled. Bridget looked completely bored. She didn’t need any help. She could easily take this guy and so felt no danger and looked relaxed as she stood in the middle of the room. She didn’t so much as flinch when the man put a hand around her neck to threaten her. But there was no way Lenci was going to let anyone treat her best friend like that.

“Give me your Edifice or I’ll—“ he grunted as Lenci threw her elbow into the back of his head.

His head lurched forward towards Bridget who grabbed his head, kneed him in the face, and threw him to the floor, unconscious.

“Time to find a new place?” Bridget stared down at the large man.

“Time to find a new place.”

They walked home together, confident that if anyone else did attack, they would be able to defend themselves. Bridget was Lenci’s second Keeper. She was a great conversationalist, wonderful to live across the hall from, and certainly knew how to handle herself in a fight. Lenci watched Bridget’s blonde curls sway around her headband.

“Was it that bad leaving him?” Lenci asked. “Is that why you’re taking a break?”

Bridget didn’t falter in her leisurely stride, but did loop her arm through Lenci’s before answering. “It was hard. But it was for the best.”

Lenci noticed Bridget wasn’t looking at her on purpose, keeping her eyes set straight ahead with her head held high. She knew if she could see her eyes there would be tears there. “You know, you could have married him. That’s not against the rules.”

“It is if you don’t want to be a Keeper any more. And I’m not ready to give this up yet.” Bridget finally turned to Lenci. She was right about the tears, which seemed to be passing quickly. Her red lips smiled as she patted Lenci’s arm.

“Good.” Lenci returned the smile. “I’m not ready to lose you yet.”

“Excuse me, ladies,” a man in the door of a building called out. “Would you like to have your photograph taken?”

“We would!” They both replied at the same time.

Stories, Writing

Go Away

Amara made her way through the forest. She found a large rock to sit on and pulled her legs to her chest. Resting her head on her knees, she let the tears flow. They came abundantly and she didn’t hold them back. It was like she could feel her heart ripping in two.

She tried to catch her breath and pull herself together. A breeze brushed her cheek. She inhaled sharply. A familiar scent was carried on that wind. Then she heard him. She kept her head down, not bothering to look at him while he spoke.

“What’s wrong, darling?” Tucian whispered. His lips brushed against her ear, sending an awful shiver through her.

“None of your business. Go away.” Her stomached knotted. She didn’t want to deal with this today. She didn’t want to fight. She just wanted to be left alone.

“Come now, Amara. I could hear your sobbing from the other side of this forest.”

She peeked out to see him walking in slow circles around her. He moved behind her and stayed there.

“I’m not in the mood for these games. Go. Away,” she demanded.

“There was a time when you loved these games; loved me.” He breathed in the smell of her hair and started to walk around her, his finger running down her arm.

She couldn’t stand it. She stood up to face him and looked into his eyes. Her eyes shifted from turquoise to black. Tucian’s love was about possession, jealousy, and power. For the moment her fear was overwhelmed by her anger. Now she was ready for a fight.

“That time is long gone, Tucian. Now get out of here!” She shouted. But he didn’t leave. Instead he took her hands in his, which only fueled her frustration.

“Come, Amara. We both know that’s not completely true.”

“It’s thoroughly, absolutely true.” She pulled her hands out of his.

They stared each other down. She would end this. She went to use her powers. But as she raised her free hand, Tucian pulled both her hands together and wrapped a wire tightly around her wrists. Nothing happened. Tucian laughed.

“Something wrong?” He pulled the wire and yanked her close. The wire dug into her wrists. “Maybe you’ve lost your touch,” he said intimidatingly close to her face.

Amara looked down at her hands, terrified. She looked back up at him with a face full of fear. “What have you done?!” It was the first time in her 26 years she didn’t have her powers. But not having her powers didn’t mean she was powerless.

She choked back her fear, dropped down, and swung herself between his legs. The wire cut into her more until he lost his grip. Blood began to ooze around the wires, but she knew she had to keep going. She stood and kicked him in the back, pushing him forward.

“There’s no point,” he said as he turned to face her. “Without your powers you—“

Amara jumped and swung both fists into the side of his head. “Without my powers, I can still fight!” She shouted angrily.

She turned and kicked him in the torso. As her foot landed the blow, white powder exploded from his suit jacket. He stumbled back a few steps out of the white cloud.

Amara coughed as the floury substance entered her mouth and nose. Her lungs seized up and stole her breath. Everything got blurry. Dizziness filled her world as the powder dispersed and disappeared. Her legs gave out. Tucian caught and lifted her. She couldn’t make out his face any more. She fought to stay awake but soon slipped into unconsciousness.

Stories, Writing

Dance With Me

Amara stayed outside the crowd, near the walls. She watched everyone enjoying themselves. They were all so happy, so carefree. She knew better though. Monsters lurked inside people and she couldn’t be so trusting. Drinking, dancing, flirting with strangers. She would never be so blissfully ignorant.

As she was caught up in her thoughts, her stomach churned suddenly. Something was wrong with Avery. Then a voice straight from her nightmares whispered into her ear, “Dance with me.” She turned and plowed Tucian into the wall. She held her arm across his neck. He was wearing a red leather mask with etchings on it. His grey eyes were unafraid.

“How did you find me?” Amara asked. She put on a hard face and didn’t let the terror in her heart show. Tonight would not be the escape she had wished for. She could only hope Tucian hadn’t been watching her all night.

“Well, it wasn’t easy. I think I’ve earned a dance.” He smiled suavely.

“What you’ve earned is a slow and painful death.” Amara pushed harder on his throat.

Tucian grabbed her arm, spun her around, and put his arm around her throat. He watched her chest rise and fall as her breathing sped up. His grip tightened. He hadn’t been this close to Amara in far too long. He needed to focus. “Dance with me,” he said forcefully, “or everyone in here will be dead by morning.”

Amara broke free of his grip and shoved him. Her black eyes glared at him but she didn’t say anything else as Tucian took her hand and led her to dance. She knew well enough that he had no problem with murder if it served his needs. But it was still difficult to make her feet follow him. Her body fought her, hesitating, itching to run. Her hand gripped his tightly, keeping herself from leaving.

A new song started and Tucian twirled Amara around the floor as her eyes faded back to their usual green. He looked like the picture of sophistication. Every girl in the room watched him, wishing to be Amara. He wore a black shirt, black tie, and black and red brocade vest and suit coat. His stark white hair was in soft, short waves going up and over to one side. If Amara didn’t know what he was capable of, she would be swooning too. Instead, she was resisting her fight or flight instincts. She kept as much distance between them as possible. It made them look like a couple of high school kids who didn’t want to touch.

“Why here? You could try to kill me anywhere. Why bother with these people?” Amara asked. Her plum gown swept the floor in elegant circles.

“Because, Amara.” Tucian pulled her into him, holding her tight, “I didn’t want to miss this dance. I would have missed you in this dress.” He spun her in a circle away from him, looking her over, and yanked her back. She slammed into his solid chest with a soft groan. “You look positively enchanting. Silver suits you.” He stroked her cheek, referring to her mask and his silver powers.

Amara pulled her face away from his hand. His touch had sent chills of fright through her. Her insides twisted and wrenched. “Enough, Tucian. What are you doing here? Is Jett with you?”

“What I’m doing here, is dancing. Yes, Jett is here. If he’s been successful he’s with your sister right now.”

Amara turned to run. Jett would kill Avery. She had to find her. Tucian grabbed her hand and pulled her back.

“Not quite yet, sweetest.” He pressed his hand down her back, pulling her hips against him.

Amara cringed at his body pressed so tightly against her own. “I’ll make this simple for you. Let me go or I’ll kill you,” she threatened.

“In front of all these people? I don’t think so. Besides, if you kill me, they all die. But don’t worry. Jett won’t kill Avery. He’s keeping her busy to give us a few minutes alone.” He bit her ear lobe, making Amara’s face scrunch in disgust. He lowered his voice, and whispered in her ear, “So if you want everyone here to live, you’ll stay and finish dancing with me.”

“What did you do?” Amara asked. She pushed him back a little and reluctantly resumed allowing him to guide her. But the darkness of her again black eyes conveyed the anger boiling within her.

“Jett and I may have poured a little something into the champagne. A potion. On its own, harmless. When combined with its other half, deadly. I know you don’t drink but everyone else here does. If things don’t go our way tonight, in any way, we have a friend ready to pour the other half of the potion into the drinks. As soon as they take a sip they’ll all drop dead.”

“Only you would do something so horrible. And for what? To torment me?” Her heart raced. The blackness drained from her eyes and her body started shaking.

“Why, Amara. Is that fear I detect?” Tucian dipped her low and kissed her neck.

Amara turned away and squeezed her eyes shut. His lips against her skin was unbearable. But lives were at risk. She wouldn’t chance running again knowing that.

Tucian glanced across the dance floor. Jett nodded to him. He pulled Amara up and spun her for a minute longer. “I would love to explain why but I can’t. Not right now. I had hoped to have longer. But it seems our time has run out.” He released her from his grip. “Goodbye, lovely.” He kissed her hand, bowed, and disappeared. Jett followed.

Stories, Writing

Balloons

“Come on!” Jett took her hand and led her to the fence in front of the station. It was the only thing between them and the train. “This is going to be great,” he whispered to her as he helped her hop down the last bit of chain link. He swirled his hand around and a bucket appeared. He pulled something out of it and held it out for her to see.

“Water balloons?” Avery looked at Jett in confusion.

“Water balloons.” Jett nodded and handed her one. “Go ahead. Toss it!”

Avery didn’t know what he was so excited about. She shrugged and lobbed the balloon at the train car. It exploded and splattered bright purple onto the wall. She gasped and giggled. “I love it!”

“I thought you might.” Jett laughed and threw a balloon of his own.

Soon the side of the train was covered in colorful splashes that dripped down. It was a beautiful sight to see. They climbed back over the fence and stood back, admiring their work.

“It’s great!” Avery said.

“It is. Only one thing could be greater covered in paint tonight.”

“What?” Avery turned to look at him and found a balloon hurtling toward her. She tried to turn away but wasn’t quick enough. It thudded against her chest and sprayed blue all over her. She squealed at the impact.

Jett laughed as Avery wiped at her face. Then she swirled her hand and the bucket of balloons disappeared and reappeared in her hand. She returned fire and splattered Jett’s torso with yellow. He grunted and stumbled backward.

“Oh, it’s on, A!” He held his hands out and balloons appeared in them.

Avery screamed and ran as she threw balloons behind her. Jett threw them at her back. She reached the end of the platform and jumped to the grass. He pelted her with a few more colors as she ran to a tree for cover.

“Hey! You there! Freeze!” A voice sounded, interrupting their fun.

They instantly knew who it was. A police officer. Jett bolted to Avery and grabbed her waist. He transported them out before Avery could even think. They turned up in Avery’s room, which was empty. He slammed her into the wall with the momentum he’d built up. They both grunted.

“Phew!” Avery breathed out, holding onto his waist. “Good thing you’re fast.”

Jett laughed. “I don’t think we’d get any jail time for painting an already tagged train car. But I didn’t want to deal with the paperwork of it. Better to make a quick getaway.”

“And quick you were!” Avery looked up at him. “Thank you. That was fun. I had an amazing time.”

“Me too.” Jett moved her painted hair from her face and kissed her forehead.

Stories, Writing

Cake Tasting

Tucian watched Amara carefully, enjoying her charming expressions as she tasted each piece of cake. She took her time and mulled over how much she liked it compared to the last. Her expressions always started with delight and surprise, then went into serious thought as she bit her lip and tried to decide. One particularly fudgy cake left her petite lips smeared in brown. He smiled and leaned over, putting his lips to hers.

Amara reveled in the surprise of their sweet frosting kiss. She couldn’t ask for a more perfect moment. But it was brief, Tucian pulling away after a second.

“What was that for?” Amara laughed, licking her lips.

“Being too adorable.” Tucian dragged his finger across some chocolate and dabbed it onto her nose. He laughed as her nose scrunched. “Far too adorable!”

Amara giggled a little and blushed. Then she wiped the frosting from her nose and licked it off her finger with a “Mmm…”

“You really need to stop doing things that make me want to kiss you.” He put a hand on her cheek.

“Like what?”

“Everything.” He kissed her cheek and whispered, “Everything you do is enchanting. Everything you do makes me want to kiss you.”

Amara’s heart danced around in her chest and swelled with love. Tucian kissed her cheek and sat back in his chair.

“Do you have a favorite, my favorite?” Tucian asked flirtingly.

“Tucian!” Amara laughed. He was so smooth. “You’re too suave for my own good.”

“Is that a bad thing?” He took her hand and kissed it, the same way he did when he first introduced himself to her. He held her hand close to his mouth and ran his lips softly back and forth over her knuckles.

“Oh, no. It’s wonderful.” She looked at him in awe, wondering how she had ever been so lucky for him to fall in love with her. She felt his soft lips brush her somewhat ragged knuckles. Throwing punches and training with her hands a lot left them that way, no matter the amount of creams or lotions she used.

“Excellent.” He let her hand go and smiled at her.

“I liked the dark, milk, white chocolate one from the very first round. You?”

“I absolutely agree.”

“And I absolutely love you.” Amara leaned in and pulled the back of his neck to bring him closer. She kissed him increasingly more intensely until Rosie walked back in for their decision.

Stories, Writing

Baking

Jett and Tucian arrived in the afternoon. “I heard someone needs a baking assistant?” Jett called, closing the door behind him.

“In here!” Avery called back from the kitchen. “Help!”

Jett and Tucian ran to the kitchen. There was white powder everywhere. The boys waved their hands around, tried not to inhale the dust, and walked in.

“Amara!” Tucian called. “You in here? Oof!” He grunted as something hit into him. He grabbed hold of familiar arms and pulled what he assumed was Amara into his own arms.

“Sorry!” Amara cried.

The powder started to settle to the floor and Jett saw Avery. “There you are!” Jett cried, reaching his hand out to her. She took his hand with a frown. They were all thoroughly covered in white powder.

“What happened?” Tucian looked down at the frosty woman in his arms.

“Amara happened!” Avery yelled. “This is why she isn’t allowed to cook!”

Amara thought she might have been mad at her, then Avery broke out laughing. She let out a long sigh of relief and smiled, her pink gums showing bright against the white.

“What?” Jett looked at Avery. “What is this stuff?”

“It’s flour,” Amara answered. “I was trying to help with Mom’s cake for tonight. I failed.”

“Epically,” Avery confirmed. “You are now, officially banned from any kitchen activity.”

“Yeah, that seems fair,” Amara agreed.

“How are we going to clean all this up? And is there any flour left for the cake?” Jett worried.

“There will be plenty left, don’t you worry. And leave the cleanup to me. I got skills.” Avery smiled and began waving her hands in circles.

Purple sparks swirled around the kitchen, sweeping the flour in breezy loops. It whisked the flour from every surface and person. It pulled Amara and Avery’s hair, stripping every last bit of flour, then poured their hair back down around their shoulders. Amara giggled as her hair was pulled and dropped. Tucian watched her in delight as the purple sparks swept over her and she twisted and turned with them.

After a few minutes, all the flour had been cleaned up.

“Sorry again, Avery,” Amara said shyly. “I really was trying to help.”

“That’s alright. But I think you better find something else to do while Jett and I make Mom’s cake now.”

“Will do.” Amara laughed and led Tucian out of the kitchen.

Stories, Writing

Glowy

“What do you want to do tonight?” Avery asked Jett.

“I don’t care. Anything but be home.”

“Did Tucian take Amara there? Is it going to be a little too romantic for your taste?” Avery teased.

“Yes, actually. Blegh.” Jett sat at the vanity and rummaged through the containers curiously. “She’ll love it. He’s full of emotions and love. All that stuff you girls like. The stuff Tucian is good at but I’ve never been interested in. He’s always been full of feelings and fluff.”

“Ha ha I bet she will love it. I’m sure she’ll tell me all about it later.”

“Lucky you. What’s all this stuff for?” Jett held up a glass container. “Why do girls need all this?”

“That,” Avery took the jar from him, “is a moisturizer. It keeps our skin soft and glowy.” She set it back in its place and sat on the vanity next to him.

“To impress us boys?”

“You wish!” Avery scoffed. “For ourselves. Dry skin hurts and breaks easily when you get hit. I don’t know why other girls have so many containers of products. Most of those have magical purposes. Healing ones, mostly: for cuts, burns from power blasts, sprains. You know, for training injuries. Some are for external use, others need to be downed. You’ll have to ask a normal girl why her vanity is cluttered.” She laughed.

“I should have known better than to assume you would be a normal girl.” Jett laughed.

Stories, Writing

Art Show

Amara walked into a bright room. Sunlight streamed in through a large window on one wall and a skylight window overhead. The walls were filled with sketches and paintings. There were a few easels set up with works on them as well. There were piles of old art in corners and strands of rope with art hanging from them. There were paint stains on the floor and jars of paint, water, and paintbrushes around a sink near the window. There were many landscapes and famous landmarks from places she had never been. There were women she didn’t recognize, each of them beautiful in their own way. But those were all older and faded.

“Who are they?” Amara asked without looking away from one particularly lovely face.

“That one happens to be my mother. I can’t seem to put it away.”

“She’s beautiful,” Amara remarked, then moved on to another. She knew Tucian didn’t like talking about his mom or dad. He didn’t like thinking about whatever happened to them. She hoped someday he would tell her. But she wouldn’t push it. He would tell her when he was ready.

“She would have liked you. The others are women I’ve known. Some romantically, some not.”

She was amazed at how beautiful it all was. She took her time looking at everything. She made her way around the edges of the room first, then looked at the ones hanging on the rope. Tucian watched her intently, trying to gauge what she might be thinking. He couldn’t tell so he stood by the door, watching and waiting. Each of his works were a piece of his heart. It was hard to let people see those pieces for their judgement. It was as though they were judging his soul. He hoped Amara would like what she saw in his work.

“Tucian, they’re…” Amara trailed off as she became distracted by each new piece of art.

“Yes?” He pressed.

“Spectacular…” she whispered. She came to one she recognized on the rope, a lake in a clearing. “Is this our lake?” She pointed and turned to look at Tucian.

“It is.” He stayed where he was, waiting for her to find his most recent ones.

She meandered her way to one of the easels. She gasped at the face on the canvas. It was her. The painting was filled with light. Her own green eyes gazed back at her. She looked amazing, flawless. She stared at the portrait. He had captured her slightly small eyes and mouth well and they fit perfectly on her beaming face.

Tucian walked up behind her. “Do you like it?” He whispered into her ear.

“I love it,” Amara whispered back. “I think you might have overdone it though.”

“Why?”

“It’s so radiant, so…” Amara tried to find the word to describe the painting. “Exquisite.” She stayed staring at her own face. It was so familiar and yet too beautiful to be herself.

Tucian slowly turned her around and lifted her face to his. “So are you,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss her.

Stories, Writing

Reading Time

Tucian strode into the library. Amara sat in a large chair with her knees pulled up, reading intently, lost in a story, and biting her bottom lip. She sipped on some orange soda and set it on the side table. He thought she looked like a child looking at a picture book. Adorable. He made his way over to her.

“Hello, darling.” He knelt in front of her chair.

“Oh, hey.” Amara tilted her book toward herself to look at him. “When did you get here?”

“A few minutes ago. What are you reading?”

“Grimm’s Fairytales,” she answered. “Not the happiest of tales, but interesting.”

“But you can’t learn anything from that nonsense.” He gave her a curious look.

“Says you,” Amara teased. “I happen to learn a lot from them.”

Tucian laughed. “You do need to keep progressing in your combat skills though. It’s important.”

“Not to me. Not right now.” She smiled down at him. “Other things are occupying my attention.” She leaned down and kissed him.

Tucian pulled away. “It is important. To me.” He pushed her hair from her face and combed his fingers through the length of it, over her shoulder.

“You’re very persuasive, you know.” Amara looked into his serious eyes. “Fine. I promise we can do some training. For you.” She kissed him again.

“Good girl.” Tucian smiled.

“After this last tale!” She stole her book back and giggled.

Tucian shook his head. “You’re lucky you’re so cute.”

“You’re lucky I love you so much. Giving up my reading time is serious business.”

“I am lucky.” He kissed her. “My Amara.” Tucian held her in his arms, cuddling her tightly in the chair as she read. He rested his head on hers with a happy grin until she was done.