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Redamntion – 4

~*~

Standish Preparatory Academy dominated the highest point on Gibbons Island, casting long shadows down the jagged slope that stretched all the way to the sea. The predominant feature of the campus, the old stone lighthouse, served as the island’s symbol of identity, appearing in one form or another on flags, souvenir plates, tee-shirts and, of course, the Standish official emblem. The lighthouse itself did not belong to the academy, situated as it was on a point about a mile away from the school, but still, if you asked any resident they would be quick to call it Standish Light.  Local lore told of its proud history, and of the many ships it guided through the shoals amid mountainous waves or a shroud of fog.

The light had burned above the cliff since long before the building that became Standish Academy was ever built. It stood sentinel, overseeing the construction of the stone and brick fortress that stood against British war ships during the 18th century, shining signals to neighboring islands that the ships were on the way.  It shone its beam over the prisoners held within the fortress during the war for independence under the watchful eye of Josiah Gibbons.

When the war was over, Gibbons saw to the conversion of the fort to an asylum. Gibbons ran the institution with a hard hand, and little oversight from the mainland. Though the institution was founded on the pledge of providing a safe and compassionate place of refuge for the mentally feeble and the infirm, compassion had little to do with the actual treatment that was given.  Well to do families who did not wish to be burdened or embarrassed by a mentally unstable family member, would pay Gibbons a handsome price to house and care for their problem progeny. It was also a convenient place to send away a wayward daughter who turned up in the family way without benefit of husband.

More often than not, the family would pay the monthly maintenance blindly, without ever inquiring on the condition or progress of their loved ones. Often the fee would be paid months, or even years, after the unfortunate inmate had died. Gibbons found little reason to inform, or console, until asked directly about any one patient. Then he would reply with a simple letter of condolence, “I’m sorry to inform you that your letter arrived only days after your brother/son/nephew/wife—passed away due to a sudden onset of influenza…”

The scam was successful and lucrative until 1825, when Wendell P. Standish had, under protest, sent his youngest son, who suffered debilitating seizures, to Gibbons for treatment. Gibbons himself arrived at the Standish estate to escort the lad safely to the island, insisting there was no need to worry.  After months of receiving now word on his son’s progress, Standish insisted on visiting the island himself and was appalled at the conditions he witnessed. He removed his son and filed complaints with the authorities in hopes of shutting Gibbons down.  He sent letters to the news printers of the day, posted plaques and bills all over Boston and even wrote to President Jackson all with little success. People just did not seem to care what happened on an island they could barely see.

Standish grew despondent as it seemed Gibbons would continue to thrive while so many suffered under his hand. Then, one terrible and stormy night in 1829, the lighthouse was doused by giant waves as a monstrous gale blew in over the sea.

By morning, it was clear the tower would need to be repaired as it was essential for the ships to pass safely. A work-crew employed by the Navy were sent to repair the tower. They arrived to find the asylum in ruin, and patients wandering the island dazed and wet, dressed only in rags. Word got back to the mainland that what Standish had been reporting for years was actually true, and in 1830, Josiah Gibbons at the age of eight-eight, was arrested and convicted of fraud. The asylum was shut down and in 1831 Wendell Standish bought the property with the purpose of establishing an academy which truly did operate with compassion.

The histories are unclear as to what became of the inmates after Standish took over. By some accounts, there were only two or three who had survived the storm, and they lived out their lives on the island. Other accounts say there were no such survivors, and still others paint Standish with the same black paint as Josiah Gibbons, claiming he imprisoned them and forced them to build the town. Local lore dictates the ghosts of the poor souls still haunt the halls of Standish Academy to this day. On stormy nights, if the lighthouse goes dark, it is said that the ghosts are once again calling for help from the mainland.

But the lighthouse doesn’t go dark anymore. Not since the early 1970s when the last of the lighthouse keepers retired and the light became automated. The Coast Guard keeps the light functioning and pays the light bill and collects the rent for the little cottage where the lighthouse keeper always lived.

Logan always paid the rent on time.

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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Redamntion – 3

~*~

The end of the shift could not come soon enough for Joe Kelly. With luck, the last fare of the day would bring him close to the station, cutting down on the non-fare travel time that always cut into his pay numbers. Too much time on the road without a fare would count against him with the pencil pushers who weighed the cost of fuel and engine wear against the efficiency of the drivers. Joe’s paycheck took a hit if he had more than an hour of non-fare time logged in a week, so on days when he was on the wrong end of town near the end of the shift, he would look for anyone dressed in a suit coat, on the likelihood that they’d be headed toward The Hill, close to his garage, and not down to Southie or out to Jamaica Planes. It was a game he’d perfected over the ten years he’d been driving for UpTown Taxi, thus it was rare his non-fare time ever hit the hour mark.

Today he had been especially pleased with the last fare, the one that brought him all the way out from The Fenway to Faneuil Marketplace. But it wasn’t his skill at fare-spotting that had gotten him home today, it was just luck. The history teacher didn’t fit the game. He wasn’t dressed like the lawyers or the bankers who mostly populated the richer part of town. He wore a simple brown leather bomber jacket – well worn, but not ragged–faded jeans, and his hair was long enough to rest on his collar and cover his eyes in the wind. Joe had almost not stopped for him, but when the man stepped right out into the street, he had no choice. He was about to give the guy a loud lecture on traffic safety, but before he could even open his mouth the man was in the back seat.

But it turned out better than Joe could have ever guessed. What a coincidence, the guy not only took him in the right direction, but he was a teacher at Standish, and had given him a card and an invitation to call.

“You’re out of your mind, Joey,” he muttered to himself, thinking of how he would approach such a phone call. “The guy was just being polite. No one at that school gives a crap about gettin’ Lindy in to their hoity toidy . . .” he pulled up to the garage door and laid on the horn. A young man wearing an oversized orange vest over a shirt with UpTown Taxi stamped across it, and a faded Red Sox cap hopped out of the attendant’s booth and jogged over with a clip-board in hand.

“Hey Joe, whadda ya know,” the kid said, tugging on the brim of his hat. “Another series startin’, you think we got it this year?” He handed Joe the clipboard, a large manila envelope and a key with a round tag with Joe’s taxi numbers on it.

“Every year, Tony. The trick is convincin’ the rest of the league.” Joe unlocked the cash box, pulled the day’s receipts and tucked them into the envelope, then signed the time sheet and handed everything over to Tony.

“The curse is over, man. Mark my words, you heard it here first. Tony knows bo-sox and this is our year . . . again.” Tony looked down at the slip, initialed it, gave a carbon receipt to Joe then clipped the envelope to the front. “Wow, only ten minutes down time today?”

“Yup, it was a good one. Payroll come down yet?”

“Yup. Surprised they made it on time, being Columbus day and all.” Tony pulled a stack of envelopes, bound in a thick rubber band out of the inside pocket of his orange vest, and fanned through the edges until he found Joe’s. “Lucky you. You get the thick envelope this week.”

Joe felt a sudden panic run through his chest as Tony handed him his envelope. “Thick? Oh geez, don’t tell me. Ain’t cuttin’ the fleet are they?”

“Relax, it’s just the annual touchey-feely-management-loves-you-but-can’t-afford-to-give-you-a-raise-letter. You know, like last year.”

“Oh, is that all?” Joe tucked the envelope in his pocket.

“Yeah, I already read mine. Besides, why do you worry? You’re the man with the magic hours.” Another taxi pulled up behind Joe, and honked. Tony gave Joe a pat on the arm then jogged back to his booth. The gate opened, and he waved Joe through.

“Magic hours,” Joe said, laughing to himself as he pulled in to park his taxi for the next shift. “What I really could use is some magic money.”

Getting home was never as easy as getting back to the garage. He’d have to take the T nearly to the end of the line at South Station. He never seemed to mind the irony of his life; he was a man who drove a car for living, yet didn’t own one. He had also never been in a taxi that he was not behind the wheel.

The train was on time for a change; another sign this day was turning out to be a diamond. The lucky streak continued when he got on and found the car nearly empty, and was able to sit down.

With the landscape passing by and the skyline fading behind him, his thoughts turned, as they always did, to his kids. Jimmy would be finished with basketball practice and just about home by now, and Lindy would be helping the little girl in the next apartment with her spelling while they waited for her mom to get home from work–a nice little paying job she took very seriously.

“Good kids, both of them,” he smiled at the thought. “I did good.”

An elderly lady had taken a seat next to him at the last stop. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“Hm?” He turned to the lady with a sheepish smile. “I uh, sorta talk to myself.”

“Ah, do you ever answer yourself?”

“All the time,” he admitted with a chuckle.

“You have children?” she asked, pulling a ball of wool and a crochet hook from the large tote she carried.

“Two. Proud of both of ’em. It ain’t easy raisin’ good kids these days.”

“It sure isn’t,” she agreed with a sigh. “I’m glad mine were all grown and moved years ago. I don’t think I’d know how to do it today with all the drugs and violence and. . . I just don’t know how anyone does it.”

“Carefully,” he said. “And a liberal use of Tylenol and ear plugs.”

She laughed. “How old?”

“Both seventeen. Girl and boy. Seniors this year.”

“The hardest year. Any plans for college?”

Joe didn’t know what to answer, and just turned to look out the window. “Pretty sunset.”

“I’m sorry. I just don’t know what gets into me. I just find I like to talk and . . . well, it was not my business to ask. I’m sorry if I pried.”

Joe shook his head with a smile. “Naah, you didn’t pry. It’s just that college thing is sorta hanging over me like a two ton safe waitin’ to fall. But I made a promise and I’ll find a way to keep it.”

She nodded, wrapping the yarn around the crochet hook. “There’s no shame getting help.”

“I’m not ashamed—”

“Oh, there I go sticking my nose in again. Of course you’re not. You just love your children and want to do the best for them. I find that very admirable.”

“I do love them. They’re everything.”

She set the yarn work down and tucked it back into her tote. “My stop is the next one.” She offered her hand. “My name is Millie. Millie Jackson.”

Joe accepted the gesture, being gentle with the fragile looking hand. “Joe. Joe Kelly.”

“I’m glad to meet you, Joe.”

The train pulled to a stop. The doors opened, spilling out passengers to the left, and taking in new ones on the right. Millie stood up just as a young man in a hooded jacket swooped down the aisle, knocking her back to her seat.

Joe turned to reach out for the kid, but stopped dumbfounded to see the young man turn and apologize.

“Geez lady, I’m sorry. I wasn’t watchin. You ok? This your stop? Eddie! Hold the door! Lady needs to get off!”

Another kid, taller, and less friendly looking nodded and stuck his foot in the door.

“Oh, thank you. I don’t know what I’d do if I missed the stop.”

“You be careful now, this neighborhood is hard after dark,” the young man warned her.

“I’m well aware. Thank you, and thank you, Eddie,” she said as she passed through the door.

When she had cleared the door, Eddie let it close, then gave a nod to the other kid.

Joe watched a silent correspondence pass between them, and shook his head. They were good, but he’d seen it a thousand times. He didn’t drive a taxi in Boston and not learn some street smarts after all and he was fairly certain that one of these young men had just gained possession of Millie’s wallet.

He didn’t like the thought of the old lady alone without her wallet, and even though it wasn’t his habit to be heroic, he thought maybe he could pull the emergency brake and get off to find her. The train hadn’t started to move yet, so he glanced out the window and was startled to see her standing below his window, smiling up at him.

“There’s always a way, Mr. Kelly! Make that phone call!”

“Millie! Check your. . ” he turned, startled with himself for being so stupid as to warn the old woman by shouting when the thugs were still on the train. But they weren’t. In fact he was all alone again. He hadn’t heard the door open, or seen the two get off. He looked around up and down, but he was alone. He looked down to the platform, panicked that the kids had gotten off the train and were now going after her, but there was no one to see. The platform was completely deserted as the train pulled away.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Redamntion – 2

Continuing. . .

~ * ~

The afternoon had turned chilly, even though the sun was still bright in a perfect sky. Logan pulled the zipper up on his jacket and tucked his hands in the pockets. He wished he’d thought to bring his gloves; he knew how quickly the temperature could change once autumn got a foothold on New England. The breeze was not all together unpleasant however, blowing the stench of the traffic away from him as he crossed square toward the far end of the marketplace.

Autumn always brought crowds to Boston. Tourists wanting to walk the Freedom Trail, and snap pictures of the historic buildings, bunched around markers and maps, pointing out the landmarks around them. Tour guides led groups, patiently pretending that no one had ever before asked them if they could “pahk their cahs at Hahvahd Yaaaahd.”

“Why would you wish to do that?” Logan interjected merrily, startling the young man who had just asked the guide the obligatory question.

“Huh? You know…that’s how they talk, here,” he replied with a smirk. “Everyone knows that.” His own accent was decidedly southern.

“Oh? Who?” Logan asked. “Who speaks that way, I’m sure I’ve never heard it.”

“You know, the locals. Y’all must not been here long.”

“Long enough to know that a car parked in Harvard Yard would most assuredly be towed. So to answer your query, the answer would be no. We do not park there. Good day.” Logan smiled and walked away, leaving the young man red faced amid a chorus of snickers from the rest of the group.

His amusement soon faded as he hurried through the bustling square. A wave of melancholy settled on him as he glanced around at the businesses that had sprung up in the venerated old square. Where once stood open air markets bursting with produce and seafood, goods brought on ships and where tradesman sold their wares, now stood shops bearing names like Starbucks, Borders and Pier One. He hurried by the windows emblazoned with imports and designer clothing, not giving so much as half a glance to the merchandise on display. He quickened his pace until he reached the far end of the market, and turned into a dark and narrow alley, to find the one shop he had come to loyally, every October the 12th for as long as he could recall; Todd’s Odds.

He pushed the antique door open. The jingle of an old brass bell announced his arrival. Instantly his mood changed as he breathed in the aged and musty smell of the ancient merchandise. Stacks upon stacks of books lined the narrow shop, closing in on all sides. One had to know what he wanted very precisely at Todd’s as it did not lend itself to casual browsing. The books seemed to be arranged mostly by size rather than subject, or author, with the proprietor’s personal favorites obvious by their lack of dust and prominence in the window.

“Todd? Toddy? Are you back there?” Logan called. “It’s me, Logan.”

A shuffling sound and a slight thud, followed by what sounded like an avalanche came from the back room, behind an faded and worn calico curtain. Logan waited a moment, resisting the instinct to rush to Todd’s assistance. After another thud–a crate of some sort hitting the floor–a voice called out, “Logan? Is that Logan? Is it October already?”

The curtain was shoved aside revealing the gnome-like smile of old Todd Franklin, owner and proprietor of Todd’s Odds. His bright eyes widened behind his gold spectacles and he thrust his hand toward Logan. “Come in, come in! It’s good to see you my boy, come, come. Tell me about your year.”

Logan chuckled, grasping Todd’s age-withered hand. He casually pulled a long strand of cobweb off the old man’s glasses, then pulled him close for a hug. “Oh Toddy, what am I to do with you. Still determined to bury yourself in your own stacks are you? When are you going to hire an assistant?”

“Assistant?” Todd scoffed, waving his hand. “When I’m old, and not until then. Uh . . . did you bring any . . .”

Logan reached into the pocket of his jacket and retrieved a silver flask adorned with a red velvet ribbon, and presented it to the old man. “Would I forget?”

Todd’s chubby cheeks lit up in a smile as he took the flask, and went about burrowing under the counter, presumably looking for the two goblets he’d stashed there a year ago, the last time Logan had been there. Logan took off his jacket and draped it on the bell hook on the door, and as was the custom, locked the door and turned the sign to “Closed.”

Todd had since found the goblets and after blowing the dust from them, was filling each with an ample amount of the amber liquid that came from the flask.

Once filled, Logan took his cup and held it up. “Here’s to the way it was. . .”

“And the way it is . . . ” Todd continued.

“And the way it ever shall be,” they said together, clinking the goblets and drinking the contents in one gulp.

“So,” Todd began after a moment, “what will this year be?”

“The last year,” Logan replied quietly, looking into his empty goblet.

“You say that every year, son.”

“A man can hope.”

“A man surely can,” the old man said quietly patting Logan’s hand.

Logan half smiled. “You say that every year, too.”

“I suppose I do. Now, what text will you be teaching from this year? Homer? Plato?” Todd set his cup down and wandered to one the precariously stacked book shelves. “Ah, how about the entire collection of Zane Grey?”

“Zane Grey?” Logan laughed.

“Ah, it was a long shot. I could use the space they’re taking up. Was worth a shot.”

“No, Todd, I’m not even certain you’ll have what I require this time.”

Todd looked over the rim of his glasses, raising a brow. “That’s doubtful. Unless of course you’re looking for something published more recently then 1953.”

“No, I’m sure it’s a bit older than that.”

“Name it.”

Logan drew a long breath, then said quietly, “The First Emanation.”

“Are you certain?” Todd whispered, taking a step closer to Logan.

“It’s the last year, my friend. I’m certain of it this time.”

Todd hesitated only a moment then pushed the calico curtain aside and disappeared into his back room. After another round of shuffling and soft crashes, he emerged, holding a small wooden box no bigger than a matchbook in his hand. “Are you certain?”

Logan nodded.

Todd sighed, and with a trembling hand, gave the box to Logan. “I won’t see you again, will I?”

“No,” Logan answered, almost silently. “Thank you, my friend.” He retrieved his jacket from the bell and put it on, then tucked the little box protectively into the breast pocket. “You know, there’s always hope.”

“Of what?” Todd asked.

“I could be wrong.”

He stepped back into the crisp air of the marketplace, and hurried down the alley not wanting to look back. He knew Todd was standing at the window watching him go, and he knew that by tomorrow, no trace of Todd’s Odds would remain at Faneuil Marketplace.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Redamntion – Excerpt

The entry that I posted last night was actually a chapter that comes very late in the story. I’ve decided to post the opening scene. The working title of the books “Redamntion” (yes, spelled that way. I made the word up because writers are allowed to do that sometimes). Tagline: Logan is man with a history — a very long history.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prologue

Boston, Massachusetts

Present

 

“Where to?”

“Faneuil Market, please. At North Street.”

“You got it.” The cabdriver flipped the meter without so much as a backward glance as he pulled away from the curb. “Oh geez,” he grumbled as a group of conservatory students crowded the crosswalk in front of him, seemingly unconcerned with clearing the street before the light changed. Two young men, each toting instrument cases the size of sarcophagi stopped mid way across, looking up at the tall buildings around them. The cabby gave the horn a loud blast and stuck his head out the window. “Yeah they’re called buildings! You can see ’em from the curb too!” The students gave him an ingenuous smile and hurried across the street.

“Conservatory kids,” the driver said with a chuckle, glancing into the rearview mirror. “They got more dollars than sense if ya know what I mean.” He turned his attention back to his driving. “I only yell to keep ’em movin’, ya know? Not every cabby in Boston gives a damn. Run ’em over as soon as honk, but I figure, they’re someone’s kids, ya know? I got kids, so I know how that would be, ya know? Mine don’t go to no fancy music conservatory, but I they do ok. You got kids?”

“Hmm? I’m sorry, what did you ask?”

“Kids–you got any?”

A slow smile crossed the passenger’s face as he glanced out the window. “Thousands. None of my own. Yet every one of them are mine.”

The cabby looked at him through the mirror, one brow raised. “Eh?”

“I’m a teacher.”

“Oh, now I get ya. I had a feeling you did somethin’ callin’ for brains–Hey! Bonehead! There’s a reason the little man has an X on him!—you look the type.”

“There’s really no need to worry about the pedestrians slowing you down. I’m in no hurry.”

The cabby grinned. “Yeah? Good, the meter goes on time, not miles, ya know what I mean?”

The passenger smiled. “Take your time.”

“Your dime.”

“So,” the man said after the light had changed. “How many do you have?”

“Eh?” the cabby asked, looking through the mirror.

“Children. You said–”

“Green means GO on my planet! Oh kids, I have two. Teenagers, boy and girl. Twins. Eighteen next month. Though I swear I put on forty years of gray hair raisin’ ’em.”

“I’m sure. They can be a challenge.”

“They’re good kids,” the cabby said abruptly. “I ain’t so afraid of them getting’ in trouble as I am them gettin’ in, you know — trouble.” The tires screeched as the car came to a sudden stop. “Damned T buses think they own the street. The lights count for you, too!”

“What sort of trouble do you worry about? Drugs? Alcohol?”

“Naaah, they’re good kids. I taught them to stay away from that shit. See I don’t make no big deal about a beer now and then, so they don’t go out sneaking it. And as far as drugs, they seen enough of what it can do to a person and they get that. No, I worry about the other guy you know? More worried about what they’ll have to live with out there in the real world once they get out of school, ya know?”

“Ah, I understand. The real world. Away from the hallowed ivy covered walls of the school.”

“They got ivy at BHS?”

“Metaphor.”

“English right? You teach English.” The cabby turned toward the square. “Probably know real good grammar. High School?”

“No, I teach history actually. At Standish Preparatory. It’s out near–”

“Standish?” The cabby let out a high whistle. “Out on Gibbon’s Island?”

“Yes, that’s right. You’ve heard of it?”

“My girl wanted to go. She’s got the brains and the grades for it too, but it’s a little out of my reach if you get me. Nice place if you’re a . . .” he let the sentence hang, and turned the cab onto Congress street. “North Street up a head.”

“I take it you’ve visited Standish.”

“Yeah, I took the kids out on the ferry a couple of summers ago. No offense, mister, but that old fortress they call a school didn’t exactly fill me with a warm fuzzy glow. I think every brick in the place must be a million years old. Makes this place look brand new,” he said gesturing toward the old market buildings as he turned onto North Street. “The headmaster said it used to be some sort of loony bin.”

“Asylum. Yes, two-hundred years ago.”

“Yeah. And it’s probably haunted by all the dead loonies.” He glanced in the mirror. “You ever seen a ghost?”

“No. I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“No? I sure do.”

The passenger smiled. “Good. Keep believing. We need more believers in this world.”

“If you say so.” He pulled the cab to the curb, and flipped the meter off. “Well, here’s your stop. Fourteen-fifty.”

The man handed the cabby a twenty. “Keep the change, and thank you for the ride and conversation.”

“What did you say?”

“I said, keep the change.”

The cabby smiled. “No, I meant . . . you’re welcome. I don’t hear a lot of thank yous. Hope to drive you again.”

The man leaned toward the driver’s window before walking away, slipping a card out of his breast pocket. “There are scholarships available. Give me a call. My name is Logan. My number is on the card. I’d be happy to see what could be done for your daughter. I promise, if there are any dead loonies lurking about, they are all very well behaved, she’d be perfectly safe.”

The cabby took the card, staring at the man’s face, then down to the card, then back to the man, a slow smile brightening his face. “Thank you!” he tucked the card into his shirt pocket. “And be careful crossing the street. The cabbies in this town are nuts —I’m goin’! Keep your shirt on!—thanks again, Mr. Logan!” With a honk and a squeal of tires, the cab disappeared into the herd of other similarly colored taxi cabs that crowded the square.

~ * ~

© Lorrieann Russell 2012

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

NaNoWriMo Excerpt Time!

It’s not going as quickly as I’d like, but it’s going. Here’s an excerpt from the novel I am writing. . . not set up, no context, but I hope you get a feel for the visuals. LR

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The storm passed quietly just as the sun touched the horizon. Logan let go of the death grip he’d held on the helm and permitted himself to relax for the first time in twelve long hours. To the west, the storm clouds that bruised the horizon had given way to long strips of pale blue and gold, giving the sun a window to shine through for the last few moments of the day. Even the wind had quit. The waves that had nearly toppled the Lilleth only a few minutes before, fell back into the sea, smoothing out like silken sheets.

“Is it over?” Lindy called from under the canvas.

Logan rushed to the deck, quickly releasing the tie-down ropes at the corners of the canvas. “Lindy! You made it?”

“Let me out, please? I can’t take it under here anymore.”

Logan flipped back the heavy canvas and held a hand out to her. She looked smaller, her eyes large peeking up from the deck. Her soaked hair clung to her face in wild tangles, but otherwise she seemed unharmed. “You’re ok!”

“Yeah . . . I think.” She grasped his hand to pull herself up. “Any damage?”

Logan pulled her up, then drew her to himself, hugging far harder than he intended, or expected. “You’re ok.” She allowed him to hug only briefly before pushing away. He felt the heat rise to his face and released her, quickly turning his attention back to the helm. “Sorry. I’m just glad, you didn’t get washed over. Would be difficult to explain that to your father.”

Her hand touched his shoulder. “Hey, it’s ok.” She nudged his arm, to get him to turn.

He grasped the wheel tight, willing himself not to look at her. She let go, and he felt his heart fall. She’s not supposed to be part of this.

“Is it safe to go below? I’d like to get cleaned up, you know? Get some dry clothes on.”

He nodded, still not turning until he heard the creak of the hatch opening. “Lindy—”

She paused, looking. “What?”

“I’m…sorry. It should not have happened. And…I can’t…”

“What? You can’t what? Stand me?”

“No! No that’s not it. Once we get to the Sow, everything will change. I’ll change. I can’t be—”

“Oh, so that’s it. This is the speech then? ‘I’m too old for you, this isn’t right, it shouldn’t be, it’s wrong, it’s immoral, it’s fattening?’ right? Do you think I had no part in what happened? Do you think I’m that stupid?”

“No,” he turned away. “No. You’re anything but stupid. I’m not doing this right.”

“Logan, look at me.”

He obliged.

“What happened, happened. I’m not ashamed, and I don’t regret it.”

“There is so much you don’t know.”

“I know how I feel, and I know it was my choice. That’s all I need to know.” A small grin spread to the corner of her mouth. “But if it’s what I think it is that’s really bothering you. Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. So you’re a late bloomer.”

He jolted at that. “What do you mean?”

“Your secret is safe with me. So you’re a forty-ish year old virgin. I think it’s hot.”

His face warmed greatly and he was thankful for the sinking of the sun to hide the crimson in his cheeks. “That’s not what I meant…but, uh…you can tell that?”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I can tell. Are you alarmed to know I have some experience? Do you think less of me?”

“No, of course not. I’m amazed is all. What gave me away?”

She smiled and headed to the hatch to go below. “I had to show you where,” she said then disappeared into the cabin.

Logan stood, dumbfounded by the whole turn of events. He still could not believe he ever let her come with him on this of all voyages. The Sow was dangerous in normal times, but in these times? Was he mad? And to let things go, as they did—he shuddered, huddling his arms around himself against a sudden easterly breeze. The bulk of the box in the breast pocket pressed against his arm as if to remind him of its presence. He felt the low vibration and the glow trying to break through from the lid. He pressed it closer to himself and whispered, “What have I done?”

As if in response, a long low rumble of thunder echoed in the east, a reminder that though he had weathered this storm, there would be many more and far worse ones to face once they reached the lip of The Sow. And Lindy was going to be part of it, whether he liked it or not.

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in NaNoWriMo

 

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My Brother’s Keeper — Excerpt from Chapter 8

. . .  When it was Sean’s turn, William finally allowed himself to smile, finding it impossible to remain formal. “Sir Sean Douglas Wilbrun, step forward.” Sean stepped forward, solemnly, the absolute model of formality, which made it all the harder for William not to laugh. “Do you accept your post and all responsibilities that lie therein?”

“I do, my lord, and swear my fealty, as is my honor, to uphold and defend your tenants.” Sean paused and looked William in the eye before finishing the oath. “Under pain of death do I break this oath.”

William no longer felt the urge to laugh as he bestowed the rank on Sean. “It is my privilege, and my honor, to name you as Captain of the Guard to the House of Sutherland. Do you accept this appointment?” William extended his arm for the formal handshake.

Sean accepted William’s arm. “I do. Thank you, my lord, it is my honor.” Sean finally smiled and bowed his head, while William placed the silver captain’s badge of Sutherland on his shoulder. As he stepped back in line, loud cheers erupted from the rest of the guard.

A small commotion from the far end of the hall joined the guards’ chorus. William smiled to see the ladies, Elinor, Laurel and Agnes who were watching from the grand stairs. Little Duncan stood with his chest out, smiling and waving proudly to his big brother.

“Go on, accept the accolades,” William said, grinning.

Sean took a step forward, bowed regally to the ladies, then beckoned to Duncan.

The little lad trotted happily over, then stopped short, bowed first to William, then to Sean.

“That is a fine blade you have, there. May I see it?”  Sean asked.

Duncan beamed, and presented his pride and joy, a little wooden sword he carried everywhere.   “Can I come with you to Sutherland, Seany?”

Sean glanced to William. “You need to ask Lord Sutherland.”

Duncan tilted his head. “Can’t I just ask Will’m?”

The men laughed, Duncan blushed, and William cleared his throat. “It would be my honor for you to join the guard of Sutherland.  But you have to take an oath.”

Agnes gasped, drawing her hand to her mouth.

Duncan’s eyes went wide.  “I know the words! I know the words! Under pain of death—”

William felt a sudden sick pull in the pit of his stomach.  He placed his hand quickly on Duncan’s shoulder before the tot could finish his oath. “Well done, laddie,” he said quietly, taking the wooden sword from the boy, and tapping each shoulder.  “I promise when you are a little older, you will come to Sutherland, and join my guard.” William placed his fist to his chest.

Duncan frowned. “How much older? Seven?”

William looked up toward Agnes. She quickly wiped a tear from her cheek and forced a smile. He turned back to Duncan. “Hmm, Sean was twelve when he began his training, and fourteen when he received his badge. . . how would that suit you? Can you wait until you’re twelve years old?”

“But that’s …” he looked down to his fingers, counting, “a long time.”

“Not so long, lad.  Besides, I am counting on you to be here to protect the ladies.” He gave a nod toward Agnes. “Your mum is going to need you more than ever when Sean is away.”

Duncan knotted his brow, looking toward his mum.  “You’re right. I promise, Will’m.  I’ll protect them.” He squeezed the hilt of his little sword, then mimicked the gesture the guards had made placing his fist to his chest.

Sean gave the lad a pat on the back, sending him back to stand with his mother.

The men cheered again as Sean resumed his place in the line. William stepped further down the line, passing by several men before he came to a stop in front of Richard. The cheering instantly silenced when William said, “Richard Fylbrigge, step forward.”

Richard hesitantly stepped forward, giving a sideways glance to his comrades as he did so. William ignored the surprised gawks from the other men, avoiding eye contact with any of them—particularly Sean. “Sir Richard Henry Fylbrigge, do you accept your post and all responsibilities that lie therein?”

Fist to chest, Richard replied appropriately, “I do, my lord, and swear my fealty, as is my honor, to uphold and defend your tenants.”

William waited for Richard to finish his oath, giving him a prod with a raised brow. “Go on.”

Unlike Sean, Richard’s eyes would not meet William’s. Instead, he fixed his gaze on the floor and finished, quickly and quietly, “Under pain of death do I break this oath.”

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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My Brother’s Keeper – Reboot time

I am very excited to be revisiting my first novel, My Brother’s Keeper, to prepare if for re-release with Edin Road Press. I’m also pleased that it is an opportunity for me to ‘reorder’ the books properly. My Brother’s Keeper was the first one that I put out, but it was not the beginning of the story. By Right of Blood (originally published under the title By Right of Will) was actually the last one I wrote, but was the beginning of the story. Thanks to Edin Road for acquiring my contracts, I am now able to have the story told in the proper sequence. At the same time, it gives me an golden opportunity to polish up the original manuscripts.

The best part of re-editing is to go back and reacquaint myself with some of my favorite scenes, and to reread others that I had forgotten about. This may sound a little self serving, but it is also gratifying to be enjoying the story as if it were new to me as well. I hope that once it is out there, the folks who’ve read By Right of Blood and enjoyed it, will also enjoy My Brother’s Keeper when it is re-released at the end of November 2012.

As a tease, I thought I’d share one of my favorite little scenes from early on in the book.

It is William’s wedding day, and he is trying to get dressed. Fortunately, Sean is there, as always, to cover his back — literally.

 

***

Excerpt: Chapter 1 – My Brother’s Keeper

William stared in dismay at the array of fine clothing laid out on the bed before him. “All right. Now, honestly, I can do this.” He held up a stiffly embroidered tunic, shaking his head in mock disgust that someone expected him to adorn himself in lilies of the valley. “Flowers. As if the hat isn’t silly enough.”

“Would you prefer ducks?” Sean teased.

With a deep sigh, William prepared to don the elaborate garment. “First things first.” He turned it several times in his hands, trying to decide which side was the front. “Aha! This way.”

“Yes, that’s right, Will. Put it on backwards,” Sean laughed. “You truly are hopeless.” Sean put his drink down on the table and bowed dramatically. “All right, my liege, your humble servant is here to help you dress, like it or not.” He took the tunic from William and put it back on the bed. “You’ll need to put the trews on first,” he said, then handed William the puffy leggings, also embroidered with lilies of the valley.

“I hate these,” William groaned.

Sean pushed William onto the chair and handed him the trews. “You’d look fetching without them, I’m sure, but it may be drafty.”

William pulled them on properly, then rebelliously flattened out the puffs. He stood in front of the mirror shaking his head. “Do the king’s men actually wear these in public?” He reached for the tunic, then stopped and turned to Sean. “Now?”

Sean nodded.

William examined it again, turned it front to back several times then held it out to Sean. “I give up. Dress me, humble servant.”

“You’re sounding more like a noble by the minute.” Sean took the garment and held it up in front of William. “Now watch, so you don’t have to spend the rest of your life naked.”

Before William’s amazed eyes, Sean pulled the front of the tunic apart. The opening had been concealed behind all the embroidery. William allowed Sean to put it on him and fasten it up.

Sean primped up the sleeves; William flattened them down. Sean scowled and primped them again, slapping William’s hands when he tried to flatten them again.

The belt and scabbard came next. William ran his fingers over the fine leather tooling. “Thank goodness, there are no flowers on this.” He held it up for Sean’s appraisal, before he secured it around his waist and adjusted it to the proper place on his hip. Sean reverently retrieved William’s sword from its old tattered and worn scabbard, draped carelessly over the back of the chair. He presented it to William in a proper knightly fashion: over his left arm, hilt first.

William bowed in mock tribute and ceremoniously slid the sword into the new scabbard. Sean draped the tartan around William’s shoulders with a flourish, bringing the corners together at his left shoulder. “We can’t forget this,” he said, as he picked up a silver badge from the dressing table.

“I should say not.” William grinned and took the badge that was adorned with a silver eagle—the official designation of Edward’s house. “It’ll be official tonight. I’ll be part of the clan.” He pinned the badge to his cape, securing it at his shoulder. It had been given to him as a token of acceptance when Edward had blessed William and Mehlyndia’s betrothal. William had worn it proudly during the tour, but not until tonight, when he was properly wed, would he truly be part of Edward’s clan.

Sean stood back to look at the fully dressed bridegroom.

William struck a lofty pose. “Well? Am I presentable?”

“Be still, my heart,” Sean prattled. “Look at you. You could turn even my head!”

William glanced at him sideways.

“I mean it. You are absolutely stunning.”

William admired his reflection in the looking glass. “For once in your life, you’re right. I am stunning.” He let out a hearty laugh and tossed his dusty tunic at Sean, hitting him squarely in the face. “Or perhaps I’m only just stunned.”

Sean picked up his goblet and handed one to William. The two shared a quick toast.

With one last glance in the mirror, William took a deep breath. “Well, I would say I am as ready as I will ever be.” He extended his hand toward the door. “After you.”

Sean pushed William’s hand down and extended his own. “No. After you.” He shook his head. “Some noble.”

They laughed and started toward the door. They were stopped by a firm knock.

“Are you expecting guests, Will?”

“I never expect anything. Makes everything much more interesting.” He chuckled and opened the door. The smile on his face faded as quickly as it had appeared. “Thomas. What are you doing here?”

“Would you leave your only brother standing in the corridor? Or may I come in?”

“Actually, we were just on our way down. You can walk with me if you choose.”

Thomas ignored the comment, walking straight past William and into the room. He strode to the table and helped himself to some wine, then turned slowly to face William. “I see you have finally learned the proper way to dress yourself,” Thomas said, scrutinizing William as he would a horse he wished to purchase, then gave Sean a dismissive glance. “A pity that you still need lessons on what company to keep, however. William, there is a matter we need to discuss. Could we have a private moment?”

Sean bristled and started toward the door. William held up a hand.

“I don’t think there is time now, Thomas. You really don’t want me to be late for my own wedding, do you?” William turned to leave.

“I wouldn’t be so quick to turn your back on me, brother.”

William stopped, then slowly turned to face his brother. “I beg your pardon?”

“I said, there is a matter we need to discuss . . .  privately.”

“Say what you came to say, but Sean will stay here. If you will not speak, then we shall go down to the hall.” William clenched his teeth to keep the confident edge in his voice, but he could feel the redness forming in his face.

Thomas took a step forward, locking his eyes on William’s. “Lord Ogham is not amused at the way you so eloquently convinced some of his earls to shift the trade routes from his tenants. You may have held your own against his dull-minded twits, Drunbalk and Wesley, but are you prepared to take on Ogham face-to-face?” He took another step forward, glowering. “I cannot believe Edward sent you to the negotiations, a beardless boy. Is he trying to condemn the lot of us?”

William scowled at his brother, resisting the urge to reach for his sword. “Edward has no such concern, Thomas. At any rate, I will not speak with you further on this subject tonight.”

“Then allow me a word of brotherly advice. You have angered some considerably dangerous adversaries.” Thomas sauntered toward the door, a wry grin coming to his face. “You would be wise to watch your back, William. It’s obvious you have no one capable of watching it for you.”

Sean crossed the room in less than a heartbeat, his hands clasped tightly around Thomas’s throat. “That’s twice! No further threats will come from you.”

Thomas twisted awkwardly, trying to free Sean’s hands from his throat.

William strolled toward the two. He spoke in a soft and steady voice as Sean and Thomas grappled, “We don’t have time for him, Sean. But feel free to finish this later. Right now, I’d like to go downstairs to get married.” He casually returned to the door. “Now, is anyone going to join me?”

Sean released Thomas with a shove, sending him flailing over the table. The wine bottle and glasses hit the stone floor with an ear-splitting shatter. Thomas rose to his feet quickly. Red-faced and furious, he stormed toward William. “You have set your course, brother. Mark my words; this is not finished!” The echo of the threat hung in the air as Thomas stalked past William and out of the room.

“How pathetic,” William said, more to himself than to Sean. “He still attempts to intimidate me.”

Sean set the table straight, leaving the broken glass where it lay, and returned to William’s side.

The scarlet slowly fading from his cheeks as William brushed the dust off Sean’s shoulder. “Thank you, Sean. You handled that quite nicely. I would have hated to ruin this fine outfit.”

“My pleasure.” Catching his breath, Sean grandly primped up his own less-grand sleeves. “Will,” he began, still struggling with his breathing.

“What is it? We’re late, you know.”

“Don’t worry about your back. I’ve got it covered.”

“I’m counting on that, my friend.”

******

 

Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment.

Lorrieann

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in My Brother's Keeper