Excerpts, Karen Vaughan

AN EXCERPT FROM DEAD TO WRITES –LAURA & GERRY #7

THE PREMISE:  LAURA AND GIBBONS ARE ON THE CASE AGAIN! AN UP AND COMING AUTHOR IS BRUTALLY MURDERED WHILE ATTENDING A WRITERS CONFERENCE.  JANINE HARPER IS FOUND POISONED IN HER ROOM.  THE SUSPECT LIST IS LONG BUT THE SAVVY DETECTIVE FERRETS OUT THE REAL WRONG DOER WITH THE HELP OF THE DEAD AUTHORS FRIENDS.   THE STING IS ON AS THE HELLCAT FRANCESCA IS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR FRAUD AND MURDER.

CASSIE AND SYLVIE  ARE MEETING WITH OSCAR A WOULD BE HITMAN TO NAIL FRANCESCA

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Oscar replied “I suppose she would want me to kill you too if you got in the way.  I’m not going to do any of that.  I want you ladies to call Carolyn Crawford at 22 division and meet us here.  I have information for her with regards to the Janine Harper case.

Cassie sat up straight.  I remember you now!  You were there the day I bought the hemlock bush for Francesca.  She told me that it was a gift for a friend.  I remember you took it from me and said you would handle it.

yes, and I feel guilty about what I did.  Oscar replied.  I took it to a shop that handles black arts.  Poison potions spells and all that.  The man who worked there extracted the poison from the roots of the plant and gave me a vial of hemlock to give to Fran.

Cassie continued.  Yes, and then she gave me the gift basket with the poisoned wine in and told me to take it to a delivery service.  The rest, as they say, is history and Janine is dead.

Right and if that bitch gets her way you will both be dead by nightfall.

Sylvie spoke.  “This is something out of SNOW WHITE where the woodsman takes Snow White into the forest to kill her but leaves her for the dwarves to find.”

Oscar laughed.  “Interesting comparison Sylvie.  I’m going to make it look like I’m going to kill you both.  However, we are going to call your friends at 22 division and fill them in on what’s going on.

Sylvie laughed and responded.  “Good, because neither Cassie or I have any intention on cleaning house for a bunch of short dirty men with the help of Woodland creatures.”

Cassie agreed.  “Certainly not!  I didn’t get my degree in Pub. relations just to be a housekeeper.”

The whole group laughed and moved onto working out a plan to trap Ms. Lewis.

This is better than the plan we worked out with Carolyn and Laura. She went to explain plainly the sting operation to take place at the writer’s conference the following day.

DEAD TO WRITES IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS.

author, Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Life, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized, YA

So New, It Doesn’t Even Have a Title

A work in progress:

The juice box was definitely against me. Its resistance was punctuated by a taunting titter.  My efforts to open it were futile, it mocked.

 

WIP copyNo, wait. The snickering was not the juice box. It came from down the lunch table.  I didn’t even have to look their way. I knew who was laughing, and I didn’t want to see if it was me they were laughing at.  In my heart, I knew it was.

 

I continued to stab at the little cellophane covered hole with the sadly beveled end of the hard plastic straw like Van Helsing at the climax of a bad B movie. The final strike bent my straw, but rewarded me with a squirt of lukewarm apple juice in the face. An arterial explosion worthy of the best special effects artist in the business.

 

The laughter from the perfectly coifed girls at the other end of the table could not be ignored this time.  My life was not a bad horror movie; it was a comedy and I was the hapless victim of a situational shtick.

 

Staring down at the lunch tray, I watched the juice drown my stale, rectangular pizza slice.  At least, I wasn’t hungry anymore anyway.  My appetite was ruined by the whispered jokes about me destroying the little paper box with my brute strength.

 

I closed my eyes and swore that if I heard one more comment from those four makeup-slathered, social media celeb wannabes about me being a “she-male”, I’d flip this table on their heads.

 

Not that I hold any direct animosity for She-males, or what have you, but I do resent lies being spread about me.  And, I resent those who start the lies.  Namely, Brittany.  My mom says I spend way too much time worrying about Brittany, her crew, and what they think or say about me.

 

Mom says it doesn’t matter what others think, only what I know about myself.  Yeah, she’s full of inspirational poster stuff like that.

 

Sorry, Mom.  But, it’s hard not to see myself reflected in the eyes and jeers of my fellow students.  My peers.  What a joke.  I have so very little in common with them that I hesitate to call them peers of any sort.  Alas, for the next year or so, I must.

 

Of course, using the word ‘alas’ in casual conversation is one of the things these girls would tease me about.  Can I help it if my grandfather read Shakespeare to me for the last fifteen years of his life?

 

The siren-like bell blared from the hall to announce the next class would begin in five.  I gathered my sloshing tray and stood, never glancing at Brittany once.  Fifth period was next.  Gym class, right after lunch.  Brilliant scheduling.

 

When was this nightmare going to end?

*****************************************************************************

I woke up the other day recounting my dream several times as I did to try and remember it. The sights, the feelings, the familiar trappings of high school. I often dream that I’m back in school, but never had I wanted to write them into a story. This one was fun.  Well, to me, running for my life and fighting creatures while possessing an unnatural strength in a dream is fun.  Others may call it a nightmare.  Either way, it spawned this new character. This is a little beginning snippet from what I will call my first Urban Paranormal Young Adult story.

It is such an infant at the moment that it has no name.  Heck, I just came up with the protagonist’s name this morning.  I hope you enjoy!

Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Literary, Ramblings, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — a fanfic continues

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. — Ruth Davis Hays

 

After an exhausting and confusing time of “follow the leader”, the two found the front door and had gone inside.  The house seemed to unfold, with each room larger than the last and offering more doors that led to more and more rooms.  Each one stranger and filled with more interesting little things than the one before it.  Indeed, it could take an eternity to wander and explore the whole place.

In one tall library that had a fireplace larger than they were high and a long polished wood table, they had come across the kender, Gintilli Dibbertill.  She was a slender and muscular girl with a long, blonde topknot tied in the same fashion as Tasslehoff’s.  She looked much like Tas, only feminine in all the right ways.  Her manner was very similar to Tas’s as well.  She talked excitedly, moved around almost constantly and was intensely interested in anything new.  Frodo guessed that this was just the way kender acted and made the best of it.

Tasslehoff had scolded her for changing the entrance to the tree house while he had been away, though he had complemented her on the “merry chase” she had led them on while trying to find the way in.

“I thought you might like it,” She had simply said.  She was evidently undaunted by his first reaction.

Frodo explored part of their house with them.  The fascination that they showed in many of the twists and turns made him wonder if it was the first time that they had seen some parts as well.  Then he remembered how kender like to find new things and realized that they must change the house constantly so that it can always be new to them.   At times, they bickered like siblings and at other times they seemed to titter and giggle like ‘tweens in love.   He was curious as to what their relationship actually was, but thought it improper to ask.

At length, they all settled in the tall library again to eat.  That was when Gintilli introduced her half-sister, Glorianthea.  They had overlooked her the first time through the room as she had been sitting in a far corner silently.  Now, she was sitting at the long table, silently.

She was very different from the other two kender.  Though she had the same size and features, she was thinner and paler than Gintilli.  Her dark brown hair was braided in a single long braid down her back and her slanted, chestnut eyes stared vacantly before her.  She also did not seem to move, nor register that they were present in any way.  She just stared.

Tasslehoff called her unnerving.  Gintilli called her annoying.  But, Frodo simply found himself staring at her curiously, almost as if he was waiting for her to move or look up at him.

Dinner was a bit odd, as Tasslehoff and Gintilli seemed quite used to ignoring Glorianthea, but Frodo felt it rude leaving her out of the conversation or not acknowledging her presence in the least.   After he had offered her something to eat for the third time, Gintilli finally said not to bother.

“She won’t take it even if she can hear you.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  She will eat but, only when no one else is around.  She must feed herself because I leave food with her and when I come back, it’s gone.  I just never have the patience to sit around long enough to see her eat it.  It gets too boring,” She said in her soft, high, almost sing-song voice.

“Why is she like this?” Frodo asked.  He looked at her wide, almost sad eyes.  Her face was smoother than Gintilli’s with the small pointed ears making her look as if she were a tiny, petite elf maid. He felt his pulse race and remembered a similar feeling long ago in the presence of another elf maiden.

“She’s been like that as long as I can remember,” Gintilli began.  “I think she saw a dragon once and this is what happened.  I don’t know why, though.  I’ve seen a dragon or two myself and I was never scared stupid.”

“Dragons do tend to make one’s stomach feel funny,” chimed in Tas,  “But, I’ve been around a ton of them.  I got used to the feeling.  Maybe it tried to eat her.  That might make her not want to go outside.  But, we keep telling her that there are no dragons here.  At least none that I’ve seen yet.”

“Perhaps there is more to it,”  pondered Frodo.

They talked late into the evening around the fire in the huge hearth, but Frodo’s eyes kept straying back to Glorianthea’s still form in the tall chair at the end of the table.

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

Excerpts, Fiction, Rachel Rueben

Miss Mary Mack

Miss Mary Mack Cereal Authors.jpg
Image via Pixabay

The sound of little girls giggling and playing a hand clapping game could be heard all the way up to Old Man Oscar’s porch: “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack…All dressed in black, black, black….She wore her buttons all down her back, back, back…”

“Whacha know ‘bout Miss Mary?” said the old man rocking while the children clapped along. Looking at him one of the little girls answered, “It’s just a song, there’s no Miss Mary!”

“Girl hush! I tell y’all it’s true, there was a Miss Mary and she used to run that ol’ orphanage near LaGrange road.”

Thinking these were just the ramblings of an old man, the girls continued to play on. Meanwhile a skeptical little boy asked, “Oh yeah, how come I ain’t never heard of no Miss Mary?” Seeing a little bit of himself in the boy, the old man answered, “Befo’ yo time boy.” As he slowly rocked back and forth in his chair, the memories began flooding back. Having caught their attention the children came closer to the porch. Noticing he had an audience, the old man took a knife to an scar on his arm and pointed, “You see that there, those is boins (burns) I got fo eating befo’ sayin’ Grace. She grabbed a lit candle stick and just pressed it into my arm like it whattin nuthin’.” The children gasped in horror and now that the old man had their undivided attention, he felt obligated to finish what he had started.

Chocking up as he remembered the dust from old dirt road that led up to the ancient manor. Old man Oscar pulled on his collar feeling the blazing Alabama sun as he recalled the hard labor he was forced to do for the demanding matron, Miss Mary. Finding it hard to breathe, he began to take deep breaths as his hands shook, from the trauma at the hands of that unforgiving serpent. Hearing the sound of her leather strap as it whipped in the air before making contact with his skin, he had no choice but to take another sip of gin from his flask so he wouldn’t lose his composure in front of the children who were now demanding to know who this Miss Mary was.

Unlike most people Old Man Oscar considered the memory loss that old age had bestowed upon him a blessing for a hard and sorrowful life. He had lost so many friends, and family over his 70 years, but it seemed God himself would not allow Oscar to completely forget Miss Mary, so reluctantly, he began the tale…

He was around 4 years old when his mother brought him to the orphanage ran by the First Apostle Church of Morecliff Hills. As she led him up the stairs Oscar’s mother promised, “Now, don’t fret I’ll be back for ya. This is only for a little while.” When they reached the top of the final step of the porch, she hugged him. Holding on tightly Oscar pulled on her blue cotton shawl, tears streamed down his mother’s eyes as she instructed him, “Now you be good for Miss Mary, she’s gonna take care of ya.” As on cue, a woman appeared from the porch door, as though summoned by all the sadness.  Clad in a black dress covering all her flesh, the woman looked like a ghost emerging from the shadows. Peering down at Oscar she asked, “The people ‘roun here call me Miss Mary, what’s your name?” as though she didn’t already know. What little Oscar didn’t understand was that this arrangement had been in the works for almost a year. Though Oscar’s mother promised to be back, Miss Mary knew she wouldn’t, most parents never returned. A few guilty ones might write a few letters but eventually, all contact would cease. This was why Miss Mary felt it was important to build a rapport with the children in the beginning to make the transition easier so she smiled and spoke sweetly to the young boy to keep him calm as his mother walked out of his life.

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.  😉

Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Ramblings, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — A fanfic continued

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. — Ruth Davis Hays

 

Chapter 2

 

Days came and went more merrily for Frodo.  He had met with Tasslehoff every day since the kender had left his hobbit hole.  Together they talked of adventures and times long passed.  They shared favorite paths and favorite habits such as pipeweed and ale.  Frodo introduced Tasslehoff to all his old friends, some the kender had met on his own and some he had simply seen from afar.  Sam joined them occasionally for a long walk and a good talk, though to be honest with himself Sam found the kender rather tiring and he would often make the excuse that Rosie would miss him if he stayed too long.   He was amazed by Frodo’s ability to listen to the kender’s almost continuous chatter.

“He’s a stronger soul than I.” He would say as he would make his way back home to his wife.

In his time with Frodo and Tasslehoff, Sam wondered at the fact that Frodo never mentioned to his new friend about his own great adventure and the important part that Frodo had played in the saving of his own world.  The Ring had been mentioned, but Frodo skimmed over it and talked of others’ adventures and dealings.  The missing finger was never mentioned at all.  Sam tried to tell Tasslehoff once or twice about Mr. Frodo’s amazing journey, knowing that it would rival the kender’s many tales of heroism, but Frodo would quickly switch the topic to either Sam’s bravery or someone else’s part.  This worried Sam.  He felt that Frodo was doing himself a discredit by not telling of how he had destroyed the Ring and saved Middle-earth.

“To be honest, it was Gollum that actually got the ring into the fire, Sam.” Frodo would remind him each time Sam brought the subject up between them afterwards.  Then he would give Sam that knowing look as if to say, “You know this, you were there too.”

Reluctantly, Sam would drop the subject.

 

One afternoon, Tasslehoff popped his head into Frodo’s front window and invited the hobbit to come to meet his cousins.  Frodo, who had been on the verge of dark thoughts, readily agreed.

As they walked under an overcast sky, Tas explained, “I don’t really know if they’re my cousins or not.  We kender rarely keep track of such things as family trees or distant relations.  But, Uncle Trapspringer is Gintilli’s uncle too, so we must be related somehow.”

Frodo simply smiled.  He was growing quite fond of the strange habits and quirks that kenders seemed to have.  They were refreshingly different from his fellow hobbits.  Normally he would have questioned the kender further, but today he was a little distracted.

Earlier that morning, Frodo had accidentally slammed his right hand in the wardrobe door.  The pain had been sudden and over with quickly, but it had succeeded in bringing his attention to his missing digit again.  For a few minutes after it had happened, Frodo felt the ache in the four fingers on his hand, but at the instant that it had occurred he could have sworn that the absent finger had been in pain as well.  He had pondered this for hours.  He had been trying experiments with his fingers to find out if he could really feel anything from that maimed spot or if it had been his imagination.  He had concluded that it was his imagination and this had put him into a sullen mood.

Tasslehoff’s invitation could not have come at a better time.

Though the weather was gloomy looking, it was cooling to the skin and held a certain crispness to the air that reminded Frodo of autumn days in the Shire.  He breathed deeply and emptied his mind of frustrating thoughts.  Half listening to Tas’s chatter, he watched the landscape around them change.

They approached a small, cottage with a thatched roof and a tall, heavy limbed tree towering over it.  Frodo stopped and gaped at the size and sheer beauty of the tree.  Tas stopped as well and noticing the hobbit’s reaction looked rather pleased with himself.

“It’s a Vallenwood tree.” Tas said proudly.  “I made it myself.  It’s a little bigger than the ones back home, but I thought, ‘if I’m going to think up a Vallenwood tree, why not think up the biggest one I can?’ so, Tah-Dah!”

“It’s beautiful.  Do you live in that cottage?”

“That!?” Tas shook his head.  “No, what fun would that be?  That’s where Flint stays.  I stay up there.”  The kender pointed to the branches of the towering tree.  Nestled among the leaves was a sprawling tree house with wandering catwalks zigzagging through the branches.

Frodo gasped in astonishment.

“I always wanted to live in a house like the ones in Solace.” Tas chirped merrily. “I told Gintilli about them once and she thought ‘Why not make one?’  So, we did.  Don’t worry, it’s bigger on the inside than it looks.”

With that, Tasslehoff bounded towards a ladder made of wood and rope.  He stopped only to make sure that Frodo was following him and then scurried to the lowest walkway and waited.

****

Amanda Thrasher, author, books, Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Literary, Sharing, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL

5 Stars – Reviewed By Ankita Shula for Readers’ Favorite

Bitter Betrayal by Amanda M. Thrasher is a book with a purpose. She aims at educating teenagers about how their idea of “just having fun” can actually spoil their future. Payton, a sixteen-year-old teenager, is head-over-heels in love with Reece, a senior at a different school. In her head, she can see herself marrying Reece and spending the rest of her life with him. As romantic as it sounds, their teenage love — like any other love — has its own share of problems. Although Reece keeps trying to go all the way with Payton, she respectfully declines him every time. She is not ready to go down that road, just yet. She second guesses her decision every now and then, but is determined to wait until she is ready. Trouble knocks on their door when the coach’s daughter, Stacie, enters their lives. The green eyed monster is blinding Payton with jealousy and this is affecting her romantic life with Reece.

The author, Amanda M. Thrasher, has highlighted one very important problem that follows when teenagers consume alcohol. Being a teenager is difficult enough as it is, but adding alcohol doesn’t make it any easier. The book is not just about the after effects of consuming alcohol; it also focuses on how it might impact the teenagers and their families. With the social media boom, can any secret remain buried for long? Bitter Betrayal is written in a very impressive style. Payton’s conflicting thoughts and inner struggles would seem relatable to every teenage girl who is in love. There are so many emotions to deal with that Payton finds herself mostly overwhelmed. Reece, like any other teenage boy, finds his girlfriend’s emotions annoying and irrational. He is, however, not a negative character. He respects Payton’s decision to wait until she is ready. He doesn’t push her to give in to his desires. There is a lot to learn from this book. I wish that parents would encourage their teenagers to read Bitter Betrayal and learn from it. An impressive plot, excellent story-telling, and smooth development of the story make this very readable.

Chapter 9

She’s One of Us

Several of them met at their usual Mexican restaurant for lunch. It was good, but more importantly, it was cheap. Trevor was the only guy who brought his girl, the new girl, Stacie. The boys gave him a hard time at first, but after a few minutes no one seemed to care, and she didn’t mind that they were harassing her boyfriend. She just kept eating; everyone noticed that, refreshing. She ate like them; she didn’t pick at her food, she actually ate it. And she didn’t turn up her nose at how much or what they ate. She even slouched just a bit. Most girls Reece knew, including Payton, were hesitant about eating in front of the guys. This girl couldn’t care less. He hadn’t counted them all, but he’d seen her put away four tacos while they were sitting there. She also contributed to their conversation. Real stuff. Trevor hadn’t mentioned she was the outdoor type, but she talked football, deer season opener and, of all things, trucks. She held her own when they talked about their last game, and even bitched about Trevor’s truck for all the right reasons! Clearly she had brothers, or her dad wanted a boy and got stuck with her. Witty, hot, ate like a horse but didn’t look like one, liked sports, had a great laugh, and didn’t seem to notice that she was way out of Trevor’s league. Damn! That girl was a keeper. She had all the boys mesmerized, not just Reese, but part of her charm was that she didn’t know it, nor care. Her mannerisms reminded Reece of Royce’s girl, Jenna; she was hot. A text brought him back to his girlfriend, Payton.

 

Payton: TOY 143

(Thinking of you, I love you)

Reece: love ya babe

 

         Straight to the words he knew she wanted him to say. Cut it short so he could finish eating and listening to everyone else. Just as he slipped his phone back into his pocket, the table erupted into laughter. Everyone was staring at Stacie’s screen, a clip she’d been describing, and she’d pulled it up.

“I know, right? Who would’ve believed it?” She laughed.

“I’m trying to get it to go viral, see how many hits it’s got already?” Her face beamed.

“Damn!” Duncan screeched. “No freaking way! How’d you capture that?”

Trevor replayed the video again, realizing his friends were stunned. Reece reached out his hand and took the phone. Trevor didn’t object.

“What is it?” Reece asked.

“Dude, check this pass out and who caught it.” Trevor pointed to the phone. “It’s freaking awesome!’

They weren’t kidding. Reece had the same reaction they did.

“Whoa! Seriously!”

“Hell yeah,” Stacie hollered. “That’s exactly who you think it is!” She laughed. “That’s my boy, right there, doing it!”

“How’d you capture that?” Reece asked. “Looks like you’re right there, on the side lines.” Puzzled, he asked, “Why are you there?”

Stacie took a bite out of her taco and did something Payton would never do: spoke with her mouth full, kinda gross, but funny.

“Cause I was, there, hanging with my dad.”

“Wait, what?” Reece looked shocked. “Hanging with your dad. How’s that possible, what does he do?”

Stacie swallowed her food and started to laugh. “Fool, how may people in this town do you think have the name Wiggins?”

“You’re kidding me! You’re the kid of the new defense coach they brought in?” Reece asked, and then stared at Trevor. “Trev! C’mon man!”

“Dude, she didn’t want me to say anything. Figured ya’ll would figure it out.”

“I was wrong.” She laughed.

That wasn’t a small deal. No one thought to mention that crap?! Hell, if Reece didn’t want to leave Texas as badly as he wanted to, he’d consider playing for them. The guy, evidently her dad, had been all over the media for months. Recruited for the university when they didn’t renew the contract of their last defensive coordinator. They had high expectations for Coach Wiggins; his reputation preceded him, he had an exceptional record.

“Wow! That’s cool!” Reece stated and he really meant it. “Really cool!”

“Hey Stacie, can we meet him, Coach? I guess your dad,” Shane asked, grinned and added, “you don’t know if you don’t ask, right?”

“Yes, I’ll introduce you morons to him.” She grinned. “No, he won’t care, and yes he’ll let you hang at the field with me sometime.”

Trevor had just elevated his position to a level he couldn’t begin to imagine with his friends. He was proud of his new girl. No wonder she was so confident around guys; she’d been around him her whole life, not to mention all the players over the years she must’ve hung out with. Everyone knew the coach was coming, but they didn’t know much about his family. Now his daughter was their new best friend, at least to them. Hanging with the coach’s kid. Trevor, of all people—now she was one of them!

Half in fun and half dead serious, Shane playfully shoved his friend, Trevor, knocked his cap off his head and asked Stacie a question.

“How come you’re with this joker right here? I’m available!”

Trevor placed his ball cap back on his head and waited to see what she’d say. He was as surprised as they were that this girl had actually said yes and gone out with him, let alone stuck around. Reece’s ear perked up. Why was a girl like that with Trevor? He liked Trevor, but seriously. Stacie had their attention as they walked back to the truck. The ridiculous seriousness of the question they were trying to get an answer to caused her to burst out laughing.

“OMG, you idiots. What do you expect me to say? He’s Trevor.” She grabbed his arm. “He’s nice, why not?”

“Well hell, you’re not gonna hear me complain!” Trevor said, throwing up his arms.

“Hail Trevor!” Chase laughed.

“Will you let us know when we can go to practice, then?” Shane asked. “I can’t wait to meet Dustin Miller.”

She nodded. “But I think I should have everyone over first, like a meet-and-greet of my new friends.” She laughed. “I swear, you better be on your best behavior. All of you!”

Reece couldn’t wait to tell his dad and Royce he was going to Coach’s house. She’d even said Payton could go. He wasn’t sure how thrilled Payton would be, but she’d have to deal. The question was, how quickly could she plan it? They were all ready!

 

BITTER BETRAYAL

Amanda M. Thrasher

 

Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Life, Literary, Musings, Ramblings, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — A fanfic

Hello, before I return to Jorthus or undernoticed artists, or even rambling creative thoughts, I thought I would present a portion of a fan-fiction story I began many years ago. I had read some Fanfic, but had never tried it. I heard that it is a good writing exercise and a way to get the creative juices flowing when stuck on one’s own work. I gave it a try.

Now, I must say upfront that THE RACES, NAMES, OR PLACES MENTIONED ARE NOT MY OWN. (I elaborated on some concepts presented in two of my favorite bodies of work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES.) That said, there may be some spoilers to those who may have never read the books or watched the movies/cartoons. But, mainly, this was just for fun.

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

Chapter 1

It seemed that weeks, or months, had passed since his arrival here.  It was difficult to trace time.  Daylight came and went with no real sense of urgency.  Here he was just beginning to understand the concept of eternity.

Existence carried on much like it did in life in this Resting Place, as it was referred to by its inhabitants.  One could sleep if tired, or eat if hungry.  Though the need was not as strong as it had been in the previous life.  Here one did things out of habit rather than necessity.  Food and drink were delicious and would fill the stomach, but there was never a point of real hunger.  Only the enjoyment of taste and smell would drive one to partake of the bounteous harvest of this peaceful land.  And of course, the mere love of eating is all the motivation a hobbit needs to eat his fill.

The Resting Place, a spirit realm that reaches to all of creation, was the mingling of many races from many worlds in peace and harmony.  Here to rest, to recover from pains of both mind and soul.  The physical pains were left behind on other planes.  This was a place of healing and learning, if one was willing to heal or learn.  Some residents in this land of glory were still clinging to old ways and seemed loathe to give them up.

This realm was extraordinary.  It was a reality, in form and feel like the physical realities that the inhabitants had left behind, but clearer and brighter.  Only spirits dwelt here, but not as a ghost or haunt might in the physical worlds; here all things were spirit so that when one reached out to touch a tree, it was actually the spiritual form of a tree and therefore tactile to one.  The clothes and manners of those dwelling here were the forms chosen by them from their memories.  They had homes that suited them and lands that were pleasing to them.  They dwelt in happiness and contentment, for the most part.

The only discontent here is what they brought with them and would not release.  That is why most were still here.  Some spirits learned to move on to other realms, to find other greater places to dwell.  Some remained here out of fear, some remained out of ignorance, and some remained out of loyalty to those that were not ready to move on.

Those that feared what was beyond this realm, quailed and shrank from learning how to move beyond.  Those that did not wish to move on out of loyalty were allowed to visit both realms, and those that did not learn how to move on, were allowed to stay as long as it would take to learn.

But, some here stayed out of shame.  They are those that could not or would not let go of their hurts.  They did not feel that they should move on.  The light beyond gave them little comfort, mainly guilt.  They had a choice to make.  To let go of their pain and move forward into the light of the Realm Beyond, or to fade into the comfort of the shadows and stay here forever.  Or worse, to slip into the darkness where no hand or light could touch them.

On this particular day, the sun shone through the round window of a hobbit hole.  Not an extravagant hole, a modest hole.  Tastefully decorated, and just the right size for a single, male hobbit. The hall branched off onto a study, a bath, a bedroom, a sitting room with a large fireplace, and most importantly, a well-stocked kitchen.

Frodo Baggins sat quietly in the patch of sunlight that streamed in his sitting room window.  He had been reading one of the books from his shelves.  Books he had remembered from his youth in Bag End.  As his desire to read the story he had picked out dulled, the words on the pages had dimmed to nothing.  Now, he sat with a book of blank pages lying open and forgotten on his lap, staring out the window into the meadows and forests beyond.

He had wandered that countryside when he had first arrived, as most souls do.  Exploring with an insatiable curiosity and undisguised wonder over the beauty and glory of these lands.  But, over time, he had grown weary of the same sights and paths.  He had settled into this little home and began to study other things.  Things closer to himself.  Things about himself.  Things, he was not altogether comfortable about dealing with alone.  Avoidance had been his next tactic to pass the time.  He tried to occupy his mind with other things so that it would not stray onto paths of the soul that he rather not tread.  He wrote stories.  He read stories.  He took short and frequent walks, baked large amounts of food, and even learned how to do his own gardening.  He gave many dinner parties and had tea with Sam and Rosie every day that the weather allowed.  Which was practically every day.

He tried to limit the time he was allowed to sit alone and think about the things that had passed, or what could have come to pass.  When the dark moods came upon him, he would retreat into his comfortable little hole and hide from the queries of others.  They wanted to help him feel “better”, but could not.  Only he could do that, though he did not know how.  At these times, he felt restless, though venturing out seemed impossible.  He wanted company, but all those he knew would know too much about his troubles.  He felt lost and alone, and the brighter the day shone outside his house, the darker the shadows seemed inside.

He was in one of those moods now.  The books had lost their appeal.  The meadow seemed too bright, a brightness that would expose his darkness to all that saw him.  He wanted to hide.  He wanted to escape.  He wanted something.  Something else.  Something that was not in this small, close hole and something that he had yet to find outside.

Slamming the blank book closed, Frodo kicked his footstool aside and went to the bookshelf to replace the book.  As he slipped the book into place his eyes fell on his hand.  Though spirit matter, his third finger was still missing.  He had thought it odd at first.  When he had asked about it, some spirits had suggested that perhaps a strong power had separated the finger even at the essence level of being and that the matter would regrow with time.  That had confused him.  Although the ring had been on the finger at the moment of separation, Gollum had thrown the digit away.  It would have been burned to nothing in Mount Doom.

Perhaps as I should have been

Sam had suggested that he had grown accustomed to not having it and the spiritual form was simply adjusting to that perception.  That was too kind and, Frodo felt, too easy an explanation.  It was easy enough to hear those around him say that he was forgiven for any wrongs, for they only knew as much as he had told them.  It was easy for them to say that the missing finger did not mean anything, for they did not know what was in his heart.  They had not been in his mind at the moment it had been lost.  They did not know, could not know.

But, there was one here in this realm that would know.  The Master of this Realm could see into his heart and lay bare his mind.  He would know.  He did know.  Although Frodo had not faced Him yet, he felt that perhaps he had already been judged.  Some dark part of his heart whispered to him that the finger was gone forever to be a reminder of what he had done.

How can I forgive myself …

His musings were cut short by a noise at his door.  It was not a knock.  It sounded as if someone were trying to pry open his door lock.  Curiosity stirred inside him for the first time in months.  He moved to the door and placed his hand on the center knob just as the thing swung open.  He jumped out of the way with a startled cry.  He was not sure what to expect on the other side, but the form that met his eyes took him by surprise.

There, crouched in the center of his doorway was a Halfling.  But not in form nor dress, a hobbit such as himself.  This being was slender, slightly taller in height than Frodo himself, dressed in an outrageous colored tunic, leggings, and boots with a fur vest.  His ears had small points, similar to an elf’s and a wide, child-like excitement in his brown eyes.  He had chestnut colored skin that wrinkled as he smiled up at the astonished hobbit, and his long, brown hair was tied up in a topknot that overflowed down his back.

At the sight of Frodo, the figure leaped up with one hand extended and introduced himself in a frenetic, high-pitched voice.

“Hello! Pleased to meet you.  I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot.  Your door is fascinating.  Too bad it wasn’t locked.  Nobody locks their doors anymore.  It’s terribly frustrating.  I heard there were other halflings about, ones that I’m not related to and came looking.  There seem to be a lot of doors in the ground around here.  Do you all live underground? Is it hard to keep the grass roots from dropping dirt on your head?  Are there any tree roots in there?  Do you live alone? Are there a lot of others like you?  What do they call your kind?  I’m a kender.  We come from Krynn.  It’s not around here, but we seem to end up here anyway.  Where are you from?  Which world, I mean.  There are so many.  I’ve met a lot of fascinating people around here, wherever ‘Here’ is.  Why do your feet look like that?”

This strange individual had barely stopped to breathe in his excited speech and had shook Frodo’s hand and pushed past him to explore the hobbit’s hole uninvited.  Frodo was momentarily at a loss for what to do or say.  He stood by the open door with his mouth agape, watching the kender manhandle just about every item in his home.

“Oh, I…uh, who are you? And why are you here?” he stammered, as he closed his front door.

The strange little fellow waltzed up to him again and smiling, shook his hand again.  He spoke very slowly and with exaggerated clarity.

“I’m sor-ry.  I did-n’t kn-ow that you were fee-ble-mind-ed.”

Frodo almost laughed at this but felt a little insulted as well.  He pulled his hand out of the other’s grip.  “I’m not feebleminded!  You just took me by surprise is all.”

“Well, then.  I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot.  I’m a kender from Krynn.  I died, I guess.  And after spending some time with my friend Flint, he’s a dwarf, we came here with the rest of my friends.  Except Fizban wasn’t around at the time, which kind of disappointed me.  But, he’ll probably get around to it later seeing as he’s busy being a god on Krynn and all.”

Frodo saw his eyes begin to wander onto the shelves again and decided to keep the kender’s ramblings on track.  “You died on Krynn, you say.  Where is Krynn?” he asked conversationally.

“I don’t really know.  It had three moons and was far from here, I think.”

He stopped to think hard on the subject and this allowed Frodo a moment to get his bearings on this intrusion.  The fellow did not seem to be hostile and neither did he seem to be in a hurry to leave, so Frodo decided to find out as much as he could about him.  He had heard mention of other “little folk” in this realm, but after extensive wanderings and never seeing any halflings other than hobbits, he had given up the search.  Now, out of the blue pops this kender.

“I’m sorry, I do not mean to be rude.  My name is Frodo Baggins.  I’m a hobbit.  That’s the name for halflings in Middle-earth.  That is from where I hail.” He tried to be polite for he had no idea what kind of temperament a kender might have if insulted.  Had he known a kender’s temper, he would have counted himself lucky that he had chosen the course of diplomacy instead of ordering the creature out of his home.

Tasslehoff came back to the present with a snap.  “Baggins!  I’ve heard that one before.”

“You have?” Frodo was astonished and intrigued.  A faint cloud of paranoia slithered under his heart as well.  What was being said about him?

“Yes, I met a Baggins fellow just yesterday.  Is it a common name?”

“Well, no, not as common as some.  Did you meet Bilbo?”

“Yes, that was his name.  Slightly older than you.  Likes to talk about dragons.  He walked with me for quite a while, then said he was hungry and went home.  If I’d known that he lived in a hole, I would have gone with him.  I’ve never met anyone that lived in a hole before.  Well, no one that intentionally lived in one, anyways.  We were so busy talking and walking that I didn’t really see how odd his feet were.  Do all hobbits have feet like that?”

Frodo smiled, his suspicions gone.  “Yes, I believe they do.  Are there other…kender?  I had thought that I had explored this land well enough, but I’ve never seen one of your kind before.”

“Well, that doesn’t surprise me!” Tasslehoff said knowingly as he plopped into Frodo’s favorite chair and placed his colorful boots on the ottoman.  “We kender rarely stay in one spot.  Besides, something that I’ve noticed about this place is that if you don’t expect to see something or someone or somewheres, then you probably won’t.  It’s kinda like the Abyss in that way.  You have to Think about going somewhere new before you can get there.  Me, I’m always looking for someplace new, so I usually find it.”

Frodo found himself being pulled into this conversation as he sat on a small, wooden chair near his fireplace.  This lively visitor had certainly gotten his mind off his troubles.  Now, his interest peaked, he was anxious to learn more of these other halflings and this other world.

“Abyss?” he queried as he started to brew some tea out of habit. The kettle hung from a small hook in the front of the hearth so the tea-water stayed warm.  “What is the Abyss?”

Tasslehoff seemed astonished.  “You’ve never heard of the Abyss? Well, let me tell you about the time….”

The kender went off on a long and rambling tale of a land of the dead that he had visited by accident where dwelt, at that time, a dark goddess of great beauty and power.  He told of gnomes and mages and a time-traveling device.  There seemed to be no end to the kender’s ability to talk.  One tale seemed to blend into another and Frodo felt that he might need to take notes in order to keep things straight.  Little did he know that with Tasslehoff, repetition of a tale was par for the course.   Though, the tales often varied with the mood.

The time passed so quickly listening to the kender, that when Tasslehoff finally came to a halt in order to put a sweetcake that Frodo had given him into his mouth, the hobbit was shocked to see the window behind Tasslehoff was dark.  Frodo jumped up, “Oh, It’s night.  I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t notice the time.  I’ve kept you far too late, Tasslehoff.”

“Call me Tas, all my friends do.” He hopped up as well, though he seemed confused as to why he was being ushered to the door.  “Am I late for something?”

Frodo was taken aback. “Oh, I assumed that you would want to be home by dark.”

“Oh, no.  I don’t really have a home.  I’m staying with my cousin, Gintilli*, for right now because she’s new here.  Her place is huge because she hasn’t decided whether she’s staying or not, yet.  She takes care of her half-sister, who doesn’t go anywhere, so she made a big house so she could explore without leaving it.  But, I don’t have to be there all the time.  I’m trying to get Gintilli to leave with me, but she feels bad about leaving her sister alone.”

“So, you are not expected somewhere for the night?” Frodo asked cautiously.

“Oh, no! I can stay all night if I want.  Don’t worry about me.  I don’t really get tired much anymore, so I can talk all night and all day!  In fact, that’s why Flint went to visit some gully dwarves he’d met a few months back.  He said that I needed the rest. Though, I thought it strange at the time, since Flint can’t stand gully dwarves.  But, I’m not a bit tired. So, I went exploring.”

Tas settled back into the sitting room and began eating again. Frodo was not entirely sure how he felt about the prospect of Tasslehoff staying all night in his home.  He was not properly prepared for a guest.  He did not wish to be a bad host, but he was not really ready to be a host in the first place.  At least, not to an overnight, and possibly indefinite, guest.   He had enjoyed the kender’s company and his tales were new and fascinating.  The kender, himself, was cheery and talkative, albeit a little intrusive and blunt at times, but Frodo was flustered, nonetheless, at this sudden turn of events.  He hurried to the kitchen to check his cupboard for proper meals.  He could not let a houseguest go hungry.  Then he looked for fresh linens and inquired about the kender’s sleeping and bathing needs.

“I’m fine.” Tas grinned. “I’ll just stay awake.  And I bathed before I left the house.”

Though, from his description of who he had visited in the last few days, there was no telling when he had “left the house”.

Tasslehoff watched Frodo bustle about the house for a while, then decided to follow him in case he went anywhere interesting.

“You don’t need to make all this fuss over me!” Tas chimed in behind Frodo, who seemed startled to find Tas there.  “I just came to visit.  The food is delicious though.  Do you make it yourself?  Gintilli and I usually just ‘think’ stuff up.  Did you know that you can do that here?  Just think about something hard enough and it shows up.  Like magic.  Though, I daresay the cooked stuff you gave me did taste better than the food we got.  Maybe we didn’t think about the flavor of the food hard enough.  Do you have anything to drink around here?”

“Yes, of course.  I have some ale and some mead.”  Frodo led him to the kitchen where the two settled for a while.  Frodo started a fire in the small fireplace where he heated his pots.  Tasslehoff took one sip of the offered ale and began another tale of his world that told of an inn that was renown for the best ale in the land.  The Inn of the Last Home, it was called, and it was in the town of Solace where he had lived for a long time with his dwarf friend, Flint, and a half-elf named Tanis.

Frodo listened intently, spellbound by the kender’s enthusiasm and descriptive tales.  Krynn was a world of dragons that talked, some good and some evil.  Humans, elves, gnomes, dwarves, and kenders fighting draconians, dark mages, and minotaur.  He told of his adventures with his closest friends, Flint and Tanis, along with a pair of brothers, Caramon and Raistlin, a knight named Sturm, and an elf maid called Laurana.

They had saved their world from the dark goddess by blocking her from entering the physical plane of Krynn and killed the bad dragons with ancient weapons called Dragonlances.   He talked about the love between Tanis, the half-elf and the young, beautiful Laurana that was a scandal among the elves, and of the sultry relationship Tanis shared with a captivating human woman named Kitiara, who was a half-sister to the twins Caramon and Raistlin.  He even went off on a tale about a wooly mammoth that he encountered as well as sharing a few stories that he knew of the adventures of his Uncle Trapspringer.

Frodo learned quite a few things out about Kender during all this talk as well.  They love to tell tales, they get sidetracked easily, and they seem to have no concept of personal property.  He listened and asked questions until he found himself fighting to keep his eyes open.  He was in the habit of getting a good night’s sleep, though he did find that he was not as tired or sleepy here as he had been in life.  The need for sleep seemed to rise out of habit rather than necessity, as many things did in this realm.  As he realized how weary he was, he also looked around to find that they had eaten nearly everything he had had in his larder.  He had not really been aware of time passing as he listened to Tasslehoff’s tales but they had been sitting for quite some time. Looking into the sitting room, he saw that the sun was shining into the room.  How long had they been talking, he wondered.

Tasslehoff was about to launch into another tale when a knock came at the door.  Frodo jumped up with a hasty, “Excuse me” and went to the front door.  He noticed that his legs did feel a bit odd.  Not as though as they had been asleep, like they would have if he had sat for an extremely long time in Middle-earth, but like he simply had to get used to walking on them again.

As he reached for the doorknob with his right hand, he stopped cold.  For a brief moment, he thought that he had seen his missing finger.  His heart skipped a beat.  Then it was gone again, as if he had imagined it.  He began to ponder this odd phenomenon, when the knock came again and jogged him back to the moment.

He opened the door, and there stood Samwise Gamgee.  He looked a bit worried, wringing his hands and shuffling from side to side as Sam used to do when he was upset.  As soon as he laid eyes on Frodo, he seemed to relax.

“Oh, there you are, Mr. Frodo.  I thought something had happened to you,” he said with an exhale of relief.

“No, Sam.  I’m fine.”  Frodo ushered his old friend inside with an outstretched hand.  “Come in, come in and will you please stop calling me, ‘Mister’ Frodo.  We are all equals here, you know that.”

“Of course, I know it, but it’s hard to remember it.”  Sam tried to explain his reluctance to give up what was a comfortable habit.  “I’m just so used to thinking of you, and referring to you like that, Mr. Frodo.  If you get my meaning.”

Frodo had tried to break Sam and Rosie of the habit ever since he had seen them again and knew that it was probably futile.  They would call him that until they no longer felt the need to do so and there was nothing he could do to change it.  He smiled and sighed as he led Sam into his kitchen.

“Well, there is someone I’d like you to meet,” he was saying and then stopped.  The kitchen was empty.  “Now, where’s he gotten off to?”

“Who, Mr. Frodo?” Sam asked, curious at his friend’s good mood.

“Tasslehoff.  I wanted you to meet him.  He’s a fascinating fellow, Sam.”  Frodo was peeking around corners and behind furniture as if his visitor was playing a game of hide and seek.  He had wandered from room to room and after peering inside a wardrobe and finding nothing, he stopped with his hands on his hips.  He suddenly noticed Sam staring at him as if he were completely insane.

“He was here a moment ago,” he said in his own defense.

Sam decided to try a new topic.  “Not to interrupt, but I came over to see if you were alright.  Rosie and me was worried about you, seeing as how you usually come over to tea before dark.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Sam.  I meant to come over last night, but I met Tas and we started talking and he started telling his tales.  I lost track of time.  Please give my apologies to Rose.” Frodo halfway gave up his search for the kender, though he wondered where he had gone so quickly.

“Well, we don’t expect you to live your day around us, mind you.  But, seeing as how it has been two days, I just thought that I would pop by and see if you were …well…”

Frodo stopped in shock.  “Did you say two days?”

“Yes, Mr. Frodo.  When we didn’t hear from you.  Well, we got worried.”

“Two days?” he repeated to himself in wonder.  Then he laughed.  A full-hearted laugh.

Sam smiled to see Frodo in such a wonderfully good humor and began to chuckle as well, though he did not know what they were laughing at.  It was just good to see Frodo laugh again.

“No wonder I was running out of food,” Frodo wiped a tear from his eye.  “We sat and talked for two days!  And I didn’t even know it.  No wonder I’m so tired.”

He sat down on a nearby bench and held his head in his hands as the laughs became less hysterical, then rubbed his face and scalp to wake himself back up a bit.

“You mean, that you haven’t slept in two nights, Mr. Frodo?”  Sam seemed worried again.  “That can’t be good for you.”

“I don’t think it really matters that much in this realm, dear Sam.  Don’t worry over me.  You did that enough in life.  But, I do apologize for missing tea, and not giving any notice or explanation.  It was just that Tasslehoff talked almost non-stop and all he had to say was so very interesting.”

“If you say so, Mr. Frodo.”  Sam sounded as if he was beginning to doubt if this Tasslehoff really existed.

“I’m not crazy, Sam.” Frodo chuckled, he began to doubt that statement himself, though.  “I found him trying to pick the lock on my front door.  It seems that is a common thing that kender do.”

“Kender?”  The tone implied that Sam had heard of them before.

“Yes.  Have you heard of them?” Frodo jumped up.  “Where have you known that name from?”

Sam looked as if he were caught with something that he should not have had.  “Oh, I believe that Gandalf had mentioned that name to me.  Just a few days ago.”

“Gandalf?”  Frodo contemplated this new information a moment, then shrugged it off.  “Well, he did say that he had met quite a few new folk around here.  And he did say that if one is not expecting to…”

He got a sudden thought and shouted.  “Tasslehoff?  Are you still here?!”

This outburst startled Sam, but he was even more startled when a voice from two rooms away answered.

Frodo smiled triumphantly.  “Sam, I want you to meet Tasslehoff Burrfoot.”

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*Gintilli Dibbertill is a kender created by my best friend for role-playing the DRAGONLANCE role-playing world by Wizards of the Coast. The Player Character claims relation to the Burrfoot clan, though that is unsubstantiated. She and her sister do not appear in any books or movies.

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

That is the beginning of my fanfic. I hope you enjoyed it. It was fun to write and it filled a need in me to give Frodo a place to deal with feelings over his ordeal and possibly move on to a relationship as the other hobbits had done. Yes, it is a love tale. I had a crush on Frodo ever since seeing the 1978 animated movie The Lord of the Rings.

If you liked it or would like to read more of it, please leave a LIKE or a comment to let me know. Thank you for joining me in this little experiment!

Amanda Thrasher, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Sharing, Uncategorized, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL

My new book BITTER BETRAYAL like the award-winning title, The Greenlee Project, focuses on consequences of action. I’m passionate about protecting impressionable teens that are between the ages of thirteen and sixteen years olds. Teens this age fall into the YA category, which caters up to eighteen years old, but there’s a huge maturity difference between a thirteen and eighteen-year-old teen, so I have to write carefully. In today’s world with all of the technology and freedoms that teens have, every parent thinks their kid is protected and makes wise choices, but they are wrong. Dating has been complicated these days as kids hook up and have casual sex because it’s what kids do at parties if they’re a couple or not, at least that’s what the kids are saying. Their answers, “That’s what kids do, kids have been doing it for years.” And they have, right? Does is it make it right? But when alcohol and minors are involved, dating or not, he said she said, becomes the question of the day, and whose version of a terrible truth does one believe when innocent lives are at stake? “If you have a daughter or a son, who do you protect? Or how do you protect them? Whose version of the story do you believe?” Everything is fun and games until it gets out of hand and complicated!

Excerpt of BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

Chapter Eighteen 

Start Planning

Every kid who planned to attend Stacie’s lake party was preparing the necessary groundwork to avoid complications for when the actual event rolled around. Stacie had already discussed her plan with her partner in crime, Sophia, working out every detail to a tee. Sophia would spend the night at Stacie’s, then Stacie would go to Sophia’s; they’d make a routine out of it for the next few weeks. The night in question, party night, there shouldn’t be any red flags at all. And if there were, they had a plan for that as well. Sophia’s Aunt Chloe, would put in a text on their behalf and if the text wasn’t enough, a call would be placed as backup. Patterns. Stacie had learned from her brothers that patterns didn’t raise red flags, but sudden changes in behaviors did. Stick with the pattern, and worse-case scenario her parents might make a comment about her staying at her friend’s home too much, but it wouldn’t be weird or out-of-the-norm behavior for her.

“That’s a great idea!” Sophia agreed.

“Right!” Stacie said proudly. “It’s practically a no-fail plan if we start getting them used to it now. They’ll think we’re just taking it in turns, yours, mine, yours, mine, sometimes yours, and then mine, and we’re home free!”

Sophia took a sip of her Coke and tried to calculate how many people would show up. Imagining each face of those they’d invited and had said they’d be there, she quit counting after thirty.

“Dang, girl, it’s going to get too big if we’re not careful.”

Stacie wasn’t worried. She had every intention of making sure everyone stayed outside of the house as much as possible. There was plenty of room, no need really for anyone to go in and out of the cabin, except maybe the girls to use the bathroom. The guys, hell, she’d seen her brothers disappear behind a tree on numerous occasions out there in the woods. Her mind was focused on food, as in snacks, and alcohol, as in beer and whatever else they could get away with that night.

“I’m already nervous, about your dad, I mean. And the beer part; not sure about that.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Stacie said somberly. “You’ll make me second-guess myself. I don’t need to envision him and what he’d do to me if he had any idea what I’m planning. He’d absolutely freaking kill me!”

Sophia hesitated, and then asked Stacie a question she wasn’t sure her friend would answer. “Then why do it Stacie, the risk? It’s crazy. You know what I mean.”

“Do what?” Stacie purposely avoided the question, knowing exactly what Sophia wanted to know.

“Why risk him finding out? You get away with so much; I mean really, compared to most kids. Let someone else throw a party. You could let someone else take that kind of risk.”

Stacie stared out of her bedroom window. She thought about the question that Sophia had just asked. Why did she take such stupid risks? This one by far the worst she’d ever contemplated taking, and if she pulled it off, what next? But why risk literally making her father so furious? She could lose her car, be grounded for life, have her brothers hate her for embarrassing them, her dad the Coach, and her mother would look at her with such disappointment in her eyes that it would hurt. Why? She thought about all of the times they had moved. All the tricks and stunts she had pulled over the years, no one had asked her this question before. Being asked such a question head-on irritated her and made her feel uncomfortable. She didn’t have an acceptable answer, because there wasn’t one. Taking the risk made her feel like she was in control of something and that certainly was an unacceptable selfish answer. Stretching out onto her bed, she finally answered Sophia. She said the most shocking thing she could think of, but her answer didn’t surprise Sophia, though she’d hoped for something different. Her answer was chilling and convincing.

“I guess because I can.”

Sophia’s phone buzzed, and she held it up to show Stacie the message. Her mom’s response was “yes.” Stacie could spend the night, but she had to pick up her clothes. Phase one in motion; phase two, start stockpiling snacks; phase three, work on possibly hiding beer and a bottle of liquor. She could swipe beer from the fridge in the garage, a few from the house, and find a spot to hide them from her parents and brothers when they came home. Oh and don’t forget the housekeeper—she’d have to think about that one; she’d need a secure hiding place. But that was going to be the easy part. Phase four, getting everything to the lake house, unnoticed: that was going to be difficult.

“I don’t want people to feel like they have to drink it though, the beer and stuff, you know what I mean?” Stacie stated. “I do know I don’t want to be responsible for that, pushing alcohol on anyone. That I know is way bad, off limits. Gotta be their choice.”

Sophia started to laugh and interjected something for Stacie to consider. “Yes. I get it! Can I make a suggestion?”

Stacie nodded. “Shoot.”

“I don’t think you should supply it at all—liquor or beer. Or even suggest or recommend it. In fact, I don’t think you should insinuate it’s OK to bring it or anything at all relating to it, if you know what I mean.” She raised her hands to silent Stacie when she tried to object. “Let me finish. Look, you’re already risking the party. But if you supply the alcohol or say it’s OK that people bring it and someone gets sick or worse, and your parents or their parents find out, can you seriously even imagine? Stacie . . . your dad is the new coach.”

Surprisingly, Stacie didn’t object. “I could just say bring what they want to drink. Then it’s up to them, not me.” She smirked. “Because I already know they’ll bring it. It’s what they do. Right! No worries; they’ll be plenty of booze.”

“That’s a great way out of it. That way you’re supplying the venue but not any alcohol. Who knows what they’ll bring, but you’re not the one who’s supplying it.” Sophia lowered her voice, as if she shouldn’t say it for fear of upsetting her friend. “If we’re lucky, they really won’t be a bunch of alcohol there. We don’t need the trouble.”

It was decided right then and there: that’s what they would do. When the time came, they’d announce that everyone coming to the party would bring their own beverage. Stacie would never admit it, but she felt one hundred percent relieved about that scenario. Why couldn’t she just tell her friend the truth: she didn’t want to be responsible for kids on booze anyway. It made her feel semi-responsible while being completely irresponsible. She pushed the irresponsible part out of her head. Who didn’t have parties at their age? It’s just that hers would be ten times better than everyone else’s. Keep blocking out the negative, focus on the positive, she told herself. At least there would be no drinking and driving, and no trashing the house or damaging property. Think of it like a great big camping trip for teens. That was responsible, wasn’t it? That was the theme. Camping party for teens, with no mention of alcohol at all. They would focus on cooking, hanging out, and fun for everyone!

***

Reece couldn’t wait to text Payton. Surely she was over being disappointed and mad at him; the excitement of spending extended time together had seemed to help. Not to mention they still had plenty of regular date time to hang out, prepare, and anticipate the big party ahead. It was all everyone in their circle was talking about—a night at the lake, all night.

Reece: Can’t wait to see you. Picnic?

Payton had a test, but when it came to that boy, she couldn’t say no, and without hesitation she texted back.

Payton: OMG Yes. Can’t wait!

Reece: love ya DTB

She didn’t try to analyze why she couldn’t text him back. Maybe he was driving or was about to hit the locker room shower. Who knew? All she cared about right then was that in a few hours she’d be at meeting that boy at the dam. From there, she knew she’d hop into his truck, plant a great big kiss on that beautiful face, and they’d head to their tree by the lake. Texts to Aubrey to make sure she’d cover her during lunch and advisory, no problem. Quick text to Maddie; she’d know how to get out of the make-up test that she was scheduled to take after she’d been sick. A great knack that Maddie had was thinking on her feet. She was always good with coming up with excuses if someone needed one—plus an added benefit, the teachers loved her!

Maddie: Easy peasy. Tell her you’re double-booked for tests due to being out sick, but immediately ask if you can come back by after school to take it. Chances are she doesn’t want to stay late and will reschedule for lunch tomorrow.

Great idea. Payton recognized that asking the teacher if she could come back the same day after school and take the test showed that she was sincerely sorry for missing it in the first place, booking two tests during the same lunch period, and she was trying to keep up her grade. Again, Maddie had come up with another great idea on the spot!

Payton: Do you think she’ll check with Ms. Taylor?

Maddie: Nah. Why would she?

Payton: True.

Payton: Thanks.

Maddie: No problem.

As soon as the bell rang, Payton ditched her friends and literally ran to her car. Reece was already waiting for her when she arrived at the dam. Pulling up next to him, he rolled down his window as she parked and climbed out of her car. His smile radiated across his face, making Payton smile too. She couldn’t see his pretty green eyes, because his shades covered them. Hopping into his truck, she leaned over, held his face in her hands and kissed him hello. He reciprocated, kissing her back just as sweetly. As soon as they pulled up to their spot, Reece parked under the branches of their tree.

“Let’s eat,” he insisted, pointing to two brown paper sacks on the floorboard.

They jumped out of the truck and perched themselves on the back of his tailgate. Perfect picnic weather: clear, with lots of sunshine and a cool breeze. Rummaging through the sack, Reece handed Payton her favorite sandwich. He smiled, knowing he’d done a good job with his restaurant selection. Pleasing her pleased him.

“I want you to eat that, now, ya hear?” he mocked playfully.

“Thanks, Dad, I will,” she replied, knowing he was watching her eat.

She’d never been so relieved that she accidently looked decent. Her outfits were typically planned, but she’d half haphazardly thrown together something that morning. Her jeans fit her perfectly, and the light sweatshirt she’d pulled out of her closet complimented her casual look, black, low-top converse, and she looked cute.

It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Stacie’s party. Surprisingly, Payton brought it up first.

“Give me the details. I can’t stand it.”

Recce took a bite of his sandwich, washed it down with a swallow of water, and dove into his bag of chips. Making her wait for information was fun. Payton wasn’t good at being patient, and knowing he had information she wanted made him laugh. She asked him again, only this time she had that whiney girlfriend-working-it voice, not quite irritating, but almost.

“Seriously. C’mon babe. I’m dying here. Give me details!”

“You already know most of them,” Reece said. “Stacie’s throwing a party at her parents’ lake house, we’re invited, and it’s going to last all night due to location. The real question is, how are we going to pull it off?”

Payton’s entire face lit up. She didn’t even care that it was at Stacie’s parents’ lake house. She heard two things, “all night” and “Reece.” Her eyes sparkled, and she tried to contain her excitement. She already knew, just like Stacie, that she was going to pull her friends Aubrey and Maddie in her plan. Schedule a sleepover night, but one without raising any concerns. It wasn’t unusual for them to spend the night at each other’s houses, but Payton felt the need to secure that date. She thought if she had a viable reason in place that she’d be gone, and her parents checked up on her, all would pan out.

“I feel as if I should come up with something more than a sleepover, like a sleepover for a reason, to ensure that date is blocked.”

“Whatever you think will work, do it. Anything in particular in mind?” Reece asked.

“Maybe an opening of a movie, like we plan a sleepover specifically because we’re going to said movie.” Payton looked down at her legs, which were swinging back and forth as she sat on the edge of the tailgate.

“I think you’re way overthinking it,” Reece stated. “Just stick with the sleeping at Maddie’s or Aubrey’s and have them do the same. Worse-case scenario, you can always say miscommunication and you ended up at the wrong house.”

Payton agreed that might the best way to go, if she couldn’t come up with a viable excuse for the date in question. Lying to her parents made her nervous. But going to the party and spending extra time with Reece suddenly seemed worth it. She couldn’t believe she’d have a whole night with him. The excitement and anticipation of being with him for so long was consuming her every thought. He was excited as well, but showed it differently than she did. He’d already prepared his own groundwork. He’d be going fishing and four-wheeling for the weekend at Trevor’s Dad’s place, with Cody and a few other guys. If a group of boys were going, his dad would probably talk openly with the boys. They all had the same story and Reece had even pulled in Royce as back-up. As an added bonus, Trevor had asked his dad if he really would take them out to their hunting lease or at least to go fishing and ride the four-wheelers, in the next few weeks. His dad not only agreed, but started making plans as well. Only downside that they could see, which wasn’t a downside at all, they’d be taking a boys trip!

Reece’s phone vibrated and a message flashed across the screen. Payton never asked who it was, but she was dying to find out. He never mentioned it, but tapped away, ending with the infamous DTB. They wrapped up lunch and sat and visited for a few minutes in the bed of his truck. She didn’t want to leave, and truth be told, he didn’t either. Sitting in between his legs, his arms wrapped around her, she wished the party was already here. His warm breath hit the back of her neck. She took her hands and ran them softly through the back of his hair. Turning around to face him, she stared into his green eyes. He pulled her closer and kissed her. She kissed him back. Her phone broke the momentum this time; alarm, time was up. She had to go. Seeing him during the week always made her happy, but leaving him was always hard. She never dreamed, at her age, she could feel the way she did. Once last kiss and another, and then one more, before Reece finally peeled himself away and said goodbye.

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher

BITTER BETRAYAL

 

 

 

Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fiction, Sharing, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process, YA

WRITER’S ALL HAVE A THING, WHAT’S YOURS?

 

What's your 'thing?'
What’s your ‘thing?’

Writer’s All Have A Thing, What’s Yours?

Like most writers, authors, I’ve been writing for years. But when I sit down to write a new piece, though I’ve evolved slightly over the years, my primary process has never changed. It’s kinda like my personal thing, my way of doing it, that kicks off the project and keeps me motivated and excited throughout the entire thing. It’s possible other writers use the same method, I don’t know, but it works for me.

So what is it? It starts with an idea, of course, but ends up with an entire book mapped out in my mind. Naturally, my head is often spinning, don’t get me wrong, I like it that way. This can lead to one sided conversations for those around me. Distractions during activities that I’m involved in, being there in person but not really being there, and never being as involved as I should in group projects since my mind wanders to engage in the story that I’m writing. (Certain this isn’t always easy for those around me, but don’t worry, upon release of the work all returns to normal).

Preferring to have a complete understanding of my entire storyline, the reason things will happen the way that they will, my characters, a lovely twist, and theories on ways that I could pull it all together, my mind is racing all of the time before an actual word is written. Personally, I like to visualize each scene as I write, hoping to recreate in words the things that I see in my mind. If I do this correctly, the words paint a visual picture for my audience.

For me, not all writers, this can be a slow draining process, especially when the topic is a controversial or brutal one such as bullying, cyberbullying or date rape. Each chapter can be a depleting energy experience. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s because authors want their characters to be so life life-like, that it can actually feel as if they’re experiencing some of the things that they’re writing about for their readers.

Trying to compensate for this slow process of mine, I try to write relatively clean. The results, for me, tend to be less time consuming regarding actual clean up of the final manuscript. Since each chapter can be exhausting, mentally, I’ll ensure it’s a decent chapter before moving on. By the time the manuscript is complete and reworks begin, the rewrite process isn’t as bad as dealing with raw work.

I’ve been working on my new YA, BITTER BETRAYAL, since the middle of 2016. It’s almost done; clean up, and then off to the editors (I use two editors, content and copy line). The topic is controversial but incredibly important. Each time I sit down to write the material has flowed, this is a good thing, but the nature of the topic is controversial, important and difficult to discuss. That is the reason I believe it takes me a tad longer to write these pieces. After a few chapters, a mental break is required. It’s the emotional side that’s exhausting. Characters that are so life-like they could go be anyone’s son or daughter, and that’s truly heartbreaking.

I’m excited about the release of my new piece. It’s important to me to get the word out in a delicate manner for young impressionable teens. But it’s imperative that the message is strong, and I hope that the images expressed through words that I’ve written deliver not only the entertainment factor but more importantly the message I’d hoped to share. Below is an excerpt from my new novel. What’s your ‘thing?’

 

UNEDITED EXCERPT: 

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher  ISBN – 978-1-946329-18-9 & ISBN 978-1-946329-19-6 Tentative release April 2017.

Chapter 1

Cover For Me

“They say there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth; there’s no exception to this one. But whose truth will you believe?”

 DTB CU there!

(Don’t text back see you there).

The message flashed across her phone, and that’s all it took. Not even a whole sentence and suddenly all she could think about was getting out of there. Payton hadn’t heard a single word the kid standing in front of the class nervously speaking had said, as her fingers frantically tapped away on her phone. Looking back, what was she thinking?!?!

Payton – Cover for me

            Aubrey- Seriously?

            Payton- Problem?

            Aubrey- Yah

            Payton- Really? J

            Aubrey – Nah

            Payton- K

            Payton – G4I

Aubrey – 182

            Payton – U don’t hate me J Luv u

                  Five, four, three, two, and the bell finally rang. Payton shot out the door. Aubrey, her best friend since 6th grade, took her time and shoved the books she’d left behind in her backpack. Payton’s behavior though frustrating at times wasn’t surprising. She was head crazy about that boy, Reece Townsend, and it helped that Aubrey liked him as well.

With less than ten minutes to freshen up, get across campus to her car and make it to the dam in time to meet Reece, Payton didn’t have time for small talk with anyone. Dodging in and out of kids, she avoided eye contact with as many people as she possibly could. The boy’s football coach, Coach Duncan, was headed her way. His voice, undeniably recognizable, bounced off the walls and echoed through the corridor before he was physically present. When finally in view, she purposely looked at her feet and rushed passed him. No way was she making eye contact with him; questions about her brother and his playing time on the field at college would stall her.

“Whoa girl, where’s the fire?”

Coach grabbed her arm as she tried to rush past him, her whole body swung around forcing her to face him. Arm still in his grasp he shook his head. “Slow it down girl! If only my boys had moved half as fast this morning.”

Managing a slight smile, she pointed toward the bathroom. Coach raised his hands in the air shook them back and forth, stopping her from saying another single word. He wanted no part of what could pop out of that girl’s mouth. She was liable to say something for the shock value alone. He didn’t need to know, want to know, or care to know for that matter. He let her on her way, no questions asked. A healthy spritz of perfume, lip-gloss, duck-lip practice, and Payton climbed into her car.

“What took you so long?” he said.

Payton’s love of her life, well at least to a sixteen, nearly seventeen, year-old love struck teen. One look at his face with that smile and she melted. It was bad enough they attended different schools, but him a senior, narrowing down his college options meant she’d be stuck there without him. The thought of it made her cringe. She obsessed about him leaving on a daily basis, even when he asked her not to, but she couldn’t help it. Not today she told herself pushing the thoughts out of her head. The best part of his day was right then as he watched her walk toward him. He was sitting on the back of his tailgate, swinging his legs back and forth, waiting for her to join him. He tapped the cool metal, her cue to join him. She grinned. So freaking hot! He always looked that way to her, and all she wanted to do was wrap her arms around him and kiss that face of his! Her grin turned into a girlish giggle.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“Whatever!” A cute smirk crossed his face. “Something.”

She grabbed his face in her hands, laughed out loud, and kissed him before stepping aside to hop up next to him on the tailgate, but Reece playfully pulled her back toward him instead. Standing face-to-face, she brushed his sandy-brown hair to one side revealing his green eyes. She could get lost in them; they were that pretty, at least to her.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Payton giggled. “You grabbed me, remember?”

“I did. But why are you staring at me like that?”

His breath hit her face. Truth be told all she wanted at that moment was for him to kiss her; really kiss her. Move Payton. Move now; she stepped back and took a deep breath.

“I’m just looking at you, that’s all. You’re kinda cute like that.”

He rolled his eyes. But Payton could tell by the boyish smirk that crossed his face that her comment had pleased him. She loved that look on his face. He looked a few years younger, like a real kid. It was sweet.

“You know I’m supposed to say that kinda stuff,” he said as seriously as he could, but it wasn’t working.

The long cotton skirt she’d chosen to wear that day wrapped around her legs as she swung them back and forth on the tailgate. Sandals, painted toes, and a T-Shirt completed her outfit. Her long dark hair with a delicate headband, complimenting her outfit, finished off her look.

“You look hot. But I know you know that, so I’m not going to tell you!”

He laughed. “Just kidding. You look amazing. Beautiful as usual!”

Payton’s face lit up. She leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips. Funny thing, though, she thought Reece was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. They’d actually argued about that statement once. Guys aren’t beautiful, he’d stated. They could be handsome. Good looking, sexy, dope, hot or even cute, but not beautiful! Men were not beautiful. But it didn’t matter what he thought. To Payton he was, and she could look at him all day long.

“Hey, you never did answer my question,” he said.

“What question was that?”

“Why were you late?”

“You idiot!” She nudged him playfully. “I’m not late; you’re early, and for the record, I’m the one who’s usually waiting for you!”

He held her by the elbows, leaned in, and kissed her quickly on the lips. She would have kissed him back, but he’d already pulled away. Just as well, she wouldn’t have wanted to stop, and that wouldn’t have been good since time wasn’t on their side.

UNEDITED EXCERPT:

BITTER BETRAYAL Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher

ISBN – 978-1-946329-18-9 & ISBN 978-1-946329-19-6 Tentative release April, 2017.

Amanda M Thrasher

 

Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Uncategorized, writer's life

The Mischief Series – It’s Special

Most writers have written a piece at some point in their lives that is special to them; I am no different. My piece has become a series, one that I will probably continue to write until my ideas no longer flow anymore. I always think of this piece as my mother’s book since I originally wrote it for her. Growing up in England, she loved the fairies, collected them and told me fairy stories for years. When diagnosed with a terminal illness, I wrote her a fairy story, Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She never read the book in print but did read the first seven chapters. I told her the ending before she died. She made me promise to finish it and send it in. I had no idea that story would change my course from writer to author or how many people it would touch.

That book, my mother’s book, led to the creation of a character called Pearle. Based on the likeness of real live person I had never met, Jeni, requested by Beverly Hutton, whom I had never met. She had purchased my book Mischief in the Mushroom Patch and took the time to write me an email to tell me that she had enjoyed it. She also made a request, a suggestion, asking if I would consider creating a character with a disability since she thought her daughter would have loved Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She said her daughter always asked, “Where were the books for me?”

After reading that email, I contacted her back and asked her to give me a minute to think. After a while, I created a beautiful little character by the name of Pearle. Placing her in a chariot, created by the elders, Pearle whizzes around the mushroom patch. However, though she can not walk, she can fly with ease. Pearle will forever remain in the Mischief Series. We have done much work with this series, Beverly Hutton and I. We visited the Shriner Hospital and donated books and made fairy wings with the children. Her daughter had fifty-three surgeries at that hospital; we also spent time with the children at the Texas Lions Camp, Jeni’s favorite. We spent all day with all of the children teaching them about writing and creating stories.

When you create a story, that is special to you, it is inevitable, it will touch others. I love this series. I do! The characters are sweet, loyal and it teaches kids and adults alike how to be kind. Kind is rare these days it seems.

Each book is written to stand alone, so it is not necessary to read them in order. My favorite so far is the third book in the series, Spider Web Scramble,  because it focuses on the characters working together to help Pearle achieve her goals. It won a Gold Mom’s Choice Awards® Recipient in its category and received multiple five-star Readers’ Favorite Reviews. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

Chapter 3 – Preparation

The mist was thick early the next morning. They were leaving the mushroom patch and meeting at the meadow. From there they’d fly across the tall grass to the forest edge; the final destination was the forest itself. Lilly’s hair, though perfectly combed when she left, was now a matted mess. Pearle, eager to fly, sat patiently in her chariot, waiting for the others to arrive. Free fly days were her favorite; a time when despite her usual confinement to her chariot she was felt uninhibited and free. The hall monitors checked their pocket watches as the fairies breezed past them; it was early, even for fairies with so much energy to burn.

“Pearle, I couldn’t find you this morning,” Lilly giggled. “It was then that I knew you’d already be here.”

Pearle beamed and hovered out of her chair. She flew with ease as her tiny legs dangled below her. Her body felt as light as a feather. Darting in between her friends, giggling as she flew, she hummed her favorite fairy tune. Boris reached above his head and tugged playfully on the hem of her lilac dress. Laughing, she darted away from him and slipped through his fingers. He chuckled. Pearle, having so much fun, was always a joy for everyone to see. Her cheeks were flushed with the crisp cool air and her eyes sparkled as she flew in circles around them.

“Pearle, do slow down. If you continue to fly so fast, you shall tire yourself too early, will you not?” Lilly asked.

Boris gently tugged Lilly’s beautiful curls. “You’re not Mademoiselle,” he said. “Pearle can fly as fast or as high as she wants—after all, it’s our free fly day!”

Lilly’s lips puckered up. She knew Boris was right, but that didn’t stop her from worrying about Pearle. Everyone was protective of little Pearle, including Boris.

Boris lowered himself downward, hovered a perfect two inches off the ground, and nailed his landing perfectly. He was pleased that Lilly had not only noticed­, but also complimented him.

“Well done, Boris. Mademoiselle would be pleased with such a fine hover and landing.”

Jack was waiting for them at the edge of the meadow.

He patted Boris on his back. “What took you so long?” he joked.

“As soon as we get to the forest we’ll find our web, then we should ask permission to scramble.” Jack sounded serious. “Something tells me scrambling as a group and helping Pearle—no offense Pearle—will be harder than just jumping from web to web.”

“None taken, Jack,” Pearle said softly. “You can have my fairy-twists for a fairy month if you like.” She then pulled out a handful of fairy dust and asked, “Did everyone bring dust with them?”

Boris and Jack shook their heads.

“Why?” Boris asked.

“Because I think we’re supposed to gift the spiders if we borrow their webs. Remember, the elders will not have gifted on our behalf this time,” Pearle said.

“That’s right,” Lilly agreed.

Rosie, Ivy, Pearle, and Lilly had all been to the dusting parlor to receive their allotted amount of dust from the dust monitor.

“It is possible we won’t need fairy dust today,” Lilly stated. “But if we do, we’ll share.”

“On the count of three then?” Jack hollered.

“Count of three,” the fairies replied.

“One a-fairy, two a-fairy, three a-fairy, go!”

They flew as fast as they could above the tips of the tall grass, over the meadow, to the other side of the forest. They knew the largest spider clan lived deep there among the large oak trees; their webs shouldn’t be too hard to find. Lilly had envisioned small groupings of webs to practice upon as a group for their first few times. If they could complete a small course, they could practice a larger course later. They still had the power of the dust once the actual race took place. Fairy dust would increase the springiness of the webs. Boris and Jack were already excited about that part. The extra power was rumored to throw fairies so high into the air that they hadn’t come down for hours, though it was just a rumor. It didn’t take long to find a group of webs. Boris and Jack inspected them for holes. They didn’t look too shabby; not brand new, but the webs certainly hadn’t been neglected.

“These are in pretty decent shape,” Jack said, checking them out. He landed on one of them, jumped up and down, and flipped over. Landing on his rear he yelled, “Is anybody there?”

No answer. Jack hollered again.

“Hello. Is anybody there?”

Jack’s voice echoed through the forest, bounced off the trees, and returned to him. He shrugged his shoulders, winked at Lilly, and flew high into the treetops. He didn’t see any signs of a single spider.

“I think it’s safe to say we can use the webs,” he said. “No one’s home.”

Boris clasped his hands and yelled, “If these are your webs, could we please talk to you?” Nothing.

“Lilly, do you think we can jump?” Jack asked.

Lilly thought for a moment. “Since we can’t ask for permission, if we gift the spiders, it should be fine to use the webs.” She stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out a handful of beautiful sparkling dust. “Dust. We must leave fairy dust. It’s the polite and right thing to do.”

Boris had a worried look on his face. Time spent in the dust factory for wasting fairy dust still on his mind, he had to ask. “What if they’re not in the forest, Lilly? Wouldn’t we be wasting the dust? You know the penalty for wasting fairy dust.”

Lilly shook her head. “Boris, if the spiders aren’t coming out because they’re afraid, we must make it right by offering a gift.” She put her hand on Boris’ shoulder. “If they truly aren’t here, maybe someone else can benefit from the dust. I think Mademoiselle would tell us to leave the gift.” She placed the dust at the bottom of the webs. “We’d like to be able to come back and practice. If we gift the spiders, we’ll be able to do that, so the dust stays!”

The fairies would gift the spiders, then scramble the webs or at least try. Boris and Jack excluded, the fairies placed dust at the foot of the web. They knew how to jump the webs and scramble the course individually. But the challenging part was figuring out how to scramble from web to web with Pearle. That would take lots of practice and they didn’t have much time. Jumping was one thing, but scrambling meant jumping from web to web with no wings, and the actual race would be timed. If they could get Pearle through the course and to the last web, she could fly on her own from there, and at least have a shot to reach her star. But how were they going to make that happen? They were about to figure that out.

Boris jumped onto the web first. No flying allowed, Jack reminded him. He sprung into the air, arms waving and legs flailing. Jack followed. Ivy jumped onto the web next, followed by Rosie. Lilly lowered herself onto the sticky web. Pearle, sitting on the web, was being bounced up and down as the others jumped on the web. There has to be a way to assist Pearle or Mademoiselle wouldn’t have shared such beautiful words with her, thought Lilly. Your physical size, my little one, is not an issue; it’s your strength from within that will determine a win, a strong heart that will set you apart. Lilly asked everyone to stop bouncing for a moment.

“I think I have a plan that just might work,” Lilly announced.

Everyone stopped and waited for Lilly to explain. The gleam in her eyes indicated she’d figured something out. But before she could announce what it was, Boris made an announcement of his own.

“I have an idea,” blurted out Boris.

“What is it, Boris?” Lilly asked, genuinely wondering about his plan.

“We could fairy bomb Pearle. You know, like we do off the lily pads into the brook when we swim. But now we’d bomb Pearle from one web to the next web.” Boris waited to see what everyone, specifically Lilly, would say.

To his surprise, Lilly was smiling.

“Boris, as odd as that sounds, you may be onto something. I like your plan better than mine!” Lilly announced, surprising everyone. “In fact, I think we could fairy bomb Pearle quite nicely from one web to the next web and scramble the whole course if we all work together.” She smiled and added, “Well done, Boris. Nice one!”

Jack chimed in as well. “Don’t forget that on the day of the actual scramble, the webs will be covered in dust. Extra bouncy. Pearle could spring from web to web on her fairy rear.” He pointed to the branches above and at a web located to the left of where they stood. “It just might work. We should try it and see.”

Pearle giggled at the very thought of it. “I’m willing to try.”

“Oh my!” Lilly squealed. “It’s going to work. I just know it. Boris, we have a plan!”

They had a plan all right. A fairy-bombing, web-scrambling, plan!

Copyright © 2016 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher

Spider Web Scramble Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 55 countries. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.