Excerpt: The Naiad's Curse, a prequel to Naiya's Wish
Nate watched his wife walking beside the mill pond. Hilda’s ebony hair played about her shoulders and her voice drifted to him. She was singing a lullaby, stroking the round protrusion of her belly. She looked up and her chocolate gaze met his. He noticed how her cinnamon skin glowed in the sunlight. Everything about her resonated happiness.
The realisation squeezed his chest. Worry pulled around him, drew him in and threatened to pull him down into a well of mist. He looked away from her, avoiding the satisfied smile playing on her lips and found his gaze glancing at the still wheel beside his mill.
How could he care for his growing family and keep that serenity in her gaze when he couldn’t make ends meet? She deserved this new start, especially after everything that had happened, but he was certain he would bring her nothing but distress and sleepless nights spent worrying. Since that confounded Peter set up a windmill on the other side of town, everyone, even the baker, had moved their business there. In the past few weeks, Nate’s last customers had all but dwindled away, leaving him with nothing.
What could he do?
Hilda approached him, holding out her hands to him and Nate made an effort to smooth the lines of concern etched into his face. He took her hands, trying to keep anxiety from showing in his eyes. “My darling.” He managed a quick smile. “You look radiant.”
“Oh, Nate! It’s wonderful to be expecting again. I’ve missed this tranquil season. This baby will be a blessing to our family, I can just feel it!” Her melodious voice trembled with her passion and excitement and her eyes sparkled although he noted the undercurrent of past grief. She’s putting on a brave face. My dearest Hilda, always so strong for others.
Nate felt his lips twitching heavenward in a response honed by years of practise. Where she was the pillar holding up everyone around her, supporting through grief and strife and difficulties, Nate knew he had to be her strength lest she wear herself out on behalf of others. He needed to lighten her burdens.
“I’ll go up now and rest my legs. Mandy said she had some clothes I could look through and I need to see Jeoff about the cradle. Isn’t it exciting? In just a few weeks we’ll be three.” Her hand stroked over her belly as she spoke.
“Rest, dear,” he said, cupping her shoulder with his hand while his heart raced off with the speed of fear at the mention of the cradle. Didn’t they have a cradle from the last baby? No, he remembered now, she’d given it away years ago to soothe the pain of their loss. He brushed a hand over his brow. How was he going to pay for a new cradle?
“You know,” he called from the doorway after her retreating form, “you rest and take it easy. I’ll go and speak to Jeoff. I haven’t seen him in a while. It would be good to catch up. Maybe Mandy can come visit you here? It makes me worry when you’re out on your own.”
“Oh, Nate!” she turned back to him, waving her hand to dismiss his fears. “I’m still weeks away from birthing. You are too easily distressed. Women have been doing this since time began.”
“I know, I know,” he grumbled, showing an uncharacteristic interest in the flagstones at the threshold and noting how worn his boots were. “Please just humour me,” he added, capturing her gaze.
“As you wish, my love,” she laughed and climbed the stairs to their room above.
Nate turned and walked the half mile into the village. The small stone houses with their thatched roofs came into view beyond the forest. Children scampered about, laughing. The adults went about their business, dedicating themselves to their crafts. This was Kvarn, his home since childhood. Nate smiled at the tailor and waved at the wainwright. His ears picked out dull thuds coming from the smithy and he breathed in a series of nostalgic scents: the perfume of summer flowers, the acidic tang from the tanner’s shop and the smell of fresh bread. He decided to take a detour and avoid the bakery, wanting to avert a confrontation with Bertrand for his recent betrayal.
Nate passed the church, a simple whitewashed building with a single bell-tower. A picket fence bordered the building and its garden which was awash with spring flowers. The heavy wooden door stood open and welcoming, but Nate walked by. He couldn’t bear the thought of confessing his failures.
As Nate approached the carpenter’s home, he became aware of a creaking sound that emitted at regular intervals. Looking up, his gaze fell on the windmill—the agent of all his suffering. He cursed Peter under his breath. Who did the man think he was? Coming into town a year and a half ago, setting himself up with his family in the old Norton farm house at the edge of town and then investing and building a windmill, when there was already a perfectly functional watermill in Kvarn.
Nate ground his teeth together when he remembered Peter’s reasoning. It’s too far away to come all the way to you, Nate. It’s nothing personal, just business. The man was detestable.
Stepping into the cool of the carpenter’s shop, Nate knocked on the wooden door frame. “Hello, hello,” he called.
“Come in. Come in,” came the reply.
His eyes accustomed to the gloom and Nate made out the hunched figure of his friend, Jeoff, leaning over a worktable by the window. He was at the opposite end of the single room that took up the full length of the building’s ground floor. Jeoff’s dark curly hair obscured most of his face as he chipped away at the piece of wood under his fingers. Then he blew off the dust and put down the chisel with a soft thunk.
“Nate!” he exclaimed, crossing the space cluttered with chairs and tables and other furniture, his arms flung wide. “It is good to see you, my friend. You haven’t been over in a while; I wondered where you’d gotten to.”
“Things have been busy,” Nate explained, trying to keep the weight out of his voice.
“Yes, yes. I can imagine. The harvest was good last year. Everyone rejoiced. You must have much to do at the mill, especially in preparation for the coming season.” Jeoff stopped, his expression changing. It was as though his brain finally caught up with his words. “Oh, Nate. I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry, I forgot about your troubles with Peter.”
Guilt settled into the set of Jeoff’s shoulders while Nate tried to hold back the biting comment wanting to spill from him. With a calming breath, he focused on the purpose of his visit. Hilda. The baby. That was all that mattered in this moment.
“I came to see about a cradle. Do you have an old one? Or know anyone who might? I’m afraid I can’t afford to commission one from you.”
Jeoff nodded and Nate watched his friend’s mind spark into action. The carpenter spun around and walked through the clutter of his shop, waving his hands in the air and muttering under his breath. He rooted around, pulling some pieces of wood from under his work table. After another moment, he clapped his hands together and smiled.
“You go on home, Nate. I’ll take care of this and don’t you worry. I’ll get it done free of charge. You get yourself back to your missus and take care of her.”
Their eyes met and relief poured through Nate at the expression of goodwill in his friend’s eyes. “Thank you.”
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What's happening with my new series?
The Wishmaster series
The Apprentice Storyteller:
The Alchemist meets Fantasy with a splash of Space Opera.
Viola Alerion, a renowned storyteller in the Haldrian Empire, wants to be left in peace. For years, she's been hounded by her past, never to find a moment's rest. Then, she meets a boy who wants to become her apprentice. He refuses to take no for an answer and, eventually, Viola relents even though she knows taking him with her could endanger his life.
As their journey progresses, Viola begins to understand she's not the only teacher in the equation. The nameless boy also has something to teach but Viola makes for a reluctant student.
Can she give way to possibility and embrace a future in alignment with what she's always wanted? Can she find the courage to accept the principles that will transform her life? And can she overcome her circumstances and face her past? Or will she keep running with nowhere to hide?
And what of the boy who guards untold secrets and exhibits mysterious powers that defy belief?
Do you want to know more about what inspired me to write this book? I've written a blog post about it. Check it out here!
Queen Avan by Alice Ivynia
Ivynia has done it again. What a brilliant book! I loved the Flawed Princess and Queen Avan definitely is equal to that fantastic debut novel.
Avan is a common washerwoman from a small village in a rural setting. Avan struggles in a society marked by magic users, where she is one who hasn't shown any talent. Drought is slowly snuffing out the region and Avan decides to follow a group heading to the capital city in hopes of a better future. On their way, they are ambushed by raiders and Avan is separated from her friends. Together with Prince Cedric, Avan embarks on an adventure where she discovers her magical powers and realises the depth and uniqueness of her abilities.
This book is an excellent introduction to this magical universe and what I love most about Queen Avan is how flawed this character is. She is convincingly naive, makes wrong decisions, muddles her way through and eventually, after dabbling in actions that very realistically could lead to evil, she has to reassess herself and make a decision. Ivynia spins Avan from a coarse, uneducated and simple washerwoman into a pure silver thread. Her journey is amazing and shows the way for the rest of us. Our lives are filled with difficult choices and often we lose track of what the right step is. Queen Avan is a lovely way for teenage readers to engage with our human capacity for evil and how to choose good instead.
This is a brilliant Young Adult Fantasy novel brimful of life lessons and perennial truths, to the point where it becomes immeasurably enjoyable to readers of all ages. There is adventure, heartbreak and loss, along with some wonderful clean romance and deep friendships. Ivynia's tale is beautiful, engaging and one of those books I simply couldn't put down. Her supporting characters are solid, intriguing and totally believable and the plot is filled with really enjoyable, unexpected twists. This book ends on a high note. It is empowering and leaves you with a glimmer of true hope.
If you love Fantasy, you have to read this book. It is totally worth it!
Here are some other books I'd like to recommend
As I recover from my last trial where I was confronted by the darkest creatures in history, I hoped things would return to my normal, peaceful life.Not a chance.With my return to Oklealia academy and the arrival of a new headmistress whose inhuman ways turn the academy into a jail, my plate is full enough, but signs of an upcoming threat awaken my fears once more.
Time is running out— for me and the world. When the final battle arrives, will I make the right choice?
If you're curious to read book 1 of this series, the ebook is currently available for $0.99, so take the opportunity to grab it as well! I love Maria Vermisoglou's books and have high hopes for this new series.
Discovering supernatural creatures are real is one thing but learning I have powers and learning to use them is quite a feat.
My name is Violet Webb. I live in a small town that nearly worships Halloween but I hate it. I can't wait until I graduate and get as far as I can from that silliness.
Everything changed when I followed the white rabbit. I ended up in a Realm full of vampires, fairies, witches and every creature possible.
Oh, Did I mention Jacques?
The hot shapeshifter with the French accent that makes me see rabbits everywhere?