Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cherished Destinies

Cherished Destinies in my Mystic Valley series is now out in PRINT! And it has a pretty new cover! If you'd like to read more about this book, click on the cover... and it will take you right to the page.

And in celebration, I decided to post an excerpt today. Enjoy!

Sitting on her front porch with her bare feet swinging above the ground, Silence clasped her hands together in her lap and shuddered. Papa said it was time to think about what she should do now that Homer was dead. Mentally, she shied away from the scene beneath the judgment seat and then shook her head in denial. No, she must not hide anymore. Homer was gone and she would have to think for herself.

What was she going to do? How would she live? Homer had always said they were too poor to afford any more than the bare necessities. Think, Silence! What can you do to earn barter credits?

Arano stood at the edge of her yard and called, “Silence! May I come closer?”

With a delighted smile, Silence clapped her hands. “Arano, you can help me. Please come here,” she patted the porch next to her.

When he was sitting beside her, he waited for her to speak. It took a while but he had infinite patience for her and eventually she observed with heartbreaking simplicity, “Something is wrong inside my head. I think Homer broke something when he hit me.”

With iron calm, Arano agreed, “It’s possible. What did he hit you with? And when? Do you remember?”

There was another long period without conversation but Arano could see that her brow was wrinkled in concentration so he gave her the time she needed, though everything in him rose up in useless anger against a dead man. Finally, she said tentatively, “I think he hit me with a stick?” She nibbled her lower lip and then continued, “It was a long time ago. I think.”

“All right. What would you like me to help you with?”

Silence frowned. “Homer said we are poor. How can I get food if I have no barter credits?”

Pursing his lips in thought, Arano looked down at the ground and considered how he should advise her. Then he smiled as he realized that this was one thing he could do for her without anyone thinking anything about it. “Silence, put on your sandals. We are going to the village.”

“I don’t have any sandals,” she replied in puzzlement. “Why do I have to put on sandals to go to Lost Market?”

“No sandals,” he repeated softly. “Why?”

“Homer said I didn’t need them.”

Arano had a notion that he was going to get exceedingly tired of sentences that began “Homer said.” With a deep sigh, he hopped down from the porch, turned and
lifted Silence down before she could object and took her hand. “Come on. We need to go see Noah, the barter keeper. He’ll know exactly how many credits you have.”

“Me? I don’t have any,” she protested.

“Whatever Homer had when he died is yours now. So let us go see what he had,” Arano explained patiently. “Then, we will go to my house to get enough leather for me to make you a pair of sandals.”

“You! You know how to make sandals?” she demanded in astonishment.

“Almost everyone knows how to make sandals,” he replied calmly. “I have exactly the right kind of leather to make you a pair of sandals. And I want you to wear them every time you go outside,” he said sternly. “Every time.”

Her head immediately bobbed in agreement and he sighed deep inside, conceding that it was going to take a long time for her to develop any autonomy at all. In the beginning he supposed this wouldn’t be a bad thing because clearly she was going to need supervision as she worked on developing a little independence. But eventually she was going to have to learn to stand up for herself.

As they made their way down the path to the village, he was torn between pride and being totally pissed off. He watched her zig and zag from side to side avoiding the rocks and debris on the path and he was proud that she’d obviously figured out how to reach the village with the least amount of damage. But it enraged him that Homer had withheld something so basic as a pair of shoes.

When they reached the village, Arano led her to the small pink dome where Noah Jones kept the barter books and village records. She balked at entering the dome, uttering the familiar phrase, “Homer said…” and Arano lost it.

Clenching his teeth, Arano said with terrifying patience, “Silence, please do me this great favor. Do not ever mention Homer or anything he said to you again. Homer lied.”

Silence’s deep blue eyes filled with tears that threatened to overflow and her bottom lip quivered. “All right, Arano.”

Squeezing his eyes shut, Arano beseeched all the gods of the ancients to give him an extra measure of understanding. “Silence, dearheart, I’m not angry with you. I am angry with Homer and do not wish to hear his name,” he explained gently. “Now, whatever he said no longer matters because he is not here. Come inside so that Noah can explain everything to you. You don’t need to be afraid because I will stay with you.”