You know, I spend way too much time checking my statistics. It doesn’t even matter to me anymore how often I sell a book. This is good because not more than a handful of my books pass into people’s hands any given month (online anyway. I do well in person). Don’t get me wrong, I would love readers, I just don’t have the time or energy to beg for them.
Instead, I’m having a lot of fun spending time in the worlds I’ve created. It makes living so much richer. I’m loving the suspense and tension coming out of my stories. Like tonight for instance I’ve been writing about Anna. If you’ve read Darkness Holds the Son you’ll know that Anna is hopelessly in love with King Barin, but she’s sort of ruined it for herself having been her father’s accomplice during his time of insurrection. She tried to redeem herself in the last book, but we’re not sure if it was all that successful. Barin still hasn’t made up his mind about Anna.
Picking up where we left off, Anna returned to Kolada and found her home burnt to the ground and all her and her family’s things distributed among the villagers. They figured the baron owed it to them. One good soul, the blacksmith Benjamin, invited her to stay with him and his two daughters. Rose is hospitable to her, but Siera is full of spite and has much influence in the local pub. Needless to say, the beginning of this chapter has been a joy to write.
Something Dark Lurks Herein
Siera set a hot mug of mulled wine in front of Anna and sat at the table across from her
“Why do you stare?” Anna asked.
“Can’t help it. I remember what you were, and I’m baffled by the change. Who would have thought a courtesan who once wore velvet dresses and feathers in her caps would be living like a blacksmith’s daughter, sleeping on a pile of hay in the old storeroom?”
“You’re jealous I took your place.”
Siera let out one curt laugh. “Jealous? Of you?”
“I’m just wondering why you came back to torment me.” Anna sat back in her chair and stared at the woman.
“It’s a proper thing to do under the circumstances. Someone has to keep you accountable.”
If Anna weren’t in Siera’s father’s house, she’d leave. She never meant to be here this long anyway. She took a drink and spat the liquid into her napkin repulsed by the numbing taste of cloves.
“I see you have your riding outfit on,” Siera said softly. “Again.”
“I didn’t have many outfits left after the fire,” Anna glanced up at her, all bitterness gone. “And of course, no money to purchase more. I don’t blame the people of your village for raiding my family’s belongings, but it would have been nice to have some of my clothes back. Not that they’d fit me anymore.”
“You’ve slimmed down like the rest of us,” Siera laughed. “When in Kolada, live like the peasants!” She lifted her mug and offered a toast.
“You ought to visit the pub more often, that’ll fatten you up,” Siera said.
“I have no taste for ale.”
“I sure would, if they’d have done to me what they did to you.”
“We’ve been through this how many years, now, Siera? Can’t you stop looking at me as if I’m some sort of freak?”
Siera shook her head and took another swill. “I just see you as foolish, is all. Why don’t you give in and become one of us? Marry and be done with your quest. You aren’t going to find your father’s herd. They’re most like halfway to the Casdamia Wildlands by now. Horses want to be free.”
“I’ll find them someday. For what else do I have to live?” Anna asked. “I did have an inheritance at one time.”
“From what I heard, you’re the one that made sure you had no inheritance—killing your father as you did.”
“He kidnaped the children of your village. I felt responsible. How could I let him continue with his malicious plans?”
“Come now, you’re no hero. You did what you did to impress the king.”
“I impressed no one, sadly,” Anna stared at the steaming liquid in her mug. Maybe drinking would help to forget the aspirations she had of one day being King Barin’s wife. Foolish, yes, but not for the reasons of which Siera accused her. She played the fool thinking Barin would lower himself to her level. She, the daughter of a tyrant, an accomplice to an insurrection, and an abductor of innocent children.
“Hurts, don’t it?” Siera asked but there was no pity in her voice. Anna didn’t answer. “His gift to you was to not hang you for murder. And your mother? What about her? Drowned in the river, overcome by grief.”
“My mother knew everything my father was doing. If she took her own life it was because she couldn’t live with herself knowing she had blood on her hands.”
Siera clicked her tongue, that cold stare pierced Anna as if it were a knife.
Curious? I’m serializing it right now on Patreon for a while. You’re welcome to check it out. https://www.patreon.com/DLGardner?filters[tag]=Tea