Waiting for Rebirth

Hello! It’s Me Me Monday, a time to celebrate the accomplishments of me! It’s also time for the next part of ‘Waiting for Rebirth’. Duessa Ashelocke just found out that her nephew used light against shadows. She’s not happy. Not at all.

“Even if he did use light, it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Gabrielle said. She stared at Duessa and her swelling shape with no sign of fear whatsover. “He’s no longer with the Ashelockes.”

Clearly, using light was a bit of a family faux pas for the Ashelockes. I wondered at this unbalanced attitude. Light could be dangerous, but so was darkness. Anyone who spent any time in the Shadow Forest knew this. Darkness couldn’t exist without light.

Duessa’s shape might have dwindled, but her anger remained, sharp in the air. She closed four pairs of eyes, but she locked her rose purple ones with her nephew’s.

Damian shivered, but didn’t look away.

I pressed my own hand against his. If Duessa tried anything, she’d have to go through me. Not that I was sure what I could do in the real world. Especially when I was so small and skinny. It didn’t matter. I’d still try.

The energy in the air between Duessa and ourselves crackled. It didn’t actually spark and hiss with the force of our wills, like it would have in the Shadow Forest. Nor did anything appear out of nowhere. I could still feel the struggle in the space between Damian and Duessa. The lady loomed, pushing her dominating anger against the frail males before her.

Only Damian wasn’t all that frail. He stood in the face of his aunt’s rage, refusing to be overwhelmed or moved. Her overwhelming fury slammed into the rock of his determination. I didn’t need to see the rock itself. Damian was the rock, or perhaps he was a tower. A tower of strength, standing firm against rage and the lightning which flickered forth from the woman before him, testing his foundations.

The tower held. Duessa’s rage broke and splittered upon us, scattering the tension in several directions, to dissipate within the cool darkness of the Navel.

The lady took a step back, allowing her nephew and myself. She bowed slightly. Was she acknowledging our strength? The bow was quite brief. Duessa Ashelocke straightened herself up swiftly enough.

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Waiting for Rebirth

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets! Every Saturday, six sentences of GLBTQ+ fiction are posted and shared. It can be your own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be GLBTQ+.

To read a wide variety of samples from GLBTQ+ stories, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_cover

Here’s a little more of ‘Waiting for Rebirth’, right where we left off on Wednesday. Ever say something you regret? Christopher just did. Now, he and Damian are facing a very angry Duessa Ashelocke, which might be worse than a playfully predatory Duessa Ashelocke.

This is a little longer than six sentences, pardon me. (bows)

“You used light?” Duessa asked. Her shape swelled, growing against the wall. She ignored Gabrielle and myself. She fixed her attention on Damian, making the very air vibrate with her outrage. “Against shadows?”

“Of course not!” Damian tried to laugh, but it came out shaky. “I know I’m a bit of a rebel, as far as the Ashelockes are concerned, but I’m not that much of a deviant!”

Waiting for Rebirth

It’s QueerBlogWed! Time for the next installment of ‘Waiting for Rebirth’, picking up right where we left off on Monday.

I’m sharing this prelude to ‘Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest’ in segments on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Hopefully, reading it will interest people in buying ‘The Hand and the Eye of the Tower’, ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’, ‘A Godling for Your Thoughts?’ and other books about this world and its characters, when I release them.

Model? A memory came to me of standing in beam of sunlight, arm outstretched. I’d tried not to move, nor to blush, acutely aware of attention fixed upon me, piercing my flesh, seeing not only my form, but something captured within it.

Modeling had been a very intimate experience. My cheeks heated up at the thought of doing this for Damian. Oh, why was I so shy? He’d already pulled me from the shadow and claimed my hand. I’d just claimed him in front of his aunt. What was so terrifying at performing this simple service, especially for an artist?

“You’re going to paint.” The utter lack of approval in Duessa’s voice cut through my thoughts, shredding them. “Damian, you’re an Ashelocke.” She stared at her nephew, no longer smiling, or showing any sign of predatory playfulness. “Why do you waste your time with such trivial activities?”

“Painting isn’t a trivial activity. It’s art.” Damian didn’t look away from his aunt’s face, or flinch. “Art is powerful. Magical.” His hand trembled, but his voice was steady. “You know that.”

This struck me as perfectly obvious. Of course art was powerful and magical. Pictures were a means of making magic manifest. How well I could picture things made all the difference in the shadows. I could transform them into flowers, trees, grass, and clouds, before they had a chance to change into monsters.

“Indeed,” Duessa said, wrinkling her nose. “It may be so for some sorcerers.” She eyed her nephew, tilting her head to one side. “However, you’re not one of them, my dear.” She allowed a scornful smile to creep over her ruby lips once more. “Your paintings have always been too ambiguous to hold any true power.”

“Don’t underestimate him!” I growled, before I could think better of it. Duessa’s contempt angered me. “He has a light that can pierce the shadows!”

I regretted my words as soon as I uttered them. Duessa stared at me, opening all six of her eyes again. Every single one of them glittered menacingly.

Damian dug his fingers into my shoulder. His fear shivered its way through the velvet of my tunic, making me tremble as well.

Waiting for Rebirth

It’s Me Me Me Monday! A day to strut your stuff and celebrate your me-ness! I’ve been sharing, segment by segment, a Tale of Navel, ‘Waiting for Rebirth’. I’m hoping reading it will interest you in the other Shadow Forest novels I’m revising for publication.

Christopher picks up in this story right where he left off on Saturday. He was ready to giggle at Gabrielle’s chicken hat, when he saw Damian’s face.

She was still Damian’s boss, someone he bowed his head to, no matter how silly her attire was.

The lady turned to me and winked. With that single gesture, she eased the tension in the air. Duessa was no longer scary. Gabrielle nodded at the shelves. I followed the direction of her gaze to see a metal statue of a traditional god of masculinity, only it had a chicken’s head. Not a rooster, but a chicken. Beak half open, lunging forward, ready to throw itself at a customer. Or cluck a popular tune.

The lady raised a hand to gesture to the chicken on top of her own head, while she grinned at me.

I smiled, before I could stop myself. If this lady was Gabrielle, she had a wacky sense of humor. I was starting to like it, just a little. It’s good to like your mother, even if you’ve just met her. The thought made my grin widen.

“There, smiles are far better than terror,” the lady said, making Duessa, Damian, and myself a slight bow. “Hence, the hat.”

“We can’t all be clowns,” Duessa quipped. If she was offended, she didn’t show it. In fact, she softened her predatory smile. The resemblance between Damian and herself increased. “I’m much better at terror than humor, I’m afraid. If I overstepped myself, I apologize.” She spread her hands in a placating gesture. There were only two of them. “I do get possessive of my nephew. Nor was I aware of his involvement with your son.” She closed three pairs of eyes, eyelids disappearing into delicate whorls on her face, before vanishing completely. “In fact, I wasn’t even aware that you had a son. Where have you been hiding him?”

“Oh, he has always had a tendency to hide in the shadows,” Gabrielle said, with a grin, as if it was a joke, instead of the literal truth. “My son has only just decided to help out in the Navel. Damian, as you know, can be quite persuasive.” The glance Gabrielle shot Damian was filled with double meaning.

He smiled back, with a gleam in his eye. It was clear he appreciated the double meaning. “Which is why Christopher lets me speak for him.”

“Indeed,” Duessa said, sounding less than pleased with any of the double meanings. “What exactly is this boy to you?”

“My artistic inspiration.” Damian looked straight into his aunt’s eyes, not bothering to hide the challenge within his own. “I’m going to paint a picture to hang in the store. I’m hoping Christopher will model for me.”

 

Waiting for Rebirth

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets! Every Saturday, six sentences of GLBTQ+ fiction is posted and shared. It can be your own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be GLBTQ+.

Christopher is picking up right where he left off on Wednesday…meeting Gabrielle, the ‘mother’ Damian dragged off to live with, right while he was confronting Duessa Ashelocke. One might say ‘Brie dressed for the occasion, although her choice of attire was ahem, a bit odd. A description of Gabrielle’s outfit is included in the previous post.

I started to giggle, when I caught Damian’s eye. He’d raised his head to stare at the hat. His cheeks reddened. He turned his back abruptly on both women and clenched his hands into fists.

I felt my own cheeks flush, while my hands trembled. I turned to the lady to apologize.

Waiting for Rebirth

“Are you, now? How sweet!” The lady widened her smile, but narrowed her eyes. All eight of them. “You do realize this is my nephew, who speaks for you.” She took another step forward. “I’m not only the Ashelocke matron, but his aunt. Damian belongs to me.” Duessa stretched out several hands. One touched Damian’s cheek. Another touched his neck. I could feel him flinch, even though he was perfectly still. “This means you belong to me as well.”

She reached out a third hand towards my own cheek. I tensed, unsure what I should do next. I had to stop her, but how? I wasn’t sure what I could do in this world.

“Not outside the Ashelocke estate, Duessa. Not within my Place of Power,” a deep, yet feminine voice replied. It filled the room, commanding attention, drawing it a curtain behind the counter. A slender hand was pulling it back, revealing the tall, golden haired woman who stood behind it. “Everyone speaks for himself, as well as herself in the Navel.”

The ground beneath my feet quivered, while the air tingled with warmth and the thick perfume of power. I could sense it, smell it, when the woman moved away from the counter.

Damian took a deep breath of that heady odor. His eyes brightened at its scent. He bowed his head and lowered his eyes. I half expected him to kneel.

Duessa turned to face this rival to her own power and presence. She closed her red, golden, and rose purple eyes, withdrawing six of her arms. Indeed, it was as if they disappeared into the shadows. She now looked entirely human, when she turned towards the lady.

This had to be Gabrielle. Damian’s boss. My alleged ‘mother’, whom Duessa knew better than she knew herself. I wasn’t sure if I was pleased or terrified to meet her.

“That statement would have been a lot more impressive, ‘Brie, if you weren’t wearing that hat,” Duessa said, shaking her head. There was an almost fond exasperation to her words.

I realized there was something on the lady’s head, a something that didn’t go with her golden hair, wide blue eyes, or the presence that filled the room. I realized it was a chicken, or some sort of hat with a chicken emerging from it. The chicken had its beak open, as if it was about to attack, or sing.

 

Be My Valentine…Snack

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Blog Hop! Special thanks to Nicki J. Markus, who invited me to play in this holiday hop! To see all the players and explore this Valentine extravaganza, go to http://www.nickijmarkus.com/2017/01/valentine-author-blog-hop-sign-ups.html

I’ve got a special segment of a tale from the Navel for you all. Part of another one of Christopher’s adventures at the Navel, when Duessa Ashelocke decides to woo him. Christopher doesn’t wish to be wooed by anyone, other than Damian, who is missing. (Curious what happened between Christopher and Damian? Tune in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to read their story in ‘Waiting for Rebirth’.) Peter, a recent employee taken on by Gabrielle to fill the void left by Damian’s absence, has been trying to do so, unsuccessfully. Alas, to accept the advances of an arachnocratic lady is very dangerous, especially when she’s Duessa Ashelocke. For one’s Valentine is often one’s snack. It’s very unladylike not to show any interest in devouring a comely youth, when he offers himself so willingly.

“Be my Valentine?” Something soft and silky brushed against my cheek, exuding the scent of a freshly picked rose.

“Isn’t that what you call all of your lovers, Lady Duessa?” I asked. I studied the lady, who’d reached out one of her eight arms to offer me a single flower.

“Certainly not,” she said. The lady smiled, exposing one of her sharp canines. “The roses I usually offer are red as blood. I consider it a subtle warning about my ultimate intentions.”

I didn’t make a move to touch the flower. Any gesture of acceptance could be dangerous.

Duessa smiled a little wider and nodded her head in a courtly manner. She lowered the rose, so I could see its color. Its petals weren’t read. They were a beautiful ruby purple. Exactly like the flowers which grew in the place where I’d first seen Damian, touched his hand. The very same color as his eyes.

I gritted my teeth, trying to keep anything too rude from escaping my lips. Duessa Ashelocke was Gabrielle’s former mentor. She was also a lady and a regular customer at the Navel. Most importantly, she was Damian’s aunt. I ought to be afraid of her. At the very least, I ought to respect her.

“I don’t know why you’re offering such a rose to me, Lady Duessa,” I said. I kept my eyes fixed upon a store shelf. All the skulls Damian had created out of clay rested upon it. They grinned at me with all the mischievous merriment of their maker.

I’d found these lost skulls in storage and brought them out of hiding. Some customers found their empty eye sockets terrifying, which was why Gabrielle had packed them away. I’d once found their grins comforting, but I was learning to appreciate their empty stares. They saw nothing and expected nothing in return. Right now, their bared teeth reminded of a bright, sparkling smile Damian used to dazzle and confuse others with. Just another little piece of him to hold close to myself, since the rest of him had slipped through my fingers.

“Ah, but the color matches your eyes, so prettily,” she said with another little bow. I watched her sides warily, but her extra arms had faded into the shadows. She looked quite human right now. I had to remember she was not.

“That’s not true,” I said, glancing at the rose.. My eyes might have a purple cast, but they were nothing like Damian’s. Nothing. “My eyes are only a pale lavender shadow of that vibrant hue.” I didn’t even bother to keep the bitterness out of my voice.

“Ah, poor little Christopher, abandoned in this shack of a store by the one who brought you here,” Duessa said, pressing a free hand to her chest.

I gave her a sharp look at that comment. Duessa had suspected from the moment she met me I wasn’t truly Gabrielle’s son, although she treated me as if I was, bless her generous heart.

“Why reject me?” Duessa asked. She softened her voice, even as she narrowed her lips in a knowing smile. “I could keep you in far greater splendor than Gabrielle does. You could quit working in this absurd monstrosity of a shop.” Contempt dripped from the word ‘shop’, as Duessa regarded the Navel’s shelves, rack, and counter. Gabrielle referred to this place as ‘the center of things bizarre’. Truly, the Navel did sell some bizarre things. Metal and wicker models of chicken gods occupied places of prominence on the shelves and counter. An open wardrobe carved with scowling demons was filled with ritual robes embroidered with smiley faces. Oh, there were more easily identifiable things, such as books, crystals, and candles, but there were also items which would appear suddenly when a particular customer came in. It was just one of the ways of the Navel, which I’d come to accept without question.

My favorite items in the shop were Duessa’s least favorites; Damian’s skulls. Anything he’d carved, drawn, or painted drew my eye, or my hand. I couldn’t resist to urge to touch the box he’d created to hold a deck of cards he’d painted.

“These images mean many things,” he’d said with a cock of his head and a twitch of his lips. I stared at the pictures on the rectangles of paper, showing a boy at the edge of a cliff, an egg in fiery waters, of a robed figure with a scythe. I could be absorb myself in their imagery for hours. None of them were the equal of his painting, ’Waiting for Rebirth’. The one I’d modeled for, which had ultimately taken Damian away from me. ‘Waiting for Rebirth’ was no longer in the store, or anywhere in this world. Not that Duessa missed it. She had disliked the painting even more than the skulls. Duessa took offense to all of her nephew’s artistic endeavors. A strangely sensitive attitude, since there were far more offensive things in this shop.

“Come, why are you bothering our shy little blossom?” Speak of the offensive and he will grab you. I’d asked Peter not to, many times, yet he still dug his fingers into my shoulder, as if it belonged to him. Peter was the replacement Gabrielle had found for Damian. Actually, he wasn’t a bad person, when he wasn’t grabbing, or flirting. “Especially when there’s a rose in full bloom present, irresistibly drawn to the flower in your fair hand?”

Reveling in his own purple prose, Peter nudged me slightly to the side. He wasn’t much bigger than me, but much more confident about his slightness. He had fair skin, not as pale as Damian’s, but milky, exposed in careful patches through his poet’s shirt and open red vest. Peter was like a little bird, strutting and showing off his plumage to all possible mates. This meant just about everyone. You never would have guessed this, from the way he fixed his dark, soulful eyes upon Duessa Ashelocke.

In all fairness, I can understand falling for Duessa at first sight. She has the same luminous skin as her nephew, the same heart-shaped face, the same delicate, clever hands. The problem is that there are eight of them, instead of two. She keeps the additional six hands, as well as the arms they’re attached to, hidden. How? I’m not entirely sure. At first glance, she looks like nothing more than a beautiful human woman. Eventually, you’ll see her true form, if you truly look at her. Not only does she have eight arms and hands, but eight pairs of eyes. Each eye appraises your beauty, power, and flavor.

I doubted Peter saw anything, besides a beautiful woman. I wondered, if I should warn him. Flirting with Duessa could be dangerous. She might take Peter’s advances seriously.

Liked this story fragment? Let me know if you’re interested in reading more.

Some of you may be wondering, “Just who is this #$% moving in on Christopher?” Here’s a little fragment introducing Peter and how he first came to the Navel in ‘Unwilling to Be Yours’ at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com.

Enjoy this story, so far? Read more at https://www.facebook.com/KS-Trenten-1508958289406654/