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.

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