Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On August 26, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving allergies, a brawl, a hole.

This poem was the result…

Hiding in the hole
Unable to breathe
Ready to brawl with anyone
Violence, anger wanting to escape with nowhere to go
Fear rippling through my body
It is the virus? Is it allergies?
I can only live with the fear for so long
Screaming at shadows, wanting to kick them for scaring me
Wanting to kick anyone who crosses my path
I cannot hide in the hole forever
I have to move on
Get on with life
In spite of the maskless on cellphones
Ready to cross my path, endanger me
Not a though in their heads for the lives they threaten
I long to strike them an invisible force
Shoving them away from me
Pushing them beyond six feet
Pushing them far, far away
Give me space, let me breathe
Don’t frighten me into the hole again
Don’t make me wheeze
I’ve got a right to breathe too
Scrabbling for a patch of clean, healthy air
On an overcrowded planet filled with others scrabbling, too.

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Rolf, Alf, and Leif

Once more Quartz faces three small, graying men with beards, far smaller than himself. One is squat, stout, with rosy cheeks like Santa Claus himself. The other two are more slender with long legs covered with red and white striped stockings and clogs. One peeks with beady eyes from under a crimson cap, the other’s eyes can’t be seen under his cap, only his bulbous nose. All three wear red caps, grey tunics, and green trousers. 

Quartz: (trying to keep the envious sulk out of his voice) That’s quite the beard you’ve grown. Guess you’re quite pleased with yourself. Not to mention nisse seem to be everywhere this winter. 

Rolf: (the stout, smiling nisse) Well, why wouldn’t there be plenty of us everywhere? There isn’t much of an everywhere to go to this winter and we’re cheerful. 

Alf: (he of the beady eyes): Especially when we don’t have gray caps. 

Leif: (he of no eyes doesn’t speak, he just nods)

Quartz: (not longer bothering to hide his envy) Right. Just how did you grow your beards so long?

Alf: (stroking his) We didn’t. We’re just designed that way.

Rolf: We’re not actual nisse. We’re toys meant to look like nisse. 

Alf: Without all those ridiculous stuffed animal rules Theodora Bear follows. 

Rolf: What do you mean? Her rules aren’t ridiculous! And we do follow them or try to. 

Alf: I don’t. 

Rolf: Yes, you do. You only speak to children, primarily our child in a not-voice. You obey that rule. 

Alf: Maybe. If I feel like it.

Quartz: If you’re only toys, why do you like rice pudding so much? You demand it every time I interview you.

Rolf: We don’t demand it!

Alf: Rice pudding? You did bring some for us, didn’t you?

Rolf: Yes, we want rice pudding.

Leif: (nods vigorously)

Quartz: (heaving a sigh) Here. (He produces a casserole disc where the top has the look of custard.) Made it with the help fo my adopted daughter. Not sure why you want it. You can’t eat. You’re just like Christopher and the other shadow creatures, only they’re not even pretending to eat. 

Alf: We’re not shadows and we’re not pretending. 

Rolf: It’s the principle of the thing. We perform a service, like cleaning your house or doing an interview. In return, you give us rice pudding. It’s the only payment we accept.

Quartz: You can’t even eat it!

Alf: Oh, can’t we?

Rolf: Our child, our Heather sees us as nisse, not toys. Shaped by her belief, her faith, we become more nisse-like.

Alf: We can do all sorts of nisse-like things.

Rolf: Like enjoy rice pudding. (He eyes the casserole with some greed.) That does look good.

Leif: (He gets out of his chair walks over to where Quartz is with the casserole dish.)

Quartz: You want it? (Uncomfortable having this eyeless creature so close to him, he sets the pudding on the floor, pushes it a little away from him.)

Leif: (goes to where the pudding is and sticks his large nose into it)

Rolf: Halt right there! (He leaps out of his seat, spins, nearly loses his balance, but totters in the direction of the pudding).

Alf: Save some for us! (He also leaps in the direction of the casserole dish.)

The other two nisse bury their noses in the pudding, trying to shove Leif aside. Leif refuses to be shoved, but every gets their heads in. The sound of chewing…or gobbling…fills the air. 

Quartz: If that’s not eating, I don’t know what is. Toys, my nose. 

No one stops eating to answer him.

If you’d like to read more about Leif, Alf, Rolf, and how they met their child, Heather, go to…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

Rainbow Snippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, Nathalie and Grace will pick up where they left off last weekend in Wind Me Up, One More Time…this is just a little longer than six sentences…

“Verity feared she wouldn’t be able to eat or clothe herself if she couldn’t earn a living. One thing she knew how to do was to sew.” Nathalie pressed a free hand to her lips, gesturing to a mannequin in the window.

The giant doll had long, thick curls and a ruffled blouse, very different than Grace’s own wayward curls. “She sat down and sewed and sewed. Dresses, blouses, skirts, yet she didn’t stop there.”

Nathalie leaned down to gaze at her little sister with solemn, shining hazel eyes. “Can you guess what else she made?”

Like what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple:

https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

#QueerBlogWed: Auctions Navel-Style

On June 10, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt with the words nagged, an escaped tortoise, and an auction.

This freebie story taking place before Stealing Myself From Shadows in my Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest was the result, although in true Navel-style, it decided to do its own bizarre take on the prompt…(wry grin)

It was a curious auction but it was an auction for the Navel. Damian Ashelocke stepped into the circle of trees, a clearing right outside the cottages and shops of the main street of Omphalos. Various residents, visitors, and people simply drawn to this place, the energy of the objects gazed at him, open-mouthed, enthralled.

Or perhaps they were simply gaping at him. Duessa had hinted more than once there was a reason arachnocratic males, particularly Ashelockes were savored and sucked dry before they could fully mature to manhood. The silent, stone state immortalized them, yet it also contained them. Whatever power Damian possessed was still his, churning within, exuding from his skin. Some people just had to take a whiff of him, draw too close to him, almost to fall into a dazed trance, gazing at him with glazed, smitten expressions.

It couldn’t be what he was auctioning. Damian had never understood what anyone saw in the Navel’s wares, even though he’d created some of its objects himself from the bits of trash, paper, and wood delivered to the Navel’s door.

“I have a tortoise here.” Damian placed a velvet bag on the ground in front of him. “Whom wishes to claim him?”

Carved of wood, the creature shouldn’t have moved, yet it crawled out of its bag, began to move away from the crowd. Some of them cried out, dancing out of the way for what should have been an inanimate object in some saner place.

“The tortoise is mine.” A man in dark robes, an oily bearded face with an equally oily smile spoke with nasally unpleasantness. “I have what Gabrielle truly wants, child, so see to it that creature comes to me.” He darted his sharp, accusing beady eyes around the crowd. “Or does anyone want to challenge my claim?”

No one spoke up, even though Damian really wished they would. He hated letting Gryluxx get his way. It made him more insufferable than ever, but Damian couldn’t allow any of that to show. He plastered a smile upon his face for the customer he secretly loathed.

“It appears the tortoise is indeed yours.” Damian made a slide half-bow. “What do you offer in return?”

“Do not play me for a fool, young man.” Gryluxx wagged a beringed finger at him in an imperious manner. “You’re an employee of the Navel, supposed center of all things bizarre, according to the never-ending boasts of your boss. You ought to know what I want.”

“Yet somehow I keep getting surprised,” Damian muttered between his teeth. “Enlighten me.“

“Considering the way Gabrielle brags about the wonders within her tacky little shop, I’d think one of hers would be more intuitive. More insightful.”

“Insight varies from person to person.” Damian kept his head bowed. He could see the tortoise, burrowing its way into Gryluxx’s black robes lying on the ground. “Just what do you offer?”

“This.” Gryluxx held out a soft white tunic, one a boy might have worn in the Garden of Arachne. Any boy.

Damian frowned and reached out for the tunic, not sure he should accept it, but this tortoise wanted to be with Gryluxx and he had other objects to auction off, if one could call this auctioning.

The smell of Christopher wafted into his nostrils. An image of his lost one smiling at him amidst the flowers came to him, when his fingers touched the soft cloth.

“Where did you get this?” His words came out a little breathless, a little choked. He clutched the tunic to his chest.

“Would you believe me if I said beyond the Door?” The man waggled his eyebrows at him. “There is much you can find, if you can open a Door to the Shadow Forest, young Damian, even if it’s just a crack.”

Gryluxx turned his back to him to scoop up the bag lying on the ground, dropping the tortoise unceremoniusly within. “Now if you’ll excuse me. I know you have other fragments of lost fools to return to those fool enough to accept them.”

The man marched away, slinging the back over his shoulder with surprising ease. Damian had expected a servant to carry it for him but there was none.
Oh, if only he could go find some private spot in the trees and simply breathe in the scent of this tunic, lose himself in memories.

Not now. He was here on Gabrielle’s orders, strange as they might be. This was one of those special moments when the Navel came out to meet its customers rather than waiting for its customers to come to it.

He didn’t understand, but he didn’t need to. Gabrielle was his master, even if her actions baffled him. He’d simply do as she asked and hope understanding would eventually come. Even if he was getting tired of waiting for it.

Damian fixed his smile back on his face and turned to lift his next object, a rooster statue.

He nearly groaned out loud. As if anyone would want this, although people in Omphalos had a way of surprising him in what they were drawn to.

“I have an usual statue here. Who wishes to claim it?”

Conversations with Christopher: Nathalie

Christopher sits facing a young woman with coppery curls which fall bouncing to the shoulders of her loose, reddish-orange tunic and matching skirts flaring around her legs. A necklace of rough green stones hangs around her neck. 

Christopher: Just what was that tale you told Grace about Verity’s, your town’s founder?

Nathalie: (speaking with grave dignity, too grave, especially with the twinkle in her hazel eye) A true tale, of course. 

Christopher: Don’t get caught in cogs and gears of industry, huh? (He shakes his head, smiling a little.) Yes, I could see that

Nathalie: In Verity we’ve all seen it. People who are so caught up in their work, their jobs, they turn into machines. The monotony of their daily tasks sucks out their energy, leaving them with nothing for anything else. I’ve wonder from what Mama Morisot told me of the factory and Auntie Cassat if it was like that for them.

Christopher: How so?

Nathalie: Auntie Cassat did all the illustrations for Mama Morisot’s book; Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps. They were beautiful, richly colored images of Grace, Nathalie, Iama, the woods, Iama’s palace where everything turned to gold. Absolutely stunning. Those pictures speak louder than words of the artist’s passion, her creativity. I don’t see any of that passion or creativity in the woman who sips tea primly and questions her daughter’s own artistic choices. 

Christopher: Just because she’s not showing the passion nor the creativity doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Nathalie: How could it be? (Nathalie considers Christopher’s words and shakes her head.) No. Working at the factory sucked the vitality out of her. Just like it’ll suck the vitality out of Maia if she lets it.

Christopher: Aren’t you worried it’ll suck the life out of you?

Nathalie: Of course. (She throws back her shoulders with more than a little bravado.) I refuse to let it. 

Christopher: That’s the spirit. (There’s a crinkle in his brow when he says that, if Nathalie’s spirit is reminding him of something else, something painful) Back to Magic and Mishaps. You say these are the books your mother wrote.

Nathalie: Yes. They were among the first books I read when I first came to Verity. Princess Nathalie, Princess Grace, even though those girls weren’t us, I felt like they were. (chuckles) Iama the Terrible looked so sinister, yet striking, touching Princess Nathalie’s cheek, luring her away. I wouldn’t mind being enchanted by her one bit.

Christopher: Only you were enchanted by an Iama of your own, weren’t you?

Nathalie: I was, wasn’t I? (She chuckles again.) Seriously, don’t take what Grace and Maia say too seriously. Maia is nothing like Iama…other than extremely attractive. And you might say both Maia and the enchantress in the books needed to be saved. 

Christopher: How is that?

Nathalie: (grinning) Nope, I’m not telling you that. If you want to know, you’ll need to read the book. It’s available at…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

Rainbow Snippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to #RainbowSnippets !

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, Grace and Nathalie will pick up where they left off last week in Wind Me Up, One More Time…

The two girls could walk to it from their home, follow the winding path along the river, out of the graceful white structures surrounded by gardens to the shorter, grayer dwellings near the train tracks, opening out into streets covered with small shops. “Long ago, a girl fled to this town, only to lose her heart to this temple of industry.”

“How so?” As always, Grace was under the spell of Nathalie’s voice. It was lower than most women’s, yet it had a resonant, distinct, musical sound. Sometimes she could hear the clear hum of a wood instrument in Nat’s words.

Like what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: 

https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

#QueerBlogWed: At Her Service Freebie Story

On August 12, 2020, P.T. Wyant offered at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving threatening clouds, a lost shoe, and a table.

Mentioning a lost shoe makes me think of At Her Service, my ff Cinderella story. This freebie tale for that tale was the result…

Threatening clouds spread across the moon outside. She, my innocent beauty, my Cinders lay in the pumpkin patch, missing a shoe.

What a cruel trick I’d played upon her, just so I could steal her first dance, whirling her around the ballroom floor, playing a part I had no right to. The shoe sparkled in the dim light coming from outside, the fading moonlight giving way to the first rays of the sun. Those same rays illuminated the clean surface of the kitchen table in front of me, gleaming on the glass slipper she’d lost, proof of my mischief.

I’d meant every word I’d said about every girl needing a chance to dance once in her life. I just didn’t want my Cinders to dance with anyone other than me. The shoe fit her dainty foot fat better than it ever had my large, bony one.

Why did she look at that foot the way she did whenever she slipped them on? Why did I feel the way I did whenever she touched me, coaxing it all into a glass prison? It was as my flesh served her, cooperating at each tentative stroke of her fingers, shrinking inside a shoe that truly didn’t fit, just to please her.

Cinders was the only reason I’d kept those ridiculous glass things. They were an excuse for her to touch me, to stroke my skin the way she did whenever she got those shoes onto my feet.

Well, I’d give her a night of magic. I’d given her everything that could turn a woman’s head, according to every other woman who’d ever tutted in disapproval at me. Only Cinders’s head hadn’t been turned. She’d been charmed but she hadn’t turned away from me, the real me, the cranky mistress waiting for her at home.

Dared I hope there might be true love mixed in with that loyalty? Did I even believe there was such a thing for me?

It all depended upon her, once she awakened after the enchantment. How would she react to reality, the truth of her prince?

I just had to wait and see. Whatever it was, I had to accept her decision. I’d played enough games with her for one night.

Only it had been a magical night, not just for her but for me as well.

I’d said every girl needed to dance once in her life. This was true for me as well, even if I was taking the lead in the dance. Even if I was the one sweeping a maiden off her feet rather than being swept.

It’s not easy being the prince, yet it could be rewarding when you tried.

If only the real prince realized this.

Conversations with Christopher: Grace and Theodora

Conversations with Christopher: Grace and Theodora

Christopher sits across from a little girl with wayward curls, wearing a red sweater, holding a stuffed bear in her lap. 

Christopher: So what did you think of our scribbler’s reading? Or readings. 

Grace: (sniffs) She didn’t do Nathalie justice. Nat has a much better voice. And the story was a lot scarier standing outside the factory with Nathalie when Theodora Bear found out Princess Nathalie was in trouble in Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps. It’s hard to understand what was happening the way the scribbler read it. 

Theodora: Grrrowwrr.

Grace: Theodora wants you to know we’re not the same Grace and Theodra as the ones in Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps. That Theodora was Princess Nathalie’s bear. This Theodora is my bear. (She gives her bear a squeeze.) I’m not a princess like that Grace. I’m just a girl living in Verity. Princess Grace had a red cape. I only have a scratchy red sweater Iama the Terrible made for me.

Theodora: Grrowwr.

Grace: Yes, yes. Maia made the sweater, not Iama the Terrible. She’s not nearly as terrible as she claims to be. (mutters) Even if this sweater is terribly itchy.

Theodora: Grrowwr. 

Grace: No, Maia isn’t an evil enchantress any more than I’m a princess. It’s true. 

Theodora: Growwr. 

Christopher: Did she just say, “You’ll always be a princess to me?”

Grace: (squeezing her bear and looking at Christopher with wide eyes) How did you know?

Christopher: (smiles a little sadly) I’m a good guesser. In a way Maia is an enchantress, evil or not. Doesn’t she enchant your sister?

Grace: (scowls) The scribbler stopped right before the good part! We were about to go into the factory, meet Maia’s bear. Or her art. I guess what she…it…is, depends on how you see it. Maia is such a show-off. She makes quite an entrance. 

Christopher: And Nathalie finds herself enchanted?

Grace: As if! (with a little girl’s scorn) My Nathalie isn’t that easy to enchant! (She thinks about it, frowning, biting her lip.) There was banter. Very flirty banter. 

Christopher: Not to mention outright flirting?

Grace: Yes, there was outright flirting. Maia was so different than the last time we saw her.

Christopher: When did you last see her?

Grace: Uh uh! (She takes one hand off Theodora to point a small finger at Christopher) Stop trying to worm the story out of me! If you want to know it, buy it!

Christopher: Um, you do know I’m a fictional character the same as you? I can’t go buying a book as if I were a real person? 

Grace: No excuses! You want to read Wind Me Up, One More Time, go to…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, Theodora will continue where she left off and the ff fairytale will give way to the holiday story in Wind Me Up, One More Time…

*We need to find Nathalie. We need to save her before it’s too late.*

*****

Grace never doubted that Nathalie was the hero of her own tales. She always seemed larger than life whenever she started one.

“This is the heart of Verity.” Clasping her little sister’s hand in strong, brown fingers, she led Grace to the squat brick building at the exact center of town.

Like what you’ve read? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple:

https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

#QueerBlogWed: Leiwell’s Dilemma

On June 3, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving sneaking in late.

This freebie story for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, one of the novels in progress for Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest was the result…

Leiwell opened the door of the cottage as slowly as possible, wincing as it creaked. Hopefully no one would notice him sneaking inside during the early hours of dawn.

He took slow, shuffling steps in the direction of the cushions scattered on the floor, more than willing to simply collapse there, only he stumbled across a warm body waiting for him.

“Leiwell?” Danyel’s sleepy voice greeted him as his little brother sat up from the pillows. Unlike his twin, Danyel had no silvery illumination in his eyes, just the normal gleam of reflected light. “Is that you?”

“Yes, it’s me.” Leiwell sat down on the rug, wincing at how stiff he felt. “What are you doing down here?”

“Waiting for you.” Danyel ducked his head, curls falling in his face. “Tayel thought I shouldn’t but I was worried.”

“There’s no need to worry.” Leiwell reached out to brush back the stray hairs falling over his brother’s face. Stretching out his arm ached, but contact with Danyel’s skin made the pain retreat.

For a moment he saw countless shadows gaining vibrancy, remembering their faces, places they’d known being reborn around them. The last thing Leiwell saw was the tender, approving expression on his master’s right before he caught his servant before he fell…

…Leiwell was feeding them, all those creatures on the other side of the Door his master cared for. They fed off his energy, his vitality, and in return his master cared for Leiwell and his family, letting them want for nothing. More than that, keeping the shadows strong kept the outside world at bay, kept others from finding his family.
Only Leiwell was like them, wasn’t he? The shadows. He’d spent so much time in the cottage with Map and his little brothers, pretending he was a real boy, he sometimes forgot this.

Did it mean Leiwell could feel off others as the shadows off him? Was he actually drinking Danyel’s vitality?

No! Leiwell snatched his fingers away from his brother, clutching them to his chest.

“Leiwell, what’s wrong?” The hurt in his brother’s voice stung as much as his sudden revelation that he himself might be as great a danger to his family as the outside world. “It’s hard not to worry when you act like this.”

“I’m not worried.” Leiwell forced himself to smile a smile that didn’t quite feel like his own. “I’m just tired. And sick. You shouldn’t get too close to me right now, Danyel. You should go back upstairs. Tayel is probably awake, waiting for you.”

“I don’t want to leave you.” The tremoulous loyalty in that small voice made him want to weep.

“I appreciate that,” Leiwell whispered. “I really do. I don’t want you to catch whatever I have. I need you to be safe, Danyel. Both you and your brother. Please. I just need to lie down and be alone. To rest a while. I’ll rest easier if I know you’re upstairs with your brother.”

“If that’s what you wish.” Slowly, reluctantly, Danyel withdrew from Leiwell and moved to the ladder leading up to the attic. “If you’ll rest easier.”

His brother began to climb up to the room he shared with his twin, but not before Leiwell caught that gleam in his eye. Danyel’s eyes were nothing like Tayel, no, they didn’t sparkle with silvery light. Instead they shone with questions.

Those questions could lead to trouble. Someday Leiwell would have to answer them.

For now he just wanted to sleep, to let go. If it was possible to forget the fear bubbling inside him, generated from an additional touch.

What if, Leiwell, was as big a threat to Danyel and Tayel as any outsiders who might sniff out their differences and try to hurt them? As big as any shadow which might hunger to take them back in the darkness?

All the more reason for Leiwell to work hard to create an oasis for them and to stay away from that oasis himself. No matter how much he might crave it.