Gonna Try with a Little Help from My Friends

Clatan 4, 1015

Of course Freddy would be here first.

Rob managed a small smile as he crossed the worn flagstones that made up the floor of the Dragon’s Teeth. He wished he could be in a more cheerful mood tonight. He was having a guys’ night out, wasn’t he? Far from being annoyed or put out by that, Dannie had practically chase him out the door with a broom, hadn’t she? Business was going well, the children were happy and healthy, Elena was blessedly between teeth at the moment.

But he could never manage to be as happy as he ought to have been at their impromptu fraternity reunions. Not because of the men who came without fail. But because of the one man who couldn’t come any more.


Continue reading

Welcome to the Family

Darid 30, 1015

“We should have a fire in here,” Gino muttered, jumping from his seat on the sofa. The tinderbox was always kept on the mantel, and the servants were good about leaving a fire laid and ready to light now that the weather was cooling. So it wouldn’t take Gino very long to get the fire going.

But that didn’t matter. Sometimes, a man took all the distractions he could get. Like when his wife was in the next room, laboring to give birth to his child.

Continue reading

A Minor Form of Despair, Disguised as a Virtue

Imsdyn 6, 1015

Patience is a virtue. It was a hackneyed line, a perfect cliche. It was something that Tamsin had heard from her mother’s mouth a thousand times — usually growled at one of her siblings, showing just how close Lady Lilias was to running out of her own virtue, that is to say, patience. Relatively speaking, Tamsin was not often at the receiving end of that sentence. But she could still hear that growl as clearly as if her mother was sitting by her side.

She wondered if her mother would have been growling it now.

Continue reading

Send Up a Signal; I’ll Throw You a Line

Warning! NSFW!

Endskel 22, 1014

There was something peaceful, almost soothing about preaching to an empty church. The rafters and buttresses were designed all with one goal in mind: to amplify and project the Sim voice. (And to keep the roof from falling on the worshipers’ heads, but that wasn’t as important.) When Galahad spoke, his voice ballooned and filled every last nook and cranny. And when he paused, for effect or emphasis or just to remember what came next, the silence was complete.

Adding other people to that picture would have just spoiled the effect.

Continue reading

Difference and Change

Endskel 6, 1014

So there they were. Lady Guinevere du Lac and her daughter Lady Leona. Lady Guinevere, a writer Tamsin had admired since her mother had left one of her romances lying open on an end table and Tamsin had given it a cursory glance, only to be spellbound before the end of a single page. And Lady Leona … Elyan’s almost-fiancee.

Which of them, wondered Tamsin, was making her so queasy?

Continue reading

Home from the Sea

Radenth 28, 1014

The sun was shining. The gulls called to each other, doing reconnaissance for their eternal mission of stealing food out of Sims’ hands or, when it could be managed, their mouths. Waves crashed into the dock and the strand below; a powerful wind puffed down the lane, carrying with it the scent of sun, salt, fish, and dodgy dockside takeaway guaranteed to keep you on the pot all day and all night.

And best of all? Best of all?

Guinevere’s girl was home.

Continue reading

The Memory of Trees

Radenth 9, 1014

The rain had more of autumn than of summer in it. It was the kind of slow, steady rain that carried just enough chill to remind the world that summer was waning and winter gaining. From the other side of a window, with some hot wine in one hand and a poker to tend to a roaring fire on the other, the rain might have been pleasant. One needed cold times as well as hot. But from the back of a horse, having ridden for the the better part of an hour, the rain was …

Bloody miserable, thought Will.

Tonans trotted his way down the mud-drenched road, choosing to hit or avoid puddles with a capriciousness a cat could only envy. Will’s hosen were soaked; his shoes would probably squelch when he put a foot down. He wished he had thought to bring a cloak, but it hadn’t been raining this morning, and without the rain, the weather had been just warm enough to make a cloak seem more like an encumbrance than a blessing. Which showed how much Will knew.

Continue reading