Today I'm slowing down a bit. I still have the second half of the week to deal with, and then of course I do have both boys at home. Hubby is back at work, but miserable. His allergies are getting to him, and I'm so tired I'm like a walking zombie. I'm surprised we haven't snapped each others heads off, to tell the truth.
I plan to sit down this afternoon and start reading Many Bloody Returns today (Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, and others). I'm in the mood for some sexy vampires. *nip, nip*
Come tonight, it's back to the grind. I'm going to finish up my final story for Weirdly 2 and get it all printed up so I can red pen the heck out of it. Once that's done, I'll be ready to bundle the stories and send them on.
Just in case anyone couldn't make it to the Brenda Williamson chat party yesterday, I'm importing one of my excerpts from there. This is the non-adult snippet, so it's work safe - just sayin'. ~_^
Friday I'll be posting a *cough* spicery excerpt at the Midnight Moon Cafe. (Psst...by the way, there is an easy peasy shapeshifter contest going on over there today if you want to try and win a prize!)
by Cora Zane (c) 2008
for In The Gloaming: An Anthology of Faerie Stories
Hands shaking, Colleen clicked on her flashlight and held the rake handle out in front of her for protection. She levered the dull beam of light toward the old tree and scanned it back and forth across the tall grass.
She saw nothing, no movement that should not have been there, but she couldn't chase away the sensation of being watched. The music played on, more loudly than before, but now it seemed further away than she had originally anticipated. She pushed on through the tall grass, toward the hated oak tree, and raised the flashlight higher. The beam stretched longer and longer still, until the light stretched so far away it bled away into moonlight and wilderness.
She stopped beneath the sprawling canopy of the oak, the hard-packed earth barren save for the running roots that poked through the rotting carpet of dry, dead leaves that crunched under her feet. She moved to the far side of it and stopped there to listen. The lilting, woodsy music crawled over her, through her, made her shiver.
Abruptly, the music stopped, and Colleen could've sworn her heart stopped with it. She lifted a hand protectively to her throat and waited for someone to emerge, to say something.
Seconds ticked by. A minute. Only night sounds answered her. Swallowing hard, she turned a circle where she stood and gathered her courage around her. Despite the silence, she was convinced she wasn't alone.
"This is private property," she announced, trying to seem brave to whoever might be watching her. Something dashed off through the leafy foliage to her right.
Colleen yelped in fright and stumbled back, her heart kicking violently against her ribs. She scrabbled out from under the darkness of the tree, too terrified to immediately recognize that whatever had run away had been too small to do her any harm. By the time the thought finally occurred to her, it was too late to regain her calm façade.
She turned in a circle, scanning the nearest trees and bushes with the flashlight. Her ragged breaths sounded loud to her own ears, but her nerves were shot, she couldn't have controlled it if she'd tried. I never should have come out this far, not at night.
Overhead, black clouds drifted, stretching open in places as the jet stream caught them, thinning them so they revealed fragments of moonlit sky the color of bone. She moved to the far side of the oak and stared across the threshold into the patchy wilderness beyond the back yard.
Long years had passed since the last time she trekked past the oak tree. Her aunt had forbidden it, had alternately bored her and scared her with tales of dangerous wild animals, of missing children lost forever in the woods.
How clear everything looked over there. A faint blue gleam settled over everything, revealing the spiky needles of the pine trees and highlighting the leafy canopies of the sweet gums and maples. In a small clearing just beyond the wood line, stood a broad ring of mushrooms so white they appeared almost to glow. Plucking up her courage, she walked toward the white caps gleaming in the dark, wondering all the while, Where did the music go?
"They draw the eye, do they not?"
Colleen nearly jumped out of her skin. The beam of the flashlight zigzagged wildly as she spun around in the direction of that voice. She bungled the rake handle; it slipped from her fingers and landed somewhere among the ferny bracken at her feet.
She couldn't bring herself to look for it; she couldn't tear her gaze away from the silhouette of the man watching her a few feet away. He sat on something, or perhaps crouched down. The beam of the flashlight made a narrow circle on the ground in front of him, and instinctively she jerked the light upward, shining it in his face. He pulled an arm up over his eyes, and all she could make of him was an olive green sleeve and that he had russet-brown hair.
Well, I'm off for now. I need to check on my Neopets and do a bit of laundry. I hope you all have a happy Hump Day!