Teasers from works in progress:
From “Monthly Witch Blues”
“You must be Miriam.”
The bass voice came from somewhere over her head, though for the life of her all she could see was a dark blur against the bright sun of the early afternoon.
“That must be a new language. It’s certainly not one I’m familiar with.” His voice had a peculiar quality to it, almost like a hum, though that could have been her head ringing from impact with the concrete.
The oomph had been caused by Ginger’s elbow in her stomach, forcing out all the air. She struggled for enough breath to speak, while her friend shook out her skirts.
“No harm done, Elijah,” Ginger chirped, gathering up her scattered books and stuffing them back into her bag.
Elijah?? This was the guy Ginger thought would help? The one with the hell-sent voice hovering somewhere near the sky? And here she was, flat on her back, legs spread-eagled in the most undignified position she could possibly think of. She tried to sit up, and her head swam with agony at the mere attempt. She shut her eyes, and bent double against the sudden nausea.
Gotta learn to stick those landings was the crazy thought that ran through her muddled brain. Need to do a better job than I did with those damn axels…
“Uh…are you OK, Mir?”
There was a weight of concern in Ginger’s voice, though Miriam didn’t bother to reopen her eyes. Opening them would mean seeing those sparkles again, which she didn’t want right now. The nausea was bad enough without adding that gut-wrenching sensation when the stars came. She moaned an answer, covering her eyes against the bright sun.
“Do you think she’s got a concussion, Eli?”
Eli? Trust Ginger to abbreviate a fine name like Elijah. A strong hand pried at her fingers, peeling them away from where she had them clamped over her face.
“Come on, I know your head’s probably ringing,” that shivery bass voice said, “but let me have a look into your eyes, so I can see if we need to get you to a hospital. That was a bumpy landing, lady.”
You have no idea, Miriam thought in answer. Ringing? Damn National Cathedral’s entire bell choir is ringing between my ears.
*No, just the big bell up top, child. Now open your eyes.*
From “An Unintended Wife”
“I shall be comfortable here, at least,” she said to the crackling fire.
“I am glad to hear that, Miss Merriman.”
Joanna choked back a cry of surprise, and sputtered as the chocolate tried to invade her lungs. The sputters rapidly became harsh coughs as Lord Huntsford pounded her back in an effort to assist her. She waved her hand weakly in an attempt to assure him she was fine.
“Damn!” The shout was pain-filled, and the hand beating her was abruptly withdrawn.
She gazed with watering eyes on the spectacle of the Marquess of Huntsford dancing the oddest jig. She blinked a few times, and then realized that the hand she had waved had held her cup of chocolate. Her very hot chocolate. The cup’s burning contents had been splashed down the front of her employer’s breeches, and were obviously causing him some distress. In alarm, she scrambled to her feet and pulled off her robe, attempting to blot the hot liquid. Her hand was immediately caught in a grip of iron.
“I can do that for myself!” The words came through clenched teeth.
The robe was yanked from her hand, and she came down on the carpeted floor with a hard thump. Sudden heat flooded her cheeks as the reality of the situation sank in. She had attempted to…dear God, she had touched….she couldn’t even think the words to herself. Lord Huntsford had stopped dancing around the room, but the dark stain across his breeches was plain to see. As was the corresponding mark on her dressing gown. Both articles of clothing were undoubtedly ruined.
“For…forgive me, Lord Huntsford!” She could barely squeak out the words. “I did not mean…that is I…you startled me, my lord,” she finished in desperation.
“So I see,” he growled, her robe clenched in his hand.
From “The Taming” – an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”
“Such a pretty garden. It seems a shame that such beauty must wither away untended.”
Katarina controlled her start of surprise, and gave the intruder a level stare. She could have sworn she heard more beneath the words than what he spoke. “All beauty withers when it is unappreciated, sir. Even the plainest herb in a garden has a use. When such use is denied, the herb shrivels in its uselessness, and becomes barren.” She choked the words out, striving for civility, at the least. Signor Petrucchio had done her no ill; she would give him no rudeness in exchange for this virtue.
“Then a wise gardener husbands his herbs, and makes use of them all. Surely there is beauty even in those herbs that you call plain. A sly smile crossed his handsome features.
His obvious amusement stirred her spirit. “You speak in riddles sir. Seek you to match my wit? There is no man born who can do so. You strive at naught, if you seek such a prize.”
“Then let me speak plain. I have come to woo you, Kate.”
Too familiar! “I am called Katarina by those who do speak of me.”
“Ah, but to me you are Kate, my bonny Kate, the fairest Kate I have ever seen.”
She would not have thought he was so cruel. “I am neither bonny, nor fair.” Katarina stood, stumbling a bit on her crippled leg. She moved slowly, favoring the abused limb. “I am halt, and unfit to wed.” Since he chose sarcasm to remark on her failing, her ill-humor began returning in full measure.
“Who says that Kate is lame? In my eye, she walks a light as a fairy, and is whole and lithe of limb.”
“Then your eyes are crooked sir, and do not see aright! I am lame, and never to be otherwise.” She fought to keep her voice level, so that he would know naught of her pain.
“You speak as though such a thing mars your beauty.” Petrucchio’s voice was made deeper by his amusement. “A lamed leg may be hidden by your gown, and need be only fit enough to bear the burden of your weight.”
“You speak of burdens, sir. Asses are meant to bear, and you are an ass to speak so!”
“True, asses are meant for bearing, and so are you, as woman is meant to bear. Bear my weight, that is, and many children.”
“You are too familiar, sirrah! Friend to my father you may be, but I will not suffer such coarseness!”
“Your words wound me, Kate. Who would have thought such a fair wasp would bear such a sting?”
“Everyone knows where a wasp would bear its sting.” Katarina’s ill-humor was rapidly fading under Petrucchio’s attempts to spar with her. His broad smile was encouraging, and she would swear she heard no sarcasm or insult hidden in his words.
“In its tongue, of course.”
“No, in its tail. Are you blind?”
“What, Kate, my tongue in your tail?” His smile widened, and looked like to split his face. His brown eyes shone in good humor.
Katarina blushed, certain she was as scarlet as her gown. How had he managed to turn the conversation in so lewd a direction? “Nonetheless, I shall not marry you.”
He chuckled, and she realized he had come close enough to touch her. “You gainsay me, bonny Kate, but will you nil you, I…shall…marry you!” He emphasized the last words, and caught her chin in his hands. He bent in close, and stole a brief kiss. He grabbed her hand as she tried to slap him, and leaned in close to whisper in her ear.
“Will you marry me? Or do you wish to stay in this hell forever?”