A quick personal update BEFORE the snippet: the good news is I am NOT dead.
The bad news is a little harder.
No, I am not sick. No, my husband isn’t, either (a rare circumstance for the two of us). Unfortunately, someone else is. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s, is a cruel, mean illness, and it’s stricken someone we love very much. My husband and I have thrown ourselves into caring for this person, who deserves all the love we can give them and more.
There hasn’t been a ton of free time to write lately, though I will say this: the writing I AM doing is really darn good.
I still plan to get BELOVED NOTTE out by the end of the year by hook or by crook – and in the meantime, you get snippets.
I’ll be around more again someday – sooner than I like, to be honest. Until then, keep writing and keep reading. ♥
Ravena was always remarkable, bright and dancing and unpredictable as fire, which is a fitting analogy: flames dance thanks to exothermic reactions, a process that releases energy to its surroundings in the form of heat and light.
So did she.
I am not attracted to children, and so I did not understand her appeal until several years beyond our first meeting. Over time, Ravena’s beauty grew like a willow and then branched out like a flowering rose. Her laugh stilled conversation and her step altered the timbre and time of song-making she passed. Her skin – darker than mine – seemed underlit, warm as distant embers, and her quick wit and sharp tongue left many a fool bleeding before they even knew they’d been struck.
And her every motion and word and look burned with deep and true anger. You see, we were both bound to Horse, and both of us carried his chosen purpose. She could no more help what she was than I – and she also no more break free.
I was a mollycoddled monster, a pampered weapon who could conveniently recover from most injuries, could sneak my way into places where other beings could not, could take even the wariest enemy by surprise – for no one knew of the Night Children yet. I seemed human, and that meant harmless, and that meant, by existing, I was the perfect trap.
Ravena was beauty incarnate in accessible, human form. She was not beyond desire like the Saqalu and distant starlight. She was not poisonous like the Dream, nor desirous like the Darkness; she was touchable, mortal, finite… fading, even though she had not yet reached her eighteenth year. The Ever-Dying were named well, and those who loved her could not let themselves forget that her flame would burn, no matter what, so briefly – and because of that, no one let her forget. She had an expiration date, inexorable, out of her control.
That made her far more dangerous than I.
She led our childhood games. She had to lead, to choose, to be the one always at the head of our small running team – as if by staying out of reach, even just for pretend, she could stave off the ending of the day. All too soon, Horse’s extra lessons kept her cordoned away from us, and it seemed every time she reappeared, she’d mastered something new. Wild, frizzed curls gave way to sleekly sensuous curls that each gleamed as though spun from some kind of polished ebony. Her forward-crouching, demanding stance transformed into a royal, chin-tilted magnificence that teased with aloof yet accessible fire. Her nails suddenly remained clean, all the day long – that was a strange moment for me, as mine were not – and she corralled her untamed laughter just enough to both mock and beckon, all in tone, tilt, touch.
Horse knew what he was doing. We all had purpose there. None could dwell in Az’Kabek without one except children – and then, not beyond the age of five.
I do not know what became of those who had no purpose in the minds of those who ruled. I have suspicions; thoughts about old magic, the kind that took life from others to enhance its dark business, the kind that required sacrifice to power something as large and complex as the last safe city in the world.
Perhaps it was not the paradise it claimed.