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An Arranged Marriage - 26

The night was cold -- the kind of cold that turned the trees to gold overnight.Detlef lowered himself from his window, scaling the wall in silence until he reached the ground.The warmth of the sun had faded away as soon as the moon took charge of the sky. Drying grass crunched under Detlef’s feet as he darted through the shadows toward the stables.It reminded him of the day that Emil had sent him on a wild goose chase to find his servant –who had not been looking for him after all.The thought still rankled in his heart.
Horses nickered as he slipped into the stable.Detlef hushed them as he found his way into Timothy’s stall.
But, instead of greeting Detlef, Timothy’s eyes were fixed on the opposite stall.Detlef strained his eyes in that direction until, to his surprise, he discovered the tense figure of a man in the gloom.
It was too late to hide.“Who goes there?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing, little brother,” the figure spoke, relaxing.
“Matthias!What are you doing?”
“I’m going t…

An Arranged Marriage - 25

Ilona sat by herself, thinking over the revelations of the morning.She pulled every memory of Emil to the forefront of her mind, examining each one. What if he had only fooled her into thinking that he cared about her?Reluctantly she had to admit the likelihood that he had, and the thought gave rise to a much more painful one.What if her Detlef had done the same?
“If you look so deep within, you will miss the beauty around you.”Verana knelt next to her, rolling out a mat and sitting on it.In her hand, she held a basket of nuts, which she proceeded to shell.
Ilona lifted her eyes and glanced around the village.The courtyard basked in the late afternoon sun.Women bustled about their supper preparations, cooking in large pots over open fires.Babies played happily at their feet.The men gathered under the pavilion to mend their traps.Boys chopped kindling.As Ilona watched, a band of girls returned through the curtain of the willow tree, laughing and talking and carrying baskets of late summe…


Hello again!

I have just returned from a trip to Israel.

I have a ton of new data for worldbuilding.  I found that Israel is similar in landscape to one of my WIPs, so now I have a flesh-and-blood reality to enhance my storyworld, which is cool.

Lots to say, but I've got some unpacking and laundry and job-catchup to do first.  Hope to be back soon to tell you guys about the trip!!!

An Arranged Marriage - 24

Horses milled in the front courtyard of the castle.Grooms darted about, scraping cakes of sweat from horse hide and combing burrs and brambles from manes and tails.Others carried water and food to the horses.It looked as if every one of them had faced a hard ride.
Detlef slipped to the ground.The front door of the castle was open, and he could see men gathered inside.
Matthias brought his horse alongside and reached for Timothy’s reins.“Go ahead, little brother.I’ll see that he’s cared for.”
Too distracted to marvel over his brother’s unusual kindness, Detlef handed his reins over and jogged toward the castle.
His eyes adjusted to the darker room.The king stood by a table moving pawns on a map.A group of men stood around him, taking part in a discussion.Others lingered in various positions of repose around the outskirts of the room.
Detlef pushed his way toward the center.“Have you found her?”
The king reached out and patted his shoulder.“Unfortunately not, son.Now get some rest.We’ll need …

An Arranged Marriage - 23

“No honorable people should be ruled by such a man.”Detlef and Timothy plunged into the forest, resuming their search for Ilona.“He is rotten to the core.Once Ilona is found, I will see him deposed.”They trotted from there in silence until he reached the wolf’s pyre.Then he continued north.
The sound of movement arrested his attention and he reined Timothy to a stop, straining his ears to catch further sounds. For a moment, all was quiet except for a few bold birds.
Then… “De-e-e-t-le-e-e-f!”
Recognizing his brother’s call, Detlef half expected to hear his name followed with “su-u-pper-ti-i-i-me” or “ma-a-a-ma wants you!”
“Here!” Detlef turned Timothy toward the call and soon found his brother.
Matthias was astride his fleet black courser.He shifted in his saddle and grinned.“I knew I’d be able to find you.”
Detlef snorted.“Only because I have good ears.”Matthias’ idea of finding him always consisted of yelling at the top of his lungs until Detlef appeared.
“Apparently not good enough.Did yo…

An Arranged Marriage - 22

The night was a long one for Detlef.His only companions were the rats and beetles, and the hard stone floor amplified the aches and wounds from the fight the day before.Sleep came and went and finally disappeared altogether just before dawn.
Detlef propped himself against the iron bars and watched as a gray light softened a barred window high above him.A guard came with some foul-smelling sop in a bowl for him, and then stalked away without a word.
Detlef watched in silence as the guard disappeared.Then he sighed and rubbed his stiff shoulder.“I haven’t given up yet, Ilona.”
But what else could he try?He had thrown his weight against every bar of his cell yesterday without success.The guards were numerous.The viscount made it clear that the only way out was to testify falsely against an innocent man who had dared to speak out against the viscount’s injustices.And that was one thing Detlef would never do.
Despite his best efforts, he caught an image of himself in twenty years -- with long …

An Arranged Marriage - 21

Ilona awoke under her red quilt, listening to the whisper of rain.She dressed quickly and hurried outside.Fires sputtered as women tried to make a hot breakfast.At the far end of the courtyard was a forest pavilion with a roof and no walls.Several people gathered there.Ilona trotted across the ground, her shoes splattering mud on the backs of her legs.
Horst was standing by a table, studying a map.Multiple scouts were giving their reports.Horst looked up and greeted Ilona.“Only fair you should hear this, too,” he said, returning his attention to the maps.“We’ve lost Detlef.”
Ilona gasped.“What do you mean?Is he okay?”
Horst answered calmly, his eyes as deep and unfathomable as the sea.“Derwald men have scattered into the forest, meeting your suitors and putting them through series of tests.A band of our men were taking Detlef to Lidanah, to have him speak on behalf of a prisoner held unjustly, but the viscount’s guard took him captive.”Horst made eye contact with a red-capped man.
The red…

Still Busy -- Want an Insider Peek?

So I have been absolutely swamped.  I haven't been able to finish all my interviews yet or post all the ones that I have completed.  I haven't gotten to write very much.  Everything has been shoved to a back burner.

     Would you like to know why?

     First of all...

    ...a wedding...

This, to be honest, was the biggest pull on my time and attention, other than midwifery work.

Other than this wedding and all the little side pursuits involved with making it as beautiful as possible, there have also been some other pulls on my time.
There were baby showers for friends.
There was some hiking trips that I had to prep for...and then they ended up being cancelled.  Aka, all the pre-work without the fun event!
There were some family events to attend.
There were dental visits.  Might not seem like a big deal, but this was literally my first dental appointment ever. felt like a big deal.
Trying to keep with housework and cooking and such.  I've been married a …

An Arranged Marriage - 20

Ilona wrapped her arms around her pillow and sank deep into sleep.Dreams swirled around her, building in clarity until she saw herself as a little girl in the castle garden.The swing was in front of her, and its stone arbor was covered in twirling vines with tiny pink blossoms.She climbed up onto the swing and pressed her nose into the spring flowers.She was happy.
A black-haired boy climbed up next to her. “I’m going away, Ilona.”His voice was immeasurably sad.He clenched his little jaw determinedly.“But I’ll come back.I promise.”
Ilona sat down on the swing, surveying her playmate in dismay.Going away?Why would he go away?
He sucked in a deep breath, puffing out his chest.“Ilona,” he said.“You’re my best friend.When I grow up, I’m not going marry anybody but you.I’ll take care of you forever and ever.”
“Okay,” Ilona heard herself lisp.
Ilona’s eyes flew open and she stared into the thatched roof.Where had that dream come from?She rolled over and tossed and turned, but she couldn’t get ba…

An Arranged Marriage - 19

The forest was damp and cool.Detlef guided his horse through the maze of trees.It was not his first time here, but the last time had been, oh, so long ago.
The sun was high but a chill still hung in the air.It had been over an hour since Detlef heard any of the other men.
The land dipped down, and Detlef rode into a gorge.He looked around, half-hoping to see his horse tree – the one that he…
And there it was.
A smile pulled at the corners of his mouth as he surveyed the bent tree.He could almost see himself as a little boy, straddling the sway of the trunk like a saddle.“Look, Timothy,” he murmured.“This was my first horse.” He pressed his leg against Timothy’s side until his horse stood next to the bent tree.Detlef leaned over and patted the tree.“I named it Hartlin.”He looked up and down the trunk fondly.“And it was here that THEY found me.”
He remembered it like it was yesterday.One day, for some reason, Ilona could not come down to play so little Detlef ran away to the forest.He explor…

An Arranged Marriage - 18

Ilona sat on the edge of a forest bed and fingered its red quilt.Her hut was cozy with its thatched roof and sweet-smelling herbs – she had slept much better than she expected.
The door swung open and a tall girl slipped in, carrying a basin of water.Her long dark hair hung over her shoulder, and she wore a garland of flowers on her head.“You can wash your face if you like,” she said, setting the basin on the wooden table by Ilona’s bed.
Ilona stood and plunged her hands into the water, scooping it up and splashing her face.The garland girl handed her a cloth, and Ilona dried her face.“You’re name is Dagmar, is it not?”So many people had been introduced to her yesterday.She hoped she had the name right.
The girl nodded her head.“I’m your cousin – the daughter of Amalia’s older brother.”She reached out and touched Ilona’s hair.“It’s so yellow.Not like Amalia’s.”
Self-consciously, Ilona touched her own hair.“It’s like my papa’s.”
Dagmar ran her fingers through Ilona’s hair, catching her hand…

An Arranged Marriage - 17

There was a feeling of tension and destiny as the first fingers of light whispered on the horizon.Horses whinnied, traces clinked, and men talked in low tones.Detlef shivered in the cool morning air as he cinched his saddle in place.Summer was fading away and autumn was quick on its heels. “You can ride mine.” Matthias stepped up beside him.“He’s faster than your gray.” Detlef chuckled softly.“Thanks.But Timothy and I know each other.It’s better for me to ride him today.” Matthias scuffed the ground with his shoe.“I never thought I would say this to my baby brother…”He lifted his head, his eyes seeking out Detlef’s in the half light.“…but I’m proud of you.The way you are standing up for what you believe, keeping your promises, and pursuing your goals…you might turn out to be a man after all.” Horses milled about and Detlef scanned the horizon, embarrassed by his brother’s praise.The king was mounted; they would be leaving soon.“You better mount that fast horse of yours,” Detlef mumbled. “I…