More Clues and two sneaky peeks!

Coming up fast!

Hi Everybody!

For today and possibly next week, I will be holding back chapters of The Voice In The Forest so we can focus on the Crossroad Inn that’s coming soon. 

But soon that story will be back too. If you have missed any of the chapters of The Voice In The Forest, this is the perfect chance to catch up.

The day you’ll be able to read the new story for the Amazon Vella platform is coming up fast! 

Also, don’t forget about the short story I wrote over on vocal.media. It’s free and there will be more short stories for competitions I will be writing and putting up over there. 

Every one of those short stories I will link here for you.

The Test

In case you missed it, here is the link to my very short dystopian short story you can read for free over on vocal.media

https://vocal.media/fiction/the-test-pdmen408fn

There will be more short stories I will keep sharing with you over there on vocal.

More clues

Clues for the Crossroad Inn story in Vella:

Kathryne, the youngest daughter of the Innkeeper, has orange sparks when her power manifests. 

She also has a special additional ability granted to her as part of her Father’s lineage. 

What is that unique ability? You’ll have to read the story to find out. 😉 And to see how her ability and personality can be… challenges in the world of the Three Realms.
Letha’s sparks are pink, which matches her personality and her special ability more than any of her sisters. 

Her special ability manifests even when she doesn’t intend for it to, a common problem among her sisters. 

But in her case, that means she leaves a trail of broken hearts wherever she goes… what could go wrong?
Meribeth’s magic, like that of her entire family, erupts from her in the form of sparks. Hers are green. 

But, unlike the magic of her sisters, her sparks are more contained and less likely to jump out of her unexpectedly. 

I wonder why her magic seems so sad… Maybe that’s another question that will be answered by reading. 😉

Sneak Peek

Unfortunately, according to the rules of Vella, I can’t give you an episode of Crossroad Inn, BUT, I can give you a sneak peek of the upcoming Cupcake Queens and of the upcoming Heart of Cinders.

Of course these are pre-edited and pre-proofed sneak peeks so you’ll see versions no one who just buys the books will. 

Cupcake queens sneak

Ceecee

I was never going to be able to get out of the bakery. 

Marcus wasn’t there to cover me, and I had to pee. 

Doing the potty dance discreetly while trying to help people with their baked goods was not how I thought the day was going to go.

But I couldn’t afford to turn the sign in the window and lose the last sales of the day.

Not on a normal day, and definitely not when the fridge was broken.

“Ceecee I was so sorry to hear about your mom,” Mrs. Williams said, her dark brown eyes growing misty. I smiled, although it was brittle and I knew it.

There was no way to force my face to allow room for a full, robust smile when someone brought up my mom. It didn’t matter that it had happened four months ago. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to be shiny and truly happy when her death was mentioned, and especially not right now.

“Thank you, Mrs. Williams,” I said, wrapping up her usual order. 

She reached across the counter to pat my hand with her heavily lined one. Mrs. Williams didn’t show her advanced age in her face. Her dark skin was still flawless and she kept a head wrap on at all times so no gray hair shown to place her age either. But her years of life and experience were written all over her hands. 

“You know, I came as soon as we got back to Seattle. This is my first stop after my house.” Her smile was so kind it was easy to let go of the flare of frustration inside me that wanted to yell at her to please stop talking about it.

“Allison was a wonderful woman, and I’m so glad you’ve taken over the bakery. This city wouldn’t be the same without the Bake Place and your famous cinnamon rolls.” She handed me a wad of cash and picked up her boxes of treats.

“Mrs. Williams, I appreciate you saying that. This bakery means a lot to me.” With my lip between my teeth, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, fighting off the pressure of the tears that waited at the backs of my eyes while attempting not to pee my pants.

I tried to hand her the change, but she folded my fingers around the money and winked at me. 

“If I was here instead of in Arizona, I would have given this to you then to help with the funeral expenses.” She smiled and turned to go.

“No, Mrs. Williams,” I said, rushing to the half door that led from behind the counter to the front of the shop.

“Listen, Ceecee, when George passed, your mom helped me.” She smiled and looked down at the wedding ring she still wore, five years after his death, before she lifted her face to mine and her smile changed to one that said tears were waiting for her too. “Your mother was a good one, and I am honored I got to call her friend.”

She nodded and I nodded back, my vision swimming in the tears I kept back by sheer force of will.

The chime over the door sounded and I moved back to behind the glass cases filled with the last of the days treats and a couple loaves of bread, to lean against the wall next to the short swinging door.

“Hey, Ceecee,” Olivia said, the chime sounding as Mrs. Williams made her way out. Olivia’s voice was bright and the smell of her family’s pizza restaurant wafted in with her.

“Olivia,” I said, truly happy to see her as I got the waiting tears under control and a smile back on my face that at least wasn’t melancholy anymore. I shoved the cash into the pocket of my apron. “No Campbell today?”

“Campbell is in the car, he’s doing the circle instead of finding parking,” she said, her face shining the minute his name was mentioned. Campbell and Olivia were relationship goals.

“So, what’s on for tonight then? I only have one cinnamon roll left.” Which I shouldn’t have had any left, on normal days they were gone by ten in the morning, but business had been slow since the road work started and caused everyone to avoid the market.

“Well, I’m for sure taking that.” She grinned at me and then bent to peer in the glass cases, her brown eyes sparkling. “I also think I’m going to clean you out of everything else in here.” 

“No, you’re not,” I said with a chuckle and a good natured roll of my eyes. She had a plethora of free food she could have had from her own restaurant, or Campbell’s aunt if she wanted something different. 

“Yes,” she said, nodding with her eyebrows high, “I am. I’m heading to karaoke with Deacon and some others. He’ll eat all of this if we let him. Hey, you should come.”

She looked serious, but I just shook my head. 

“Thanks, Olivia, but I’m beat. And Marcus doesn’t come in tomorrow until the afternoon.” All of that was true, but I didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t have any money to chip in for something like that and I really didn’t want to take up all the space in the room. An intrusion from me was a little more substantial than an intrusion from someone Olivia’s size.

While I tried to ignore the assessing look on her face, I started packaging up her purchases.

“Can you turn the sign on the window?” I asked, looking past her and pointing.

“No problem. And I understand tired, but Ceecee, you really should get out a little more. You know half my friends haven’t even met you and they would love you.”

Heart of cinders peek

The air was far too clean.

While the night descended outside the windows, from my place in the rafters I could see all the way to the Protectorate Mountains and across Thirteen Rivers Valley. The islands with homes and cities, fields and fisheries dotted the landscape crisscrossed with bridges.

Being able to see so far, knowing that others could see all the way to the manor I waited in, made the small hairs along the nape of my neck stand on end.

Of all the things I didn’t want to be, seen was highest on the list.

A cramp seized on the muscle of my calf, forcing me to adjust my stance one tiny measure at a time, shifting my weight from one foot to the other while remaining crouched and keeping my upper body, braced along the beams of the ceiling, as still as the cobweb next to my left elbow.

Lord Fall was late. 

I was told he always took to his bedroom before dinner, but night was falling, and I was the only person here, perched above the opulent room with its soft, gauzy fabric.

Somewhere within the walls of this great manor, servants bustled about, his young wife convalesced, and the man himself was doing something out of his routine.

Eventually he was going to come to his bedroom. He never slept in his wife’s room, I knew that much for sure. And he couldn’t now anyway, so all I had to do was be patient.

Not the easiest thing I had ever done.

The easiest was probably getting into the manor through the attic dormer and making my way here. Waiting in the attic wasn’t a problem, especially since the floorboards of it had cracks between each of them that made watching for a moment the servants weren’t near much easier.

Was it the clear air and the ability to see so far that left the people of these lands so inattentive? Was it their focus on the waters around them, their heads bent to the fishing so many people relied on?

Whatever the reason for it, it made my job almost boring.

Early morning, the light low, after using the night to hide my passage through the towns, I had made my way over the walls of the manor grounds, across the wide lawns, and up the side of the manor itself without raising a single alarm.

Amateurs. 

Maybe they found out I was here. Maybe that was why he wasn’t keeping to his schedule.

But I dismissed that idea. If they knew, they would have been looking for me. They would have been ringing the bells and sending armed guards to search every nook and cranny.

No, it was something else. 

My brother would want to know what it was when I got home. He would want all the specifics of what I had witnessed in the region. He would want to know every last detail. That wasn’t my job. Not that it mattered to my brother. 

I swallowed back rising bile and squeezed my hand into a fist thinking about what my brother would do if I didn’t at least try to find out what was going on. He wouldn’t have been sated by news of the fine furnishings or the ways in which the people of the valley used reeds for most of their buildings. 

Reconnaissance for the kinds of information my brother wanted was on my to do list, although the chances of me getting exactly the right detail to sate his desire for secrets was small.

A long, slow breath was all I could afford myself to quell the anxiety that rippled through me at my thoughts of returning home.

First, I needed this done.

The door to the bedroom swung open and Lord Fall, his grey hair thinned on the top and his riding cloaked caked in mud down one side, stormed into the room.

He threw his crop at his desk, sending the stack of papers on top flying, the sound of them fluttering as if a thousand ravens were taking flight at once. 

“Sodded horse,” he yelled, his voice enraged, “I ask for a gelding, is that what I get? No. Of course not, make me ride a fucking green broke stallion. I need a new trainer.”

Ah, so nothing more than an accidental delay.My body and mind set aside all other thoughts and worries, my muscles bunched and ready. If no servant followed on his heels to help him disrobe, this was my chance.
Ta da!

What do you think of the books that are coming up?

And what do you think of the sisters of Crossroad Inn so far?

Don’t forget to check out the short story, The Test, and I will have more short stories coming soon. 

Next week! Crossroad Inn comes next week!

As always, happy reading!

— Everly

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