Love at the Edge of Seventeen YA #Romance Anthology on @Kickstarter

Kickstarter Header_Love at the Edge of Seventeen

An author friend of mine will have her story published in a ya romance anthology, Love at the Edge of Seventeen. The publisher who will publish the anthology in April 2018, is using Kickstarter as a pre-order platform. Back up the authors by pre-ordering the anthology here.

I have to say I like the design of the banner and the book cover of the previous anthology.

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#inkripples Finishing that novel! #NaNoWriMo2017

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

It’s only the 3rd of November and it has already been one of the more exciting months this year. Two days ago, my romance novella, Romancing the Princess, was published as part of the Can’t Buy Me Love box set. I’m finishing revisions on another novel (non-romance), plus NaNoWriMo started! I imagine the topic for this month’s inkripples was chosen deliberately, with NaNoWriMo in mind.

I tried NaNoWriMo twice before, once successfully (the novel I’m now revising) and once not so much. This year, I’m well ahead with the word count and unless something downright shocking happens I’m confident I’ll finish the novel. I got the idea for the novel only a couple of months ago but I really ‘feel’ the characters and I have an urge to keep writing way past the required daily word count.

Amongst my reader friends, I’m known as someone who never gives up on a book. It has only happened a handful of times that I didn’t finish reading a book because it was so terrible. I’m like that when it comes to writing, too. When I get an idea and the characters start to reveal themselves to me, I’ll write like a woman possessed. My biggest problem is not finishing the novel, it’s retaining my interest long enough to go back to the story and edit it until it’s publishable.

Handpicked Bridie HallAn additional incentive to finish this year’s NaNoWriMo is also the cover for my novel which was designed by the super talented Eva Talia. I mean, looked at that? How could I not finish the story when I have this beauty to look at? It captures the essence of the love story, the vineyards as the setting, the guarded main character and the charmer who swoops in and shatters her protective walls.

My fingers itch the wrap up this post and open the file with the novel and start typing. 😉

 

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Publication day #CantBuyMeLove #romance

Guess what? Today is publication day for Can’t Buy Me Love box set!

Buy a copy on Amazon

Or add it to your to-read list on Goodreads

CBML Final
Seven romantic tales of love where royalty, celebrities, and passion meet. A case of mistaken identity, protecting the one you love, or proving you aren’t all about the money…these tales will entice and thrill.

A Royal Pain by Abigail Drake

Getting shot in the bottom saving a visiting royal turns out to be the best thing to happen to, impoverished socialite, Chloe Burkhart in a long time, especially when the prince’s very handsome, very sexy bodyguard, Nicolai, comes to her aid.

Caught by Him by Tammy Mannersly

Blockbuster movie actor, Brody Nash doesn’t quite know what to make of the gorgeous woman precariously perched on his neighbor’s gate, but as they start to get to know each other better, he begins to wonder if she might just be the one for him.

Romancing the Princess by Bridie Hall

A commoner, Sebastian, and Princess Alixandra are set to get married until he begins to wonder if fitting in with royalty is worth sacrificing his principles. Love rules all. Or does it?

All My Memories by Grea Warner

The possibility of reconnecting with an unrequited love leads country music star Finn Murphy on a journey of memories in this special prequel to the Country Roads series.

Me and Tillie by Lisa Hahn

1950s musical film star Oren Cooper returns to Broadway to find new inspiration. Unexpectedly, that inspiration comes in the form of Tillie Parker—his childhood friend’s little sister and an up-and-coming ingénue.

Defending Demma by Melissa Kay Clarke

When faced with an unsavory past, can Demma St. John, rising new starlet, trust ex-Marine Ryker “Digger” McMillan with her secrets and her heart?

His Royal Typeface by Stephanie Keyes

When all is lost, love can be found. Will Prince Asher Tarrington’s unique font design be enough to salvage a royal family and set the tone for true love?

 

I hope you enjoy all the romance in this box set. I’d love to hear what you think of the stories. If anyone is interested, I have review copies, just drop me a line below or on my contact page.

Here’s to Campfires and S’mores by Brooke Moss

Brooke Moss has a new romance novel out. The cover looks gorgeous and the blurb is intriguing. I have a short excerpt below. Do read it, it’s full of emotions and promises a great book.
book cover

Sparks flew the moment fifteen-year-old Molly Kaff and Jamie Burnham locked eyes across the dusty Camp Chimalis parking lot. From that moment, they were undeniably and irrevocably in love.

Until they weren’t.

Months after the demise of their fifteen-and-a-half-year marriage, a mutual friend from those treasured summers at camp dies, rattling their tight circle of friends to the core. Her dying request? Bring everyone back to camp one last time.

Returning proves more emotional than Molly expected. Sweltering heat in un-air-conditioned cabins is just the tip of the iceberg. Memories, both delightful and dispiriting, press down on Molly as she grapples with the momentous grief from the loss of her friend…and her husband.

Trying to honor her wishes with the ex hanging around is one thing, but being stuck in the woods with no cell service and years’ worth of hurt and resentment is another. As Molly tries to navigate her way through the heartache, she starts to wonder if she was wrong about the reasons behind her failed marriage. And if maybe her friend orchestrated their Chimalis homecoming from beyond…

Can a few evenings sitting by the campfire eating s’mores be the salve her battered heart needs to finally move on?

Excerpt
I fumbled for the handle to the janitorial closet door, my palm slipping on the cold metal. When I finally managed to push it open, I stumbled in and slammed it shut behind me. The motion sensor light popped on, and I made a beeline for the utility sink in the corner. I retched up every bite of the chicken salad I ate for lunch, as well as the four cups of coffee I downed since my shift started. When my stomach was empty, I hung limply over the side of the metal basin. With one last feeble gag, I choked on a sob, burying my face in the crook of my arm to muffle the sounds.
“Oh, Bree, no. Not yet. Not yet…” I moaned into the fabric of my scrubs. I’d chosen the purple pair with little grey hearts. Purple was Bree’s favorite color, or had been, when we were teens and coordinated our outfits. Had fate stepped in and helped me pick those stupid purple scrubs? Could she see me wearing them now? Was she watching me barf all over a mop head in the filthy sink?
With a jolt, I stood upright and scanned the tiny four by six-foot space with wide, blurry eyes. “Bree?” I whispered at nothing. “You were supposed to wait for me.” Another whimper escaped, and I clamped my hand over my mouth. She joked last time I saw her, even with oxygen tubes in her nose, and sallow, greyish skin, that she wouldn’t dare croak without me being present. We sealed the promise with a pinky swear, which was the ultimate in contractual agreements between friends who’d known each other since before puberty.
When she was diagnosed with cancer at four months pregnant with the twins she and her husband Zane had so lovingly prayed for, she also promised to kick cancer’s ass and make it cry for its mama. Unfortunately, cancer had kicked Bree’s butt, and by the time she had the twins, her body was so ravaged and unhealthy, it was a miracle Max and Maddie were born pink, plump, and healthy. But Bree hadn’t cared. She’d been in her oncologist’s office three weeks later, demanding she help her combat the disease full force. She announced she wasn’t going out without a fight, that she wasn’t leaving her children.
While her new role as mommy had rescued her heart from despair, it hadn’t rescued her body from illness. The cancer metastasized, spreading to her colon and eventually her lungs. She did chemo and radiation, traveled to Seattle to stay with April’s family while trying experimental drugs, and even went to a healing shaman that Rachael swore cured her IBS. But the desperate measures weren’t enough.
By the time the twins had their first birthday, she was in a wheelchair, unable to bear her own weight. Because of her intravenous nutrition, Bree’s teeth started to decay. She was a ghost of the vibrant, confident, barefooted girl who forced me to get over my crippling homesickness at Camp Chimalis. She wasted away right in front of our eyes.
I sank to the floor of the janitorial closet, ignoring when something dampened my butt. Placing my head in my hands, I wept for the missed opportunity to hug Bree one last time, for the friend I would never see again, for the sweet parents who outlived their adult child, for the adoring husband she left behind, and for those two magnificent children she fought so desperately to live for…
I had to call April. And Rachael. And I had to call Sue back. Oh, lord, that was a call I wasn’t looking forward to. I wondered if Jamie knew. He knew Bree almost as well as I did. Would Sue have thought to call him, too? Surely Zane would’ve asked someone…
I don’t know how long I sat on the floor, my shoulders shaking, hiccups the only sound besides the overhead speakers in the hallway, paging doctors every five or six minutes. But when the door opened a crack, and cool air filtered in, I shivered.

Brooke was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing life and about this book.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Usually about 4 to 6 months, but this most recent book was 3 years in the making. We lost a daughter, then moved abroad for my husband’s work, and I simply lost my writing mojo after that. It took until last spring to come back, and then I wrote Here’s to Campfires and S’mores in about 5 months.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write while my children are in school, so about 6 to 7 hours of writing time per day, though I balance that with real life at the same time. So between laundry, house cleaning, working on promo, etc, for my books, and doing errands out of the home, I would say I get 3 or 4 hours of solid writing (when my muse cooperates) a day.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Charlotte’s Web. Oh, so sweet! But most recently I wept while I read John Corey Whaley’s Where Things Come Back. I was on a long flight from America to South Korea and I read the whole book in one sitting, and it just got me right in all the feels. So good.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both! When I am cranking out the words and really feeling my characters, it pumps me up, and I feel hyper and excited to keep writing. Other times, though, it can be draining, depending on how personal the material is. When I was writing Here’s to Campfires and S’mores I found the material draining, because there is a lot of talk about infertility, and I had to draw from some of the experiences some friends have had, and that was emotionally draining. But when I wrote the flashback scenes from 1994, I found myself feeling really excited, because I could tap into my own teenage experiences.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Television. I tend to turn on the Real Housewives when I’m writing, and when that happens, all bets are off. I won’t get anything done, except having Tweeted about how rude Vicki is, or how drunk Brandi acted. It’s very time sucking.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Pour your heart onto the page, and edit it later. If you edit as you go, you’ll have a dry, state book. If you put your everything into it from the beginning, you’ll have plenty to work with. It’s always easier to scale back than to add to later.

What does literary success look like to you?

Making a regular wage and having readers who put me on their “auto-buy” list. It would be lovely to see my books made into a movie someday, as well, though I always feel like that’s a pipe dream. We’ll see…..

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I usually start writing, and stop to do research as I go. I find that if I don’t do the two things in a parallel manner, I’ll take a year or longer to plan, then lose interest in writing the actual book before I’ve even started chapter one. So I try to do both at the same time.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Probably the scene where Molly finds out Bree (her BFF from childhood) has died. It was very emotional and trying to write. I’ll admit…I teared up!

Can’t Buy Me Love

CBML Final

Less than a month till Can’t Buy Me Love is out! Pre-order it here.

Seven romantic tales of love where royalty, celebrities, and passion meet. A case of mistaken identity, protecting the one you love, or proving you aren’t all about the money…these tales will entice and thrill.

Read stories by Abigal Drake, Lisa Hahn, Grea Warner, Tammy Mannersly, Melissa Kay Clarke, Stephanie Keyes and me.

Here’s an excerpt from my story Romancing the Princess.

Love rules all. Or does it?

A commoner, Sebastian, and Princess Alixandra are in love and set to get married until a clause in the prenup rubs Seb the wrong way and he stuns Alix by vanishing from the palace just a day before the wedding. He is not sure fitting in with royalty is worth sacrificing his principles but he could lose the love of his life otherwise. The choice seems impossible.

 

Excerpt

Usually, he left before the morning shed light on the consequences of his actions. This time, his insides squeezed at the thought he’d never get to wake up next to Alix again. It wasn’t fair.

“It’s been …” Alix glanced at him and then dropped her gaze. “Well, I need to go through the customs. Boarding will start in half an hour.” Her voice was croaky. It pained him that he couldn’t tell whether from fatigue or emotion.

She leaned into him, soft and supple, and it took his breath away. His arms came around her reflexively. Her bed hair was a stark reminder of what they’d been doing minutes before calling a taxi to take them to the airport.

“This was real, right? I didn’t just dream it?” Seb said.

He couldn’t quite catch what she murmured into his chest.

“I’ll miss you,” he blurted.

She looked up, opening her mouth, but then she pressed her lips together and dropped her gaze to his chest. He forced her face up with his finger under her chin. He kissed her forehead, her cheek and eyelids, her chin and lips, and felt the bitter taste of goodbye intruding on their intimacy.

His mouth on hers seemed to have unlocked something in her because she finally whispered, “I’ll miss you, too.”

When she stepped away, he reached to push a strand of her hair from her face, but her eyes—miserable and dark—flitted to his for a second and then she was gone, walking away from him, and then running, her purse swaying from her shoulder behind her.

Career vs hobby #inkripples

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

inkripplesgreen

Writing has been my hobby ever since I could remember. Even before I could actually write, I made up stories and entertained other children with them. Later, I wrote them by hand in notebooks, later still I used an old typewriter with a defective letter p. Now I tap away at my laptop daily. But writing is still just a hobby.

I’d love to make writing my career, but sadly, I have to pay the bills every month. My consolation is that my day job has to do with books too. I translate and sometimes edit novels, so I get my fill of mysterious, romantic, intriguing stories on a daily basis. So far, I’ve been able to keep a perfect symbiosis between my job and my hobby.

I’m deeply convinced that having a day job which gets me away from my manuscripts but still deals with books has helped me largely to avoid any monumental cases of writer’s block. Translating other people’s work is inspiring and rewarding and it keeps me ‘fit’ for when I tackle my own writing.

It’s because of that I’m not sure I’d choose to dedicate all my time solely to writing even if I had the chance. I think I need some time away from it. I would feel too pressured to constantly write and write well if it were my job. So I believe my situation is pretty much ideal.

stack of papers
I have so much to write and revise this fall!

 

How about you? Do you find you’re still inspired if you write for six or more hours a day? Or do you need to get away from it to rest your mind (and fingers) for a while?

 

World building #InkRipples

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

It’s been a long while since I wrote an #InkRipples post but the summer has been busy as I worked on a new novella to come out this fall.

But I couldn’t not write about world building as I’ve just finished reading the masterpiece that is Six of Crows.

My stories require little to no world building because they are mostly contemporary so they take place in a world we’re all familiar with. It doesn’t take much more than a place name or the mention of the season for the readers to find their bearing in the story setting. I would say my skills at world building are flimsy as a result. I’ve seen this most clearly when writing my current WIP which takes place at a royal court. I had to do a lot more research before I felt comfortable writing about royalty.

So I admire writers like Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas so much more because they create entire worlds in a way that makes them not just believable, but captivating and intriguing. Even though Ketterdam in Six of Crows is inspired by Amsterdam, the atmosphere Bardugo creates on the page is still unique and so authentic it simply sucks you in. It’s as though you walk those streets and smell the rot in the canals.

Of course, even contemporary stories require a setting so I could call that world building, too. But this is done on a much smaller scale, with descriptions of the surroundings, the details about buildings and weather. It’s important that all this is done through showing and not telling to attract the readers. It’s more about creating an atmosphere which supports the main story, rather than creating an actual world out of nothing. For that, I think magic is needed. Magic like the sort one sees in Six of Crows.

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But I suppose, no matter what sort of a world one is trying to set their story in – an imaginary world where epic things happen or a quiet neighborhood street – it’s all in the details. Even the grandest worlds are built from small pieces of information, descriptions and – most importantly – the characters’ reactions to them. The way the surroundings influence the characters shows best what sort of a world it is and consequently it also affects the readers most. Which is what we, as authors, wish: for the readers to respond to what we write.

Enchanter by Kristy Centeno Cover reveal

Enchanter (The Giver of Life Trilogy #1)

By Kristy Centeno

ISBN: 978-1-945910-18-0

Pre-order:

Kobo

Amazon

Enchanter.v2

 

They have a past. But will they have a future?

Leah Parker is resilient and hardworking. She’d always prided herself in maintaining a level head, even under pressure. Everything changes when she begins to see strange apparitions and hear ghostly voices on the morning of her birthday.

In a blink of the eyes, Leah’s life takes a drastic turn that spirals her into the unknown. Something is out to get her, but she’s unsure if she’s losing her mind, or the faces and demands of the dead are real. Unable to find the answers she needs, she has no choice but to rely on ex-best friend, Brandon Morris, for help.

But as she will soon discover, Brandon has his own secrets. Some of which defy logic and only add to the mystery surrounding Leah. And mix feelings between the two complicate matters by getting in the way of what they really want, and what they must do.

Can Brandon lighten the load on her by figuring out what or who wants her dead? Or will their past history get in the way of the storm brewing just beyond Leah’s grasp?

 

Excerpt

“Are you scared of me? Is that it?” As if to make a point, he covered the distance between us in three short steps, and backed me off into the landing to the stairwell behind me, stopping only when our bodies were a few inches from coming into physical contact. The invigorating scent of his cologne invaded my nostrils, causing my mind to go into total and complete turmoil.

I shut down, unsure how to react. I hadn’t anticipated being cornered in a vulnerable spot where we were shielded from view. Normally, I was a sucker for guys who smelled as good as he did, but this was Brandon Morris. I couldn’t decide whether to lean closer and inhale slowly, or scream and push him away.

“Are you?”

I wanted to deny his accusation, but he could see the truth in my eyes. It was pointless to pretend as if he hadn’t just sent my heart into a race. By then he could see how badly I shook. I could not disguise it fast enough for him not to notice.

“Should I be?” I asked softly, fear forcing my voice to quake.

 

About the Author

Kristy Centeno is the author of the Secrets of the Moon saga and Keeper Witches series.

She has always had a passion for books and after years of being an avid reader, she decided to transform her desire to write into a reality and thus, her first novel was born. When she’s not busy taking care of her five children or holding down the fort, she finds time to sit and do what she loves the most: writing.

Website Facebook Twitter Goodreads Blog Amazon Pinterest

 

 

Beyond Fate by Susan V. Vaughn

Beyond FateBeyond Fate

by Susan V. Vaughn

ISBN: ebook: 978-1-945910-11-1

Print: 978-1-945910-12-8

Buy Links:

Amazon

Kobo

 

Blurb:

Years of separation mean nothing when love is in the air…

Julia Diaz never wanted to fall for her friend’s older brother, especially at a college frat party. But, for some reason, her heart was stolen by Russell that night. Eight years after, she never forgot him. Now destiny has brought them together. Only this time Russell is no longer a boy. He’s a man who knows what he wants and will not be denied.

Russell Webb used to be optimistic, and fun loving until a family tragedy turned his world on its side. Putting all his focus on work, he picked himself back up, and managed to turn his grief into something resembling a life. When a woman from his past reappears, and gives him a glimpse of true happiness, he’ll do anything to secure her heart. Even face the darkness he has avoided for so long.

 

Excerpt

“You’re not going anywhere.” He tightened his arms. The thought of her leaving made him feel desperate.

Her smile broadened. “I have to.”

“Nope.”

“Yes, Russ.”

“Sorry, Julia.” He leaned in, inhaling her sweet, jasmine scent. “You are going to have to live here now.”

She laughed loudly at his suggestion. The sound was deep, sexy, and marvelous.

“What? You don’t want to live with twenty smelly, grown men?”

She wiped her eyes, shaking her head no.

“Well, maybe I should take you back to the library bathroom, until you change your mind.”

She broke out of his arms. “Do it and die.”

He grabbed her back to him in a hurry, not ready to throw in the towel.

“Stop distracting me.” She cupped his face in her hands, and moved closer to him. “I’m here to offer you a reward.”

“What’s my reward?” He felt his body tighten with need as the curves of her full chest pushed against his shirt. She looked up at him, her eyes dancing hazel, this time, with desire.

“This.” She pressed her answer against his lips, and then he could no longer feel his toes.

The kiss was slow, murderously slow. Her lips were soft, silky, and warm. She tasted tantalizing and delicious. He groaned, pulling her closer, sinking into her. She met him, opening her mouth for his tongue, pressing their bodies together. The moment of sweet was over, and suddenly the kiss became desperate, hot, and sensual. He ran his hands down her waist, and she licked his lower lip, before sucking it in.

He pulled his lips away, to drag them down her neck. “I want you.”

“I know.” She sighed, pushing out of his arms. “But not here.”

Guest blogger Jennifer Macaire

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Jennifer Macaire on my blog. Jennifer, the spotlight is yours.

 

Hi Bridie, thank you for having me as a guest blogger! I’m here to talk about my upcoming book “The Road to Alexander”, the first in a series about a time traveller who is sent back to interview Alexander the Great. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his time.

 

What inspired you to write your book? 

It started out as a short story – I had been writing and selling short stories to magazines, and I just had an idea of a sort of alternate history short story where Alexander the Great is never bitten by the mosquito that caused his fatal malaria. I wrote it from the viewpoint of a woman time-traveler/journalist, but when I came to the part where she slaps the mosquito away…I just kept going. In fact, I kept going for seven novels which became the Time for Alexander series. In the first book, “The Road to Alexander, I even left the part about the mosquito, and you can catch it if you’re paying attention although it’s no longer important to the plot. I ended up shifting everything around, because he dies in Babylon and I needed to introduce the time-traveling character at the beginning of his great adventure.

 

What type of research did you have to do for your book? 

I researched extensively. I used several books on Alexander the Great, including “In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great”, by Michael Wood, which was produced by the BBC. It was extremely helpful, because the author literally took the path Alexander’s army took across Persia and Bactria, and so was indispensable for calculating how long it took to get from one place to another. More research was done on the army, how it moved, who was in it, and how Alexander fought his battles. Still more was for daily rituals, things like food, medicine, clothes, money, toothpaste, and religious ceremonies. I researched constantly – every time I had a question I’d either write to an expert or hit the library and search out books. I’m not big on Internet research, too hard to verify facts, but I did use the Internet to put myself in touch with authors and historians. Everyone was very helpful, and I learned a great deal about ancient Greece and Rome!

 

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I am a plotter and use outlines. I’ve written a couple books just “going with the flow”, but they took forever to finish because I kept getting distracted. I much prefer a chapter by  chapter outline.

 

Buy links for The Road to Alexander:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Excerpt

draft-cover-1“Ashley.” Alexander took my hand and held it gingerly. “Everyone learns about nymphs and dryads from their parents in our world. Everyone knows about the naiads, sprites, sylphs, oreads, undines, fauns, and fates. Do you know who Lachesis is?” I shook my head. “Clotho? No? Atropos? The Muses? Do you know anything?” He sounded as if he were in real pain.

I looked at Plexis. He was staring at me, and on his face was the strangest expression. I tried to laugh but the sound stuck in my throat. “I’m sorry,” I whispered, “I didn’t learn about any of that.”

“But you said you went to school. You had teachers, you knew about Plato and Homer, you even spoke to Aristotle about the world being round. And that’s a new idea.” He shook his head. “I just don’t understand.”

“I’m sorry.” I blinked. I wasn’t used to anyone paying so much attention to me. It was unnerving. “I don’t know what to say.”

“But where were you educated?” Alexander asked me. “Even the barbarians know about dryads!”

“I can’t tell you,” I said, shaking my head.

“Why not? I just don’t understand you, Ashley.” There was such pain in his voice that I felt awful.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, “but I can’t.”

“Perhaps it’s just as well you don’t say anything,” said Plexis. “This is what the oracle meant, wasn’t it? I’ll find out on my deathbed, after we’ve reached the sacred river and after I’ve seen the twelve pillars.”

“What’s that?” Alexander said, attentive.

“An oracle’s riddle.” Plexis shrugged. “I don’t know where the sacred river is, perhaps in Indus, I heard of one that flowed there. But I know not where the twelve pillars are.”

I stared at Plexis, he looked at me and then his face softened. He smiled. “Don’t cry. Why, thanks to you I’m probably the only person in the whole world to look forward to my own death.”

“Don’t say that.” Shivering, Alexander put his hand across Plexis’s mouth.

Plexis took it and kissed it, drawing it across his cheek. He looked at it a moment, turned it over, and traced a faint scar on the thumb. Their fingers entwined. Then Plexis placed Alexander’s hand on my leg. “You’re going to have your hands full teaching your wife everything she needs to know before we get back to civilization,” he said in a light voice.

Alexander didn’t say anything, but I felt his sorrow keenly.

“Is it because of me?” I asked Plexis.

He shook his head, mute.

“I won’t stand in your way,” I said to Alexander. “If you love him I won’t stand in your way.”

“There’s nothing in our way,” said Alexander quietly, “except ourselves.” His fey eyes were filled with something like joy.

Plexis shook his head. “Ah, Iskander. There was never anything between us except friendship. Cxious tried to change all that, but you were right all along. Sometimes the difference between love and need is as thin and transparent as spring ice.”

“And the difference between love and need is like the difference between ice and water.” Alexander spoke automatically.

“I see you haven’t forgotten your lessons.” Plexis smiled. “Aristotle should be proud.”

“No, I never forget my lessons,” he said.

“May the gods hear you.” Plexis winced as he levered himself from the ground. “I think I’ll go find Usse and beg some of his sleeping draught. My shoulder pains me. Perhaps I was hasty, moving about so soon.” He turned and left, but not before I saw something shine on his cheeks.

“Oh Alex,” I said, laying my head on his chest. “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be.” His heartbeat was slow and regular. “I have all I need.”

“And what about what you want?” I asked.

“You asked me that question long ago, if I remember well. It’s easy to answer. I want to find my son. I want to avenge Darius. And I want to make Alexandria the most beautiful city on earth. I want to grow old with you by my side, our children playing at our feet. I want the stars and the moon.” He paused and kissed my nose. “I want to rule the world and the heavens. So, tell me. Tell me, my oracle, my love. Will I get what I want?”

I gave him the sweetest smile I could muster, and I said, “Alex, you’re standing on thin ice.”

He sputtered, then laughed. “I would be married to the only oracle in the world with a sense of humor.”

We sat in the fragrant grass watching as the horses came down the mountainside. The breeze was redolent of freshly cut hay and summer flowers. Dust sparkled in the air and butterflies darted about. White clouds looked like fat sheep grazing on an endless blue plain above us. The campsite was set up on the flank of the mountain, amongst the trees. Men came and went, fetching wood, forage, water, and meat. All around us there was bustle and the sound of men laughing, arguing, and singing.

We sat on the mossy bank of a silvery stream in a grove of white birch trees, surrounded by a sort of quiet grace.

I looked at the man I had read about three thousand years in the future, the man who would be known as Alexander the Great, and he smiled at me.

 

The Road to Alexander website

Jennifer’s blog

 

Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating French chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

You can see her books at her author site, and read her blog here.