Cycle 3 Stories!!

Posted by Kat 05/19/2020 5 Comment(s)

Ready, Set, Write!!

 

We are ready for the next batch of Inanna’s Game stories! What have you created with this cycle's inspirations?

 

This cycle’s stories should be utilizing the inspiration that was posted yesterday. Once you have written your tale and corrected it to make it as readable as possible, please post it here as a reply to this post, so that others can read your work. Make sure to put the snippet, character, and scenario numbers that you used in the top part of the post!

 

Two days before the next cycle starts, comments and voting for the best story will be cut off at 5 PM. The following day, a winner will be announced.

 

Each story remains the copyrighted material of the author posting the story. Please give us the title of the story, the identification of the snippets, characters, and scenes that you attempted to use, as well as any comments you think applicable.

 

Once a story is posted, other players in the Game and outside interested parties are encouraged to make comments and vote for their favorites.

5 Comment(s)

Paul C. Middleton:
05/27/2020, 11:17:10 PM, http://www.paulcmiddleton.com
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Snippet 1, Character 1, Scenario 1

I am going to attempt to write this story as a serial. Each chapter will be its own ark, and every fortnight I will be using the prompts to write a new chapter. Extra chapters will be added as necessary and will be posted before the 'ICG' chapter as needed. (hopefully, they will not be needed)

Chapter 1 – Journey Begins

Rhodri sat with his back to the crossroads, facing the creek that flowed past his former home. The eleven-year-old boy felt abandoned by his family. He knew that it was traditional among his people for the second son to be fostered out to others. The boy knew it was his duty to submit to the expectations of his society, but that did not lessen the jagged feelings of bitterness and sorrow.

An old sack sat next to him and held some food, and the few possessions he owned that he was not wearing. These were a spare tunic and leggings, a carved wooden horse, and a knife. He wore a woolen tunic over buckskin leggings, a sign of his family’s relative prosperity. A leather belt with a sheathed dagger sat on his waist, indicating membership in the tribe.

Nothing could have stopped him from feeling the fosterage was unfair. His litany of grievances ran like a deer through his thoughts. First, he had to say goodbye to his parents, brother, and sisters at dawn before traveling to the crossroads outside of the village. No fosterling was allowed to linger on the day their new life was to start.

Secondly, Rhodri was given a day’s worth of food, and a new cloak embroidered by his sisters for the journey. The rest was left to fate if the foster parent did not show up. Maybe someone else would arrive and claim him for their trade. Or he could wander the farmsteads, looking for a place to sleep and food for the day until he found a craftmaster willing to take him in. Perhaps he would even starve, the young man thought glumly.

Finally, he had reached the age of fosterage right on the leading edge of winter. If he had been born even a week later, his fosterage would have been delayed until the spring. Now he would risk having to travel through an early snowfall.

A hand on his shoulder broke his reverie. Startled, Rhodri spun from the touch and ripped his dagger from its sheath. Keeping his blade low as he had been taught, he examined the man behind him.
Of medium height and lanky build, the man wore a hunters garb. The edge of a green wool tunic could be seen under the leather poncho over his torso. He wore wolf-hide leggings, though they were worn and stained. The coal-black hair declared the man was born of mixed blood, not a pure member of the tribe.

The tattoos and golden torc around his neck countered any doubt about how the tribe valued the man. Those marks declared him a master hunter, not just of beasts, but also of men. Looking closer, Rhodri found there was a crow-like awareness to his eyes. The man limped back a step and raised his hands in a gesture of peace.

Rhodri kept the blade steady, his eyes wary. The man smiled at the lad’s reaction, pleased by it for some reason.

“Rhodri, son of Sedhi?” the man asked. Rhodri nodded, and the man continued, “Be known to Aldrig, Master Hunter of Briwanon.”

Rhodri gawked, his jaw dropped, and his composure slipped. The hand holding the knife dipped momentarily as surprise flowed through him. “Put away that blade, apprentice. We need to start along the road if we are to find an inn for the night.”

Nodding spasticity, Rhodri quickly sheathed his dagger. Stepping off the bank, he thankfully clasped his foster father’s hand. He could feel the callouses from knife and bow under his fingertips.

The pace set on the dusty road that stretched out before them was easy for Rhodri to keep. Something warned the boy not to ask about the limp that slowed the older man. It appeared to the fosterling that the promise of adventure seemed to rise with the dust.

The lateness of the year meant there were few others on the road as they made a steady, ground-eating pace to the next village. The two travelers passed only a poor tinker and his mule, and the pounding hoofbeats of a barely-seen Lord’s messenger by the time they reached the inn at the end of their first day’s travel.

At the first stop, the hunter’s mark and a long tale of a bear hunt sufficed for payment. Once in their room, Aldrig removed his poncho. Rhodri’s eyes widened with fear as he saw the panoply of weapons under it.
In addition to the seven-inch dagger that all of the tribe carried, there was a leaf bladed short sword, with perhaps three times the length of the knife to its blade.

The carefully designed pack above the quiver of darts was barely noticed by the lad. Three two-foot darts were held in a quiver angled on the hunter’s back. One was a standard hunting dart, for taking deer or elk in the rain.

The other two belied the craftmaster’s trade of hunting criminals. Wickedly barbed, they would disable an arm or a leg, allowing an outlaw to be taken back alive for trial. Rhodri shivered in fear and a slight excitement at the sight of those weapons.

Taking out oil and a whetstone, Aldrig pointed to Rhodri’s dagger and passed them across. “Sharpen your knife, lad.” The older man pulled out a second stone and spat on it, then slowly took the stone across his own blade in a firm stroke.

“Your blade was sharp enough to defend yourself. A townsman’s blade, solid, with an edge to cut flesh. If you are to succeed as my apprentice, yours needs to be sharper. Tonight I will show you how to clean and keep knife, sword, and hunting dart like a woodsman. It will be your duty to keep and clean both my trade tools and those I will give you for a year and a day. No rust on the steel, nor crack in the wood is to be found. A damaged weapon has killed even a rabbit hunter if their fortune has been poor enough.”

Rhodri nodded eagerly, and then focused on the firm movements of Aldrig, copying the unfamiliar angle of the sharpening stone to grind a finer edge into his knife. Even after an hour, he had not matched the sharper edge that Aldrig’s own blade held. Noticing the boy was starting to doze off, the hunter said, “Let me see your knife, boy.”

Reluctantly, Rhodri passed across the blade. Aldrig removed a piece of thick hide from the pouch at his waist. Underneath, Rhodri caught a glimpse of the glitter of gold for a moment, but he managed to hold in a gasp of surprise. Even his father, wealthy for a villager, managed to save less than a hand-count of gold coins every year.

Testing the knife, Aldrig cut into the hide. His grunt was neither disapproving nor satisfied. “A good night’s work, but the blade will need more stone and oil before it is ready. Still, the steel is solid, and the blade will take the edge. Good enough.”

The gold flashed again as he returned the hide to the pouch. This time, Aldrig noticed the expression on Rhodri’s face. A grin flickered across the hunter’s face. “What will a village pay to have a rogue pack of wolves driven from their herds? Or a bear slain before it can ravage the woods nearby? Silver and gold are what a hunter charges for risking his life’s blood.”

Rhodri nodded, unsure if there was honor in what Aldrig said. He had been taught that a village in need could call up a hunter and pay them in food and goods if the need was great.

Still, always on the move, even the young boy could see coins were of more benefit to a hunter than bulky furs or even a pack filled with dried meat.

“Go to sleep, boy. We can finish the blade on the morrow,” Aldrig said. He opened his pack and pulled out a pipe and smoke-weed like Rhodri’s father, Sedhi, sometimes smoked at night.

The different, but subtly familiar, scent of the tabac being smoked in the pipe helped the boy drift off to sleep.

<<<>>>

Rhodri woke to flame-red flickering over the midnight blue against the walls of the family home. The shutters were broken, he realized, and smoke was filling the room. A wail broke out from his parent’s bedroom, a scream of pain, as the young man reached his feat. Rushing to their aid, but heat drove him back. Behind him, the door cracked loudly as someone forced their way in.

Hands grabbed him and pulled him outside, as the wails of pain shrieked in his ear. Both his parents and all his siblings were screaming in pain. It was as if the fire was eating them from the toes up.

Gentle shakes woke him and brought him back to the inn he had fallen asleep in. Quiet murmurs and a rough hand stroking through his hair calmed him. Shaken by the nightmare, Rhodri stumbled to the jacks at the back of the inn and relieved himself. Once he returned to the room, Aldrig sternly insisted he wash his hands in clean water poured into a bowl.

“New place, new spirits seeking to harm you. Washing your hands when away from home could save your life, lad. Every hunter knows this.” The older man opened one of the shutters across the window and grunted. “Good enough. The kitchen should have the staff to give us porridge for the road.” Rising, the hunter carefully placed each weapon in place and the pack on his back before settling the poncho over his shoulders.

Rhodri copied his master’s purpose, gathering his few possessions and making sure each one was in place. The lad was still disturbed by the nightmare that had struck him that night. He ate breakfast without gusto. Once the pair were on the road, Aldrig asked his charge what was eating at him. Rhodri described the dream from which he had woken.

“Why would I dream such a horror, sir?” The boy asked innocently after describing the dream.

“It is the hearth sickness. You long for the home you knew and fear that without you there, it will be destroyed. It will pass, and you will find the wanderer’s joy, lad. I could tell that from the first moment we met.” Aldrig turned a weak smile on his charge. “Drawing your blade and ready to fight at the first touch. Hunter born, that is what you are!”

Jonathan V:
05/31/2020, 11:57:36 PM

I am bummed that I missed the voting window! I vote for this one and hope you write LOTS more!

Dagmar:
05/31/2020, 11:58:12 PM

Vote for this one!

Truth and Consequences:
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Snippet 2, scenario 1, character 4

Truth and Consequences
Summer Donnelly

Chapter One – Prince Baking

Twenty-seven-year-old Cinderella DuBois felt like a young deb before her first ball as she stared up at the imposing factory built in the tiny hamlet of Thistle Grove. The stonework was lovely, even her jaded mind understood that, but it all felt so wrong. There was no aging ivy spiraling up the building to give it a sense of warmth or charm. Time, she thought. Time would fix it like it had so many other problems.

The overwhelming scent of yeast and baking bread did little to comfort her as she considered what she was about to do. In the week since the carnival and seeing the image of her daughter’s father on the flyer, Cinder had done little more than think and contemplate her options.
Cinder had immediately discarded the idea of staying silent and not telling Flora’s father about her. She was a straightforward woman who didn’t believe in lies, no matter how pretty the packaging. She supposed that’s what bothered her the most about the ruse Dane had employed.

By offering Cinder a fake name and identity during their brief but passionate courtship, Dane had destroyed all trust she ever could have had in the man. “Hugh Baker,” the earnest head baker employed at the Manor House hadn’t existed. When she’d rushed back to see him after their first, heated night, she’d been turned away by staff saying no one named Hugh lived there.

Instead, Cinder had learned of her pregnancy alone. Handled telling her father and step-mother alone. Had, in fact, handled every moment of Flora’s five years of life alone.

Squaring her shoulders and defiantly tossing her blonde curls, Cinder marched into the building to find the owner of the bakery. Dane “Hugh” Prince was the only one responsible for his not being in Flora’s life.
Once inside, Cinder followed the signs for the office. She had just made it to within view of the secretary when Cinder caught a glimpse of the factory kitchens. They were designed in a circular fashion on the first floor allowing management full view of the workers. Open railing allowed anyone to pause and watch as the bread baked.

Dozens of men and women hurried about like well-trained bees as they mixed, kneaded, and checked on hundreds of loaves of bread. Without warning, a loud noise like a gunshot echoed off the stone walls. Cinder frowned as she looked for the source only to gasp as a machine spewed smoke. In response, red and blue alarm lights flashed and danced across the walls, lighting up the factory like an out of control rainbow as complete bedlam broke out.

Muffled voices came from the office seconds before the door slammed open, and several people fell out and rushed down to the factory floor and adding to the pandemonium. “It’s Mrs. Reid! She’s hurt! Send for an ambulance!”

Cinder inched closer to the railing separating the second-floor office spaces from the bustling ovens below. Mrs. Reid wailed in pain as her co-workers rushed forward. Footsteps pounded toward the woman’s cry of agony. People congregated on the prone figure in the center of the area, trying to help, but mostly getting in each others’ way. Slowly, the pain-filled sounds lost volume, as friends and co-workers rushed to her aid.
Overwhelmed at all the commotion, Cinder absorbed the second-hand panic that took over the building. Her heart raced, and she found herself slightly short of breath. She turned, momentarily forgetting where she was and why she was even there. Taking a moment to right herself, Cinder took a deep breath to calm her nerves. Tomorrow, the thought. She would come back in the morning to speak with Dane.
As she turned, though, there was a deep, masculine gasp. “Cinderella!”

Still feeling a little off-kilter, Cinder looked up to see Dane Prince standing in the doorway. Taking one last breath for reinforcement, Cinder gave the man a brave façade of a smile. “Hugh. What a pleasant surprise.” She breezed past Dane with a calm, if feigned, confidence. “And I go by Cinder now.”

Chapter Two – Confrontation

Dane swallowed as the young woman he hadn’t seen in six years walked past him with her chin held high. The fine cotton of her dress brushed against his suit and a light, floral scent held in her wake. Somehow, in the intervening years, Dane had convinced himself his memory must have been flawed.

There was no way she’d been as captivating or as beautiful as his memory insisted. Her husky voice hadn’t sent trails of awareness down his spine. The natural, clean scent of her hadn’t been intoxicating.
Lies, he now realized. She was every single one of those things his memory had etched in stark relief and even more. Because she’d grown, matured into the kind of woman a man would ache to hold.

“What are you doing here at the bakery?” Dane asked as he closed his office door behind Cinder.

Cinder. The name suited her in a way “Cinderella” never had. With her blonde hair and smokey, cat eyes, the woman who filled his office wasn’t flame-bright, but she was definitely combustible.
Distantly, he heard the ear-splitting sound of the ambulance as it came closer to the factory. He sighed. Accidents were never easy, and he would follow up with his managers and Mrs. Reid to make sure all was taken care of, but in the meantime, he had the past to face.

Cinder swallowed before meeting his eyes. Whatever nervousness she felt, the blonde woman hid it with ease. “I went back for you, you know. The next day.”

Dane felt his ears tinge red with the memory of his churlish behavior. He’d given her a false name and had hidden behind the skirts of his servants. It wasn’t well done of him, but he had somehow managed to avoid facing the shame of it for six years. If he’d had his way, he would have preferred it be another sixty years.

“It was a casual encounter. A tupping of two willing partners. Why would you ever think there was more to it than that?” Dane kept his voice chill with more than a touch of condescension. Whatever Cinderella DuBois, local girl, wanted was not his to offer.

Cinder couldn’t control the slight widening of her eyes at his crude dismissal. It hadn’t been quite that cavalier. Even now, he could remember the ardent way he’d pursued her. The weeks he’d spent picking flowers for her, finding her on walks through the woods, tempting her with picnics full of breads and cheeses and sweet, ripe strawberries.

Cinder reacted but didn’t make a scene. A weaker woman might have reached for histrionics. A coward would have fled and never faced him in the first place. But not this vibrant, incendiary woman. She would confront him to his face and call him on the carpet like a boy still in short pants.

She pulled a flyer out of her bag and held it up for him. “I was at the carnival with my family last week when this scrap of litter flew up at us.” Cinder’s eyes began warming, and Dane saw the fire she kept banked.
“Oh? How are your father and his wife? And your two step-sisters if I’m not mistaken.”

“Funny that,” Cinder said as she rose to her full height. She wasn’t an overly tall woman, but something in the way she stiffened gave her a starched and bristly look. Like a honey badger, this wasn’t a creature Dane wanted to engage. “My family kicked me out after they found me pregnant and unable to locate the father.” Sapphire blue eyes bored into him as if daring him to challenge her statement. “Wonder what he’d say now if I told him I finally found the bounder.”

Dane took a sharp inhale before letting it out through the nose. “That’s crap, Cinderella. I used protection.”

“It failed,” she countered. From behind the flyer announcing the opening of Prince Bakery, Cinder slapped a picture on his desk. There was a glare from the light preventing him from seeing it but he suspected it was a photograph of their “daughter.”. “I want nothing of you, Dane Prince. Flora and I have been doing okay this long. We’ll continue to manage just fine without you.”

Dane blinked. “You named her after your mother?”

Cinder’s jaw tightened, and her lips firmed as she watched him. The moment stretched between them as if some slim cobweb of youth and love connected them. Finally, Cinder strode past him, her eyes bold with defiance. “I just thought you should know.”

Chapter Three – A walk

Knees shaking with nerves, Cinder walked with no particular destination in mind. Her boss had granted her the day off work, and she wasn’t due to pick Flora up from Mrs. Hubbard’s Daycare until after three. She debated finding one of her friends for a cup of tea and a talk but found she was loath to admit what had happened – both the conflict with Dane and her foolishness in falling for a young man’s flowery words of devotion.

As she hit a crescent, she paused to admire the exquisite view of Thistle Grove in full bloom. Spring was burgeoning into the hot days of summer, and new life surrounded her with a myriad of colors. Lush green leaves crowded every tree, and the verdant grasses were decorated here and there with sprigs of violets or the occasional yellow dandelion. At times like this, Cinder couldn’t imagine living anywhere else but in this enclave. Fables, Mundies, and shifters came in all sizes and lived side-by-side in Thistle Grove. So what if one more came to stay and open his shop? She could avoid him for the rest of her life, if necessary.

As Cinder walked, however, the view took on a more familiar appearance. She picked up her pace, hoping Braden would still be working on the mystic’s house. Cinder’s breath caught as she neared the cabin as she watched as Braden hoisted what looked like a tree trunk using nothing but his sheer strength. Boar shifters were incredibly strong with a wide-shouldered and robust build that was matched only by their determined stubbornness.

“Cinder? What brings you up this way?” Goldie asked, her husky contralto voice rising in question. The young woman left the cool shelter of her home and stepped into the afternoon sunlight. Long blonde curls cascaded down the mystic’s back in casual disarray, and for a moment, Cinder was caught in a web of the woman’s otherworldly beauty.

“I like walking,” Cinder said, feeling rather foolish even as she said it. “And I found myself here.”

One eyebrow lifted in question, but Goldie didn’t pursue it any further. “Would you like a cup of tea?” she invited. A shadow of a smile danced across her lips. “Or, are you perhaps here to see about having something built?”

“Built?” she asked as she climbed the stairs to join Goldie on the deck. If nothing else, she now had an even better view of Braden as he worked.

“Yes.” Quiet amusement filtered through Goldie’s voice. “Are you here to see Braden, perhaps? You should probably get on with it if that’s the case. It looks like there’s a storm coming in.”

Cinder looked up, only now recognizing the encroaching storm clouds warring with the once-clear blue skies. It seemed to be a brief but fierce battle waged in the world above her. Nothing to worry about except she was probably going to get drenched and very likely be late picking up Flora.

“Storm?” Cinder repeated absently, her eyes searching for the boar shifter.

Cinder clenched her hands and paced the deck of the cabin, anxiously waiting for a sign from above as to what she should be doing before the coming storm. Tension rose like a cloud of stinging insects, puncturing the skin like fiery darts, and sending spangles of sharp pain through her entire body. Finding focus, hoping her voice would carry on the wind, she cried out, “Braden!”

Goldie touched Cinder’s shoulder, and for just a moment, the younger woman’s power surged between them. “Go to him before the rain comes,” she urged before slipping back into her home.

Chapter Four – Rainclouds and Rainbows

Braden Hamm stopped working after Cinder called out his name. Already, the skies were beginning to break as fat, wet droplets fell in a rain that was going to douse him thoroughly. He’d considered ending the day early so he could take a nice run through the grass and mud in boar form, allowing the power of his animal self to reign, but was now glad he’d chosen to stay at work.

As always, he was taken aback by Cinder’s ethereal beauty. The gracefulness of her form even as she hurried. The catch of light as a bolt of forked lightning split the air seconds before the earth-shattering boom of thunder. Startled, she half-giggled, half shrieked, and raced past him and into the barn losing a shoe in the process.

Cinder paused in the doorway and looked back at the forlorn shoe sitting in the damp grass. “Well. Crap,” she muttered.

Braden felt his hands tighten in response to the desire to touch her. Cinder hadn’t been quick enough to avoid the heavy rain that dampened her hair and made her eyelashes cling to each other. And now, to lose a shoe. Braden ached to take care of her and yet his own fears kept him back.

“What are you doing here?” Braden asked as the world outside seemed to call a time-out from encroaching summer and reverted to the thunder-filled afternoons of spring.

Cinder laughed in response but the humor didn’t quite meet her eyes. “I must have been everywhere no one wanted me today,” she commented. “That’s the third time I’ve been asked that so far today.”

Braden longed to go near her, hold her and surround her in his arms but held back. Sometimes, his strength was a curse. It was like the world was made of cardboard, and he lived in fear of breaking all the delicate things in the world.

“You could never be in my way,” Braden stated, feeling a slight blush work its way up his chest. His brothers were forever ribbing him about having “zero game” with women, and they were probably correct. But somehow, around Cinder, it didn’t seem to matter. She admired his blunt moments of truth in a way that reassured him.

“I needed to see you. I wasn’t even sure where I was going at first but once I saw you, I knew.” Cinder’s voice was thick with unshed tears, and for the life of him, that pain cut a swath through his tough exterior. Braden touched her shoulder but still refrained from pulling her into his body.

“What happened?”

In a rush, the words tumbled out, one after the other. Her infatuation with the rich young man, her willing seduction by him, and his subsequent cold rejection. The shame she had owned this whole time over the secret of Flora’s father.

Not even thinking about his actions, Braden enfolded Cinder within his arms. Her body shook, whether from cold, memory, or shock he couldn’t quite tell, but whatever the cause, his body heat was the cure. “You did nothing to be ashamed of,” Braden reminded her, purposefully keeping his voice low so not to scare her. But inside, he wanted to rend and rip and tear the young man who had broken his girl’s heart and made her feel dirty for giving her love to him.

“My parents kicked me out of their house. I had nowhere to go but I figured it out. I had to,” she cried, burrowing into his plaid shirt and sighing as he rubbed her arms, trying to imbue warmth into her icy skin.

“Your parents were idiots,” Braden murmured into her hair. “Your parents should still have loved and supported you even if they were disappointed.” He closed his eyes, hoping he could hold this moment like a time capsule. Not Cinder’s pain, never that. But the moment she trusted him enough to lower her guard and allow him to comfort her.

He took a deep breath, trying to control himself. His inner boar was anxious and angry and looking for a fight with whoever caused Cinder’s tears. “I’ve got you,” he whispered.

“I don’t want anything from him. Flora and I do just fine.”

“Of course, you do. You opened up that cute little shop. Got a good job working for that lawyer in town after the fire took out your store. You’re a great mom, Cinder. A woman any man would be proud to have by his side.”

A woman he wanted by his side, but there were complications. Reasons it wouldn’t work. As he stood in the thrall of her beauty, he had to remind himself of all of them.

“Then why didn’t you call on me after our first date?” she asked, dark blue eyes rising to meet his gaze. “I thought. I don’t know. I thought you didn’t want us.”

“Not want you?” Braden felt the stab of pain deep in his chest. Naturally, she would ask about that. It was the elephant in the room every time they had seen each other ever since. “Look at me, Cinder. I’m a beast. A half-animal completely content to race around the woods, enjoying the mud splashing against my legs and sides. A brute who worries every day about hurting everyone.”

Braden walked around the shed, feeling reassured as he stood surrounded by tools and sawdust. “This is all I’m good for. Wood and brick, stone, and masonry. Using my strength to build things.”

“And what am I?” Cinder asked, her head tilted to one side as she waited for his answer.

“You’re. Well. You’re delicate. Like a fairy or something in a storybook.”

“I’m not. I’m flesh and blood, Braden. A woman.”

“And Flora?” Braden challenged. When Cinder didn’t answer right away, he nodded sadly.

The wind shook the tiny hut and Braden remembered Cinder’s lost shoe. With a heavy, soul-deep sigh, he went to retrieve it. He was determined Cinder would come to no harm while she was in his care. When he returned, Cinder only looked at him with a confused smile on her face.

“You got my shoe,” she whispered.

Braden looked down at the damp item in his hands. “I didn’t want it to get ruined.” He turned to face her but found her closer than he’d anticipated. “Cinder?” he asked, his voice faltering when she stepped nearer still.

His delicate blonde fairy didn’t seem so tiny as she stood next to him, close enough to share his breath. So near that wisps of her hair caught in the stubble of his beard. “What are you doing?” he asked.

A shy, almost amused look crossed her face. “Trying to kiss you if you’d hold still long enough.”

Braden felt his stomach drop at her words. “I don’t think that’s—”

But Braden was interrupted as she leapt into his chest, flinging her arms around his neck and touching her lips to his. Braden’s arms tightened reflexively as he accepted and then returned her embrace.

Finally.

Sabrina Terry:
05/29/2020, 06:07:36 PM

This story is great!! I vote for this one!

Lisa Jacobsen:
05/30/2020, 03:37:12 AM

Love it! I vote for this one.

David M Kinney:
05/30/2020, 10:01:01 AM

Very interesting! I vote for this story !

Annette Baker:
06/01/2020, 12:00:16 AM

This is a wonderful story. I am going back to read all of the Thistle Grove series. Your stories always make me feel better. Thank you.

Mark Carrier:
05/28/2020, 03:02:05 PM, http://Truth and consequences
Reply

Great story

Cassi Callens:
05/29/2020, 03:36:06 PM
Reply

The Blue Jay and The Cardinal
Inanna’s game: Snippet 1, Scenario 1 Character 3
The man lived alone on the outskirts of town. He was a senile old man, cold hearted and drunken with bitterness. The only time he left his house was in the evening, right before sunset to go on a walk and feed the birds. There was a dirt road behind the house that led to the backwoods. It was the same road he and his wife would travel on during their walks. Every day with his hat, coat and a bag of bird seed in his pocket, the old man would make the trip and follow the long, winding road up into the woods. The evenings were usually peaceful but tonight felt more melancholy.

Reaching the entrance of the woods, the man paused for a moment to rest. Glancing at the trees around him had brought a sudden sense of nostalgia. This was the spot where he and his wife had first seen the birds flying from tree to tree, red and blue wings glistening in the sunlight. The blue jay and cardinal would sing to each other in perfect harmony as they moved from one branch to another. The birds continued to play like this until the sun went down, signaling it was time for them to disperse. A sigh escaped the man’s lips as the memory faded. He missed that melody and wanted desperately to hear it again.

The sun was just beneath the trees when the man came to a familiar clearing. On one side of the clearing stood a bench tangled in vines. After clearing the vines from the bench, the man sat down and pulled out the bag of seeds from his pocket. Opening the bag, he poured some seeds into his hand and gently tossed them on the ground. It wasn’t long before he noticed a blue jay fluttering down and gathering up the seeds. Looking around, the man’s eyes searched for a certain little red songbird to come and join, but it never did.

Full of despair, the man was about to leave when he heard the snap of a twig behind him. Turning around he saw a silhouette of a boy peeking out from behind a tree. It was the neighbor boy that he sometimes saw playing in the field across from his house. His first reaction was to scold the boy for following him, but instead he gestured for the boy to come and join him. Slowly the young man stood up from his hiding place and walked over timidly to the old man. Grabbing the bag of seeds, the man reached over and put some in the boy’s hand. “Go on, give it a try.” Stunned by his words, the boy slowly threw the seeds onto the forest floor. For a moment the man feared he would not see the red songbird, until he heard the sweet cry of the cardinal calling for her blue jay to come home.

Kelly:
05/30/2020, 07:44:04 PM

Lobe this one! Love the imagery.

Mark W:
06/01/2020, 12:01:56 AM

I wish I could write like this. I could feel everything. Sorry I missed the vote time. I vote for this one.

Lorri Sue Rupard:
06/14/2020, 02:29:24 AM

Lovely vignette, Cassi! I could picture everything. I vote for this one!

Sabrina Terry:
05/29/2020, 06:03:43 PM
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Great story!! I vote for this one!

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