Howdy folks, I hope you’re having a lovely week so far. Lately I’ve been planning out my writing year and suffice to say my goals are pretty high. As you already know, I’m working on the third Wylder Tales novel, Bound Beauty (click HERE for a teaser), plus some other related goodies. I also am revising a serial novella Urban Fantasy series titled Numinous Beings (more on that later). Last but not least, I’m sort of revising, tweaking and eventually recovering my first full-length novel, Silver Hollow.
I released Silver Hollow in 2012. It was my first book baby and is riddled with all those things that make me cringe, five years and four books later. So for those of you who stuck with and loved the story as-is, never fear. I’m not changing too much besides the glaringly obvious. I will continue to offer the original format on my website and will give full-warning before the re-release. Also, as I drop teasers this year for the new edition, I’ll also share bits and pieces about sequel ideas. If you have any ideas of your own you’d like to contribute, now is the time, because I’m still in phase 1 brainstorm mode for sequels. 🙂
Now that you’ve patiently read through my drabble/updates, on with the story:
The Blackbriar’s had been her neighbors ever since her family moved from Memphis to Dallas in the eighth grade. Their parents had known each other forever and their fathers used to work together until a couple of years ago. That was when Amie’s folks started running with the “hyphenated-the-third” snooty crowd, rich people congratulating themselves on their pompous benevolence. Father had the sort of British accent that made people assume he was upper-class automatically. He went with it, used it to attract more clients to whatever his company provided. Truth be told Amie didn’t know much about what Drustan had done for a living, because like most things, he never said. Despite her father’s career change, Amie remained close with the Blackbriar family. The twins were the only people her parents allowed her to spend time with, anyway.
Their families were lucky enough to live close to the big city but have enough land to breathe. The twins lived in a ranch styled home on the other side of the fence separating their families’ properties, which connected to a barn in the back field. The Blackbriar’s owned and bred horses, their property an open field of swaying grasses. Amie’s land was thick with trees most people would cut away. Yet her father, Drustan insisted on keeping the land as-is. The only exception was the garden in the back where he and Amie grew flowers and vegetables together. Since anything techy tended to glitch and break down on them, the garden was a primary source of entertainment and comfort. The garden was where she went after the funeral.
She dug her hands in the dirt and stared at the yellow of her dress, hating the color more and more as the thunder rolled and she allowed herself to cry. She imagined the lightning falling from the sky, piercing her flesh and grounding her to the earth.
Part of her, the sick and twisted part, wished she had said yes when her parents asked her to come to the party, yes to an early death. Mother’s parents passed when Amie was a little girl. Father never mentioned his side of the family. She was alone in the world as far as she knew.
Yesterday, her Father’s lawyer informed Amie she was independently wealthy, thanks to her old man’s shares in the company. She should count her many blessings, like Mother always insisted. Instead she hugged the dirt to her chest and wished for things she didn’t have the power to change.
She was on a major self-pity trip by the time the twins found her. The rain disguised her tears and she didn’t argue with them when they took her by each elbow and led her to the house.
“You trying to drown out here in this storm, Wentworth?” Jo asked as they made their way through the back yard and up the wooden steps of the back porch. The Wentworth’s stone and wood house could best be described as an English cottage and was half the size of the ranch house next door.
Faye opened the back door and familiar smells washed over her as they stepped inside. “There’s a pile of flowers and cards on the kitchen table over there,” Faye said, matter-of-fact. “We brought all the food to our place, since you’re staying with us.”
Amie pulled her arms away and folded them across her chest. “No.”
Faye stood in front of her, hands on her hips. “Excuse me?”
Jo squeezed between them. “Don’t push her, Faye.”
Amie passed notes on the fridge, purses and keys and paused in front of the kitchen table. Her fists were still full of dark soil and she itched to be back in her garden, but the flowers were some comfort.
Faye was on her heels. “Amie, I know today sucked…”
Faye shifted. “Okay, we don’t expect you to miraculously bounce back. But we are not leaving you here in this house by yourself. Mom won’t let you either.”
“This is my home,” Amie replied. “It’s in my name now.” She stared at the letters and noticed an almost yellow envelope poking from the bottom of the stack. The paper looked old and much as she hated all the other condolences, something about this one screamed, Read me!
Jo stood between her and the table, filling her view. “We know it’s your home, but we aren’t leaving you by yourself.”
“Yeah,” Faye interjected, “even if that means we stay here tonight.”
Jo nodded encouragingly. “And tomorrow, we can go next door and you can talk to Mom and Dad about what we’re gonna do next.”
Faye sighed. “Like we’d abandon you, Wentworth? What kind of best friend do you take me for?”
Amie cracked a smile then and for a little while, she let them pretend tonight was just another sleepover while her parents were away.
The girls drank hot tea by the fireplace and talked about the fantasy story Amie had been writing for ages. She didn’t bring up the strange stranger at the funeral, or mention she wanted to bury herself in the earth of her garden and sleep forever. Instead, she pretended to be a normal teenager for a little while. They spoke of college plans, about the house they had been looking at renting together near campus and the gorgeous boys they would meet there.
After they crawled into Amie’s big queen-sized bed with chocolate and candy later, the twins cried. Amie was silent as the sisters recalled all the trips their families made together and how Drustan and Melody Wentworth were like parents to them. Amie held their hands as they lay on her bed and waited for them to fall asleep.
In the wee small hours of the morning, she crept back downstairs and to the flower strewn kitchen table. She held her breath as she pushed aside the other cards and pulled out the larger, yellowed parchment. She threw another log in the fire and simply stared at the name scrawled on the envelope.
Jessamiene Dameri Nimue Wenderdowne
No one knew her full name. Even the twins forgot she had two middle names, so the fact it was written front and center in bold calligraphy sent chills down her spine. Most disturbing of all was the fact they gave her a different, yet familiar last name other than her own. Familiar, because it was the name of the northern English village Drustan had been from. On the other side of the envelope was a seal that set her teeth on edge. Again, here was a symbol she recognized from her father’s mysterious past. The letter was written in the same careful calligraphy as her name.
My heart aches for the loss you now bear. No one deserves to lose their family so young, especially in so savage a manner. I, too, have born similar loss and now share in your pain.
I have no doubt my brother has shared little with you of our ancestral home, or the legacy you share, dearest Jessamiene. Drustan held little love for our world and its responsibilities.”
Amie paused and read over the words a second time. “Brother?”
“My deepest regret in learning of his passing, is that I never had the chance to tell him how important he was to me, or how he will always be my brother both in blood and heart. Now that he is gone, I find myself wishing to know you, my only niece, perhaps so we may find comfort together. I also wish to impart the truth of our legacy, should you choose to accept it. I wish to give you the answers your father was unwilling to.
I know the sacrifice you will make to come, and I do not view lightly the circumstances you find yourself in. At present, my own circumstances are difficult at best. It cost more than I can say to be certain this parchment met your hands. I pray you guard it, dear one, but follow my instructions and all will be revealed.”
Amie lowered the letter and stared into the flames. She listened to the ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall and looked over the same style of antiquated penmanship Father forced her to practice every day. Most things Father had taught her seemed glaringly outdated. Now, judging by the heavy ink, the broken seal and parchment, she could see why. Was Wenderdowne more than a setting for the fairy tales Father told her as a girl, after all?
Only a few hours ago, Amie believed she was alone in the world. Now she had an uncle asking her to come and live with him in England.
“How Brontë of him.” Her voice sounded hollow and too loud. She looked at her home and for the first time understood why the twins wanted her to come over. This place wasn’t her home anymore, it was a mausoleum of memories. She fought the sudden urge to rush back upstairs and crawl into bed between her best friends. At the same moment, bitterness she didn’t recognize arose inside her.
Why wasn’t Uncle Henry at the funeral and why did he wait until Father was dead to extend the olive branch? She folded the letter up again and stashed it beside the plain and train ticket waiting inside the envelope. Crumpling the envelope in her hand, she held it over the fire and commanded herself to throw the bloody olive branch where it belonged. If Father didn’t want to have anything to do with his home, then neither did she. But something in the letter kept her from watching it burn to ashes, a phrase Henry used to describe their deaths.
She smoothed the wrinkled parchment against the hearthstones. She found her favorite Brontë novel, Jane Eyre, on the coffee table where she last left it and hid the envelope inside.
The next morning, Amie packed her bags and went to stay next door. She never spent another night in her parent’s cottage and wouldn’t look at Uncle Henry’s letter for ten years.
to be continued…
To learn more about Silver Hollow, check out the book page HERE or add it to your library today (Amazon 😉 Meanwhile, check out Najla Qamber Designs’ original cover art!