Hey friends 🙂 Anyone else ready for Fall yet? I have my orange Halloween lights up, because technically, it’s almost Fall…right? Okay, I couldn’t wait any longer. And part of me believes if I begin decorating at least with orange and other Fall goodies, maybe the weather will finally cool off. I hope you’re finding and doing the things you love as we head into the next season.
I’m happy to share that I’ve been writing as much as I can. I still take breaks (more than I normally would). But I’m working hard to get back in that good mental space. It’s been a difficult year for all of us, but I believe it’s important we do what we love. Creating and giving back is part of what keeps us going isn’t it?
Meanwhile, thank you so much to everyone who has and continues to follow and support me, no matter how slowly I publish 😉 I’m on this journey still because of you, friends!
*major spoilers for silver hollow below*
Borderlands #2 Teaser
Jo closed her hand and clutched it to her chest as she drank in the pure mountain air. It tasted like dew and fallen leaves and home, in a way nowhere else had. It was the smell that haunted her all the years they had guarded and protected Amie. Still, she couldn’t regret their choices. She couldn’t look back the same way Faye did, not if they wanted to find a peaceful future. Not if she wanted to heal.
So lost in thought, she was, Jo nearly missed the rest of their company.
She might have walked right past them, but for Arthur’s clear taunt, “Is that the best you can do, Rumplekin, you bogwren?”
Jo followed the wraparound porch around the corner to find them seated in the shade facing West. The last thing she expected to find the formerly bitter enemies playing chess.
“Falling back upon pithy taunts, are we, your highness?” Grim drawled.
Arthur reared back, smacking his mug on the table. “I’m not a ruddy king, you fonkin.”
“Always with the names,” Grim replied, finger still poised on his knight.
Arthur was the first to notice Jo. “Finally, a lovely sight as I’ve not seen since your sister left this morning. Tell me, how are you feeling, lass?”
“Fine?” Jo fell into the nearby rocking chair with a sigh. She needed to clean her hand, but it could wait. And she already felt better to be around someone from Silver Hollow, even if the company included their former enemy.
“Very convincing answer,” Grimwich commented.
Arthur turned a ready glare Rumplekin’s way. “That’s enough out of you. I was speaking with Lady Blackbriar.”
Jo snorted, and to laugh was an unexpected relief. “Thanks for the compliment, but I’m no lady.”
“That we can plainly see,” Grim said.
Arthur’s mug paused just before reaching his mouth. “If you hadn’t tricked my granddaughter into some twisted bargain, I’d have run you through for insulting the lady.”
Grimwich’s golden gaze never left the carved chessboard. “If you weren’t so busy defending Miss Blackbriar over a title she didn’t want, she might have already given the real reason for her visit. Isn’t that right, dearie?”
Jo wrinkled her nose at the odd endearment. “Much as I hate to admit it, he’s right. And really, Arthur, it’s fine. Rumplekin likes to forget my boyfriend could end his existence with a bullet.”
Arthur chuckled as he lifted his mug to Jo. “Aye, not to mention all the trouble you alone could give him, milady.”
Grimwich sighed and announced, “Checkmate.”
Arthur spewed his brew over the board, much to Grimwich’s disgust.
Jo laughed until she forgot about her bloody hand and their missing friends. A little blue light returned to her cheeks and she could smell rain building in the air. A little rain could do the trick. She smiled as the promise of water slowed her blood flow.
Grimwich snapped his fingers and the mess over the board and his person disappeared with a faint pop and flash of sunlight.
She recalled the memory of that same golden light clashing with Amie’s silver nixy in the garden and the way their light seemed poised to merge.
“Much better,” he sighed before turning unnerving golden eyes to quickly inspect Jo before lingering in her closed fist. “You’re bleeding. Why?”
Arthur nearly leaped out of his seat but Grimwich was somehow faster, his too-warm hand on hers, prying open her fingers. “Why have you not healed yourself?” he asked with the clinical detachment of doctors and veterans alike.
Jo winced as she was unable to break his hold. “I just need a little more time.”
“I may not be an expert in nixy, but that does not seem natural to me.” Arthur knelt beside her, open concern in his youthful face. Once, his hair had been white as snow, Amie claimed, when he’d been a long-lived human. Amie had made him into something more like them.
Jo cursed as Grim prodded the splinter cut. “Hold still. This may hurt a little.” His umber skin glowed like polished copper as his light grew from within and then pulsed through his fingertip into hers. Tears spilled over Jo’s cheeks from the pain.
It shouldn’t hurt this much. Why does it hurt?
She couldn’t panic, not when her family was wandering around a dangerous forest.
Grimwich was saying something Jo couldn’t process, not while she was focusing on pulling herself back together.
A soothing hand brushed her bangs from her forehead. “Oh, lass, why didn’t you tell us you were ill?”
She blinked back tears as she met Arthur’s warm gaze. “Amie needs us to be strong.”
Her voice sounded too small, and she was already admitting too much in front of a man she still didn’t trust. But Arthur had known about their hunts for golem in the Hollow and hadn’t told Amie.
He nodded. “That much is certain.”
Grim took a step back and pulled a handkerchief free from his vest pocket. “You’ve been using too much since creating the gateway. If you use more, you will burn out.”
Jo grimaced as he handed her the handkerchief. “What would you know about it?”
Grimwich arched an eyebrow and stared until Jo accepted the hankie. She shouldn’t have been surprised that the enchanted object cleaned every last flaky spec of blood from her palm.
“Loath as I am to admit this, he knows more than most,” Arthur grumbled as he pulled his chair to rest at Jo’s side.
Grim leaned back against the porch railing. “You’ll need to be careful about blood around the skinchangers, but you already know that, don’t you, dearie?” His smile grew with her silence. “Perhaps now you will tell us why you chose to seek our company.”
Jo balled his handkerchief and threw it at his thick head. He caught it effortlessly, of course. “I should just wait until the others come back.”
Arthur followed her mistrustful gaze and sighed. “Like it or not, Rumplekin’s thrown his lot in with us. And I do not think he’ll break oath with Jessie over what you say.”
If they only knew.
Aloud she confessed, “Something Fox said made me think about our reason for being here in the first place.” Her frown deepened. “As soon as Faye and James find Amie, we need to start planning our next move.” She glanced up at Grim. “It’s time we learn whether your sister is working alone or not and if this is a problem with the entire Cove…”
“Did you think I urged Jessamiene to come to Blackbriar Cove without a plan?” Grim interrupted. The quirk of his mouth was belied by the gravity in his gaze.
“If you already had a plan, why am I just now hearing about it? Does Amie even know?” Not for the first time, Jo wondered how her friend could trust this man.
Grim’s answering smile was all teeth. “None of you are going to like it.”
Jo narrowed her eyes. “Try me.”
to be continued…
Silver Hollow (Borderlands #1)
is available where eBooks are sold