I’m less than a week away from a new release and working hard. Whew. *wipes brow and sits for a moment* So…
Happy Wednesday! My Wednesday shares have become shorter and serialized, and for now, they’re coming from my current WIP (work in progress), Striking Balance. You’ll be able to find all the ones that pertain to Striking Balance under the Categories drop down to your right.
Striking Balance is an M/Queer Historical Paranormal Fantasy story set within my Appalachian Elementals series. It’s a freestanding tale, so you don’t need to have read the other stories within the series to delve into this one.
This is installment sixteen “Too Much Merriment,” which picks up directly where the last installment, “Through with Sparking,” ended. The main character in Striking Balance is Benjamin (Nub) Schnell, the possessor of secrets twice his size and seeming age. He’s been working for nearly a decade on the same small farm as his friend, Conall Baldwin, who acts as the farm’s manager. This story begins during the American Revolutionary War years, 1779 to be precise, in the Nolichucky river basin of Northeast Tennessee.
This is the start of a new chapter, so I’m not backtracking. Take this as it comes.
I’ve awakened to find myself in quite the predicament. We emptied that jug of Master Gow’s last night and settled on the floor before the hearth, talking until sleep found us. My head’s ache pales to my bladder’s, but I dare not move. I fell asleep leaning against the fireplace stones, and Conall fell asleep beside me, but sometime during the night he slid down and his head is now in my lap. I long to stroke his hair, to share truths, but that simply will not work so I watch him sleep instead. He’s fetching with his face against my thigh, his shirt ties undone and his collar off his bad shoulder. I can see some of the scar. In all honesty, it appears as though he took cannon shot to his shoulder, like it’d been all but removed by the blow. Conall says he doesn’t know how he survived and now that I’ve seen it this closely, I’m not certain either. The scar’s jagged and dark runners reach every direction like lightning bolts atop his skin.
I brush his cheek with my fingers to feel the new growth, pondering the nightmare I had, in my cups or not. I saw a winged man crash to the ground, his severed head landing beside him before both turn to dust. It’s a senseless dream because he’s no one I recognize, so I shake it off and refocus on Conall. He’ll grow a beard for a while. He does every time he and Charity fight. I suppose it’s his private form of rebellion, and I decide to help it along, undoing the ribbon that tethers his reddish-blonde locks so they spill across his shoulders and onto his back.
Mornings like this… I prefer them, headache or not so I close my eyes and place my hand on his back, reveling in the rise and fall of his breath. If he knew. If anyone besides Mary knew, it’d be the end of all this. But not even Mary knows the entire truth. It’d ruin everything, what I’ve built, what I—
“Too much merriment last night?”
And who might that last line come from? Be patient because you’ll have to wait until next week to learn.
Oh, and you can check out the other stories within the Appalachian Elementals world by clicking one of the covers to your right. Cleaning House: A Contemporary Appalachian Fantasy, is #1, Keeping House: a Paranormal Appalachian Fantasy, is #2 and will be released July 8, 2019, and Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree is a sweet little novella that tackles holidays and family relationships between two characters within the series.