Excerpt from Restoring Tween Time (Middle Grade Fantasy)
"We must follow the sandfli," Medallioness chirped, as she and Askuonas bounded forward.
"Come, human child," the cranky gnome commanded.
Pushing to his feet, Roscoe decided he had no choice but to follow the gnome and the fairy further into this bewildering land.
The threesome followed the sandfli and soon discovered that whenever they reached one, it would drift back into the sand at their feet, and another would reappear in the distance. It was in this manner that they traveled across Desert Land toward Mesa Farend.
A mesa that had previously been only a distant mirage became more solid and distinct the closer they approached it. It was a beautiful formation with muted colors of reds, oranges, and browns, and every variation therein, radiating from the rocks in a soft glow that merged with the air. Colors swirled in and out of each other, floating in the hazy breeze.
A sandfli appeared at the base of the mesa, but this time it did not drift back into the sand and disappear when they reached its location. The sandfli said, "This is Mesa Farend. Wait here!"
"Of course we’ll wait! Where do you expect us to go?" grumbled Askuonas.
The sandfli lifted and drifted into the air until it swirled and mingled with the breeze, dispersing itself among the colors.
"Drat," complained Askuonas, "How long must we wait?"
"Not long at all," answered a breathy voice from the swirling wind of Mesa Farend. "I am Fadiwave, Deva of Air."
Askuonas jumped at the sound of the disembodied voice, but said nothing. Roscoe, also taken aback by the voice, was silent. It was Medallioness who sang, "Fadiwave, Deva of Air, we have come to you quite perplexed. We have brought the human child with us because he can see us, even though we have not desired that he see us. What does this mean, Fadiwave?"
Askuonas suddenly found his voice and joined in. "I was in the forest and laughing quite uncontrollably at the human child’s clumsiness when he saw me. I have never been seen by a human unless I desired to be seen. This cannot be right. This cannot be right."
The breathy voice of Fadiwave emanating from the swirling wind replied, "It is prophecy foretold from the time before time. There has been a breach in ‘Tween Time. If the breach is not restored, our world will become as the Here and There World of humans.
A dual gasp escaped Askuonas and Medallioness.
"What does that mean?" inquired Roscoe. "What is ‘Tween Time?"
Fadiwave replied, "‘Tween Time is the world we live in. You are from the Here and There World. The Here and There World is duality; it is governed by opposites. It survives as a state of balance between that which is caused, and that which is affected. ‘Tween Time is a world based on singularity. There is no cause and effect in ‘Tween Time. ‘Tween Time exists outside the crossroads and outside the bend in the road. Your world exists within the crossroads and within the bend in the road.
"This is a sad happening; for breaching ‘Tween Time means that we must exist as the Here and There creatures do. Cause and effect will enter our world, and like the Here and There World, balance will control our existence. Unless…"
"Unless what?" Askuonas interrupted.
"Unless prophesy of the restoration of ‘Tween Time is fulfilled."
"What prophesy?" sang Medallioness in her soprano voice.
"There is a Sound Holder who can restore ‘Tween Time. The Sound Holder can release the duality that is entering our world and restore singularity."
"Who is the Sound Holder?" asked Roscoe.
"The Sound Holder is known only to Kiaia, Deva of Earth. You must go to Kiaia and ask for the name of the Sound Holder."
"Drat, somehow I knew this wasn’t going to be easy!" grouched Askuonas.
"How do we find Kiaia?" asked Roscoe.
"The way to Kiaia is through Methos, Deva of Fire; and the way to Methos is through Vaproness, Deva of Water."
"I don’t like the way this is sounding!" Askuonas grumped.
Medallioness ignored Askuonas and sang, "Please tell us how to find Vaproness, so we can begin our journey to Methos, who can reveal the way to Kiaia."
Excerpt from Davide: Shapeling Trilogy Book Three: Prince
After standing in line to rent a car for what seemed like an hour, Davide glanced at Zoe sitting patiently in a plastic chair. She smiled at him.
"Next," called the representative at the far end of the counter.
Davide wasn't used to waiting. Being raised in wealth, he'd seldom flown commercial and rarely had to wait in line for anything. Impatiently, he gave the clerk his information and handed over his platinum credit card to finish paying for the campervan he'd already reserved. The clerk swiped it and waited. A minute later, the pudgy man narrowed his eyes and glanced from his computer screen back to Davide. "Mr. Beowolf, your card has been denied." His voice sounded flat and bored.
"No way! Swipe it again."
The clerk shrugged and did as requested. Again, he looked up from his computer. "Denied."
Davide jerked his wallet open and pulled out another card. "Here, use this one."
The clerk swiped. "Denied."
"What the f…" Davide caught himself before he said what was on his mind. He felt a tug on his arm.
"Is everything okay, Davide? You look a little agitated."
"There's some kind of snafu. My cards are being denied. I'm going to have to call the credit card company and find out what's going on. Believe me, they're going to know how unhappy I am about this. I'll pay for our rental car with cash." He opened his wallet again.
"You already have Australian money?"
"Yes, I exchanged for it in the U.S."
Zoe's lips quirked, and she almost smiled. "We'll probably need our cash. Use my credit card. You can pay me back later."
"No way, Zoe, I sorta kidnapped you and I won't let you pay."
The clerk cleared his throat, "Umm, we have a long line. Could you please decide?"
Davide turned haughty eyes on the irritating little man, who only nodded his balding pate toward the line of tired looking travelers. Davide glanced at the lineup and started feeling guilty.
Zoe was handing her card over and Davide reached to push her hand back, but she resisted. The clerk watched their battle of the wills and the moment an opportunity presented itself, grabbed the card from her hand.
"I'll just need some information from you, ma'am."
Zoe turned a flinty gaze upward and met Davide's angry blue eyes. She ignored his look. "Apparently, I have more experience in this than you do. Keep your cash."
Davide ground his teeth. He'd never had a credit card charge denied in his life. He pulled out his cell phone, searched his card for the contact number, and then jabbed it into his keypad. Almost immediately a pleasant female voice, dripping sweetness, answered his call. Stepping away from Zoe and the clerk, he walked to a corner of the room and explained his situation. The credit card representative apologized profusely and asked him to hold. Davide tapped his foot impatiently.
The representative came back on the phone. "Mr. Beowolf, your card has been closed."
"What! Who closed it?"
The representative sounded confused. "You did, sir."
"And when did I do that?" he asked acidly.
"Well, I can assure you, Miss; there's been some kind of mistake. Open it back up."
The sickeningly sweet voice dripped honey. "I can't do that, sir. You'll need to apply for a new card."
"I want to talk to your supervisor, now!"
"Of course, sir." The sweet voice sounded a little sour.
After speaking with the supervisor and explaining everything all over again, he got no further than before. "Please go online and complete another application, Mr. Beowolf." He abruptly ended the call.
Zoe, who had completed the transaction and now sat back in the plastic chair, waved a car key at him when he looked at her. He lifted his index finger to indicate he wanted more time. Pulling his other credit card out, he made another call. At the end of that conversation, he was ready to spit nails. It hadn't gone any better than the previous one. He placed a call to his father. By the time he'd hung up after his last call, he could not only spit nails, he could chew them. He couldn't reach his father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother. When he'd called Johnson to make sure everyone was okay, he'd been told the family was fine. So why the hell didn't they answer their phones? He looked back at Zoe. How can she be so calm? Again, she lifted a key ring and dangled a key.
Davide took a deep breath. She had been right about needing to preserve their cash. When he stood in front of her, she looked up with her doe's eyes. "Davide, you're making too much out of this. Just use my card until yours gets straightened out. Stuff happens."
Reaching for the key, he had to admit she was right, except that "stuff" like this never happened to him.
Excerpt from Davide: Shapeling Trilogy Book Three: Prince
Davide studied his fingers tapping the side of his glass. "I need your help, Zoe."
The unexpected admission took her by surprise. What on earth could Davide need her help with. She waited for him to continue.
Instead of blatantly telling her what he wanted, he said, "You know about the prophesy concerning me; about me being…" he bent toward her and said softly, "…the so-called Great Prince." Zoe nodded and waited for him to continue.
"When I was a child, I believed what I was told, and I did everything in my power to live up to that prophesy. I diligently practiced my focus exercises, listened to my father's teachings about shapelings, and prayed to the source that I would be worthy of my calling." He lifted his scotch to his lips and swigged a long swallow. "When I reached my teens, my lack of ability to shift began weighing heavily on me. Of course, you know all this because you've always been my confidant."
Zoe nodded again, and sipped her daiquiri, waiting for his revelation.
He glanced around the room, seemingly forestalling what he wanted to say. "I've often begged my father to draw a map to the Cave of Thirteen, but he has refused. The reason I want to go there is to confront the co-Princes. I want to personally tell them they cannot count on me to become their Great Prince. How can a shapeling of mixed blood who cannot shift, possibly be the Great Prince. And anyway, I've never been told what this Prince is supposed to do or accomplish." Again, he swigged on his scotch.
"About two weeks ago, my father and mother returned from the Cave of Thirteen and immediately wanted to see me. They told me they were willing to reveal the way to the Cave."
"Of course, I was elated until they told me their stipulation."
"What is it?" Zoe leaned in.
Davide sucked a breath. "I must first travel to Uluru in Australia and go on a walkabout."
"Davide, you can do that. You-"
"Wait, Zoe," he interrupted. "There's more." He glanced down and drummed his fingers on the table. Finally, lifting his head and reaching into the depths of her eyes with his own, he said, "You have to come with me, both to Uluru and the Cave of Thirteen."
"What!" she shouted. Several heads turned to look at them. Bending toward Davide, she repeated low, "What the hell are you saying, Davide?"
"You heard me, Zoe," he whispered fiercely back. The stipulation for me to be given directions to the place I've longed to visit, is that you must accompany me to Uluru and then to the Cave. It's as simple as that."
"No Davide, that's not simple. I can't just pack up and travel to Australia. I have a job."
"Tonight was your last night for several weeks."
"So you've already checked my schedule," she hissed.
"Yes, of course."
Although Zoe's heart longed for the adventure of being with Davide, she knew it would only make her heartbreak all the more wrenching. "I simply cannot go," she said quietly while staring at her daiquiri and circling the rim of the glass with her finger. She chanced a glance at Davide to see him watching the movement of her finger. Stilling her hand, she flushed. He finally looked at her."
"Zoe, I need you."
His simple words pricked tears and she blinked rapidly. Don't do this to me Davide. She didn't respond.
Finally, he sighed and relaxed. "You know what I'd thought about doing if you refused?"
She shook her head, unable to speak.
Zoe's jaw dropped.
"But of course, I won't do that." He slid out of the booth. "Honey, whatever I did to upset you so much that you've avoided me, I'm sorry." He tossed a tip on the table. "I had no right to expect this of you. I'm leaving tomorrow night. I've decided to go on the walkabout anyway. You have a great life, kiddo."
Before he walked away, he said, "Zoe, it was great seeing you again. Maybe you can find time for next year's birthday party."
Zoe stared after him, her tear pricks turning into real tears.