Hey Everyone!! :-)
I have finally been able to start writing the short story that will cover Roni and Uaine's wedding and coronation. I know, I know, it's about time, right?!? So what does this mean? Good question! Well, for one, things are pretty crazy in my life right now, so I might not be able to write without interruption until this story is done. But I'll do my best. :-) Secondly, I'll probably not be as present on social media. I know, I know! I suck. But there are only so many hours in the day. I'll do my level best to get this story ready for all of you as soon as I can, but I can't make any promises. I'll also try to post updates here on my blog (with sneak peeks! ;-) ) at least once a week, but again, no guarantees. You'll all just have to stay tuned to find out what happens! I hope you'll think it's worth the wait. ;-) In the meantime, here's the first chapter. It's not edited (so yes, there will probably be mistakes), and it is definitely subject to change, but hopefully this will give you a hint of what to expect. :-)
Jillian had a bad feeling. Her eyes searched through the crowd assembled in the throne room of the Summer Court; her gaze flitting from one Fae to the next, searching for some clue as to the source of the threat. For days she had stood quietly behind the queen, as Briallen welcomed the dignitaries who had traveled from all over Fairie to witness the wedding and coronation of Roni and Uaine. It wasn't every day that new rulers assumed control of one of the Season Courts
Once the young people were properly crowned, they would ascend to the throne of the Summer Court, and Briallen would step down. Never had Briallen looked more regal than she did now, as she fought through her grief to formally represent the Summer Court for the last time. Jillian's heart broke for her queen, even as her trepidation built.
What truly maddened Jillian was that she couldn't identify the source of her unease. Ever since her encounter with the goddess, her instincts seemed to have been heightened. At times, it seemed as though she could tell what would happen before it came to pass. She was still learning how to use this new ability, but she knew that ignoring a gift from the goddess was never wise. Right now, every instinct in her was screaming that something was wrong.
Taking a deep breath, Jillian reached into the bag that hung over her shoulder to pet the rabbit who sat patiently inside. The feel of Patches' soft fur under her hand calmed her, as it always did. Her sweet bunny friend, sensing her disquiet, nuzzled her fingers in an attempt to reassure her. Unfortunately, in spite of Patches' best efforts, Jillian's feeling of foreboding persisted without abatement.
She continued to seek a hint as to what direction the peril might strike from by observing the crowd. Jillian noted that the Erlking and his Anamchara, Cassie, had finally arrived. The presence of Fairie's Huntsman gave her some comfort; a Fae would have to be bold indeed, and foolhardy, to instigate trouble in the presence of the goddess's own enforcer. Still, Jillian couldn't escape the feeling that something bad was going to happen.
Her attention was caught as Ankou, the king of the Winter Court, approached Briallen and nodded to the queen. Jillian marveled at how strong the king looked, in spite of all of his loss. A lesser Fae would have long since decided to allow themselves to fade, but Ankou appeared as solid and powerful as ever. The thought of his long eons of existence gave even Jillian, who had lived for tens of thousands of years, pause. As she observed the large male moving through the throng of Fae around the throne, her heart ached for the mantle of sorrow that surrounded him.
Shaking herself from her reverie about the Winter king, Jillian tried to focus on the niggling feeling at the back of her mind, and identify just what was causing it. With so many gathered to celebrate Roni and Uaine's union, a premonition of danger couldn't be dismissed. She shook her head, it was no good, any Fae with enough status to be invited to such an important event would have long since learned to control their reactions. Perhaps if she withdrew and sought some quiet for meditation, then clarity would follow.
Just as Jillian turned away to find the desired solitude, she was approached by Angelica, the head of the largest of the Pixie villages, and so by default, the representative of the Pixies. "Greetings Jillian, you look pensive," said the tiny Fae as she hovered in front of Jillian's face on wings beating as fast as a humming bird's.
"Angelica, welcome," Jillian nodded to the winged female, "I hope the Pixies are pleased with the new trade agreements."
Angelica gave her a predatory smile. "Oh, they'll do for now. But what could be causing you to look so serious on such a happy occasion?"
"Do I look serious?" Hedged Jillian. She made a mental note to control her face better, now was not the time to show weakness to outsiders.
"Oh, I think you know you do," the Pixie gave her a sharp look, "and I think I know why, as well."
Jillian just raised an eyebrow and looked at Angelica. The delicate Fae's tiny face betrayed nothing.
"Do you think it is only the high-Court Fae who are capable of smelling trouble in the air?" Angelica gave the Sidhe a bitter look. "We lesser Fae have noses as sharp as yours, my lady," she added, the honorific thrown in ironically.
Jillian's second eyebrow joined the first, just below her hair line. "I never suggested that you don't, and the only one calling you 'lesser', Angelica, is you. If you have knowledge of danger brewing, then by all means, speak up."
"Ah yes, how could I have forgotten? It is a new day with a new regime," she cut a contemptuous glance towards Uaine and Roni standing near the queen, "about to rise. The past is now over, and we are all one Court once again. Not all of us forget centuries of injustice so easily, Jillian."
Grimacing, Jillian acknowledged the truth, "Ithel's behavior was inexcusable, but he is dead, and his vision for the Summer Court died with him. The goddess made her judgment known, and the wise will do their best to abide by it. The past may not be forgotten, but we cannot change what was done. All we can do is make the future better."
Sighing, Angelica crossed her arms over her chest. She looked down, and then back up and cocked her head to the side. "Perhaps. We shall see. Your prince and his mate will be under close scrutiny, I hope you know that."
"Our prince and our princess are well aware that they have much work to do to heal the Court of past hurts. Is that the trouble you spoke of?"
Flipping her lilac hair over her shoulder, the Pixie gave Jillian a sly look. "No," she floated over to settle on Jillian's shoulder, "I have reason to believe that the prince and the princess may not live long enough to be king and queen," she whispered into Jillian's ear.
Jillian gave Angelica a sharp look out of the corner of her eye. "Why would you believe such a thing?"
"There have been whisperings. You must know that Deirdra's family is not pleased with her fate."
"That is hardly a revelation," said Jillian, thinking of how the Elf female had been killed by the spell she tried to use to kill Roni.
"No, of course not, and you don't truly believe they will not retaliate, do you?"
Jillian fought to conceal how startled she was by the thought. "The goddess herself has bestowed her protection on the princess, and her blessing on the royal wedding. Are Deirdra's relatives foolish enough to challenge the goddess?"
Angelica snorted. "Not directly, of course, that would be suicide. But you know perfectly well there are always loop-holes in any magic. All they need do is find one."
"Do you have specific knowledge of any such plots, or is this merely speculation?"
The Pixie gave Jillian a smug look, as she lifted off of the Sidhe's shoulder to once again hover before the larger Fae's eyes. "Why don't we go somewhere more private to discuss the matter?"
Jillian gave the Pixie a searching look and then nodded. "If you'll follow me...?"