Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Wednesday Briefs - Catherine's Revenge Chapter 7



Wednesday again and another installment of my spooky new story, Catherine's revenge. It's another new thing - to try to write spooky.

The prompts I used this week are



Which Catherine has none of, and Failure is not an option.

“She must have been mentally unstable” Emma said, cold shivers tickling her neck, “completely insane. Why would she kill herself just because she thought she’d been stood up?”

“In those days, being jilted at the altar was a much greater thing; a matter of slight, of dishonour. The entire family would be thrown into uproar and consider it an insult to them, as much as to her. I believe, however, there was more to it than this. I fear she had the propensity for madness; something no one knew before, or perhaps had not spoken of, for fear she might become un-weddable.”

“But that was awful. Her family knew she was unstable and didn’t tell anyone in case Tristan changed his mind?” Emma tossed her head. “Huh. That’s horrible. Her parents must have been cold and mean.

“It must have been hard bringing up a daughter like that. Mental illness wasn’t seen the same back then, was it? If it wasn’t the result of possession, it was a character flaw. So, they shut their mouths about their daughter being completely bonkers, hoping she’d be married off and someone else’s problem.

“So…the curse? Did it work?”

“Oh yes. Since that time, every Loughbridge male who reached the age of twenty one years, took ill with an unknown malady, and after lingering on for a time, and sinking into madness, they all, without exception, died.”

“What kind of malady?”

“They grew cold, to the point no fire was able to warm them, as if the life that heated their veins was being drawn out of them.”

“And the madness?”

“They believed themselves possessed by an unquiet spirit who tormented them in dreams and, finally, in their waking hours. They were all found dead in the summerhouse with expressions of horror on their faces, as if they’d witnesses something so terrifying it stopped their hearts.”

“Catherine?”

“Yes, I believe so.”

Emma looked over at Ash and said fiercely. “That won’t happen to Ash. I won’t let him die.”

“I will help you, Emma, but it will not be an easy path.”

“I don’t care how hard it is. I won’t let my brother die.”

“Let’s say we believe this crazy story,” Adam said, “which I’m not saying I do. What does it have to do with you? What do you get out of it?”

“Peace,” Tristan said, drawing himself up and meeting Adam’s eyes.

“You’re him, aren’t you,” Emma said. “Catherine’s fiancĂ©e.  You weren’t named after him; you are him.”

Tristan gave her a tired smile. “Yes. I am he. I have watched for so many years, as Catherine has taken one young man after another. The last was such a long time ago, I had begun to hope…. I should have known I would not be here if it were over. I can sit by no longer. This has gone on too long. Too many innocent lives lost and ruined.”

“But how…? How can you be? Are you a ghost?”

“I don’t know. All I know is that I have lingered here; watching helplessly as Catherine torments me with her goddamn curse.”

“Does she know you’re still here?”

“Oh yes; she knows. I believe it is partly because of me she keeps it going. It is to punish me as much as anything else.”

“Does she know what happened? That you didn’t stand her up? That you died?”

“She knows.”

“Then why? Why is she doing this?”

“Revenge, Emma. She is determined to make me suffer as long as she can for the way she believes I made her suffer. Although I was innocent, she sees me as the man who left her at the altar, who brought shame to her and her family, who was the cause of her madness and death. As irrational as it is, that is her belief. She will not stop until the last Loughbridge man is dead, and I cannot rest until she does.”

“But…. It’s Ash. The last Loughbridge man is Ash. There’s no one else; no distant cousins or remote members of the family. My mother was an only child and both my grandparents had only sisters. Ash is the last.”

“Yes.”

“Then why are you doing this? Why now, after all this time? All you have to do is wait for him to die and it’s over for you. If you hadn’t told us about the curse we’d never have known; never have fought it.”

“Do you think I have stood idle all these years? Do you think I have not tried? With every one?”

“Oh. I…I’m sorry. I didn’t…”

Tristan gave her a weary smile and shook his head. “I understand.”

“So, what can we do? How can we save Ash?”

“I don’t know.”

“What if we leave? What if we go far, far away.”

“Catherine has her claws into him. Wherever he goes, she goes. There is no escape.”

“Then what…?”

“He cannot escape her. Perhaps we can help him fight her. Drive her away.”

“Have you tried before?”

Tristan looked uncomfortable. “Yes, but your brother is a fighter, I believe. More so than others. He reminds me of myself.”

“So, what should we do?”

“Watch him carefully. Perhaps we can prevent the madness. In other cases the family have not accepted the truth. You are the first who are so open to the truth. The descent into madness was as much fear of their own sanity as Catherine’s tormenting. If we support him and reassure him that what he sees, what he believes, is truth, is her…. Perhaps it will make the difference.”

“Do you think it might?”

“I hope so. It’s all we’ve got.”

“It has to,” Emma said, staring at her twin, who suddenly seemed fragile and precious. “Failure is not an option.”

This week, we have a new format. Instead of me posting links to all the other flashers, Andy Gordon has very kindly posted them all on the Wednesday Briefs website, along with the first hundred words of each story. Head on over there and support the rest of the briefers, you never know, you might find your new favourite author.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Wednesday Briefs - Catherine's Revenge Chapter 6



And we roll around to another Wednesday. It's a difficult week and a nightmare day, so let't celebrate that tomorrow is another day.

As everyone knows I often play fast and loose with the prompts. This week the link is more tenuous than ever. I had a kind of bet with Julie that I would use the Disney Princess. So.... Here I have Catherine in her wedding gown and, although it's not specifically stated, she definitely looked like a Disney Princess.



Emma was half way across the hall, when a hand grabbed her arm, none too gently, and swung her around. “I told you; you are not to talk to that man,” Ash snarled.

“Let me go. I’ll talk to whoever I want.”

“Not him.” Ash started to drag her back toward the stairs.

“Stop it. You’re hurting me.”

“I’ll hurt you more if you don’t obey.”

Emma looked into her brother’s eyes and saw someone else looking back at her, through the flames that still flickered in his pupils.

“Oh my God, Ash. What’s happening to you?”

Suddenly, someone grabbed her other arm and pulled her free from her brother’s painful grip. Emma stumbled and almost fell into Tristan’s arms. Tristan steadied her. He had a grim expression on his face, and his eyes were fixed on Ash.

“Leave them alone, Catherine,” he said. “Your quarrel is not with these children.”

Ash sneered. “My quarrel was always with you, Tristan. My curse is upon you, and your descendants.”

“Haven’t you had enough, Catherine? Enough lives to satisfy you?”

Ash threw back his head and laughed. It wasn’t a nice laugh. “There will never be enough lives to satisfy me. You took my life and I will have my revenge on all the men of the Loughbridge family, until the very last. This was my curse, and this is my desire.”

Ash laughed again, then shuddered and fell to his knees.

“Ash,” Emma cried and knelt beside her brother. He was so cold.

“Take him somewhere warm,” Tristan said, urgently. “Let me help.”

“What’s happening?” Emma asked, shocked to her core.

“I’ll explain everything,” Tristan said. “But not here; not now. We must warm him, or she will take him, here and now.”

With Tristan’s help, Emma managed to get Ash to his feet. He seemed to be totally stunned, unaware of what was going on around him. He stumbled as they dragged him up the stairs.

Adam met them at the top of the stairs. “What the hell’s going on?” he demanded.

“Ash fell,” Emma said. “I think he’s hurt himself.”

“Bring him up here.” Adam was suddenly all concern, and led the way back to the only warm room in the house.

When they settled Ash in a chair near the fire, he started to come round and blinked up at Emma. “What happened?” he asked

“Don’t you remember?”

“I…. The last thing I remember was looking into the fire. Why am I so cold?”
He looked around. “Who’s that?”

“Don’t worry.” Tristan said. “We need to warm you up. Explanations will come later.”

Adam tucked an unzipped sleeping back around Ash’s legs and Ash stared at his father as if he had never seen him before.

Emma draped a blanket over his shoulders. Even with these he was still shivering, his lips blue with cold.

“Let me help,” Tristan said. He grabbed Ash’s hand and rubbed it vigorously. Ash shuddered and tried to pull away.

For a moment, flames flashed in his eyes, but they died quickly and he shuddered again. “I feel warmer now,” Ash said then, with a sigh, he closed his eyes and seemed to fall instantly asleep.

“Ash,” Emma said, alarmed, but Tristan drew her away.

“Leave him. He is merely asleep. He is warm and that’s all that matters. Let him rest. He’ll be better when he wakes.”

“Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on?” Adam demanded.

“Of course.” Tristan looked at each of them in turn, a searching look. “Perhaps we should sit,” he said.

“To hell with that. Tell me what’s going on; what’s wrong with my son. Now.”

Tristan nodded. “I respect your concern. Try to have an open mind when I tell you my story. Many find it difficult to believe.”

“Try me.” Adam glared at Tristan. Emma knew he wasn’t really angry with the man, but with the situation. Her father hated to feel helpless and, if he was
feeling anything like she was right now he was hating it just as much as she.

“Many years ago – centuries - Catherine Anne Hambley was betrothed to Tristan Loughbridge, who lived here, in this house.”

“Were you named after him?” Emma asked.

“Indeed.”

“Then you’re a Loughbridge too?”

“A very distant cousin, yes.”

“But….”

“May I finish my story? There will be time for questions thereafter.”

“Of course.”

“On the day they were to marry, Tristan had an appointment in town that could not wait. He was late returning and rode carelessly to the church. His horse threw a shoe in the wood and he was thrown, dying instantly from a broken neck.”

Emma gasped. “Oh no. Was Catherine broken hearted?”

“Indeed. Tristan was foolish enough to have taken a little used track and it was some time before his body was discovered. Catherine believed she had been jilted, and she flew into a rage. On the same day, she took a dagger and plunged it through her heart. With her dying breath she placed a curse upon the Loughbridge family - that all Loughbridge males who dared cross her path would die.”

Now go check out the rest of the flashers



Friday, 15 November 2013

Sinsperationally You - Elyzabeth VaLey

Sinsperationally Yours Anthology


Blurb:

Welcome to the realm where sin, desire, and love collide with all things that go bump in the night. Where tales of lust are flavored with a happily ever after or a happy for now. 

Ghosts and Vampires and Werebears oh my! Immortal heroes and heroines who strike fear in those they meet but also ignite passion and desire. Sinsperationally Yours. 

Today, Elizabeth VaLey graces my blog with her beauty and the strangeness of her words. As part of an anthology about the darker side of love, her short Blue Horns is fascinatingly twisted. Read on to find out more about this sinsperational author and her stories.

Blue Horns 
In a permanent state of arousal and unable to climax until she finds her soul mate, partial demon Mandy has been diagnosed with the disease called Blue Horns. With the illness spreading at warp speed due to her human nature, will she have time to find him or will she be doomed to a loveless life filled with despair? 

Buy links:

Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads

Author Bio:


Defined as weird since she was about eight, Elyzabeth honors the title by making up songs about her chores, doodling stars and flowers on any blank sheet of paper and talking to her dog whenever he feigns interest.
Losing the battle to the voices in her head is her favorite pastime after annoying her younger sister with her singing. Writing stories full of passion and emotion where love conquers all is her happy pill and she'll forgo sleep to make her readers live the dream.

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Excerpt from my story in the anthology: Blue Horns

Mandy sat nervously in the doctor’s clinic waiting room. Crossing her legs, she toyed with her phone, trying to ignore the persistent stare of the large demon sitting in front of her.
Her horns hadn’t gotten better. To the contrary, they were turning a darker shade of blue with every passing day. It had been fun the first few days, but as the horns became darker, her arousal grew. Just the soft brush of her shirt against them turned her on and no matter how many times she masturbated, it wouldn’t go away. To further complicate matters, she hadn’t been able to orgasm since the day before yesterday. Her body was starting to feel like a ticking bomb that would go off at any moment. She couldn’t take it anymore. The demon before her coughed and she looked up. The demon’s dark eyes locked with hers, the edges wrinkling as his lips curled into a smile.
“Blue horns, eh?” The smile turned into a cheeky grin. “Maybe I can help?” he suggested, rising his eyebrows in what he probably thought was a seductive gesture.
Mandy pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. Turning back to her phone, she ignored him. The man chuckled. “Any demon with a proper sense of smell will be on to you, sweet thing, and though succubae and incubi rarely mate with other races, I’d be more than willing to lend you a hand or two.”
What? Just as Mandy lifted her face to retort something, the pixie nurse called her in. Biting back a groan as the material of her shirt slid against her horns, she ignored the demon’s low chuckle. She followed the petite woman into the doctor’s office, biting back another moan as she sat in a comfortable leather chair in front of a desk made out of solid wood. 
“Mandy, my favorite half-breed.” Mandy smiled tightly, failing to remind him that she was his only half-breed.  What can I do for you?”
“Well—“ She squirmed uneasily in her chair.
The doctor raised his hand, silencing her. His eyes narrowed and she watched as the tip of his nose moved, sniffing the air like a hound. His green eyes widened behind his silver-rimmed glasses.
“Blue Horns!” he cried.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Wednesday Briefs - Catherine's Revenge - Ch 5



Here comes Wednesday and my men in white shorts. Unfortunately, none of them have the hair or 'tude to float my boat, but hey, the shorts are nice and white.

The prompt I used this week was the masquerade masque, because this is a spooky story and I've always thought masques are spooky




As soon as they entered the hall, they were met by their father who, although alight with excitement in a way they’d not seen for a very long time, was not at all pleased they’d disappeared for so long.  He immediately set them to work on numerous tasks, which meant that Emma didn’t have a chance to speak to Ash again until late that evening. The sleeping bags were all neatly laid out in one bedroom, which had been roughly cleaned, and they were all sitting around a roaring fire in a small sitting room, which had been cleared of dust sheets, if not dust.

Adam Benson was cheerfully feeding the fire, holding a piece of bread in the flames with a long pronged fork.  The bread was instantly carbonised and he handed it brightly to Emma who dropped it unenthusiastically onto the plate with the rest of the slices, which each contained a slightly different pattern of charring.

“Dad, we can’t eat these.  They’re charred to hell.”

“Can’t beat toast made over an open fire.”

“Well, no, but only if it’s made properly.  I’m not going to eat burnt toast.”

Adam sighed and raised his eyes heavenward.  “Kids! Alright, alright, I admit defeat.  Ash, go get the hamper out of back of the car.  It seems your sister must dine on the sweeter things of life now that we’ve gone up in the world.”

Ash had pushed his chair up close to the fire and was staring into the flames, lost in the flickering dance.  He didn’t respond to his father’s instruction.

“Ash? Wake up, mate.”

“Huh?”

A
sh looked up, startled, his eyes seeming dazed in the flickering firelight.

“The hamper? From the car? Seems Emma draws the line at charred toast.”  When Ash continued to stare at him as though he were speaking some foreign language, Adam gave an exaggerated sigh and got to his feet.  “Bloody kids.  You’re like children the pair of you — disappearing for half the day to play in the woods, then mooning about expecting to be fed, without working for it.”  But his voice was playful, and he stroked Emma’s head as he passed on his way to the car.

Ash immediately went back to staring into the fire, and Emma watched him, wondering.

“What happened in the summerhouse this afternoon, before I got there?”

“What?” Ash blinked at her, still looking dazed.

“What happened to you?”

“Nothing. Nothing happened.”

“You said you saw a woman.”

“Did I?  Well, I couldn’t have, could I?  You would have seen her too.”

“Hm.  What happened to your jacket?”

“My jacket?”

“Yes.  You had it on when you went in, you didn’t have it when you came out, and it certainly wasn’t in there, I looked.”

Ash shrugged, looking as though he really didn’t want to continue the conversation.

“And why did you get so weird when the music box was playing?”

“What music box?”

“The music box that was on the sideboard.  As soon as you opened the lid you went all strange and you made me dance with you. You wouldn’t stop until I closed the lid on the box and threw it at the mirrors.”

“Oh, so it was you who shattered the mirrors.”

“Yes. I threw the box at one and they all shattered.  Don’t you remember?”

Ash shrugged again and hunched further into the chair.  He looked pale and strained, and she knew he was keeping something from her, she could always tell.

“So what’s up?”

“Nothing.  There’s nothing up.”

“Don’t lie to me.  You know you can’t.”

Ash turned to look at her and his eyes were strange, dark, with flames from the fire reflected in the pupils.  Something in them made her shiver.

“I don’t know.  I feel.... I feel.... like....” Ash ran his hands through his hair, trying to find words.  “I feel like everything that happened since I went into the summerhouse has been a dream and I still haven’t woken up. Except, in some ways it feels like I’m more awake than I’ve ever been.”  He shook his head and sighed.  “I don’t know.  I’ve no idea what I’m talking about.” He turned back to the fire and held his hands out to the flames.  “It’s so bloody cold in here. That doesn’t help. It makes me feel like my head is full of ice.”

“It’s not cold in here, Ash, not in here.”

“Are you kidding? It’s like an ice-box.”

“Ash….” A wave of fear washed over her. For a moment, as she looked up at Ash, she saw something, someone, looming over him; a woman in white, wearing a masquerade masque. She blinked and it was gone.

“Emma.” Adam burst through the door, accompanied by a blast of cold air. “There’s someone here who says he knows you. He won’t come in. Says his name’s Tristan, or something.”

“Tristan? He’s here. Oh, he said he’d come by later. I forgot.”

“Don’t go.”

Emma glanced up in surprise, at the tone of Ash’s voice. He was glaring at her, flames flickering in his eyes. It suddenly occurred to her to wonder how the fire was reflecting in his eyes when he had his back to it.

“Why not?”

“You shouldn’t talk to him.”

“Why not?”

“Because I forbid you.”

“You what?” Emma was more worried than ever. Ash wasn’t himself. It definitely wasn’t Ash speaking. It didn’t even look like Ash. The way he held himself, the tilt of his head, the tone of his voice. None of it was Ash. It was her. It all made sense. Ash felt cold, because of her. The figure she’d seen looming over him, was her.

Terrified, all she could think of was Tristan. He knew what was going on and he’d help her fix it. He had to; he was the only one who could.

She turned and fled, hearing Ash scream after her. “Emma Loughbridge, you will not speak to that man. I command it.”

 What will Tristan have to say? What will Adam have to say? I guess we'll find out next week. In the meantime, check out the rest of our flashers




Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Wednesday Briefs - Catherine's Revenge Chapter 4







We arrive at another Wednesday, with heavy rain and winds. I really don't want to go to work today. Hibernating is a much better option. Ah well, puts food on the table and I really like to eat.

The prompt I used this week is You look like a vampire on a day pass

By the time they got close enough to touch the box, Emma could clearly see the woman in the glass. She was beautiful, for sure; a cold beauty that chilled Emma to the bone. Burning black eyes stared from a pale face, twisted with rage. Clawed hands reached for them, but Emma wasn’t about to let that happen. With the last of her strength she sent them crashing into the sideboard. Ash cried out as he overbalanced, but Emma didn’t have time to worry about him. Picking up the music box, she threw it with all her strength at the mirror.

Somewhere beyond the edge of hearing a scream tore at the silence and the mirror exploded, followed, one by one, by every other mirror in the room, showering every part of it with tinkling slivers of glass.

Ash had fallen to the floor and was lying sprawled on his back, his eyes closed. Emma was afraid the glass would cut him, so she threw herself to the floor and bent over him, protecting him with her body.

When at last the glass stopped falling, there was total silence. Lifting her head,  Emma looked around.  The woman had vanished. There was nothing left but empty frames, like blind eyes watching ; waiting. Not a single sliver of glass clung to the frames. Instead, they carpeted the floor and glittered in Ash’s hair. The music box seemed to have gone.

Surprisingly, despite the rain of glass, Emily was not cut.  As she straightened, the glittering shards showered down around her from her shoulders and hair

Dazed, she shook her head and glass flew around, falling onto Ash’s face. He didn’t flinch.

“Ash?”

Ash was sprawled on the ground, one arm lying across his stomach and the other thrown out from his side. His eyes were closed and his hair spread out around his head, glittering with glass.  There was blood on his wrist, a thin trickle that ran down to splash on the floor beneath. It was not, by any means, a lot of blood but, reflected back from the thousands of tiny mirrors, it turned the floor under his arm, red.

Trembling, Emma brushed glass from Ash’s face.  To her enormous relief he stirred under her fingers and his eyes flickered open.  For a moment he stared at her, his eyes empty and cold, causing her heart to sink.  Then they slowly filled with confusion and he turned his head to look around, wincing at the sound of broken glass.

“What…?  What…?” Ash stirred again, and raised a hand to his temple, rubbing it as if he had a headache.

“Ash, thank God.  Are you alright?”

“Um.... what...what happened?”

“I told you not to open the music box.”

“What music box?

“Don’t you remember?”

“No.  What did you do to the mirrors?”

“I didn’t.... exactly.”

“What the hell happened, Emma? I feel like someone hit me over the head and kicked the hell out of me. The last think I remember is… is…. I don’t know. Did I fall and hit my head? Did something fall on me?”

“No. Don’t you remember dancing? Or the woman? Don’t you remember the music?”

Ash frowned. “Music. I think…maybe.” He frowned and shuddered, pressing his fingers to his temple.

“Are you okay?”

“I think so.  I’ve got a bitch of a headache. Help me up.”

They both climbed stiffly to their feet, shaking off the glass.

“Aw.”  Ash sucked at his bleeding wrist and made a face.  “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Emma asked, frowning. “You’re dead pale, like a vampire on a day pass.”

Ash gave her a small smile. “I can almost feel my fangs coming in.” He sighed. I’m alright. I’ll be better when I get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”

As they reached the door, there was a tremendous crash. They both spun and were horrified to see the chandelier had fallen. Crystals were still dropping to the ground and rolling among the glass. They exchanged glances. A moment sooner and they would have been crushed.

“Come on.”

Ash grabbed Emma’s hand and  towed her down the crumbling steps. There was something sinister in the way the whole veranda creaked. Before they reached the wood an enormous cracking sound rent the air and the summerhouse collapsed.

“What the hell’s going on here, Em?”

“I don’t know. It’s….  Something weird. I just want to get as far away from here as I possibly can.”

“I agree. I…feel weird. I just want to go home.” Ash stopped Emma, with a hand on her arm. “I want to go home, Emma. Really home. I hate this place. I’ve got a really bad feeling. I feel…. I feel that if I stay here, I’ll die.”

A shiver went through Emma and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. She forced a smile onto her face. “Don’t be silly. You’re not going to die. No one is going to die. This is our home now and we’re just going to have to make the best of it.”

Ash looked over his shoulder. “There is no best. There’s nothing good about this place, nothing. It’s cursed.”

“Don’t be silly. It’s just a bit spooky that’s all.” Emma reached for his hand, it was icy. “God, Ash, you’re freezing. Where did your jacket go?”

“I don’t know.”

“Let’s get you back before you freeze.”

Ash flashed her a brief smile and broke into a jog. By the time they got back to the house, Emma was feeling warmer, but Ash was turning blue.

Now, do go check out all the other wonderful writers



Monday, 4 November 2013

The Face in the Window - Cheryl Headford



I am absolutely delighted to make this post. Cheryl Headford is a person who is very close to me, so close you might say we're almost the same person. Almost. Cheryl is, of course, a much more 'normal' person. For the Gods' sake she's a lawyer, how much more boring...erm...normal, can you be :)

Anyway, Cheryl has her very first book out with Featherweight Press so let's hear a bit about it.

There are those who can't see, and those who don't want to see, but we're all blind sometimes.

Ace is seventeen years old; bright, beautiful and blind. He shares his life between a progressive school which is teaching him to be independent and capable of living a full life; and home, where his family seem determined to prevent him from doing so.

Over protective parents and spiteful, jealous brothers, are enough to try the patience of a saint. So far, Ace has let them get on with it and sailed through his life, marking time at home and only truly living at school. However, that can’t last, and with his last year of school coming up and the spectre of having to fight to attend university hanging over him, it’s time to take a stand.

Fortunately, a ring of the doorbell one afternoon, radically changes his life and, with a new boyfriend at his side, Ace s ready to take on the world.

Ace has never been one to let his blindness get in the way if he could help it and he has lots of things that help. Here are a few of his favourite things, which you can find in the story and which are actually available out there for anyone to find.

Telephone

One of Ace’s brothers’ favourite occupations is to buy him outrageous clothes and possessions. Not being able to see what he’s wearing or using, Ace knows no better and provides his brothers with countless hours of hilarious entertainment at his expense.

Until he meets Haze, Ace has no idea that the phone he uses is a pink, Disney Princesses™ one. One of the first things Haze does for Ace is take him out shopping and one of the things they buy is a new phone.

The phone is something like this



with large buttons, small screen and screen reader.


There are even more specialised phones available which Ace could have gone for but, as far as I’m aware, these aren’t available on the main street



The screen reading feature, where the phone ‘talks’ to you and ‘listens’ to you, is the most revolutionary thing for Ace. He can now access many of the features we take for granted, that were closed to him before; things like setting alarms and reminders, browsing, reading texts, and many more. He’s so delighted with it he’d have been happy to spend a whole afternoon playing with the features.

Books

Ace loves to read, and Haze gets quite a shock when he takes a look at the bookshelf.

Ace’s books are bigger and heavier than ‘normal’ books and have neither words nor pictures, at least none Haze can see. The books are written in Braille, which is a system of raised dots, representing letters, numbers and punctuation. It was developed by Louis Braille (1809 – 1852), who was himself blind, as a teaching method for his blind students.

Braille is used for everything from public signs, to books, to menus to music annotation. It is generally worked across a ‘cell’ of six dots in three rows of two. In each cell one or more of the dots are raised and it is the pattern of raised dots that makes the letter, number, word etc.





Ace’s favourite books are Harry Potter









Computer

Ace’s computer is a lifeline. Not only does it allow him to conduct research, do schoolwork and keep up to date with what’s going on in the world, but it allows him to keep in touch with his friends via Skype. Haze meets Ace’s best friend, James in this way, and boy do sparks fly.

Ace’s computer has a number of special features, such as the screen reader, and also a special braille keyboard



Ace finds a very sensual way of demonstrating how everything works, which gets Haze a little hot under the collar.



With all his technology and specialist knowledge, however, there is really only one thing that opens the world, both real and cyber, to Ace, and that’s his own courage and confidence in himself, which he has with plenty to spare. With his heart and Haze’s ferocious protectiveness, there seems to be very little they can’t achieve together.

 Blurb

Ace is blind and Haze is damaged. They live in different worlds and not everyone is happy when they become boyfriends. Haze is struggling with the after effects of a traumatic event in his past that has left him at the mercy of an uncontrollable rage. When Ace’s brother steps up his campaign of torment against Ace, they’re all in danger from Haze’s outbursts, though it isn’t until things get completely out of control that the healing can really begin. But with Ace unseeing and Haze perched on the edge of a cliff, will either of them survive long enough to benefit?

Excerpt

While the computer was starting up, Ace took off his glasses and put them on the table, rubbing his eyes.

“They make my eyes ache after a while. They’re really heavy on my nose.”

“I’m not surprised, they’re…er…big. Why do you wear them all the time?”

“I don’t know. I suppose…because I’m not quite so much of a freak with them on as without them on.” He tilted his face up and seemed to regard me thoughtfully. There was something about the way the sun touched his face and made his hair glow that made me shiver.

In the midst of all the golden light his hair was not so much white as the palest spun gold and his pale skin seemed to be even more translucent, almost iridescent. He was fey, like some faery creature only partly in this world. I bit my lip, trying vainly to stop my mind taking me down dangerous roads. This was definitely not the time to be having those kinds of thoughts.

“Can I…touch you?”

“What? Uh…um…what do you mean?” I jumped half out of my skin at the sound of his voice and even more so at what he said. Had he read my mind?

“Your face. Can I touch your face? I can’t see what you look like but my fingers can tell me if you’ll let me touch you.”

“Oh. Of course.”

I stood perfectly still as he got up from the chair and stood close in front of me. His long white hair fell across his face, I had an urge to brush it out of his eyes, except of course that would have been stupid.

It was strange how pretty his eyes were up close. They weren’t colourless after all. There was a ring of pale violet around the milky pupils and a much darker violet around the outer edges of the irises. They were stunningly beautiful, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

I was still staring at them when his cool fingers brushed against my cheek. The touch was gentle and hesitant but still startled me.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“You didn’t. It’s just…” I tore myself away from studying his face. “I was just surprised by how beautiful your eyes are.” I could have bitten off my tongue. What a stupid thing to say. For God’s sake, I just met the boy. What the hell was I doing?

“They…they are?” The objects in question opened wide and a hesitant smile touched his lips. “Really?”

“Oh yes.”

He blushed delicately. “No one has ever told me that before.” Biting his lip, his face turned reflective. “Most people just say they’re weird if they can bring themselves to look at them. I get the impression that most people avoid doing so. That’s one of the reasons I wear my glasses all the time.”

“Then most people are blinder than you are.” Bloody hell! That was totally unlike me. I was far too ordinary to be that bold. But it was awesome to see the smile break over Ace’s face and light it up.

“Hold still,” he said softly and brushed his fingertips across my cheek again. A shiver went through me and I closed my eyes as he continued his exploration of my face.

When he had finished with my face, he touched my hair and let it slide through his fingers. His face changed subtly, and I shivered again.

“You’re beautiful, Haze,” he said as he let his hand fall.

“If you think that, then your fingers are as blind as your eyes.”

For a moment he seemed shocked then he grinned. “Do you have any idea how many people would be scared of saying those things to me?”

“What things?”

He shook his head. “You’re a breath of fresh air, Hazel Fennell. I haven’t felt so…light, in years.”

“Light?”

“Yeah…”

Bio


Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.


In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.
ISBN# 978-1-60820-8937 (print) $14.99

            MLR-1-02013-0162 (ebook) $7.99

Release Date   October 2013

Cover Artist    Deana C. Jamroz

.           288 pages / 79,000 words

Available At:  Featherweight Press Store (ebook)