Prologue from Book 4 in the Voice of the Wind series

Bethana Tourney 1

Jantz.

She had lost. Her life lay in charred ruins. She carelessly kicked aside the scattered rubble of her life. From such destruction, she regrouped, salvaged and began again.

Burying deep the pain gnawing her heart, the sorrow of tumultuous emotions and the bitterness her of anger, she turned the key upon forgetfulness ― and gazed toward the new horizon of her life.

Bethana Tourney did not surrender. She did not bow her head in humble defeat. She lifted her chin. Proud, defiant, she sucked life-sustaining air deep into her lungs. She faced the wind, shook the fiery tendrils of her hair loose, and recharged her spirit from the hot yellow sun and the wholeness of the Cloisters, green and abundant with life. The land belonged to her; the land remained forever although people walked in and out of her life. The Cloisters remained steadfast and unchanged, and, like the vintage, purified by the passage of the seasons.

Men were like the seasons; each one purified and strengthened her, much like the magical aging of a fine wine.

Yes, men were like the seasons. Just as each season’s vintage contained its own special bouquet, so too did the men in her life. Yet, after the first sip of the rarest of wines, no other wine compared and forevermore spoiled the desire for any but the rarest. So, too, were the men in her life.

She knew many imitations. None possessed either the quality of smoky flavor, the clarity of color or aromatic bouquet. The imitations scored close to the rare original, yet the essential ingredients were either missing or lacking. She knew brief flirtations, she knew chance encounters, and she knew casual tasting, but all led to continual disappointment.

No man ever compared to her first sip of love.

The essential, indescribable ingredients blended only once in perfect proportion, that after tasting and the full knowledge of intimacy, left an unquenchable thirst ― a hunger of hapless desire.

Bethana Tourney was not helpless. Oh, never helpless! She, too, was born and blended of the rarest ingredients nature bestows once in a thousand lifetimes.

Fire in purest element, a flame, she burned and consumed the sustaining elements that kindled her soul ― the air, the wind, and Jantz Fayerfield.

There were no others — only pale imitations.

 

Copyright 2016, Elizabeth A. Monroe

Christmas Excerpt from Written in Omen

El Nath’s Season of Lights brought snow. Stared, rayed fronds of dancing flakes drifted to an unheard music. Sifting from a skyless bowl, the white flakes swirled. Snow clung to the naked black tree branches, white encrusted ribbons and ridges following every tenuous twist. Junipers and hemlocks surrendered gracefully, upholding burdens of white and offering canopied shelter to wintering birds.

The heavens above El Nath descended and embraced the earth, leaving the world hushed, and the soft swish of falling snow created a mystical wonderland. The night faded into silver dawn and revealed an enchanted world of fantasy forms ― crystal worlds and fairy castles, white veiled and mantled with crowns of glistening ice.

Snow.

Watching Elaine, Keiron recaptured his first boyish delight in the innocence of winter’s first heavy snowfall. A beauty to behold she looked, her slender, blue cloaked figure silhouetted against the lace of trees branches festooned with snowy garlands. Here and there, redbirds fluttered and scratched and pecked among the snowdrifts for last summer’s seeds.

Watching from a distance, he felt a keen happiness; yet, too soon an old feeling of restless discontent stirred. He had never loved any woman, other than Uriate Goth, but she lived far away in Wolfdale. He imagined his Mikuyi lover cursed him, as did her kinsmen after the folly of last winter’s descent into madness.

Yet, watching Elaine, thrilled by an El Nath snowfall, her cheeks flushed pink above the muffle of her fox fur and her amber eyes glittering, she looked more alive than she had in weeks. He soared upon wings of lunatic joy. If only Elaine returned the smallest fraction of the love that he felt. Instead, she shunned him. He admired her strength of will, a disciplined strength that he did not possess.

No one had to coax Keiron to harness the horses to the gaudily painted red and green sleigh with its wooden runners and silver bells or beg him to join Auriel, the twins, Elaine, and Bethana, on their outings to Fayerton and outlying areas. He helped carry and deliver bundles of gifts and stacks of packages and food baskets, not from any misguided spirit of goodwill or to help the less fortunate and impoverished. He doubted any one mistook the true focus of his interest.

As the sleigh glided across the white landscape, sleigh bells ringing, Keiron joined the laughter and songs and listened to Jarutia and Jantz’s ghost stories replete with hilarious imitations of Etta’s tongue clacking and ga’ have mercy pleadings. He gathered baskets of evergreens and holly and sprigs of bright red berries. Jantz dared him to climb into the tallest trees and cut mistletoe.

Clowning, more jester than pagan king, Keiron demanded kisses from Auriel, Jarutia, Bethana, and Elaine. Elaine blushed and shoved him into a neck-deep snowdrift. Feeling a twinge of guilt, he turned the attention of his unmerciful teasing to Bethana and delighted in fanning the girl’s volatile temper into snow-melting flames of wrath. The lash of Bethana’s sharp tongue did not discourage him and Auriel usually sent him on his way laughing.

For once, the petty arguments and pressures vanished. Everyone, family and servants, shared in the festive preparations. Keiron managed to stay home, until he could no longer stand the confinement or Elaine’s continuing disregard. Taking Jantz along for company, Keiron continued delivering gifts from the Master and Mistress of Rosenhall. The locals accepted the gifts, gratefully and cheerfully.

The village taverns he visited, when not running errands and delivering holiday gifts from Rosenhall’s bounty, overflowed with holiday crowds raising the rafters with their rousing cheers and tankards of stout El Nath ale. But, he always managed to return home the next morning, awake and eager to help, offering a mischievous wink, laughter, and pestering Bethana for her pretentious airs.

“You are not lady of the manor yet, Bethy.” Keiron winked and nudged a yawning Jantz in the ribs with the sharp point of his elbow.

Bethana affected a haughty air and swept past him. “I will be someday.”

“Yes, someday,” Keiron teased. “Unless you trip, your pert little nose stuck too high in the air.”

Ignoring Keiron invited more taunts and jests. He spared no one from the antics of his humor. Everyone, servants included, became fair game, everyone but Elaine whose presence calmed his boisterous spirit.

“You look the rustic, little brother. Slightly more rustic than usual,” Keiron quipped, turning his attention to Jantz and eyeing the tangled, long hair and clothes that had to belong to some forgotten ancestor judging by the ragged, moth eaten appearance of the shabby green wool sweater and patched woolen trousers tucked into Jantz’s leather boots.

Keiron’s gaze swept Master Horse’s trio of sons who stood behind Jantz. The three burly, overly muscled young men looked miscast and uncomfortable out of their familiar element of the stables. Stair steps in age, the three were not that much older than Keiron. Their varying heights offered the only recognizable distinction between any of Master Horse’s five sons. All five boys resembled their father and shared the same oversized noses that dominated their long faces and overdeveloped muscles that came from a lifetime spent working within the stable complex, training the horses they bred, and from learning the craft of the blacksmith’s forge.

Those three in particular never roamed far from Jantz, especially when recruited away from their stable duties. Seeing the three, reminded Keiron of a time, several winters ago, when their father had paid the three louts to teach Jantz the fine art of self-defense. He had watched Jantz’s fighting lessons with enormous humor and even participated, however reluctant Jantz had been to learn how to fight.

“I am not interested in learning how to fight. I can take care of myself.”

“Your father paid us good silver to teach ya, boy.”

“No! I will not learn to fight! I do not see the need.”

“Your brother Martin’s comin’ home in a couple month’s time―”

“Good time to start learnin’―”

“You’ll need to learn how to defend yourself ―”

“A big brother won’t always be handy to rescue ya, boy―”

Laughing, Keiron agreed with Master Horses’ sons, having lost the battle upon several occasions when he had rushed to Jantz’s defense.

When push came to shove, Jantz learned to fight although not in a pretty way but in a manner that set him on an equal footing with Martin’s paid bullies. Jantz proved himself astonishingly quick with his hands and feet, and as Master Horse’s three sons initiated Jantz in lessons of self-defense and fighting, Keiron deemed it his brotherly obligation to teach Jantz the finer skills of drinking, gambling, and women. He held high hopes for Jantz when it came to drinking and gambling, but teaching Jantz about women was a different matter. He imagined that one day Jantz would discover making love to a woman was as easy as learning how to duck a fist or ride a horse.

“What?” Jantz laughed.

Keiron grinned and slapped Jantz’s cheek as he did at least a half dozen times a day. “I have high hopes for you, little brother,” he laughed. “So? What has my rustic brother recruited you three boys into doing this morning?” He looked past Jantz to the three broad-shouldered brothers.

“We’ve got the fire log outside, Master Keiron,” one of the brothers replied. The three retreated out the door, one behind the other, stepping in the same wet boot prints they had tracked across Etta’s polished floor.

“While you spent the morning snoring in bed, we cut Etta’s fire log,” Jantz said, grinning.

The three brothers returned, hauling a massive log with the aid of a thick chain and stout rope. With Jantz’s help and Keiron barking directions, their muscles bulging, they rolled the fire log through melting puddles of snow and into the Morning Room.

Amidst Etta’s bustle and scolding over the mess left by the fire log’s passage and shouting directions, as well as setting a pair of gawking serving girls to clean the mess, Keiron, Jantz, and Master Horse’s three sons rolled the massive log into the yawning grate. With the customary flourish, Etta produced a tin of last year’s ashes and sprinkled the charcoal powder over the log in preparation for the lighting and celebrations to come later that evening.

“Where is the tree you promised, young man?” Etta inquired of Jantz. She dusted her hands on her white apron, leaving smears of soot.

“I know the perfect tree, Etta!” Keiron laughed and jostled Jantz out of his way. Jantz and Master Horse’s three sons trotted after him into the foyer and hastily pulled on their winter gear. Servant girls, scrubbing the grime and melted snow from the marble tiled floor, giggled and blushed.

“Who is coming?” Keiron’s gaze swept the other three young ladies who had abandoned their embroidery hoops and followed them from the Morning Room.

Bethana refused. “Why should I freeze to death when it is warm and cozy inside? Besides, you never pick the tree I want.”

“Jarutia?” Keiron tugged on his leather gloves and flexed his fingers.

“Someone has to find the ornament boxes Etta had the servants store,” Jarutia said, surprising everyone by her odd reluctance to tag along.

“What? Tramping through the snow and searching for the perfect tree no longer excites you, sunshine?” Keiron teased, winking.

“You know Etta never can remember where she hides the decorations. You already said you have picked out the tree. You pick out the same tree every year, Keiron!”

“Take Elaine with you,” Bethana interjected.

“A splendid idea, Bethy.” Keiron laughed, even as Elaine objected.

Outside, Keiron elbowed aside one of Master Horse’s sons in his eagerness to drive the plain utilitarian sleigh used for hauling wood during the fall and winter, or for cutting ice during the spring thaw. He seized every opportunity to enjoy Elaine’s company, especially when she sat on the wooden seat next to him, bundled in her fur-lined winter cloak, muffler and gloves.

Grinning, Jantz hopped into the sleigh. He stood behind Keiron and Elaine, and held on to the back rung of the seat. Keiron shook out the reins and the sleigh glided forward to the chime of sleigh bells. Jantz laughed and eyes glistening, he shouted with each twist, bump, and turn of the sleigh. Master Horse’s sons jumped onto the runners and held on, all three sharing Jantz’s enthusiasm. Snow flew into their faces and frosty air filled their lungs. They elbowed each other and competed to knock one another off the runners and into the passing snowdrifts, but everyone managed to hold on without falling, despite Keiron’s reckless speed.

Keiron knew exactly where he drove the sleigh ― to the same spot within Rosenhall’s parkland he selected each season when it was time to cut a tree. Barely letting the sleigh slide to a complete stop, he tossed the reins to Elaine and leapt down. He raced to grab the heavy axe before one of Master Horse’s sons’ ham-sized hands could seize the wooden handle.

Jantz’s long, leather-incased fingers closed over his hand. “Jarutia is right. You pick the same tree every year, Keiron. Why?”

“Why not?” Keiron tried to jerk the axe free but Jantz’s grip remained firm.

“Release the axe, Jantz.”

“No. You do this every year.”

“You should not care.”

“I shouldn’t, but I do.”

“You are a fool.”

Jantz grinned, offered a fur clad shrug and waved his hand toward the tree that Keiron intended to cut down. “Any fool can see that tree is too tall and will never fit into the Morning Room, much less the front door.”

“I will make the blasted tree fit!” Keiron growled, determined.

“Your mother planted the tree when it was a seedling.”

“You mean Martin’s mother.” With a jerk, Keiron released the axe. He roughly shouldered his way past Jantz. From a few feet away, Master Horse’s three sons watched and shuffled their snow-caked boots.

When a small gasp escaped Elaine’s lips, Keiron glanced at the silent woman who had observed the annual scene that he had instigated several seasons ago after overhearing the gossip of rude servants speculating about his maternal bloodlines. Although Etta had intervened and set the gossips straight concerning his legitimacy, the seed of doubt was planted. He had ferreted out the truth with the same dogged persistence of any true-blooded Fayerfield. Oh, he was a Fayerfield, no disputing that, but as for his mother’s identity? She was not Martin’s mother.

Keiron shook his head and cleared away the memory of the nightlong drunken binges that had followed. What did he care who his mother was, as long as he did not share the dementia of Martin’s mother? He shoved his pain behind a mask of reckless jest. Why he wanted to cut down the magnificent balsam fir that his father’s first wife had planted remained his personal demon and not one that he cared to share, even for the sake of understanding. Elaine’s cough jarred him to his senses and he peered into the drowning blue of Jantz’s eyes.

“I do not want to know what that was all about,” Jantz murmured.

“Then let us leave it to the fate of a foundling Maybelle Flower deposited on a doorstep, little brother.”

Jantz blinked, startled by the remark. Keiron laughed, climbed upon the driver’s seat beside Elaine, and grabbed the harness reins she held.

“Wait until next season then.” Keiron winked at Elaine.

Elaine pulled her gaze away and pointed to a smaller fir that grew several yards off to their left. “What about that tree? It looks small enough and its boughs have a perfect shape.”

Elaine looked from Keiron to Jantz.

“It is a beautiful tree,” Elaine said when neither Keiron nor Jantz answered or offered an enthusiastic response.

“Beautiful,” Keiron murmured. He was not looking at the tree, but at the delicate way Elaine’s cheeks flushed, and not from the frostiness of the air. “And I do not mean the tree.”

Ducking her head, Elaine glanced at Jantz, his eyes a vivid blue smudge in that white world of snow and ice.

“Do you have any objections to cutting the tree Elaine picked out, little brother?” Keiron called. He had planted the tree; he could cut down the tree if he wanted.

“It is your tree, Keiron,” Jantz said and handed the axe to Keiron.

***

Excerpt from Written in Omen, Book 1 in the Voice of the Wind: Shadows of Time series.  http://tinyurl.com/hwqegee

 Copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth A. Monroe

September 5-6-7, for three dollars (99 cents), the three books in my Voice of the Wind: Shadows of Time series will be oVOW_3-3-3_book_ad:VOW_3-3-3_book_adn sale.

Here is the link for the three books:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008KACMBC

The tribes of the Objishanda, once as numerous as stars in the midnight firmament wane, no longer remembered except as archetypes depicted in folklore or song. The sun rises upon the face of a different world, as all worlds change: continents drift apart, mountains fall into the sea, polar ice caps melt, and volcanoes create new land masses and new mountains. New suns evolve, old suns die, and constellations shift. Ten thousand years hurtle past, created in a single thought, preserved in memory. Memory does persist, but not for all. For the House of Fayerfield, almost a century after the Kinstrife, brother struggles against brother. For the Drakes of the Abeytu, the gift of ancestral memory curses more than blesses.

Here are some of the 5 Star Reviews for Voice of the Wind: Shadows of Time series

Wonderful story! I absolutely loved this book! The descriptions are rich and pull you right into the scene. I love the characters and can’t wait to read the next one! Wonderfully written and full of detail, expression, and life. When I write a review I don’t like to reveal spoilers but this book is worth reading! ~Lisa Fender, author of the Fable series

Gorgeous World, Remarkable Characters… I WANT MORE! This is sooooooo not my genre, and I soooooooo couldn’t put it down. It is a rich world that visually takes you into the lives and generations of clans. If you’ve ever loved any fantasy creations, these are the characters you will love (and hate). Written in the style of classics, with detail to words and language, the book becomes a “story” that tells itself to you. I can’t wait to continue… ~ E. Rutigliano

Wonderful book! I love this story and I can’t wait to read the next book! I hope that, not to give anything away, but that Jantz sister is not gone! I want her and Doriano to be happy. I’m hoping… Thanks for this great read. Your attention to detail and description is amazing and your characters full of life! I will try to be patient for book #3 ~Kindle Customer

Absolutely love this series! This series has everything to offer! Murder, intrigue, love and ancient curses. I can’t wait for the third book to be available! ~Kindle Customer

A must read!!! I am absolutely addicted to this series! I can’t wait for the next book…I have never read anything like this series. Elizabeth Monroe’s story of love, loss and life will forever change you…it pulls you in and grips your heart….Bravo!! ~ Kindle Customer

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