Excerpt ~ Pale Imitations

Excerpt from Pale Imitations, Book Four in the Voice of the Wind: Shadows of Time series by Elizabeth Monroe


Hesper giggled softly. They were schoolgirls out on a lark meant to cheer Jonquil and so far, the ploy had worked. The fortuneteller’s booths, located among the San Bargel’s slave markets, offered a forbidden excitement.

Although reluctant, Jonquil let the old hag peer into the palm of her hand, chant and foretell the future she glimpsed with the scrolls of fine lines that etched her palm.

The fortuneteller’s voice crackled, brittle with age. A hand, with skin as thin as paper and withered fingers, clasped Jonquil’s hand. Apprehensive and yet intrigued, Jonquil could not pull her hand away from the fortuneteller’s strong grip.

“I see someone who loves you,” the fortuneteller’s crackling voice rasped like smoke swirling among the tendrils of frankincense that burned in a nearby ewer and added to the mysterious allure.

Jonquil smiled at the absurdity of the fortuneteller’s vagueness.

“I see marriage, yes, and much happiness — Oh! I see children!”

“How many children?” Jonquil glanced down at her upturned palm the fortuneteller clutched.

The fortuneteller’s eyes glinted within the veiled folds of her purple headdress trimmed in gold beads. “Four. Yes, I see four children — two boys, two girls — but they are far away, far from the shores of your birth land. I see a long voyage — a very long journey. Yes, a journey over water to foreign shores — San Bargel is not your home…”

“What do you mean San Bargel is not my home?” Jonquil interrupted. Anxiety spiked through her, despite her disbelief in the utterances of a crone who spoke about the fates according to how much silver or gold a patron dropped into her purple, star-studded donation box.

“I cannot see. It is too dim — too far,” the old woman muttered, shaking her head as her thin fingers probed and stroked the lines on Jonquil’s palm. It was the clue to drop another coin into the donation coffer.

Hesper and Golden both giggled.

“What else do you see, old one?” Jonquil asked.

Suddenly, the fortuneteller dropped Jonquil’s hand and uttered a hoarse cry. “Ayee! I cannot see anymore! No more! My old eyes tire looking for young girl’s fortunes! Please go — go!”

“But you saw something. I wish to know what you saw,” Jonquil insisted.

Hesper laughed and tugged on Jonquil’s arm. “Come on, Jonquil. Let us leave.”

“Can you not see her game? The old hag’s a fraud like the other frauds who hawk their visions of the future for the cost of a gold coin,” Golden said.

“Fraud am I?” the fortuneteller cried. “My fortunes are truth, child. No fraud! No gold!” The crone wagged a crooked forefinger before Jonquil’s face. “This girl — she knows!”

Jonquil stared into the gaping opening of the veil and into the old woman’s khol-lined, black eyes.

“You know the truth,” whispered the fortuneteller.

Jonquil swallowed. “Truth?”

“I see one who loves you. He is no longer with you. He has gone.”

“Flaric,” Jonquil whispered. Her heart thudded, a slow pounding beat.

The crone continued. She lifted her hand toward the shadowed ceiling of her booth. “His spirit watches over you — always. The connection of love is a strong force. It does not wither away at death. There is much darkness. I see shadows of evil — and fear. But love keeps you. He will send another to help you when your hour is darkest.”

“Jonquil, come on, of course she can tell you everything that has already happened,” Hesper said.

Golden countered, “Anyone who hears the news from the streets and the marketplace—”

“Or reads the newspapers—”

“Would know about Flaric’s death—” Hesper and Golden both insisted, speaking as one.

Both twins grabbed Jonquil’s arms to hurry her from the booth, but she stood frozen.

The crone laughed. “This girl knows the truth!” the old woman shouted.

“Come on, Jonquil. Father is waiting for us to join him for lunch,” Hesper whispered. She tried to draw Jonquil away.

The old fortuneteller was not finished. “Yes! Loved you will be — many times — but not all love is true — only when love despises love! Only when love despises love!”

The twins tugged Jonquil away from the shadows of the fortuneteller’s booth and out into San Bargel’s brilliant sunlight where their hired cab waited.

Hesper and Golden frowned at each other. “I am not so sure it was a good decision to visit the fortuneteller’s booth, even as a lark,” Golden muttered to her sister.

“How appalling! The old crone should be forced out of business!” Hesper cried.

“Jonquil, are you all right?” Golden squeezed Jonquil’s hand.

Stirring, Jonquil murmured, “Yes, I am fine.”

Hesper and Golden frowned at each other.

“What did she mean when love despises love? Did you understand any of the old fortuneteller’s gibberish?” Hesper asked.

“Let it be, Hesper,” Golden said. “The old witch was trying to take advantage of Jonquil’s bereavement. Another question would have cost you more coin. That is how they operate.”

Hesper nodded. “Frauds. That is what they are.”

But Jonquil was not so sure. She could not forget the fortuneteller’s words, not even when they joined Sir Crispin Perrywhite and Leander Fleming at the Green Dragon for luncheon and were seated at Sir Crispin’s reserved table.

Although death had claimed Flaric, Jonquil had felt his presence hovering close. She had heard his voice speaking to her — as real sounded as he had spoken to her in life. And that night when the stable had burned, Flaric’s warning had been more than a dream. Jonquil shivered.

#excerpt #Kindle #amazonebook #amwriting


Pale Imitations ~ Now Available!

Pale Imitations, Book 4 in my Voice of the Wind: Shadows of Time series, is “Live” on Amazon. Finally! 🙂 $3.99 or read for Free on Kindle Unlimited.

“Pale Imitations” brings a departure from the landscapes of the previous three books in the series. Escape into the tropical, southern world of San Bargel where there are new characters to meet, love and hate, plus a rotten villain (or two). 🙂

I hope everyone enjoys reading Pale Imitations as much as I enjoyed scribbling the story. Reviews and comments are greatly appreciated!

Thank you! ~ E.A. Monroe



#amwriting #ampublished #fictionsaga #mothersanddaughters

The Promise, Chapter 1 from Trouble in River City

“Must you and Poppa go out tonight?” I whined as Momma tucked me into bed.

“Darling, you know it’s Poppa’s job to attend company functions. Tonight is a very special night for him and many important people will be there.”

I didn’t want Momma and Poppa going out to their New Year’s Eve dance at the Petroleum Club’s Magnolia Ballroom. Ice slicked the city streets. I always fell down on the ice. How could Poppa drive his brand new motorcar on the ice without sliding? Poppa was proud of his Buick automobile even though Momma complained when he drove too fast. Poppa laughed. He loved driving fast and even promised to teach me how to drive when I was old enough, older than the eleven years I was now.

Momma continued, her carmine lips curled in a smile and the slant of her green twinkling eyes crinkled at their corners. “Poppa and I can hardly stay home, as much as we’d rather. Alexander Jordan is in town for the premiere of his new movie…” She sighed, her eyes glazed and dreamy. “Just imagine, darling! River City’s Golden Boy and our own Hollywoodland success story! Shall I bring you Alexander’s photo and his autograph for our scrapbook? Would you like that?”

“We have a scrapbook full of his photographs, Momma,” I said continuing my whine.

“But we don’t have his newest photograph for our scrapbook. Movie premieres are special occasions, darling, and I seriously doubt Alexander will visit River City again anytime soon.”

Momma’s scrapbook. She had pasted her favorite matinee idols’ glossy photos and news clippings on every page. Valentino, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore, Dietrich and Garbo, Tom Nix — Momma said she had even met them. How else could Momma have their autographs with her name on them if she hadn’t met them? Dearest Olivia. They even knew Momma’s name. She had tons of Alexander Jordan’s photos. I didn’t know why she wanted or needed any more photos of him.

She had more photos, magazine and newspaper clippings of Alexander Jordan in her scrapbook than any of the other radio personalities and movie stars! I think Poppa might’ve been a bit jealous, but Momma always teased him and said she loved him more and how there was no one more special to her. Poppa’s ears always turned red and sometimes he grumbled or laughed and danced around the living room with Momma in his arms, their eyes shining.

“I hope I don’t swoon!” Momma said, pressing her fingertips against the hollow of her throat.

I giggled. “Poppa will catch you, Momma.”

Momma laughed, her head tilted back on her shoulders, her neck long and graceful. Her special laugh always made strangers notice her and smile. Poppa always beamed with pride.

Momma was beautiful and tonight she looked like a movie star in her shimmering red evening gown with its hand-sewn crystal beads and her black hair piled in curls atop her head. She didn’t flash and drip diamonds like the glamorous lady stars in the photographs. Instead, she wore her special locket — a golden heart that held two pictures, my sister Mary Rose on one side and me on the other half of the heart.

Her two blessed angels she called us, even when we acted naughty and got into trouble or when we refused to eat the vegetables Mrs. LuElla Jones piled on our dinner plates, especially beets. I hated beets, but I ate them, especially when Momma made me feel guilty because children went to bed starving on the streets of River City.

LuElla always took Momma’s side. I hardly thought that was fair since Momma paid LuElla and I said as much. “None of your sass, Miss Agatha Grace Sabra Haisten!” LuElla always scolded me every time I messed up something she’d just cleaned, especially when I was hungry and decided to bake a cake and powdered flour all over the kitchen. Or when I told our neighbor, Mrs. Breeze, that she looked like a turkey. “I earned every coin your Momma pays me to teach you polite manners. Child, you seriously lack good manners. Now, shoulders back, head up. Stand straight!” Sometimes LuElla poked me between my shoulder blades and said, “Stand up straight, child!”

LuElla lived in a section of River City called the Deep Second and came in every day, except on Sundays, to help Momma, or to stay with Mary Rose and me — like tonight when Momma and Poppa were going out on the town. She’d stay over, no matter how late, and Poppa would drive her home to the Deep Second where she lived with her other family. I didn’t know why LuElla couldn’t live with us all the time.

“Go to sleep, darling.” Momma stroked her fingertip down my nose. When she kissed my cheek, I inhaled her sweetness as deep as I could. Ah, Chanel No. 5.

“I promise, darling, I will tell you all about the movie premier and our evening over breakfast.”

“You promise?”

“Yes, darling, I promise.”

Momma always kept her promises.

Prologue from Book 4 in the Voice of the Wind series

Bethana Tourney 1


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