It’s my birthday today and if we all shared a physical work-space I’d be getting the cakes in! Since we’re not, I’m running a birthday giveaway of ‘The Silver Locket’ which you can download free from Amazon today and tomorrow (7th and 8th February).
It’s a second edition, and I’m pretty certain that the few annoying typo wrinkles have all been ironed out. Of course, this means that if you have one of the original paperbacks, you now have a collector’s item (well, maybe one day).
If you happen to live in South Africa, I can post you a signed first edition for R175,00 (price includes postage). If you stay here, you know that’s a bargain!
You may just notice a little box up on the top of the side bar: The Silver Locket is up for a reader’s choice award. If you’d like to lend me your support, just click on the pic.
February is also Valentine month and I have another offer running. My second novel, You’ll Never Walk Alone: a special valentine edition todownload for just 99c / 99p.
Well, I have to go, it’s birthday time and I’m going to spend my royalties on a lovely pink rosebush for my garden! Have a lovely weekend everyone 🙂
Ashley woke up. Her little sister, Bethany, had been calling out to her. As Ashley rolled over to check on her sister, she felt her body push up against something hard. As she looked across their bedroom, she saw that Bethany’s sleeping form had become entwined by the tendrils of some exotic plant which were growing from a giant seed pod which lay on the bed next to her. Ashley looked down; a similar seed pod rested next to her. As she moved her arm to pull back the covers, a thick, green tendril snaked out from the pod and wrapped itself around her wrist. She gasped and tried to pull herself free. Another tendril shot out and bound her left leg. Ashley screamed out as she heaved herself over the edge of the bed, knocking ‘The Big Book of Fairy Tales’ which she’d been reading to Bethany onto the floor, the cover ripping as the book fell. She groped her way across to Bethany’s bed, dragging the pod behind her.
Ashley was pulling herself up onto the edge of Bethany’s bed when, Hodge, the housekeeper, appeared at the door. Hodge rushed over to the bedside. Ashley had managed to free her arm and was desperately tugging at Bethany’s bonds.
“Help me, Hodge, get it off her,” Ashley cried. “Quickly, it’s choking her.”
Hodge grunted as she tried to loosen the tendrils which were tightening around the little girl. Her strong fingers drew back the growth around Bethany’s face and neck. Ashley kicked at her own seed pod, freeing her leg. The pod rolled under her bed, hitting the wall with a dull thud.
“Go and fetch Tom and get him to bring something to cut this off,” said Hodge, gesturing toward the door with her head, as she continued to pull on the vegetation. Her voice rose: “Hurry, Ashley!”
Ashley hurtled downstairs and out of the kitchen door. “Tom, Tom!” she yelled, running down the garden to the potting shed where Tom was usually to be found.
He emerged carrying a watering can. “What’s the rush, Miss Ashley? You’re not even dressed.”
Ashley explained the situation to the puzzled gardener, who nevertheless grabbed his shears and secateurs and hurried into the house after her.
Ashley watched as Tom carefully chopped away at the plant. Soon there was a pile of cut vegetation next to the bed and Bethany was free. All the time while Tom had worked, there had been no sound from the little girl. They could see she was breathing, but she was unconscious.
“What’s wrong with her,” cried Ashley. “Why won’t she wake up? And these things..?” she pointed to the cut tendrils.
Hodge and Tom exchanged glances. “Tis Faeries’ work,” said Tom shaking his head. “That’s a spell that is.”
Hodge nodded gravely. “Aye, so it is.”
“Surely fairies are only in stories?” said Ashley, picking up the book and smoothing the torn cover.
Hodge didn’t answer. She turned to Tom. “Get all of this out of here,” she gestured at the pile of foliage. “And burn it.”
Tom nodded. “Every last piece.” He started collecting up the debris. Ashley bent to help him. “No, Miss Ashley, leave this to me.” He turned to Hodge. “Will you go for Ceridwen?”
“Aye, I will.” She turned to Ashley. “You just sit here with your sister until I come back. She’ll come to no more harm just now. I won’t be long.”
Ashley climbed into bed beside her sleeping sister and stoked her golden curls. She must have fallen asleep as it seemed just a few minutes later when Hodge came bustling through the bedroom door followed by a tall, slim woman, dressed in long, flowing garments and carrying a large cloth bag.
“Hello child,” the woman said softly to Ashley. “I am Ceridwen,” she laid a pale hand over Bethany’s forehead and smiled.
Hodge cleared the table which stood between the sisters’ beds. Ashley watched as Ceridwen unpacked her cloth bag and carefully placed a long red candle in a star-shaped holder on the table. Next she took out an ornate silver chalice which she filled with a clear green liquid poured from a little glass bottle. Hodge left the room and closed the door quietly behind her. Ceridwen started to chant.
The following day, Ashley was awoken by her sister. “Wake up, Ashley,” Bethany said as she nudged her shoulder gently. “Come on, you’ve been asleep for hours.”
Ashley shook her head, trying to clear the fog of sleep from her mind.
“You must have had a very bad dream last night,” continued Bethany. “You were tossing and turning as if you were trying to fight something.”
Ashley frowned. Had it all been a dream? Like in their ‘Big Book of Fairy Tales’? She glanced at the cover of the book which lay on the bedside table. The cover was torn. She picked it up to examine it, noticing a blob of red candle wax on the table surface.
“Come on, Ashley, Tom’s making a bonfire. We can ask Hodge if we can toast some marshmallows later.” Bethany rushed from the room, the door slamming behind her. Ashley heard her clattering downstairs and calling out to Hodge. Under Ashley’s bed the forgotten seed pod rocked gently from side to side.
Ashley laid aside the book she was reading, slid off the bed and walked across to the window. She leant out. Her little sister was waving at her from the garden.
“It’s the little tree. It’s got flowers. Come and see!” Bethany cried, hopping from foot to foot.
Ashley slipped on her sandals and ran downstairs, through the open French windows and into the garden. Bethany grabbed her hand and hurried her towards the orchard, passing the pond where a fish was leaping to catch a fly. Normally Bethany would stop to admire the fish, but this morning she ran straight past, urging her older sister along.
Once inside the orchard, both sisters skidded to a halt. The little tree, which had mysteriously appeared a week ago, did indeed have flowers. From a smattering of foliage the day before, the tree had burst forth into flower. Huge, burgeoning blossoms with thick white petals and purple stamens covered the tree. More buds were unfurling as they watched. Hand in hand the two sisters approached the tree. Then Bethany cried out and pointed. A swelling was forming behind one of the flowers. As it grew they could see it was some kind of fruit. Then another appeared, and another. White petals were falling all around them like snowflakes, the scent, sweet and intoxicating, filled the air.
The sisters watched wide-eyed as the ripening fruit grew larger; long, smooth-skinned and a deep, rich purple. Then from behind the slender tree trunk, a small figure emerged. He was a little shorter than Bethany and wore a broad-brimmed hat and pointed shoes. He held out his hands to them, a luscious purple fruit in each one.
Much later in the day, the girls awoke. They couldn’t quite remember how they’d come to fall asleep in the orchard. Each recalled a delicious dream but neither girl could properly remember the details. They looked around at the little tree. It was just as it had been the day before, but when they looked at each other the front of their white pinafores were stained a delicate violet colour.