The Yuletide Collection of Short Stories

December 25, 2017

Perhaps there are one or three of you who have a little time on your hands…  Okay, that doesn’t seem likely.  Maybe you just need to escape from the holiday bustle and crowds.  With that in mind I’ve listed (with links) some of the holiday-ish short stories and vignettes I’ve posted over the years.  First, greetings of the season to you and yours!

Stories from the Atonement, Tennessee Universe

Three Atonement TN Holiday Things*

Lilith and mirror

Annie’s Inventory Notes — the Sleigh 

1905 Horseman mag Sleigh horses couple

Adelle’s Teapot

1937 Look Shirley Temple Santa tea

Stories from the Pip-verse (Three Things)

I was thinking I had more than one holiday related story of Pip and her friends, but apparently not.  At any rate, here is the most recently shared short story…

Pip’s Lemony Christmas*

Christmas tree hat Modern Pricilla December 1920

Wishing each of you a magical holiday.  Yuletide blessings and hugs!

Teagan

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 to 2017  by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Jazz Age Wednesdays 15 ― Pip’s Lemony Christmas

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hello, everyone!  It’s Jazz Age Wednesdays here at Teagan’s Books.  I know how busy you must be at this time of year, so I’m even happier to see you.

These midweek posts have been a mix of new and re-shared vignettes.  Since several of you sheiks and shebas are new here, I hope no one minds that I’m doing a repeat of my story from a year ago.  As for the “Pip-verse” time-line, this one happens after Pip’s adventures in The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story but before she went to Savanna to live with Granny Phanny.

Pip’s Lemony Christmas

 

Pip Christmas Frame Green

It had been a grand and glorious year.  However, it pos-i-lute-ly had ups and downs.  At that moment I was in one of the downs.  Even the long distance telephone call from my best friend Mona failed (miserably I might add) to cheer me.  She might not be sure where she wanted her future to go, but at least it was going somewhere.  All my friends were moving forward, going somewhere.  Me?  It didn’t look like I would ever get anywhere.

Not only was I going nowhere, I seemed to be going there all by myself.  Worse, it was Christmastime.  Even my Pops suddenly had to go up north on business.  I offered to go and keep him company…  Okay, so I begged.

“Young ladies have no place at business meetings,” he told me in the stern, no nonsense voice that meant I wouldn’t get anywhere with my plea.

Idly, I looked at the lace covered table, lemons artfully arranged as a centerpiece.  I took one of the tangy fruits, tossed it in the air and caught it.  I pondered as I tossed the lemon.

What would any self-respecting flapper do in such a situation?  Refuse to be a sourpuss, that’s what a flapper would do!

I decided as I tossed the lemon.  If all I had for Christmas was lemons, then I’d make lemonade — so to speak, especially after I found the bottle of hooch Pops had squirreled away.  I would have rather had the champagne I knew he hid some place, but that had been ages ago and I couldn’t remember where I saw it.

Gin will do just fine, I told myself.

Suddenly inspired, I gave the yellow fruit a final toss.  I went to the shoebox that held Granny’s recipes.  She had given me instructions for all sorts of citrus treats, and I was a sourpuss with a sweet tooth.

1920s-lemons-king-tut-brand

A little while later I was cleaning up the kitchen as it filled with citrusy baking aromas.  Just as I picked up the remains of my lemons, a loud knock pounded at the front door.  It startled me so badly that I ran to the door with barely a wipe to my juice drenched hands.

“Delivery!” the words came with another thunderous knock.

I threw open the door and the cool December air hit my face.  It was downright brisk, for Florida anyway.  There was a truck in the driveway and a young man with a name embroidered on his jacket — Ronny.  I took the package, barely looking at the guy who handed it to me.  My hands tore at the twine excitedly, even before I went inside.  Meanwhile Ronny the delivery man wrote something on the receipt clamped to his clipboard.

“If you’ll sign here, Miss?” he asked.

There was a card inside the package from my friend Mona.  The front of it said “I’m sorry you’re alone at Christmas.”  Hurriedly I stuck the edge of the note between my teeth and tucked the package under my arm so I could take the clipboard and sign the form.

Only then did I notice what a cutie the guy was.  He tilted his head all the way to his shoulder and read aloud the note while I signed.  As soon as I heard him speak the words, I blushed scarlet.  To make matters worse, he made a sympathetic aww sound that made me feel like a six year-old.

In my flustered flurry of motions, taking the note from my teeth, trying to stick it back in the package, and pushing my hair back… wouldn’t you know I touched a lemon coated finger to my face.  I yelped as the citrus stung my eyes.  It made tears stream down my cheeks.man_ray_tears

The guy sounded guilty when he pleaded to know what the matter was, as if he had caused it.  The only word I could manage to utter was, “Lemons!”

He pulled my hand away from my face and lightly sniffed it.  He gave a little chuckle that made me want to bean him.

“Yep, that’s lemons all right.  For a minute there I was afraid you got bad news,” he commented.  “But I guess being alone on Christmas Eve is bad enough.”

For some reason his comment made me lose my composure.  I burst out in real tears and sobs, no longer caused by the stinging citrus.  I plopped down on the porch and sat there with the package in my lap.  This upset poor Ronny.  He started blabbering apologies, clearly unsure of why he was asking for forgiveness.

“Look sweet cakes, you’re my last delivery.  Let me help you wash your face and get rid of that lemon juice before you put your fingers in your eyes again,” he offered in a contrite voice.

I insisted that it was okay, and with a sniffle, silenced my sobs.  Too embarrassed to look at him I turned my attention back to Mona’s gift.  Her card had fallen, but Ronny picked it up and handed it to me.  I took it from him and with a deep breath I spoke the words that humiliated me a moment before.

“I’m sorry you’re alone at Christmas,” I read the elegant script on the outside, and then opened the card.  “So you’ll just have to make your own party.”

1920s Champagne ad Calixtus

What?  Digging through the packing paper I found two sparkling etched crystal goblets.  I held up one of the glasses to watch the light play on it.  I looked at Ronny, feeling utterly bemused.  He returned my gaze with a twinkle in eyes that I suddenly noticed were a heavenly shade of blue.

Ronny picked up the other empty glass and playfully tapped it against the one I held.  I suddenly remembered where Pops hid the bubbly.

The End

***

 I appreciate your visit.  You are pos-i-lutely the bee’s knees!

Now, for that shameless self-promotion… Here are the links to the books about Pip and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Seasons Greetings — Features from Atonement, TN

Blessings of the Yuletide to you and yours!1925 Dec American Magazine

Welcome back to Atonement, TN everyone.  I hope the holiday season is bringing joy your way.

The truth is that I don’t make a big deal of this particular season.  However, I do enjoy giving little presents.  So I spent hours trying to think of something I could give you.  I was woefully unprepared.

What if I were to …

Oh! I’ll write a special short story. No — not enough time.

Well then, I could record a “sound bite” to read you something from “Atonement, Tennessee.”  But I didn’t allow enough time to learn all I needed to know for that either.  (It was an ill-fated, belated brainstorm.)

Is it re-gifting…?

Thursday I made an Atonement TN holiday video, meaning to use it as a greeting card. I don’t know what possessed me to put it on Facebook.  Is it re-gifting if  I share it here?

What if I did a really fast Three Things?

Okay then.  I just now took three things from the video card…  It came to me to let my Ralda Lawton character tell this tidbit from her first Christmas in Atonement, TN.  Here goes!

Three Atonement TN Holiday Things:

Christmas Tree, Hearth Fire, Pinecone.

I’ve had cats who made a flying leap for the top of the Christmas tree the moment they saw the tree.  The fact that it was artificial didn’t slow them down a bit.  Because of that, for many years I didn’t decorate at all — not so much as a string of lights.

Lilith had always been good about decorations.  She didn’t climb or eat them.  Yet this was our first Christmas in our new/old home.  In fact, it had only been a matter of weeks since we moved.  So I couldn’t be certain of how she’d behave after so much upheaval in her life.  However, everything was going pretty smoothly.  An ornament got loose.  Fortunately it wasn’t glass, because she chased it across the hardwood floor.

1925 La Vie Parisienne ChristmasThe ornament rolled to a stop at the fireplace screen.  There was no hearth fire.  I wanted to have the chimney inspected before I used it.  Sunhold was a very old estate, after all.  Sadly, I was having trouble finding a general contractor or chimneysweep who was available.

Gwydion — Guy Fabdon of Fae’s Flowers to the townspeople, was also the local handyman.  Most people would tell me to call on him. Unfortunately I had important reasons for avoiding Gwydion.  So even though it would have been cozy to light the fire, the hearth remained cold.

A knock at the front door startled my cat and me as well.  I peeped out the stained glass panel that surrounded the door.  I couldn’t see clearly, but it looked like Pete Mannix.  He had been hired as a private detective by my friend Lacey Hampton’s attorney when her husband went missing, but that’s another story.  And yes, if you were about to say something about his name — that’s another part of that other story.

I hesitated minutely before opening the door.  Someone I trusted with my life, did not trust Pete Mannix.  So I couldn’t help having doubts about the detective.  However, I was editing a massive report for Pete and the attorney.  I just wasn’t expecting Pete to be the one to bring the additional information I requested for the project.

When I opened the door my eyes widened at the sight of a box of paper files he carried.  He noted my surprise.1920s Vogue Christmas

“Didn’t anyone tell you how far this stuff dates back?” he asked with a chuckle.

Then he hit me with that thousand watt smile.  Did I mention that Pete Mannix was the epitome of the term silver fox?  “Leroy Jethro Gibbs” would have nothing on Pete Mannix in a contest for that title.

I gave a mental shove to my distrust and opened the door.

Then my fickle feline floozy noticed him.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that Lilith has an uncanny fondness for attractive men.  Mannix passed the calico’s test.  She twined around his ankles.  When I shooed her away, she came back, batting a pinecone decoration and chasing it as if it was a toy.  The detective was quite taken with her.  Lilith was entirely too susceptible to his thousand watt smile.

***

Now how can I possibly segue any of this into a recipe?  I doubt you’d want to eat pinecones. Oh, but wait!  Pine nuts!  But holy Hannah, pine nuts are expensive… and I know everyone has spent all their money on presents.  So I found this delightful dip at Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen.  Chitra describes it as “a traditional winter pesto made from parsley and mixed nuts instead of basil and pine nuts.” Please click the link below for the recipe.

Parsley-walnut-almonds-pecan nuts pesto/dip

Thanks for visiting Atonement, TN!  Wishing you every blessing and every joy throughout this season — from Ralda, Lilith, and all the characters from all my stories — and of course, from me.

Mega holiday hugs,

Teagan

.

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

Atonement, TN: Beginning

veil_of_sky_open_1 copy

The Story Begins

I’m posting this especially for those who have requested something longer to read.  I’m listening to your comments, and I aim to please!  So here is a rather long excerpt from the beginning of “Atonement, Tennessee,” my debut novel, published on Christmas Eve 2013.

With our “interactive” serials, The Three Things, and The Three Ingredients, I’m considerate of the fact that you might not have time to settle in with the story.  So I try to keep the episodes brief. Here, I’m giving you a large chunk from the beginning of Atonement, Tennessee.  It’s doesn’t take itself too seriously. The urban fantasy is set in our world, in the current time, but with supernatural elements, and a side order of mystery.

Naturally I hope this leaves you with a taste to read the rest of my novel.  It’s for sale at Barnes & Noble [online only of course], and at Amazon/Kindle. In case you’re curious, here’s my Amazon author page.  I hope you’ll check it out:   http://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

Prologue

Dawn’s light cast shadows that shifted amid branches of magnolia and mountain laurel, and danced upon statuary and grave ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????stones.  A mouse scurried out from the darkness of the mausoleum, narrowly avoiding Lilith’s expert pounce.  The big calico cat gave chase to the mouse, romping between headstones and tumbling the fallen leaves for some little while before losing interest.

Lilith held her head up expectantly, as if suddenly aware of something unseen.  In a series of graceful but quick motions she jumped to a tall grave marker that had toppled against the mausoleum, and then onto the tomb’s roof.

From her high perch the calico could see a house that was on the opposite side of the street, down a short distance from her new home.  Lights were on inside, silhouetting a large shape that moved from room to room.  It looked like a man.  He approached the tall, broad window on the second story front of the house.  There he stopped, seeming to look outside as if aware of being observed.

The cat continued to stare.  The silhouette seemed to shift and bulge, extending to fill the big window.  Huge appendages moved rhythmically.  Lilith watched, fascinated.  After a moment the shape diminished and the house went dark.black_eagle_with_open_wings_design-t1

Now that certainly wasn’t anything native to this place, she thought.  Lilith wondered just how badly he had erred to be in this unique place.  He surely wasn’t there of his own choice.

The calico sat meditatively swishing her tail as a pink sunrise gently lit the sky.  Her ears pricked as she turned toward the distant sound of a rooster crowing.  As morning light touched the tip of a spire on the mausoleum’s peaked roof, the calico abandoned her perch and trotted back toward her new home.

Sunlight glittered the morning dew on the grass, so she walked along the stone path.  The cat stopped in a sunny spot to watch a spider.  It disappeared beneath a stone, so she started washing her face, but listened for anything that might prove interesting.

Early sounds of the day were pushed aside when a shaggy dog with a ribbon bow on its head made his escape.  The owner began Puddles in grasschanting the dog’s name, “Puddles, Puddles!” in a loud, displeased monotone.  The dog, having thus far outwitted the master, scampered between hedges and under a fence, where the hateful bow was happily lost.  Skidding round a corner the dog came upon the fat calico cat.  Lilith stopped washing her face, paw in midair, and looked disdainfully at the dog.  An expression of comprehension sprang to the dog’s eyes.  He turned with a shrill yip and ran back to his still chanting master.

The shadow of a hawk passed overhead as the cat sauntered to the back door of her home, entering when it opened, and meowing her opinion of the dog.

***

I        A Home

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, ready to savor the moment.  Then I opened my eyes, and for the first time, looked out the kitchen window at the morning.  No.  It wasn’t the kitchen window, it was my kitchen window.  It seemed like forever since I’d had my own home.

Fogy DCI had felt terribly displaced.  Renting.  In the big city.  I wasn’t exactly thrilled with my life there in other ways either.  Many people thought I should just “catch a man” to solve all my problems.  Yes, in this century, if you can believe that.  But I’ve already made that mistake… more than once.  I won’t make it again.  Man, woman, or miscellaneous other.

Besides, I tend to freak out people when they’re that close to me.  I have very strong intuition, that’s all; nothing special.  I don’t see the future or anything, but apparently I “get” enough on my inner network to make some people very uncomfortable.  I hide it as much as I can, but in close relationships, people usually figure out my freakish intuition.  Then they’re weirded-out.  So I was on a sabbatical from relationships.

All I really wanted was a home, and now I finally had one.  Though how I came to have my home could be a story in itself.  One day at work, I was doing some fact checking.  Something just didn’t feel right about the piece I was editing.  That’s my job – ??????????????????????????????????????editing.  While searching the Internet, I stumbled on a website where houses were being auctioned.  I’d like to think it was my extraordinary intuition that took me to the website.  However it wasn’t my intuition that led me to the site.  I didn’t know it at the time, but something else was responsible for that.

Anyway, one particular house caught my eye.  It was called Sunhold, though it looked more gloomy than sunny in the photos.  Despite the melancholy pictures, it felt… comfortable, maybe even familiar; I couldn’t say why.  It gave me goose bumps when I looked at the pictures.Old House_dreamstime_xs_22975594

Then through a stroke of luck that continued to amaze me, I won the auction for the house – and at an unbelievably low price.  Granted, I was way overdue for some good luck, but things like that just don’t happen to me.  It was too good to be true.  Even so, only the night before, I arrived at the huge and empty old house in the quaint little town of Atonement, Tennessee.

Looking around the kitchen I felt a sense of satisfaction.  It was spacious, but only a corner Raldas Kitchenof it was set up for modern use.  The listing had referred to it as a caretaker’s kitchen.  It was furnished with an old but well-kept dinette set — 1950’s chrome-plated tubular steel frame chairs with green vinyl covered seat and back cushions, and a green and yellow dappled Formica table.  There were also retro metal cabinets in a slightly lighter green than the chairs.  The gas stove was low tech but relatively new, and there was a refrigerator.

The porcelain sink had a couple of chips in it, but it was in pretty good shape.  I leaned against the sink as I watched a hawk settle upon the highest branch of an ancient oak, and remembered that they were supposed to be messengers.  I should have wondered what the hawk’s message might be, but I marveled at its grace instead.  Maybe its message was that I had just gotten my pajamas wet while leaning against the sink…  I looked down at the big wet spot at my stomach and sighed.

Then I heard an unexpected feline noise at the kitchen door.  It couldn’t be my cat.  Or could it?  The first thing I did when I got there was check the house to make sure it was “cat proof,” so she couldn’t get outside.  The meow came again.  That was definitely my cat.  I hurried to the door.cat raspberry

“You know it upsets me when you get out, Lilith.  What would I do if anything happened to you?” I complained, but was ignored.  “Did Puddles get loose again?” I asked, noticing her catitude.

I’d heard the neighbor calling the dog the previous night, and again that morning.  I gathered that was a frequent occurrence, based on the annoyed and bored tone of his voice.  My answer was a long and very catty sounding meow as the calico walked past me to her food dish, fluffy tail held high and swaying.  She inspected the contents for any change that may have occurred while she was outside, nibbled one kibble, and then strolled away to resume her investigation of her new living-room.

There was no microwave, I suddenly realized as I took the jar of instant coffee out of my bag of kitchen stuff.  Fortunately I had included a pan among the odds and ends I thought I might need before the movers arrived.  Before too long I had a steaming cup of coffee in my hand, but knowing Lilith had gotten out had been enough to wake me up, and no caffeine necessary.

There was a lot of work ahead of me.  Decades of dust needed to be cleaned, and I held small hope of making progress before the moving truck containing my meager belongings arrived.  Now a new task went to the top of my to-do list.  If the cat had found a way out of the house, I had to find it and close off her exit.  She had probably already met more neighbors than had I, and she wasn’t even supposed to get outside.

TN Autumn RoadThe neighborhood was rather charming, in its own way.  Sunhold sat atop the hill, with a very long driveway to the road.  The driveway was practically a street, the house being so far off the road.  The drive was lined with tall shrubbery that had gone wild.  I hoped that it bloomed at some point during the year, but I had no idea what the plants were, not yet.

Though the property was quite large, it was fenced all the way around.  There was a comfortable degree of “closeness” to the houses on the opposite side of the street, though there weren’t any immediately next door.  I moved dusty lace curtains to one side to look down the street.  The neighborhood didn’t seem to be up and about yet.

I was wrong.  There was a knock at the door and I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Then I looked down at my ratty pajamas and the big wet spot at my stomach…Feeling-Frumpy-ad

Did I say my intuition was freakish?  Well, it’s also extremely unreliable.  I was not expecting a knock at the door.  I looked around in an undressed panic.  The sweat jacket I’d worn the night before was hanging on the stair rail, thank goodness.  I put it on to camouflage the fact that I was braless, but nothing could hide my lack of makeup, or the dark circles under my eyes.

The knock came again.  How could anybody be that insistent so early?  I reluctantly answered the door, opening it just a crack.  All I could see was a bunch of flowers, in bright fall colors.  Maybe the caffeine hadn’t kicked in yet and I was dreaming…  Then I heard a lilting voice come from behind the flora with a cheery, “Welcome Wagon!”

I didn’t think the Welcome Wagon still existed.  Plus, how many people could sound that bubbly at that time of the morning?  Usually I’m the one who’s a morning person.  However, it had been a long drive from Gwydion white flowersDC to Atonement, Tennessee.  It was evening when I got into town, and it was very late by the time I settled down to go to sleep.  I had a good case of moving exhaustion.  I stood in puzzled, sleepy silence.

Then a handsome face with an engaging grin peeked around from the flowers.  I was even more bewildered — and horrified at having a nice looking man, on my front porch, while I stood braless and frumpy in my pajamas!

As he moved the flowers to the side I saw one of those magnetic nametags on his jacket.  It read “Guy, Fae’s Flowers,” but my foggy brain didn’t readily absorb the information.  Then I saw the florist truck in my drive way.  My driveway, part of my brain cheered.  I remembered seeing the florist shop next to the antiques store on my way through town the evening before.Faes Flowers

“I was so delighted to know we finally have a new lord of the manor — or I should say lady of the manor, living in the old Sunhold estate, that I simply had to do something to welcome you to the neighborhood,” he said in the most charming accent.

Was it Irish?  No, not really.  Scottish maybe?  Not quite.  Something else?  I’m not good at figuring out accents.  I couldn’t place it, but he was surely from somewhere around that part of the world.  Then I noticed the mischievous twinkle in his green eyes.  Mesmerized, I had to shake my head before I could look away.

Had I even spoken to him?  I honestly couldn’t remember whether or not I had so much as opened my mouth.  Or rather, whether I had uttered a word, because I think my mouth actually was hanging open.  I felt my cheeks blush, and stammered a thank you.

“Oh, here.  Let me get you a tip,” I started to excuse myself, and then realized that he was already standing inside.  When had he gotten inside?  I must have been really flustered to have let him get past the front door.  Yet I honestly couldn’t remember him stepping over the threshold.  It was very bewildering.

“No, no,” he said in a happy tone, waiving his hand.  “I’m the shop owner.  It wouldn’t be proper for you to tip me.  Allow me the honor,” he said with a playful expression and a half bow.  “Where can I set these?”

Victorian parlorMy face reddened further at my inadequate furnishings, but I spotted a dusty table across the room.  The dust of course, was embarrassing as well.  However, he placed the flowers there and pretended not to notice.

“I’m sorry,” I began, “the movers won’t be here for a while.  I only got in last evening, so I haven’t had time…” I couldn’t manage to finish the sentence.

He pulled a cloth from his pocket, and I winced thinking he felt the need to clean the horribly dusty table before putting those lovely flowers on it.  However, he only gave the cloth a snap over the table, and then used it to wipe the moisture from the vase.  When he set the flowers down, that tiny area in front of the bay window looked like the only livable place in the house.  It practically shimmered in the early morning sunlight.

“You know,” he spoke conversationally as he adjusted the arrangement, “flowers have a language all their own.  Each one has a meaning.  For instance in days gone by, someone might give you white heather, like this one,” he said, pointing to a blossom, “to say they hoped all your wishes would come true.  It’s also for protection.”

Looking at this man, Guy, from a different perspective, he did strike me as the type of person who had a great deal of knowledge in general, not just about flowers.  He had that kind of modest self-confidence.  However it was combined with the contrast of cocky playfulness.  So why did I feel so uncertain about him?  A first impression was the area where my intuition never led me astray.  But now it wasn’t leading me anywhere at all.

I commented that I had heard that flowers had meanings, but I wasn’t familiar with the Victorian wild flowersparticulars.  I don’t have expert knowledge about flowers, but I recognized brightly colored oleander, orange roses, and the white heather among others that I didn’t know.  It was an attractive, if unusual arrangement.

Reaching into his jacket pocket he withdrew a tiny green dropper bottle.  The morning light was behind him as he held up the bottle, and it made the green glass shine like an emerald.  “Put a few drops of this in the water, every other day or so, and the flowers will stay fresh,” he said and walked over to the spot, to which I seemed to be rooted, to hand me the little bottle.

Just then Lilith sauntered in, twined around my legs, meowed prettily, and then moved to rub her head against the man’s shin.

“Well, hello there beautiful,” he playfully said to my cat.  “I hear calicos are supposed to bring good luck.”

At that Lilith jumped up into his arms.  I’d always known she liked handsome men, but she’d never been quite that bold before.  Startled, I started apologizing again.  However, he held the cat as if he’d always known her, and scratched her chin, which she clearly enjoyed.

“I’m sorry, that’s Lilith.  I can’t believe she jumped on you like that,” I said, blushing even more.  My face must be scorched by now, I thought to myself.

Calico getting scrached“Oh not to worry, I like cats.  Pardon my lacking manners.  I haven’t introduced myself.  Guy Fabdon, at your service.  Owner, florist, and sometime delivery man of Fae’s Flowers,” he introduced himself.

The city must have dulled my manners, I thought, when I realized that his name was on his jacket, while I hadn’t thought to introduce myself.  I held out my hand and said, “Ralda Lawton.  Pleasure to meet you.”

Suddenly curious I asked, “Who is ‘Fae,’ your wife?”  Then I felt humiliated that I had asked.  It sounded like I was fishing for his status, and I really wasn’t.  “I shouldn’t be so curious,” I added awkwardly.

Thankfully he didn’t seem to take it that way.  “That’s alright, Esmeralda,” he said.

I blinked in surprise.  Most people didn’t deduce Esemralda from Ralda.

“Fae was my gran.  She taught me about flowers and I named the shop after her.  Well, as I said, welcome to Atonement, and pardon the early morning intrusion,” he said.

He let the cat jump down as he moved toward the door.  “Oh,” I blustered, “would you care for some coffee?  It’s instant… sorry.”

Guy laughed.  “Do you realize how many times you’ve said you’re sorry in the past five minutes?” he asked with a grin.  “I should apologize for catching you off guard.  I know you must have a ton of things to do…  The house and the grounds — it’s a huge place for one person to take care of.  I hope you’ll call on me if you need a hand with any of the ‘heavy lifting,’ I think they call it here,” he said.

There was that twinkle in his green eyes again.  I could see a faint image of my frumpy reflection in the window behind him.  I Victorian Guy flowerswondered what kind of… of trickster this man could be.  That was what he seemed, a twinkle-eyed, mischievous, trickster.  There was no way he was flirting!  …Was he?

I opened my mouth but nothing came out.  I cleared my throat, and graciously told him I’d keep that in mind.  It was graciously said.  Really it was.  Unfortunately it came out as more of a croak from my suddenly dry throat.

“Thank you for being kind enough to let me have a look at this fine old place.  I admit I’ve had an itch to see inside.  However, I’m shorthanded today, and had best get back to business.”

When I thanked him for the flowers he said it was his pleasure, and then he was gone.  Lilith jumped onto the windowsill and watched his florist truck turn around and head back down the long driveway.

I went to the window to pet the cat.  That was when I noticed something different about the little area where he placed the flowers.  The woodwork on the windowsill seemed brighter.  Maybe it was a trick of the light.  And the old lace curtains, which seemed so dusty moments before, weren’t showing any dust even though the sun was shining through them.  That was odd, but it was early and I had an awful lot of work to get done that day, so I didn’t allow myself time to think about it.

I turned from Lilith to the flowers.  They almost shimmered in the light, and I had to smile at how beautiful they were.  Then I looked at the table and saw that there was not a single mote of dust on it.  The wood grain shown as if it had just been polished.  I Sunny lace windowblinked.  Shaking my head again, I figured he had quickly wiped the table after all.  I must really need more coffee, I told myself.

He’d called himself Guy.  I didn’t care for the name… but what was his last name?  I looked more closely, to admire the flowers, and saw the business card on the plastic stick.  It read, Fae’s Flowers, Gwydion Fabdon proprietor.  Gwydion?  That was even more unexpected than Guy.  But I liked it better.  I tried it out for sound.  Gwydion.  Lilith meowed and turned a pirouette on the windowsill.  Yes, much better than Guy.

I finished my coffee and went upstairs to get dressed.  The truck from the Annie’s Antiques and Consignment Shop might be early too, I thought, catching another mortifying glimpse of my reflection in the window.

I spotted the consignment store when I drove into town.  The moment I saw the shop, I knew there would be some things in the house that bothered me.  You know — because of the freakish intuition.  So as soon as I got into the house, I checked for any furnishings that I didn’t care to keep and called to arrange for their removal.  Annie promised to send two men first thing the next morning

I told myself that after the selected furnishings were removed, it would be easier to finish dusting and generally make myself at home.  However, the truth was I had Annies antiquesimmediately spotted a few pieces that while they were quite nice, they felt very wrong to me, and I wanted to be rid of them as quickly as possible.  That kind of thing was part of my “intuition.”  Over time I had learned to listen to it.  If something felt wrong to me, there usually turned out to be a good reason for the feeling.

Choosing what to wear was no problem; most of my clothes were on the moving truck.  I pulled a knit top over my head, and put on a pair of jeans that were comfortable for working.  As I tied my red hair into a ponytail, I heard plaintive meowing and the noise of a rattling door.  The ability to jiggle open a door that wasn’t closed properly was one of the first “talents” I had discovered Lilith possessed.

As I walked down the hall Lilith’s meows grew louder.  Turning the corner I saw the calico trying her best to open a bedroom door.  When I admonished her, Lilith stood, placing her front feet against the door, pawed the doorknob, and cried, “Purrr-yeow,” her most affective combination of purr and meow.

“Please don’t tell me you hear a mouse in there,” I said with a sense of the inevitable, as the cat inserted her paw beneath the nearly empty roomdoor and tried to lift it upward, a tried and true feline technique for opening doors.

It occurred to me that I had only glanced at the contents of that room.  I scooped up the calico and opened the door.  Lilith struggled to get free.  The room was almost empty except for the wardrobe and a chair.  I didn’t see anything with which the cat might hurt herself, so I let her down.  She went directly to the armoire and pawed at the latch.  Raising an eyebrow at the cat, I opened the wardrobe, ready to jump if a mouse ran out.

At first I thought the armoire was empty, but then I realized a large mirror stood at the back.  I pulled it out into the light.  The metal frame was elaborately worked, and the mirror was in perfect condition.  It was a fine piece.  Yet when I looked into the mirror I experienced sudden intense wave of nausea.  Lilith hissed.

“Nasty!” I said with a look at the cat who clearly agreed.  “This can be the first thing on the truck.”

Despite the bad feeling the mirror gave me, it was an intriguing piece.  I propped it in the old chair (I hadn’t decided whether to keep the chair) so I could examine it better.

The top part of the frame was worked with the image of a sword that stretched across its width, and served to connect the designs at either corner.  On the right corner was a woman with arms raised.  She was blindfolded.  On the left corner I saw a pair of Mirrorscales.  “Lady Justice and the scales of truth and fairness,” I said and looked at the calico as she swished her tail in displeasure.  “Maybe it’s Victorian to be so moralizing,” I pondered aloud.

The lower center of the frame was engraved.  I polished at it with the edge of my long-sleeved T-shirt.  The writing was so elaborate that it was almost impossible to decipher.  “See in your reflection, truth and justice most poetic,” it read.

The mirror itself had a light haze of dirt that I hadn’t noticed at first.  So when I looked into it, my reflection was cloudy.  The haze made my hair look more brown than red.  For a moment I thought it looked like my hair was up on top of my head.

I rubbed at the mirror with my sleeve and cleared a small round area.  I looked at my reflection again and just saw my red ponytail and makeup-bare face.  Ugh.  I wished I hadn’t seen it.  I looked travel-weary and generally awful.

Suddenly the light caught my silver locket.  The reflection shot out so brightly that I saw spots for a moment.  At least, I consoled myself, the locket was one thing that didn’t need cleaning.

***

Atonement, Tennessee

Copyright © 2012 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

 http://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

To Me — From Me, a Limited Release

veil_of_sky_open_1 copy

Atonement, Tennessee – Now Available

Tah-dah!  I finally self-published “Atonement, Tennessee,” which I wrote last year for National Novel Writing Month.

Publishing this novel is a gift to myself.  gift boxTwo other times this year I planned to release this book, and then I got so discouraged that I did not.  I know that working full time, and spending at least 20 hours a week on other essential personal endeavors, that I don’t have time to do “indie publishing” right.  It’s really a full time job with the promotional stuff.

However, I realize that I’m not self-publishing for the same reasons as other people.  So I’m just going to do what little I can, and for my own reasons.

After I did all the exhausting work…  I have to tell you that I was as thrilled as any kid on Christmas morning to see my book for sale at Barnes & Noble [online only of course]!  That’s when my mood changed from exhausted to kind of excited!  Shortly afterward Amazon/Kindle finished whatever it is they do for “approvals” behind their great Oz-like curtain.

Anyhow, I even have an “author page” at Amazon. No, that’s only a fraction of what other indie authors would be doing — I know that.  All those other things are part of what discouraged me out of doing this in March, and again in October.  This “limited release” is what I’m able to do, so I hope you’ll share my joy in the fact that I accomplished that much.

So here’s my Amazon author page.  I hope you’ll check it out:   http://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

Wishing you every blessing of any holiday you hold dear,

teagan

Three Ingredients Serial – 2: Mandolin, Chinoiserie, Wimberries

1928 green kitchen adToday I feel like we’re getting to sneak a peek inside a Christmas package, because my friend Joye shared with us her semi-secret recipe for Fabulous Five Minute Fudge!  You’ll find the recipe at the end of this episode.  I wish I had been able to make WordPress fancy-up formatting do the recipe justice… but all I could manage was something plain.  Well, there’s nothing plain about Joye’s fudge, so enjoy!

These three ingredients took my mind to things that added to the character of Granny and the setting of her kitchen.  I hope you’ll enjoy this second episode of our new “interactive” serial.

And now — episode two…  Happy reading, and bon appétit!

2.  Mandolin, Chinoiserie, Wimberries

“Now you just calm down, Sweet Pea.  I know it was a terrible thing to behold, but it’s going to be all right,” Granny said as she sat me at the kitchen table.  “Why you’re shakin’ like a leaf, Pip!”

When I got back to her cottage, she had already brewed tea and produced some lovely fudge as if by magic.  Somehow Granny had already heard about what happened at the Bijou.  She dusted an imaginary speck from the green and white gingham table cloth, and then placed a Chinoiserie tea set on the table in front of me.  The dishes were done in a shade of sea green a little darker than the checks of the table cloth, and they were decorated with blue chrysanthemums.Grannys teacup

I gazed absently at steam rising from the cup of Darjeeling tea while Granny pulled out a white ladder back chair and sat down next to me.  My grandfather had made those cane bottom chairs himself.  My Pops had a set of them too, except those were stained wood rather than painted white.

Tracing my finger around the rim of the teacup, I spoke without looking up.  “I remember this tea set.  Have you always had it?”

Granny gave me a downright wicked, mischievous smile and even wriggled her eyebrows.  Then her expression turned fond and she chuckled.  “Almost always.  They were a gift — when I was a very young woman.  They were actually from Mrs. Wong’s grandfather,” my grandmother told me.

Surprised, I looked a question at her.  “He was a widower.  Yes, he was interested in me.  Oh Pip, are you surprised that a man besides Grandpa was interested in your Granny?” she said with a smile.  “If ever I was going to be attracted to an older man, it would have been Photoplay teacupAlastair Wong the elder.  He was a fine man.”

Now that surprised me.  But the unexpected was to be expected with Granny Fanny.  She was full of surprises.  I bit into one of the delicious pieces of fudge on my plate.  Granny’s fudge was enough to make me forget anything upsetting.  While it melted in my mouth I looked at a jar on the table.  Unfamiliar handwriting proclaimed it contained wimberry preserves, with Crickhowell Cottage printed at the top of the label.  I remembered Granny had a pen pal in Wales and thought it must be from her.

“So that would have been Alastair’s great-grandfather,” I said, trying to make an effort at conversation.  Granny nodded with an expression of reminiscence in her light blue eyes.

She poured more tea.  “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked gently, and I knew she meant the killing at the Bijou.

“I don’t know who the man was.  It just seemed so strange and out of place that he had bits of cilantro all on his shoes.  And I feel like there must be something wrong with me for being stuck on that thought,” I confided.

“Oh Sweet Pea,” she began.  “It’s normal to get focused on some odd thing or other when something awful happens.”  She paused and pursed her lower lip while she thought.  My Pops said I did the same thing.  “I do admit it seems odd though,” Granny said while she poured more tea into my cup.

Ma Kettle Ax2Granny moved to the counter and began tidying up.  I noticed she had dismantled her mandolin.  The whetting stone was beside the newly sharpened blade.  Granny always said you were more likely to cut yourself on a dull knife than with a sharp one.

Abruptly a huge thudding noise made me jump from my chair.  Granny suddenly had a dishtowel in her hand with the sharpened mandolin blade held like a weapon.

***

Fanny’s Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge

Ingredients

  • · 1 – 12  ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces (2 cups)
  • · 2/3  cup sweetened condensed milk (one-half of a 14-ounce can)
  • · 1  tablespoon water
  • · 3/4  cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
  • · 1  teaspoon  vanilla

Directions

1.  Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water.

2.  Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and spread it into a 9×6-inch rectangle, or drop mixture by rounded teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet.

3.  Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares. Makes 24 pieces

Yield 24 pieces

Prep 5 minutes; chill 30 minutes

Nutrition Facts (Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge)
Servings Per Recipe 24,
cal. (kcal) 112, Fat, total (g) 7, chol. (mg) 3, sat. fat (g) 3, carb. (g) 14, fiber (g) 1, pro. (g) 2, vit. A (IU) 49, sodium (mg) 11, calcium (mg) 30, iron (mg) 1, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.