via An Interview with the wonderful, Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Author and musician, Kevin Cooper (and his feline friends) invited me to his place to talk about my urban fantasy town, Atonement, Tennessee and the books that are set there.   Of course they also wanted to know more about the calico of the novels, Lilith.

Lilith in snow

Dreamstime

I’ve closed comments here, but hope you will visit Kev.

If you are looking for the latest episode of Brother Love, click the link for

Chapter 9 — A Hallelujah!

Book Talk Gets Magical with Kev and Teagan

This post is already live at KC Books & Music.  I’m also posting it here so that it will be in my library too.  I hope you’ll click over and visit Kev, my host.

Book Talk Gets Magical with Kev and Teagan

Today I’m here with another Book Talk with Kev at KC Books and Music.  I’ve done some joint posts (click here), such as vignettes featuring my characters combined with recipes from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen.  So when Kev and I discussed me doing some “Book Talks” I got the idea to do something similar — but with his music!

I know that lately I’ve focused on my 1920s serial stories , The Three Things Serial and (coming up this spring)  I’m getting ready for the take-off of the second one, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.  However, my Atonement, Tennessee “universe” seemed the best fit for Kev’s music.  When I asked Kev to pick something, he suggested his compelling and lovely song, Magical

Kev, would you say a few words about your song here?

I would love to Teagan, thank you. Magical is a love song/ballad where the artist expresses how his world has changed as if by magic since his lover came into his life. It is a song about the essence of falling in love. The original song was written many years ago. Last year, I thought I should do something with my song, Magical since I’ve finally started to have some of the songs I’ve written over the years recorded and released. I changed some of the lyrics to bring them up-to-date, but the music remains the same. It’s a mellow arpeggio played upon a classical guitar to keep the ‘magical’ feeling or mood, if you will.

No wonder I liked the song!

Kev and I both agreed it would be fun if I used something from the point of view of Lilith the calico cat.  Kev’s Magical is how I imagine Gwydion’s magic working on Ralda Lawton if everything had been well… right.  However, in quirky Atonement, Tennessee magic is rarely gentle.  So (as with most things in my fictional town) the magic Lilith witnesses Gwydion perform does not go as planned.  My the snippet does not go in the lovely way of Kev’s song, but it’s definitely magical.  From my work in progress, Atonement in Bloom, take a look at some of the magic Lilith saw.  The scene is followed by a trailer I made for the book-to-be.

***

feline-calico_xs_3280429

Lilith watched in fascination.  She could feel the magic in the air, even though the men didn’t appear to be doing much of anything.  She could particularly feel Gwydion’s power.  It made her skin tingle and the fur at the back of her head ruffled.

Gwydion used a stick to scratch at the ground at the foot of a giant old oak tree.  He dropped seeds there and deftly covered them.

Fine powder glittered in the moonlight and settled on the fresh dirt where the seeds were buried.  Gwydion stepped aside allowing the moonlight to touch the seeded ground.  Sprouts appeared immediately.  Before Lilith’s watching gaze they quickly grew into mature plants — small but ethereal blossoms of white and pink meadow sweet along with branches of the broom shrub, heavily laden with yellow flowers.

The unnaturally strong scent of the blossoms was powered by Gwydion’s fae magic.  The flowers ran vine-like and entwined with the ancient oak as it started to surge and pulse.purple-shooting-star

The huge and ancient oak had a split in its center that looked like a gaping maw.  The tree shuddered and groaned.  Two limbs, each thick as an adult human’s thigh, writhed and twisted.  As the limbs twined together and merged, they took on an undeniable resemblance to the form of a woman.  The branches became crossed legs, an arched back, and arms outstretched.  The head was held back and the placement of the oak’s bark created an agonized expression on the face.

Lilith crouched down fearfully, but was mesmerized by the horrible scene.  She was unable to turn away.

***

So there you have it… Kev’s Magical, and how it might go as a musical component to my story. Thank you Kev, for hosting me for this Book Talk.  Even if I could resist a pun, I’d still have to say it was magical.    

Mega hugs everyone!

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene.  All rights reserved.

Copyright © 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Adding Suspense — Features from Atonement, TN

It’s Moving Too Slow — What Shall I Do?

Hamster head xray

As I grow my characters, and layer the elements of a new story, I’m always afraid that it is moving to slowly — because I’m doing precisely those things rather than something more exciting.  How do I cultivate both characters and suspense, and work on more than one level at a time, and still make the pages turn quickly? Well, here are some things I try to do.  (And hopefully it works!)

My Writing ProcessRed Dragon Eye

One way I try to create suspense from the outset of my novels is by always beginning with a prologue that is either magical (particularly if I’m writing urban fantasy) or is told from the point of view of an arch villain (for “high” fantasy).

The “Atonement” books begin with Lilith the calico witnessing something supernatural.

(Fairy EyeLest anyone think the novels are about a cat, I’ll explain that the Lilith character came to me as a device. I apologize to those of you who have already heard me say this.

Because it is told by my heroine, Ralda Lawton, from time to time I needed to use a character who could go about unnoticed, and witness things that Ralda wouldn’t be able to know.  That led me to the cat.  I was concerned that Lilith wouldn’t be well received. As it turned out, she was rather popular. )

So Lilith bears witness to the magical prologues that begin each of the Atonement books.  But how else to build suspense as I go?

Cat Eyes Watching

That is part of what I’ve been working on this week.  After I’ve written a good bit, I go back to the start and consider where else I might add something, some little detail that makes the reader at least a bit uneasy.

Artist, Cheryl Rose Hall

Beira; Artist: Cheryl Rose Hall

A positive side-effect came from that process this week — it better developed a minor character — one of the new supernatural beings that show up in Atonement in Bloom.  I think it also helped define part of the story.

In case you’d like to see something from my novel in progress, here’s a tidbit from the prologue.  Lilith gets an eye-full.

 

Snippet from the prologue of “Atonement in Bloom” 

Lilith in snow

The growl of a great beast sent Lilith jumping down from the rock wall and into the concealment of juniper bushes that were long ago left to run wild.  She trembled as the rumbling growl drew closer.  

“It must be gigantic,” Lilith thought.  

Lilith scented the air, feeling a bit confused.  She was unable to precisely define the scent.  Yet she had not mistaken the sound; some strange beast was out there. Black-GOLD_dragon-cat Eye

Magic, the thought sprang to her mind.  She laid back her ears, suddenly that idea made her more irritated than afraid.

The rumbling continued and its eyes rapidly came into view.  It had to be huge based on the size of the eyes and how far apart they were set.  Four eyes, she realized in astonishment.  It had two big wide-set eyes that glowed like white fire in the night.  Just below those were two more eyes, smaller and closer together, which gave off an ill-boding yellowish glow.

***

If you haven’t yet started to feel like someone might be watching you… Here’s a recipe for some cupcakes that might make you ask “Who’s there?” 

From “Like Mother Like Daughter

Owl Cupcakes…

Owl Cupcakes

 

Thanks for visiting Atonement, TN.  Don’t be shy — leave a comment to say hello.  See you next time.  

Mega hugs!

Copyright © 2015 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

79 Words & Duct Tape — Features from Atonement, TN

First an Update — My Writing Process

I began drafting Atonement in Bloom about a year ago (as I’ve already whined).  Last week I saw that a long “magical” interlude right after the opening needed to happen later in the story. You’d think that would be a simple matter…

Maxine_cheese-whine

However, delaying that part of the plot actually caused the weather in Atonement, TN to change, so I have to account for that. Plus moving half a chapter creates changes in other parts of the book.  Confused yet?  I am.

A fun side effect of all this moving and shaking is that it brought a new eatery (Adelle’s Attic; a tearoom) to the town, and a new character.  Adelle’s presence adds a new aspect to an existing minor character from Atonement, Tennessee too.  No — that’s all I’m saying about that (winks).  Right now I’m not sure how big Adelle’s part will be in Atonement in Bloom but it should add interest.

veil_of_sky_open_Lilith copyRecently I had an unexpected addition to my “process” — if you can even call it a process.  Blogger extraordinaire, Chris Graham posted a challenge to “write a short story of seventy-nine (79) words (not counting the title) with a plot and characterization.”  Thanks again to the Story Reading Ape (writer, promoter of authors, cover designer, and all ’round fantastic ape) for posting my offering.

Writing short anything is something I’ve never done well… but I thought that might be a good way to get my head back into my Atonement universe, so to speak.  So I did a little ditty for that. You’ll find it below.  Ralda’s calico cat, Lilith gets the spotlight.

Around Town in Atonement

Duct Tape

Creating Adelle’s tearoom got me thinking about details of the other things you’d see if you visited Atonement, TN.  Like Ralda’s duct tape masterpiece.  (She resorted to duct tape to seal off the cat’s escape route.) You’ll have to read the book to learn more about the duct tape, escape routes and the adventures that result.Duct tape


Do you have a bit of duct tape artistry you’d like to share?  Leave a comment if you do!

 

And now… Here are 79 words that have to do with Atonement in Bloom.  This may or may not show up in the book.  Should I keep them?

Lilith’s Decision

Lilith and mirror

Deliberating, Lilith watched the newcomer sleep.

“So strange,” the calico thought, “human shaped but garden scented.”  Lilith inhaled deeply and continued pondering.  “And too newly made to be good or evil.  So do I like you or not?”

Lilith sniffed the female’s long green hair and she stirred and put a delicate hand to the cat’s silky fur, but didn’t wake.  Lovely aromatic catnip suddenly grew from between the planks of the wood floor.  That made up Lilith’s mind.

***

Wishing you a good morning, afternoon, or evening from Atonement, TN!  See you next time.  Mega hugs!

 

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.

Writing from an Unexpected Point of View

Originally posted at Chris The Story Reading Ape‘s Blog.

Chris TSRA

 

Many thanks to Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape) for hosting me at his amazing Author Promotions Enterprise blog. “The Ape” generously promotes authors on his blog, and he offers excellent resources for our use. However, he’s also a gifted cover artist. Be sure to take a look at some examples of his work.  Also, he has started creating fantastic book trailers! (By the way, his trailers are much, much better than the one I have.)

Here’s the article Chris hosted for me.  It features my Lilith character from “Atonement, Tennessee.”

If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper.… Maybe, but they Book Cut Out Holmesmight not hear you at all. One way to capture a reader’s attention is to occasionally write from an unexpected point of view.

That can also be a practical tool, not just a “hook.” When I wrote Atonement, Tennessee, I decided to have my heroine narrate the story. However, there is a stumbling block with that kind of writing. My heroine could only tell about what she had witnessed. If she was not present for part of the action, someone would have to just tell her about it. Not nearly as exciting, huh?

So I wanted to occasionally shift and let another character be the witness. But who would be suitable? None of the people in my fictional town of Atonement, TN would be likely to see the events I needed to describe. Then I remembered an old exercise about writing from the point of view of an inanimate object. It was very enjoyable to me. Next I thought, what about an animal instead?Cat Eyes Watching

I gave my heroine a cat. At strategic points I make that shift and let the feline witness events. To bring you into the fun, I’m sharing a “character interview” I did with Lilith, the calico cat and part time narrator of Atonement, Tennessee.  Then I’ll show you a snippet of the novel written with the cat as witness.

Here goes!

Character Interviews: Lilith the Calico

Teagan: Lilith, won’t you come over here and sit with me?

(She looks all around the room — everywhere but at me.)

You’re even prettier than I expected. (Now she jumps onto the sofa. The compliment seems to have helped.) For this interview, the Creative Muse has given you the power of human speech.

Lilith and mirrorLilith:  Meow…

Teagan:  Now, Lilith. There’s no need to be contrary. You know you can talk for now. Take advantage of it. I understand you were a rescue kitty. Tell us about your life before Ralda adopted you.

Lilith:  Meow…

Teagan:  (I sigh. Talk about catitude…) I think what everyone wants to know most about you is — are you really a cat? Or are you some kind of supernatural? Maybe an enchanted person who has to… atone?  Because, in all honesty, even though I wrote the novel, I do not know.

(Lilith narrows her eyes then turns her back on me and proceeds to wash her face.  Clearly that line of questioning is not acceptable.) Calico washing face

All righty then; I’m not going to get an answer to that one either.

Okay, moving on. You tell the parts of the story that Ralda doesn’t see. What about Cael? Do you know more about him than anyone else?  Wait — what’s that?  …Are you purring?

Cael at rest- Adrian Paul

Adrian Paul as Cael

Lilith: Oh, Cael is simply divine. (Purrrrr…) Yes, I know more about him than Ralda does — even at the end of the story. He’s strong, courageous, faithful, and he knows about a lot more than is apparent. Cael is also childlike sometimes, which is an intriguing contrast to his strength. I also sense even more about him than I witness. I can’t really describe everything I sense. I can’t quite put my paw on some things.

Teagan: At least that brought you out of your shell. Ralda said you like attractive men. Anyway, I don’t think Ralda really trusts him. Do you know why?

Lilith: She can’t put her paw on it either. Or rather she can’t put her finger on it. Cael is truly extraordinary though. His backstory is only hinted at in this novel. I’m sure there will be more about him in “book 2.”

Teagan: What about Gwydion? Ralda seems to at least try to trust him. Should she?Man Flower Face

Lilith: (She purrs again, even louder. Then she even turns halfway upside down, a paw across her face.) Ah… Gwydion! Oh he smells delicious, all manner of flowers and herbs and catnip. Did you know that he brought me catnip?

(Lilith sits back up, still purring.) Gwydion is a magical creature, you realize. His magic is tied to flowers. It’s not stated outright in the novel, but it’s pretty obvious. At the very beginning it’s even hinted that his grandmother was a faery. You know, Fae’s Flowers, named for his Gran?

Teagan: Who do you think would be better for Ralda, Gwydion or Cael? If they, so to speak, fought for her affections, who would win?

Lilith: Oh, it would be awful if those two actually did fight, wouldn’t it? They do seem to compete with each other in odd ways. But if they fought…  No, I couldn’t bear for either of them to get hurt! I’m not sure, but I have a suspicion that if it came down to it, Cael might be stronger than Gwydion.  However, Gwydion would have fewer — or at least different inhibitions so he might best Cael.  Oh, I’m just not sure. I really don’t like that question at all.

(Her tail makes a slash-thump against the sofa, signaling annoyance. Lilith jumps down from the sofa and sashays out of the room.)

I suppose that ends my interview with the cat.  However, you can read more from Lilith in Atonement, Tennessee.

veil_of_sky_open_Lilith copy

And now for that promised excerpt…

Esmeralda slept. Lilith’s ears pricked when she heard a tiny rustling sound coming from downstairs. The first time she inspected the bedroom, the calico had found a way out. She hadn’t shown it to Esmeralda. Immediately on the hunt for the source of that sound, Lilith soundlessly got up from the pile of blankets on the floor where they slept.

WardrobeShe trotted soundlessly to the tall heavy wardrobe. It was even bigger than the one where she found the mirror, and it reached almost to the high ceiling. It stood a few inches away from the wall. She squeezed behind the wardrobe. There was a gap in the wall. It was actually a door, which would open with a push. At some point in time, it had been left ajar. Lilith had originally found it because she scented the different air from the drafty opening.

Beyond the door was a narrow hallway and equally narrow steps that led to the parlor downstairs. She had a bit of trouble opening the door to the parlor. Fortunately it had a lever handle that was much easier to manipulate than a doorknob. After a moment her persistence paid off and the door creaked open. She stood still for a second. The rustling sound had diminished to almost nothing. The calico stalked into the living room. Her tail was held low and her body was close to the floor as she walked.

Her ears had more than twenty muscles, which the cat used to pinpoint the sound of a final rustle. She looked toward the flower arrangement by the windows. The white heather had grown and branched, vine-like until it covered every window and the front and back doors as well. All the flowers in the vase pulsed as if with a heartbeat. Lilith watched them for a moment to see what else they might do.White flowers take over

A sound came from the kitchen, and she went to investigate. It sounded like something had pressed against the porch roof for a moment and then pushed off. Immediately afterward she heard a few heavy beat and whoosh sounds, like extremely large wings.

She jumped to the kitchen window, but the heather covered it too, and prevented her seeing anything. However, through the little draft of air that came in around the window, she scented one of the odors she had tracked earlier that evening. There wasn’t enough of it for her to be sure which one.

After a while, the cat grew bored and returned to the secret door in the parlor. It was still open. She gave it a little nudge, using it to scratch her cheek, and it closed behind her. She returned to the bedroom.

***

I hope these examples have entertained you. Maybe you’ll want to try writing from an unexpected point of view.

Thanks for reading,

Teagan

Links
At My Website
https://teagansbooks.wordpress.com/ More about Teagan: https://teagansbooks.wordpress.com/?s=workspace
Link to character interviews blog category: https://teagansbooks.wordpress.com/category/teagans-books/character-interviews/
Pinterest
I’ve used Pinterest to tell a story in pictures not just for “Atonement, Tennessee,” but for my works in progress as well. Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/teagangeneviene/
Amazon Author Page
http://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM
TWITTER: @teagangeneviene
Barnes & Noble Nook
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/atonement-tennessee-teagan-geneviene/1117790203?ean=2940148918431
Kindle and Paperback
http://www.amazon.com/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A/ref=la_B00HHDXHVM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412384486&sr=1-1
Amazon UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A
Amazon India
http://www.amazon.in/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/dp/1481826948
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Copyright 2013 Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene. All rights reserved.

Atonement Character Interviews: Lilith

veil_of_sky_open_Lilith copy

A Mid-Week Challenge

Yes everyone — I just challenged you (the blogger said with a Cheshire grin).Cheshire GrinWhether or not you see yourself as a writer, this will be a good mental exercise.  Write a paragraph or a page — from the point of view of an animal. I find that creative writing is easier if there are some parameters, some limits. So in your paragraph or page, include these three things: house, quick, puzzle.

Just so you know that I’m being fair, I’ve written from an animal’s point of view a number of times. For instance, that applies to some segments of my debut novel, Atonement, Tennessee.

I posted this character interview in January of 2013.  However, now that Atonement, Tennessee is available, I’m re-blogging some early posts. Some characters were more fun to write than others.  I enjoyed myself, seeing the world through the eyes of Lilith, and writing from the point of view of a calico cat.  So I decided to interview the cat.  She’s got a lot of “catitude” I can promise you.

Character Interviews: Lilith the Calico

Teagan: Lilith, won’t you come over here and sit with me?

(She looks all around the room — everywhere but at me.)

You’re even prettier than I expected. (Now she jumps onto the sofa. The compliment seems to have helped.) For this interview, the Creative Muse has given you the power of human speech.

Lilith and mirrorLilith:  Meow…

Teagan:  Now, Lilith. There’s no need to be contrary. You know you can talk for now. Take advantage of it. I understand you were a rescue kitty. Tell us about your life before Ralda adopted you.

Lilith:  Meow…

Teagan:  (I sigh. Talk about catitude…) I think what everyone wants to know most about you is — are you really a cat? Or are you some kind of supernatural? Maybe an enchanted person who has to… atone?  Because, in all honesty, even though I wrote the novel, I do not know.

(Lilith narrows her eyes then turns her back on me and proceeds to wash her face.  Clearly that line of questioning is not acceptable.) Calico washing face

All righty then; I’m not going to get an answer to that one either.

Okay, moving on. You tell the parts of the story that Ralda doesn’t see. What about Cael? Do you know more about him than anyone else?  Wait — what’s that?  …Are you purring?

Cael at rest- Adrian Paul

Adrian Paul as Cael

Lilith: Oh, Cael is simply divine. (Purrrrr…) Yes, I know more about him than Ralda does — even at the end of the story. He’s strong, courageous, faithful, and he knows about a lot more than is apparent. Cael is also childlike sometimes, which is an intriguing contrast to his strength. I also sense even more about him than I witness. I can’t really describe everything I sense. I can’t quite put my paw on some things.

Teagan: At least that brought you out of your shell. Ralda said you like attractive men. Anyway, I don’t think Ralda really trusts him. Do you know why?

Lilith: She can’t put her paw on it either. Or rather she can’t put her finger on it. Cael is truly extraordinary though. His backstory is only hinted at in this novel. I’m sure there will be more about him in “book 2.”

Teagan: What about Gwydion? Ralda seems to at least try to trust him. Should she?Man Flower Face

Lilith: (She purrs again, even louder. Then she even turns halfway upside down, a paw across her face.) Ah… Gwydion! Oh he smells delicious, all manner of flowers and herbs and catnip. Did you know that he brought me catnip?

(Lilith sits back up, still purring.) Gwydion is a magical creature, you realize. His magic is tied to flowers. It’s not stated outright in the novel, but it’s pretty obvious. At the very beginning it’s even hinted that his grandmother was a faery. You know, Fae’s Flowers, named for his Gran?

Teagan: Who do you think would be better for Ralda, Gwydion or Cael? If they, so to speak, fought for her affections, who would win?

Calico runningLilith: Oh, it would be awful if those two actually did fight, wouldn’t it? They do seem to compete with each other in odd ways. But if they fought…  No, I couldn’t bear for either of them to get hurt! I’m not sure, but I have a suspicion that if it came down to it, Cael might be stronger than Gwydion.  However, Gwydion would have fewer — or at least different inhibitions so he might best Cael.  Oh, I’m not just sure. I really don’t like that question at all.

(Her tail makes a slash-thump against the sofa, signaling annoyance. Lilith jumps down from the sofa and sashays out of the room.)

I suppose that ends my interview with the cat.  However, you can read more from Lilith in Atonement, Tennessee.

Copyright 2013 Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene.  All rights reserved.

Calico Calamity an Atonement Excerpt

Lilith and mirrorI blogged this snippet a while back — before the release of my novel, “Atonement, Tennessee.” Now that the paperback and e-book editions are available, I’m sharing it as a mid-week post for those who might have missed it. This excerpt, this calico calamity, leads the heroine of “Atonement, Tennessee” into a tense situation.  Lilith the cat has a knack for finding those.  Here Ralda Lawton has a strange encounter when her capricious cat gets outside.

Scroll down and enjoy,

teagan

Calico Calamity an “Atonement Tennessee” Excerpt

…I was sheltered by a big clump of tall bushes of some sort.  I thought it might be mountain laurel.  I could see the broad side of the mausoleum from there.  Shadows lurched violently against the stone crypt.  Big shadows.  Reflexively I drew back into the concealing vegetation.  Then I heard a loud avian-like screech and realized that the shadow shapes might have been wings.  My heart hammered.black_eagle_with_open_wings_design-t1

The noise escalated.  It definitely sounded like more than one creature was causing that ruckus.  Then I heard the cat hiss.  I ran toward the sounds; ready to use the flashlight as a club, and wishing I had something more effective.  “Lilith!” I called.  Oh, let’s face it – I screamed.

As I ran out form the concealing mountain laurel a gust of wind buffeted me.  I tripped and fell on the uneven pavers of the path, just as the wind blew my hair, along with some dirt, into my eyes.  I couldn’t see at all for a moment, but I heard a lot of heavy rustling, scraping, shifting sounds.

Every time I thought I had half way cleared my eyes, the wind blew something into them again.  I struggled to my feet, desperately wiping my stinging eyes.  I heard soft footsteps coming toward me.

AdrianPaul_Highlander1“Are you hurt?” he asked.

With an electric jump I gasped.  The calm kindness of the words did nothing to ease the added fear of knowing there was a person there.  A stranger.  In the dark.  In the graveyard.  I was pretty sure it was a large man too.

However, in the way of a panicked brain, I thought of the irrelevant – I couldn’t begin to place his accent, but he certainly had one…  I could still barely see, and couldn’t gauge how much of a threat he might be.  The night had also gotten cloudy, and therefore darker.  If I thought my heart was beating hard before, it was about to explode by then.

“Here,” he said mildly, putting a silk handkerchief into my hand, and taking my elbow to help me stand.

No doubt I should have run, coming upon a scene that seemed violent, running into a stranger in the dark isolated spot.  But his voice was gentle and comforting.  Besides, he already had my arm in a firm grip, so I wouldn’t be going anywhere if he was a criminal or psycho or something.  Shaking with reaction, I used the handkerchief to wipe my eyes.calico closeup pinterest

I looked up at him.  He was tall and well built.  Rudely I pointed the flashlight on him, but I tried not to shine it directly in his eyes.  I just needed to see him, that stranger there in the dark, so I wouldn’t panic.  Then I realized he held something in the hand that wasn’t holding my elbow.  I heard loud purring.

“Lilith?” I cried.  “I don’t know how she’s been getting out.  I was so worried,” I babbled and tried not to give in to tears.  “What was all that commotion?”

Thankfully, he knew what I meant, and handed my cat to me.  “A very large bird,” he said after a minute hesitation.

For some reason, I felt like he wasn’t being truthful, but Lilith was still purring.  Did that mean this man was okay; that he was not a threat?  She had let him hold her, and purred rather than try to get free.  Usually the cat didn’t even like for me to hold her.

Considering the shadows I saw, and the sounds I heard, I couldn’t disagree with his explanation of a bird – but how large would it have to have been?  Wouldn’t it have to be enormous?  It seemed impossible, but I had seen the shadows, heard the screeching, and felt the wind from its passing.

Perhaps sensing my doubt, he went on to explain, “I’ve been watching it ever since I moved into the house.  It only comes out at night, so I haven’t seen it clearly.”

owl pinterest“Where did you come from?  I mean, how did you get here?” I asked, realizing that I still wasn’t making a lot of sense.

“Pardon me,” he said in a gracious voice, seeming to understand my rattled state.  “I came in at the eastern gate,” he turned and pointed gracefully as he spoke.

“From there I have been observing the large bird.  This night I decided to try to get closer, for a better look.  Apparently the kitty had similar ideas.  Since she is clearly your cat, are you the owner of this place?  If so, then we are neighbors of a sort.  I live across the road from the eastern gate.”

He paused and I felt his intent gaze on me.  I shifted nervously.  That was definitely a foreign accent.  The words he chose were unusual.  The accent was more apparent on some words, especially the way he said “kitty.”  However, I couldn’t place it.  How would such a person wind up in a tiny town like Atonement, Tennessee?

“Thank you for getting Lilith.  I’m Esmeralda Lawton,” I said, and immediately wondered why I had used my given name.  It was something I rarely did.

“Thank you,” he said in a way that made it seem like I had given him something beyond my name.  It also seemed strange that he should thank me like that in this situation.Nicole Kidman as Ralda-1

“I am called Cael Adriel.  Would it be an imposition if I continue to observe the bird?  As I said, it seems to only come out at night.  I have not seen it anywhere else,” he requested with a note of childlike excitement.

It seemed like such an odd thing to want to do… but who could say with birdwatchers from unknown countries.  Maybe wherever he came from, hanging out in cemeteries at night, watching oversized birds wasn’t unusual.  I shushed the sarcastic part of my head that said that.

He seemed like such a little kid about it, all innocence and fascination, yet all wrapped up in an exterior of big scary sexy.  It took a moment for me to find my voice.  I realized I was staring at him.  I cleared my throat and said, “I um, I don’t suppose it would.  Be an imposition, that is.”

He smiled and inclined his head.  “You have my gratitude.  I believe the,” he hesitated fractionally, “the bird has gone.  I don’t believe it will bother you tonight.  However, I will see you home if you like?” he made the statement a question.

“I don’t think you need to do that,” I said, feeling very uncomfortable and distrustful, and something else that I wasn’t ready to define.  “But I appreciate the offer.  It’s very kind of you,” I added.

Black wingedWhere was the strong intuition that I had come to rely on when meeting new people?  Apparently it was off somewhere being unreliable.  In any case, it wouldn’t do to be rude, not to a new neighbor.  I wished him a good night in as pleasant and unconcerned of a voice as I could manage.  Then I turned to go back to the house.

I walked a few feet away and looked back over my shoulder.  He was still standing there, as still as any of the cemetery statuary.  I gave a little nervous wave, and kept walking.  When I thought I was out of his sight, I walked faster and faster.  I didn’t exactly feel threatened by him.  It was just that the entire situation had been frightening, and I was a little rattled.

I let myself in the backdoor, and slumped against the kitchen wall, still holding the cat.  I told myself to stop shaking.

 ***

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Atonement, Tennessee

Copyright © 2012 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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