Tuesday Tales: From a Picture


New TT imageGood morning. Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. It’s picture week, and since I couldn’t find a way to use the picture in the story I’ve been doing, I could use it in the one I’m editing. Murder & Mistletoe will be published next Wednesday, November 21st. Enjoy this peek into the story. Here’s the picture.

dark tunnel

She blinked, shook herself, and stood, picking up the flashlight. She was going to have some damn fine bruises tomorrow.

“Candy! Where are you?”Steve’s voice came from above her.

“I’m down here,” she cried. “The water from the fire hoses must’ve rotted the floor, and I fell through. I’m in some kind of tunnel.” She flashed the light around. “Unfortunately, I don’t see any stairs. You’ll have to find a ladder or something.” She swallowed. “And find it quickly please. I really don’t like it down here.”

“There’s a ladder out near the carriage house. Stay right where you are.”

“Not a problem. Did I mention I don’t like things that creep, crawl, or slither?” her voice wobbled on the last word.

There could be any number of black widow spiders and poisonous snakes in here.

“I’ll be back as quickly as I can.” Steve yelled down.

“Hurry.” She probably hadn’t needed to say that. Steve would move as fast as he could.

Walking slowly forward, she examined her temporary prison. The tunnel or whatever it was stretched ahead of her, farther than the beam of light could reach. In her mind’s eye, she saw doors and windows off of it, openings long gone when they’d added the extension to the house. Oak leaves littered the floor. They were still damp. That meant someone had brought them in on their shoes in the not too distant past. She slipped them into her back pocket. If there was a way into the tunnel from outside, then the tunnel had to have a way into the house other than the glorious hole she’d just made.

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word SUDDENLY

New TT imageWelcome to November’s first Tuesday Tales. It’s hard to believe how quickly time flies.  Now that we’ve returned to Eastern Standard time, the days seem shorter than ever.

For those of you visiting for the first time, Tuesday Tales are a collection of scenes from works in progress post by select authors in this group. Each post is based on a word or picture prompt and limited to a specific number of words. Today, our word prompt is SUDDENLY, and the word limit is 400.

I’m continuing with The Price of Courage, Book Two of my Canadiana series. Enjoy.

“You’ll get no argument from me,” Lucien agreed, suddenly angrier than he’d ever been. “I want to go after them and make them pay for what they’ve done, but is vigilante justice what New France deserves?”

“I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, and I’m sure Okwaho wouldn’t either,” Yves said, moving closer to the fire. “He’s out there mumbling in his own language. I’ve never seen him like that.”

“But if we take the law into our own hands, we fall to their level.” Lucien ground his teeth. “Sometimes, doing the right thing is the hardest of all. They won’t get away with their crimes, but for now, we must be patient, even if it chafes. Did you take care of the bodies?”

“Yes, I wrapped them tightly in the sailcloth I found in the outbuilding where they must’ve stored their furs. I suspended the corpses from the rafters in the loft. The animals won’t get them there. Tomorrow, if the snow allows, we can build a pyre and give the men a proper burial—it may not be the Christian way, but it’s better than covering them with snow and letting the animals have them.” Yves lowered his voice. “Did she tell you what happened?”

“She did.” Lucien recounted Huguette’s story, including the details about the mittens. “The men we caught when we helped find Isidore Poirier and my sister-in-law, tried to bribe us with the same tall tales as these. They claimed the secret map was already in Ville-Marie. I wish there was some way I could get a message to Guy. This conspiracy we’re chasing may be far greater than he suspects, and since it presumes there are traitors in Ville-Marie, he should watch his back. There will be a special place in hell for the men who’ve done this, although the one who tried to save her may have earned himself a time in purgatory instead. How does it look out there?”

Yves pursed his lips. “The snow’s coming down hard. I can’t see those fools coming after us in this. Let me warm up a bit and add wood to the fire, then I’ll make another perimeter sweep before settling on the veranda behind the woodpile. You’d better get some rest. If I need you, I’ll call.”

A log popped in the fireplace,momentarily upstaging the howling North wind.

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word Tragic

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. This week, the word prompt is TRAGIC and i continue with The Price of Courage, my historical romance. Enjoy.

“Can you draw this map?”

She shook her head. “I saw it only for a second. I do know there was a lot of blue in the design. Have you found my husband and the others?”

“We’ve found six bodies. Some were thrown into the barn and have been partially destroyed. I’m sorry. We will have to finish the cremation tomorrow.

“What will become of us?”

“The snow may keep us here for a day or so, but when we leave, we’ll take you with us to the Montagnais village. In the spring, I can arrange for someone to return you to your tribe.

“Thank you. I have lost two husbands. No man will want to tie himself to such an unlucky wife.”

“You’re wrong, madame. Under French law, you now own this fine property. That will make you highly attractive to many men, especially as you’ve proven to be so fertile.”

As tragic as this situation was, Lucien could only hope her lot in life would improve. What must this show of courage cost her? The price was steep, steeper than most could afford. Perhaps what they said about aboriginal fortitude was true. He couldn’t see his sister-in-law handling this disaster without collapsing, especially with another baby on the way.

She rose. “Monsieur, I will bid you goodnight. Despite the events of the day, the children will be up early on the morrow. I can only hope they did not kill my animals and that they’ve simply run off. I will consider your offer, but if truth be told, I do not wish to remain here. This place will forever be tainted in my mind. Thank you for rescuing me. What happens next is in the Lord’s hands.”

Lucien watched her climb the ladder to the loft. Any man who chose this woman as a wife would be fortunate, but even as he thought of doing so, the image of another woman in Ville-Marie sprang suddenly into his mind.

“But that one is not for me and I would be well to remember it.”

Footsteps on the veranda announced someone’s approach. He knocked three times as they’d decided, and Lucien rose to unbar the door.

“If I could get my hands on those men,” Yves said, removing his snow-covered hat and jacket, “I would tear them limb from limb. Leaving a pregnant woman and children to die like that is the act of a coward.”

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Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

New TT imageGood morning. It feels like late fall around here, and we’ve already seen snow showers. Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday tales, the blog where authors post from their work in progress based on a picture or word prompt. This is picture week, so the posts are limited to 300 words. Here’s the one I selected:

 

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I’m continuing with The Price of Courage and Huguette’s adventure. Enjoy!

Huguette swallowed, her mug quivering in her trembling hand. “The sun filtered through the clouds into the house through the open door. The leader, shoved me to the floor and ordered his men to gather all the food we had. Then he demanded what money I had, but wasn’t satisfied with my meager amount. He grabbed me, tearing my blouse, accusing me of lying. Then he struck me and … when he was finished, he offered me to the others.” Her voice had dropped to a mere whisper as tears ran down her cheeks.

Lucien fisted his hands. The animals would pay.

She licked her lips. “One man stepped in front of me, cursing the others for what they’d done. His leader stabbed him. The others lost interest in me as they argued. I dragged myself toward the kitchen. That’s when I was grabbed from behind and tossed into the root cellar.” She raised her gaze to meet his. They took everything, even my honor. You’re arrival has only postponed our deaths.”

“You won’t die, madame, rest assured of that. Not all men are animals. On my honor, I will find them and see justice done. Did you ever see this map Urgel had? It might help me find them.”

“It wasn’t really a map as such,” she answered, raising the cup to her lips once more. “It was a pair of leather mittens on which part of the map was disguised in the beaded design on them.” She raised her hand to her swollen eye. “They wanted me to interpret it for them, but I couldn’t. Urgel claimed the other part of the map was hidden in a second pair of mittens given to a trapper from Ville-Marie. That’s where they’ll go. I pity the one who has it.”

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word Hazy

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales, the blog where stories are written for your enjoyment. Each week a 300-400 word excerpt is offered based on a word or picture. This week’s word is Hazy.

I’m continuing with The Price of Courage, Canadiana Series Book Two.  Enjoy.

The children, stomachs full, had gone to bed shortly after they’d finished eating. Okwaho had a kettle of bones simmering on the fire. He would use the broth and pemmican to make soup for tomorrow. While their supplies were limited, they would stretch easily to feed this family until they could all leave. The Mohawk had spread his bedroll on the kitchen floor since he had second watch.

Huguette sat in a chair near the fire, her sore ankle propped up on a log. She’d insisted on tending to the children herself, despite her difficulty climbing the ladder. Lucien couldn’t help but admire her fortitude. Now, dressed in clean clothing, a cup of spruce tea in hand, she sat in front of the blazing hearth next to him while Yves took the first watch.

“Can you tell me how you ended up in the root cellar?” He raised his own mug of tea and sipped.

“Six men arrived just as the blizzard started. My husband welcomed them, as was his custom. Men have little to do during a storm but play cards, stoke the fire, drink caribou, and tell tall tales. The second night, the children and I were in our beds when I heard raised voices. Urgel had been going on about something he’d heard last summer when trading with the Dutch. He claimed he’d been told of vast lands far to the west where the game covered the land as far as the eye could see and houses were made of gold. They accused him of lying, so he insisted on showing him a map he kept with the furs. When I awoke in the morning, my husband with me and the inside of the house was hazy with smoke. I got up thinking a log had rolled out of the fireplace, but when I got down the ladder, there were only embers and ashes in the heath. I opened the door and…” She swallowed, brushing away at her tears. “Laurian was dead, and there was so much blood. Smoke rose from the barn where we kept not only the furs but the ox, nanny goat, and chickens. Terrified that we were under attack, I ran inside, but before I could bar the door,  the men kicked it in. They forced the children, too frightened to make a sound, into the cellar.”

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word Green

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales, the weekly blog hop that lets you follow authors as they create new books for your enjoyment. Each post is 300-400 words long. I’ve been working slowly on The Price of Courage, Book Two of the Canadiana Series.

Enjoy!

Lucien retrieved his coat and stopped, knowing his abruptness had probably scared her.

“As soon as Okwaho returns, he’ll start a meal for you and then we can settled the children. Are all the beds in the loft?”

“No.” She licked her lips. “My husband and I slept over there, under the overhang. When his cousins were here, they slept in their cabin behind the house or in the loft across from the children.”

“How many cousins were there?”

“Four—Antoine Lanoie, and Urgel Marion, who trapped with Méderic, and his younger brothers Seraphim, and Laurian, who tended the farm and looked after us when the men were gone.”

Lucien scowled, wishing he could curse a blue streak. Those were the names the men had given as their own. Like Bouchard, he doubted they had any right to them.

“I won’t be long.”

Yves had finished repairing the door and was opening and shutting it to make sure the make-shift hinges would hold. He’d lit a second fire in the other hearth and the house had warmed up nicely.

“I need to get out of here before I vent my anger on the wrong person,” he whispered. “Follow me.”

Yves nodded and stepped out of the house. The body was gone, a bloody trail leading to the partially destroyed barn.

“Where’s Okwaho?” He slipped on his coat, the air more frigid than earlier.

“He’s cleaning the partridges and the rabbits and digging roots to go with them. He’s moved the bodies as you can see. From what he said, there are four more in the barn, probably killed or tossed there before the place was set afire. Those bastards are fools. That barn was newly constructed, and wet, green lumber doesn’t burn well. Those bodies will need to be cremated since the grounds too hard to dig graves. Leaving them will only attract the animals.”

“I agree. Six bodies, and I’m convinced the false Bouchard is to blame. We need information from Huguette, but we’ll have to wait until the children are in bed.” He sighed. “The woman and children couldn’t stay here alone, but the village was a day’s travel away. “I’ll get water and bring in more wood. We’ll stay here until I figure out how to get them to Atika’s village. Tonight, we’ll keep watch in case those monsters backtracked and followed our trail.”

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word DEBUT.

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the on-going blog where a select group of authors share scenes from their works in progress with you. Each week, we write to a prompt, be it a picture, like last week, or a word, like this week. Posts are limited to 400 words for Word Prompts.

I’m continuing with my historical novel, The Price of Courage, Book Two of my Canadiana Series. This week, the word is DEBUT.  In English, the word means entrance, inauguration, first attempt, but I’m going to cheat, and use the word in French where it means beginning, since I honestly couldn’t figure out how to use it in the story any other way. So, Mea Culpa.

Enjoy!

“C’est le début de la fin. Seule, j’en peu plus.” Huguette watched the child scamper up the ladder to the loft, fighting the tears crawling down her cheeks. “I have excellent hearing, monsieur. If the wolves do not get us tonight … Without food and weapons to defend ourselves, we will perish long before winter passes. Perhaps it would have been kinder to leave us in our early grave.”

“That’s nonsense. If this is a beginning, it’s one of a safe and happy future for you and your children, and as far as being alone, men are like rocks along the shore in this colony. You’ll find another one, a better one. You’ll see.”

Yvette returned with a small, reasonably clean sheet and handed it to her mother before hurrying back to her own seat. Huguette tore the linen into strips.

“You’re a long way from home.” Lucien wound the bindings around her ankle, making sure the bandage was tight but not constricting. “The Mi’kmaq live on the other side of the river.”

“I came to the land of the Montagnais six years ago,” she admitted, her voice filled with sorrow. “My man was a soldier given this centime in exchange for his services. He has papers from your king.” She raised her chin proudly.

Lucien tied off the bandage and replaced her moccasin, aware it would supply additional support.

“How’s that?” He sat back, hundreds of questions buzzing in his head.

“Much better, thank you.” She stood, took a few tentative steps, and sat once more.

“I don’t understand why your husband left you like this.” Lucien struggled to hide his fury.

“Méderic Bouchard was not perfect, but he was a good man. He did not do this to us, nor did his cousins. Monsters came out of the storm, six Frenchmen far worse than any Wendigo I could ever have imagined. Their leader did this, although when one of his men tried to stop him, he cut him badly.”

“What happened?” So the Méderic Bouchard he’d met was an imposter.

“Please, can it wait until the children are asleep? Empty bellies will make sleeping hard enough for them.”

“I promise no one will go to bed hungry tonight. Those men won’t get away with their crimes.” Lucien stood and grabbed the wooden bucket on the counter. At the moment, he was ashamed of his countrymen. “I’ll get more water.”

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