Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Imp – part fourteen

As she stepped down from the wagon, a wave of panic engulfed Amber. Where was she going to go? What if Jem didn’t want to see her? How was she going to even find him?

Taking a deep breath and clutching her sleeping son close to her chest, she slipped across the bustling courtyard into the dark shadows. For a few minutes, she watched as the wagons were unloaded and the goods carried into the storage cellars and the stable block. A door opened and a young kitchen maid came out carrying a tray of beer mugs. The aroma of food wafted across the courtyard over her hiding place in the shadows, reminding the fairy/elf of just how hungry she was. Dare she risk simply walking into the castle kitchen?

While she deliberated, the maid disappeared back inside, closing the door behind her.

If she stayed in the shadows she reasoned that she could reach the sanctuary of the stable block unseen and hide in the hay loft until she could work out a better plan. At least amongst the sweet hay, both her and the baby would be warm and dry.

Silently Amber slipped along the wall through the darkness towards the dim light of the stable block.

 

“Mistress Morag!” called Jem as he came charging into the kitchen, clutching his daughter to his chest. “Where is she?”

“Where’s who, sir?” asked Urquhart’s sister as she turned to face the prince. “Who are you looking for? And why isn’t this little princess tucked up asleep in her cradle?”

“Amber,” stated Jem as if it were obvious who he was seeking. “I saw her from the nursery window. She was in the courtyard. She’s here!”

“Well, no one’s come in here, sir!” retorted Morag sharply.

Without another word, the prince marched across the kitchen towards the door. The cool night air hit him as he stepped out into the courtyard, leaving the warmth of the castle kitchen behind him. For a few moments he stood watching the hustle and bustle around the wagons as they were re-loaded for the return journey through the portal.

“Where is she?” he whispered softly to his baby daughter who was snuggled into his shoulder. “Where’s your mama?”

If it was him, where would he have gone? Where would he hide?

 

The sweet smell of the straw mixed with the pungent aroma of horse as Jem and the baby entered the stables. One of the horses whinnied as the prince passed its stall. In his arms the baby began to squirm and fret. She let out a pitiful wail that echoed round the vast space. There was a rustling noise in the hay loft above them.

“Amber?” called out Jem softly. “Are you up there?”

Silence.

After what seemed like an eternity, he heard another rustling noise accompanied by a few creaks from the wooden rafters.

“Jem? Is that you?”

His heart swelled as he heard her beautiful musical voice. It was a voice that he hadn’t dared hope he would hear ever again.

“Yes it’s me,” he replied, his voice suddenly thick and hoarse with emotion. “Come down. Please.”

Keeping his gaze on the ladder, the prince waited with bated breath until he saw her soft leather boots step onto the top rung. With her back to him, the fairy/elf slowly descended the ladder. He worn leggings rode up exposing her ankles, both of which were red raw, chaffed from the chains from her tree prison cell. The tips of her wings poked out from below her travelling cloak, the flickering light from the lanterns causing them to shimmer softly. He long auburn hair hung limp and loose down her back. He could tell she was thin and frail, despite the cloak.

As she reached the bottom rung, he took a step towards her.

 

Stepping down onto the dry dirt floor, Amber paused before turning around. Her travelling cloak was still drawn around her, shielding the makeshift sling that cradled her baby son. Taking a dep breath, she turned to face Jem. The night had Urquhart had tried to reverse the witch’s spell, she had collapsed before she had seen whether the wizard’s magic had been strong enough to succeed against the dark curse.

Amber found herself face to face with the tall handsome prince she had admired at court over a year before; the tall prince she had bedded in this very stable. His hair was covering part of his face but the wizened imp was gone. Seeing him standing there with their baby daughter in her arms was too much for Amber. Tears flowed silently down her pale cheeks.

Seeing her emotions crumbling, Jem stepped forward and put his weaker arm around her.

“No tears, Amber. You’re safe now,” he assured her warmly. “This little princess has been missing her mama.”

The baby was reaching out towards her mother, instinct telling her that this was someone she needed in her life.

With a smile, Amber drew back her cloak to reveal the sleeping baby underneath. Jem’s eyes were wide in surprise.

“And this little prince has been missing his father and his sister.”

Rendered speechless, Jem felt tears fill his own eyes as he gazed down at the sleeping baby. He marvelled at his pale blonde hair. He smiled when he saw the tiny elf ears.

“My son?” he breathed softly. “Twins? I never guessed.”

“I never knew,” confessed Amber as she reached out to take her daughter’s tiny outstretched hand. “My grandmother wouldn’t let me keep them both. She only reluctantly allowed him to stay as all he can stomach is my milk.”

She swayed slightly on her feet as fatigue took over.

“Let’s get you indoors,” suggested Jem, concerned at how frail and tired she looked. “Get you some supper. Get you warm. Artie and Morag are going to be thrilled to hear that you’re home.”

“Home?” she echoed with a wistful smile. “You’ve no idea how good that sounds.”

 

Her unannounced arrival caused quite a commotion in the palace kitchen. Eyes brimming with tears of joy and relief, Morag fussed over Amber and the sleeping prince. Before she became completely overwhelmed, Jem intervened and asked that some supper be brought up to the nursery. Without further ado he guided his family out of the kitchen leaving Morag issuing orders to the maid.

The nursery was warm and a welcoming log fire burned brightly in the hearth. Carefully Amber loosened the bindings on her makeshift sling and lifted her son out. The movement disturbed the baby, rousing him from his magic induced slumber.

“May I?” asked Jem, anxious to hold his tiny son.

“Swap,” said Amber with a smile. “I’ve missed her so much. You’ve no idea how hard it was to let her go.”

 

By the time Morag brought a tray into the nursery with their supper laid out on it, both Jem and Amber were sitting beside the fire cradling a sleepy baby.

“Why don’t you put those two into the cradle together and eat this while its hot,” suggested the older woman warmly. “They need to bond too.”

“Morag’s right,” agreed Amber. “There’s a strong bond between them. A telepathic bond.”

“Pardon?”

Quickly she explained about probing her son’s mind and seeing visions of his sister in her crib.

“That explains a lot,” admitted Jem, recalling his own restless nights with a fretful baby. “Did you give them names? I’ve avoided naming our little princess until I could see you again.”

“I had two names in mind but I never named our son either. I was too scared to. Frightened that my grandmother would go back on her word and take him away too.”

“What names?”

“Jade and Jasper,” she whispered, scared to voice the names out loud in case it brought more ill luck tumbling down on them.

“I’d chosen Jade too,” confessed Jem with a smile. “Jasper I like. Suits him.”

While Morag busied herself setting out their meal on the table, they settled the twins in the cradle. Immediately the babies reached out for each other and lay side by side facing each other, babbling away.

“Now, how about you tell me what happened to you,” suggested Jem quietly, anxious to hear her tale. “And about how you managed to escape.”

Over supper Amber recounted her story, explaining about the twins birth, her tree top prison, the visits from Blain and the plan to ship her off to the elves to be dealt with. She shed fresh tears as she told Jem of the risks Blain had taken to help her escape then she wept for the homeland she could never return to.

“Sh, Amber, you’re safe now,” he soothed. “You’re home.”

 

Slamming her glass down on the table, Greta declared, “One of us needs to go back! We need that ruby.”

“Well, Karina can’t go,” retorted Isabella sharply.

“True. Look at the mess she’s already caused,” muttered Greta glowering at her sister. “Isabella, it needs to be you.”

“Why not you, sister dearest?”

“Because I need to remain here to keep an eye on our darling delinquent sister and to continue the search for the fourth stone,” stated Greta bluntly. “It needs to be you who fetches the ruby.”

“And how do you propose I do that?”

The three sisters sat in silence pondering the question. The minutes ticked by as they stared at each other.

“You’ll simply have to steal it,” said Karina eventually. “They’ll be on the lookout for one of us. But you’ll have to deal with that wizard first.”

Reluctantly Isabella nodded.

 

Three days had passed since Amber and Jasper had arrived at the palace. At Jem’s insistence, they had been left alone to bond as a family and for Amber to begin to recover from her ordeal. He’d had the castle medic treat the wounds to her ankles and had then ordered her to rest.

“Enough is enough!” declared Urquhart sourly as he barged in on their breakfast. “We need to put our heads together. We need to get to work. Something tells me that those witches will make another attempt to recover the ruby before the next full moon.”

“What makes you so sure?” quizzed Amber softly.

“My right big toe has been buzzing for a week. A sure sign of impending danger.”

“If you say so, Artie,” said Jem stifling a laugh. “What do you need us to do to help?”

“Read,” stated he boy wizard. “We need to find the legend or song or verse that tells them what stone they need as well as your father’s ruby, the emerald and the sapphire. We also need to find it before they do.”

“Logic says it will be a diamond,” said Amber calmly. “I’d start with the dwarf chronicles.”

“Why?” asked Jem curiously. “Dwarfish literature is simply awful to read. So dull and monotonous.”

“Dwarves mine diamonds,” said Urquhart. He paused for a moment, “But they also mine rubies, emeralds and sapphires in one particularly rich region. We need to find some southern dwarfish books.”

“Do you have any?” asked Amber hopefully.

“No.”

“Did my mother?” asked Jem remembering that one of her vast collection had already proved to be invaluable.

“I have no idea,” sighed the wizard. “Do you still have the key to her chamber or do I need to speak to your father?”

“I still have it. Let me finished eating then I’ll help you to look,” replied the prince. “What would a southern dwarfish book look like?”

“Ornate, if it was given as a gift to the queen. Very ornate,” stated the wizard, “But small.”

“I think I know the very book,” mused Jem.

 

High up in the mountain keep, the three witches gathered at the entrance. With a click of her fingers, Isabella transformed herself into a snowy white owl. Silently, her sisters watched as she spread her wings and flew from the keep.

 

 

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Has It Really Been Three Years?

291216-3yr-blogiversaryI find it hard to believe but it has been three years since I started this blog.

I remember the fear and trepidation that I felt as I pressed “publish” on that very first post as if it were yesterday.

I largely started this blog to overcome my fear of people reading what I write and I think I’ve perhaps finally  conquered it. (I still get a flutter of nerves in the pit of my stomach as I hit “publish”)

Three years down the line I’ve kept up with my weekly blog posts on here, created a sister music blog, The 525 To Glasgow, written and published two book babies with a third due in the Spring. Add in the various short stories that have appeared on this page and, I think you’ll agree, it’s been a busy three years.

I couldn’t have done it without you.

It’s the love and support of each and every one of you that has kept me searching for rainbows and  chasing my  dreams so thank you.

 

A little pre-Christmas Silver Lake treat from me to you

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As regular followers of my ramblings will know, I’m knee deep in Book Baby 3. The first draft is almost typed up (technically it’s the second as the first is the handwritten one) The proof reading and editing and revising are underway once more (huge thanks to my Infamous Five- couldn’t do it without you guys.)

All going according to plan, Book Baby 3 aka Bonded Souls will be launched in Spring 2017.

As a little pre-Christmas treat, I thought I’d share a short excerpt with you.

Sorry, no spoilers. No plot give away. No hints of things to come other than the obvious one (well, its obvious if you’ve read the first two books in the Silver Lake series.)

I’d also like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for your support and kind words this year. It really makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Have a wonderful Christmas when it comes and may all your dreams come true in 2017.

Coral x

A little snatch of Bonded Souls, book 3 in the Silver Lake Series

Despite all the touring and travelling, Jake lay wide awake in the strange bed in his sister’s guest room. A glance at his phone informed him it was after midnight; his internal body clock has long since surrendered and given up trying to determine the time of day. He could hear one of his nephew’s snoring in the room next door. Reaching for his phone, Jake re-read his last message from Lori. “Sweet dreams, rock star. Love you L x”

With a smile, he laid the phone back down on the night stand. Only a few short hours until he would be reunited with her. After having Lori with him for two full weeks on tour, the last couple of days had felt empty without her presence. The final two shows of the tour had been incredible. In Zurich, the Swiss fans had filled the concert hall, but seemed more reserved than the other European fans had been. When they had reached Rome the following day for the final show, the Italian fans’ passion had blown the band away. All of them agreed that they had never heard such a loud crowd. The atmosphere in the venue had been amazing and Jake was genuinely sorry that Lori had missed it and the end of tour party that had followed.

His mind wandered to thoughts of the wedding and he ran through the music he had in mind plus his plans for a romantic dinner on Saturday evening. He had already booked a table at Lori’s favourite Italian restaurant and requested that her favourite champagne be waiting on them.

“The ring!” he suddenly thought. Where had he put it? Just as panic was about to sweep in, he remembered that Lori had both their rings.

Earlier in the day he had received messages from both his brothers and his dad promising to be in New York on Saturday. Knowing that his family were going to be there made him feel more than a little anxious. Although he had gone a long way to restoring relations with them, Jake still felt stressed at the thought of them all being together. He also felt guilty, knowing that Lori had no immediate family to invite.

With his mind still racing and no sign of sleep in sight, Jake slipped out of bed and crept quietly down to the kitchen to fetch himself a warm drink. His mother had always sworn that warm milk helped you to sleep. Trying not to make too much noise, Jake filled a mug with milk and popped it into the microwave to heat through. As the timer “pinged” a few seconds later, he heard the kitchen door open behind him and turned around to see Lucy standing there in her fleecy Pooh Bear pyjamas.

“Oh, it’s you,” she mumbled sleepily. “I thought it was one of the boys prowling.”

“Sorry,” apologised Jake, taking the mug from the microwave. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Warm milk?”

He nodded as he took a seat at the table. “Can’t sleep and Mom always swore by it.”

“Yeah, she did,” sighed Lucy, fetching herself a clean mug from the dishwasher. “Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all,” replied Jake, sipping his milk. “Feels kind of weird being here. It’s like I’ve stepped into another life.”

“Not enough partying?” teased Lucy as she sat down opposite him. “I would’ve thought after the last month that you’d be glad to be able to relax for a while.”

“I am,” began Jake. “But it takes a few days to adjust after a tour. Plus, I’ve a wedding on my mind.”

“Nervous, big brother?”

“A bit,” he confessed, sounding almost shy. “I was lying in bed thinking about everything. Thinking about family. Stressing a bit.”

“And wishing mom was here to keep those guys under control,” finished Lucy quietly.

Silently, Jake nodded.

They sat drinking their milk for a few minutes, both of them lost in their own memories.

“I wish she’d met Lori,” said Jake, staring down into his empty mug. “Wish she’d seen the band come together. Wish she’d seen us play a show. Seen me get my act together.”

Reaching out to touch his hand, Lucy said, “I like to think she’s keeping an eye on us all. Sometimes I can hear her in my head. Hear her approval or disapproval. I know in my heart that she would be proud of you. Mom would’ve adored Lori. In a lot of ways, they are very alike.”

With a wistful smile, Jake nodded, “I still hear her too. Usually it’s when I’m writing late at night. I can almost smell her Chanel perfume as I hear her say to keep working on it. Hear her tell me when it’s time to call it a day and get to bed.”

“Speaking of bed,” yawned Lucy, getting to her feet. “I’m going back to mine. We need to be up early to get everything packed in the car. I’ve no idea where we are putting all your gear!”

“Sweet dreams,” said Jake with a yawn as he watched her head out the door and down the hall.

 

If you’ve missed the first two books in the Silver Lake Series, you’ve still. time to catch up before Bonded Souls is launched. The Amazon links to the books one and two are below:

Stronger Within https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K

image sourced via Google

 

 

2016 – a year in pictures- the severely edited highlights

I’m not big on reflecting back on the year about to end etc, etc. I do however capture a lot of my life in photographs and hold the memories close to my heart. I have thousands of photos from 2016 so here are the severely edited highlights (one per month)

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and then there were some of the gigs I enjoyed……

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Lots of happy memories there.

When All The Stars Align…

Ever have a day where all the stars align and everything falls into place? They’re rare, I know, but recently I experienced one of them.

Six months ago, I’d bought a ticket to a rock show and made the decision to set out on a solo adventure.

Those six months disappeared in the blink of an eye and, on the last Saturday in November, I found myself sitting at Glasgow Airport with a coffee and a cinnamon whirl, waiting for my flight to East Midlands Airport.

I was heading to Nottingham for the weekend. No, I wasn’t in search of Robin Hood or the sheriff. I was going to see Alter Bridge headline a show at the Motorpoint Arena.

Those who know me, know how much those guys mean to me, especially the front man, Myles Kennedy.

Those of you who are going “Alter who?”, Alter Bridge are a rock band from the USA, fronted by Myles Kennedy. (Look then up on You Tube!)

The flight from Glasgow to East Midlands was a hop skip and a jump on a rather small propeller plane..eek!!

An hour after leaving Glasgow I was sitting in the café at East Midlands Airport with a coffee and a panini for lunch, waiting for my American friend, Miss Janette, to arrive from Amsterdam. (Her devotion to Myles and all things RnFnR makes the rest of us look like rank amateurs!)

Bang on time, her flight arrived and we were soon in a taxi, chatting at a million miles an hour as we sped towards the city. (I hadn’t seen her for two years so we had a lot of catching up to cram in!)

The whole day almost came to a spectacular halt a short while later. Having checked in to my Travel Lodge home for the night, we set off on foot in search of the rest of the “AB Family” who were lunching at Annie’s Burger Shack.

Round the corner from the hotel we found a Kitty Café!!!

Both of us have Crazy Cat Lady tendencies and it took a lot of will power to drag ourselves past the Kitty Café and to resist the temptation of kitty cuddles!

Without too much bother we found Annie’s. (Gotta love Google maps!) Cue lots of hugs and hellos as we caught up with some of the members of our “AB Family.” It was a little surreal being face to face with friends I’d only seen on Facebook up until now. It really was an international family gathering!

Apart from a love of Alter Bridge, we all had one more thing in common. We were all doing the “Meet & Greet/VIP Package” before the show.

The city’s Motorpoint Arena was only a short walk from the restaurant and, by three o’clock, the AB Family gathering had expanded considerably. Some of these people have been following this tour, The Last Hero Tour, all over the UK and Scandinavia, having already followed it through the USA. I really felt like an AB lightweight but each and every one of them made me feel so welcome and a part of it all.

I’ll not bore you with a blow by blow account of the Meet & Greet but the whole experience was amazing! Even standing in the centre of that huge almost empty arena was a breath-taking experience. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to stand on that stage and perform in front of a sell-out crowd!

The Meet & Greet package allows you entry to part of the band’s sound check before you are whisked back out of the arena to briefly meet the band, when they will happily sign stuff for you. (“One item each” we were told. “And don’t talk to Myles. He’s on vocal rest.” I had three. I chanced my luck and got two signed. Huge thanks to Miss Janette for getting the third item, my CD insert, personalised and autographed.) The next part was a photo opportunity with the band. There’s no denying that it is all a bit of a conveyor belt that involves a lot of standing in line. There wasn’t much time to speak to the band other than to say hello and exchange a few precious words, including a few with Myles to wish him an early “Happy Birthday.”

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The final part of the deal is that you get priority entry to the venue for the show.

By five fifteen I was standing on the rail beside my new friend, Miss Monica and Miss Janette. Cue one of the best evenings of my life. The show was incredible! (You can read all about it on my sister blog, The525to Glasgow  https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/alter-bridge-at-the-motorpoint-arena-nottingham-261116 )

It was eleven o’clock before the last notes faded away and the lights went up.

The tired smiles on everyone’s faces said it all! The mad dash up the arena to the loo was hilarious. Six hours in one spot is a LONG time!

In the foyer of the arena and outside there were small pockets of AB family chatting and posing for photos with one another and with one of the support bands, Like A Storm.

A few minutes later we gathered again as an AB Family in the bar next to the arena. We’d picked up a few extra family members along the way. Tired and weary, and in my case starving (that panini at the airport almost 12 hours earlier had long since worn off), we sat and chatted, reliving the musical adventure we had just shared. We posed for “family” photos. We took photos for each other with various family members then the bar called “last orders”. It was time to head back to the hotel and bed.

There were hugs and kisses. There were some goodbyes. There were some arrangements made to meet up again in a few days in Glasgow when the tour reached the SSE Hydro.

A lovely member of the AB Family walked me most of the way back to my hotel. (Thanks, Marin)

Once safely back in my room, sleep refused to come. I lay snuggled under the duvet smiling to myself in the dark.

It really had been a surreal perfect day. It brought it home to me the combined power of social media and a common interest (rock music). Without those, none of it would have happened. Without the online interaction, I’d never have met these people. I’d have missed the opportunity to make new friendships.

Memories were created that will last a lifetime.

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Oh and by the way, I found Robin Hood next morning. (It would have been rude not to while in Nottingham) He too happily posed for a photo!

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A Time To Pause For Breath And Reflect

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Confession – I have the intended blog post for this week half written but I paused…

The past week has been busy,  busy. There’s been incredible highs and one or two lows.

It’s been surreal so it’s time to pause, breathe and reflect.