TALES OF THE AEKHARTAIN
Vol. 1.5 – An Aekhartain Romance
Dóma has always liked welcoming newcomers to the Shadow Garden, but there’s something different about the newest arrival. Freyda’s life was hard before she joined the Aekhartain, but that’s not it. No, for the first time in over a hundred years, Dóma might just be falling in love.
But does Freyda feel the same? And if she does, how will this most restrained pair ever admit their feelings for each other?
Luckily they’re in the Shadow Garden and they have one or two friends around to help them out.
This novella is a sweet little F/F romance about wings, hope, love and gossip. There is a little magic here, but it’s mostly what Freyda and Dóma can make between themselves.
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Sing To Me in Brief
What’s in it?: A novella, with a few bonus drabbles, an excerpt from Orion’s Kiss and a sneak-peak at Demero’s story, Unbound and Free.
When is it set?: Circa 2030
Where is it set?: The Shadow Garden
What kind of story is it?: A f/f romance. If same-sex relationships aren’t your thing, you have been warned.
What’s the genre?: Fantasy Romance
I haven’t read any of this series, will I get lost?: Although this story is technically a follow up to Orion’s Kiss it can be read alone. I’ve tried to make it accessible to first-time readers, and there’s an introduction at the beginning that should fill you in on just what the Aekhartain are. (As much as anything ever does, anyway.)
Any age restrictions?: None. This is a tame little tale. The hottest it gets is a kiss.
Read on for a sneak peak of what’s to come!
DÓMA WHISTLED AS she walked, feeling light and buoyant in the glistening twilight. The Shadow Garden was all dark blues and dusky shadows today, while overhead the stars burned wonderfully bright. It was a beautiful place to live. Dóma couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t loved it here. Some people found the constant shadow-light difficult to adjust to at first, but to Dóma it had always felt like home.
She knew the newest resident of the Garden didn’t feel that way yet. Freyda wasn’t used to living in comfort, with friends all around her. Dóma wanted to change that, to make Freyda feel like she belonged, in big ways and small. That was why she was walking through the Garden with a little box of ideas in her arms. Well, she had to start somewhere.
As she made her way through the trees, a song thrush kept pace amongst the branches, its melodious song blending seamlessly with her whistling. It was a good day to be out, and Dóma smiled cheerfully down at the box she carried. It was a good plan; she hoped it worked. She so wanted it to work. For herself, for the Garden, and most of all for Freyda.
She’d seen other people come and go in the Garden, of course, during her century amongst Maskai’s trees, but there was something different about Freyda. Something special.
Dóma wanted to make everything right for her, make her smile, make her happy. She’d been friendly to other new residents before, but there was something about Freyda that made her want to do more than make friends.
Mine, a tiny voice inside her heart whispered, but Dóma ignored it.
Freyda was so lonely. Oh, she had her work with Maskai, which no other Aekhartain had ever had before, and everyone was eager to make friends with her. Yet something was missing. It didn’t help that Freyda kept running back to the world whenever no one was looking.
Dóma frowned about that. Surely after the way Freyda had been treated there was nothing in the world worth returning for.
“I guess we’ll have to give her a better reason to stay here instead, eh, Sym?”
The song thrush gave a low two-toned whistle, but whether in agreement or doubt Dóma wasn’t quite sure. Nor did she really want to know. So she hefted her precious ideas box higher in her arms and marched on with a determined hum in her throat.
* * *
SOMEONE WAS HUMMING. Freyda woke slowly, stirring in the delicious warmth of her covers, and opened her eyes to the soft twilight of the room. It was always gloomy in the Shadowy Garden, the light caught in the in-between hours of dawn and dusk, never quite brightening into day, never quite darkening into full night. Yet always, always, the stars burned in the firmament above, as bright and clear as midnight in the desert.
Freyda loved the stars. Seeing them shining up there reminded her of so many things – sad, lonely, but good too.
The stars had been her refuge for so many years. Her confidants, her only friends, her seeds of hope. She still hadn’t quite adjusted to seeing them whenever she looked up, though, whatever time of day. Yet she liked that they were there, watching, waiting, listening.
Sighing, Freyda rolled onto her back to sprawl amongst the covers, frowning up at the ceiling where shimmers of light rippled across it like water.
The humming came closer; a soft, lilting melody that tugged at emotions Freyda thought long lost. Ones she’d buried deep after her mother had left. It was the kind of tune she’d forgotten existed, and had never expected to hear again. Or wanted to.
A whistling tune of tumbling notes interrupted the humming, and laughter drifted in through the window. “Had enough of my song already, have you, Carroll?” a familiar voice chuckled. “Think you can do better?”
Freyda held her breath; of course it was her. Who else hummed as easily as she breathed? Who else’s voice rolled in a constant, unconscious rhythm, so full of song that it poured out of her like the mists of a waterfall?
Dóma. Even her name had its own rhythm, a sighing rise and fall. A sound of longing.
Carroll whistled again, making Dóma laugh and Freyda smile.
“Is that a challenge, Master Blackbird? Well, in that case, I accept! Come on, Sym, let’s show this poor excuse for a thrush how a real songbird sings.”
Since he’d started it, Carroll went first, his song tumbling into the twilight air as bright as the stars shining above. Freyda closed her eyes. She loved listening to him; he was the sound of freedom, of hope, of friendship. Of imagination.
“Well, now, wasn’t that pretty?” Dóma praised once the blackbird had fallen silent. “And yet, I think we can do better. What do you say, Sym?”
Chuckling softly, the song thrush took up the challenge, easily demonstrating how her kind had earned its name.
Not one to be outdone, Carroll tried again. Then Symphony. The two birds battled and entwined their melodies until Dóma was laughing.
Alone in her room, Freyda smiled. She loved to hear them both sing, even if it made her feel left out, adrift. Alone.
She couldn’t sing, or hum, or whistle. There was no music inside her, no beautiful song waiting to break out. No one had ever thought to teach her, and it was too late for her now. She lived in silence.
“My turn,” Dóma declared.
Carroll whistled, and Dóma copied him. Symphony echoed them both, and soon the three of them were whistling in a round. They sounded pitch-perfect and wonderful. Together, bonded in a way Freyda would never know.
Envy and other emotions twisted deep inside her, hard and painful enough to make her gasp. Rolling out of bed, Freyda grabbed a pile of clothes and headed for the bathroom to get dressed. She couldn’t listen to them anymore. Not when they were so beautiful.
And she was not.
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