End of Summer Palace part two

Pavel stood with Katia in the solar of the terem. His father angrily paced waiting for Pavel’s explanation of where he found Katia.

“She was downstairs, outside the servants door, sitting in the grass under the tree, she had been crying.”

Katia, explain yourself, her mother demanded. “I wanted to sit,  in the sun, without the house all around me. I wanted to be alone, I was too warm in the sun and had to find shade.”

“Do you realize what you have done? You have compromised yourself. What if someone saw you? When I speak for you I can no longer claim with absolute certainty that you are worth the value I have attributed to your innocence.”

“Father, I was watching her, I didn’t want her to know, in case she had planned to meet someone or run away.”

“Run away? Why would you suspect that Pavel?” his mother insisted.

“I meant nothing, I was just trying to understand her reason for slipping out of the terem.”

“Why are you dressed like that Katia?” her mother asked suspiciously.

“It looks like she was planning this for sometime, when Sasha couldn’t find her, and she was soundly punished for her error, perhaps she was right after all.” her father suggested.

“No, father I swear, this is the first and only time I will try to learn something on my own.”

“What do you mean by learn something?” her mother insisted.

“She wanted to see how the sun would burn her skin.” Pavel interjected. “I was telling her about the sun and how powerful it was, so powerful it could burn you.”

“She could have sat out on the balcony and done that Pavel.” their father stated.

Pavel had to think quick, this was dragging on far too long.

“I’ll take the blame, I was teasing her, it wasn’t the sun, it was a joke, I challenged her that she wouldn’t do it, that she was too weak that she had no interest in the world. I’m sorry it’s all my fault.”

“Pavel,” his father stopped him. “You are a grown man, about to go off to war and you tempt and tease your sister? I will hear no more of this. Mother will assign a servant to Katia, who will never leave her sight, she will make sure from now on that Katia stays in the terem and away from you Pavel.”

Katia shrieked, Pavel just put himself in the line of fire and they would both suffer. However, Pavel was going to leave and not have to face the day to day scrutiny of a woman of questionable character, she didn’t care however, there was no one or anything she desired any more, she would retreat to her chamber and stay there, only to live on memories.

Pavel was expected to leave the room but he ran to Katia and hugged her, she noted a tear in his eye and she knew he loved her, she squeezed his hand, told him she loved him and would miss him terribly and she thanked him.

“Pavel you are forbidden to enter the terem from now on. You have committed your last taunt.” their father warned.

From then on Katia’s days were a torment. She had no news from the outside. She felt she would die, she had to do something to give her the will to live. She knew this terrible feeling would fade with time and soon Michail was warming her days. Sophia was with child again and Katia was able to put her efforts into helping her with her boy, her personal servant started to relax her constant supervision, there was no need. Katia had no desire to venture outside when her reason for doing so was now training and bracing for the war that Katia could hear in the secret whisperings that went on between the servants when no one thought she was listening.

One morning the terem was full of excitement, Katia rushed out of her chamber to hear the news, she thought Pavel was coming home, but it was not what was causing the commotion this day. Annushka was happy to announce that their Aunt from Kiev was coming with Adeline who was one year older than Katia and one year younger than Annushka. Katia knew something was at the root of this. She never had a close relationship with Annushka but ever since the incident, they had hardly spoken.

“They are coming to meet  Anatoly Danilovich Brodsky the son of the General who is a promising military man himself in the Tsar’s special bombardier unit.” Annushka announced.

“Sophia, how does Annushka know so much about this Anatoly, and Adaline’s connection to him.” Katia interrogated her.

“Katia, you must keep quiet. If I tell you … you must remain quiet they will know I told you.”

“Sophia, what has happened? I promise I will keep your secret.”

“Adeline, Annushka and you are to be presented before Anatoly Danilovich, he is seeking a bride.”

Katia’s heart skipped a beat, she went pale and Sophia pretended it was herself that swooned, she made sure Katia sat next to her and covered for her by putting on a big scene. When Katia finally realized what was going on she perked up and attended to Sophia, then she took Michail to her chamber and cried until Sophia came for her.

“Katia, what is wrong? I cannot do that again, you almost caused a scene out there.”

“Sophia, why do they want to put me through that? Let the two of them go without me. I don’t want to be married. I don’t want to leave the terem. Please Sophia, don’t let them make me go!”

Katia was sobbing now more than before. Sophia was worried about Katia’s irrational behavior.

“Katia, you have to pull yourself together, in light of what happened to you, you cannot give them anymore reasons to mistrust you. You have to comply, you have to put on your best effort. You must tell me what is on your mind. Perhaps I can help you.”

“Sophia, you cannot help me. I have done something so selfish and childish and I cannot get you involved. Please trust me, I will do as you say, I will act the spoiled child and make Annushka or Adeline the only choice for him from our family. Thank you Sophia for your words of wisdom.”

“Katia what have you done? You are not … ” she pointed to her own stomach since she couldn’t say the words.

“No, Sophia, my goodness no! Is that all everyone thinks about around here?”

“Yes, Katia — I am afraid it is. That is all we are good for it seems. Uri is only happy with me when I give him sons. This one better be a boy, then after that I can have all the girls I want, he tells me.”

“Oh, insurance the second boy will assure there will be an heir, but nothing will ever happen to Michail, I won’t let it.”

“Oh, Katia I know how you love Michail, and he loves you. But the truth is that illness can strike at any moment … I don’t need to say more.”

“Not Michail never him.”

After Summer Palace

Katia would get one more chance to ride with Wiley in the time that was left before he left to join the Russian army with his friend Pavel Alexeyevich Ulenka. She walked away from the Summer Palace into the early evening light, which faded as she walked into the field with no sign of Wiley. She sat in the field and let the thoughts run through her head, he would be here unless something happened, something beyond his control. He would never forget her or be with someone else. What did he owe her anyway? He gave her two glorious days of riding Ebony in the open field seated in front of him to get every bit of the free floating feeling which only a horse could bring.

Her precious time had run out. This was it, she knew it, in two days he would be gone and she would be left alone, not even Pavel to fill her days. She knew the decision to continue this defiance would end up costing her, but she felt she had to take the risk while she could. She stood up to leave and go back to the Manor House before someone noticed that she was gone.

The last time she had to convince them that she had fallen asleep on her window bench when the servant went in to check on her, her mother had gone to spend time with her father in his chambers and it was awhile before an out and out search of the terem had commenced. She managed to get up to her chamber dressed in her servant clothing, changed into her own and thought to conceal herself so her disappearance would be explained as an over sight by an overly excitable servant. Katia felt bad when the servant was disciplined but felt her punishment would be much worse, but then Wiley would be the person they would blame the most and the only thing he would be guilty of would be taking a shut in for a glorious ride on an exceptional horse.

She knew however, the reason for the seclusion, she felt there was no going back to the way things were. She doubted the two evenings she spent with Wiley had any effect on him as they did on her, but she thought about him constantly and dreamed of him, she wanted to feel him close.

He was rough, he was crude, and she didn’t understand the kindness he showed toward her, but he knew what she wanted and gave it to her. She had no way to reach him and now she would never see him again.

“Katia, I’m so sorry, I’m glad you are still here.”

She turned as soon as she heard her name. Wiley was on Ebony and quickly dismounted.

“Wiley, we missed our ride.”

“I know, Katia, it couldn’t be helped. Pavel and your father had come out to the stable. Pavel wanted to show him Starlight and show him how he could ride, and of course I couldn’t get away.” WIley took Katia’s hand and she nervously pulled it away. She hadn’t touched him other than to take his hand when he helped her up on the horse.

“Katia, please don’t be frightened of me, I though we had a little more between us then our love for horses.”

“I’m sorry Wiley,” she said as she stepped toward him and placed her forehead on his chest.

“I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know how you knew exactly what I needed, and the kindness you showed me. You aren’t that nice.”

Wiley put his arms around her.

“So you don’t want me around if I’m not on a horse?”

‘Wiley, no … not at all. What is wrong with you? Why would you take it that way?”

“I’m not nice, you are correct. I don’t know what came over me, I could have been fired or worse if anyone found out, but I really didn’t care. You seemed so … desperate and I had the means, it was quite simple actually. It was your reaction, I think. The sheer joy you felt, it made me feel I was able to give someone something simple from my heart. Like you, I didn’t think I had one anymore. I had grown so hateful, I tried to kill Herr Rolf. The farm and Ebony saved me, but you gave me the idea that I can give of myself simply and purely.”

He bent to kiss her and she kissed him back.

She was giddy, her heart raced, she knew something had happened between them and there were no galloping horses involved.

“Wiley, I have to go.”

“I know Katia, but this is so unfair. Will you wait for me?”

“Wiley, I will try. I cannot promise, I don’t have any control over what will happen to me in the next few months. Even if you were to come by with Pavel, they would never let you in to see me. My father has every intention of marrying us off. This, you and I … can never be, although it is all I dream of.”

“Katia, I will raise myself, I will honor you with my service in the army, I will come for you if I have to ride Ebony into your impassable sanctuary. I will claim you and pull you up in front of me and we will ride away and never look back.”

They held hands as they walked back to the Manor. When they got there and Katia was saying her final good bye, Pavel stepped out from behind the door.

“Pavel this isn’t what it looks like, please believe me.” Wiley explained.

Katia was pulled behind Pavel and he told Wiley to leave. Katia was taken inside and Pavel took her by her shoulders and demanded her attention.

“They know you have gone. They are looking for you, I cannot have Wiley’s name brought into this mess.”

“What can we do Pavel?”

“I’m not even going to ask you what has been going on. You are going to have to follow my lead,”

Katia braced herself for what was about to happen, she had to trust Pavel’s loyalty.

Where I am

I have have been thinking about my efforts to get my stories published. I have passed the three month mark for my first-ever query. I received no correspondence whatsoever, not even a auto response.  I have a partial MS of my first novel with an agent, it has been one month, no response, that however is a different story. There are a lot of pages to read, and I’m sure the agent has a life, doesn’t work weekends and receives one thousand other hopeful clients every week.

I have recently started to send out queries on my second book. A Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction (50,083 words). I have posted some excerpts on this blog. I saw tweets from an agent talking about some of the queries she has received, I liked her style, It actually helped me, having had no constructive or otherwise criticism of my work. I think I am clever, I know I am creative, but can I put my story down in print? I know publishing companies have teams of editors, artists, marketing people, etc. but where is the line drawn between a work that requires many edits and one that gets rejected?

Getting back to the agent, she mentioned getting great queries and no story, getting horrible queries and a wonderful story, this is where she mentions that she won’t completely reject a story (five pages) until she reads a chapter. Which is refreshing compared to hearing about queries getting rejected for spelling the agents name wrong, or reading only the query, synopsis, or biography and deciding from that there should be a rejection.

Based on that alone I sent my query for the second book to that agent. I received an auto-response that it was received, out of ten submissions that is only the third AR I received. However, this one had a message from the agent which is generic I know, but it was a nice touch. It felt welcoming and it came from the agent directly. The wait time can take up to eight weeks, which is four weeks shorter than standard.

Okay, I sent the first query on my first book at the end of May. I sent the partial MS at the beginning of August, along with two other query requests. And all the others in between. I did attend a pitch session, I could probably write a book about that.

A lot of time has passed, and if I wasn’t constantly writing I could probably tell you that there were several elections, tons of babies born and a lot of beautiful summer days missed. Meaning, a lot of time is passing by, and time is an important commodity.

Now the dilemma (dream on) if this agent likes my story, will she also like the other two stories? Will the first agent want a crack at that story? I have also started another book — things are getting crazy — but I love the writing. I am still forging ahead. If my writing is so horrible, I am wasting a lot of time, but I really don’t believe that, I may need a little assistance for the obvious reasons that editors at publishing houses exist.

The waiting is tough, so thanks to this agent who inspired me, — you know who you are, to get back into the submission process, two more queries will be at the three month mark in three days.

I can officially consider them as rejections as well. I will still check my e-mail today even though it’s Sunday.

Flaked Tuna (excerpt Gwen)

“Ambrosius, my lord, we have done the best we could on the little notice we received.” She was a vision in a blue gown with a delicate crown of gold and silver adorned with rubies.

Durham stared at her, he was speechless. He finally found the wherewithal to smile or show some kind of recognition. She was so courageous, she was the daughter of a neighboring war lord and their clans were bound by their marriage ten years earlier. Her father’s tribe was one of the allies he was counting on.

“Aren’t you going to embrace me, Ambrosius?” Gwen questioned after a long moment.

Durham, felt ridiculous for the hesitation, he was not playing his part very well, however this woman memorized him. Almost like his own dear Lillith had once.

“Arthur has been a great help in your absence. He has sent men into town to secure grain, water and other items we will need in the coming days. Is it true then sire, the Huns are going to attack us after your purpose for leaving was to ride south with them to rid the land of the Roman occupiers. What happened to change the tide?”

Gwen was up to speed on all the current happenings and gave him a good report of the work that has been going on at Durham Castle.

“They attacked the city and killed everyone, they are not to be trusted.”

Holding Gwen’s hand walking down the massive hallway to the bailey brought back the painful memories of Lillith. He hadn’t thought about her for quite some time after spending years mourning her loss.

She couldn’t tolerate the hours spent on his research, at the University, his laboratory and at home. He would be up all night leaving the bedroom to go jot down notes that occurred to him while lying awake at night. They had grown apart and he hardly noticed.

One day she left, it took the professor two days to notice she had gone, between voice mail and text messages he wasn’t sure until he found the letter on his night stand.

Looking at Gwen now, seeing how she looked at him and the help she was providing, he realized that he let Lillith go. The research into the String Theory lost her and now his living his dream has found her again. She was his once-in-a-lifetime love, Gwen proved that.

Gwen noted a distinct change in her King at that very moment. He kissed her and they departed company while he inspected the fortifications outside the castle. She left to find Arthur.

Flaked Tuna (CA-Sagas)

Ernestine toured the Boston Science Museum when the Old Norse Sagas were scheduled to be on display. They were heavily protected and encased inside a climate controlled case and available for viewing only during daylight hours so as no artificial lighting would be used that could cause harm to the ancient documents.

There it was Volume I in the larger of the four cases containing the exhibit. She stared at the black leather bound early history of the lives and times of some of the great explorers of the time. She circled the cases and turned her attention to the other exhibits that are a mainstay of the museum so as not to look too suspicious. There was no way she was going to be able to get her hands on the book with all these people and security guards watching every move.

She just needed to peel back the cover to reveal the chip she hoped Rollo had placed in the book twelve hundred years earlier as requested. She imagined the procedure over and over in her mind but it failed every time.

As the exhibit was getting ready to be put away for the night Ernestine recognized one of the students from the University who was interning, laughing and joking with security. She walked over to her and started up a conversation, she recognized Ernestine right away. The woman invited her to a little pastry shop next door for coffee and she wasn’t about to refuse a chance that she may somehow learn more about where the exhibit was kept and when it would be sent out to its next destination. They use Brinks I’m sure, a disgruntled Petra warned.

Sara was very interesting and because of Ernestine’s recent activities, she was very informed on some of the subjects that interested her, they talked for hours. On their way out Sara, realized that she had forgotten her cell phone at the Museum. Ernestine could hear Petra urging her to invite herself to go back with her to keep her company. Sara was grateful for the offer.

When they made their way back, the security guard was very familiar with Sara and let her back in with no question and Ernestine walked right in behind her. Standing in the basement in the same room as the Old North Sagas, Ernestine inched her way over to touch the glass,raising it slightly she realized that it wasn’t locked. Sara searched her desk for her cell but it was no where to be found.

Ernestine asked her for her number and called it, a distant ringing could be heard a few doors down. “I’ll bet it’s in the ladies room, I should have known, I do that all the time.”

“I’ll stay here Sara, this place gives me the creeps.”
“Oh, yes, I’m used to it now but in the beginning it was unnerving especially when the Egyptian Exhibit was in town, the mummies were horrifying.” Sara had to mention as she ran after the ringtone before it eluded her.

As soon as Sara stepped out of the room, Ernestine opened the lid and picked up the book. Feeling the spine and pulling the paper back ever so gently, she felt the thin gold wafer and removed it, placing it in the small velvet bag she had thought to bring. Sara stood in the door way watching her in disbelief.

“Ern what are you doing?” she accused.

Petra suggested something along the lines of the truth. Just don’t tell her you actually found something.

“Sara, I’m so sorry, I just had to hold it for one minute, the case was not locked and I couldn’t resist.”
Sara wrestled it out of her hand and placed it back inside pushing it down to set the lock.

“Do you know the damage of human contact to these sensitive artifacts? The oil in your skin alone, sweat anything can cause damage.?

Sara turned away and Ernestine felt so deceitful, waiting for the silent alarm and armed guards who would momentarily be dragging her away. Sara stepped back up to her with a pair of cotton gloves. “Here Ern go crazy, just don’t take too long.”

Ernestine wanted to get the heck out of there feeling the guilt for the little flaw she made in the book, but she thought taking a few minutes to look at the manuscript would firm up her story and keep their friendship in tact, in case any other historical emergency should hit in the next few months.

As they walked to their cars Sara asked Ernestine about her current boyfriend, seeming to Ernestine a ploy to get her to ask about her situation.

Ernestine explained how her and Arnold really love history and have taken some interesting trips lately. She also invited Sara to come to Professor Roberts office to see a really unique piece of history if he is still keeping it there.

Sara seemed happy for Ernestine, “My new boyfriend is somewhat of a history buff himself, his name is Roger.”

Ernestine said a quick goodbye, hopped in her car and hit the auto-lock immediately. Can you believe that?

How many Rogers’ do you think live in Boston?

I know its the thug that was with Ned, I can feel it! They are still after the chip.

It’s a huge coincidence, that is all!

When Ernestine was fishing for the validated parking ticket someone tried to openher car door, she floored it just barely missed hitting the yellow and black armature allowing paid customers to depart the parking garage.