Save Our Dad

Save our Dad Update: Round 4

10/26/2016 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

We've moved! Read this post and more on my new website.























































































































Den going strong starting round four of chemo
Just over 3 months ago, we decided to uproot our family to care for my "terminally ill" father-in-law (read about Den's fight against cancer and our family's move to save him). Though they didn't yet know the primary source of the cancer, they knew it had spread to his bones and he was rapidly declining.

Den, just weeks ago before we moved
We were pretty certain we were moving there to be sure he didn't die alone and to make him as comfortable as we could in his final days. He was so frail, so weak. "If the cancer doesn't kill him, the chemo probably will," was the sad reality we'd tried to accept but still prayer against.

Yesterday, Den started round four of chemo for his lymphoma. We're absolutely thrilled to report that his blood count is good, and tests show that not only has the cancer not progressed further, it's actually starting to shrink!!!

We are seeing a few chemo side effects, but very minor so far like hair loss, upset stomach, intermittent hand tremors, and some fatigue. His biggest complain is the metallic taste in his mouth. "Everything tastes like lead," he says. "But I've gotta eat whether I like it or not." That has lessened his appetite (which was starting to rival Michael Phelps for a while). At his last appointment, he hadn't gained any weight but he didn't lose any either.

Den is handling it all like a superstar. When he's not making everyone smile, we're yelling at him for being too active. He says he knows how much he can handle and really does do well resting when he needs it but we're really overprotective. We thought we were losing him once and don't want to risk too much.

#makingcancersuckless #lymphoma

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    cake topper,

    Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Trailer!

    10/21/2016 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

    We've moved! Read this post and more on my new website.























































































































    Rocket Raccoon and a spoutling little Groot in the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer
    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!



    I'm freaking out a bit here over this new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer! Not only love the humor, love that they don't spoil the whole movie like so many other trailers. :)
    From the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie
    We love Guardians of the Galaxy in our house. 


    When my kids hear any song from the soundtrack, they scream, "It's a Guardians of the Galaxy song!" and won't let us tell them any differently. 

    Dancing Baby Groot hanging out with Zelda, a few X-men, and my River's Sonic Screwdriver on my computer desk


    In fact, we love it so much that the blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the only Christmas presents that I asked for (money was very tight). The disc went missing for a few months and I was devastated. Almost went and bought another blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy before we found the kids had put it in the wrong dvd case.

     I also designed some Guardians of the Galaxy inspired Perler Beadsprites to use as magnets, ornaments, wall hanging, or cake toppers (see what adorable cake toppers they make here):


    Here's a behinds the scenes look at how I designed my Guardians of the Galaxy inspired Perler Beadsprites

    I hope Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is as good as the first! 
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      #GuardiansOfTheGalaxyVol2

      0 comments:

      Arabesque,

      Arabesque Chapter 6

      10/20/2016 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

      We've moved! Read this post and more on my new website.























































































































      I will be sharing parts of my writing every week (alternating between Arabesque and Persephone) as I write them (with the exception of some parts of Arabesque, which were written previously), so please be patient with any errors you may find, as these are a first drafts.

      About the book

      Tatania is tired of living in her sister's shadow but doesn't know about Princess Anna's dark secret. Bound by a sacred oath, Anna's struggles to live a double life that can never be her own. 
      Described as "Sense and Sensibility meets Ever After with ninjas," Arabesque is full of action, romance, intrigue, and betrayal.

      Since I've always been super paranoid, Arabesque was officially copyrighted in 2009. Duplication or use of this work in any other form is prohibited by law.


      Chapter 6
       Tatania

      We eagerly rushed through our lessons then next day.  Well, we tried to rush, but Elena was as slow and methodical as ever.  I got yelled at even more than usual, but then again, so did almost everyone else.  It seemed that no one but Anna was able to pay attention.  Elena was going on and on about fan language, proper etiquette for serving utensils, and customs of our culture that I doubt anyone but Elena had ever heard of.  The day dragged on forever.

      Everyone tried to be inconspicuous about leaving Licht Haven.  The snowball fight was to be at a secluded orchard, more than two miles away.  There was no way we were going to walk there in the snow, so we all planned to ride there.  Nearly all of the guests and students leaving two and three at a time were bound to be noticed, but we were too excited to care much.

      Anna had said that she was not coming with us, but when I got to the stable, she was saddling her dapple gray mare, Moonfire.  Isabel passed me on the way to her horse’s stall, a knowing smile on her face.  How had she talked her into it?  Anna and I had done stuff like this all the time when we were younger, but it had been years since I’d seen her do anything so improper.

      We rode as quietly and quickly as we could, but it still took a while to get there.  Thankfully, the sun was warm and high overhead in a cloudless sky.

      There was a small group already waiting at the orchard.  Dorian smiled at us, the sunlight practically making his golden hair glow.  Sir Alec sat atop his horse; his dark hair and tan skin a stark contrast beside Dorian’s radiance in the pure white snow.  Their companions and the other ladies surrounded them.  Henry Ashenhurst was there too, which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me.  He was in charge of our “protection detail”, and he took that job way too seriously.

      Genevieve had been looking at Dorian and she glared at me when he smiled.  Then she whispered to her two minions and pointed to the same spot on her forehead where my monstrous zit had been, and they laughed in unison.
      Alec was looking at us a bit more intently than a new acquaintance should have been; I’d paid enough attention to Elena’s lessons to know that.  He seemed to be interested in Anna or Isabel!  At least he had decent taste there, but I wasn’t about to let such a “man” go near either of them.  Gen can have that one.

      Dorian explained the rules to us in a strong voice.  “This game will be gentlemen versus ladies.  Each team will have twenty minutes to build fortifications and ammunition.  No rocks or sticks, etc. in the snowballs, we don’t want any serious injuries.  The game ends when the last man, or woman, on a team surrenders.  Get to it!”

      Everyone dismounted in a flurry of movement, but the teams were far from united.  Dorian lead their group on one side, Alec the other.  Anna, Isabel, and I started work on a protective wall of snow.  We called Dinah and Sofia over to help make snowballs.

      We piled the snow high and packed it down hard, making a sufficient barrier to hide behind, and we had a respectable pile of snowballs before Dorian let out a sharp whistle.

      “Time’s up,” he yelled.  “Everyone ready?  Too bad, go!”

      The guys had built several similar structures and a stack of snowballs in each that were tall enough to be visible over the walls.

      I looked around to see how the rest of our “team” fared.  Genevieve, Sylvia, and Olivia stood behind a small stand of trees, a pitiful scattering of snowballs at their feet.  They were just standing there, warming their hands, gossiping, and giggling!

      The first few snow balls whished over our heads.  Several hit those three, and they ran about screaming like they’d seen a snake.  There was no way we’d win this so out matched!  Stupid girls!
      My fingers and toes ached in the cold; melted snow was starting to seep through my stockings, but I barely noticed.  Ok, I noticed it, but I was so mad that I tried to ignore it.  Discomfort added rage to my annoyance.

      Anna was a force to be reckoned with.  She used her scarf as a sling and shot snowballs with so much power, they were knocking people down.  She hit pretty much everything she aimed at!  Where had she learned to do that?

      Dorian and Alec started to advance.  They darted from tree to tree on opposites sides of the field. 
      Most of the girls were sticking their heads out and giggling, then yelling, “I surrender!” when they got hit just once.  Disgraceful!  And it seemed that the guys were tempering their throws so they wouldn’t hurt us.  Guess they didn’t realize who they were dealing with.  We three would give no quarter.

      We looked at each other, the same resolve in our eyes.  We headed off in different directions, creeping behind our fort, making our way behind enemy lines.

      I was glad that I’d smuggled a pair of trousers into my trunks when we had packed to go to Licht Haven months earlier, although this was nearly the first time I’d gotten to use them.

      The trees’ thick branches, although bare, let in very little sunlight.  I stalked along the shadows, making a wide arch around our fort; exhilaration filling me with every step.  This was so much like the war games we used to play as kids.

      I smiled as I saw Dinah and Sofia following our examples and leaving the fort to attack.

      Crouched low to the ground, I passed several boys, but I had a clear target in mind.  I was shocked that he had been brave enough to leave the safety of the fort, although it didn’t take much bravery to face down a few shrieking girls.  Regardless, any amount of bravery wouldn’t help Alec when I found him.

      I stepped behind the tree closest to my destination and my breath caught.  Someone was behind me.  I spun around, a snowball in each hand, poised to throw.

      There Dorian stood.  His empty hands shot up into the air.  I hesitated.

      “Dorian, what are you doing?” I hissed quietly.

      “Surrendering, of course!”  He was only about five feet away.  “Well, sort of.”  A snowball suddenly appeared in his hand, but I was too confused to hit him.  He didn’t throw it, just tossed it from hand to hand.  “I thought we might….join forces.”

      “What?  Join forces?...  It’s boy against girl…who would we attack?”

      He smirked, “Whoever we want.  As I recall, we make a fine pair.”

      He walked closer, his blue eyes sparkling in a brief patch of sunlight.  My chest tightened, but I forced myself to breathe semi-regularly.  The shadows only intensified his handsome features.  I had to stop my hand from reaching to check my hair—that would have been disastrous since I was still clutching a snowball in each hand.  Nothing says attractive like slushy hair…

      I shifted my weight uncomfortably and tried to concentrate on what he was saying.

      My mind raced back to a certain afternoon last summer when we had trained together.  Dorian was a fine rider, a great athlete, and we had enjoyed several rides together.

      One afternoon we had ridden through the aspen grove he had pulled his horse close to mine, tucked a stray wisp of hair behind my ear, and told me what “lovely tresses” I had.  He leaned in close, possibly for a kiss, but I tensed up and Bella took it as a signal to run.  We never got close to a moment like that again, and I’d barely seen him since.

      I desperately tried to return to the present and understand what he was telling me; I couldn’t make any sense of it.  When had he stepped so close?  His warm breath met the icy air in a small cloud, and mingled with my own.  His eyes drew me in.  If he tilted his head forward, he would touch my own.
      “Attack whoever we want?”  I wanted to slap myself.  I hadn’t meant to say that out loud.  Idiot! Stop repeating everything he says!  How could he just stand there with that expression on his face?  Didn’t being this close affect him at all?  I could barely breathe, but he seemed so casual!

      He continued, his surely tone unchanging.  “Surely the firey Lady Tatania has enemies, or at least knows of someone who could use a snowball in the face.  I noticed that you and Sir Alec had a bit of a disagreement last evening…and I hear that Genevieve is your fiercest rival.  Perhaps we could help one of them become a bit more humble.”

      I snapped out of it.  Alec?  Genevieve?  My heart pounded for a much different reason now.  I put my hand on his chest, pushing him back and inch or two, and winked.  “Why not both?”

      We searched together in silence, darting, summersaulting from shadow to shadow.    Dorian thought he was really something, but I matched his every move. The tumbling was a bit silly, but it made things more dramatic; so much fun!

      Our first target drew near.  My evil cousin stood with her groupies under a large tree, trying to escape the cold wind that was picking up.  The thick branches were heavily laden with snow, not far above their heads.  Not too much sense in that one.  Standing under a snow filled tree in the wind?  She really deserves this!  Besides, if I don’t do it, it’ll probably happen anyhow.  I’m just helping things along.

      Dorian eyed the branches with clearly the same idea in mind.  We’d have to do this carefully.  I didn’t care if Genevieve knew that I was the culprit, there wasn’t much more she could do to me, but I’d rather that Dorian didn’t incur her wrath.  She’d find some way to have Elena make his life miserable.

      I signaled for him to hide behind a tree and motioned that we’d do it on the count of three.  One…two…three!

      Snowballs zoomed into the air, hitting the tree branches, causing an avalanche of snow, covering the girls, and making a mound up to their knees.  They fell down with squeals, their arms flailing!  My cousin’s freaked out expression was priceless.  I struggled to hide my fit of laughter, but managed it only by biting my gloved hand.

      Alec appeared out of nowhere.  He rushed over and helped the hysterical girls to their feet.  Had he been following us?

      Dorian looked as confused as me, but even more annoyed.  He jerked his head toward Alec and mouthed, “Get him.”

      We gathered more snow and made more ammo.  Dorian gathered slush from a small, mushy puddle beneath a dripping icicle.  Nasty stuff, but it wasn’t rocks or anything, I guess…besides, this guy could use a healthy dose of humility.

      Dorian gave the signal and we let the snow and slush balls fly!  One after another, we pelted the very confused Alec until he stumbled to a knee, hands covering his head, slush dripping down his face, and all over his body.

      He looked so ridiculous, so different from the prim Sir Alec that I’d met last night! Dorian and I laughed so hard that we bumped into each other, falling down in the soft snow.  We didn’t even try to get back to our feet.  Our hands covered our stomachs, my sides hurt from laughing.  We each rolled back and forth in the snow, chuckling, occasionally bumping each other again.

      The snow was soft, and the occasional warmth of Dorian’s shoulder bumping mine was pleasant.  I started to be able to breathe a bit.  Dorian bumped into me one last time, and stayed there, our laughter slowing as we both gasped for breath. 

      Brilliant blue eyes, gazed into mine.  I was suddenly very aware of how close he was to me.  He smiled roguishly, his lips, coming closer until they gently brushed my own.

      A cold shadow fell over us, and we looked up, expecting to see a soaked Sir Alec.  Our smiles dissolved and we snapped apart.  A very angry Lady Elena stood high above us.

      More coming soon! Read Chapter 7 here or more about my projects here.
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        Arabesque,

        Arabesque Chapter 5

        10/07/2016 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

        We've moved! Read this post and more on my new website.























































































































        I will be sharing parts of my writing every week (alternating between Arabesque and Persephone) as I write them (with the exception of some parts of Arabesque, which were written previously), so please be patient with any errors you may find, as these are a first drafts.

        About the book

        Tatania is tired of living in her sister's shadow but doesn't know about Princess Anna's dark secret. Bound by a sacred oath, Anna's struggles to live a double life that can never be her own. 
        Described as "Sense and Sensibility meets Ever After with ninjas," Arabesque is full of action, romance, intrigue, and betrayal.

        Since I've always been super paranoid, Arabesque was officially copyrighted in 2009. Duplication or use of this work in any other form is prohibited by law.


        Chapter 5
        Tatania

                    “Lord Gerald and his family will be paying us a visit,” Elena announced.  “They are bound for Acacia City and shall break their journey with us at Licht Haven Park.  They will be met here by a party of gentlemen from the capital who will escort them the remainder of their journey.”
                   Escorts were needed to pass through Lagoon Valley.  It was once a beautiful, mysterious place, rumored to be the home of creatures such as mermaids, nymphs, gnomes, and faeries, but it had been infested with gangs of bandits.  A range of mountains on the eastern side of the valley made passage impassible for more than a hundred leagues, unless you traveled by ship along the peaked western coast (which wasn’t really possible in the icy winter). 
                    Any gentlemen at the estate always meant that Elena would throw a ball.  That woman consistently snatched up every opportunity, as she put it, “to apply the social education I have strived to engrain in each young lady.”  Ugh!  Elena was determined to again teach us all the same stuff she’d already shoved down our throats, sure that we hadn’t learned it well enough.  In my case that was probably true.
                    I couldn’t find peace those next few days. My head hurt from the giggles of silly girls going on about all the boys they would flirt with. I got bruised when I almost collided with servants who frantically ran all over trying to get everyone and everything up to Elena’s ridiculous standards.  I felt almost as sorry for them as I did for myself, but at least they didn’t have to actually go to the ball!
        Lord Gerald’s family arrived, but I was much more interested in the protection detail from Acacia City.  They had several knights and army officers, and gentlemen my age, but I was most excited that   
                 Dorian was with them.  He wasn’t exactly in my league, but…
                 I actually made an effort to look nice that night. Nora’s shocked expression was priceless and got even more pronounced when I asked for a more elaborate hair style. 
        I had trouble holding still as Nora twisted, curled, pinned my brown locks, then painted and powdered my face. I learned my lesson quickly enough, though. It’s not too smart to bounce up and down when someone is holding a hot iron that close to your head.  It’s even less smart to do so when they’re painting your eyelids.    Thankfully, my hairstyle covered up the burned part of my ear, and my eyes stopped watering soon enough that they wouldn’t be too red and puffy at the ball. 
        I arrived at the ballroom, a crazy mix of excited and terrified.  It’s not that I didn’t like to dance, it’s just that I’ve never been the most graceful thing on two legs.  Unfortunately, announcing that fact in public was inevitable.  Whether at home or at Licht Haven, there was always some awful social event at which I, Tatania, Queen of the Unbalanced, was forced to attend.  Not only was I expected to make an appearance, but both Daddy and Elena insisted that Anna and I participate and “enjoy” the company of others our age.
                    Dancing really wouldn’t have been that bad if not for a few things.  First, I was terrified of people seeing me dance.  Second, generally all the guys at these functions had seen me go through the most awkward phases of my life.  The years when I was plump and clumsy—a shy social reject.  I got so nervous each time a boy (especially a cute one) actually spoke to me that all traces of common sense, or social decorum was drown out by the thunderous pounding of my frantic heart.
                    My scattered thoughts and lumbering feet were a dangerous pair.  The few times I had managed to not knock anything over I was told that I danced as elegantly as a waddling goose.  Between many embarrassing accidents and painful conversations, I was branded as “undesirably weird—avoid at all costs.”
                    I had higher hopes for this evening.  Even if I Dorian didn’t notice me, there were at least ten gentlemen from Lord Gerald’s party that hadn’t met me yet. 
                    It’s silly, but even though I was considered an adult, I still dreamt of someone being struck by my beauty.  Searching for a partner, he would circle the room and be unable to pass me by. 
        Every minute of each ball, my shoulders would tingle in anticipation—perhaps they would feel a hand tapping to get my attention at any moment!  I would gently turn around, my cheeks blushing attractively, my eyes sparkling as I accepted the invitation.
                    We’d match our steps perfectly, complimenting each other in exquisite harmony.  I’d manage not to trip anyone, he’d genuinely laugh at my jokes.  Complete bliss.
                    Apparently that was too much to expect.  Although I tripped less frequently and had lost my baby fat, gaining a decent figure, it had been made clear long ago that dancing with me was not a voluntary task. Tonight had to be different!
                    Anna and I sat in a quiet corner of the room, watching the festivities.  We talked quietly and listened to the small orchestra that Elena always seemed to have on retainer.                       
                    All too soon, Anna was whisked away to dance.  I tried not to notice how they all looked at her, how almost before each song had ended she’d started dancing with another partner.  Anna always tried to stay with me as long as she could, but these balls were always lonely events for me, another reminder of how truly alone I was.
        That’s enough whining, Tat. Who cares if none of these jerks are think you’re good enough for them. They’re not good enough for you!   I told myself, getting up.  I needed some air. 
        I walked along the wall, toward the door, avoiding eye contact as I passed by clusters of people chatting.  Although, I really didn’t need to…it’s not like anyone would notice me to begin with.
                    A large group blocked my way to the door.  I couldn’t go around them. There was a wall on one side, and people dancing on the other.  Interrupting a dance was nearly a capital offense to Elena and I didn’t want that kind of attention tonight.  I’d have to push my way through the group instead. 
                    “Excuse me,” I murmured several times, as I nudged my way into their circle.
                    “Lady Tatania!” exclaimed a deep silken voice. 
                    Startled, I looked up, finding myself just inches away from Dorian.
                    “So, what do you think?” he asked.
                    “Huh?” I answered intelligently, trying not to watch his dark lips move as he talked. 
                    “Will you and Princess Anna join us in our venture tomorrow?”  He smiled and I knew I couldn’t say no, no matter what he was proposing.
                    “Of course we will,” I replied, not even slightly worried about what I was agreeing to.
                    “Marvelous!” he said, then turned his back to me as someone else grabbed his attention.
                    I blinked slowly, trying to clear my head. It took a while to remember what I had been doing before.  I made my way to a balcony.  The cold air shocked my wits back to me.  What had just happened?
                    I was still processing it when Anna found me.  She laid a hand on my arm and gently said, “I was certain that Dorian would have asked you for a dance.”
                    I smiled weakly, pained by the reminder, but I couldn’t let Anna know that anything she’d said hurt me.  She was such a tender hearted person that she couldn’t bear the thought of hurting anyone. 
        So I hid my grimace and said, “Dorian asked me if we were joining him tomorrow.  Do you have any idea what he meant?”
                    Anna frowned.  “Yes, several people have asked me about it.  Apparently, Dorian is organizing a secret snowball fight, although it’s hardly secret since he’s invited everyone save Lady Elena herself.”
                    “A snowball fight?  Hmm, that might be fun…Oooo! It will finally give me the chance to pummel Genevieve with slush!”
                    “That is unlikely.  There are to be organized teams, gentlemen versus ladies.”   
                    “Dang.  Still, there’s no way I’d miss the chance to see her dripping wet.” I grinned wickedly.  “I wonder if I could talk Dorian into adding rocks to a few snowballs…”  I broke off suddenly, a curious feeling making me turn around.
                    Startling blue eyes seemed to bore into mine.  Possibly the most striking man I’d ever seen stood before us.  Men weren’t supposed to have dark eye lashes that long, or skin that perfect.  It wasn’t fair to us women. 
                    My brain worked sluggishly.  Wasn’t I saying something?  I blushed.  How much had he heard?  Why hadn’t I ever seen him before?  My agitated hands smoothed out my skirts. 
                    He bowed with a grin and said, “My ladies, I have not yet had the honor of meeting you.  My party arrived much too late to dine with the household.  I am Sir Alec of Cloverfield Park.”
                    Anna nodded and I managed some semblance of a curtsy.  “I am Princess Anna, and this is my sister, the Lady Tatania.  I understand that you are staying at Licht Haven Park for a few days, from whence you will travel to Acacia City.  I hope it has been a pleasant journey thus far.”
                    “It’s been as pleasant as a long journey through the snow in foreign country can be.  I can hardly bear the chill this far north.  I don’t know how anything pleasant can survive here.  The land I’ve seen has been far from agreeable.”
                    That snapped me out of it.  The spell was broken.  This wasn’t a gentleman, it was an ogre!  What?! Did he really just say that he hates Acacia?  Who does he think he is?    
        Rage burned inside me.  I wasn’t about to let him get away with insulting my home.  I tossed her hair haughtily and said, “We manage well enough to be more agreeable than you seem to be.”
        From the corner of my eye, I could tell Anna was groaning inwardly. 
        I didn’t care.  I leaned forward in a challenging stare.  Sir Alec’s shock was plain on his face.
        “You must pardon my sister, Sir Alec.  She is unaccustomed to the blunt speech of other cultures.  I understand in your lands, people often speak quite informally, speaking their mind without fear of offense.”  She glanced at me, silently pleading for peace.  “As our guest, you are welcome, of course.  I am certain no offence was meant on your part.  I regret what you have seen of our lands and weather has been unpleasant.”
                     Sir Alec studied us momentarily.  “I have, of course, heard Acacia City is a rare and beautiful gem.  I have not had the pleasure of visiting it since I was very young.  I only remember that journey vaguely…” He trailed off, seemingly distracted as he alternated between addressing each of us.  His gaze lingered on me uncertainly as he stopped speaking, his eye brows scrunched together. 
        “Acacia is the most beautiful of cities,” I coldly replied, fearlessly returning his gaze.
        “Or course.  I had no wish to offend.” He added amused, which only set me off again.
        “If degrading the homeland of your host is how you intend to be inoffensive, you may want to consider other topics,” I said.
                    He smirked, “Such as the weather?”
                    I nearly laughed.  “My, but you have ruined the only safe fallback!  Whenever I have something unpleasant to say, I have always been told to speak of the weather instead.  You would not believe how proficient I should have been so far, but my ill manners have caused that topic to seldom be mentioned.  Since I can tell that my sister is absolutely mortified, she is always the perfect hostess, I will make the attempt.”  The gleam in my eyes grew brighter.  “Pray, Sir Alec, what offense did you find in our northern weather?”
        “I am not used to the temperature of the north.  I heard tales of it, of course, but I had always thought they had been exaggerated.  This bitter cold feels…unnatural.”  He finished with his face distorted in distaste.
        “Surely it is not wholly unexpected, as you’ve been here once before,” I said.
        “It was a much greener season the previous occasion.  Embarking on this journey, I have judged it against expectations drawn from the wondering eyes of childhood, which is hardly fair.”
        “That is a much more reasonable assessment,” I said flatly.
        "I must admit, this is the first time I have seen snow that’s not topping a mountain.  It makes our journey much more tedious.  I cannot say I like it.”
        “You’ll like the snow even less tomorrow when I…” I started.
        Anna broke in quickly to avert further disaster.  “Snow does have the unfortunate habit of making traveling more difficult.”
        I supposed it would not do to have her sister shame our host by threatening to assault a guest, even if it looked like he could use it... 
        Knowing me all too well, Anna tried to change the tone of the conversation.  “Why, even my sister does not truly enjoy this weather.” 
                    My head whipped to the side as I nearly glared at her, but she continued.  “I believe it to be her least favorite season.  I have often heard her remark that she wished to skip the season entirely and leave the cold to higher elevations.”
                    Alec smiled triumphantly.  “It seems the Lady Tatania and I have something in common after all then!”
                    I frowned and started to speak, but it seemed Anna was determined to make it clear that I needed to behave properly, even though she hated reminding me of my role in the royal family, such as it was.
                    She spoke quickly, “Yes, it seems you do.  I apologize on behalf of my sister, Sir Alec.  Please excuse her behavior; this season often leaves her in an uncommonly foul temper.”
                    I was too stunned to spit any words out. Uncommonly foul temper? Anna never criticized me in front of other people. How could she side with him?
                    “I regret that I am in a foul mood myself.  I fully accept the Lady Tatania’s apologies, and most humbly add my own.”
                    All I could see was the smug smile on Alec’s irritatingly perfect lips. All I could hear was his voice echoing, “I fully accept the Lady Tatania’s apologies.” I felt the blood roar in my ears as I snapped.
                     “I never apologized, you pathetic excuse for a man, nor do I intend to!  My temper is just as it should be.” I seethed.  “It is not my fault that you’re as thin skinned as an old woman.  If you’re too cold, go sit beside a hot fire, under a thick stack of blankets, and leave us Acacians be!”
                    Anna wouldn’t look up from the floor.  Sir Alec’s mouth practically stood agape.  He clamped it shut, muttered a quick “Please forgive me,” then bowed sharply, and walked away.
        Anna roughly grabbed my arm and nearly dragged me from the spot I stood staring a hole through the back of Sir Alec’s head.
                    Once he was out of sight, we walked as quickly as prudence would allow, and managed to not be noticed by anyone.
                    “Insufferable man!” I huffed as we reached my rooms.
                    “I recall hearing you say that he was less than a man, dear sister.”
                    I threw my arms up exasperatedly.  “Well, he sure acted that way, whining like a baby.  I’d be surprised to hear if his mommy didn’t hold his hand to guide him through our treacherous snow!”
                    “I admit that I, myself, was a bit taken aback by his behavior, but we must account for his upbringing.  He has lived in a much milder climate, and his culture is much more out spoken than ours.”
                    “His upbringing, ha!  Whoever brought him up apparently forgot to teach him basic social skills.  I’ve never heard such complaining!”  I blushed and filled two cups from the pitcher on the small stand.  “Well, at least not in public, and to complete strangers!”
                    “And what of your behavior, Tatania?  Surely you do not think yourself beyond reproach.”
                    “Well, of course I don’t, but he was so awful! I couldn’t just let him speak of our home like that…and then such mocking sincerity!  That we should accept his ‘most humble apologies’!  I couldn’t just let it go!”
                    “Tat…I know how upset you were, it bothered me as well, but we must school our emotions and be good ambassadors for our country. We are of the royal family; it is our duty…Father expects it.” 
                    I winced at the mention of Father, and my shoulders slumped in defeat.  I never wanted to disappoint him. 
                    She must have known that I wouldn’t sleep that night if we ended our conversation like that.
        She grinned and said, “Your eyes seemed to enjoy the sight of Sir Alec, even if your tongue claims otherwise.  They lingered on him more than absolutely necessary for your argument.”
                    I froze; both cups in hand, one partially extended to Anna.  “My eyes did no such thing!”
                    She smiled indulgently.
                    “Honestly!  I’ll admit he’s far more handsome than anyone else here, too much for his own good, it seems, but that’s it.  He’s not my type, you know that…
                    “Ah yes, Dorian.  You prefer roguishly handsome to tall, dark, and handsome; how could I forget?”
                    “Dorian is muscular…”
                    “Yes, he thinks so as well.”
                    I rolled my eyes, and shrugged my shoulders.  “What’s wrong with a little self-confidence?”
                    “There is a fine line between self-confidence and conceit…”  she sighed. 


        More coming soon! Read Chapter 6 here or more about my projects here.

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