Also, visit the GNFA blog and see what I had to say about creating audiobooks. What did I learn from the process? (Look for several of my YA as well as LOVE & REDEMPTION to be available soon.) THE POWER OF WORDS.
The second book in THE ITALIAN SERIES is now available for sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. ITALIAN WITH A SIDE OF PASTA tells the story of Sergio and Vittoria Colafranceschi. Only 99 cents!
Only 99 cents for a limited time - be sure to check out my latest YA, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LUCAS MCGILLEY. For sale at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Today's excerpt is from a novella to be released in time for Halloween. GLASS.
Andre Garner, expert glassmaker, is hired to do a job for an eccentric old lady who lives closeted away on an island. But bad weather, the presence of a beautiful girl, and an unexpected connection to his past soon prove all is not what it seems.
The spray off the sides of the boat combined with the persistent drizzle to create a lot of doubt in Andre’s mind. Perhaps he should have waited until tomorrow. This weather promised to not let up for hours, maybe days. But a client of this magnitude was hard to come by and the profit from the job she wanted him to do, potentially astronomical.
That she’d picked him out of all her other choices blew his mind. Yes, his work had been in the news as of late, but still, with her funds she could have hired someone from anywhere in the world. Instead, she’d chosen him, a newcomer on the glass scene, and commanded … there was no other word for it … commanded him to appear at first light.
He cast his gaze skyward as much as possible in the increasing wind. What light had finally appeared did so only with the weakest effort. Diluted by the constant rain, it shone a dismal shade of gray, barely bright enough to warrant the effort of getting out of bed, much less dressing and taking a boat ride.
The boat was old, a classic wood-hulled yacht from the turn of the twentieth century, but one that obviously received a lot of care. The golden grain gleamed, even in what little light filtered through the bank of clouds overhead, and the inboard motor purred cleanly.
The boatman was also aged, but like the boat, well-dressed. Clean white slacks, crisp-pressed, set off a light blue button-up shirt hidden beneath a thick wool navy blazer. He’d only spoken once, and that was as Andre had climbed aboard.
“Andre Garner?” he’d asked in a sonorous voice.
“Welcome.” And that was it. A coffee-colored smile, a shift in position toward the wheel, and conversation was over. Not that there was need to say more. She’d said over the phone she’d send him, no matter what the weather.
The dampness of his clothing sent a shiver down his spine, and Andre buried his hands in the pockets of his brown leather coat, grateful for what little warmth it gave. He braced for the next hop across the choppy surf. A particularly high wave of water temporarily blinded him. The boatman seemed unperturbed, however, but kept a steady forward motion. Could be he’d done this many times.
Sight of land brought a rush of relief and at the same time an eerie sensation. Jutting out from a tiny spit of land, the dock protruded through head-high cattails and cypress trees adorned with gray strands of Spanish moss. The wind scratched the trees’ naked limbs against a bleached sky in a drone of sound much like some spirit from another world.
The boatman paid this no mind, but hopped from the boat to the dock, throwing a line around a weathered post. He waited for Andre to make his own way onto firmer footing and led him down a path worn smooth from years of foot traffic.
What little light provided on the water disappeared beneath the trees. Andre tucked his head beneath his collar and trudged forward, only releasing his breath when the narrow, black-water space became an evenly trimmed field of green. He stopped briefly, a whistle of astonishment begging escape then scrambled to keep up. As old as the boatman was, he was quite spry.
Stories circulated about the house along with the rare aerial photograph, so he’d known it was big, and old, and exquisite, but seen in person it boggled the mind. The info he’d gathered placed it at three floors and eight thousand square feet, but that didn’t do it justice either. Towering over the slight rise of the landscape, its Victorian architecture sprawled in the midst of a flower garden better suited to summer.
Enormous bay windows looked out beneath a portico lined with dentil molding. The upper floor sported a corner turret, a gable, and an elaborate cornice turned and twirled around every edge. The whole of it was painted a strange shade of green with the trim a darker hue of the same. This gave it the appearance it had risen from the land. Perhaps that was the desired effect.
Andre was huffing and puffing by the time the land leveled. Waved by the boatman toward a butter-yellow front door, he stepped ahead, stomping his shoes on the steps, and raised a curled fist over the surface. His knock was lost with the rise of the wind, but apparently not to whoever was inside because the door creaked and sucked inward moments later.
A maid in a black dress and white apron, sporting the expected white cap, reversed herself in the doorway. “Mr. Garner?” she asked. Stray gray curls lifted on her brow in the wind.
He nodded. No one else would ever come here, so her knowing it was him didn’t seem that strange. The location and the commute prevented visitors, as well as the peculiarity of the owner. Word had it she never left, never, not since her husband had died ten years ago under mysterious circumstances. She’d closeted herself since then, turned into a recluse, wandering the halls.
“Wait here,” the maid said.
Here was a parlor lined with maroon wallpaper bedecked with ivory roses twined around and over one another. A fireplace sat at one end and before it an ornate settee.
All it lacks is a damsel in a silk gown. Andre crossed the room and stood before an oil painting hung central to the mantel. The distinguished old gentleman in the image appeared to be in his mid-fifties. Thick gray whiskers curled down his temples, vanishing into the black collar of a burgundy waistcoat.
“Granda was handsome. Don’t you think?”
The voice of someone so young shook Andre from his reverie. He turned on one heel and met the gaze of a girl in her twenties. She fit in with the room, her bearing ramrod straight, her hands poised at her sides, unflinching.
“Your grandfather?” he asked.
She smiled, pulling pink lips taut, and inclined her head. “Great-grandfather.” At this, she glided his way. That was the only way he could describe it. She not so much walked as floated, a feather adrift on a lazy stream.
On closer inspection she was extremely lovely, breathtaking even. Hair the color of cornsilk perfectly coiled into a bun at the nape of her neck. Not a strand was out of place, and not a flaw could be found in her skin. Skin like glass. She tilted her head, elongating a slender neck.
“Delbert Delacroix the third,” she said. “He was actually the middle son and shouldn’t have inherited the place, but his older brother, Ignatius, fell in love with a middle-eastern woman and their father, Delbert the second, disapproved.”
“Delbert, Ignatius, and who?” he asked, his curiosity aroused.
“Fredrick. Fredrick was the black sheep, dabbled in loose women and looser monies.”
“So you come from the best of the three.” At least, he assumed so.
She laughed lightly. “That’s still debatable. Granda was an oddity. On nights with a full moon, the servants said he’d go outdoors and howl like a dog. I like to think I come more from my grandmother’s side.” She extended her hand. “Cerise Delacroix, and because you are wondering, grandmother is on the patio ready to receive you.”
She made no move, and so neither did he. He pulled his hands from his coat pockets and lifted hers to his lips with his right. She stared back, unblinking. “You have beautiful eyes, Mr. Garner.”
He released her fingers and smiled. “My father’s eyes. My mother’s are nondescript brown.”
“Oh, no.” He shook his head. “Not like yours at all.” He left her to wonder about that, and instead, posed a question. “What I’m wondering is why a young girl like you would secret herself away in this place, family obligations notwithstanding.”
She turned then and made her way back to the entrance, leaving him to follow. In the hallway, she paused. “There is no one else, and I like the solitude.” She continued forward.
The hallway wound ahead to a pair of doorways. The one on the left led into a dining room set with a massive table, big enough to feed twenty and a floor to ceiling buffet. The walls were hung with paper in hunter green stripes. The door on the right directed them through a breakfast area to another door leading out back.
Cerise pushed it open, with one glance his way, and walked across a stone-flag patio to an iron table placed beneath a bare-limbed Crepe Myrtle. An elderly woman in a flowing blue gown looked up from perusal of a silver tray. The resemblance between her and the girl was startling. It was like looking at an age progression, the one a younger version of the other.
“Grandmother, this is Mr. Garner, the glassmaker.”
The elderly woman’s eyes brightened and a twinkle arose. “Well,” she said, quite lively. “He’s a sight for sore eyes.”
Andre accepted the compliment with a nod.
The weather wasn’t any better than it had been, and in fact, was declining. Yet the old woman didn’t appear to notice. Her sleeves fluttered in the breeze, as did the skirt of the girl, which flipped upward to reveal the barest hint of fine lace.
The canvas of an overhead umbrella belled and released like a sail. The girl seated herself opposite the woman and removing a tea cup from the tray filled it with golden liquid from a porcelain pitcher, then set it before him with a fine china sugar dish, its lid embellished with gold leaf.
“We have lemon,” she said, offering him a jar.
He eyed the tea cup. He’d not been asked if he’d drink, a courtesy maybe denied due to the weather and the plan of the meeting. He actually had nothing against tea, but its warmth was paltry in the rising cold.
“Mr. Garner,” the old woman said, interrupting his thoughts. “Before we get to why you’re here, I have to say, I knew your father.”
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.