Love is #4

Love is

when he’s holding your hand

and struts down the street

like he’s a peacock in the zoo

because he’s got the smartest,

kindest,

prettiest

woman to call his wife

(and you know this is true

because he tells you

in so many ways

everyday).

(C) Sara Ackerman, 2017

 

Silence is Golden Excerpt

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It was a silver medallion no bigger than a shilling. At one end of the coin someone had punched a hole into the metal and looped a silver chain through it. Alfred peered closer at the marking on the disc and sent a questioning stare to his friend. “St. Christopher?”

“The patron saint of travelers and a fitting gift for an adventurous young man. May it guide you and keep you safe in your journeys.”

He stared at the engraved image of the stooped figure of St. Christopher, his gnarled hand clutching a staff and a child clinging to his back. The edges had been worn to a smooth finish that rolled like polished glass between his fingers, and he knew he held a cherished memento. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep it? This seems like an odd talisman for a Protestant minister to have. Perhaps it has sentimental value for you?”

William regarded the tiny piece of silver in his outstretched hand and took it into his own, running his fingers over the smooth edges. “My mother was a Papist from the Scottish Highlands. After her family was evicted from their land, they immigrated to  England, where my mother met my father, William Blackburn, Senior, also a minister. My mother loved my father, so when they married, she converted and was a dutiful Protestant the rest of her life. But she didn’t give up all of her beliefs.”

The metal disc spun in the air before them. “Before I left for France, she gave this to me with the promise it would keep me safe. She said even though we would never see each other again in this life, the medallion would reunite us when it was time.”

“If you will never see each other again, how can you be reunited?”

The disc stopped spinning, and William looked at him, a sad smile on his face. “My father died while I was in the war. When I returned, I learned through interviews with my old neighbors that my mother left home after my father died. She was coming to find me in France but never made it. For years I have wished to find where she might be.”

Grabbing Alfred’s shoulders and turning, William pointed off into the distance at the vague shape of a building. It was difficult to see through the rain and fog, but he observed the rising profile of a humble bell tower. “A church?”

“I took a walk yesterday after the noon meal and found myself there. I rambled into the courtyard and behind the building, where I found a small graveyard. I was tired and discouraged. My quest to find my mother seemed hopeless, and in pursuit of her whereabouts I had lost my way, becoming someone I no longer recognized. With your words ringing in my ears and the evidence of my failure a heavy weight on my soul, I fell to my knees and prayed. The medallion around my neck  warmed. I grasped it from my chest, looked up, and saw it. Her grave.”

“Whose grave? Your mother’s?”

“Yes. As impossible as it seems, I found my mother’s grave among the other headstones of the tiny church.”

“You were reunited,” he whispered, awed by the strange turn of events leading his friend to this location. “What a coincidence!”

“Or an act of God. However you want to put it, I found her. My search is over, and here I will stay.”
 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Loop

A Valentine’s Day Interview: Tavis and Amelia

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Me: Good-day. Thank you for meeting with me, Lord and Lady Stanton. In honor of Valentine’s Day, my readers have a few burning questions for you.

Tavis: It’s our pleasure, though why the details of our lives would be of any interest baffles me. Ask away. We’ll answer as honestly as able.

Amelia: (sticks out tongue at Tavis) I will be completely honest, thank you very much. I rarely tell so much as a Little White Lie.

Me: Who’s older?

Amelia: That’s easy. Tavis is about five years older than me.

Me: Alright. Who expressed their interest in the other first?

Tavis: Amelia.

Amelia: Your nose is growing, Husband. It was you who pinned me to the ground outside my father’s stable, and it was you who insisted on a moonlit waltz.

Tavis: Ah, but you so conveniently forget how you pressed your wee body into mine, closed your eyes and begged me for a kiss.

Amelia: I said no such thing!

Tavis: Sometimes actions convey more than words ever could.

Amelia:  Unfair! What woman could resist you in your black evening clothes and all that dark, brooding masculinity. If I did ask for a kiss, albeit unconsciously, I blame your irresistible good looks. Is it my fault I am no stronger than the average woman?

Tavis: I rest my case.

Amelia: Ridiculous man. What’s your next question?

Me: How long have you been married?

Tavis: A year.

Me: And how long have you been acquainted?

Amelia: A year and two weeks.

Me: Were you, ah, caught in a compromising position necessitating such a hasty marriage?

Tavis: Mean you did I tup the lass soon as I saw her?

Amelia: (blushing red) Tavis! You’re embarrassing her!

Tavis: No, I’m not. It’s you who is embarrassed, my sweet wife.

Amelia: Can we not discuss (whispers) our tupping?

Tavis: (to me) My wee wife is beyond mortified, so I’ll only say the tupping happened after we married at Gretna Green and that is was verra satisfying. That should be enough for your avid readers.

Me: Moving on, who has more of a barbed tongue?

Amelia: Do you mean forked because Tavis tells a lie as smoothly as any charlatan.

Tavis: (runs a frustrated hand through his hair) Necessary lies. Lies to keep you safe. I told you all after the danger had passed.

Amelia: Only after I was kidnapped and almost made into a bigamist.

Tavis: I’d have ne’er let you marry that snake. Besides, I saved you right enough.

Amelia: Who saved whom?

Tavis: Fine, we both saved each other.

Amelia: (kisses him on the cheek)Better.

Me: Kidnapping? Bigamy? Care to elaborate on that?

Tavis: No need to spoil the ending for those who haven’t read our story yet.

Me: Good point.

Amelia: Are we almost done? The baby is due up from his nap soon, and I’ll have to go feed him.

Me: A nice introduction to the next question: how many children do you have?

Tavis: Just the one, a boy born this month.

Me: Are there plans to enlarge your nursery?

Tavis: Think you I am a man of little sense? My wife is beautiful and the tupping is beyond satisfying. Of course we’re going to expand our nursery.

Me: As we are on the subject of marital activities, who takes up most space on the bed?

Amelia: Me, definitely!
Tavis: Aye, the lass enjoys sprawling most indelicately across the mattress and anyone who happens to be there. Many a  morn I’ve awakened with her knees pressed into my back and me almost falling onto the floor.

Amelia: I don’t hear any complaints.

Tavis: And you won’t. I happen to like how you sleep and have passed many hours watching you slumber. Like that night we stopped at the crofter’s cottage.

Amelia: You had kissed me senseless and then stormed out leaving me to wonder what I had done wrong.

Tavis: It’s what you did right that forced me from the hut to sleep with the horses. I almost lost the right to call myself a gentleman after that kiss. Or before for that matter. I don’t know how many nights I stayed awake staring at you across the fire, dreaming up ways to get ye into my bedroll.

Amelia: You hid it well, for I never knew what you struggled until after we wed.

Tavis: Aye, well you were mighty perturbed with me for the pace we kept after I stole you away from your da and took you across England to Gretna Green.

Me: One reader does ask who is the better rider

Tavis: ‘Tis me, though Amelia has quite a fine seat herself.

Amelia: Since Tavis has begun breeding horses, I’ve had to learn simply to keep up with him. I’m a much better rider than I was when we first married.

Tavis: (winking) So you are, lass. So you are.

Me: Final question, who wears the pants in the relationship?

Tavis: What an odd question. Amelia wears dresses, and fine ones, too. Are you casting aspersions upon my ability to adorn my wife in clothing suited for her station as Countess of Stanton?

Me: I just meant-

Amelia: And even then, Tavis, you wear trousers but rarely. He much prefers his kilt and then he only wears that (fanning herself) and no other garments underneath.

Tavis: Lass…

Amelia: In fact, the kilt he’s wearing now is one of my favorites, and if I remember correctly from when he dressed this morning—(flushes and clears her throat) Oh, is the baby crying?

Me: What? I don’t hear anything.

Tavis: (rising) No, that’s definitely the baby.

Amelia: (grabbing his hand and rising) You’ll excuse us, please? The butler will show you out.

Me: But I have some more questions!

Amelia: Another day? Come back later when we’re not so busy with the baby and …other things.

Me: When will that be?

Tavis: Never, if I have anything to say about it.

(C) Sara Ackerman, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Silence is Golden

Nothing like a little shameless self-promotion, especially when given such a great prompt. My second book, Silence is Golden, was contracted at the end of August and will be released in 2017. All my favorite parts are coming up–getting a cover, writing the blurbs, editing and revising. Fun times ahead!

Here’s the current blurb on my site. 

Ever since Evelyn Westby was cursed at the tender age of five, she has been incapable of speaking to anyone outside her family. Still, men far and wide seek to win her favor for her incomparable beauty and mysterious allure. When her betrothal is canceled because of her curse, Evie will do anything to win back the love of her fiance, even travel to war-torn France. Her plans go terribly wrong, but when she meets an intriguing stranger, he helps her learn to accept herself by proving that Silence is Golden.

Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press.

© Sara Ackerman 2016

10 Lessons in 10 Years

Ryand and sara

Today I celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary. When I see that number on the screen, I think, “Wow, it’s only been 10 years?” Because it feels like I’ve known my husband forever.  I can’t help but get nostalgic remembering our younger selves, our eagerness at setting up house, those early fights as we adjusted to living together, our joys, our sorrows. In honor of my anniversary, here are 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage.

  1. Be willing to compromise. And then gradually move all his stuff to the basement. It’s sneaky, I know, but is his commemorative bobble head of Wayne Gretsky (or whomever is hot in sports right now) going to go with your carefully coordinated oasis of muted blues and soothing browns? I think not. When he asks, you can always say the plastic bobbing head and its gap-toothed grin gave you nightmares.
  2. Timing is everything. Don’t tell your husband you’re pregnant after returning home from the ER at 3 in the morning. Just don’t. You won’t get the reaction you had hoped for, and there’ll be hard feelings all around. Wait until he’s conscious and has had his first cup of coffee. It’ll still be a shock, but at least he won’t stare at you blankly and then roll over and go back to sleep.
  3. Listen. Be prepared to hear about all the indignities he suffered with the children. Your indignities pale in comparison to the horrors he’ll experience as a new father. Never mind what your children did to your body, no. Hand a naked baby to your husband and then have your little bundle poop all over him, well, you’ll never hear the end of it.
  4. Make time for each other. We go out by ourselves at least once a month. If our parents can’t watch the children, we hire someone who we’ve thoroughly researched to care for our angels. Alright! Let’s be honest. There were days we’d have let rabid wolves watch the kids just for an hour of two of peace, days when we kicked the kids out of the car at grandma’s curb and kept rolling as our tires squealed down the street.
  5. Take plenty of naps. Or whatever you want to call it. We tell the children we’re tired and going to take a nap. Some parents say they have to pay bills or fold laundry. Others say they are going to be on the phone with Santa, so they’d better be good and leave them alone. Who am I kidding? That’s us. We’ve used all those excuses (and more) to carve out some time for intimacy. It’s important. Do what you must to ensure it happens.
  6. Lock your door. See number 5. Saying you’ll be on the phone with Santa is too big a temptation, and little ones get curious. Enough said.
  7.  Guilt has no place in a marriage.  Those early days in our marriage,  my husband picked up a lot of slack as I ran between meetings, classes and rehearsals. There were times  I felt guilty for leaving him alone with a four year old and a newborn, but the guilt fades each summer I’m off of work and home with them for three months.  Do you know how many hours that is over 13 years? Neither do I because all of my cognitive functions have been turned to mush after being home with them for all that time. SAHM, I don’t know how you do it, but bless you.
  8. Laugh with each other. Married life is tough enough but without a sense of humor, you won’t be able to stop yourself from strangling him when he retells the story about how the deadly combination of frozen car windows and a bout of your flatulence nearly killed him and the kids on the highway. For the last time, I had a stomach bug! You don’t smell all rosy when you’re sick, and no, the baby wasn’t sick when she pooped on you either. Baby poop looks like that. They poop all the time! She’s nine, now, so let it go!
  9. Make plans for the future. Right now our plans include what we’d want brought to us in prison if the teenager mouths off at us again and one of us snaps. Hey, it keeps us grounded, and thanks to episodes of Orange is the New Black, we’ve got a good idea of what to ask for. (Calm down, all you Nervous Nellies. We love our eldest and would never harm her. But seriously, which do you think would be better in her old room: a home gym or a writing lair?)
  10. Say “I love you” at least once a day. Usually one of us grunts it as we fall into bed after a long day of working and taking care of the children. As we roll onto our backs and stare into the darkness, our hands clutched together in sheer exhaustion, it’s comforting to know we have each other as we face a new day.

Happy Anniversary, darling! Lets hope the next ten go more slowly so we can enjoy every minute of it! 

Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Little White Lies. In honor of my anniversary, the raffle  starts today and goes through June 25th.
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©Sara Ackerman, 2016

The Gypsy Curse Part 3

One week later, Amelia and her sisters were in the fields near the forest playing hide and seek, and she had been it for the last quarter of an hour. She hated being it because she could never find anyone. Five minutes of half-hearted searching later, she gave up, too bored to continue.  With an unladylike plop, she slumped to the ground and leaned  on a fallen log, grateful the sun was shining. The gentle rays helped chase away the nagging fear  plaguing her all week. Flinging an arm over her eyes, she slipped into drowsy relaxation.

The warmth disappeared, and the field darkened. A shiver stole up her spine, and she rolled over, curling  on her side to continue her rest. “Oh, bother. Go away clouds. I am trying to sleep,” she muttered. The clouds, alas, were immovable.  She cracked open an eye to investigate but a looming shadow obscured her vision. It blocked the sun and inspired a grim sort of dread which beat a steady rhythm in her head. The shadow advanced, and two gnarled, weathered talons outstretched to grab her.  She opened her mouth and screamed.

The figure moved and her eyes, now accustomed to the unnatural twilight, discerned an old woman dressed in a faded blue dress with a wide purple velvet sash tied in the middle. A colorful shawl draped over her stooped shoulders and a scarf wrapped round her head, neatly framing her wild mane of silvering hair.

“Are you one of my little liars?” she asked, her thick accent clipping each syllable until the words were nothing more than a litany of jagged consonants firing in her mind.

“You’re supposed to be gone! My papa told you to leave a week ago.”

The old woman cackled and rubbed her hands together. “You know who I am. Good.”

She shrank against the log and wrapped her arms about her knees.

“I see you are afraid. That is also good.”

“What do you want with me?” she whispered.

“Not just you, little girl. I also want your sisters, too.” A delighted smile cracked her tanned, wizened  visage, but her gap-toothed smile did nothing to ease her fear.

“They’re not here.”

“They’ll come. I saw them hiding not too far away from here.”

From the forest  came a loud cracking of branches alerting her to the truth of the old woman’s statement. Her two sisters emerged from the forest and ran to her, Beatrice yelling at the top of her lungs, “Amelia! We’re coming!”

Spying the old woman, they skidded to a halt and in wary apprehension, looked at her and the old woman. Evie whimpered and ran to huddle beside Amelia while Beatrice, ever the eldest, stood  in front of her sisters. Drawing herself up to her full height, she demanded,“Who are you and what do you want with my sister?”

Amelia admired her sister’s bravado, for she saw what it cost her. Small hands clutched her skirts in a white-knuckled death grip and the usual rosy sheen which graced her young face  had been leeched of color.

“I am just an old woman passing through the forest.”

Beatrice assessed the old woman, taking in her faded garments and weathered face. “You’re a gypsy!” With her chin held high, she waved her hand in the air in a blatant act of dismissal. “Be gone!  My father has evicted  your kind for your treachery against his hospitality!”

“Our treachery, Lady Beatrice?” The old woman whispered, venom lacing each word. She advanced on the girls, pinning them against the fallen log. Soon, her wrinkled face was looming over Beatrice’s, her eyes dark and angry. “Don’t you mean yours?”

“How do you know my name?” Beatrice stammered, her eyes darting  from the old woman to her sisters behind her. Having reached the end of her courage, she held out her hand to Amelia and grasped it in her own. She pulled Beatrice down with a plunk to sit beside her.

“I knew we wouldn’t get away with it, Bea.”

The old woman had heard, and she nodded.”I know all about you three and what you did last week.”

Amelia’s lower lip trembled and she asked, “What are you going to do to us?” Because there had to be a consequence. There was always a consequence.

“I intend to make it right.” The old woman raised her arms and the clearing stilled. The bird song quieted and the gentle wind which had been rustling the leaves and feathering the grass ceased.  A terrible light gleamed from the gypsy woman’s aged eyes.

“For your lie, an innocent man was tried and found guilty of a crime he did not commit.” The once dormant wind rose and whipped through the clearing, slashing her silvered hair against her face and howling its outrage as it tore across the grass and through the tree grove. Clouds rolled up and over each other, ripping apart the sky with its upheaval.

“It was you who were too weak to tell the truth, and have forever condemned an innocent to life far from his family!” She pointed a gnarled finger at the three sisters. “And so, I curse you.”

When the last of the three had been cursed, the old woman’s arms dropped. Revenge faded from her eyes only to be replaced with sad resignation. The winds died and the clouds sped across the sky. Light flooded the clearing, but the girls could not see. Fear clouded their vision and possessed their minds.

The old woman raised her right hand and made the sign of the cross, a sad smile on her face. “Te aves yertime mander tai te yertil tut o Del.”* With a final look at the three sisters, the old gypsy woman walked to  the woods and vanished.

 

*I forgive you and may God forgive you as I do.

© Sara Ackerman 2016

The Gypsy Curse Part 2

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A half hour later,  the girls ran  back to the house and found their father working in his study. “Papa,  Thunder got out!”

Their father set aside the papers he’d been studying. “Slow down girls. What happened?” He moved out from behind his desk to stand in front of them, his hands clasped behind his back.

“We were playing out by the barn and we say a gypsy by the doors of the barn. And then Thunder neighed really loud. And then we saw him running across the field. And we thought we saw someone riding him. Probably the gypsy we saw.”

Her father arched an eyebrow and pursed his lips. “These are very serious allegations, Beatrice.”  He placed his hands on his hips and paced. “You say that all three of you saw this?” He bent down and studied his girls.

Amelia gulped, for her father’s assessing eyes saw inside to the truth of what she and her sisters had done, but she pushed down the rising panic, swallowed and forced her gaze to her father’s. “Yes, father,” she whispered before cowardice forced her to look away.

Evie stuffed her thumb into her mouth and nodded.

“If what you say is the truth, then this is a very serious problem indeed.” Walking back to his desk, he  sat down. “Thank you, ladies, for telling the truth. I will see that this is taken care of.” He waved his hands and shooed them from his study.

The girls hurried upstairs to the nursery, grateful to have escaped unscathed.  Once inside, nurse took Evie to her cot for a nap. Amelia was tired, too, from the day’s events and crawled into her bed, pulled her covers up to her chin, and  curled up onto her side. Beatrice  plopped down on the bed next to Amelia.

“I told you papa would believe us.” Amelia, sick with guilt  scrunched her eyes shut and pretended to sleep. Beatrice yawned  and snuggled  behind her sister. She threw her arm around her  body and hugged her close. “There’s nothing to worry about, Mimi. Everything is going to be fine. You’ll see.”

Nestled against her sister safe in her bed, Amelia shuddered when icy cold fingers licked up her spine. She pulled her covers higher around her ears. Despite Beatrice’s reassuring words, somehow she knew everything wasn’t going to be fine.

© Sara Ackerman 2016