Short Story: The Three Sisters Pt. 3

Here is the third and final installment of my short story “The Three Sisters.” Please enjoy!

The butcher looked up at the girls. Diya had joined her sister, wrapped in a blanket with blood still running down her face. He stepped forward and cupped Diya’s face in his hands. “Oh, sweet child.” She cried and he held her steady with his hands on her arms. “The man said one of you was a witch.”

Diya spoke in a shrill voice, full of pain and anguish. “He was insane! He attacked me.”

“Word of this will spread quickly. There are ears listening even if you do not see them.” The butcher said, looking around the town. “Come on, we must get you out of here tonight before the sun rises.”

Lillian nodded. The butcher helped Lillian load everything up into their cart. He ran back to his store and gave them more provisions; enough for them to stay on the road for at least a week or more. Diya sat on a large rock holding Gemma tightly to her; she knew her sister had just saved her life and feared the strain was too much for her. Diya feared that Gemma would not wake.

“I will take care of the man’s body.” The butcher said. “Just get out of here. Which direction are you going?”

“North.” Lillian said.

“If anyone asks I will tell them you went west.” The butcher nodded. “You have done me a kindness that I know I will never be able to repay for your future has come true for me. I hope this will help a little.”

Lillian smiled down at him from the cart. “There is nothing to repay. Just live your life with love and happiness.” She said.

The butcher waved them off just as the skies started to show the first signs of sunlight. Lillian did not stop for many miles wishing to put as distance as she could between them and the horrors of last night. Diya sat curled up in the back with Gemma in her lap wrapped in a blanket. Every so often she would lean down to her and kiss her just make sure the child was still breathing.

They only stopped once a day for the next three days, in the evening to eat and rests, under the cloak of darkness just to make sure enough miles were between them and the town of Sheridan. Lillian wanted to them to be safely far enough away in case someone was following them in some sort of quest for vengeance or redemption. She also felt uneasy about rumors starting of Gemma being a witch.

On the morning of the fourth day, Gemma still had not woken from her sleep. Diya took her place in the cart, cradling the girl but looked to Lillian with concern. “Shouldn’t she be awake by now? She hasn’t eaten or drank for days.”

“We know not the strain that night put on her, sister.” Lillian said as she hitched up the horse. “We have never seen anything like this.”

“Shouldn’t we take her to a doctor?” Diya inquired.

“We can’t risk that.” Lillian said, biting her lip for she too was concerned about the child.

They went around towns whenever they could, only going through them to get provisions when needed. Stopping only long enough to get what was needed and leaving again as quickly. Lillian was relieved that stories of the child were not spreading throughout the towns and she hoped she would be able to make it to Grand Martise without further incident.

Diya would often ask Lillian where they were going, but Lillian would not answer or simply say “North.” By the sixth day, Diya quit asking. Lillian knew it was only another two days travels until they were home again and planned to make it there hoping that it would bring Gemma from her coma. They drove on by day, sleeping by night. On the ninth day they were at the edge of the town they once called home.

“I know where we are.” Diya said with a gasp.

“We are home.” Lillian said.

“We do not have a home anymore sister.” Diya said bitterly.

“We will.” Said Lillian defiantly.

For the first time in almost a fortnight, Gemma stirred as they passed through the center of town. Her eyes fluttered open and she gazed at Diya. “You are safe, my sister.”

Diya’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh my sweet Gemma, my sweet, sweet Gemma.”

Lillian heard Diya’s cries and stopped in the middle of the road, hoping down from the cart and running to the back where the girls sat. She reached in and hugged the two of them. Gemma made a sound like that of a contented cat purring with happiness.  “I am hungry.”

Lillian laughed. “I can imagine you are!”

“Drive on sister, I will get her food and water.” Diya said, shooing Lillian back to the front of the cart. Lillian did not want to leave Gemma, but relented and returned to the front of the cart gathering her dress to climb up. Diya searched around, not letting go of Gemma, to find the bread and cheese and canteens of water.

Gemma sat up, and began to eat. Diya sat behind her and combed through her hair, braiding it. Gemma found herself becoming annoyed at the attention when she just wanted to eat. “Why must you fuss with me?” She asked, brushing Diya’s hands away like they were flies buzzing around her head.

“You have been a sleep for almost two weeks, sister.” Diya said.

“I know.” Gemma said with a shrug. “I was tired.”

“You know? You mean, you knew what was going on?” Diya asked incredulously.

“I always know what’s going on.” Gemma said, taking a big bite out of her wedge of cheese. She chewed for a moment before she continued. “I thought about waking up two days ago, but I could sense where we were going. I could hear voices that were familiar and somehow I knew I needed to sleep a little bit longer.”

Diya stared at her in disbelief. “We thought you ill.”

“Oh I was, at first.” Gemma said, ripping into the bread. “Very much so, but then I just needed to rest.”

“Why did you need to rest for so long?” Diya asked.

“Because I am going to need it.” Gemma said and would not say anymore. She ate until she couldn’t and ignored Diya’s looks and questions. She closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of everything around her, feeling the sun on her face.

It only took about an hour before the three sisters pulled their cart up the long driveway which lead to the large house they once called home. Lillian pulled the cart to a stop just outside the front doors and hopped down, making her way to the back to help Diya and Gemma out of the back. A figure appeared at the door, a woman in her mid-fifties with silver hair in a tight bun and black dress covered by a gray apron.

The woman looked stern as the girls started their way up the grand steps and started to ask what their business was when she realized who was standing before her. The woman was their housekeeper and nanny when they were all young. Lillian was bursting within at the sight of her; their wonderful Mrs. Dodds. Mrs. Dodds stepped forward and placed her hands on Lillian’s face, staring into her eyes as a mother would when their lost child returned home.

“My child.” Mrs. Dodds whispered, pulling Lillian into an embrace. Tears started swelling in the woman’s eyes as she looked two the other two. “My babies.” She said.

“Are you well, Mrs. Dodds?” Lillian asked, pulling back from her to look her in the eyes.

“I am better now.” She said, tears freely flowing down her fluffy, powdered cheeks.

“Hmm.” Gemma said, stepping forward. “I don’t remember you, but I like you.” She said. “I don’t think Lillian is going to like the state of things around here.”

Mrs. Dodds looked at the child with amusement. “No, I suppose you wouldn’t remember me, but I rocked you many a night, my child.”

“May we come in?” Lillian said.

Mrs. Dodds turned and looked at the door then to Gemma before looking back to Lillian. “I am afraid the child is right, you aren’t going to like the state of things.”

“Why? What has happened?” Lillian asked warily.

“You three have been gone a long time.” Mrs. Dodds started. “I am afraid you Uncle and Aunt have torn this place up, searching for money that doesn’t exist. They have sold things; lived well beyond their means in hopes of finding their hidden wealth.”

“Where is my uncle now?” Lillian asked.

“They are both in the study.” Mrs. Dodds answered.

“Then you will take me to them.” Lillian said, standing tall and with the conviction of a woman, no longer a child wishing to just return home.

“As you wish.” Mrs. Dodds said. She led the girls inside. Diya turned around in circles, looking at the large entry. She remembered how she twirl and dance in that entry after coming down the steps. Gemma looked around with big round eyes; she scarcely remembered anything but the inside of their tent.

“This way.” Mrs. Dodds beckoned.

“I do not wish to go.” Diya said, sitting on the bottom step and crossing her arms defiantly.

“I’m going.” Gemma said.

Lillian turned to the girls. “Yes, stay here. No Gemma, stay with Diya.”

“Nope, nope, nope.” Gemma said, following after Lillian and Mrs. Dodds. “I slept all the way for this.”

Mrs. Dodds looked at Gemma again, puzzled. Lillian sighed but did not argue as Gemma followed them into the study to face the Aunt and Uncle who threw them out years ago. They both had their backs to the door as Lillian and Gemma entered, discussing something in hushed tones. They heard the door creak open and Lillian heard her Aunt sigh. “Mrs. Dodds, you were told we did not want to be interrupted.” They both looked up and both had the look of shock on their faces as Lillian stepped forward into the light.

“My Word.” Their Uncle said, collapsing into the chair at the desk.

“What are you doing here?” Their Aunt hissed, venom dripping from each word.

“I am here to reclaim what is rightfully ours.” Lillian said boldly.

Her Aunt snorted in a laugh of disgusted, but stopped as Gemma stepped out from behind Lillian. Her face went pale and she clutched the desk for support. “Oh my, Gemma, what a beauty have turned into.” She said, her voice trembling.

Gemma smiled but did not say a word and looked up at Lillian who was smiling down at her in return. Lillian continued. “I am prepared to make you an offer to pay back all you paid and more if you leave our home and do not return.”

Their Uncle eyed her suspiciously. “How did you come by that kind of money?”

Gemma spoke. “She and Diya earned it. It would probably be wise to take the offer.” She said dreamily and began wandering around the room aimlessly.

“How much?” Their Aunt said.

“Fifteen thousand. More than enough to pay you back and provide you a new start; just return our home to us.” Lillian said.

“Fifteen thousand?” Her Uncle said.

“No way.” Her Aunt said. “I know there is more than that in this house and I know you know where it is.” She said, stepping forward and staring Lillian in the eyes.

“Dear.” Their Uncle said, trying to stop his wife but she was mad with greed and tired from searching all these years for something Lillian did not know or believe existed.

“There is no more money.” Lillian said, standing tall and not dropping her eyes from her Aunt.

Their Uncle stood and grabbed his wife’s arm. “Fifteen thousand will get us out of this house. We can move on.”

Gemma had returned to Lillian’s side without them knowing she was there. She yanked on her Aunt’s skirt which broke the gaze between her and Lillian. “What do you want, you little urchin?”

She looked into Gemma’s eyes. “I told you it would be wise for you to take the money.”

Their Aunt began to turn pale again, collapsing to her knees still staring at the child. She began to weep and sob, with deep heaving breaths. Gemma patted her on the shoulder as if trying to console the woman. Her husband ran to her side and lifted her, putting her in the chair. He turned to them. “We will take the money. I never really wanted it all anyway.”

Lillian handed him the money and he swore they would be gone before the end of the day. The servants helped them pack their wagons and Lillian watched as her uncle helped their still weeping Aunt into the carriage. Diya was off exploring the house and Gemma was in the kitchen getting fed anything she wanted by Mrs. Dodds. Not until the last carriage rolled out of the driveway did Lillian look around and let a sigh of great relief.

She joined Gemma in the kitchen and watch with a smile as the child demolished an entire tray of cream puffs. The child giggled with joy as she watched Mrs. Dodds drizzle the next batch with chocolate. Lillian laughed, unable to help herself and joined in on a cream puff herself.

The three sisters spent the rest of the day exploring the house, finding their old rooms and stopping to bless their parents as they discovered their old room. The roamed the grounds and ran in the garden. It saddened Lillian at the condition of it, but knew she would return it to the way her mother always kept it, somehow. She had given almost all they had to her Aunt and Uncle but she would find somehow to restore the house.

Night fell on the house and Diya, weary from the day, retired to her room needing sleep. Gemma came to Lillian who was sitting in their father’s old library. It was where they had found him the night he died. She was sitting with her legs curled up in his oversized leather chair. Gemma climbed into her lap, “I want a story.”

Lillian looked around the room at all the books. “Which one do you want?”

Gemma got up and pointed to a book too high for her to reach. “That one, I think it will please us both.”

Lillian rose from the chair to see which book Gemma was pointing to. “The stories and lullabies of the Seven Golden Kingdoms; I don’t remember this book.” She said as she pulled it from the shelf. It felt odd, the weight of the book was wrong. Lillian looked down at Gemma. “What is this?”

Gemma looked at her innocently. “A book.”

Lillian smirked and opened it. The inside of it was hollowed and inserted in the center was a metal box. She looked to Gemma again as her breath caught in her chest. Lillian pulled the box out and opened it slowly. She gasped at the contents for it held a stack of money the likes Lillian had never seen. Gemma smiled and giggled at Lillian’s joy, clapping loudly.

“How did you know? How did they never find it?” Lillian was in shock and slumped into the chair, holding the money in her hand.

Gemma stepped forward and placed her hand on her sister’s shoulder. “Daddy told me it was there. There is more too. They never found it because they didn’t read and wouldn’t come in here thinking it was a bad place but it’s actually a very good place.” She finished with her hands on hips and a little nod of her head, looking around and surveying the room.

Lillian knelt in front of Gemma and hugged her tightly. Gemma spent the next hour telling Lillian where the rest of the money was and when they were through, Lillian cuddled the child up into her arms again. Gemma looked up at her and smile. “You will no longer be able to tell our future sister; it going to change and change and change. Our road is going to be long, with curves and bumps and dips; we will change our minds a hundred times but what an adventure it will be.”

Gemma smiled up at her sister with sleepy eyes and yawned. “You are right little one.” Lillian responded. “Now rest, and let us start our new future tomorrow.” She sang the child to sleep and peace fell over the house.

All work and excerpts shared here are copyrighted and the sole property of the author. This blog may be share with this statement attached. This is a work of fiction by Sherry A. Stevens. Reproduction without this statement is prohibited without prior authorization. For additional information or other works by Sherry A. Stevens, please contact sastevens72@ymail.com. Thank you.

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Project: Youth Revelations – Now available in paperback!

mock cover1

Super excited! It has been a long road with many bumps, however I am so proud to announce my book is now available in paperback directly through my website. http://www.sherryastevens.com/books.html
It will be available through Amazon starting November 30th. It’s still available on Kindle as well at http://www.amazon.com
Check it out!

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Accomplishment: Finish what you start.

My blog has been disjointed this month. I have been so focused on finishing the edits for my book “Project: Youth Revelations” so I can get it sent off to publication. I promise, next month my regular blog segments will return including Interview with a Reader. I am pleased to announce that I have finished edits and just this afternoon I sent the file off for review. I am on track for publication by the end of the month! Woo hoo!

It was a very difficult road. There were days when I was ready to give up. I was tired of editing, felt like my creativity was being stifled; I just wanted to start writing my next book. How could I though? What would be the point if I didn’t finish was I started? How can one go forward when they don’t see the foundation for their work through to completion?

Even this morning, I was prepared to throw in the towel but I made myself sit down with the book and finish. Now I have a great sense of accomplishment. It’s a good feeling. So, the point to this post (other than my self-serving pat on the back) is just to say…finish what you start. It’s worth it.

Just keep writing!

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Short Story: Three Sisters Pt. 2

Here is the second installment of The Three Sisters. Enjoy!

Just a few more towns, she said to herself, and maybe a little more money just to make the journey easier and they would be able to go home where she could keep her girls protected. They reached the edge of the town of Sheridan which woke Gemma from her sleep. She could feel the energy of the people around them as they entered the town.

“Where are we?” Gemma asked with a sleepy yawn, rubbing her eyes.

Diya, who was riding the horse because her legs had grown tired from walking, looked back at her sleepy sister. “We are in the town of Sheridan.”

Gemma looked around, and smelled the air taking a deep breath. “This place is much better than the last.” She said, as she laid her head back down on the pillow inside the cart.

Lillian was please that Gemma didn’t feel immediate discontent like she did in the last town. They stopped at a butcher’s shop. Lillian figured there they would be able to get some meats for their stay and information as where they might camp. The man looked up as she entered and she could him audibly gasp as if she took him by surprise.

“How can I help you, mi’lady?” He asked, unable to take his eyes off her.

“I wanted to purchase some meats and get some information as to where we, my sisters and I, could camp to bring some joy and entertainment to your lovely town.” She said with a dazzling smile.

“I can most certainly help you with whatever meats you may desire, as for the camping.” He stopped, stroking his chin. “The best place would be were the traders usually set up, just on the edge of town. People flock their daily to see what is new, to gossip and enjoy a good song now and again.”

Lillian was pleased and laughed with joy. “That will be perfect, for I sing a good song now and again.”

The butcher wrapped and filled a basket full of meat, giving Lillian a discount on the all she had asked for. He even carried it out to the cart for her. He looked up at Diya who still sat on the horse back and gasped again. “Two so beautiful.” He said. Diya just smiled. ‘’What is it that you ladies do so I may spread the word of your visit?” He asked, nearly dropping the basket.

Lillian caught it and carefully placed in the cart beside where Gemma laid resting. “I can see your future, and my sister here is a healer.” She said with a smile. “But in the evenings, we enjoy to sing and dance for the friends that welcome us into their towns.”

“Can tell the future you say? Can you see mine?” The butcher asked.

Lillian wanted to bring people to their tent so she smiled and graciously accepted his request. “Of course, if you will permit me to take your hand?”

The butcher quickly wiped his hands on his apron and held one out for her to hold. Lillian removed the glove from her left hand and placed it in his. The butcher stared into her eyes; he could not look away. “Ah,” She said. “You are not married.”

The butcher shook his head. “No, sadly.”

“But there is a girl that you have been in frequently over the past months. She only purchases small amounts.” Lillian continued, and the butcher nodded his head. “You find her pleasing to look at. If you are here, tomorrow, when she returns; she will request a pound of bacon. This will be your opportunity to begin courting her. She will accept and I see a long future with her. I see three children; two boys that will carry on the family business.”

She released the butcher’s hand and smiled. He was amazed about what she had known about the girl. Lillian quickly put her glove back on, not wanting to touch anything else accidentally. “Heed my warning though, do not deviate from what I have said. You must be here just before midday for her to come. If you are not, that future may change. It’s like a river, if you dig a new trench for the water it will flow in that direction and I cannot foresee if it will merge again in the end.”

The butcher nodded. “I will heed your warning.” He said, “And spread the word of your work and beauty.” He bid them farewell and the sisters were off to make camp.

Gemma popped her head up from under the tent that kept her covered. “I liked him. He had a good heart.”

Lillian smiled. “I felt as much too.”

“A little lonely, but a good heart. He thought the two of you were beautiful but he did not have impure thoughts of you. That is rare in the heart of men.” Gemma said, as if puzzled.

“It is because his thoughts and heart truly desire another.” Lillian said.

“ooohhh.” Gemma said. Whereas Gemma could sense the thoughts and feelings of other, her lack of worldly experience and youth made some things difficult to understand. Lillian tried to teach her as they went along that people are not perfect and will not always have positive thoughts or energy but it doesn’t mean they are truly evil people; maybe they are just having a bad day. Lillian knew how difficult the last town was for Gemma, but in some ways she was grateful for going there. Gemma learned some very important lessons there, like senses when someone was truly bad heart and soul.

Diya turned to Gemma. “So, how are feeling dear little one? How is the town feeling today?”

Gemma thought for a moment and gazed around as if she were site seeing. “I feel a lot of happiness and joy here. It is a much quieter town; my head isn’t buzzing as full of a nest of hornets.”

Diya laughed. “Good, maybe we can stay a day or two.”

They reached the end of the row of merchants and other gypsy entertainers. Gemma was mesmerized by the jugglers; their minds were relatively clear yet they always knew when to catch the next baton or ball they were juggling. All she knew is she would have to think hard. She made a mental note to ask Lillian about that later.

Lillian pulled the cart to a stop as Diya slid off the back of the horse and they began to unload. Gemma helped where she could but would often get distracted by a bird passing by or the thoughts of the traders as they haggled with customers. Lillian would have to keep telling her to focus and to bring this or that from the cart.

The tent was set, as always it was divided in three, with flaps between each. In the front is where Lillian would do her readings and sleep in the evening. To the left is where Diya would take those who came to be healed, and in the back is where Gemma remained often reading to keep her mind focused.

It was not long before word of them started to spread. The beautiful sisters and their gifts of sight and touch; the towns people found them absolutely delightful. Neither sister had set prices for their readings or healings, they always took what people wished to pay or could afford; even doing them for free on occasion. They knew the majority of their money came in the evening when they would sing and dance.

The butcher was true to his word. The sisters were not set for more than an hour and they already had lively groups of people showing up at their tents to greet them. Many took Lillian up on her offer of reading their futures. Often times, she left bad stuff out to keep people happy and upbeat. Occasionally, Gemma would snort in contradiction of her sister’s reading and Lillian would have to tell her to be quiet.

Once the person had left, Gemma would stick her head out. “They already changed their mind you know.”

“I can’t help that.” Lillian responded. “I warn them all.”

Gemma just shrugged her shoulders and ducked back under the curtain. As the day began to turn to night, Lillian and Diya would close up shop and make dinner. Gemma wasn’t as ravenous here as she was in the last place. It seemed the minds of the people around her were much more at ease. When dinner was through, Diya would change into one of her dance costumes with scarves and ribbon and Lillian would pull out her lire, setting a chair in front of the tent to settle down to sing.

They would tuck Gemma into blankets in the front room so she could hear her sing which usually lulled the child to sleep. Lillian would begin with a soft, sweet song that would bring people to circle their tent. Diya would dance a routine much like a ballet and the people would cheer. They would fill the girls’ bucket with silver to hear and watch them again, sometimes requesting songs, and sit for hours captivated in their beauty. Diya would retire for the evening and Lillian would perform one last song and tonight it would be the request of the butcher that had been so kind to them earlier.

The sisters stayed three days in the lovely town of Sheridan. They allowed Gemma to roam a little more than usual and the people marveled at her beauty. As she walked she pulsated with energy of happiness, calming and peace. The people around her found themselves happy and Gemma preferred it that way, but this took much energy from her even in a town as restful as Sheridan.

She returned to the tent, needing much nourishment and rest and snuck in behind Lillian as she read a man’s future. She was tired, but as she ate she began to feel agitated. Lillian had finished the man’s reading, and she heard Diya walk into the room and apologize for interrupting not realizing that Lillian was with a customer.

Gemma heard the man tell her it was okay, they had finished and compliment her on her beauty. Gemma became almost fitful by this time. Diya excused herself, hearing Gemma making noise in the other part of the tent. She rushed to the child and placed her arm around her.

“What is it, little one?” She asked.

“That man, he is not a good man.” Gemma responded.

Lillian had wished her customer a good day and quickly joined her sisters in the back, also wrapping her arms around Gemma. “Goodness, what happened?” She looked to Diya.

Diya shrugged. “I don’t know, she said the man that just left was not a good man.”

“I did not get a bad reading off of him.” Lillian was confused. “All I seen was much work in his future.”

“He changed his mind. The moment he seen Diya.” Gemma said, rocking back and forth.

“What?” Diya exclaimed.

“You need to calm down Gemma.” Lillian said softly, cradling her.

Gemma began to cry. “I saw it. He changed his mind. He became lustful. He wishes to possess her.”

Diya backed up, shocked by Gemma’s words. Lillian continued to cradle Gemma and softly began to sing as she rocked her. Diya remained silent, her face pale with confusion and worry. Lillian looked up at her with concern in her eyes, but continued to focus her energy on Gemma. Gemma’s tears slowed and soon she fell into a deep sleep. Lillian laid her down on one of the down blankets and wrapped her up. She stood and turned her attention to Diya.

“What did she mean?” Diya asked shakily.

Lillian shook her head and whispered. “I don’t know, but we’ll just have to keep our eyes sharp and keep you safe.”

Diya ran to Lillian whose arms were open wide to embrace her. “Do not worry, my sweet sister. I will not let anything happen to you.” Lillian said, grabbing Diya’s face gently to look her in the eyes and kissed her softly on the nose. Diya just nodded and held tight to Lillian.

They held tight together until the sound of a woman’s voice called from the front of the tent. A customer for Lillian had arrived. She slowly let Diya go but she could still see the worry in her eyes. Diya sat and watched Gemma sleep as Lillian stepped out to tend to her reading.

The day went on as usual and night began to creep over the hills as the sun disappeared leaving the sky full of purple and blue hues. Lillian closed up and took her place outside with her small harp this time and began to sing. Diya soon joined her and danced as if she had no worries in the world. The sister’s entertained and delighted their audience until the moon was full above them.

Lillian sang her last song and Diya danced her last dance; they tucked in for the evening as the crowd dispersed around them. Lillian made a modest dinner of stew and bread and fed the three of them. Silence filled the table; all of them tired from the day’s events and Gemma was ravenous. When the sisters had eaten their fill, Lillian cleaned and stowed the dishes and cookery then turned to her sisters. “I think tomorrow morning we will leave and continue our journey.”

“Where shall we go this time?” Diya asked, a slight tone of relief filled her voice.

“I think it’s time to start heading north.” Lillian responded but would say no more. She tucked Gemma back in to bed and Diya curled up on her large pillow ready to sleep until the sun appeared again in the morning. Lillian had not forgotten Gemma’s words and brought to bed with her the only thing she did not pack away from dinner; her large kitchen knife. She lay down next to Gemma and sang a soft lullaby until the three of them were taken by sleep.

Gemma and Lillian awoke a couple of hours later to Diya’s screams. “Let me go!” They heard in the darkness along with sobs of fear and pain. A silhouette of a man could be seen against the light canvas of the tent. Lillian jumped to her feet with the knife in her hands. “Let her go!” She screamed, as she pulled the flap aside to see the man trying to wrestle Diya into submission; she had already been struck once as a bead of blood trickled down the side of mouth.

The man’s eyes were full of lust and anger. He turned his attention to Lillian without words. Lillian tried to strike out at him with the knife but failed. He grabbed her hand, twisting it until the knife fell free. In that instant, Lillian held his hand and she could see he planned to take Diya and kill all three of them. She fell to her knees and searched for the knife, but the man had already retrieved it and now held it above her head.

Madness had taken over the man and he laughed as Lillian tried to get back to her feet. He pushed her back down and turned her attention back to Diya. “Now, let’s see that graceful body.” He voice was thick and gravelly.

Gemma stepped in, pulling the flap back to stare at him. He was caught off guard not expecting a third pair of eyes to be on him. Gemma was calm and watched him, staring into his eyes as he caught sight of her. “You don’t want to do that.” She whispered.

The man, already on his knees, left Diya and crawled to Gemma with the knife still in his hand. He raised it as if to strike at Gemma, but Gemma shook her head. Lillian cried out; Gemma stared at Lillian for a second and she fell silent. Gemma focused in again on the man. He began to sob and yell at the top of his lungs. “Get out of my head! You’re a witch! You’re a witch.”

Gemma never broke her gaze on the man as he broke down in front of them. He stood and stumbled out of the tent, trip and stumbling as he went. She followed him as he left the tent and could hear the sound of footsteps approaching. Gemma continued to stare at the man, almost as if he were a mouse being played with by a cat, as he stumbled again but this time landing on the knife he held in his hand.

“Oh my Lord!” A voice said out of the darkness. Gemma relaxed and then collapsed just outside the entrance of the tent. Lillian appeared and scoped Gemma up in her arms. “What has happened?” Lillian looked up to see the butcher kneeling at the side of the man’s body.

Lillian had tears streaming down her face. “He snuck into our tent and attacked my sister Diya.”

The butcher looked horrified. He leaned down and the man said his final word; simply the word “witch”.

All work and excerpts shared here are copyrighted and the sole property of the author. This blog may be share with this statement attached. This is a work of fiction by Sherry A. Stevens. Reproduction without this statement is prohibited without prior authorization. For additional information or other works by Sherry A. Stevens, please contact sastevens72@ymail.com. Thank you.

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Reader’s Choice Cover Art Contest – And the winner is…

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I want to thank everyone who participated in my Reader’s Choice Cover Art contest. It was a close race but the winning cover was selected, Cover Art #1 or Lone Boots. I am very pleased with the new cover.

So, now for the moment we have all been waiting for, the winner of the free autographed copy of “Project: Youth Revelations” and the $20 gift card. The winner has already been contacted by email.

Shelli Carewicz from Carson City, Nevada – Congratulations, you are the winner of the Reader’s Choice Cover Art Contest!

 

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Short Story – The Three Sisters pt. 1

The Three Sisters

Three sisters walked down a winding dirt road just before twilight. They moved from town to town, unable to stay very long in one place for the sisters harbored a secret that if discovered could cause them much turmoil. Each sister was infinitely beautiful and carried within themselves great gifts. The gift being strongest within the youngest sister and the two oldest desperately worked to keep it a secret.

The oldest of the three was Lillian at the age of nineteen. She was fair skinned with hair as dark as a raven’s wing and eyes the color of dark honey. In each town they would set up their tent, pretending to be gypsies and lure people in to have their fortune’s read for just a few coins for Lillian carried within her the gift of foresight. She could see into people’s futures but simply touching their hand and the people found it soothing to look into her eyes and listen to the tale of their life to come.

There was only one flaw in her gift. If the people changed their mind, or changed course, the future would change. If she told a young maiden of a handsome lad she were to meet, but the maiden failed to go to the market as she always did on Sunday’s, the future would not be so. This was reason number one they did not stay long in any one town because when fortunes changed; people were outraged and called them false.

Lillian would keep her hands covered unless she were reading someone’s future and took care not to touch her sisters much without her hands bound in gloves. She possessed one other gift; the gift of song so beautiful souls were drawn to her. In the evenings, when she was not doing readings, she would sit outside their tent and sing. The people would flock to her and find themselves mesmerized by her voice and pay to hear her sing again and again. Many men would beg for her company, but she always refused them knowing it was the gift causing their admiration, not true love.

Normally, a girl of her age would be married but she could not leave the other two sisters nor did she trust anyone not to take advantage if they ever found out about what they were capable of. She longed for a husband and family, but this was not something that she seen in her own future and she wasn’t about to change her current path for the possibility of another outcome.

The second and middle sister was of the tender age of sixteen. Diya, aptly name as her name means splendorous light, was very different from her sister. She was also fair of skin, but her hair was the color of golden wheat and eyes blue as sapphires. Her body was light and flexible; she moved as gracefully as a ballerina. She carried within her three gifts.

Diya, could dance and would along with her sister singing. She was entrancing to watch, with a positive energy that flowed out of her. She also had the power of healing and would use this on their journeys as a way for them to make money. Many believed it was a side show trick, but the people she had touched knew the truth. They were blessed by her touch and given the gift of extended life. The second reason they could not stay in one place very long.

Lastly, Diya possessed the gift of power over water. If she had lived in another time, they would probably proclaim her a child of Poseidon. She could raise the water from the ground, manipulate it and make it flow in any direction she desired. Diya could dance and make it rain if she wanted to and did on occasion when it was necessary.

She barely remembered life before this one for she was very young when their parents had died.   First her mother, giving birth to Gemma, then her father shortly after. Diya couldn’t imagine another type of life, sure she enjoyed flirting with the young men, but she loved life in the open air with the whole world to roam. Settling down was not a priority in her life though most young girls her age were starting to search for their future husbands.

Both sisters had one thing in common, however, that bonded them unlike anything else could. They both lived and would die to protect their youngest sister. The third sister, Gemma, for she had the greatest gifts of all. It was she they feared being discovered and manipulated.

Gemma was only nine, but possessed within her powers unlike any of the others. She was strong, tall for a girl of her age and a mixture of her two sisters. Her skin was a little darker than the other two, taking the coloring of their father more than their mother. Her hair was dark like Lillian’s but eyes blue like Diya’s and by far as she grew would be the most beautiful of the three.

As Lillian grew to be a woman, she began to understand that Gemma had been too strong for their mother and what caused her to die in child birth. Lillian never blamed her sister for it because she knew Gemma would have never meant to. She believed that ultimately Gemma was probably the cause of their father’s death as well. Their father had been so full of grief at the loss of their mother, and however irrational it was, he blamed the child for the death of his wife.

The first few months he refused to see the child, given to a wet nurse to care for her. Lillian would sneak into the nursery to see her sister and talk to her. Lillian believed even then, somehow, Gemma could understand her. Lillian remembered the night before they found their father dead in his room; he came to Gemma with a bottle in his hand. Lillian hid behind the dresser, not wanting to be caught there. She watched as their father approached the crib where Gemma laid, her eyes wide and full of wonder.

Their father drew closer and looked down at the child; his hand began to shake attempting to give the child the bottle. He stared into her eyes and began to sob. Lillian watched as he dropped the bottle to the floor and drop to his knees; his eyes still fixed on the eyes of the babe. He sat there for many minutes, staring at her with tears streaming down his face. “I’m sorry.” He whispered. Gemma tried to reach her tiny hand out to him, but he withdrew, picking up the bottle and leaving the room.

Gemma’s hand still reached out and she began to cry. Lillian quickly came from her hiding spot and allowed the baby to wrap her small hand around her fingers. She could feel the baby’s sadness, loneliness and confusion. It was then that she knew Gemma was special and she could see her as a child, being put on display and examined. Lillian knew then she couldn’t allow that future for her sister.

It wasn’t until she was a bit older it became clear Gemma could read the minds and souls of men, women and even the animals around her. She could place thoughts or emotions in their minds or make them feel whatever she was feeling and in turn she could feel what they felt. Lillian found it difficult to control when Gemma was younger, but with age they have gotten better in helping her to harness the power within her. For that, the older sisters were eternally thankful, because it was tough going through the mood swings of a toddler.

Lillian and Diya kept her concealed much more when she was small child for her own protection. Now that Gemma was older, they would let her roam free more when they traveled. The child would run in the meadows or tall trees while they rested to eat or sleep. They would often find her sitting with animals around her; they unafraid of her and she unafraid of them.  She would let them know she would do them no harm and it was for this reason she would not allow her sisters’ kill any animals other than fish. Gemma always said that fish didn’t think much of anything.

Gemma was the biggest of all reason’s they never stayed in one place long. She wasn’t allowed to wander much when they were in the towns. She would grow agitated with all of the thoughts and emotions that overflowed from all the people streaming by and her heart would grow heavy because she said there was too much sadness or desire to do badly in the hearts of men. Her sisters would sing and dance in the evenings as much for Gemma’s benefit as the people around them. It calmed the people around them and allowed Gemma some peace.

They were only an hour from the next town and their supplies were getting low as Gemma, consumed a lot to keep her strength up. It had only been three days since they left the last town; they were down to a loaf of bread, one wedge of cheese and their last pound of salted pork. They never lacked for a supply for water thanks to Diya, but the rest of their supplies would need to be purchased soon.

Gemma slept a lot on this trip as the last town took a lot out of her. Lillian swore she would be more selective on which towns they stayed in. She had to admit, the last was a rough place. It was a port city with many lustful and angry men. The women were not much better. When they left a kind maiden suggested the town of Sheridan. It was a lively town, many traders passed through and they loved visitors.

It sounded just like the place they needed. Lillian and Diya could work and Gemma could rest. If many traders traveled through, they should have no problem finding the supplies they needed. They continued to let Gemma sleep in the back of the cart; draped with the tent, being pulled by the horse they purchased five towns back. It made their travels much easier. If she was sleeping, then she wasn’t eating and maybe their supplies would last until Lillian could get them replenished.

Lillian kept one other secret from her sisters. She had been planning for some time to bring an end to their traveling from town to town. She wanted for them to return to their estate home in Grande Martise and take back the ownership of the home that was rightfully theirs.

They had lived four years being taken care of by the servants, nurses, and family lawyer. Family would come and go, always checking on the children, but none wanting to take responsibility for them. Until one fateful night when visitor’s arrived late in the evening bring with them a carriage full of items.

She thought with anger how her uncle and aunt, brother to her father, had come in to their home pretending to want to take care of the girls but really wanting to just take over what they believed was a wealthy estate. They had paid the taxes that were overdue on the property and promptly informed Lillian who was no more that fifteen at the time, that unless the sisters could pay them back the money, because they were sure there was some hidden within the estate, it was time for her and Diya to leave and make their own way. Making it clear to them they intended on keeping Gemma, who was barely turning five, and passing her off as their child.

As she touched her uncle’s hand, she could see that if they did not leave her uncle would find a way of disposing of her and Diya and Gemma would be discovered. Lillian knew then that she was the future she had seen that night in Gemma’s crib and she had to act fast. Diya was only eleven but they planned to sneak out with Gemma and return one day with the money in hand to reclaim their home.

Lillian never told her sisters, but she had the money saved now plus more. Their travels were actually taking them home. It would take them at least three more weeks to get there where she knew they would be secure. There would be plenty of room for both Diya and Gemma to run and not feel caged, but it also meant rest and a home for her.

All work and excerpts shared here are copyrighted and the sole property of the author. This blog may be share with this statement attached. This is a work of fiction by Sherry A. Stevens. Reproduction without this statement is prohibited without prior authorization. For additional information or other works by Sherry A. Stevens, please contact sastevens72@ymail.com. Thank you.

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Reader’s Choice Cover Art Contest – Only one day left to vote.

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Reader’s Choice Cover Art Contest – less than a day left to vote!

Above is the last of the four choices for the Reader’s Choice Cover Art Contest. Is this your favorite, or was it one of the other three? Less than 24 hours left to vote and automatically enter to win an autographed copy of “Project: Youth Revelations” as well as a $20 gift card for Amazon.

I want you, whether you are an avid reader or an occasional reader, to help me pick the cover art for my soon to be released paperback. It doesn’t matter if you’ve read the book; your opinion is valuable. Visit my website http://www.sherryastevens.com to view all four covers and cast your vote.

Voting will end at 12:00 a.m. PST and the winner will be announced on November 15th. The book is scheduled for release on November 29th.  Thank you so much for all your support!

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