I know, I’m a slow writer.
Well, I get it. But I started this thing and I aim to keep it up. It’s just that sometimes life gets in the way. You know what I mean. Relationships, work, grocery shopping, house admin… these are the things that sometimes inspire me to write, but also the things that keep me from writing. It’s like my favorite Annie Dillard quote:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”
When I read this quote, I decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up for not writing because I didn’t have time, but to cherish the moments when writing did happen. I love those moments, from the longest to the shortest and they have value because I make them happen again and again. I will always come back to writing.
To thank you for signing up to my list, I wanted to give you something in return: the first chapter of Kate Roark, book three. It’s not titled yet, but that will come soon. In this book, Kate spends the summer with her demon father, where they will become best friends and live happily ever after.
But if you like it and want more, tell me and I will post more chapters.
The black town car with its heavily-tinted windows idled menacingly in front of our trailer, looking out of place in the peaceful Renaissance festival campground. The sound of mewing kittens filled the inside of our trailer, growing more insistent by the second, and my phone buzzed with a series of texts I couldn’t check just now.
“Just tap there to answer a call, Mom,” I said between my teeth, pointing for the umpteenth time at the answer button on her new pink mobile phone. Up until now, she had relied on me to keep her connected to her Bindan midwife clients (the witches who needed Mom to bind their children of magic in every generation), but now that I was heading to Li’s house for the summer—I still couldn’t say “my dad’s house”—she would need to come into the twenty-first century and use the phone.
Oh, the joys of paranormal child-custody arrangements!
My two-thousand-year-old witch mother stared at the phone in her hand like it was going to come alive. “And how do I know there is a call?”
I rolled my eyes hard at the relentless kitten noises emanating from her phone. “Because it will be playing the ringtone you picked out, remember?” This was the third lesson she’d had on how to use the phone if you included the guy in the store, and she still didn’t seem to get it—or want to. I don’t know what was wrong with her, but this did not bode well for communicating with Mom this summer.
“The ringtone is the kitty sounds?” she said.
“Yes, the ringtone is the kitty sounds, mother!” I didn’t even bother to hide my impatience. “The car is here, and I need to go. You have to learn this or I won’t be able to call you. Please, Mom.”
She blinked as if my plea jarred loose in her learning process, then tapped the answer button and issued her greeting like we practiced, “Hello?”
“Finally! Remember how to make a call now?” I said and hit “end call” on my own phone, which we were using to test her ringtone. Thank goddess the stupid kittens shut up.
“Well, yes, making the call is the easy part,” she said.
I shook my head at her ability to randomly choose what to learn and what to forget today. My throat tightened again at the thought of leaving her and all her idiosyncrasies—and everything familiar. I blinked back a tear and decided the texts could wait until I got into the car. It was probably just my Bindan friends, Lily and Ella, being dramatic about their new boyfriends they met when they snuck away to the Renaissance festival—again. Their super-conservative parents would freak out if they knew.
She set her phone on the old yellow kitchen table and smiled a brave smile. “My Kate. You’re going to be fine.” I wasn’t sure her words were meant to comfort me or her.
“Sure.” I tried to mimic her smile but I’m sure it came out more like a grimace. I scooped up my familiar, a white pigeon, and set her in front of the travel cage we bought at Li’s insistence. He had been horrified at the thought of a bird loose in his car.
Luna gave me a look and stomped into the cage. “You owe me worms, Kate. Big, fat ones.”
“Sorry,” I said. She and I speak only telepathically and no one else except my half-brother can hear her. I just found out I had this half-brother—Leo—and I saved his life by working a demon spell for the first time. After that, he started living with us because he didn’t have anywhere else to go. Good old Li kicked him out…after trying to kill him, of course.
Luckily the Renaissance festival was always hiring big, burly men to carry things around and that description fit Leo Vidra to a T. I sure was looking forward to calling him for comic relief this summer. He’s the only one who has spent any time with Li besides my mother, and she didn’t have anything useful to say beyond, “listen to your heart”. Blech.
“You will be fine” Mom repeated. “Sometimes it’s good to get a different perspective. It can—challenge your worldview.”
I was pretty sure my worldview was fine just the way it was. “Sure, whatever.”
Mom wrung her hands. “Seriously. I trust you’ll make the right choices.” Her voice wavered a bit.
“Are you going to be okay?” I gave her a sideways look as I locked the birdcage .“Like, should I be worried about you? What are you going to do for three months without me?”
“Well, I’m going to check on my patients, work the festival and maybe take a few side trips during the week with your brother,” she recited in a way that made me realize she was worried about filling her days without me just as much as I was.
“Oh, sounds good,” My lip trembled as I turned away to grab my backpack full of my favorite second-hand black concert t-shirts and jeans before I started bawling. I didn’t want to leave my home and everything I knew to go to stupid Li’s house for the summer, but I didn’t have a choice. He was a clear frontrunner in the “worst father ever” awards because when kidnapping my mom didn’t convince her to let him see me, he slapped her with partial custody papers. If I didn’t go, my mother could be fined or even go to jail. Li’s lawyers would make sure of it.
Mom turned me around and looked me in the eye. “We’ll talk every day, Kate. Every night before bed like always, okay?”
I sniffed. “Yeah, sure, that sounds good.” I slung my backpack over my shoulder and threw my arms around her and squeezed.
She squeezed back. I inhaled her unique scent—patchouli and ylang-ylang—and snuggled into her warm embrace. Well, as much as I could from my height of five-ten and hers of barely five feet. We separated, sniffing.
“Remember meditation for when you get stressed out,” Mom said. “It really does help.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I’d never really been able to get into a meditative state before when we tried. My mind is just too busy with too many things.
I gently picked up the birdcage when mewing sounds started again. “Mom, your phone is ringing. For real this time.” I had sent her new phone number to the Bindan, but I didn’t expect them to use it so soon.
Mom stared at her phone for a minute, then very deliberately touched the “answer” button and lifted the phone to her ear. “Hello?”
She paused while the Bindan—probably that obnoxious Elder Wright or his wife, Katherine—spoke. “Okay, okay, don’t worry. I can be there in thirty minutes.” She ended the call and slid the phone back on the table with a thud. Her eyes went far as she looked out the window at the idling town car.
“Mom, what?” I gripped my backpack strap. “What happened?”
“Lily and Ella are pregnant,” she said.