Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Magic of Showers Or; The Shower and The Artist

It's a pretty well-established fact, that a lot of people get their best ideas in the shower. 

It's true for me.  Maybe not the best, but certainly an awful lot of good ones.

Dopamine is part of the reason, no doubt.  Anytime you can get a good dopamine shower, you'll be happier all around, and nice hot H2O showers tend to trigger the release of dopamine.

Additionally, they say (you know, 'them') negative ions have an effect on us.  They show up wherever there's water and attach to things like dust particles and negative ruminations about why multi-billionaire dollar international hedge funds can get away with a multitude of nefarious, self-serving crimes, while you can't go five miles over the speed limit to get your cat to the vet before she has her kittens in your lap and get away with it.  (You ruminate on this stuff too, right??) 

The ions drag attach to all this and drag it down, down to the ground, leaving the air fresher and your mind more capable of handling barking dogs and multi-billionaire dollar hedge fund managers and all the other impurities life slings your way.

And of course, for many moms, showers are The One And Only place we can get five minutes alone.

Sort of alone.  It's good enough.  This is powerful stuff, people.  Wet Alone Time matters.

But the real reason showers work is probably far more mundane, and far more important.  We're stationary.  We're reflective.  We're quiet.  We're not inundating our brains and senses with stuff.  Shiny, Bright, Sparkling, Noisy, OMG Look At This Funny Cat! stuff. 

There are no new ideas bombarding us in the shower, which is why you can get so many new ideas in the shower.

Reflective time matters.  Wandering minds matter.  A lot.  But we're so often plugged in and turned on, getting 'input' by bad music and good music and bad news and good news and other people's ideas about how to feel and think and be with it all.  There's always some heartbreaking new tragedy and some inspiring new triumph and it's just exhausting if you slow down and actually notice it all. 

Which we generally don't.  More often we run through it all, like a kid with a bubble wand.

But in the shower, there's nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Just you and your mind.  Your quiet mind and your wet body.  And the ions, of course.

So for me, shower time is pretty sacred.  No technology, no kids, just me and the ions.  And all those ideas.....

Do you get ideas in the shower?  Or is somewhere/something/someone else your idea incubator?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Time Travelling Writer

That's me these days.  Back and forth in time between several stories: a medieval, a Elizabethan, and a contemporary.

I'm liking it a lot--I don't like being stuck, so when I've hit a wall on one story, I can flip to another and still be productive.
Note: This is not me.

If I can't write on any of then, that's a big red flag there's something else going on.

Such as, I'm avoiding something.  Or I need a break.  Or I've  been buried beneath a pile of undone laundry that's just taken over the house.  Zombie laundry.

Whatever.  It's always something.

I used to think that me being stuck was a bit of a cop-out. I had a rather linear interpretation of being stuck: it meant I wasn't trying hard enough.

Well, really now.   How unwriterly of me, how unimaginative.  There are a hundred reasons I could be stuck.  (To wit, the zombie laundry pile.)

Note: The empty creative well.  Deep, huh?
I now know that sometimes you truly are stuck,  that "Can't" doesn't always mean "Won't" and that sometimes, the creative well has simply been depleted while your head was bent over the keyboard.

Got to make sure it gets refilled.

Fortunately, a change can be as good as a break, and that's where time-travelling comes into play.

Oil painting, 1620's by C.C. van Wieringen 
At present, I'm researching and writing about the major political players during Edward III's realm as well as import and export customs during that period; Elizabethan timepieces and the saltwater-logged stragglers from the Spanish Armada who washed up on Irish shores (did you know that happened??  Yes, it did!!); and financial fraud and money laundering schemes of the 21st century.

It's good to travel.

When you read my stories, I hope they make you feel like you're travelling too! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Doldrums

Summertime doesn't lend itself to full-depth writing, at least not for me.  School is out and so is the slip-n' slide.  Kids are everywhere, as are blue skies, green forests, and salty water.  I heed the call.

I think this has changed since becoming a parent.  I'm fairly certain I wrote with the same general velocity during summers as during the cold, grey days of winter.  It was much more about whether the muse was showing up than if the kids needed me to help carry the raft for them.

I think this is a good thing, for lots of reasons.  I think it's good to flex and change, to disrupt my routines for no reason but maybe a little fun. I might, sometimes, just the teeniest bit, get a little too work-focused.

It's also good because getting away from work and yes, even getting away from story, also feeds hte ceatove fire.  I'm the kind f girl for whom like begets like--writing begets more writing, eating tiramisu begets eating more tira-- 

Well, you get the point.

But there's also space for, well, space.  For all the loves of my life, which includes family as much as story.  Room for all the angles of who I am, which if friend and wife and mom. The past few summers have been all about deadlines, and my family got shortchanged in a major way.

It happens. It's the business. 

But this summer, I'm letting the other parts get top billing, and writing is taking a bit of a back stage. The stories are percolating, especially when I lay in bed at night or, if I have time, first thing in the morning, before I crawl out of bed.  I write down ideas, some days even take a few hours to work, btu it's all split up by jogs down the block after the ice cream truck and trips to the beach and bike rides on trails. For the most part, I'm letting the stories do their own thing this summer without a lot of interference from me. 

I'm pretty sure the stories will be all the better for it.  I'm fairly certain I will be too. 

I hope your summer is a shaping up to be time for you to follow the loves of your life, too! 
We'll catch up in the autumn!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

DECEPTION Selected as Romantic Times Magazine's Historical Hero of the Year!

I'm very, very honored that Kier, the hero of Deception, has been selected as RT Book Reviews Magazine's K.I.S.S. Hero of the Year award winner!

This is an award given to the "knight in shining silver" hero in an historical romance, and I'm not only honored, I'm also surprised.  I truly didn't expect it.

First of all, Kier is a con man to the marrow of his bones.  Since he's been thirteen years old he's been scamming and scheming, at first by necessity, then because he's so very good at it.  And he doesn't stop just because our story begins--he's working the long con in Deception (as are several others), and nothing will stop him, not even the woman he used to love.

He's not typical hero material.

But then, Deception isn't a typical medieval romance.  It's more suspense-y, or thriller-y.  Less about knights and chases across the countryside, more about dirty money and corruption.

And so, the RT Magazine nod is a highly rewarding one.  I'm very grateful.   I'm sure Kier is too.  Confused, but grateful.  Sophia, I know, will be shaking her head, lifting her eyebrows gently at Kier, as if to say, "You fooled even them, you fool."

And as if they wanted to help celebrate, Amazon has DECEPTION on sale right now!  Print copies are almost 20% off.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Minstrel in Disguise trick

One of my favorite parts of writing big, plotty stories is figuring out how the characters are going to circumvent the system or beat the odds to accomplish their goals.  

Often that means luring in the bad guy, escaping from an attack, or gaining access to a guarded castle.   

If you wanted to break into a guarded fortress, how would you do it?  

Sure you could send some poor soul to crawl up the privy chute, but can we all agree that's a last resort for this romance-novel invasion?  

How about the usual methods?  You could bribe someone, or maybe even seduce a door warden or a gardener or some other castle personage.   

Oh, but the time it would take.  The bribing, the seducing, the kissing, the convincing . . . .  

It'll never work.  You need in now

How about the minstrel disguise method?  Now we're onto something.  You just saunter up with your lute and juggling balls and offer to tell some tales, play some music, and share some news from far off places in exchange for room and board and a few coins.

Voila, we're in.

 Tricky.   Effective.  Like the ancient Trojan horse, your desires become the vehicle for your own demise.

Is there anything more romantic than that?  In a sad, tragic way.

Once inside, you could do any number of dastardly things: kidnapping: poisoning: spying: making a nice, juicy treasonous offer to the lord, one he'd never have listened to otherwise (at least not in public).  

Or you could just wander casually over to sally port door and open it, letting your armed comrades, who've been waiting in the woods outside, pour into the darkened castle and take it over.

Or you could do what Aodh Mac Con does CLAIMING HER.  He's not masquerading as a minstrel per sé.  And the heroine definitely does not open the gates out of any desire or greed, but rather a sense of honor and a lack of options.  

Still, it all unravels pretty quickly.   Good fun ensues.  

How about you?  How would you gain access to an enemy castle?  What tricks are up your sleeve?

(The image above is from  The site says: "
Siege! is a mobile app that uses interactive role play to bring the the 1315-16 Bruce Siege of Carrickfergus Castle to life. Produced in collaboration with NIEA, and funded by the Arts Council’s Creative Industries Innovations Fund,  the game uses interactive role play to explore Anglo-Norman military strategy and defensive architecture (see gallery). The app will contain atmospheric audio and video medieval re-enactments, and will use GPS to embed the game’s narrative in the grounds of Carrickfergus Castle to create an engaging and immersive learning experience.")

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Making of Medieval Manuscripts

Found a terrific, short video on how they used to make medieval manuscripts.  It's so much more compelling to see the steps in action, rather than simply read about the process. 

I love how they create the stunning gold using thin sheets of real gold, "gold leaf".  When you see a newly made manuscripts, using these ancient techniques, you realize how colorful the world must have been in the middle ages.  We've grown accustomed to seeing grey stone walls and faded tapestries, but in reality, the world was busting with color, in clothes, buildings, and the pages of their manuscripts.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March Madness Blog Hop!

[Edited to add: Winners have been announced!  Congrats to Z and Shelly Hammond!]
March Madness is upon us.  Well, almost.

Close enough for women to know they're about to lose their husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, nephews, and sometimes even male cats and dogs to the craze of college basketball finals.  Money, power, athletic competition, championships, and men in shorts: excitement all around, yes?

I admit, we're not big on basketball around here.   For some reason, it doesn't light the household fire.   We're more about baseball.  And hockey.   We also cheer for football (American) and soccer (also American, 'cause no one else calls it that but us). 

And while we're on the subject of sports for which we'd abandon our families, I'd appreciate more equestrian events--or actually, any equestrian events--but I'm not in charge of ESPN.   Weirdly.

Superhero Scramble LLC

 <-- Also, I would like more of this man.

Anyhow...when I lose the male members of my household to a sport, it's usually baseball and hockey.  Which have extremely long seasons.  Extremely.  Long.

Did I mention they're long seasons?

Fortunately, we have one TV, it sits in our family room-which-segues-into-our-kitchen, so we're pretty much all together for all of it anyhow.  I sit on the couch, they sit on the couch, friends sit on the couch.  We all occasionally leap to our feet (on the ground or sometimes onto the table or kitchen counter, depending).  

The only difference is, I have a book in my hand.  All the time.   I'm either reading someone else's or writing my own, hammering away at a manuscript while they're cheering away.  And we're all together.

(Another very small, probably indetectable difference, is that I might complain about sports rules and the possibility of head injury more often that they do.  Possibly.  Or not.  It's hard to say.)

Oh, and some of them experience occasional bouts of fears that I'm writing them into a book as I sit there typing.

Who, me?  "What?" I respond affectionately. "I write medievals  And believe me, you're no knight."

Although...I am branching out into contemporaries.  And with that, I make no promises.

So, what's it like for you?? 

Do you lose anyone in your family to special interests, hobbies, loves or obsessions?  Or maybe you and your partner share an obsession that takes you away from the rest of the world, together?

Two commentors get their pick of a signed print copy of any of these books from my backlist: THE IRISH WARRIOR, DEFIANT, or DECEPTION!  
 Sign up for my Book Release newsletter and double your chances to here on my blog!

"Like" my Facebook page (KrisKennedyBooks) and TRIPLE your chances!! 

Follow me on Twitter (@KrisKennedy) and yep, you guessed it--QUADRUPLE chance for my prizes.

Don't think you like medievals?  Sure you will!  Come check out the excerpts & see what you think.

And then, go check out all these awesome authors who I'm blogging with!  They're waiting to charm you.  And they're giving away prizes.
(Rules are below)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RULES: Simply hop from blog to blog—the links are below—and “follow”, “Like”, “Friend” etc. the authors sites then leave a comment on their blog post. Each author is running their own giveaway as well as participating in the Rafflecopter Grand-Prize Giveaway of a Kindle Fire OR Nook Color, A $50 Amazon/B&N Gift Card, A $25 Amazon/B&N Gift Card, and 6 - $10 Amazon/B&N Gift Cards, as well as a “basket” of books. The event is live from March 5 – March 31st, 2013 to give you plenty of time to tour all the sites.

Rules: You must be 18 years or older as of 12:01AM March 5, 2013. No purchase Necessary. Avoid where prohibited. This event is open to worldwide participation (basket of books limited to US/Canada shipping address only)You are limited to one tweet, follow, like etc per day, however you can follow one blog, tweet about another, and like a 3rd's facebook page all on the same day. Be sure to follow the rules laid out by the individual authors about their respective giveaways, as they will vary form site to site. Rules and Terms are listed in the Rafflecopter. Grand-prizes will be announced on or about April 5th, 2013 on <> . While we will make every effort to contact you, it is ultimately the winner's responsibility to check winning status and claim their prize. Posted winners will have 5 days, from the date of post to contact host and claim their respective prize. If the posted winner fails to contact host, prize may be forfeited and awarded to another randomly drawn entrant and distributed without further notice.   

Monday, March 4, 2013

Machiavelli's Arrest Warrant

Okay, so here's this:

A British professor researching the history of town criers in Florence stumbled across the 500 year old arrest warrant for Machiavelli.  The actual document, the proclamation calling for his arrest.

Wow-y wow wow.   

He also found records of the payments made to the four horsemen "who scoured the streets of the Tuscan city for Machiavelli."

 Damn, that makes it all feel so scary and real to me. 

Real, because an actual person received that payment.  

These were real people living and dying and hunting each other down and fleeing.  They're not static historical figures, analyzed & figured out & frozen in images, flattened between the pages of a textbook.  

These were men who saddled up their horses that morning, men who needed that money, men who went home that night & maybe talked to their wives about their day, "Yeah, Giuliano wanted that guy, so we found him.  But...he looked scared. It's not going to go well for him." 

Scary, because I picture finding out about the arrest warrant.  Maybe you suspected it was coming, and this just is the awful thud of the other shoe dropping. 

Or maybe you thought you'd escaped the wrath of the d'Medici's.  Maybe. . .  maybe. . . .  No.  They didn't miss you, they didn't forget.  And now you're being hunted down by four professionals hired to bring you in. 

You have to know what's coming, right?   They don't want to have a conversation with you.  You were a high-ranking diplomat for the family that helped oust them, and now you're about to be brought low for it. 

Oh, and one of them is about to become Pope.

For me, this discovery brought this moment in history alive in a way its never been before. 

What about you??  When has a story--fictional or news--or an event or a conversation suddenly brought history alive?

Here's a link to the Telegraph article:

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Elizabethan Novella-That-Isn't-A-Novella-Anymore

2012 was been a busy year, with (sadly) less writing than expected, and (joyously) better outcomes than feared in several situations.  On the whole, I let last year go feeling blessed.  And . . . wanting more.  Specifically, more writing.  Which means more stories for you!

I'm at work on several, including the ever-present CLAIMING HER.  It was going to be a novella, remember?   A simple, sexually charged historical novella, set in Ireland, 1588.  

Maybe 80, 100 pages long, right?

Um, no.  This story doesn't want to be 80 or 100 pages.  It doesn't want to be a novella.  I know; I've tried.

Three times now I've written to page 100, realized it wasn't even close to being done, then spent weeks chopping it down to size (a painful experience for me and a startling one for anyone within a half mile radius of my house, which is about how far I expect my voice carries when I'm cursing.)

And each time, I realized it doesn't work 'down to size.'  Something important gets lost.  

So it looks like I'm going to have to be patient as this story gets written, maybe even set it aside for a little while until I have the time to devote to it.

Be assured, though, the important things will not change: the Irish hero is still the conqueror, dangerously disreputable, sinfully handsome, and utterly intent on Katarina.  And Katarina, well, it doesn't look like she's going to be able to resist for very long.

And the Queen of England is not happy.  Not happy at all.

I'll keep you updated when its ready to release, and I'll also post a little taste now and then, just to keep you interested.  :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Heartbreakers Blog Hop

[UPDATE: The winners of a print copy of one of my backlist books are K. April Holgate and Mary @ SweepingMe.  I'll be emailing the winners with instructions, and thanks to all for stopping by!  Remember, you can sign up for the newsletter to get book release news.] 

Today I'm part of Carrie Ryan's Heartbreaker's blog hop, where literally hundreds of romance authors and bloggers are talking about heartbreakers in their favorite romances.  You can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win.  Yep, you can enter over 200 times. 

And there are THREE grand prizes, plus the one I'm offering here: your choice of a signed print copy of any of my backlist books, all of them hot, sexy medieval adventures!

So start hopping, and have some fun! (Grand prizes listed below)

The Anti-Resumé 

Why are so many heartthrobs also heartbreakers?  

I think it's because when you throw your lot in with a confident, powerful man on a mission, you'd better be ready for the ride of your life.  Prepared or not, you have no choice but to throw yourself, heart and head, right over the cliff.   Be ready for anything.

But that doesn't make it a fun ride, right?  (Well, for us readers, yes, but the characters must suffer.  A lot.  In other words, heartbreak.)

The heroes in my historicals can be truly brutal in their heartbreaking potential.  I don't think these guys could actually ever land a job as a hero, if there were, you know, an application process somewhere.

I mean, with resumés like this, who would be crazy enough to trust any of these guys to save a desperate woman, a breaking heart, a barren life, a war-torn country?  I mean, who?

Oh, right.  Readers do.  :)

Hero: Griffyn 'Pagan' Sauvage
  •  Sneaks into England to foment rebellion against a king;
  •  Leaves a bedraggled woman at a muddy hut with Saxon villagers so he doesn't have to take her with him on his Super Secret Spy Mission.  After kissing her silly (Note: she catches up with him later);
  •  Lies to the daughter of the enemy he's vowed to destroy.  Then takes things further than either of them ever meant to go.  In an abandoned fortress.  Leaves her the next day.  Oh, sure, he promises to come back.   But first there's a stint in prison, then a country to reclaim and castles to conquer...including hers....

The Irish Warrior
Hero: Finian O'Melaghlin

  •  Plans inventive ways to kill a member of the English peerage (okay, yes, he was being held in chains in the man's prison...);
  •  Flees across the Irish countryside with the English woman who helped him escape from prison--some might say "kidnapped" her.  Wait. Some DO say that.
  •  Hesitates barely a second before indulging in overt sensual advances from the woman who saved him;
  •  Shows no compunctions about having hot, reckless sex on their flight across a war-torn countryside, teaching the heroine things no proper Englishwoman should know;
  • When it comes to a choice between his people and his woman, he...well, you’ll have to read.

Hero: Jamie Lost
  •  Favored lieutenant of King John of England.  Yes that King John.  What more do you need more on an anti-resumé?  But just in case;
  •  Ruthlessly determined;
  • Capable of disabling people who get in his way with minimum fuss and maximum effectiveness, violently or otherwise, such as when he;
  •  Binds a woman in ropes and throws her on the back of his horse (true, it's to prevent her from lying or tricking him again.  Also, since she knows a lot more than she’s saying, she poses a grave threat to his mission, but still, he tied her up, so it goes on the anti-resume.  I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.  Oh.  Wait... )

Hero: Kier

  •   Irish con man;
  •   Former ‘piper’ for a powerful criminal lord, drawing in rich new partners to engage in dirty deals;
  •   Stole money as a youth to impersonate a knight (Note: did exceptionally well in tournaments);
  •   Falls head-over-heels in love with daughter of a corrupt judge who's on the take;
  •   Abandons her;
  •   Returns five years later to wreck revenge on the men who betrayed him;
  •   Takes her into his schemes  (Note: Bad idea.)

So, tell me: if you were on the search committee, which anti-resumé above would tempt you the most?  And how much would you pay him?  (Kidding!)  :)

Any other romance heroes with anti-resumés you just can't resist?  

Two commentors win their choice of one of the above print books (Sorry--US/Canada only.)

Sign up for my Book Release Newsletter (sent 1-2 x's/yr) 
 and double your chances to win!

(Please, please remember to leave your email addy in your comment.)

Oh, and about those GRAND PRIZES, given to 3 randomly selected commenters across the entire Heartbreakers blog hop?
  • 1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
  • 2nd Grand Prize: A $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
  • 3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!  (Sorry, swag pack is for US/Canada only)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Naming Characters

Naming characters is so much fun!  Except when it's not!  

Sometimes names just appear on the page, as if by magic.  They're perfect.  And by 'perfect' I mean they're appropriately lyrical and hopefully flush with meaning, and also good in bed.  You know, for shouting out while in bed.  

You'd be surprised how many names this eliminates. 

Or heck, I don't know you. Maybe you wouldn't be surprised at all.  That's good with me.

First names are most important, first names and nicknames.  Last names matter less, especially in the middle ages.   For me, last names are like a frame for a picture.  They can do good work--enhance and and highlight and, well, frame--but they're not the work.

One thing I sometimes do when the perfect name doesn't magically appear on the page, is come up with words that are "flush with meaning," but would sound silly in English--like liar or sexy or magic or shapeshifter--then find translations of those words in different languages. 

This can be especially lucrative for last names and nicknames.  Yep, 'lucrative,' because the right name is wealth, isn't it?  As a reader you know that.  The perfect name is worth its weight in gold.

Can you guess which names in any of my books that appeared like magic, and which I had to work at?    
What names of fictional characters have you loved?  Any you hated?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unnecessary Research

I have way too much unnecessary research going on.  And I love it.  Sadly.

I'm working on a couple contemporary novellas, which are a blast, but somehow, I keep finding myself on websites for medieval spice trade, or with a book open that discusses smuggling in the 17th century.

These are not useful research topics for a contemporary story, not unless a character in the books happens to be studying the spice trade or the history of smuggling.  Which my hero and heroine are not.  Although. . . .

Today, I've been researching Elizabethan inventions.   Right?  What am I doing, you ask, wasting precious writing time researching topics for a story I'm not even actively working on right now?  What is wrong with me??

Sadly, I'll know what's wrong with me--I love this stuff.  :)

Stoneware bottle 1830s-1840
Did you know bottled beer was already used by the late 16th century?  They even used expensive glass to do so, although stoneware was also used, and of course, got better and better at the craft.   By the early 1600's century, the practice of bottling beer was already well-established, and the debate was on: which is better, bottled beer of beer from a keg?

Me, I'll drink it all.  

Replica of German pocket watch, 1580
Also, pocket watches.  Need I say more?  Okay, I will.

Sweet, gorgeous, etched and carved pocket watches--with alarms!  The hero in CLAIMING HER so has a pocket watch, and impresses the heroine with it. 

Katarina has been stuck out in her lonely castle beyond The Pale, and did not expect this barbaric Irishman to upend her world, to bring her etched silver and bottles of beer and news from men he called friends, who spoke of reflecting glasses that could see miles away, and the terrifying, exciting notion that God's stars are not fixed in the sky.

So, I guess this is why I waste my time.  Because it lights my fire.

Which maybe doesn't count as wasted time after all.  

Do you have interests that make you "waste your time"?  Spill!

(Note: the pocket watch image above is from:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Excerpt - Deception

As I mention on the website, my most recent release, Deception, isn't what you might expect going into a medieval romance.  It's more suspense-y and thriller-y (I hope!)

It's less about knights and chases across the countryside, and more about cons.  And dirty money.  And the powerful men who want it, and the lengths they'll go to get it.

And of course, the person who will risk everything to stop them.

I thought you might enjoy a little excerpt!


The hero, Kier, has returned to his lodgings after a meeting that set his plans of revenge in motion, a sword fight with a brigand who stole an important piece of documentation, and an unexpected, heart-stopping encounter with Sophia, the woman he once loved, then abandoned, many years ago.  She was not happy to see him. 

 Suffice it to say, he's had a bad day. 

He's back in his rooms, about to undress and fall into bed, when he realizes Sophia is here, in the shadows of his bedroom. 

She's got a blade in her hand and the devil in her eye, and she wants something Kier has no intention of giving: into his schemes.


Excerpt (c)

"...let us be clear, Kier," she added in a low voice.  "You did not find the ledger. I did."
            He leaned back and interlaced his fingers, considering her. "Now that is indeed a thing of note, Sophia.  You went directly to the coffer where [your father's old] ledger was housed.  The question is: how?
            She leaned forward, the yellow silk pressing atop the dark wood [of the table.]  "How badly do you want to know?"
            He shifted his gaze away, to the dark night outside the window.  Still, from the corner of his eye, she glowed at him, yellow silk and burnished hair. 
            "Are you offering me something Sophia?" he asked in a slow drawl, but his body was hardening, readying.  For a battle, for trickery, for passion, it hardly mattered; Sophia was all those things.  He was readying for her.
            "I am offering to help, Kieran," she replied, rounding his name as no one else in England did, as no one had for years--Ciarán--and in it he heard wild, sea-sprayed lands he'd not seen for half his life. He pushed it away with an almost physical shove.
            "No."  He shook his head.  "Sophia, even if you once had some useful knowledge about the [Darnly] ledger, you no longer do."
            "And thus, I am of no use to you," she said, her voice cold and brittle.
            "None at all," he agreed, ignoring the way he had to force his mouth to form the words.  It was like chewing sap.
            They stared at each other down the length of the table.
            "That is unfortunate, Kier, for I am not leaving."  She made an impatient gesture.  The blade tip swiped through the air. He watched its wild arc.  She was getting careless.  Reckless. Angry.
            "Perhaps you should set down the blade, Sophia."
            She narrowed her eyes.  "No."
            He pushed to his feet.  She scrambled up too, so quickly she sent the bench skidding backward.  He started down the length of the table toward her.  She skirted around the far end.
            "We are finished here, Sophia," he announced, coming after her.
            "But Kier, you have not considered--"
            "I have considered everything."  She slid up the length of the other side of the table, staying exactly opposite him.  "You do not have the ledger.  You have no money, no useful information, and furthermore, you have been seen."
            "As have you."
            He stopped short. "Pardon?"
            "I have seen you."
            He blinked at the veiled...threat?  Was she threatening him?
            He flushed cheeks reflected candlelight but her fierce eyes did not waver.  "I have seen you, Kier," she repeated softly.  "How much do you think such knowledge would be worth to the men who you betrayed?  To the king?"
            “You would not,” he said slowly.
            She nodded, just as slowly.  “I most certainly would.”
            They stared across the table at each other.  He waited.  And waited.  Waited until her arm wavered, lowered the slightest inch.  Then he leapt atop the table, grabbed hold of her wrist and yanked the blade, with her arm attached, halfway across the table to him.           
            She lay there, chest across the polished tabletop, hair scattered in sprays of dark fire, their mouth inches apart.
            “Ever were you my sinking ship, Sophia,” he growled.
            Her green eyes were fierce and bright.  “And ever were you the rocks upon which we crashed.”
            A knock hammered at the door..........


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