Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Flash Fiction: True Love at the Fortune Teller's Tent

A last piece of flash fiction to go with my novel THE MOONLIGHT MARKET. You'll recognize all three of these characters seen briefly in the story. And I hope you'll heed Madame Irina's advice!

True Love at the Fortune Teller's Tent
by Aidee Ladnier

Sarah detoured into the tent, and Evie almost face-planted into one of its support poles. Strung crystals ringed it, glittering thorns on a wooden stem. Tiny lights, like tethered fireflies, twinkled across the ceiling. Sarah giggled, hiding her braces behind her fingers. Evie hated when she did that.

"In here, dolls," an abrasive New Jersey accent beckoned from further inside. "Every journey starts with a first step. Come learn where your steps are taking you."

Sarah dashed through a gauzy curtain and a beaded doorway before Evie could catch her.

The candlelit room beyond exploded with color. Bright pillows cradled a woman in a dark blue caftan. An unnaturally red curl punctuated her forehead below a rhinestone-covered turban. It dappled the ceiling with the reflected light of fat candles scattered about the room.

"I am Madame Irina. Come sit by me, dolls." She patted a couple of overstuffed satin pillows in front of her.

Sarah plopped cross-legged on the red one, bouncing on the cushion. Evie eyed the strange candles, the many open bowls of water around the room, and a statue of a cat that stared at the fraying hem of her jeans. She dropped to her knees on the green pillow and settled her hands atop her thighs, her sneaker clad feet curled under her.

Madame Irina nodded, and her hands disappeared into the huge sleeves of her caftan, mirroring the frog meditating on the shelf behind her.

"Interested in the future, dolls?"

"Yes." Sarah leaned forward, the gloss on her lips glinting in the soft light. "Tell us about our husbands. Who are we going to marry?"

The fortune teller remained silent for a long moment, and Evie realized they hadn't paid her yet. Fortunes ten bucks, the sign outside had read.

Evie levered up to fish the bill from her jeans pocket, and laid it on the gold pillow in front of the woman. "Okay, I paid twenty bucks. What do the cards say?"

Madame Irina folded the bill, and reached behind her to place it in the frog's lap.

"I'm a palmist, doll. Now one of you give me your hands."

Sarah thrust hers out, the short rounded nails tipped a delicate pink. The fortune teller peered at her palm.

"Ah, you're going to do well, doll. Look here," Madame Irina pointed to a crease and then drew a red painted fingernail up Sarah's palm. "He won't be your first choice. That's a bad one. But this guy, he's the keeper."

"Details. Is he tall? Blond? A doctor? A lawyer?" Sarah nearly fell off her pillow as she leaned in.
Evie's stomach sank. She didn't want to hear about the man Sarah would marry.

"Nope. He's a plumber. He's tall, but not blond, and his name is Sam. You'll meet him after your 22nd birthday."

"Unngh." Sarah sat back with a groan. "I can't wait that long. Do plumbers make good money?"
Madame Irina smirked. "This one does."

"Now you, doll." Madame Irina grabbed Evie's hand before she realized it. The fortune teller's hot fingers clutched her hard when she tried to pull away. She opened her mouth to tell the woman off, but the fortune teller's gaze slammed against the back of Evie's skull.

And Evie realized, she knew.

The fortune teller knew about the carefully erased search engine history on her laptop. Of the growing realization that shook her shoulders and wet her pillow at night, though she denied it to herself each morning. Knew she had a crush on Sarah. That she wanted to kiss her best friend more than she ever wanted to kiss Danny or Eric or any of the boys Sarah flirted with at school.

Madame Irina's dark eyes crinkled at the edges. She turned over Evie's hand and cradled it.

Evie coughed. "So what does it say?" Her dry mouth cracked around the words. "About my husband, I mean."

"You want me to tell you about the one you'll love, doll?"

Not husband. The fortune teller didn't say husband ... only love. And Evie ached for Madame Irina to speak, to soothe all her worst solitary fears.

"Yes, the one I'll love."

Madame Irina's gaze pierced her for moment, and then she released her hand.

"The one you love will be worthy, will be enough. You'll be happy the rest of your life."

The fortune teller never said "he will", just "the one". She kept her secret. Evie released the breath she held.

"Don't you want more? Like whether he has a big house or one of those ugly classic cars you drool over?" Sarah's impatient voice startled Evie, and she jumped.

"No." She didn't want anything to tarnish the warm feeling in her stomach ... someday, someone would love her.

"Well, I do." Sarah turned her hard gaze to the fortune teller.

"It's not your fortune, doll." Madame Irina's eyebrow rose, and she drew her lips together like the drawstring of a purse.

Sarah huffed, scrambling to her feet. "She's probably a fake anyway. Come on, Evie, I need cotton candy."

And the beaded curtain swung behind Sarah before Evie could rise to her feet. She looked at Madame Irina, unsure if she should apologize for her friend's behavior or just go.

The fortune teller's eyes glittered and she tucked her hands back into her caftan sleeves.

"It's you, doll. Learn to love yourself."

At first, the gravelly, nasal words didn't register.

And then she understood her fortune. The person she'd love. Was. Herself.

No future girlfriend, no future wife, or even a future husband. She was the only person that would ever love her.

The words gutted Evie.

She whirled to follow Sarah out, blinking at the stinging burn in her eyes.

But as she pulled aside the beaded curtain, and Sarah called for her to hurry, Madame Irina's hushed voice spoke behind her.

"Love yourself, and then you'll find her. She'll be beautiful, doll, and kind, and your children will be, too."

And Evie's heart swelled with hope.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Flash Fiction - Message from Above

Another piece of flash fiction tangential to my novel THE MOONLIGHT MARKET. I hope you'll give the novel a look to see more of these side characters. As well as meet my leads, Cory and Sanderson, as they spend one magical weekend at the Market.

Message from Above
by Aidee Ladnier

"Heads up!"

Stan stumbled to a stop, looking right and left to determine where the warning came from.

"Up, up!"

He shaded his brow with a hand and squinted into the sunshine. A dark outline against the blue sky waved at him from atop the pole ahead. The figure tossed something down at him. He could barely make out the speck floating on a whisper of breeze. Stan dove to catch it.

A tiny paper bird alighted in his palm.

Stan pinched his fingers around the tail and lifted it to inspect the origami crane.

"Open it." The gentle voice urged him from above.

Stan inspected the paper bird, looking for a place to unravel the intricate folds. With a pang of regret, his fingers scrabbled at the edge and straightened out the slip of paper. Written in block script the words, "Does Frieda have chicken and dumplings for lunch?" marched across its surface.


Stan looked back up.

"Well?" The voice floated back down to him.

Stan cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted to the sky. "Yes."

"Great. I'll come down."

Stan watched the figure move to the side of the platform and gather skirts to walk down the rungs welded into the side of the pole.

It was only then that he noticed the sign pounded into the ground nearby. Black letters and tiny clouds painted on the blue face announced, "Gigi of the Flagpole. Watch out for falling origami. Paper cranes are lucky!"

Bobby had told him about the woman who sat high above the Moonlight Market, raining down tiny folded paper animals that the visitors fought over below. Stan hesitated. He was new to the Market this year, just moved in with his sister and brother-in-law. He'd jumped at the chance to earn his keep when Bobby offered to pay him to help with the fairground security. Stan had spent the whole morning cooped up in the security office, manning the walkie-talkies and communicating information and problems between the walking members of the team. Although he'd graduated from physical therapy, he still stumbled with a limp after the motorcycle accident that mangled his leg. Bobby planted him the chair and told him not to move, but a morning of little exercise left him aching and in need of a short walk. He hadn't realized the Market performers would already be out as well since the sun shone high in the sky. They only came out in the moonlight, right? Like fey creatures too shy to be seen by daylight mortals?

Stan waited below the pole, unsure what to do. Should he go? Did the flagpole sitter expect him to stay? He rubbed his fingers on his jeans.

Stan saw the wind flirting with the diaphanous layers of Gigi's dress. It was a frothy blue confection that floated around her as she descended. Her long brown hair whirled around her, caught mostly in a messy ponytail that ended well below her waist. Her assured movements brought her closer and closer to the ground until Gigi stood on the last rung, a good two feet from the trampled grass and dirt. Stan couldn't help himself. He looked.

Gigi's light brown eyes caught him first. And then her wide mouth over a too strong chin. The delicate hollow of her cheekbones drew his eyes to the dangling silver earrings that winked amid her wild hair. She was slender, the curve of her breasts subtle under her lacy neckline. She held out an oversized hand, the fingertips painted a pale pink.

"Can I bother you for a hand down?" Her soft contralto wavered as if the words were unsure of their welcome.

Stan realized his fingers clenched in the loose denim material at his thigh. He'd lost weight after the accident and he hadn't had the money to buy new jeans. Stan untangled his fingers and limped closer to the pole. He saw the frown pucker between her meticulously shaped brows. Stan clamped his teeth on the explanation. He got so tired of explaining what happened, what changed his life forever, what had lost him everything. He pasted a bright smile on his face and held his hand out to her.

Stan felt the warmth of her grasp and the softness of her palm settle in his.

"Here," he shuffled closer, "lean on my shoulders."

Gigi withdrew her hand and placed both palms on his shoulders. Almost as if drawn to it, his hands slid around her slender waist, his thumbs bracing her as he swung her from the pole to the ground. As she alighted, he found her as tall as he was, their faces close, intimate. He saw the quick pink of a blush stain her cheek. She clawed the ponytail holder out of her hair, setting the wild mass of hair free to frame her face, softening her features, drawing attention to the lightness of her eyes.

"I'm Gigi." The breathy words spurred Stan's lungs to constrict.

"St..stan. I'm Stan McKittrick."

She stepped out of his arms and Stan realized he still held her waist. His hands dropped to his sides.

"You're new. Security?" She smoothed down her blue dress.

"Yes, ma'am." Stan showed her the white block letters on the back of his black t-shirt.

"Well, Stan, I'm going to have lunch at Frieda's. Would you like to join me?" She smiled shyly and Stan's mind blanked.

Her words registered just as she glanced back at the pole top, the hurt look flashing before a mask of resignation settled on her face. He poked out his elbow like he'd seen his grandfather do when walking with his grandmother.

"If you don't mind walking slow, it would be my pleasure to escort you, Ms. Gigi."

Her light eyes flicked to him and then stayed, warming. She threaded her hand through his arm. "I spend so much time aloft, I forget what everything looks like down here. Going slow is preferred, so I don't miss anything."

Stan grinned. They walked together to Frieda's tent.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Everywhere On The Web Today

So I like to write blog posts. That's pretty apparent to anyone that follows me. But today I've outdone myself in posts.

Today I'm visiting Myra Nour's Movie Chat to give her a review of one of my favorite horror-comedies, THE FINAL GIRLS. Seriously, if you haven't watched this film, you are totally missing out on one of the best love letters to 80's slasher films around. It is also a truly amazing film about relationships, grief, and mother/daughter badassery! I love this film so much because it not only pokes gentle fun at the slasher genre, but it's also genuinely funny and has real depth to it. It's a high bar for other horror films.

I'm also tackling the age old advice to writers to "Write What You Know". But how do you do that when you write science fiction set in a future you haven't seen? Come join me at the Rainbow Romance Writers and learn that just because you're in the future, somethings will never change. 

And I'm still on the multi-month tour with THE MOONLIGHT MARKET, so I'm over at Book Lover Promo today with an interview of my character Sanderson Beets. But if you haven't managed to make it to one of the stops, there has been a ton of guest posting going on! I've talked about why I'm a writer, why the full moon scares us, the importance of second chances, the lure of the "up all night" story, revealed fun facts about the book, and even explored my writing quirks. There is so much more to come and at the end, a giveaway!

Come join me!

Here are the stops on the tour:
October 17: Sharing Links and Wisdom
October 24: Fabulous and Brunette
October 31: Wake Up Your Wild Side
October 31: Romance Novel Giveaways
November 7: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
November 14: Book Lover Promo
November 21: Romance and Authors That Rock - review only
November 21: The Reading Addict
November 28: Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
December 5: Wendi Zwaduk ~ Romance to Make Your Heart Race
December 5: Kissing Bandits
December 12: Michelle Abbott's Blog - review
December 26: Dawn's Reading Nook
December 26: Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps - review
January 2: Christine Young
January 2: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
January 9: Carly's Book Reviews - review
January 9: Liz Gavin's Blog - review