Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meet Faolan MacKay of The Highlander's Fury

“Damn, the woman is out of control,” Faolan muttered as he stomped through the arch. The servants had scrubbed the great hall of the MacKay keep within an inch of its life. Under the command of Mistress Sorcha, no corner or crevice was safe from scrutiny.
As overseer of the care and upkeep of the castle, Mistress Sorcha ruled with a firm and unrelenting hand. Heaven help the servant foolish enough to ignore any instruction given. If unlucky or daft enough to be caught slacking, they’d best be giving their soul to their maker, for Mistress Sorcha would surely have their arse.
Faolan groaned, giving a look at the floors, wondering if it was safe to step any farther. God’s beard. ’Twas a sorry day when a man feared walking in his own keep. The lads had swept the great stones free of the soiled rushes and scoured them with lye and boiling water. Wrinkling his nose, Faolan cringed; the bite of the lye nearly burnt his eyes from the sockets. His keep would never smell the same. What the hell was the woman thinking? The slabs shone in the glow of the burning torches as though the stones had just been set.
“This is such a waste of time and manpower,” Faolan grumbled as he stomped his way toward the kitchens. He shook his head as he watched a serving lad scurry by with two buckets of steaming water to the other side of the room.
The servants scalded and rubbed down the tables and benches until not a drop of grease stained the boards. They had cleaned and greased the irons upon the hearths; the tools and huge swinging arms holding the black pots glistened in the flickering light. The hearths had been shoveled clear of excess ash and debris. Fresh split wood stood stacked at the ready. The maids had drawn down the tartans and banners from the rafters and beaten the dust from them before they’d been re-hung.
The surrounding hills had supplied overflowing baskets of heather. The fragrance wafted throughout the keep. Faolan rubbed the back of his hand across his nose. His stomach clenched at the scent of the sweet perfume; he preferred the acrid sting of the antiseptic lye. The scent of the heather reminded him of his parents’ funeral. The fragrance brought back the darkness of that day and the stabbing loneliness still echoing through their empty chambers.
Ivy, the symbol of eternal fidelity, wound its way into every nook and crevice. Braided boughs of the emerald leaves formed into an archway at the head of the hall. Fidelity. Faolan snorted. What a mockery. There would be no question of faithfulness in this union.
Casks of wine and barrels of ale lined the farthest wall and stood in neat piles beside the stairs. More stood at the ready, stored in racks in rooms offset from the hallway. The banquet required the meat of three wild boars; a successful hunt produced the necessary pigs. They now turned on spits above open fire pits behind the kitchens. Faolan spared an approving nod at the red-faced lads stationed at the fire pits. Sweat poured in rivulets down their faces as they kept the massive sides of meat sizzling and turning over the glowing coals. Breads, cheeses, and fruits of the season piled high upon serving boards along the tables. Not a spot was empty on any of the sideboards in the kitchen. All stood ready for the start of the celebration. Faolan hoped his clan was happy. This damn betrothal was finally set. All this food. Faolan clenched his teeth. His clan could’ve survived on it for half the winter.
Faolan paused just outside the kitchen doorway and peered around the corner. He’d learned long ago if he wanted to know what was truly going on in his keep, all he had to do was listen at the doorway of his own kitchens.
Mistress Sorcha made one more round through the kitchens, her ample girth swishing her black skirts upon the floor. She hefted a long-handled ladle from its hook upon the mantel and slid the heavy lid from the pot. Her eyes narrowed as she tested a bubbling broth hissing above the fire. “Bring me the dried rosemary hanging from the farthest shelf and fetch me the crock of salt.”
A spindly kitchen maid hopped from the bench where she’d sat scrubbing the skins from a pile of carrots. She returned with the herbs and the crock of salt, holding them aloft until Mistress Sorcha had taken what she needed.
With a satisfied nod, Sorcha smiled her approval to the maid and replaced the ladle upon the hook. “Everything must be perfect. The clan has long waited for the day The MacKay would take a wife.”
“The clan has long waited for additional money to be added to the coffers,” Faolan mumbled under his breath. At least this would silence his advisors; it was either marry or murder the bastards. Faolan’s stomach growled as he shifted positions; Sorcha’s stew smelled delicious.
As she returned the crock of salt to its designated shelf, the kitchen maid scurried back to the bench and the enormous heap of carrots. “Have ye seen Laird MacKay’s betrothed, Mistress Sorcha? Is she a fine woman worthy of our chieftain’s good name?”
Faolan leaned closer, biting back a bitter laugh to be sure he heard what Sorcha replied.
At the girl’s question, Sorcha’s smile faded. “Lyla, I have heard the chatter of the chambermaids and I will have none of it repeated. I havena seen the lady, myself. But I am certain she will be a perfect match for our fine laird.”
Faolan’s heart warmed as he overheard her words. The one bright spot in this sorry mess was Sorcha’s loyalty to her laird.
With a curt nod toward a basket of vegetables sitting beside the doorway, Sorcha ended the direction of Lyla’s conversation. “Now make haste, Lyla. The feast will be upon us soon and ye have yet to chop all the vegetables for the other stewpot. Once ye have finished with the carrots, be sure to brush the dirt from the mushrooms that ye spread upon the shelf in the larder yesterday eve. I will be needing them for the gravies for the meat. They must have something to sop with their bread.”
As she re-tied her apron around her ample hips, Sorcha headed out of the kitchens toward the great hall. As she barreled through archway, she nearly bumped into Faolan as he slipped away from the door. “Such a fierce look! Ma laird, what appears to be amiss? What have we forgotten for your celebration?” Sorcha rushed to his side, knotting her apron between her hands as her gaze darted about the room.
Raising his hands as though to ward off her words, Faolan looked about the room at all the preparations and swallowed a groan of disgust. “Ye have done well, Sorcha. Be at peace. As usual, all is perfection.”
Sorcha tightened her lips into a worried line and patted her graying hair back from her weathered face. “Forgive me, sir. But for a man who’s about to meet his betrothed, ye seem sorely troubled.”
Faolan scrubbed the stubble of his beard as he sank to the bench and dropped his head between his hands. “Sorcha, ye have been like a mother to me ever since my own mother jumped to her death. Even before then, ye relentlessly spoiled me when e’er I wandered into the kitchens. However, in this matter, ye canna help me, nor can I seek your counsel. I have agreed to this match for the good of the clan and that is all that best be said.”
Sorcha knotted her hands in her apron, fixing him with a worried scowl. “Blessings to ye, ma laird. Trust me all will be well. I shall leave ye in peace. I shall be in the kitchens if ye need me. All ye need do is call.”
Faolan raised his head. He glanced about the room and took in the betrothal decorations with a snort of disgust. This was such a mockery. His clan sought to celebrate the securing of lands, cattle, and possible future holdings. They didna give a damn if he took a wife.
Faolan had never met Dierdra Sinclair, but he’d received reports from his informants about her simple mind and her childlike ways. Her father had been trying to wed her off for years, but her affliction had made a desirable union difficult to obtain. An avaricious man, Gordon Sinclair not only wanted rid of his vacant-eyed child, but as chieftain of the Sinclair clan, he wanted to profit from the match by obtaining an alignment with a stronger clan. In his mind, the fact that his daughter might have the mind of a child had nothing to do with her ability to breed.
When Faolan had learned of Gordon Sinclair’s offer and the innocence of his only child, Faolan had agreed to the match for two very simple reasons. If he took Dierdra to wife, it would silence the incessant droning of his advisors for him to marry. It would also protect the childlike Dierdra from the dangers of a less scrupulous man, one who might not give a second thought to raping a helpless innocent.
The match with the reportedly sweet, daydreaming Dierdra would perfectly suit Faolan’s needs. He’d sworn he’d never open his heart to the pain he’d see his parents suffer. Because of the passion they felt for each other, their lives had met a tragic end: his father murdered while protecting his mother and then his mother had taken her own life. Faolan had sworn he’d never bring a child into the world just to abandon it when his own life ended. Love and children brought nothing but pain and suffering. Someone else could take the lairdship.
Faolan rose from the table, rolling his weary shoulders to work out the tension knotted through his muscles. He’d much rather be in the courtyard, slicing the air with his sword as he practiced with his warriors. With a resigned sigh, he plodded to the staircase leading to his private rooms. He stopped by the stairwell and tucked a cask of ale under one arm. This one belonged to him. Lore, I need a drink. His mood darkened as though he headed for the gallows rather than to meet his bride. It was time he readied for his betrothal banquet and resigned himself to his fate. In but a few short hours, he promised himself to a wife, whether he wanted one or not.
A satisfying blend of saucy sensuality and heartrending sincerity - 4 Stars - RT Book Reviews

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things that make you go, "Aww..."

Cute picture alert! Yep. You guessed it. I got another email that demands to be shared. Enjoy! :-)
Excuse me. Table for one?
The rodeo wore me out!

Okay. We spread our feet like this. Now what?
It's a spider! Right there! Kill it!
Boost me just a little higher. I can almost reach it. guys! I love you too.
It's the only way I can keep them under control.

Have you seen my Momma?
We waited up as long as we could. We're bushed.
Okay. I'm ready.
S-s-sunny C-C-California my butt!
Who-o-o-s your sweetie?
Just move your feet like this? 'kay? that MOUSE still there?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ghosts, Drugs or Insanity?

That title pretty much sums up this post. I’m searching for answers, explanations for some rather odd, recurring events I’ve experienced –correction: I keep experiencing. Got a minute? Grab a beverage, pull up a chair and help me figure this out.
I’ve heard the best way to figure something out is to look at the facts. Study the data and your answer will make itself known. Fine. Let’s begin with the “odd” events.
Over the past six months to a year, I’ve “seen” people where and when there shouldn’t be any people. One of the more memorable times happened late one night. Well, now that I think about it, they ALL happen late at night. I’m not sure what time it was and it really doesn’t matter. Lying on my left side (as I always do), I woke with a start and looked up into the out-of-focus forms of a man and a woman standing beside my bed looking down at me while I slept.
The woman had dark, shoulder length hair, seemed to be a larger-sized woman and was wearing a boxy shapeless dress that went down as far as I could see. The man was squat, bald and heavy, shorter than the woman. Although both their forms were murky and gray as though they consisted of a heavy mist, the woman seemed to have a contented look on her face and while the man’s eyes were large darker spots in his round face, he’d angled his head over against one shoulder as though trying to get a better look at my face.
I blinked –hard, and blinked again. They were still there. My mouth went dry and I froze just like I used to do when I was a little girl terrified of the monster under my bed. I blinked slower this time and squinted to try to bring their faces better into focus. Instead –they dissipated into the shadows. I took a deep breath and told myself that I must’ve eaten something really weird to create that hallucination. But then Jasper walked stiff-legged to the edge of the bed and rumbled a low warning growl while staring intently at the spot where the pair had just disappeared.
There’ve been several other similar instances, all with different “people”. People I don’t know. Like the thin woman wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top, her long hair piled on top of her head, standing in front of our television with her arms folded. It was well past midnight and my husband had fallen asleep in his recliner in the living room. I crawled out of bed to go shut off the t.v. and throw a blanket over his snoring body. She didn’t turn when I walked into the living room. She was intently watching whatever was on the t.v. I stood still and did my now standard routine of stare-blink-breathe-blink again. Yep. You guessed it. She seemed to see me out of the corner of her eye because her head turned slightly in my direction as she disappeared.
And now the rest of the facts:
No one else has seen these whatever-they-are’s but me –and apparently, Jasper. He doesn’t bark but he stares at them too and usually rumbles out a growl that says, “Yes, Maeve. I see it too.”
I’ve not been ill but I do take a medication at night to prevent killer migraines. It’s not a sleeping pill or pain medication but it is a medication sometimes prescribed for seizures. Debilitating migraines are a strong curse for many in my family but thankfully, there’s medication now that prevents them –or at least it’s helped prevent mine. Since, I’ve been taking this medication; my visitors are appearing more frequently and in much clearer focus.
All my life I’ve been accused of being different. I’ve always “seen” things in the shadows but never as clearly as my visitors of late. As a child, I was often scolded for being afraid of the dark and telling lies about what couldn’t possibly be there. I’ve given my husband the heebie jeebies several times when I’ve correctly “predicted” or “mused” how a given situation is going to play out. Unfortunately, I can’t do this with any accuracy and it just sort of “comes” to me.
So…what do you think? Is it ghosts, drugs or insanity? An overly sensitive child with an active imagination was my past self. Could I be reverting to my childhood ways? And if, as some would say, it's all in my head then why is it happening to Jasper too? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Maeve said I could borrow her blog...

How’s it going? Jasper here. I asked Maeve if I could borrow her blog to personally thank all of you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. I hadn’t really counted on her dragging out that stupid camera. But I guess it’s okay since the pictures show everyone how great I’m doing since I had my stroke a couple of weeks ago.
Can I tell you it scared the living crap outta me? I mean –seriously. All of a sudden nothing on the right side of my body cooperated. I couldn’t even lounge on my favorite pillow. I kept rolling off the silly thing. Can you imagine how humiliating it is to have your human set you on your perch and you roll over like a ball down a steep driveway?
And my mouth leaked! Now I admit, I’m not the neatest water drinker in the world but I couldn’t get ANY of it in my mouth. But Maeve took me to see Doc and even though the man had the shameless nerve to put this weird snout holder across my nose AND stick me in the butt with something really sharp, I have to admit he helped me out. Let me tell you somethin’ though, that nasty black junk he gave Maeve to squirt in my mouth tastes terrible. I made sure Maeve found out how horrible those drops were. I licked her right in the mouth when she didn’t expect it. If she had ears to flatten against the side of her head, I think she would’ve done it. She started spitting and mumbling something about liver-flavored. Take it from me; I have NEVER tasted a piece of liver that tasted like that. I guess Maeve is right about one thing though: when you’re ailin’, you gotta take your medicine. BLECH!
My paw’s gettin’ kinda tired now so I’m gonna wrap this up. I just wanted all of y’all to know that I really appreciate your friendship. Maeve read all the emails to me since I was too tired to read them myself. Those emails made me proud to say that I’ve got some pretty awesome humans as friends. 
I still keep a close eye on my land
Here's the pics Maeve took today. See how great I'm doin'? Thanks again, y'all!
This is my girlfriend, Yellow Dog
It's best to ease your way into a pile of dead leaves.
Did you know that sticks smell better after you lick'm?
Come down here and say that, you mangy gray furball
ENOUGH with the pictures, Maeve. Later y'all!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Contest Update! Three pretty dragons looking for a home...

***I'd never wish to leave out our lovely digital readers. So, here's an even EASIER way to enter. Just click this link and follow my newsletter: .
My current followers are already entered. Wouldn't you like to join them? 

I received the most WONDERMOUS tweet today. A friend sent me a picture of ETERNITY'S MARK sitting on a shelf at Barnes & Noble. Yes. I "squeed" with joy and surprise because I wasn't expecting my "baby" to debut until March 27th. I think a celebratory contest is definitely in order. Don't you?

Here's the uber-simple details:

2. Contest begins as soon as this blog post goes LIVE and will run until midnight on Saturday, March 31, 2012.
3. On April 1, 2012, three lucky names will be drawn from the entries.
4. One winner will be the lucky recipient of the lovely hand-crafted cuff bracelet pictured from two different angels below.
5. One winner will receive the eye-catching dragon agate disc necklace. (see this gorgeous necklace below)
6. One winner will receive the dragon spoon w/oriental beads necklace.

All you have to do to be entered into the drawing for one of these unique pieces of jewelry is this:

Take a picture of yourself holding a copy of ETERNITY'S MARK and either tweet me the photo, post it on my Facebook wall or email it to me and tell me where you found it.

Find me on Twitter: @maevegreyson
Find me on Facebook:
Don't like those social networks? Email me at:

If you do choose email, please let me know if it's okay to post your picture and your first name on my Facebook wall. If you'd rather not, no problem. You will still be entered into the drawing.

I think that's about it - Let the games begin!~