Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies III

Women are rarely at a loss for words. The Midnight Sisters certainly never are. 
Join the triplets and Lady Janela as they reveal secrets about themselves and their history. When the triplets are on the scene, someone is bound to be injured and/or maimed. For the first part of Janela's scene, read about her adventure with Daniela in Midnight Sisters: Meet the Sisters II.

* * *
Ladies Gisella, Hayla, & Isella
“It’s mine!” Gisella snatched the toy horse from Hayla and bopped her on the head with it. Hard. Hayla began crying at the top of her lungs.

“Meanie!” Isella screeched, grabbing at the horse. Gisella yanked back. Isella let go of the toy and it smashed into her sister’s cheek. Gisella erupted into tears.

Poor toy horse. Stubby bits hung from its hind end where the tail should be. Did I imagine the pained look on its wooden face?

“Markus!” From the sharp edge in her voice, I could tell it wasn’t the first time Mrs. Jenkins had called my name.

“Yes, Mrs. Jenkins?”

She cradled a blubbering Gisella in her arms. The girl sported a goose egg on her forehead and the beginnings of a nasty bruise on her cheek. The look on Mrs. Jenkins’s face said, When will they hire a proper nanny? “I’m taking Lady Gisella inside to have her seen to. Will you mind the other two, Markus?”

My spine went rigid. The thought of being alone with the miniature monsters terrified me to my core. My wooden lips formed the words anyway, “Of course, Mrs. Jenkins.” 

* * *
Ladies Hayla & Isella
The two small girls blinked up at me, their eyes round and brimming with innocence.

“Ladies,” I nodded down at them, forcing my lips into a smile. I straightened my livery and tucked my hands behind my back. They could probably smell fear.

“Want to play?” Isella shook the toy horse. I could have sworn the horse leered at me.

I swallowed. “Of course, Lady Isella.” I dropped into a squat before her. Isella trotted the horse over my knees, making various snorting noises.

“No!” Hayla snatched the toy from her sister. “Horsey say, ‘niegh, neigh!’” She pranced Horsey in the air to demonstrate.

Rage glimmered in Isella’s eyes and her rosebud mouth tightened into a dot. Dread pooled in my stomach. “He’s mine!” she screamed and grabbed for the toy. Was it just my imagination or did Horsey flinch? Hayla kept a tight hold on the toy. Back and forth Horsey went. Then with a mighty heave, Isella yanked the horse from her sister’s grasp and let out a cry of triumph. 

But it was too soon. She had pulled too hard. The toy arced through the air, flying out of her grasp. It fell impossibly slow.

My first instinct was to protect the girls. I covered each of their heads with an arm. I tipped my head upward.

“Owwwww!” I howled, clapping a hand to my eye. Tears poured down my face. “I can’t see! I can’t see!” Small people scurried off. At the same moment a larger form shuffled up to me. 

Mrs. Jenkins sighed. “Oh, Markus. Will you never learn?” 

* * *
Lady Janela
My younger sisters tootled over. Their matching pink frocks made them look sweet, I thought. But their cranky expressions and smelly diapers did not. Daniela had gone inside, leaving me to clean up the mud pie mess. And deal with the triplets.

“Hello, girls,” I said brightly, trying not to frown at the smell they brought with them.

“Jani?” one of the tiny terrors said. She reached a grubby hand into the mud-caked can and drew forth a brown-speckled palm.

“No!” I grabbed the hand before she popped it in her mouth. I wiped it on my muddy apron.

Her lip quivered and her large eyes filled with tears. Her mouth opened and a loud waaaah came out. The other two girls picked up the cue and began crying too. I clapped my hands to my ears and squeezed my eyes shut. Why did Dani have to leave? I’d have to do something myself.

“Want a tweat, girls?” I pointed toward the pan containing our mud pie. It looked good enough to eat.

“Ooh,” another of the terrors cooed, shuffling over to where the pie sat baking in the sun. The other two left off crying to investigate.

I swiped a finger over the mud pie and popped it into my mouth. “Mmmm . . .” Dirt clung to my tongue. I tried not to choke on it.

The first sister thrust a fat hand into the mixture. One of the other triplets grabbed her by the hair and pulled her backwards. More crying followed as the first sister landed flat on her bottom. The third triplet shoved both of them out of the way to get to the pie. She planted her face in it. The other two attacked, wailing as they dragged at her pink frock to get a taste of pie.

Engrossed in the treat and resulting tussle, they didn’t see me sneak off. Their wailing grew quieter as they gorged themselves on our latest creation. I smothered my grin with one hand. I couldn’t wait to tell Dani. 
* * * 
Learn more about the Midnight Sisters' adventures in Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies IMidnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies II, and Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies IV

Read the whole story in Midnight Sisters, now available on Amazon. Please contact me directly if you'd like a signed copy!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies II

No matter how long the book may be, there is always more story to tell. Midnight Sisters is no different. 
We've already read about Ari, Bree, and Cinnamon and the romance, sorrow, and high jinks of their past, today Lady Daniela and the twins, Estella and Frizella, take the stage. Whenever the twins are on the scene, mischief is sure to follow, but studious, mild-mannered Daniela may surprise you as well. 

* * *
Lady Daniela
“The recipe says to add more.”

Janela turned wide eyes on me.

“Don’t worry. It will be fine,” I reassured her.

With one dimpled hand, she dropped another handful of powder into the can.

“Now mix until well combined,” I directed.

Janela inserted the long-handled spoon into the can and began to stir. The ingredients clanked disconcertingly against the sides. Janela stopped and peered into the can. Her eyebrows scrunched together. “Mo’ wata?”

I peered into the can. “You’re right, it does need more water.” I dumped a cupful of water into the can.

Janela continued to stir, stopping only occasionally to make sure the mixture was coming together. “Weaves?” she asked.

“Yes, I’ve prepared the leaves,” I said, motioning to the herbs I’ll filched from the kitchen gardens. “Let’s place it in the pan first.”

Janela nodded. She pulled out the tin pan Cook had given us and proceeded to dump the batter into it. The mixture glooped and clunked into the pan. Janela’s nose crinkled up. “Gwoss.”

“It just needs to be smoothed out.” I applied the long-handled spoon to the mixture and worked away at it until no lumps remained. “Better?”

“Yeth,” Janela lisped. At four-years-old, she still hadn’t mastered s. “Weaves now?”

I passed her the leaves. Together we placed them atop the batter in a pleasing pattern. “Now it looks like a proper pie.”

“Bake it?” Janela asked.

I consulted the directions scrawled on the page. “It says, ‘leave in the sun for four days or until firm.’”

Janela nodded again. “Tathte it?”

I shook my head, my own nose crinkling up. “We don’t eat mud pies, Jani, no matter now pretty they are.”

A mischievous look crossed her round face. “The girls?”

“The triplets?” I thought of the tiny menaces in their matching outfits. From the whining, crying, and screaming issued from nearby, someone was pulling someone’s hair and someone else needed a diaper change.

I grinned back at Jani. “I think they’d love a taste.”

Jani’s burbling giggle filled the air, so infectious I had to join in.

* * *
Lady Estella
We bent our heads together. “There has to be one someplace,” I whispered. “This place is too big.” We had been in the manor for one month. One whole month and we still couldn’t find any secret passageways.

“It’s like a fairy tale, Essie.” She patted a well-worn book fondly, her eyes twinkling at me. “Or a mystery.”

“And we love mysteries.” We said together, sharing identical grins.

“If only we had a fairy godmother . . .” I mused.

Fritz spread the handmade map between us. “We’ve looked here.” She pointed at the attic.

“And there.” I motioned toward the servants’ staircase.

“And in the ballroom.”

“Remember how we almost got caught?” Her shoulders shook with silent giggles, just as they had when we ducked behind the curtains before Father strode by.

I clapped a hand over my mouth to muffle my own laughter. 

Fritz’s grin faded as she turned back to the map. “Hmmm . . . maybe in the kitchens?”

“Then we’d have to talk to Cook,” I replied. “She’s no fairy godmother.”

“And we probably couldn’t talk her out of a treat.” She propped her chin on her fist. “It’s not fair. She makes the best cookies.”

“Mmmm . . .” we said in unison. “Cookies.”

I grinned. “The pantry would be the perfect spot for a secret passageway!”

Essie’s eyes grew wide. “Or a cookie jar!”

“Let’s do it!” I rolled up the map and hurried after my sister. Hand in hand, we tiptoed down the servants’ stairs and toward the kitchen. We paused outside to listen and peep in the door. Kitchen girls and servants scuttled in all directions. We waited until they were all distracted. At the same moment, we looked at one another and mouthed, “Now!” Together we crept into the kitchens.

* * *
Lady Frizella
Minutes later we rushed outdoors, our hands full of cookies and our bellies full of laughter. We ran over the grounds and climbed up our favorite tree, the one directly in front of our rooms. We stuffed our mouths with Cook’s delicious cookies and laughed in triumph.

“Cook must have magical powers,” Essie said, licking the crumbs off of her fingertips.

“Maybe. But it’s not enough to keep her treats safe from us,” I replied, stuffing the last cookie in my mouth.

Essie took the map from me, shook off the crumbs, and spread it across her lap. “It just doesn’t make sense. We’ve looked everywhere.”

I looked over at the bank of windows before us, trying to piece the puzzle together. Then I squinted at the map. “Wait a minute . . . does that look wrong to you?”

Essie huffed. “Fritz, you know the map’s not to scale. Father wouldn’t allow us to use his tools. ‘What use would nine-year-olds have with cartography instruments?’”

“It isn’t that,” I hurried to explain. “Look at the outside wall. Doesn’t it seem too . . . wide?”

She followed my gaze. “I never noticed that before. Let’s go investigate!”

We scrambled down the tree and flew over the lawns. The unrolled map flapped behind us. A quick trip up the stairs brought us to our rooms. Luckily all our sisters and maidservants were out.

The air whooshed out of me when I faced the wall. It looked the same as all the rest. “I guess I was wrong, Es.”

“Just a minute.” Essie ran her hands over the wall, then began tapping. She turned wide eyes to me when the sound changed.

“It’s hollow!” we crowed.

I joined my sister, tapping until I found something else. “Essie, it’s colder!” She placed her hand where mine had been, on the place where the outside wall joined the back wall and moved her palms up and down slowly. After a moment, a gentle click sounded. Part of the wall moved, opening outward onto a dim chamber.

Our eyes met. Together we whispered, “The secret passageway!” 

Maybe we had a fairy godmother after all.

* * *
Revisit Lord Bromhurst's eldest daughters in Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies I. Also, read about all the rest of the sisters in Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies III and Meet the Ladies IV. And as always, you can claim your own copy of Midnight Sisters on Amazon or you can contact me for a signed copy.

Thanks for reading! More sister adventures are on the way!