Just a taste please….

So new project.  It’s actually the third book in my Sci Fi Trilogy, this one, Margin of Error, should be done this month, but here is an excerpt…..


“Did it come Dad?”

The man walked into the house looking carrying a basket full of envelopes.  “I don’t know yet, I have to get to the table and go through all of this stuff.”  He made his way to the kitchen table and sat the basket down.  Then he took a seat.  The eager boy was standing near him almost fidgeting with excitement.

He reached in and pulled out a stack of smaller letters, then slowly looked at each one, pausing to inspect who they were from.  After a few moments the child grew impatient, “DAD!!”

The man laughed as he set the pile aside, “I was just messing with you.  It’ll be bigger, so it should be on the bottom.”  He quickly took all of the smaller items out and set them off to the side, then he pulled out a pile of larger envelops, document size.  “It should be rather thin.  Most of these are bigger documents, so you shouldn’t even have to look at them if they seem too thick.”  He handed part of the pile to his son and they started looking.

“Here it is,” the boy said excitedly.

“Give it here then.”

“I want to open it.”

“I’m sure you do Brian.  But I paid for it, so I get to open it.  Besides I want to see what

your actual GPA is.”

“I told you already.”

“I know you did, and most of the time I let you handle everything that concerns your education.  Except this is your first real degree.”  He took a letter opener and unsealed the end of the envelope.  Then he peered inside.  Finally, he reached in and pulled out three sheets of paper, leaving the thicker piece inside.  He looked at the papers for a moment.

“Well?” the boy inquired.

“I see an A- here.”

“Yeah, Shakespeare.  I really didn’t like the way it was written.”

The man looked at his son with a frown.

“Really Dad?  Over a dead poet?”

Then he smiled.  “No, I’m just messing with you again.  Personally, I just used Cliff Notes whenever I had to deal with him.”

“Cliff Notes?”

“Like shorter summary versions of books, films, or what not.”

“You cheated?”

“Not technically.  Besides, you’re a lot more capable than I ever was.”

“So, what was my final?”

“Let’s see, 3.95.”

“Aww, I really wanted that 4.0.”

“Next time?”

“Yeah, I mean I have to.  You wouldn’t let me have more than one major.”

“That would’ve added a year or so.”


“I wanted you done as fast as possible, so it could be today.  From now on you can triple or quadruple major if you want.”  The man set the papers down, then went to a nearby cabinet and pulled out a large box.  He set it front of the boy.  “Happy Birthday, Brian.”

The boy tore open the box and took out one of the fanciest frames he had ever seen.  “It’s beautiful dad.  Is it 17th century?”

“Good eye.  In the bottom of the box is some matting to help make your diploma fit.  It’s hard to try and find a nice frame from that era to match the size.”

“It doesn’t matter, I love it.”  He ran to his father and hugged him, “Can we put it in now?”

“Of course.”

Brian took the envelope and pulled out the fake parchment.  He held it in his hands and raised it to the window to examine it.  The “University of Chicago” was prominent on the top.  His eyes then moved to “Bachelor of Science in Physics”, finally to his name with the date next to it.  “Awarded this 15th day of July in the Year of our Lord 1981”.

“I liked physics Dad, but why did you want me to start here?”

“Because now you can get to work on the real stuff.  The computers that are coming out rely on the physics for the hardware.”

“But they’re not that good.  Ours are so much better.”

“I know, so now you get to work on your computer studies, and maybe some engineering.”

“Can I go to an actual school now or still from home?”

“Sorry sport, home.  No one would take you seriously on a real campus.”

“I know.  I just thought I’d ask.  He took his diploma and moved to the frame he had just gotten, sizing up what he would have to do to make it fit.  “Dad?”


“Can I get something more, um, fun for my birthday next year?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“I don’t know.  What do eight-year old’s like?”

Vampires Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – The Discovery

Greg pushed his cart down the sidewalk.  The streetlamps along the road gave off enough light for him to conduct his business.  He liked to go out in the early morning before the streets filled with people and cars.  It was quiet and calm.  He hated to interact with all the others once they appeared.  He made a conscious choice to avoid them whenever possible.  It wasn’t so much that he was opposed to people, but the way that they looked at him when he was out was uncomfortable to say the least.

The moonlight was enough to show his surroundings tonight as well.  It was a good night.  He liked the four o’clock hour.  All of the bars had closed and most of the more undesirables had called it a night as well.  It was a good time to collect the cans and other things that lay out in the dark world.  He would then take them to their respective recycling locations when he felt he had enough and then be able to get his essentials, food and cigarettes.

It wasn’t the life that he had planned for himself, he didn’t think that anyone in his situation had set out to be in it, but if one was able to adapt and learn it was surprisingly satisfying.  The key was to come to terms with it.  He had been in the dog eat dog world once and the stress had almost killed him.  Now he was happy to get by.  Between the parks in the spring and summer and the various shelters in the colder months he got by rather well.

The one thing he didn’t like was when those around him had a sad ending to their stories.  Those were mostly the people that couldn’t take being homeless.  Sure, there were a lot of addicts among his population, but they usually kept to themselves.  It was still depressing when something happened to them though.  That was another reason that Greg really never got close to anyone.  The thoughts of past friends that had moved on before he decided to become a loner came back to him as he entered the alley just to the side of The Shiny Badge.

It was a cop bar, but cops, on average, could get a little rowdier than most at times.  He also had an arrangement with the owner.  Greg had been his ears and eyes on the street for a few years when he was still a cop.  In return he had helped him out a bit, and now he left out whatever cans he had when he closed the bar at night.  Greg was here to pick those up, but on his way, he stopped at the dumpster to take a look.  One never knew what they might find.

The coat that he was wearing he had found in one about four blocks away the year before.  It had a hole in it and was covered in something.  Thankfully Greg had a sewing kit and just had to wash it.  Most likely it was just some spoiled kid who drank too much and stumbled, catching it on a door or something.  His standards resulted in it being discarded, and it became Greg’s win.  So, he lifted the right-side lid on the dumpster and looked in.  After a few minutes he determined that there was nothing of value in it.   He closed it and pushed his cart.  Then it stopped.

Greg tried to push a few more times, then finally went and looked at what was stopping it.  There was a pair of feet blocking the front wheel.  He leaned down.  He hoped it was just another bum like him passed out, but his gut was telling him differently.  His gut was right.

Greg got up and shifted his cart to go around the feet.  He went to the back of the alley and turned left.  The shock was still on him.  It’s not like he hadn’t seen a body before, but the suddenness of this one got to him.  He stopped and took deep breaths, trying to calm down.  He had gotten down and seen most of the body.  The man looked familiar.  He was a local dealer.  Not that Greg had a lot to do with him, but he had seen him around.  At least if it was who he thought, the clothes are what made him think it was who he thought it was.

He finally calmed down and got behind his cart.  Then he went a little further and took another left.  He was going to exit from the adjacent alley.  He thought about calling the police, but he wanted to get a bit away first.  He had to think for a few minutes to retrace his steps from the night.  He knew that if he did call it in that of course they would question him.  He wanted to make sure that someone of some camera could verify where he had been earlier.  If he got unlucky and got some rookie, he could be in for a long night or a rough time.  He had no money for a lawyer or anything.

Not that three hots and a cot for a few days in the county lock up would be the worst thing, but Greg’s biggest worry was his stuff.  If he was gone more than a few hours all of his stuff would be stolen and sold.  He didn’t want that.  There was an old pay phone a couple of blocks away.  It was outside the old bus station.  They moved it when the city decided to modernize itself.  Now it was being converted to fashionable townhouses, but the phone was still there.   He would pop out into the main road and make his way there.  He could have just as easily gone to the station himself, but that would mean a lot of questions.

He slowly made his way up the alley, that is when he saw it.  Another body.  This one was hastily hidden.  Sitting up right behind a stack of boxes that were along one of the walls.  The body was well dressed.  Not someone that would normally be in this area.  Greg immediately suspected that it was someone looking to score.  Then he thought of the first body.  They might be connected, but he wasn’t going to stick around to ponder it.

Now he knew he had to call it in.  But he hesitated.  The new body was right below a light.  The thing that stuck out besides the apparent fact that the person wasn’t from around here was the pair of holes in his neck.  There were small trails of blood right below them.  It was something out of a bad eighties’ horror movie.  Greg just stood there and stared for a long time.  He had never seen anything like it before and it was too odd not to look at.  This was one thing he wasn’t going to tell the cops.

The clothes on the body were a little scuffed, but overall in good condition.  That was odd considering that the man was dead.  It looked as if he almost gave in to his fate.  Anyone else would have fought and it would have shown.  It was all really odd to Greg.  Another thought came into his head, look for a wallet or something.  But the total absurdity of the situation made him shale it off.

Finally, he pushed his cart past the second body and out onto the road.  He made his was to the pay phone and lifted up the receiver.  He hesitated for a long while.  He just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something going on that was out of the ordinary.  In fact, he knew it.  But somewhere deep inside of his mind a little voice told him not to get involved.  Just to call and report it and then to move on.

His fingers made their way to the three digits.  “This is 9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

Greg paused when the voice on the other side finished.

“Hello?  Is anyone there?  Is there an emergency?”

“Not so much an emergency,” Greg started, “But I would like to report a crime.”

“What crime sir?”

“There are two dead bodies in the alley next to the Shiny Badge bar.”

“Are you sure they are dead?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Are you the one that did it?”

Greg was taken aback at the question, “No, I just found them and am calling in to report it.”

“Can I get your name sir?”

“No, I’m just calling it in.”  With that he hung up the phone and started pushing his cart in the opposite direction of the alley.  There was a soup kitchen nearby and they would be serving breakfast soon.  The line would be forming about now.

His plan was to get to the line and blend in.  The cops would get to the scene rather fast, but it would be a while before they started looking around for people.  They had to secure the scene and make sure there was nothing else going on.  That would be their focus and that was the window Greg had to disappear.  It was just too weird, and he wanted nothing to do with it.

Within five minutes after he hung up, he could hear the sirens.  A few more and the ambulances were in the area.  He was in line for a meal by the time they stopped.  He knew they were cordoning off the area.  He felt sorry for his old friend.  His business might be affected by this, at least for a few days.  That meant no cans in the alley for him either until the next week, if he was lucky.

As Greg made it through the line and got a plate of eggs and ham, he decided that he wouldn’t say a word to anyone.  The community liked to talk about what was going on in the area, but this was one of those rare cases where keeping his mouth shut might be better for him in the long run.  He had gotten by for quite a few years by playing it smart, this was just another one of those decisions that was smart in his opinion.

Greg found an empty table, sat down, and ate his breakfast in silence.

Vampires and Chapter 2

I might say that I was late again to post, but then I realized it’s my site and I’m the boss, so I am never late, I am always on time.  That’s the thing when doing your own thing.  Then again I don’t want to disappoint my four readers.  If one can’t be consistent, then why even bother?

But here is chapter two of the Vampire story (https://wordpress.com/post/authorrowland.com/239 if you missed chapter 1):

Chapter 2 – Retirement

Rodriguez took another drink from his beer.  Before he could even set it down a shot appeared before him on the table.  It was in the middle of the room of the bar, and it was surrounded by at least thirty cops.  He was sure there were more around, but he couldn’t see beyond the number that formed the perimeter.  Then a chant started, “Drink! Drink! Drink!”  he reached down to grab the shot glass, filled with what, he didn’t know.  As he did, he noticed four more next to it.

“Are you guys trying to kill me?” he asked.

“No Rod, they just want to make sure you’re having a good time,” a voice said loudly over the chants.  The man was close enough to Rod so that he could hear.  It was Joe, his partner, no former partner.

“I’ve been at this for almost two hours now, I don’t know how much more I can do.”

“You can stop whenever you want, but the guys will be disappointed.  Besides you got a ride home whenever we call it.”

“Sure, why the hell not.  I was sure I wouldn’t even make it to today.”

He took the shot and slammed the glass down.  Then the next, and then three more times.  None of them tasted the same and he did them so fast he wasn’t even sure what it was that he was inhaling.  When the last one hit the table, he tilted his head back to let it all settle in.  Right about him was the banner, Congratulations on thirty-five years.  It had been a long road, and a bumpy one, but the end of his time as a detective was finally official.

Rod finally put some beer down his throat to alleviate the slight burn that remained from the shots.  Then he looked over at his friend, Joe.  “What are you gonna do without me Rookie?”

“Rookie?  I left that behind me like ten years ago.”

“Not to me.  To me you’ll always be a Rookie, rookie.  By the way are you still coming over this weekend for the barbeque?”

“No shit.  That’s your official retirement thing.  Tonight, is actually about you though and the guys.  The families can wait, now shut up and have another.”  As joe finished his sentence a waitress was placing another round on the table.

“Helen is gonna be pissed,” Rod said as he reached for the first of five in the new round of shots, “But what the hell, I am gonna miss you guys.”  As he downed each drink the crowd around him cheered, each holding their own drinks.  Soon he finished those as well, and then the crowd started to calm down and fall back a little.

“I hope you’ve had time to settle down,” a new voice said.  Rod looked up and saw the Captain.  He was holding a weirdly shaped item, wrapped in newspaper.  A confused look came over his face.  The Captain noticed it.  “Hey, I’m a cop not an artist.  You should be happy I was able to even wrap this thing.”  Those close to the captain started to laugh as they saw the less than good job, he had performed on the item.  He set it down in front of Rod.  “Well, go ahead, open it.”

Rod leaned forward and started to tear off the paper.  Once he was done, he just stared at the thing.  Finally, he spoke up, “It this what I think it is?”

“Yeah,” the captain said, “We got them from Helen.  She holds on to everything.  We got them bronzed.”

Rod picked up what appeared to be shoes but covered in metal and shiny.  On the first it had his academy graduation date and the second had his detective shield on it.  They were mounted to a shoddy base.  “I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything,” Joe replied, “We get this is a touching moment for you.”

“No, I have plenty to say, I just don’t what to start with, but none of it’s nice.”  The room erupted into laughter again.  “I swear I threw these things out, they were beyond saving, like Joe.”  More laughter ensued.  It wasn’t the funniest thing Rod had ever said but the condition of the room, mostly drunk, would have laughed at anything about now.

In turn the rest of the room started to set their smaller gifts down.  By the end of the night Rod was the proud owner of several books on fishing, and actual fishing rod, a set of golf clubs, and many ashtrays, even though he didn’t smoke, at least anymore.  After his speech, was excessively emotional and funny at the same time, his partner, former partner, Joe took him to his car.

“I have to get you to Helen in one piece now.”

“What time is it?”

“About three.”

“Did they stay open for us?” Rod asked.

“No, for you.”

Rod looked across the street.  The sign of the bar read, “The Shiny Badge”.  It was so cliché, he thought.  But it was a bar opened by a former cop that was less than three blocks from the precinct.  “That was nice of him.”

“Yes, it was, but don’t get too big a head, he does it for all you old timers packing it in to go play golf and fish.”

“You know Joe, I never told you this, but I hate golf and I don’t fish.”

“No, you never did, but I kind of knew.  I mean we’ve been together just over ten years man.  I’m sure if you ever did either of those things I would have known.  Shit, I mean most of the other guys do and go together when they do.  So, what are you saying?  You gonna donate all that stuff to charity or something?”

Rod looked as his partner as he opened the passenger side door.  He looked so young, at least to Rod.  He could pass for late twenties even though he knew he was thirty-six.  “You were one or two when I got my badge you know that?”

“Yes, I do, you’ve mentioned it more than a few times old timer.”

Joe’s blue eyes stood out to Rod in the little light of the streetlamp that was right there.  His dark hair added to his youthful appearance.  Rod was jealous, he hadn’t had that much hair in over a decade and even then, it was struggling to hang on.  He plopped down into the seat and tried to reach for the door.  The side of the road made the car sit at an angle, just awkward enough for him to have trouble reaching it.

Joe walked around to the other side of his older mercury to help with the door.  “Man, you are wasted.”

“Well duh, you guys kept the shots coming.  What was I supposed to do? Turn them down?”

“Good point.  Now put that damn leg in so I can close this and get you home.”

Rod pulled his leg into the car, with much effort, then the door was closed.  Soon, Joe was back in and they were on their way.  “Take it a little easy on the turns Rookie, I ain’t feeling entirely well.”  Joe put the window all the way down.

“Just don’t chuck up in here.”

Rod looked over at Joe, “You know what really scares me?”

Joe looked over at the old crusty cop, “What?”

“What I’m gonna do now.  So many other guys I knew that retired didn’t make it that long.  My whole life I’ve been busting chumps, now I’m the chump.”

“If you stay active you should be fine.  Besides you have the new grandkid, just chase him around everyday and soon you’ll forget all about us.”

“I don’t think that’ll ever happen.  Shit I still owe you for saving my ass,” he contemplated a moment, “two times.”

“Three, you keep forgetting about that time on Allen Street.”

“Bullshit, I still say that punk was just swinging blindly.”

“Whatever.  It doesn’t matter, you did more for me than I ever did for you.”

Rod looked at him, “No, I just did what a good partner does, that is expected.”

“Maybe, but tell you what, just keep in touch and have me over for your barbeques in the summer and we can call it even.”

“I can do that.”

“Your ribs are amazing.  I burn water, so good food will be more than enough to pay off your debts.” As Joe finished talking, he stopped the car.  They were in front of Rod’s place.

Joe looked at Rod, “I have something for you.”


“You didn’t notice I didn’t give you anything back at the party?”

Rod looked in the backseat at the three boxes of stuff, “I didn’t.  What is it another book on the best golf courses in the Midwest?”

“No, you old fart.”  Joes reached under his seat and handed Rod a box.

Rod took it and opened it.  There was a pistol in it.  He started to tear up, “My old piece.”

“Yup, I managed to snag it before they melted it down, well more like the Captain did.”

“I turned this in like what? Five years ago?”

“As I remember it right, they had to threaten you with an adverse eval to get it off you.  I mean who the hell uses revolvers?”

“It was my first issued pistol; it has sentimental value.  Thanks man.”

“The paperwork is in the bottom, just turn it in to the city to finish the registration.  I mean I thought you’d get a kick out of it.”

“It means a lot to me Joe.  You’re the best partner a guy could have asked for, and not too racist either, for a white guy.”

“Shut up ya fuckin wetback.”  Both the men started to laugh.  “Besides you always had the best Mexican jokes, I couldn’t top them.”

“I guess I’ll see you Saturday then?”

“Of course, now you go see that wife of yours and get some sleep.”

“To be honest I’d rather go back to the bar.”

Both men laughed some more as Rod got out.  “I’ll just drop this crap off on Saturday if that’s okay with you,” Joe yelled at him as he walked up the steps and waved his acknowledgement.  Joe smiled as Rod closed his front door, then he drove off heading home himself.

The Apt Chapter 3

Chapter 3 The Audience

Scene 1 Waking Up

It felt like the ground was shaking as her eyes opened. There was little light in the room. It took a moment for her to remember where she was. When she did though she realized that it was Mrs. Wellman that was shaking her. She sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. The room looked the same as when she went to bed as it was still dark. One thing had changed though. Her dress was hanging on the front of the wardrobe. “You finished it?”

“Of course. I might not be an old spinster, but I can sew like one.”

“I hope you weren’t up all night working on that, I would feel bad.”

“I wasn’t. it was actually very little work. I just worked on it while Harold sat and read his papers for the day. We usually sit by the fire for a while each night. You extended out nightly schedule a bit, but nothing I cant handle. Never mind that though. It is time for you to get up and get ready.”

“The sun isn’t even up yet, why do I have to. This might be the last time I can sleep in for a while.”

“We have a lot of work to do before you go see the Lord.”

“I am not seeing him though, I am just seeing if they have any jobs. I might end up on a farm outside of town milking cows. There is no need to go out of your way.”

“I know your father raised you to be stubborn, but did you ever think that you might meet a nice man today as well?”

“What does meeting a nice man have to do with anything. Most of them around here my age are just apprentices of general workers like I will be.”

“Silly girl. Lord Umberton doesn’t come this was too often. many of the more well to do families will be visiting as well seeking an audience. Many of them have sons.”

It dawned on her then. With all of the wealthy families coming to see the Lord maybe she could catch the eye of one of them. It wasn’t the best outcome for her but it might be a way to help her family more than just getting a menial job. It didn’t seem much better than an arranged marriage, but then again she could at least see what was out there and more than likely meet someone her own age. She hadn’t planned on even thinking about starting a family for a while yet. She was of the normal marrying age though, so she guessed that it wouldn’t hurt.

“Well hurry up and get out of that nightgown. I have to work on your hair, maybe even some makeup,” Mrs. Wellman added.

“You have makeup?” Angilik asked. It was a rare thing to have access too in these parts.

“Well I have to admit I used it for social events like today when i was a younger woman and even then it was years ago. I did manage to find some old items. I am not sure how good they are or if they will even look good on you. So you need to get a move on so we can find out.”

She got up and changed quickly before she was dragged downstairs and fed a fast breakfast. Then Mrs. Wellman put her in a chair and started to work on her hair. It seemed that it took forever. The older woman even started over a couple of times. Angilik’s hair was just above her shoulders when it was let all the way out. She usually kept it in a pony tail, so she knew she did not have a lot to work with. However long it did take though it seemed like forever. The sun had come up while she was doing it. After she was done Mrs. Wellman pulled out a small box that Angilik assumed held the make up. She then started to apply some of that.

Mr. Wellman made his way down to the dining room shortly after sunrise and stopped as soon as he walked in. “My Lord.”

“What is it?” Mrs. Wellman asked as she stopped and looked at her husband.

“I have only seen that kind of beauty once before.”

“And where would that have been?” his wife asked with a raised eyebrow.

“On my wedding day.”

Angilik could have sworn at that moment that the older woman turned a solid shade of red while she was blushing. “Now I remember why I fell in love with you.”

“Well I mean your sister was stunning that day…..”

Mrs. Wellman must have turned younger for a minute after that comment as she turned and threw the container she had in her hand at her husband almost as fast as anyone Angilik had ever seen. “You old coot you,” she yelled.

“I am kidding darling, of course I meant you,” he said as he dodged the assault attempt. They both stated laughing while the young woman looked at both of them embarrassed. “Well I am off. I have to oversee all of the final arrangements so that our Mayor can of course take credit for them.”

“As usual then. Our little darling her will be along shortly. If you get a chance make sure to look out for her.”

“I was hoping that you might escort her dear. Lord Umberton is having a special lunch for all of the town officials and their spouses later. i was hoping you could attend with me after Angilik sees what the world has to offer her.”

“I would be delighted.” With that Mr. Wellman departed.

Scene 2 The Market

Angilik was out in front of the house and then remembered that she forgot to ask where in town the Lord was holding his audience. Then again she figured she would just follow the crowd and could find it herself. This was of course one of the biggest events to happen here in a long time and thus the people would go to where the action was. She also figured with all of the people in town to include lesser noble and merchants she might have a better chance at finding a good job if the Lord wasn’t hiring.

The first place she went was the outer edge of the market. She could already tell that many more merchants were here than the day before. With more people, many of them rich, coming to town it made sense to set up shop and try to make a sale if one could. This was another reason that Mr. Wellman was late she thought to herself. All the extra vendors and people would definitely make his job a bit more demanding at times like this.

She saw a lot of things that she would like to buy as she made her way around the edge. Her goal was to make it to the center to check the jobs board and maybe catch her old friend since he would have knowledge about anything that might interest her. As she made her way through the crowd she started to notice the way people were looking at her. At first she thought nothing of it. Soon though it was just not how they were looking at her, but how they were acting as well. The crowd looked big to her and when she occasionally glanced over from the booths she could see people moving slowly as they were packed in together. It was on one of these glances that she noticed around here there was plenty of room.

It was as if the crowd was giving her room to move, trying to stay out of her way. When she would try to look at someone directly, they adverted their gaze to the ground. “What is going on?” she thought to herself. She looked back towards the vendors and stopped at one. He was selling mirrors and other such household items. She stared in amazement at her reflection then it all made sense. She had left the Wellman’s without taking a moment to look at what Mrs. Wellman had done. She was satisfied when the elderly woman said she was ready to go. What she saw in the mirror was almost nothing like she had seen before. Maybe once or twice when her mother was alive and got all done up for events like this.

It wasn’t ego or narcissism that she caught up in. Just the shock of how beautiful she had been done up. The dress added all the additional flavor as well. It was tailored almost perfectly and the makeup accentuated her facial features like nothing she had seen before. Her hair was so nice as well. Everyone must have thought she was a noble woman. Angilik had butterflies in her stomach. Now the thoughts of nabbing a noble husband were becoming a serious thought. She looked around for a moment and could see no one else even close to be done up like her.

“If the Lady likes the mirror we can have delivered to where she is staying,” a voice said.

She looked up and the vendor of the booth was talking to her. She hesitated a moment, “No that is fine, I am just looking.”

“Very well ma’am, if there is anything that you like just say so. I will be more than happy to help you.”

She made her way towards the next row. Then a familiar voice called out to her. She looked and saw Mrs. Wellman. She was actually relieved. Everyone else was acting like she was abnormal, it was making her very uncomfortable. She approached the woman, “What did you do to me?”

“I admit it is not my best work, I did what i could with you in the time allotted,” she said with a smile.

“Everyone thinks I am nobility or something. You have seen how they are reacting to me.”

“Well yes. I thought we were trying to make your chances of getting work better.”

“Looking like this makes me feel like getting a husband would be a better choice.”

“What is so bad about that. Harold and I were married because our parents wanted us too. Though to be fair we did know each other for years.”

“Exactly. I don’t even know if I want to get married.”

“Tell you what, let’s go see Harold and see what is going on. Then we can go from there.”

“That sounds good. Getting somewhere I don’t stand out as much would be a good thing.”

“My dear, I think you will stand out wherever you go here.” With that the pair headed towards the center of the market.

Scene 3 Job Market

Mr. Wellman was surrounded by a group of younger men. As they approached they could see him talking to one, then that man would run off. Sometimes with papers, sometimes not. He would then turn to the next man and talk to him resulting in the same action. Angilik assumed he was issuing orders to make sure that things were running smoothly. They came up to his booth and Mrs. Wellman spoke, “I would think at your age this would tire you out, but I see you love all the activity.”

Mr. Wellman turned and looked as his wife. He walked to her and the two kissed. Angilik noticed that the group of men around him were now all staring at her. The people at the center of the market we better dressed and she could tell they were nobles and merchants here. A large tent, almost the size of a house was also on the outer edge of the area. She assumed this is where Lord Umberton was holding audience and why all the higher class people were here.

After carefully looking though she realized that there were few women here and that she still stood out. Mr. Wellman touched her shoulder, “Lost in thought dear?”

She looked at him, paused. Then did a curtsey like she was taught to do. She knew that out in public she should treat him according to his position as the town administrator. To give him the respect a man of his status deserved, then she spoke. “I didn’t realize I was overdressed for the occasion.”

“Well that you might be, but I would think it is doing very well for you. Though I would like to point out I don’t think any of these young men here are worth your time. You would have better luck over there,” he said while pointing to what looked like the start of the line to see the Lord.

There were a lot of men her age and a little older standing in all their finery. Some even had fancy swords hanging from their hips. One looked her way at Mr. Wellman who was pointing. It didn’t take long before his gaze turned to her though. Soon many of the men in the line were looking at her. She looked back at Mr. Wellman, “So do you know if the Lord is hiring anyone for a job?”

“Unfortunately he is just here to see to the needs of the people. He makes these round every couple of years to here from his subjects. There are however some fine opportunities from some of the more well to do merchant families. I can direct you to them if you like, or even have them come here. I have to warn you though, because of what befell your father I don’t know if they would offer you anything commensurate of your true skills.”

Before she answered she looked back at the line of nobles. Many were talking amongst them selves. A couple looked like they were leaving the line or at least thinking about it. She assumed it was to come over and talk to her. She also knew that if they were here representing their families and they lost their place in line that it would upset their families. So they were struggling with that fact as well, duty or passion. It was making her very uncomfortable. “I think I need to find somewhere I can think Mr. Wellman.” With that comment she lifted her dress on both sides and took off at a brisk pace. She was able to move quickly through the crowd as they gave her a wide berth when she approached. She disappeared into the town.

The Apt Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Adventures In Town

Once she Arrived at the vendors she was almost overwhelmed by the selection. When she had come here with her mother there were maybe four vendors with clothes at the most. She could easily see a dozen at first glance, and with it being the outer arc of the market they went around the corner as well. She took the next hour or so looking at tall the options. Her father had taught her the value of exploring all of ones options before jumping in. She also knew how to sew from her other, so being able to determine the quality of each item was a good thing as well. Many of the vendors were asking more than she thought their items were worth. Sure they may look good but many either had shoddy craftsmanship or used poor material. Some even had both.

Her main problem though was finding something that didn’t require a team to put on. She saw a lot of dresses that were true works of art, but it would take her too long to put on even with help. She wanted something simple, yet elegant. She finally found what she was looking for at a vendor near the end of the row. It looked like a summer dress, but with full arms and a nicer collar. It fastened in the front and had running horses on the lower portion. They were well done and beautiful.

“How much are you asking for this dress?” she asked the man in the booth.

“I am not sure that is something you would like. I would recommend something more like these,” the older man said as he motioned towards the left side of his booth. She saw that they were dresses far cheaper than she wanted. They were suited more for working on a farm. She knew they were good for their function but was confused. Then it dawned on her, she had ridden all day and was wearing her traveling clothes. She was dirty and the man must assume she had little money.

She had an idea after her realization. She shifted to the dresses he pointed out and looked at some of them. “Well these do look pretty, not as pretty as that fancy one I asked about. But I could get maybe two of these.”

“I thought so. Many a fine lady would like a nice dress. But those are far more expensive and Ladies that get those are normally of leisure and status. I don’t think you would even know how to put it on.”

Angilik could see a sign advertising price for the work dresses at 10 copper each. She reached into her pocket and pulled out three gold crowns, she could buy thirty of the dresses at the price the sign said, but she had an idea the vendor had other ideas. She was sure by her appearance, he thought she was just a dumb local girl. “Can I get two of those pretty dresses for this much?” she asked.

“Of course dear. And because you are such a sweetheart, I can actually give you five of them for that price.”

“Wow, five dresses. I don’t think I own that many dresses right now,” she said in a louder voice. It caused a few people to look over.

“Well if you just give those coins and tell me what dresses you want, I will even wrap them in pretty paper for you.”

“But my father said I couldn’t spend that much on myself. I really want a new dress though. I would be the prettiest girl in the village then,” Angilik said in a way that sounded a lot younger than she was, or at the least a lot less educated. It was a little louder than it was than the last time she spoke. Now some passerbys were looking at them both.

“How often does a young lady get to spoil herself though. I will tell you what, for you i will make a special deal. You can have the five dresses for only two of your coins. Does that sound good to you?”

Before she could answer someone else spoke up, “I would actually say that a good deal would be to give her the five dresses you promised for the actual cost of them.”

The vendor started to speak before he looked up, “Who do you think you are butting into my business?” As he stared at the man speaking to him, he almost turned pale. “I am sorry sir. I didn’t realize….”

“You shouldn’t have had too. Trying to steal from people is wrong and shouldn’t be done at all. I believe I will have a word with the town administrator about your place here at the market.”

“There is no need for that sir. I was just negotiating with the young lady.”

Angilik turned and looked at her benefactor. He was a tall, dark skinned and rugged looking man in nice clothes. He was obviously someone with influence in the town for the vendor to be so scared by him. Her plan had worked better than she thought. She was just trying to get at least another vendor to stand up for her, but this was an unexpected bonus.

The conversation between the two men continued with the taller man speaking, “Then why don’t you sell to her at the price you put out. Though I think that maybe you should make a deal to her for trying to rob her.”

“That is an excellent idea sir. She was looking at this nice dress over here earlier. I could find it in my heart to sell it her and her five other dresses for one crown.”

The younger man pondered a moment then looked at Angilik. “That is actually a good deal for you, if you are willing to take it my lady.”

She was almost shocked at the words. He was obviously from the noble class, but he was speaking to her as if she was as well. “If you think it is good, then I will. That other dress is so beautiful,” she said, still feigning ignorance. She handed a single coin to the vendor and was given the six dresses. She thanked them both and gleefully tookoff towards Mr. Wellman’s house after fetching Benjiman.

Scene 2 Home Away From Home

She knocked on the door before her after tying Benjiman to fence in the front of the house. She had trouble getting here, it had been a long time since she had visited Mr. Wellman’s actual home. It might have been three years since she had been to the town, but even longer since she had been here. From what she remembered it was pretty much the same. A modest home, by town official standards. Only half of it was two stories, even at that it was of standard workmanship. Nothing that was going to fall in any time soon, so it had the feel of an every man’s house, but was just big enough to let you know it belonged to someone of status.

The door opened and Mrs. Wellman greeted her in a warm fashion and invited her in. “My dear how you have grown.”

“It has been a while ma’am.”

“I hear your father is not doing so well.”

“You heard right. The stress of recent events has made him very ill. Our doctor can’t seem to figure out what to do. He started to feel ill after mother died and he put all his efforts into business to make sure Joshua and I were taken care of. Once that failed, he got much worse faster.”

“Well when you see him next give him our love. He was always a fair and kind man. Unlike many of these new so called businessmen that have moved into town.”

“I can see that from personal experience.”

“Well you will have to tell that tale at dinner dear. It will still be a little while before it is ready. I have a room made up for you as well.”

“I can’t impose on you like that.”

“Don’t be silly. We have empty rooms and no one to fill them. Once Harold sent word that you were joining us for dinner I decided to let you stay.”

“I can only say thank you.”

“That is all i require. I get bored with nothing to do and no one around. The local wives are much younger than I, most of the people we knew have wither passed or retired to the city. Now child you are in a state. We need to get you cleaned up as well. You have journeyed all day and are quite a mess.”

Angilik blushed a little as she realized she was right. Her clothes were al dusty and she was covered in sweat and dirt herself. No wonder the vendor had mistaken her for a simple farmhand. Mrs. Wellman took her cloak and showed her to the room she would be staying in. A portable tub had been set up in it already filled with water.

“I am sorry that the water might be a little cooled. I didn’t know when you would arrive.”

“That is alright. The fact that you drew a bath for me is good enough. The water could be ice cold and I wouldn’t mind.”

As Angilik put her things on a table Mrs. Wellman looked at the dresses she brought with her. “That is a fine dress you have there.”

“I bought it today. I heard that the Lord might be in town tomorrow and I wanted to look nice incase he was looking to fill positions in his household.”

“That is good idea, though it looks like you might be searching for a husband with that kind of wardrobe. When harold gets home we will know for sure if he is coming tomorrow.”

“That would be good, I wouldn’t want to get all dressed up for nothing.”

Scene 3 Dinner

Mr. Well arrived home shortly after Angilik had finished her bath. She was in the waiting room with Mrs. Wellman trying on her new dress when he walked in. “I did not know we were expecting royalty tonight?” he said with a coy smile.

“Oh stop that Harold or I might get jealous,” Mrs. Wellman said. They looked at each other and laughed. Mrs. Wellman was adjusting the dress in certain places to make sure that it fit better.

Angilik had just looked at it and thought it would fit just fine. But she was used to wearing dresses that were more for work than for show. Her eye was not as refined in this area as Mrs. Wellman who had to deal in town politics and society with her husband for the better part of forty years. So she was helping t make sure that the dress accounted for more of Angilik’s fairer assets. The 5’6“ girl was just below the average height for most of the girls in the area but she carried it well. She was heavier as well, not in figure though. While most maidens sat around learning the finer art of taking care of a household, Angilik had been helping with her father’s business in more than just record keeping. This made her very muscular compared to most as well as firm.

Her strength was impressive for a girl of nineteen as well as her skills. She could ride a horse better than most and even had basic knowledge of how to fight. Her best was with a bow though. She had gone with her father and brother on many a trip and bandits were always a threat. They always brought men at arms with them, but just the same they wanted to make sure that she could handle herself. This also included the ability to take of herself out in the wild if she ever had to flee an attack.

The thing that made her really stand out though was the red in her hair. She wasn’t a straight redhead, those were rare, she was more of a strawberry blonde. But any red in a person’s hair was seen as a sign of being touched by magic. No one really believed in it anymore. But in more distant and rural areas stories still persisted of red headed witches that roamed the woods and hills. Even in towns the tales could be heard from older people and the fortune tellers that tried to make a living if you paid them.

Another odd feature were her blue eyes. Though not as uncommon as hazel or green, she would still get the occasional glare from people. She thought it odd today that she didn’t get that many until she realized that most of the day she had her cloak on with the hood up. She wanted to appear as ordinary as possible until she could get a feel fr the town.

Soon Mrs. Wellman was done making her adjustments. “Now you run up to your room child and get in something more comfortable. I will make the changes tonight so that you will look good tomorrow.”

“I still can’t thank you enough, but I know I can do it myself.”

“Don’t be silly. You are my guest, and no offense, but I am sure I will be quicker about it. I do have a few years more experience at this than you.”

“Well I can’t argue with that.”

“Hurry along now, I don’t want dinner to get too cold. We had to wait long enough for this old man to get home,” she smiled as she pointed to Mr. Wellman as she said it.

“Hey now. I got home as quick as i could. But the Lord’s advanced team arrived this afternoon and I had to work with them to make arrangements for his arrival tomorrow.”

“So he is coming then?” Angilik asked while on the stairs.

“Yes, my dear. I am not sure if he is looking for any help. But word is he will be holding audience in the morning at least. I am sure that also means he will have his staff looking to hire anyone needed nearby.”

She smiled at this news and went upstairs to get ready for dinner. She threw on one of her other new dresses quickly and went downstairs. It hadn’t occurred to her how hungry she was until Mrs. Wellman mentioned that dinner was ready. Angilik last ate that morning before she left home, and that was just a small amount. She entered the dining room and there the cook was bringing the dishes out to the table. She had forgotten that they had a couple of servants. They weren’t that rich but it was one of the perks of being the town administrator. They were not full time servants just local apprentices that were tasked with helping them. They even got their own cleaning lady once a week.

They were having ham and potatoes tonight. There was also going to be a dessert and some other vegetables. An elaborate meal like this was something she hadn’t had in a while. After her father lost most of his wealth they had also lowered their quality of meals. Once in a while hey got lucky and Joshua was able to catch some game to bring home for food. Angilik also did from time to time as well, but taking care of the home and her father offered her few chances to hunt. Even when she did she never ventured far and usually only got a rabbit or two at best. This was just a feast though. It lacked the seven courses that nobility got, but to her it was more than enough.

Conversation at dinner was sparse and covered most of the things already talked about, except Angilik’s story about the vendor that Harold loved and almost spat up his dessert while laughing. He said he was told of a shady vendor trying to ripoff a girl but he had no idea it was her. But he had it on good authority to keep his eye on him. After dinner Angilik made her way to her room and got changed for bed. She hadn’t felt this wonderful in a long time. She had nice new clothes, a full belly and a soft bed to sleep on. She didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but she was full of hope for the first time in a long time.