"He wants you home, Ebenezer - home! Home for good and all."
Answer: yes, my husband and I made it back safely to our own town in the States. The flights over were swift and smooth, the layovers comparatively brief, and despite the fact that we only got roughly three hours of sleep the night before we set out, by the time my in-laws picked us up and took us to supper at their place, my husband and I were both cheerful and felt well. Our layover in Newark took the aches and stiffness and stress of customs off, but was not so long that we became stir-crazy. I dozed several times on the flight down the coast: in the end, we felt better and more comfortable than when we had stepped out our flat door for the last time Monday morning. It is wonderful to be back home. It feels as though a tesser happened: Scotland feels as if it happened out of time itself, and that our departure from and our return to home are slapped back to back in our life. Time is a strange thing.
Cue Christmas. Rather than sitting down chipping away at Talldogs, I'm crashed on the spare room floor surrounded by brown paper, washi tape, and new My Little Pony scores playing on YouTube. So while that is going on, I'm going to hurl a few snippets at you to throw you off my scent.
some writing pieces
"Not while Mars is in retrograde, darling. That will blow back in your face."
There was a brief lull as the Black Prince spun his ruler across the sheet and lined it up between the fourth house and Capricorn—then the battered tentflap shunted back with a scream and the man himself came in like a lightning-bolt, yanking at his chin-strap and hurling his lobstertail heedlessly from his hand into a dark corner.
The girl, who had not detached herself from the dog as ordered, pushed a damp, furry hand beneath her nose and stared up at Raymond with watery eyes and an expression of one having been promised a thrashing and given a hare-hunt instead.
“Rummy thing, your sister. She doesn’t receive much attention, does she?”
“Light of the sun!” crowed Riadra, and ripped off her hat to fan her face. “Surely it is time for a drink! The world begins to swim back and forth whenever I stand up.”
“What in the world—from what crack to Hades have you sprung?”
His friend’s face creased gently in a wry smile. “Lord love you, Rips. And once I thought my pedigree a harsh and blighted thing.”
"If you stand up with her now, you will lend credence to her words. I will dance with her. And you can lay your head at my feet afterward," he added, stepping away.
"She will be bracing for you." He pointed along the list wall. "If you fetch her in the crotch of the shoulder and throw out her couch, you may knock her clear."
“Ampersand was a blood-bath.” She flung her heels up onto the table and leaned back into the chair. Settling in, as much as one could, she gripped her steaming mug of coffee between both hands and tipped her head back to frown at the ceiling. “It was the tide-turn of the war. With Marius busy in the east, clearing off our shores and securing the sea-ways, Genoving thought he could act without impunity upon our southern borders.” A smile lacerated her face and her voice turned guttural: “He walked into Ampersand Valley with the hubris that he could take it, and we buried him there. It was a blood-bath, of course. He swore he would keep it, and he tried to. The lords were all for pulling out as though from a tryst gone wrong, and giving way to him, but Auxoris and Phillip Cheval and Marius’ son Raymond of the Heights between them held the field and choked Genoving with his own pride. In the end he had no choice but to make peace and make alliance.” She swung her head up off the chair-back and bent her gaze to her coffee; in the long gilt shadows of the lamplight Alwin watched the smile diminish into a curious look of tenderness and regret. The middle finger of her left hand began to circle noiselessly on the ceramic, sketching the formlessness of the thought which puckered a shadow between her brows. “A great one for blood, old Ampersand,” she mused softly. “Not the last battle that was fought there between the Honours.”
“You?” demanded Avery when he could speak. “Oh, light of Mercury.” He gasped on laughter and swept his fingertips over his eyes. “You are, say, nine—ten? Are not even of age! Make a leman of her, indeed!”
"A couple of hands ago, she was the most popular card in the deck."
“Please, I am begging you—put the razor down!”
Next up, Christmas? Oh boy.