I hesitate to share, because I know it will be ripped apart. I hesitate not to share because I know this will be a great vehicle for learning.
I take the plunge. Would you please leave comments on the good, bad, and ugly of this chapter. Don’t be too kind, don’t be too hard. But be critical. In a good way and bad.
My process? I’m a pantser at this point. I cook the story for a few days looking at various scenes I could use to further the plot. Then I write. Read it through and tweak it. Think on it, tweak a bit more, then move to the next chapter.
Skye stretched awakening; a lazy smile followed when she saw the sun streaming through the curtains while a gentle breeze of orange blossoms fluttered the curtain. Her smile quickly turned to a scowl with remembrance of how little time left she had stateside. How could she leave Riverside, her friends, the work she loved and go traipsing off to Scotland for a grandmother she barely knew? With an audible sigh she tried to put herself in a better mood.
Just like clockwork the humming began. Ever since Skye turned 16, her collection of gem stones had serenaded her. Her lips quirked in memory. She remembered the shock, then fear that followed when she first heard them. The humming would have scared her more if it hadn’t been soothing. The stones would begin the same way. The lower humming started first and like a song of multiple instruments in various ranges the additional hummers would harmonize with the lower notes. Eventually the room filled with its sweet song, energizing and filling Skye with feelings of love, protection and strength. Her precious necklace, gifted by her nanna would chime in, octaves above the others.
When it had happened, she ran down the stair as if the devil was after her looking for her mother who only answered her with raised eyebrows and widening eyes, muttering to ask her grandmother. Nanna never did answer the question to her satisfaction. Her letter said the fairies had blessed her. Right, yeah. From that day forth, the stones had sung to her. When Skye would add stones or gemstone jewelry to her collection, they would hum in synchronized, perfect harmony with the others.
Somehow, the continued serenaded from the stones had grown on her. She looked forward to hearing them. But now her life would be ruined, as far as she was concerned. She and Bellone had been in Riverside long enough to have a group of friends texting and into each other’s lives, working hard and appreciating the life southern California provided.
Skye and her twin sister, Bellone, had delayed the trip to Nanna Skye for several years. It had been hard living without their parents who were killed in a car accident when the twins had just turned 18. They sold the family home one year later moved into a small apartment close to work, working at a up-and-coming shop called Crystal Cove. Clientele had increased, word getting round what great quality of semi-previous gemstones they had. The girls had managed without their parents, leaning on each other, one consoling the other as they grieved, but they knew it was now time to leave Riverside, California.
Nanna said she needed them, time was passing, and their futures were at stake. The only futures messed up would be Skye’s and her sisters. Sure it would be nice to visit Scotland, see the sights, visit their Nanna, but it wasn’t a place Skye wanted to live. The winters were excruciatingly cold and windy with too much rain all year-round. Nanna had become more insistent, verging on the frantic side with her request. Ugh!
The family had visited Nanna Skye when she and Bellone were ten. She remembered it as a small town far from the bussel of life, very far from the bussel! Who would want to plant themselves in the middle of nowhere?
Heading to the shower, stumbling over the ever-increasing pile of clothes to sort through, the humming lessened, until the gem, which started the orchestra of melodious sweet sounds, purred its last refrain.
The jasmine fragrance of the shower gel had Skye refocused on her grandmother. She remembered a wrinkled face with large pale green eyes, very like her own and Bellone’s eyes. She had her long hair braided wrapped above the nape of her neck. Even at ten, Skye could see she was small-boned. The amount of necklaces, bracelets and rings should have taken her to the floor! When she gave her grandma a hug, she remembered she smelled like a field of flowers.
Stepping out of the shower and quickly drying off, Skye’s hand slipped over her necklace, the one she’d been wearing those 11 years. The necklaces her grandmother had given her granddaughters on that trip remained around their necks.
Dressed in shorts and tee, Skye followed the aroma of coffee rafting from the kitchen. Her nose detected bacon and eggs. Skye appreciated her twin in so many ways. She had taken up household duties since their parents had died. Gulping her coffee, she scooped her half-portion of the omelet sprinkled with bacon bits into some pocket bread and headed to the shop to touch basis with her sister.
Bent over the table of gems, Bellone finished the cleansing ritual. This had always been a fun part of her job. She would use burning sage, sometime frankincense, even putting them on a shelf where the sun came in through the window, but today she used Frankincense. She recalled how diligent the owner of the shop had been training sweet Skye and herself. She now knew so much about gems, she felt like a walking encyclopedia! It had been a win-win situation for the twins, both had full-time work once graduated from high school, letting the owner come when it was time to order and receive new inventory.
Bellone had picked rose quartz and celestite for the woman who was having a strenuous time in a relationship. She crooned a Gaelic song her mother had taught them many years ago. She felt love in return. Carefully she put them in a soft velvet bag. Boxing it and inserting instructions on how to use, she weighed, added postage and address label to the box then tossed it into the bin for the postman.
“You need to be ready for your next journey and with someone who needs all your energy and purity, my wee ones. Enjoy your new life and may you bring light and happiness.” Bellone sighed. She would miss working at Crystal Cove. But she didn’t feel such need to stay in Riverside. She knew she’d enjoy the new adventure. It was good to know the boss would welcome them both back with open arms if it didn’t work out in the Highlands.
The bell chimed and the door swung open. Bellone turned from her workbench to see Skye had come to visit. “Good morrow, sweet sister. Please don’t say you miss the work after just two days away,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.
“Hey sis. No, I’m not yet, although I’m sure I will. I wanted to see the gemstones you told me about that came in yesterday.” Her eyes shifted to the workbench. Chuckling slightly Skye said, “It’s ironic to think they have just come from Scotland and we are heading there.”
“The boss really outdid herself this time. Twenty-four stones came in, three of eight different gems. Sweet sister, they are so beautiful, you will love them. You may want to purchase a few for your own collection. I haven’t put them on the shelves just yet. They are here on the workbench.”
Bellone looked at her work table. “I have five more orders to send out.” She picked up another paper with her sketches of a necklace and bracelet design already approved by the client. “The boss asked to have this expedited. Sweet sister, would you walk this envelope over to Josh?”
“Sure, sis. No problem.” Taking the envelope from her sister, she tucked it into her backpack.
The door chimed and opened. This time Bellone and Skye looked up. A customer stood just inside the entrance panning the room, looking at each wall sparkling with gemstones on glass shelves. Eventually, his eyes returned to the girls.
Bellone moved. “Good morning, sir. Is there a particular gem you were looking for today?”
The man was rough looking, certainly not the typical client. The rather bulky-built man only grunted and shook his head no.
Bellone arched one eyebrow while she watched the man pace the shop, favoring his right leg. She glanced at her twin, mouthing “What is wrong with him?”
Skye shrugged. Her eyes shifted to the gemstones left on the workbench, the ones that came from Scotland. With a furrowed brow and cocked head, she stood still.
Bellone could see Skye’s attention had gone elsewhere. Returning hers to the man she breathed with relief when the door chimed his departure. “Not a smile. Not a thank you. Not even a goodbye,” Bellone muttered.
She walked over to her twin. She now saw what had captured Skye’s attention. “There are no words for their beauty, are there? They are pure and as smooth as a baby’s cheek.” She picked up two of them and rubbed each on her cheeks.
“A gorgeous piece of God’s creation,” Skye managed to say in a voice that didn’t quite sound like her own. Skye picked up each stone, curling her fingers around each, with eyes closed in deep concentration.
Skye opened her eyes, turned to her sister with eyes as green as the last stone she held. Bellone could see so many emotions in them but the one she saw foremost was confusion. “I’ll take 13 of the 24. They’d make some cute jewelry.” She turned back to the table picking up the 13 she wanted with assurance.
Bellone didn’t question her. She knew Skye’s love for gemstones, but she questioned the strange look she saw on her face. She would wait until later to ask. Here and now was not the place. “Sure. I’m sure you’ll love them. I immediately thought of you when the shipment came in yesterday. I’ll get them cleansed and packaged up.”
While Bellone worked on removing any negative energy from the stones and any imprint of any other impurities, she thought again about the man who was a bit creepy with shifty eyes. She hoped never to see him again. But since she’d be in the shop for two more days and then on a plane to Scotland, she knew the odds were very improbable.
Bellone ran Skye’s debit card through the swiper. “Here sister mine.” Smiling she said, “I won’t add any cleansing or how-to-use instructions.”
“Thanks, sis. I’ll run the design over to the fabricator, then I need to make an appointment for our landlord to come see the apartment and furniture. After that, back to packing. I’m sure happy it all is coming together. We’ll turn in the leased car the same day we vacate the apartment.”
“When I get home this evening, I’ll finish cleaning the apartment. Should be able to have the landlord in for inspection day after tomorrow. Does that work?”
Nodding Skye, agreed. With a backward wave and clutching the package to her chest, she left the shop.
Holy Fairy Wings! What just happened? For appearances sake, not to scare Bellone, she had tried to appear as normal as possible. When she had walked into Crystal Cove, she had heard some commotion, little voices with what only could be in tones of joy. Thinking it to be kids playing behind the shop, she refocused on Bellone.
Just as the grumpy man entered the shop the voices got louder which drew her attention. This time she heard them from the workbench! Stepping closer she saw the most beautiful gemstones she had yet to see. They were all lined up as if for inspection. They continued to rattle on with excited animation. Happily, Bellone was busy with the customer, or she would have seen the dumbfounded look she must have had on her face. They were gorgeous, yes. But what the heck? They were communicating and it sounded like Gaelic. I’m totally losing it! Could. Not. Be. Possible.
Skye’s mouth fell open. She had to physically close it. She couldn’t help it. Her heart was creating its own drama–fight or flight. Okey-doke. Let’s get this under control. She decided to breathe deeply and look at this logically, if such a term could be used in a moment like this. Her gems at home hummed to her, so was it conceivable that they could talk? She raised her head in a prayer-like move, closing her eyes. I mean, really. Could I be losing my mind?
With a less chaotic mind, she squinted at the stones with curiosity, rather than fear. Not all the stones were ‘talking’. She counted 13 of 24 were. All those chattering were perfectly symmetrical with one side flat. She felt her mouth drop open, again, and knew her eyes were saucers.
She heard a voice in her head. It didn’t scare her—this was all a dream anyway, right? It isn’t really happening. Just a nice dream before she woke. It told her to take all the stones that spoke. They had come for her. Okey doke! Sure, stones just get themselves on transport, shipped to this shop waiting for me? That’s a little rich to swallow, she thought!
She played along, purchased the 13. That’s going to put her back a little, but then this is a dream. Clutching the small packet of stones, she headed to the fabricator to drop off the bracelet design.
Skye pushed the door open, heading toward the area she knew the fantastic designs were created. “Hey, Josh. How are you?” She could see he was soldering some pieces together and waited patiently until he looked up.
He pushed up his eye guard. “Skye! Nice to see ya.”
“Thanks. You, too.” Josh was part of the group of friends she and Bellone hung out with. “As I mentioned my last day at work was Tuesday. My sis is still there until tomorrow. I can’t believe we’ll be airborne Friday. I’m so not ready to go, but hope to be back in six months and start where we left off.”
“I have roots of my own in Scotland and love to visit. In fact, just because, let me give you the names and addresses of my great aunt and second cousin. They’re the part of family who keeps in touch.”
Skye smiled her thanks. “That’s great. I’d love to meet them. Skye dug into her backpack and pulled out the design.
“This is from the shop. It’s a design for bracelet and necklace. The boss wanted it expedited, so if you could, she’d be happy.”
Josh glanced over the design, nodding said, “This shouldn’t be too long in the making.”
An idea struck Skye. “I just purchased these gems.” As she unwrapped the package, she was again stunned by their absolute beauty.
Josh whistled. “Those are absolute beauties.” As they both looked at the gems it almost seemed the stones were purring with happiness.
Can gems do that? Definitely losing it.
“I know this is short notice since we’ve leaving on Friday afternoon, but do you think you could make a bracelet and necklace set out of these with a clever Celtic design? The stones aren’t too big so I don’t think it would be clunky.”
Josh considered a moment. Skye could see his mind already in design mode. This is the stuff he loved. He enjoyed being given free rein to design. He looked up at her. She saw him looking at her neck, her arm, then wrist,. Nodding slowly, he asked, “Would Friday morning delivery be good? It’ll take me at least that much time. I don’t mind working a little extra to get this done for you.”
“Josh, that would be perfect! I’m so fortunate to have you as a friend.”
Josh just grinned. “And because these are such beauties, it would be a privilege to design it for you and give as a gift. A going-away gift. Not a good-bye one because I hope to see you again.”
“Wow!” Skye responded with her own grin. “That is way too much to ask, but,” she lowered her voice in a whisper, “don’t be surprised if the stones tell you how they want to be set in the design.” Skye seemed to be coming out of shock if she could joke about the whole incident.
Josh laughed. “So it’s like that, is it? They must be Scottish. They are a stubborn lot of people.”
Yes, they be Scots, alrighty. You have no idea. “I’ve got to run, Josh. A few more errands and then packing.” I’ll drop by Friday morning at 9. Again, my thanks.” As she left the desk, she heard the gems squealing and saying in Gaelic. Haste ye back! If Skye remembered what little Gaelic she knew from her mom, she thought they said hurry back and don’t forget us. As if! With a sigh, she accepted her lot—she wasn’t dreaming. This was real. She hoped Nanna Skye could help her understand what was happening.