Author Interview – Maggie Tideswell
1) Why do you write?
Writing is like a compulsion, it is something I have to do. There are all these words and stories inside me I just have to share. I don’t really have a choice in the matter. To write or not to write isn’t an option. I was very young when I told my mother that I was going to be a writer one day. She didn’t believe me, of course. I went through the usual what I wanna be when I grow up of a ballerina and a vet and so on, and it wasn’t until I was somewhere in my thirties that I started writing seriously. Now I can happily kick myself for wasting so much time.
2) Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I was born in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. Those days it was called Nelspruit, Transvaal. It was a tiny town then, now it is a bustling city and still one of my favorite places. When I was 13 I went to the School for Art, Music and Ballet in Pretoria to study ballet. I completed high school in Durban and then went nursing for a year. I met my husband in hospital. He was my patient. Together we moved all over Kwa-zulu Natal before coming back to Mpumalanga. We even liver for 3 years in Pilgrim’s Rest, a town that sprung up in the Gold Rush in 1873 and is now a World Heritage Sight. Now my husband and I live in Johannesburg. I hate the traffic. After the beautiful places we lived, this is not where I want to be. But what can I say?
3) What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Getting published and marketing. Writing is like breathing. It is something I have to do or die. Publishers are weary of new writers and it is very hard to find one who will take a chance on you. The trick is to never give up and to keep believing in yourself. There is a publisher out there that is a perfect fit for your work. But it is going to take time, lots of time.
I find marketing to be quite a challenge. With no knowledge of marketing or selling, when my first book was published, I thought marketing it meant spamming my Facebook friends! It had some success, until Facebook blocked me. One learns fast. Just like one learns ones craft of writing, one develops marketing strategies and one learns to do it better and without annoying the very people one wants to read the book.
4) Do you find it hard to share your work?
When I first started writing, I was so secretive about it. I didn’t tell people I was writing a book and I NEVER allowed anybody to read anything I was working on. But if one wants people to read ones work, one has to learn to share. When I started looking for a publisher, I had to practice letting go. Now I want everybody to enjoy my work.
5) Do you plan to publish more books?
Oh yes! My first book, Dark Moon, was published by All Things That Matter Press in 2011. My second novel, Moragh, Holly’s Ghost is in the editing process and will be released soon. I am working on my third novel, Roxanne’s Ghost, which should be finished by the end of the year. Then there are four more that will follow one at a time.
6) What else do you do, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time…
I love cooking. I love experimenting with food and can spend days in my kitchen. I love feeding people. Needless to say, I love eating too!
Reading is also a passion and I don’t think I will ever be able to sleep without reading first.
7) What other jobs have you had in your life?
I was a nurse for a year directly after leaving school. In those days we didn’t take gap years like the kids do now. We went nursing for a year. It was a wonderful experience.
I went to teachers training college until I realized that I didn’t want to teach anybody anything. My mother was a teacher all her life and it was her dream for me to follow in her footsteps. Sorry Mom. My personality just didn’t support the teacher-student situation.
I did industrial (contract) catering for many, many years. This was where I could live out my love of food and cooking. And I was a jolly good manager too.
I worked as a receptionist in a stoma clinic. That was emotionally wrenching as most patients had cancer or other life-threatening diseases. Now I’m in sales. I sell magazine subscription packages to businesses with waiting rooms. I spend my days on the telephone and never have to leave my office. I hate the traffic!
8) If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
Philosophy – the meaning of it all. I love the themes, nothing is as it seems and the subjectivity of reality.
9) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I’m not fussy, as long as it is somewhere remote and peaceful – and without traffic! Ireland would be great, or Sitka, Alaska. I prefer small towns, mountains and forests.
10) How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
All of those. When I started writing my first novel many years ago, I hand wrote first and then typed it on the pc. Those days we had one pc in the house and everybody wanted to do something on it. Mommy was last in line, of course. I cannot tell you have many times somebody or other ‘lost’ my manuscripts. Now I have my own little Dell and let anybody in the family just go near it. I prefer to write at my desk, but just lately I started taking my laptop to bed on the weekend until the sun is high. If it is a matter of writing or not writing, anything goes.
11) Where do you get support from? Do you have many friends in the industry?
Yes, many. I belong to the author forum of my publisher, All Things That Matter Press, and have made wonderful friends there. The writers really support each other with advice and ideas for marketing, helping each other promote their work etc. I also belong to another writers’ support group that works similarly. In South Africa I recently met about 5 published authors right here in my city. It is good to connect with people in the same situation as yourself, even if just to prove to you that you are not alone.
12) Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
Having people read what I write. It is as simple as that. I don’t want to get rich – though it would be nice. I want people who don’t even know me to know about my writing, I want them to enjoy my stories, connect with my characters, to cry with them, to laugh with the, to love with them.
13) Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Moragh, Holly’s Ghost is a paranormal romance. It is set in modern day Cape Town, South Africa. Holly is a divorcee with two children. Her well-meaning friends decided that she should get married again. They place a tiny advert in the newspaper to find her a husband. With friends like those, who needs enemies, right? Wrong. That little advert triggered a chain of events that changed Holly’s life forever.
Read on to enjoy a free excerpt of Moragh, Holly’s Ghost >>>
Nothing manifests as it was intended
Energies distort and warp the world
And it becomes a treacherous place
Moonlight slanted across the floor, a gentle breeze lifting the gossamer curtain. Shadows moved across the wall. The sleeper moaned and turned, muttering, the bedding shifting to the floor. Down the hall, a few mumbled words as if in reply, and then silence again. The house sighed and creaked as it settled for the night.A dog barked at shadows down the street–a melancholy sound–joined by another bored canine further away. An owl hooted in the tree outside the open window, its heart-shaped face turning to survey the night before it swooped soundlessly into another dimension. The sounds might have belonged to another world, because the sleepers didn’t hear.
Somebody heard, though, crouched in the swirling mist, careful not to disturb the shadows on the wall. Breath rasped in the still of the night, power in the plume.
This is a place that is not a place,
at a time that is not a time
Please, release me from the dark
and let me rest in the light!
The clock in the hall ticked down the minutes to midnight. Something scratched at the glass in the window frames, the breeze sighing around the corners, piling dead leaves into a doorway.
The mask–a hideous ethnic thing hanging against the landing wall–fell from its hook and clattered down the stairs. Within moments, they were at the top of the stairs, three wispy white figures in the moonlight.
“Something is about to happen,” one of them said, a hand to her throat.
“A big change is coming,” another agreed, grasping for a hand to hold on to.
“We have to prepare,” the third one added, turning into the circle of protection.
The most important thing one can take anywhere, is an open mind.
Friday, September 18
Dark Moon in Virgo
Ending relationships – contact with the dead
Attention to detail to make life betterHolly slammed the door, and immediately wished she hadn’t. They surrounded her before the reverberation died down. They should only start chanting ‘Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble’ for the picture to be complete–and she was being a bitch. It wasn’t their fault she had a bastard for an ex.
“Same old story.” She flung her bag onto the couch and fisted her hands in her hair as she sank to the padded seat. “What am I going to do?” she wailed. “Why is he doing this to me?”
Nina sat down next to her, wrapping her arm around Holly’s shoulder. “It’s her, love, not Donald. I’m sure it’s that person he married who’s putting him up to it. But you’re so right; they can’t be allowed to do this to you anymore. Come into the kitchen. Let’s have a glass of wine and put our thinking caps on.”
“Yes, we’ll make a plan. You have to fight fire with fire, sweetie.” Susan got hold of Holly’s wrist and pulled her to her feet. “Nina’s right; they can’t be allowed to get away with this any longer.”
“You know,” Blair said over her shoulder, leading the way to the kitchen, “it’s because you’re alone that he thinks he can walk all over you as he pleases. If you had a man to look out for you, he wouldn’t dare.”
“I don’t want a man,” Holly sobbed, allowing Susan to push her down into a chair by the table. “Men are nothing but trouble.” She took no notice of the clinking glasses or the glugging as they were being filled. She didn’t want any stupid wine. She wanted her children.
Chairs scraped the floor when the other three sat down, the silence that followed deafening. Holly looked up at them through the blur of her tears. A creepy feeling started between her shoulder blades and shivered down her spine. The three of them had the same soft little smile around their lips. “What?” she snapped. She was missing something here. “What?” she repeated.
“That’s it, isn’t it,” Susan said.
“Fight him at his own game,” Blair agreed.
“You have to get married again,” Nina concluded.
Holly’s mouth fell open. “What? Are you bonkers? I just said I don’t want another man in my life. Get married–that’s your solution to my problem?” Holly glanced between them. The soft smiles had morphed into open grins, and they nodded vigorously in unison. “And who, pray tell, shall I marry?” Shock had dried her tears, leaving mascara smudges under her eyes.
Blair tapped a long scarlet nail against her nose. “Um, you must know somebody, a friend, anybody you could persuade to help you out?”
“Help me out? By marrying me? One doesn’t get married as a favor, Blair. And you know very well that I haven’t got a social life−I haven’t met anyone new. Our friends are now Donald and Gwen’s friends. And at work there’s nobody.” She flung herself sideways in her chair. “God, why am I even discussing this? I’m not getting married and that’s that,” she ended with a gulp of wine for emphasis.
Three pairs of eyes met−they were running with the idea. Dammit, she was a divorced mother of
two, not their kid sister. None of them had been married before, so what right did they have to
push her into it again?
“We could advertise,” Blair shrugged.
Correction: not any old marriage, but marriage to a complete stranger. It happened to every second girl. “Are you crazy?” Holly gulped, but Susan’s hand on her arm interrupted the tirade she was about to launch into. “What?” Holly snapped at her. They could not be serious.
“Let’s just work this through, Holly. What have you got to lose? As it is, Donald’s not letting you see the boys. Being married again would give you an edge that you don’t have now. If you had a brother, or if your father was still alive, they could have taken Donald on, mano a mano, forced him to be reasonable. Between the three of us, we couldn’t do it.”
“That’s a fact. Donald won’t listen to you, not even to Heather. There’s nobody who could make him see sense, except a court of law–for which I don’t exactly have the money right now. I might as well hire a hit-man,” Holly muttered.
“Yes, and have the kids go into care when you get the chair,” Blair said, delicately choosing a pickle from the dish Susan had put on the table.
“It was a stupid joke, okay? Jeez.”
“Holly, look, this could really work,” Susan said. “All you need is an open mind. Just listen for a moment. If we put a very small, discrete advert in the paper, run it only once, and you get no response, you would’ve lost nothing. Then we go to plan B.”
“Why can’t we go straight to plan B?” Holly mumbled.
She might as well have saved her breath, for Nina continued, “If somebody responds to it, you play along and as soon as Donald comes to his senses, you take off and have the marriage annulled. You walk away with what you wanted, and the man walks away all the richer for having known you.”
Holly leaned her elbows on the table. “If–and I must say it’s a big if−some poor fool responded to an advert like that, don’t you think he might be entitled to a proper marriage? Which means no annulment.”
“Holly, you’re not listening. He won’t expect anything from you if he knew from the beginning that it would be a virgin marriage.”
“Oh, get real, will you, Blair. What man would agree to an arrangement like that? What would be in it for him?” Holly drained her glass and got to her feet. “I’m not even going to discuss this any further. I’m not getting married again, except for love, which makes it highly unlikely, because there’s no such thing as love. Love is only another word for stupidity and a bunch of raging hormones. Ask me, I know. Now you have to excuse me. I’m going to bed and don’t even try to tell me it’s too early. I don’t care.”
)O(Nicole sat up and reached for her blouse. Bits of straw clung to her tousled red hair. She smiled down at the man stretched beside her, running her nails over his ribs and solid six-pack. When his muscles contracted, she rolled to her feet, shaking the blouse, in no hurry to put it on. He was taking her in–she felt his eyes on her.
She was proud of her body, every inch of her firm and pampered, and she liked showing herself off to him. He appreciated her.
Ned pushed up in the straw, leaning back on one elbow to watch her. “When can I see you again?” His voice was husky with the aftermath of passion.
Pulling her shirt over her head was the natural end to the tryst. “Don’t be greedy. You know what
would happen if Daddy found out about us.” Her mind was already on the visitor she was
Ned reached for her hand and tried to pull her back down beside him, but she wasn’t in the
mood anymore. “Ne-ed. Come on, let me go. Joshua is coming,” she whined. He instantly let her go. Nicole stumbled away, and had to steady herself on a post. Fine bit of explaining it would take if she were to fall out of the hayloft with her backside bare.
Ned knew she was going to marry Joshua someday. He didn’t have to get childish every time Joshua’s name was mentioned. They could play, as long as nobody knew about it. It meant nothing. She pulled her jeans over her hips and flung her slip-ons to the floor below. Without looking at him, she started down the ladder.
Ned rolled to the edge of the loft, supporting his torso on his elbows, his hands dangling over the edge. Halfway down the ladder, Nicole froze when he said, “What if I got you pregnant?” A soft smile curved his lips. He was devastatingly attractive. More’s the pity he was a nobody.
She didn’t return his smile. “Have no fear, Ned, I wasn’t born yesterday. You would never be master here,” she ground through her teeth and continued down the ladder, out of the barn. Trust a man to try and make something sweet and temporary a problem. Halfway across the yard, she stopped, a crease pulling her brows together.
No, surely not.
She broke into a run and hit the kitchen steps at full speed. The housekeeper turned from the stove when Nicole dashed past her and cringed when the bedroom door slammed.
)O(Gwen cuddled into Donald’s side and trailed her finger along the line of his jaw. He turned his head away and got up off the couch. Gwen collapsed against the padding, sighing heavily. She had to do something, and fast. Everything was going wrong. “Darling, you shouldn’t upset yourself. It was her own fault. Why can’t she just move on with her life, and leave us alone?”
Donald splashed several fingers of whiskey into a glass without offering her any. He said nothing. Gwen got up and wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her cheek between his shoulder-blades. “Let’s go to bed, my love. I could make you forget her pitiful face,” she coaxed.
Donald flung the whiskey down his throat, and untangled her arms to face her. “She isn’t pitiful, Gwen. She loves her children, and this is hurting her more than any mother deserves to be hurt.”
“Of course she deserves it. She deserves it for boring you to tears. You said it yourself−if she had been a better wife to you, your eye would never have strayed. You and I, on the other hand, were made for each other−deny that if you can. We belong together.”
Donald turned back to the decanter. “There’s more to marriage than sex, Gwen.” He poured another liberal drink and took it to the French windows to stare out over the darkening garden.
“What are you saying? That I don’t do it for you anymore? Do you want her back?” Gwen’s voice rose steadily. She couldn’t help herself. Her world was seriously cracking, and she would not have it crashing around her ears.
“No, Gwen, that wasn’t what I said. I just don’t feel right about what we’re doing to Holly. I don’t see why we couldn’t just carry on the way we were in the beginning.” Donald faced her with the glass in his hand. “I don’t want to hurt her anymore, that’s all, and keeping the kids from her, hurt the kids as well−and it bothers me a lot.”
Gwen smiled, tracing his lips with a forefinger. “Are you sure that’s all? We could let her see the boys next week, if it will make you feel better. Could we forget about her now?”
Donald returned her smile. “I’m sure it would be all right. No last-minute backing out, though.
Let’s not make an issue of this. Holly should see the kids regularly. Then I’m sure she would
find someone else and leave us alone.” Gwen’s smile slipped when a shadow passed over his
She knew it. He didn’t want Holly to find somebody else. She couldn’t take the risk of Donald seeing Holly every second week, however briefly. It was just too dangerous. It was two years since the divorce, and nearly three since she’d met Donald. The next six months were the most dangerous, when her work would finally have no more effect and Donald’s true feelings would out.
Let him believe Holly would come for the kids soon. Next weekend was a long way off, and a lot could happen before then. For now, a lesson seemed to be in order. “I don’t suppose you feel up to making love to me now, being in the mood you’re in. I’m going to read in bed. The spare room is made up. G’night.” She sashayed out of the room.
By the time she reached the bedroom, Gwen had worked up a good head of steam. This was a ridiculous situation and she would not allow it to continue for a moment longer. Holly was Donald’s unfortunate past and it was time they both realized that Gwen was not a woman to be trifled with.
What could she do to snap the bond between Holly and Donald once and for all? Bad marriage indeed. A bad marriage did not have lingering affection in its wake.
Gwen stamped her foot before flinging herself across the bed. A grin stretched her mouth when a thought jumped into her head. Why hadn’t she realized it before? The playing field had changed. Before, she had aimed the energies at Donald, but the time had come to go for the jugular−a psychic attack on Holly, the pathetic creature. That the other woman was at an emotional low did not elicit sympathy from Gwen. Instead she recognized pathways that could only aid her new cause.
Gwen smiled. This was something she had never attempted before and the challenge sent a thrill through her body. She had to start right away. Slipping her dressing gown around her shoulders, Gwen tiptoed past the lounge, barely glancing at Donald on the couch, nursing yet another whiskey.
)O(In her bathroom, Nicole flung the medicine cabinet open with such violence that the top hinge ripped out of the wood. She didn’t notice the door hanging drunkenly against the wall. Without touching it, she stared at the strip of Dianne−and the evidence that she’d forgotten to take the pill for the past week. Her period wasn’t due for another two weeks. She was ovulating and they hadn’t used a condom. Oh Lord, no, Ned might get his wish through her own stupidity after all.
There was a knock on her door, and when she came out of the bathroom, pale-faced and shaky, her father filled her room. “Nicole, what’s going on with you? Martha told me about your unladylike run through the house. What’s eating you now, girl?”
“Daddy, I’m so angry, I could spit,” Nicole said. Tears were close, but in this instance, it would not have the effect she wanted. Her eyelids batted rapidly. Her father’s temper didn’t scare her, but being pregnant did.
Magnus wrapped his arms around his daughter. “I can see you’re upset about something, baby. You know you could tell Daddy anything, don’t you? How I can help?”
Nicole pushed herself away. She was a grown woman, yet he treated her like a toddler. “No, I just have to deal with this myself, Daddy.”
“Nicole, tell me,” her father thundered.
“You can’t help, Daddy. It’s just boys. Some push their luck more than others would dare. I
know I shouldn’t get upset–it’s harmless–but sometimes I just can’t help getting mad. Maybe I should go back to town for a while. I think I’ve outgrown farm life.”
“Nicole, this is no ordinary farm–it’s a wine estate and your inheritance. We were so pleased
when you moved back home. Mother will be heartbroken if you leave again so soon. Tell me who bothers you and he won’t be here in the morning. I want an answer now.”
Nicole took a deep breath. He was right–it’s only been a month since she came home and only because she’d noticed Ned in the lab the weekend before. It hadn’t been difficult to seduce him. She hadn’t met a man yet who could resist her for long. Without Ned, Willowgrove would lose its appeal again. Was she ready to see the back of him?
Yes, dammit. The audacity of the man to get her possibly pregnant was enough reason to get rid of him, and fast. “Daddy, I know I’m being silly, but it’s that new man in the lab, Ned somebodyortheother. He gives me the creeps. He has no respect. I should go to the city until he’s moved on. I wouldn’t imagine his type to stay in one place long.” She sniffed loudly. She couldn’t be pregnant. Pregnancy ended a woman’s life and ruined her figure forever.
“I will not allow anybody, least of all somebody I employ, to drive my only daughter from her
home.” Magnus turned for the door. “I’ll have a word with him.”
Nicole stared at the door, listening to her father’s receding footsteps. This was dangerous. Ned might spill the beans. Would her father believe him over her? She was going to have to be extra nice to Joshua–it’s been too long.
)O(Donald saw Gwen go past. He knew when he was being manipulated, but though he very much needed to make love with Gwen tonight, a man had his pride. It was wrong what she was forcing him to do to Holly. She had no reason to resent Holly, and he had to battle his guilt alone.
He poured again and sat down, his legs stretched before him, one arm draped over the back of the couch. He shouldn’t have discussed the details of his first marriage with Gwen, but in the beginning, it’d been so easy to open up to her, and he’d wanted no secrets between them. But mostly he’d needed a vent, to soothe the guilt by having somebody agree with him. He’d told Gwen far more than he’d intended to.
He took a deep sip of whiskey, relishing the heat in his throat. If he was to be completely honest with himself, he had to admit that his dissatisfaction with life in general was largely due to regret –he regretted replacing Holly with Gwen. Maybe an apology–and honesty–could have made the difference at the time. Holly would’ve forgiven his indiscretion, but instead he’d gone and married his indiscretion. Mature, yes, that was the way. Now he sat with the regret.
This evening, when she’d stood at the door, the urge to take her into his arms had been so strong, he had to hang on to the doorpost to stop himself. She’d looked so tiny and vulnerable and fragile and gorgeous beyond belief, her little pointed chin quivering with distress, tears raining down her face. His heart had swelled with love, and more than he could give her with Gwen hovering around them. Holly was his wife, dammit. He didn’t want her to be with someone else.
He’d made a big mistake, and the only way to fix it, was drastic action. Gwen had to go. They could be a family again. They could be as happy as they’d been before Gwen had wormed her way between them. They could have counselling, therapy, anything, as long as Holly was back where she belonged. He just didn’t love Gwen enough to sacrifice everything for her.
)O(Magnus stomped out the house. On the veranda he lit a cigarette. This could be a serious situation, if what Nicole said was true, and it could escalate if he didn’t handle it correctly. Ned
was a good worker, educated. Boys will be boys, but Nicole was his daughter. He would not
have her at risk of the workers’ lusts running amok. He needed to make an example. A pity it was Ned she’d pointed out. He would get to the bottom of this, before he decided what to do.
The butt landed in nearby shrubs.
He was crossing the yard when Joshua came galloping into it. Magnus turned and waited for the young man to dismount. “I need to speak to you, son.”
“Sure. What’s on your mind, sir?”
“I was wondering what your intentions were. I think Nicole’s had enough time to play, don’t you? It’s time she was married. A couple of kids would settle her down.”
“I agree, sir, but Nicole is stalling. If it were up to me, we’d have those kids by now. She just won’t commit. I’ve started to think that she doesn’t want to marry me at all.”
“You’re cynical, and I can’t say I blame you.” Magnus clasped Joshua’s shoulder. “Maybe the time has come for drastic action. I’m sure you could think of something. She’s talking of going back to her place in the Cape Town. I don’t want that. Whatever you decide to do, you know you have my full support, my boy. Just marry the girl as soon as possible. You’d better go in now; she’ll be waiting for you.” Magnus felt Joshua’s eyes on his back as he walked in the direction of the staff quarters.
Ned swung the door wide. “Sir?”
“Relax, man.” Magnus lowered himself into a chair. It was comfortable accommodation he provided for the people who worked in his winery. But being this far from town and any action, he well understood the restlessness.
Ned, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, planted his feet and crossed his arms. Muscles bulged under his tan. “Ned, son, I’ll come straight to the point. My daughter has lodged a complaint against you. Dammit man, she is my daughter, and she is promised.”
“Excuse me, sir, but what exactly was her complaint?”
Magnus’ brow lifted. “That you behave inappropriately towards her.”
“My behavior’s inappropriate? Anything specific? I don’t recall anything Ms. Jones could complain about.” Frowning, Ned sat on the edge of a chair facing Magnus, eyes steady on his employer’s. “I take it you want me to go. Would first light be soon enough?”
Magnus held the young man’s eyes. They didn’t waver. “Aren’t you going to say anything in your defence?”
“What could I say, sir? With respect, it would be my word against hers, and we both know whom you’d believe.”
Magnus eyed the young man thoughtfully. The man rose in his esteem for not trying to coerce anything out of him in return for his silence. “First light would be fine. I couldn’t throw a man out in the dark. It’s for the best, though I am sorry to lose you. Good men willing to tolerate the isolation are hard to find.”
)O(Nicole sauntered the length of the porch to where Joshua leaned against the railing. She was beautiful–sultry, with just the right amount of decadence to hold a man’s attention. But time was marching on, and soon she wouldn’t be the young belle anymore. Already fine lines gathered at the corners of her eyes and the shadowy light on the porch accentuated the brackets that ran from her nose to her mouth–all evidence of years of hard play. Even the color of her hair was more vibrant than it used to be. Nicole was not going to age gracefully.
“Hello, Joshua,” she purred, kissing him on the lips. Her body touched his lightly, and then she
was gone, sitting down in one of the chairs and crossing her legs. “Come sit down. Martha is bringing the drinks.”
Joshua perched on the edge of the chair facing hers. What was wrong with him? He knew how
old Nicole was, and a few lines weren’t important. Yet a moment ago, when she’d first flung the
screen door wide, her flaws had been all he could see. The housekeeper appeared to interrupt his thoughts.
“Nicole,” he said after a long sip of beer, “I’m not staying long tonight.”
“Aw, Joshua, why?” Nicole pouted prettily, but Joshua wasn’t in the mood for her games. Being in her presence oppressed him tonight and he couldn’t wait to be away.
“I want to know two things from you. Firstly, I would like to know if you have any intention of marrying me at all,” he held up a hand when she tried to interrupt. “And secondly, I’d like to know when you foresee that happy event taking place.”
“Joshua, what kind of questions is those? Aren’t we engaged to be married?” She jumped to
her feet. “You know, we never do anything together anymore. There’s just this animosity
between us about getting married, and I’m sick of it. Why are you pushing so hard? Why don’t
you let it happen when it is meant to?”
Joshua dumped his glass on the table and got to his feet. “When it is meant to? Could you give me an indication as to the timeframe we’re looking at? I’m sick of this waiting game while you play the social butterfly. I feel side-lined. Neither of us is getting any younger, Nicole.”
Nicole stamped her foot. “That does it; I’m going to live in Cape Town again. This small-mindedness in the wilderness is getting me down. You shall have to wait until I’m bloody good and ready to get married.” She spun on her heel and stormed into the house. Joshua sighed from the depth of his soul.
)O(Heather turned the third card over and placed it to the right of the two crossed cards. Her hand hovered over the deck but didn’t turn the next card. She stared at the three cards on the table. There was a disturbance in her soul, and she hoped to get an answer from the cards. They have never failed her before.
The first card was The Lovers. It was high time Holly found somebody to love. She would have to do a reading for him, to see if he was worthy of her Holly, but for the moment Heather knew that a new man in her sister’s life was not what was bothering her. The second card had followed quickly.
The Empress. A pregnancy? Was Holly pregnant? The card was reversed. Did this mean the pregnancy cannot come to its natural conclusion? Yes, but it wasn’t Holly who was pregnant. A frown pulled Heather’s brows together. A pregnancy, not Holly’s, that was going to affect Holly in some way. The cards will reveal the significance.
Heather stared at the third card. The High Priestess told her exactly that, that the truth will be revealed. Heather’s hand hovered over the card to feel its vibrations. The card had fallen in the position of the distant past, which means that something mysterious is at work in Holly’s life.
)O(Gwen stood for a moment in the absolute dark inside her private domain. It enveloped her like a lover’s embrace. She was going to need all the help she could get in this, and the only help available to her was the Book of Shadows. She lit the sconces and reached for the thick leather-bound grimoire on the bookshelf and bit her lip. She was not comfortable doing this, but if she wanted to save her marriage, there was no other way she could see.
Balancing the book on its spine, her hands flat against the front and back covers, she licked her
lips and raised her eyes to the ceiling, imploring help from the Mother. She doubted that guidance would be forthcoming. What she was about to attempt was Dark Arts.
Returning her attention to the book, concentrating hard on her purpose, she snatched her hands
away and allowed the book to fall open, well-warn pages fluttering before settling down. The Book would tell her what to do. Gwen leaned forward over the open pages. The candles cast shifting light. The book had fallen open on the page describing a rather interesting ritual. Yes, that was what she needed to do, to remove the negativity Holly brought into her life and marriage, and to break the bond between Donald and his ex-wife. This was for a good cause−Gwen’s happiness.
Holly wouldn’t come to any harm, not lastingly anyway. As soon as her effect on Donald was broken, her silly life could continue as before, though without Donald and the boys.
Gwen’s finger ran down the page as she read through the ritual to see what she needed.
)O(Heather turned the fourth, fifth and sixth cards over in quick succession, placing them below, above and to the right of the spread. Her hair blew off her face and she sucked her breath in sharply.
The Moon in the fourth position confirmed that something hidden was at work, something potentially dangerous to her sister. The man Holly loved? No, instinct told Heather that it was more than that, deeper, directed from afar, like a restless spirit in the night.
The Two of Cups had fallen in the best outcome position, reassuring Heather that this new relationship was exactly what her sister needed. The new man was going to be good for Holly. As soon as she saw her sister, Heather was going to have to demand an introduction. But in the meantime, she would not worry about him−there were other forces at work in Holly’s life that commanded immediate attention.
Death in the position of the immediate future confirmed that. The Death card predicted major change coming and very soon, within a week or so. Oh why was Holly so stubborn? Why did she do this hiding from her sister thing whenever she needed Heather the most?
Heather breathed deeply through her nose. There were several ways to interpret the cards, depending on the positions in which they were drawn and in relation to each other, and she would not get a clear meaning until she had all of them in front of her. She could not even begin to know what action was needed before she understood the whole problem. If only Holly would contact her. There was only one thing to do, and that was to finish the reading.
The seventh card Heather turned over was the Nine of Swords. Heather sucked her breath in. Oh no, just when she felt that Holly’s future might be quite rosy, this grim card came up. It could refer to death, miscarriage, deception or despair. Which applied? Was the baby that was not Holly’s that could not be born going to die? Or was this a reference to Holly herself being in mortal danger? The rest of the cards will shed light.
The card in the external influence position was the Queen of Pentacles reversed, indicating an evil woman, well aware of what she was doing. Who was this? Surely this couldn’t be Donald’s
second wife. Holly didn’t pose a threat to her, unless if there was something that Holly hadn’t told her. Whoever she might be, she meant Holly harm.
The card that Heather turned over in the hopes and fears position, The Tower, again indicated change and that the change would be due to an outside influence and that Holly would have no control over it.
The final card was not the one Heather would have hoped for. It confirmed her fears for Holly, as the Seven of Swords indicated that Holly should be careful whom she trusted.
)O(Gwen pulled the door to her shed closed behind her and listened to the locks engaging themselves. Clouds had come in and the sky was dark apart from the city lights reflecting off them. She did not feel good about what she had just done.
In the kitchen she scrubbed her hands violently, as if the soap and water could erase the imprint of the crucifix on the palm of her hand.
She tried to ease the guilt in her mind, that her heart had not been in it, and therefore nothing would come of it. All the same, she knew that for some time to come, every time she thought of Holly, she would see the red drop forming at the bottom the cross, held like a knife in her hand. She did not quite understand the parts of the ritual – it had never been her intention to harm Holly physically, nor, the goddess forbid, that she should actually die. As it was, Donald had a bleeding heart for the woman.
Gwen soaped her hands again, telling herself that she was being irrational and that it will be the last time she washed. Yet the smell of the burning herbs remained in her nostrils and her nails seemed discolored.
She swore to herself that she would never, ever again dabble in things she did not understand.
*** For more information on Maggie or to make a connection with her,