Comfort over Broken Glass

Author’s Note: So my morning started out with a cupboard in our house coming off the wall and shattering all the dishes in it, some of which we’d been collecting for years.

It was not a great start to the day. I didn’t think I’d have any kind of Tuesday truffle in me, but it actually got me to write this.

Comfort over Broken Glass

“I hate being the mirror.”

“I think anyone would have guessed that,” Alik said, coming up to his sister and looking at the broken glass scattered across the floor. A mirror that large breaking should have drawn the whole house into her room, but this place was ornate enough to have sound dampening that kept the crash from alerting everyone.

“You say my ability is better than yours, than Enadar’s, but it’s not. I’m just a copy. A reflection. I’m not even—”

“Don’t say that,” he interrupted, stepping over the glass to reach her, grimacing when he heard it crack under his feet. She would not like the symbolism of that act. He put his hands on her cheeks, knowing he’d have to move them soon because he did not want to force her to mirror him for immunity to his energy. “You have never been a copy of anyone, Malina. Yes, you are a lot like Mom, but so is Enadar. You just take on more of it because you have her role and her features, but that has never meant that we saw you as just a replacement for her.”

Malina closed her eyes, trying not to let the tears out. “I find myself acting like her on purpose. We might—well, Enadar might—jokingly call you ‘Dad,’ but you don’t act like him. I act like her.”

“You act like calm,” he disagreed, and she blinked, frowning at him. He lowered his hands, not wanting to hurt her. “You say I am safety, but you have always been calm.”

She continued to frown. “I don’t understand.”

“You have always calmed the storm,” he said. He saw her confusion. He swallowed and forced himself to add, “the one in me.”

“I do?” She shook her head. “I don’t think I do. You’re always so… tense, so hard to reach.”

“With an exploitable weakness to you.”

She half-smiled, wiping away tears. “It’s not a weakness. You do know it’s not, don’t you?”

“I need you more than I like to admit.”

“And I love you,” she said, throwing herself at him and clinging to him. He shook his head—why was it she always manage to break things when she didn’t have shoes on? He lifted her up, trying to keep her from touching down on the glass again.

She lifted her head from his chest and looked down at the floor with a grimace. “I should clean that up. I didn’t even think. I was just so sick of the reflection…”

“You shouldn’t be. You’re beautiful,” he told her, and she clung tighter to him. He shifted her around to his back. “I’ll help you find a broom.”

She put her head down on his back, letting out a contented sigh. “I should be too old for this. Are you sure I’m not too heavy?”

“Wouldn’t carry you if you were.” He stopped at the door, pushing it open, and he looked up to see Vred in the hallway. The tracker took them in with a frown.

“Don’t ask,” Alik said, not wanting to explain. Then he grimaced. “We will need a broom, though.”

Maybe Something More

Author’s Note: So when I started expanding the ideas brought back to me by Sunday’s late post, I wanted to do the flashback for the first moment when Dillon and Larina found their relationship changing from friends to something else, back in the time when they were close as kids rather than the strangers they are when the main story starts (and here I go ruining everything by posting bits out of order, but this is a piece I have ready and fits a theme, so it goes up.)

Plus I had the quote, “Love is friendship set on fire” given to me as a prompt, and that worked well with this.

Maybe Something More

Sixteen was a bundle of nerves, and she would never have admitted that the one making her nervous was right across the barn. She didn’t understand—while she had always loved watching Dillon work with the horses—with any animal because he just had that gift where they all loved him and seemed to be able to communicate with him—she had never felt like this while watching him.

The last time he’d smiled at her, she’d thought she’d either be sick or pass out, and she didn’t like it. He didn’t mean anything by it—he was her friend and friends smiled at each other. It wasn’t supposed to feel like this.

“Hand me the brush.”

Dillon’s hair could use a brush. She smiled at the thought, tempted to go over to him and comb the stray pieces of straw out of the strands that blended in with the dirt floor. He was just born to be in a barn, at home with nature and animals, and she didn’t blame him for spending most of his time out here now that Morely was sick.



“The brush?” he prompted, frowning a bit. “I need to finish grooming Cassidy, and when I’m done, I have three other horses to turn out and you have school, so if you could hand that to me, that would help.”

“Oh, right,” Larina said, blushing as she grabbed it, holding it out to him. She stopped, looking up at him. “We’re friends, right? And friends tell each other everything and when they trust each other it’s okay and it’s not going to mess things up and get weird and you won’t hate me for telling you the truth because I really don’t know what I’d do if you hated me and—”



“Breathe,” he said, and she did, unaware that she’d stopped, even though she had been babbling like crazy. He must think she was a real idiot. She sounded like one. He came around Cassidy, giving the mare a gentle pat before standing right in front of her. “You can tell me anything you need to, and I hope you know that.”

She forced herself to nod. She didn’t know that she was brave enough to do it, but she was going to try anyway. “It’s just that lately I’ve been finding myself… watching you. I mean, I always have because you are good with animals in a way that even Mom—Sorina—was jealous of—and I think I’ll always enjoy watching that, but it’s not just that. It’s that I see you and my stomach twists a little and I feel kind of sick—not that you look bad or make me ill or anything—but then when you smile at me you kind of do because I can’t breathe and—I am such an idiot, aren’t I? I don’t know why I’m like this.”

Dillon put his hands on her arms, and she thought she was getting feverish now. He leaned his head down and kissed her. His lips barely grazed over hers, but she wanted to fall forward into him anyway, weak and completely his.

He pulled back with a smile. “Maybe someday we’ll get married.”

She heard herself laugh. “Oh, yeah? You think so?”

“I said maybe,” he teased, tugging on her bangs. “For now, we’re still friends, but you’re going to be late for school if you miss that bus.”

Still friends, she told herself as he pushed her toward the barn door. Still friends… and maybe something a lot more.

Safety and the Walk to School

Author’s Note: So today I’m running late again, and I’m aware that I need to find a better way of finding pieces on time, but there are days when I can’t think of anything that fits the theme without needing more context than a snippet should have. I may have to reassess the themes, but for now, this Tuesday truffle is a bit of Alik being the big brother that he is and Malina being the sister and friend she is.

Pulled this from the side childhood project again. Bad me.

Safety and the Walk to School

Alik walked Malina to school every day. He was always ready before she was, bag on his back and eyes out on the road. She didn’t know what he thought would be there or even if he thought that there was something out there. She didn’t know. Alik had read lots of stories, and he knew more about the world than they did. If there was something scary out here, he would know.

She knew that she didn’t want anyone else protecting her.

Every day, she put her hand in his as she had done since before she remembered. Her mother told her stories sometimes about how she and Alik would always hold hands. If she was near him, she would reach for him. He did the same. She had known him as safety before she knew what the word meant.

She squeezed his hand, and his eyes turned toward her, shifting in the early morning light.

“Something wrong?”

“I want to walk with Lisea.”

“Not with me?”

She bit her lip. She didn’t want to let go of his hand. She was not scared, but she did not know that she could chose friend over brother. As much as she liked spending time with Lisea, as much as she had come to see her like a sister, her bond with Alik was older. Deeper. How could she turn away from that?

“Can I have both?” She saw him frown. “I still want to walk with you, but there’s no reason why we can’t walk with Lisea, too. See? She’s right there, and I think she looks a bit scared. Will you walk us both to school?”

He glanced toward Lisea, who was fidgeting, adjusting her coat and looking back at her house like she wanted someone to come out and tell her she didn’t have to go to school. “What if she does not want me there?”

“Then I will walk with you, but I think she wants us. She is just not sure how to tell us.” Malina stepped up to kiss his cheek. “I will go get her. You will wait for me?”


She grinned at him, though she had to admit that she did not feel as happy when she took her hand out of his and ran over to Lisea. “Hi.”

Lisea jumped a bit before blushing and smiling. “Hi. I didn’t see you coming.”

“That’s all right. You want to walk with us? Alik said he’d walk us both to school today.”

“Alik would… Why would Alik walk me?”

“Because you’re my friend and Alik is my brother and Alik does what I ask,” Malina said. The whole thing was simple to her, even if she’d doubted her brother’s willingness a few minutes ago. Alik did do what she asked a lot of the time. She held out a hand to her friend. “So you will come with us?”

Lisea timidly reached for her hand, taking it, and even though she still seemed a bit nervous, the other girl was a bit more relaxed, at least until they reached Alik. She seemed to shrink back behind Malina as she took her brother’s hand again.

“I’m glad we’re all walking together.”

Alik glanced toward her, and Lisea almost pulled away, but Malina drew her back close. She didn’t know what to do with this awkward silence. She wished that Alik made Lisea feel the way that he made her feel—Lisea could use that kind of safety. Not that Lisea was threatened, but she would be freer and happier if she felt safe enough to relax more.

“You had Mrs. Caldor last year, didn’t you, Alik?”

He nodded. “I thought you didn’t. You had the other one, the new one—”

“We do, but she’s leaving. Getting married in two weeks and moving to Cranton with her husband,” Malina said, not sure how her brother had missed that because he didn’t miss anything. “What is Mrs. Caldor like?”

“Old. Smells funny.”

Lisea stared at him. Malina laughed. “Quit teasing. What is she really like?”

“She does smell funny,” Alik said, looking away. “You will tire of her choice of perfume as it is disgusting, and the way she writes on the board is—she always makes the sound that the chalk makes worse. Once a week she comes back from lunch with her breath reeking of garlic, and you do not want to sit up front because of it.”

“You don’t sit up front. They do it by the alphabet, and ‘k’ is in the middle of it and—Oh. You got in trouble, didn’t you?”

Alik nodded. “It would be better not to tell her how bad her perfume is. Do not mention the garlic unless you want to go to the principal’s.”

“Is she that terrible?”

Alik did not look over at Lisea, but he did shake his head. “She’s not horrible. My teacher this year is worse. No, Mrs. Caldor is not all bad. She… She has games to forget that she is teaching annoying things. She reads interesting stories. Sometimes she has treats. And you two will do better than I did—she likes girls, not smart-mouthed boys.”

“I like this smart-mouthed boy,” Malina told him, smiling, and Alik grinned at her. She let go of Lisea’s hand long enough to give him a hug. “Try and be good in class today.”

“No promises,” he said, kissing her forehead. “Go to class now. Don’t be late.”

She nodded, turning back to grab Lisea’s hand before walking to the door to their classroom. Alik waited for her to go inside—he always made sure she was there before turning to go to his own class. She waved at him, and he waved back before turning to leave.


Malina looked over at Lisea. “What?”

“Maybe it would be nice to have a brother.”

I have two. You can have Enadar, Malina almost told her, but she knew that was not fair. Lisea was admiring Alik, not Enadar, and Enadar was not much like their older brother. “We can share.”

“We can?”

“Why not?” Malina shrugged. “We share everything else.”

A Bad Case of the Flu

Author’s Note: So I am lying down because I feel rather awful myself at the moment. I had already been thinking of using these scenes for Tuesday truffles, but they seem even more fitting now.

A Bad Case of the Flu

“Don’t move.”

Vred shook his head, trying to push his way up despite the nausea that would keep him where he was. He had too much to do to allow this illness to stop him. Three hundred eighty-eight. No, more, he corrected himself, since he had somehow acquired three more when he joined up with the Kallas family.

“I have to.”

“No,” Malina said, forcing him back when his coughing disabled him. “You are sick, and you are staying where you are. You know that you need rest, too.”


She laughed, humming to herself as she drew up the blanket over him, tucking him in, something no one had ever done to him before, not even his mother. She had been about making him strong, and strength did not come from lying in bed. “Yes, you can. In fact, what you can’t do is use your ability. Not when you’re sick.”

He did not want to think about that. He could not afford sickness. He was not going to stay in bed. “I have work. I can work without my ability—”

“No, you—”

“I can.”

“You can,” she conceded. “Yet you do not have to. Even though you’re sick, I can use your ability. I am a mirror, remember? I don’t take on the physical when I borrow anyone. I can use you just fine.”

He frowned, not liking her terminology. “You are not—”

“I look, I assess, and if there is anything, Alik handles it. You’re fine. They’re safe. Now get some rest,” Malina insisted, adjusting his blanket again. She hesitated and then leaned down to kiss his forehead.

Vred stared at her, noting the slight flush before she shut off the lamp beside the bed.

“Goodnight, Vred.”

“It’s not nighttime.”

“It is for you. Get some rest.”

“I have something for you, Freckles.”

Felise groaned, trying to pull the covers over her head. She did not know what had cursed her with Enadar Kallas as her primary caregiver while the flu swept through them—and she didn’t know what it was that made Revente genes that much weaker to this particular strain, but while the Kallases seemed almost immune to this flu, she knew that she and her cousins had gone down hard with the full thing—fever, aches, chills, nausea—and she could not get herself out of bed.

“Mom swore by this, and Malina assured me that this is her recipe. Not everything works the way it did when she was alive, though. Something always seems to be missing, and Malina says it is Mom’s special touch—but Malina should have that, so I don’t know why it doesn’t work.”

Felise looked over at him. “Stop talking. You are more annoying than usual when I’m sick.”

He smiled at her. “Normally, I’d take that as an advantage to exploit, but I told you—truce until you’re better.”

“Who are you, and what did you do with Enadar?”

He laughed, sitting down beside her and holding out a mug. “The patented Kallas Kure for all things flu and cold. And Alik overloading himself.”

She studied the cup suspiciously. “What’s in it?”

“Honey, lemon, cinnamon, clove,” Enadar continued to rattle off ingredients enough to make her think he’d made more than half of them up when he started talking. “And, of course, love.”


Enadar grimaced. “Well, that was Mom’s special ingredient. Or so she used to say. It’s not as effective if it’s not made with love and given with love and…”


“And a kiss after every sip,” he said, turning bright red. “Not that I’d do that to you. I wouldn’t. It’s—I—I’m going to leave now.”

He shoved the cup at her, and Felise looked down at it with a slight smile. Made with love, huh? It could be worth trying.

“You look exhausted.”

“I thought I would say that to you,” Alik said, giving the princess a look out of the corner of his eye. She was on the mend, finally, which would be a relief. He had almost been willing to believe that this flu was some kind of side project of Harking’s or the Watch, taking down people with abilities—well, Reventes, mostly—the way it had. “Though you are improving.”

“You’re not.”

“Vred has a thankless job,” Alik said, unable to summon a smile. He did not think that anyone realized how badly overworked the tracker was or how much could have fallen apart the moment he went down with that flu.

“Which you took up for him?”

“You could say that keeping his people protected suits my interest as it protects mine as well,” Alik answered, rubbing his neck. He closed his eyes, telling himself he was not coming down with the flu. If he did, the floodwaters would break loose, and everything they’d done so far would be undone.

“That’s not why you did it, though.”

“You’re still sick,” he said, aware that she would not have been that bold if she was able to think clearly. He almost liked it. “And no, it’s not, but if anyone asks, it is. You should be resting.”

“So should you.” She flushed. “I just… This is the first time I’ve felt able to be out of bed in days, and I don’t want to go back there. Malina’s exhausting herself taking care of all of us, and I don’t want to be a burden.”

That was so typical of the princess. “She knows you’d do the same for her. Go to sleep. Malina will take her own rest when she can.”

“And you?”

He had been running on pure energy for half a week, and it wouldn’t last, but the crises were abated for the moment, and he would crawl into his own bed for a bit until Malina woke him with something else to handle. “I guess it’s bedtime for both of us, princess.”

“I thought you weren’t going to call me that anymore.”

He smiled, pushing her toward her room. “Tonight it fits. Your turn to go play the role of Sleeping Beauty.”

The Fair in Love and Romance

Author’s Note: While the weekend was ugly, I asked for prompts, and Liana Mir gave me this one:

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I was thinking I’d need a book to answer it, but no, I didn’t need a book. I just needed two of my favorite characters to discuss it without discussing it.

Thank you, Effie and Garan. You’re good at this sort of thing.

The Fair in Love and Romance

“The football player has been asking for it ever since I came here.”

Effie shook her head, letting out a sigh as she carried the bowl over to the table, taking the cloth out of it and wringing it before she touched it to Garan’s knuckles. “Scott hasn’t played football since he was in high school, you know.”

“It was the one highlight of his pathetic life, and it did enough brain damage to him that it still fits,” Garan insisted, watching her work on his hand. He’d make some comment about Scott’s hard head being the reason for his knuckles getting scraped up like that.

“You’ve got ten times the training he does, Garan. It would never have been a fair fight.”

“What isn’t fair is that he was your first love.”

Effie snorted, putting the cloth back in the water. “Scott was never my first love. He was my first… boyfriend, I guess, but I never loved him. He was—everyone expected us to date, everyone thought we made a cute couple, and I think we might have, but I never felt the way about him that I thought I should, even as a teenage girl with supposedly out-of-whack hormones. It wasn’t enough. It was nothing like the soul-crushing moment when I thought you were never coming back to me, and I think we both know how well the hormonal attraction part of things works between us.”

He grinned, and she rolled her eyes, taking the bowl with her back to the sink. “Besides, if either of us has reason to be jealous, it’s me.”

“You? I told you that she wasn’t a love. Christie was just—”

“Not her. Jordan.” At Effie’s words, Garan tensed, and she leaned back against the sink, folding her arms over her chest. “You know I’m right. You were willing to fight for her, to die for her… to kill for her. I get to be jealous.”

He rose, crossing to her side, his bruised hand cupping her cheek. “In case you missed it, heroine, I just fought for you. I was willing to die for you before I knew you. And while we’ve never gone and counted the bodies, I think there might even have been some killing in there for you, too.”

She flinched. She shouldn’t have said anything at all. She didn’t like the thought of him doing that. Not for her, not at all.

He tipped her chin up, looking straight into her eyes. “When I met Stirn, I was in a bad place. It was just after the accident, and I wanted something to replace what I’d lost at the same time as wanting to die. It was messed up, warped good, and it got worse. What happened with her pushed me down further into the darkness, into a hole I never thought I’d get out of, and that’s not love. Love is supposed to make you better, isn’t it?”

Effie nodded. “That’s what they say. It’s also about accepting people as they are. Kind of conflicting thoughts, I guess. Or maybe it’s just that… You can’t become better unless you’re willing to accept what the past was. You can’t pretend it wasn’t there or didn’t shape you because it did. So expecting someone else not to have a past is stupid.”

“Helping them overcome it is beautiful,” he said. “Just like you.”

“Listen to you getting all romantic on me.”

He laughed. “There is no romance in me, Effie. I thought you knew that.”

“Oh, yeah? And what do you call all this?”


Don’t Ruin the Popcorn

Author’s Note: So yesterday, when I couldn’t think of anything to do and thought I needed something sweet, some fluff, I asked for help with finding something. Liana Mir generously prompted me with “Alik, Malina, and Enadar have a popcorn party as teenagers.”

So now I can share a bit of the collaboration, a brief look into some of the fun and family dynamics of the three Kallas siblings who share a close bond despite everything.

Don’t Ruin the Popcorn

Malina mock-glared at her oldest brother. “Now, Alik, you’re not allowed to ruin it.”

Alik gave her a look. “It’s popcorn. It’s already ruined. When I gave it to him last week, I thought it was a good idea. He has made it every night since, and it is not a good idea.”

She sighed, reaching over to touch Alik’s cheek. “Please. One more night. You know that it’s the only thing that has made him smile since we had to leave Holteshire.”

Alik was quiet, his eyes shifting with his thoughts, and she almost asked him about them, but then Enadar burst into the door, spilling his bowl of popcorn as he did. “What is taking you so long? I thought we all agreed—popcorn and comedies. All night long.”

“We agreed to comedies?” Malina asked, glancing at Alik. “Since when do you watch comedies?”

“Since I swear I found films that will make even the robot laugh,” their younger brother announced, bouncing over to Alik’s side and dragging him toward the other room. Malina had to smile, shaking her head as she picked up the other bowls and carried them in with her.

She sat down in between her brothers, knowing that was the only way any of them would survive the night, giving Alik his popcorn before settling in. He looked down at it like he might make it explode, and she kicked his foot. “No.”

His eyes darkened, but he did not touch the popcorn.

Enadar started laughing in an obnoxious manner at some joke that wasn’t that funny, and Alik found a use for his popcorn—throwing it at him with every guffaw. Enadar frowned before throwing some in return, and Malina grimaced as she got caught in the crossfire, wondering why she couldn’t have had at least one sister instead of two brothers.

Still, while it was messy, Enadar was still laughing. Alik actually smiled. No, he hadn’t ruined things at all.