Tomorrow (May 14th), the book trailer for "Scotch Broom" (Book 2 of Witches of Galdorheim) will be on top of the You Gotta Read book trailer contest. Voting is the 21st-27th. And, of course, Scotch Broom is my featured book for the Summer Teen Read Party going on all through May (schedule in the right-hand sidebar).
Poor "Midnight Oil" is feeling bereft of attention. To remedy that, here's the Midnight Oil book trailer AND its first chapter. Okay, it can quit being jealous now.
Chapter One Company’s Coming
Present Day, Galdorheim Island in the Barents Sea
Kat scrambled around her room getting ready for her grandfather’s arrival. More importantly, Andy would be coming, too. She dwelled a moment on their one kiss, and her stomach fluttered. Nearly six months had passed since she’d left him in Siberia, and that was one hundred and eighty days too long.
She took a last glance in the mirror and jerked the childish red ribbon from her hair. The black tresses fell loose down her back. Twisting to check out her jean-clad rear in the mirror, she smiled. Yes! Tight enough to show off, but not so tight Mom’ll flip out.
She searched for her bunny-familiar and found Teddy snoozing under the pillow. Kat nudged him. He blinked and yawned.
“Hey, lazy butt, want to come along?”
“Not too cold. I’ll carry you.”
Teddy tipped his head. Kat could almost hear the little gears grinding. “Okay.”
She tucked Teddy into the sling and hurried to the parlor where her family waited.
Rune, her half-brother, yawned. “About time.”
“I can’t just throw any old thing on like you do!” Kat stuck out her tongue at him but had to admit he always looked great. If he’d only wear some other color than black.
“Let’s go.” Ardyth, her mother, snapped her fingers. A brown velvet cape leapt from its hook, draping itself around the statuesque blonde’s shoulders. The dragon clasp hissed as it snicked shut at her throat. The tall witch glanced in the mirror hung above the coat hooks and patted her pale hair into place.
Kat’s family left the house and walked together down the main street of the village. Other Wiccans came out of their homes, silently falling into step behind them. They made their way toward the portal, which served as entrance and exit to the magic, bubble-like barrier. Without the protective shield, their village would freeze like the rest of the tiny, icebound island of Galdorheim. When they passed the Council Hall, the head witch joined them.
Kat dipped her head in greeting. “Good morn, Aunt Thordis.”
A tweak of a smile touched Thordis’ upper lip, and she nodded in greeting to her niece. “Ardyth,” Thordis said to Kat’s mother, “I assume you finished preparing the cave for the ceremony?”
“Yes. I put out the black drapery and moved in a small altar. It’s quite charming. If only Boris looked as good.” Ardyth tsked and shook her head. “I do wish he’d been, well, in a more, ah, dignified position when the ice caved in. That broken leg sticking out. The big hole in his head. Terrible.”
Kat patted her mother’s arm. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m sure Dad doesn’t mind. After being stuck in the ice for fourteen years, that’s the last thing he’d worry about.”
Ardyth raised her voice. “Well, he might!” Nearby witches glanced their way. She leaned toward Kat and whispered, “After all, he’s not dead yet! I don't like people just assuming.”
Thordis stopped and faced her sister. “And he’s not going to die here if I have anything to say about it!”
Ardyth winced. “All right, all right. I won’t thaw him. I’d just like a chance to tell him how much…” Ardyth’s voice hitched.
Thordis shot her sister a look, but said nothing more. The older witch walked through what looked like a simple garden gate, set in a shimmering wall of soap bubble film. The others followed close behind.
The half-siblings looked at each other. Rune shrugged with a questioning look. Kat took his arm, leaning close to his ear.
“Mom wants to say goodbye.”
“I know,” Rune replied. “Don’t you? Like, he is your father.”
“Aunt Thordis said it’d be too painful for him if he thawed. He might live for only a few seconds. It’s not worth it.”
“So, he’ll just be a popsicle forever, eh?”
Kat slugged her younger brother’s bicep and hissed, “That’s awful!”
“I know,” Rune shot back with a grin, exposing the longer than normal canines he’d inherited from his vampire father.
Kat pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. She elbowed him lightly in the ribs. “If you act like such a child, Nadia won’t be interested in you.” The comment stopped him in his tracks.
Rune hissed out a breath and looked at his feet. “Okay, you win this one. I hope she came along like she promised.”
“Oh, she’s probably forgotten all about you.” Kat suppressed a smirk. “I think it’ll just be Grandfather Ivansi and Andy. Maybe a few of the Sami hunters to help.”
With an evil grin, he sang in a whispering lilt, “Katrina loves Andy. Katrina loves Andy.” Kat envied her little brother’s knack for flying below the older witches’ radar. The elders never seemed to see his mischievous side when he pulled some stunt. They all thought him the perfect little warlock-slash-vampire.
Kat sighed. Maybe she was in love. At almost fifteen, she’d never had a boyfriend before. When Andy kissed her, it felt…totally awesome. Now he was almost here, she felt her palms getting damp. She dried first one then the other on Teddy’s fur, trying to look like she was simply petting her rabbit.
While her mind wandered to thoughts of Andy, the family reached the portal leading to the ice-bound part of the island. The glacier that encased the body of Kat’s father hulked above them a hundred feet to the right of the gate. They continued down a barely visible path leading to the edge of the water. Eight months of the year, solid ice surrounded the island, plus another two months of floe ice. Only during a brief summer period did the water clear, opening the way for boats to reach them. During the winter months, the jetty was only a jutting piece of ice. Now, with it melted, she could see the tiny wooden pier the Wiccans built to provide a place to tie boats.
Kat searched the horizon. Wondering if her grandfather would come by kayak, she decided a paddleboat wouldn’t work if he planned to take back the block of ice containing her father. No, he would need to bring something bigger.
Rewarding her vigil, two black dots appeared far out to sea. The older witches waited patiently as the boats approached, but Kat stood on tiptoe, leaning forward as if it would help her see better. Did he come? She pressed her lips tightly together. No use sweating over it. He would either be with them, or he wouldn’t.
The two boats finally neared enough to make out their general outlines, but not close enough for her to see if Andy was present. Rune’s sharper vampire vision could pick out details better than Kat’s.
She elbowed him. “What kind of boats? How many people?”
“Don’t get all worked up,” he replied. When Kat frowned at him, he relented. “It looks like a motorboat, maybe a thirty-footer, and a three-man kayak. The motorboat must be pulling the kayak ‘cause I don’t think even Sami fishermen can paddle that fast.”
Once Rune told her what he saw, she could also make out the two boats. “I see them,” she called out, pointing and bouncing on the balls of her feet. Teddy almost fell out of the sling.
“Yes, dear,” Aunt Thordis answered, patting her shoulder. “We all see the boat. Now calm down.”
Kat’s cheeks reddened, and she planted her feet flat on the ground. She didn’t want to look too eager. Andy might have thought the kiss was just between friends. Maybe she had read too much into it. She jammed her hands into her pockets to hide their trembling.
Finally, the motorboat eased up to the little pier. Kat’s grandfather moved to the bow and bent to pick up a coil of rope lying on the deck. Before he could grasp it, the free end sprang away from him, tying itself around a piling. Kat glanced back to see her mother’s upraised hand, directing the rope with a flick of her wrist. Startled, Ivansi straightened and smiled. He waved at Ardyth and moved to the back of the motorboat. At the stern, he picked up the thick cord, holding it up and away from his body. Ardyth gestured again, and it performed the same trick as the bow mooring line.
“That’s a neat spell with the rope. I’d like to learn it,” Kat commented.
“‘Line,’ sis,” Rune replied. “If it’s on a boat, it’s called a ‘line.’”
Kat shrugged and mumbled, “Whatever.”
She forgot Rune when she saw a head of black hair through the windshield of the small pilot’s cabin. She raised her hand halfway but stopped and pressed it to her chest. Her heart pounded, and cold little fish swam up and down her spine.
The head rose higher, and Kat recognized Nadia, the girl Rune had become friends with at the Sami village. Rune trotted forward. Nadia left the cabin and came out on the open deck. Rune was ready to take her hand. She emitted a startled squeak and then giggled as he levitated her from boat to pier.
Meanwhile, the kayak pulled up to the other side of the pier, and three Sami men hopped out, tying it to another piling. Kat scanned the small group, but the boy she couldn’t wait to see wasn’t among them. Shoulders slumping, she turned back and walked over to her grandfather. He put his hands on her arms and smiled, showing strong, white teeth in his brown, weather-beaten face.
“Granddaughter, I greet you,” he said in heavily accented English and kissed her on both cheeks.
She pecked his cheeks in return. “Grandfather, I greet you as well.” She stood back, and Ardyth came forward to meet her father-in-law for the first time. Kat glanced at the boat, but Andy didn’t appear.
She suppressed a sigh. “My mother, Ardyth.” She kept it simple. English was one of the few languages the Samis and the Wiccans had in common, but she knew Ivansi spoke very little of it. He had probably made a special effort to learn the greeting.
“Daughter, I greet you.” The older man kissed Ardyth on each cheek. Ardyth surprised Ivansi by throwing her arms around him. She’d only been Boris’s wife for a few months before the tragic cave-in, but the old man looked much like her deceased husband. Kat could almost feel the wave of love and sorrow flow between the two. They both lost the same person.
The group gathered to walk back to the village portal. Tonight, a banquet for the visitors, and then, tomorrow morning, everyone would gather in the ice cave to say a final goodbye to Boris.
Kat looked back at the empty boat. She bowed her head, blinking back tears. Andy obviously wasn’t interested in seeing her, so that was that. She’d get over it…sometime.