An Excerpt: This Huge Space Inside Me

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An excerpt from my work-in-progress historical fiction novel, The Thrall’s Sword!

“Would she ever realize her efforts to love him could never thaw his icy heart?”

Grace Caylor

(Glossary note: Iosa is the Irish word for Jesus)

“What am I looking for?” I whispered.

Tyra pulled her blanket up to her chin and stared up at the thatched roof above us.

“Sometimes I feel like there’s this huge space inside me, wider and emptier than a starless night. Nothin’ I do can fill it up. Nothin’ but God, nothing but the grace He has given us through Iosa. That may not be what you’re looking for, but it’s what we all need, Sigrid. If it weren’t for God bursting inside of me, I wouldn’t be able to stand Ragnar. I’d run. He’d catch me and whip me. I’d run again. But with God, I’ve learned to have compassion on Ragnar. I’ve learned to fill up this void with Iosa’s love and His… strength.”

Tyra gave a gentle, rippling laugh. “God is good, Siri. He is so, so

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Prologue of Istagun

Here is the prologue of a book I just started writing this week. Thanks to my sister who came up with the first inspiration. Hint: “Istagun” is the name of this fantasy island, and it actually is a Maltese word that means “Season.” But this prologue alone isn’t going to tell you the whole story world, it’s just a teaser. 😉 Hope you enjoy!

I poised my head to the side, tucking the cherry blossom in my curly brunet hair. The sun was shining sweetly on the bright dainty fairies who hovered about to till the ground to the south and water the sprouted carrots and onions toward the north. Everything was always growing, and there was always a flower or vegetable ready to harvest.
“Dahlia, your sistah wants you,” a four-year-old boy called to me from the little thatched hut.
I smiled at him, glad to have friends at every corner, though I could hardly remember all their names. Stepping passed him, I entered the hut full of crying human babies attended to by the mother fairies. I rushed to my eight-year-old sister’s bedside, where Hollis lay dead silent in the midst of the infants’ cries.
It always struck me how pale she looked. For some reason I hadn’t gotten it into my head yet that she wasn’t the same carefree girl she was a year ago. She was delicate, ailing; a tumor had arisen on her forehead last month, swelling larger every day.
I knelt beside her and clasped my hand around hers. “What is it, Hollis?”
She gazed up at me, her solemn blue eyes feverish, desperate, experiencing something I did not understand. Something no one but her could understand in the middle of cheerful Spring.
“I’m not so sure I want to live anymore,” she whispered, her breath as fragile as the pixies about us.
I pulled the cherry blossom out of my hair and tucked it in between her fingers. “Don’t say that, Hollis.”
She gripped my hand so hard for a split second, and then let go. “You don’t know anything, Dahlia. You don’t know where we came from, or where Andrea went—and all the rest of the older ones.”
I bit my lip. For a younger sister, she seemed smarter than I was. Wiser. Maybe that’s what the pain did to her. I was fourteen years old, and so was Andrea when she left. So were all the others.
“You think they’re going to take me away?” I asked gently.
“Don’t act so innocent,” Hollis said. “Of course they’re going to take you away.”
Tears poured down her cheeks now, unable to resist themselves. I covered her with my body, trying to give her safety, relief. “Oh, Hollis,” I murmured, “I have no idea where we came from. You’re right about everything, Hollis. You never believed me, did you?”
She wept into my chest, clinging to me as tightly as her weak hands could. “Yeah,” she said feebly. “Across the sea and over the mountains was all you could think of. But I knew better. The fairies come in girls and boys, too. When they’re older, one boy and one girl decide to live together, and then somehow they have a baby fairy.”
I held Hollis’ neck, chuckling. “So, you figured it out, too. They’re called mothers and fathers. That’s why we’re sisters—we have the same mother and father. The fairies said so.”
Relaxing, she rested her head back into the pillow, content that I’d spoken the truth once and for all, though she’d already guessed it.
“I will never leave you,” I assured her, as if it were something I could control. “Maybe we’ll never get to see our parents, and I’m not sure why. But we’ll always have each other. That’s one thing you can be sure of.”
I had to lie, to keep her dreaming, hoping, and alive. It didn’t matter that she didn’t believe me, for as long as she knew that I loved her, she had reason to fight away her longings of escaping this life.
Hollis’ eyes fluttered, threatening to close. “But what if I die?” she said softly. “What will happen to you?”
It had been last year that this disease fell upon my sister. The fairies said it would never leave her, that there was no cure—not even with the potions. Worst of all, they hinted that she had a shorter lifespan than most humans.
“Death,” I said. “Is that another thing you learned about from watching the fairies?”
At her grimace, I managed a tight smile to reassure her, for it hurt me to see her so uneasy. “Well, Hollis, there’s a million things I’m uncertain of, and that I can’t control. But no matter what happens, you’re not going to die. Do you believe me?”
Her fingers loosened her hold on my hand as her eyelids shut firmly at last, her mind drifting off into a slumber that would temporarily ease her pain.
Of course she didn’t believe me. Leaning forward, I planted a kiss on the tumor-less part of her forehead. “There is one thing I can truly promise you, Hollis: I will never forget you, no matter what happens.”

An Excerpt from The Thrall’s Sword

Here’s the excerpt, as promised!

The following day, he caught me crying as we hiked up a cliff.
“Sigrid, are ye doin’ all right?” he said from behind me.
I brushed back tears. “I’m doing wonderful,” I said as I stumbled over a protruding rock. Every memory of Mum lay trapped in the center of my mind. Today the thought of her had entered my head when I had picked her favorite flowers, lavender primroses, and now I could not push my grief out of my mind.
I kept walking, faster now, trying to draw closer to Lars who strode through the thick pines in the distance, energized by his morning breakfast. The last thing I wanted was this pathetic boy discovering my own weakness.
“Did ye find those purple flowers ye was lookin’ for?”
“It doesn’t matter. You can’t eat them, so there’s no point in having them.”
The truth was, I’d looked everywhere for them, but couldn’t find them. I was as if the gods themselves were ruining everything I tried to do.
“Are ye… are ye not enjoying yerself on this noble adventure of ours?” he asked gently.
I shot a glance at him. “I don’t even know why I came on your ‘noble adventure’ in the first place. To ruin a friendship and become a burden? To defend a country I have no reason to love?”
“Ye didn’t have to—”
“—I didn’t have a choice, really. It was the only way to do it.” I walked faster, but Erik drew alongside me.
“The only way for ye to do what, lass?” he asked, his forehead creased with anxiety.
We stared at each other, motionless, my heart trembling at his gaze. I wanted to cry again, but I withheld my tears. I could never tell him why I was truly going to Ireland. “I… I just want to go home.” Not to Bergen, but to my mother, my real home.
I turned away and hurried to catch up with Lars, feeling Erik’s eyes locked on me the whole way. He would never understand.

And I was beginning to fear I would never be able to go home.