Ahem! Anywho... here you go! Snippets from The Masked Pianist...
“Jencie! Where are you?” A little girl's voice broke the quiet of the frosty autumn morning. “Jencie! I want you to come and play with me!”
The owner of the voice peeked around the corner of the stable, her untamed brown curls bouncing everywhere. Her energetic eyes penetrated the dark corners of the stable as she searched for her older sister. When the building proved to hold no sign of life save for the a cow standing bored and alone in its stall, the little girl's shoulders dropped.
“Where in Darancia is Jencie?”
In a small, well-hidden fort carefully constructed the middle of the woods, eleven-year-old Jencie leaned closer to see what was in her brother's hand. “What is it?”
Tay slowly pulled his fingers back to reveal a small bug with a black and brown mottled exoskeleton and long antennae. “It's a killer ground beetle.” His voice was low and mysterious. “If one of their poisonous antennas so much as brushes against your skin, you will instantly die.”
Jencie lifted an eyebrow. “Then why aren't you dead? You're holding it.”
“Whose horses are these?” Jencie reached out to scratch the closest mare's nose. “They're beautiful!” When Tay didn't answer, she glanced at him quizzically. His smile had turned sour, and that told Jencie everything she needed to know.
“Oh.” Her hand dropped against her side. There was only one owner who could have such perfectly matched horses to pull a carriage.
Tay nodded. “Watch your step.” He warned, turning away to take the horses to an empty stall.
An enormous fireplace took up most of one wall, and its fire bathed the room with a warm glow. The fireplace was the Lady Adelaide's most popular attraction. It was wide enough to be three fireplaces, but it was sectioned to look like two. A small wall stood directly in the middle, holding up the heavy stones of the broad mantelpiece and chimneys. Little Piper loved having flowers on the mantelpiece, and Anliessa always obliged her daughter by decorating the shelf with vases of red roses.
At a table in the corner, Jencie's father was meticulously pouring a gleaming glass of cider for a plump lady decked in jewels and covered in satin. An old man sat next to her, and while his simple attire was impeccable, it was dull compared to the clothing of his companion.
The lady's gray hair had been powdered white, and it climbed into a mammoth pile of twists on top of her head. Piercing eyes glinted beneath perfectly curled lashes, and her mouth curved downwards in a frown as she surveyed the room. Her spot in the corner gave her the greatest vantage point to see everyone without having the chore of turning her head to unladylike angles.
Jencie's heart fell, and she ducked under the windowsill before the lady's piercing eyes could spot her. She had found the owner of the perfectly matched chestnut team. It was her grandmother, Lady Crissabella.