When my daughter was little, one of her favorite things to do was have a tea party. Since my mom loved them too, it became their “thing” to do together. Tea and crumpets consisted of anything to drink, (usually water, sometimes Kool-aid, often tea) and a snack item (Gold Fish, cookies, oyster crackers, whatever was lying around.)
They would sometimes play dress up, but more often than not, it was all about the tea set and the British accent, and being together.
My daughter is 20 years old now, in college planning on law school, but one of her prized possessions is the china tea set that her Mimi gave her.
One year for my mother’s birthday, we created a huge book of short stories, back stories from my Sisterhood of the Sword Series. We called it A Story and a Cup of Tea. Each story had a specialty tea bag that had some significance to the characters in the story.
I’ve decided to share the tales with you. The next few weeks I will post short stories from this collection. So brew up a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy.
This week we will enjoy a cup of tea called Rick’s Garden Brew. Heartwork Village Fans may recognize this sweet couple, they are Corey Chastain’s Great Great Grandparents.
“Mimi!” Valen ran through screen door of the boat house screeching. “Mimi, Papaw!”
“Whoa, there youngster.” Rick snagged his granddaughter’s arm. “What’s all this excitement?”
“Papaw! I saw the deer family! I saw the mommy deer and the two little fawns!” Valen bounced into her grandfather’s arms.
“You did? In the meadow?”
“Yes, Papaw! We have to tell Mimi! She loves the baby deer!”
Rick laughed and touched the freckled cheek of his five year old grandchild, visiting for the summer. She favored his wife, Shanna. Red spiraled curls and mischievous green eyes shined.
“Mimi!” The screen door slammed behind Shanna.
Rick gazed at his bride, she still stole his breath. Hair piled in a messy knot of curls and glasses perched on the end of her nose, she sauntered to the worktable where dusty artifacts littered every inch of space and old books piled high in towers. A sarcophagus leaned against the wall and straw filled crates spilled open.
Shanna broke into his favorite smile when Valen’s excitement reached her. “Hello, my two favorite people!” Shanna enveloped Valen and kissed her nose. “What’s all the commotion?”
“I saw them, Mimi! You said if I sat very still and quiet, they would come! They did, Mimi! They did!”
Shanna clapped her hands together with sheer glee. “Oh Valen, I’m so glad you got to see them!” She escorted Valen to the worn leather sofa.
Rick settled beside them and listened to Valen chatter. He and Shan stole smoldering glances over her head. Resting his arm along the back of the couch, he fingered Shan’s curls while she listened to Valen’s account of the fawn’s antics.
Before long Valen finished her story and wandered away to another adventure.
“I want to show you something.” Taking his hand, she led him to the table. “Look at this piece.”
“It’s beautiful.” He fingered the workmanship of the pewter vase.
“It isn’t Terran.”
Rick locked his eyes on Shanna. “You mean…”
“It’s Ampeliagian, Rick.”
He furrowed his brow. “Are you sure?”
“Test it with your quantum EMF.”
“I will.” He turned the vase over in his hands inspecting it from every angle. “I didn’t think things could cross to this side of the veil.”
Rick dragged Shan and the vase to his side of the boat house. Pushing aside the large vinyl strips separating the lab from her artifacts, they stepped into his world of shiny surfaces and beakers. Computers lined one wall and a table of electronic and magnetic measuring instruments mirrored it.
He analyzed the vase and shared a grin with Shanna when the needle spiked into the quantum range. They were so engrossed in their work that they didn’t notice the sunset or passing of time.
“Where is Valen?” Shanna stretched.
Rick looked up absentmindedly from his computer. “Huh? I don’t know. It isn’t like her to be away so long.”
“Rick!” Shanna’s face sketched worried lines and her voice weakened with dread.
“Don’t worry, honey, she is probably watching TV. Let’s go see.”
Walking along the dock, Shanna paused, then pointed. “Rick!”
The canoe bobbed abandoned midway in the glassy pond. “Don’t panic, Shan. Go check the house.”
Shanna sprinted, calling “Valen! Valen!”
Rick thrashed to the center of the pond. Tilting the canoe toward him, he peered inside. Valen’s daisy flip flop lay abandoned in the bottom.
The screen door slammed. Shanna sped to the pier’s foot, peeling off her clothes. “She isn’t answering!” White skin pierced black water. Diving and searching, praying and hoping, they desperately groped for their precious granddaughter in the recessed depths.
Memories assailed Rick. Thirty years ago this had happened, except Shan was the one missing. She had crossed over into another world, Ampeliagia, and lived several years as the foster daughter of a great king, the companion to three exceptional women, and servant to a god she curiously called, Juan.
Once again, he sought a red headed girl who had stolen his heart, but this one was his own flesh and blood. Plunging deeper each time, he penetrated the mysterious lake. The moon and stars danced across the ripples, beauty mocking the frenetic search.
What if he failed this time?
No, he would not lose Valen.
After thirty minutes his muscles screamed in agony and he knew Shan was exhausted. He sent her to the pier.
“Rick, it’s been too long. She couldn’t…” Shanna’s voice broke with the dread of her own words.
Rick dove again refusing to give up. His lungs seared in his chest and with a mouthful of water he surrendered to the surface.
Shan’s voice wasn’t coming from the dock or the canoe as he expected.
Scouring the edges of the shadowy pond, he caught a snatch of white between the reeds.
“Rick, help me.” Shanna, in the thick of the reeds curved over something. “Rick, I found her!”
“Dear God,” he splashed toward Shanna’s voice. She bent over the frail form and puffed into her mouth.
Rick slogged into the shallows and collapsed beside the lifeless body of his granddaughter. “Shanna, is she…”
“She has a pulse. She’s not breathing.” Shanna blew another breath.
The chest of Rick’s tiny grandbaby rose and fell as Shanna forced air into her lungs. Willing his granddaughter to live, he cried.
He waited an eternity.
Water lapped along the shore.
Shanna forced air.
A bat fluttered across the sky.
Shanna forced breath.
A toad plunked into the water.
Shanna forced life.
Valen’s hand fluttered and she coughed.
“Thank you, Juan,” Shanna whispered and cradled Valen upright.
Valen retched volumes of water.
“For my babies,” Valen’s voice croaked, “for my twin boys.”
Her eyes focused on the faces hovering above her and registered alarm. “Where am I?” She rasped out.
“Valen, honey, you’re here with Mimi and Papaw. You’re okay, we saved you.” Shanna cooed and smoothed Valen’s hair.
Rick’s blood ran cold in his veins. The expression on his granddaughter’s face, he had seen before on his wife.
“Bor!” Valen’s little voice moaned in grief too deep for her years.
Rick buried his face in his hands.
“Bailen, Achbor!” Her mourning cries broke the stillness of the night.
Shanna’s startled gasp drew Rick’s gaze.
“Did you say Achbor?” She whispered.
“My son! Do you know where he is?” Valen seized Shanna’s arms and implored. “Regolian will kill him. We must hide them both.”
Shanna made a popping sound in the back of her throat and her eyes slid out of focus.
“She crossed.” Shanna trembled in shock. “She crossed over. She was Achbor’s mother.”
Rick scooped his granddaughter into his arms and led his wife into the house.
“I can’t believe it. Achbor told me once I reminded him of his mother, Valen.” Shanna gaped at her granddaughter, mother to the man who adopted Shanna. “She lived a lifetime in Ampeliagia, she’ll never be the same. She’s not a child anymore.”
“If anyone can help her through this it is you. Think of the bond you’ll share. You both loved a great king, her son, your foster father.”
Shanna fingered the burgundy ringlets splayed across Valen’s face and longing flashed across hers. She was homesick for Ampeliagia. Rick determined in that moment to find a way to open the door between the two worlds.
If you want to know more about the outcome of Rick’s determination, read Heartwork Village Stories, Holding Kate Trilogy~ The Torn, (due for release in October) The Keepers, and The Source and visit HeartworkVillage.com. To read about Shanna’s adventure in Ampeliagia, watch for the Sisterhood of the Sword Saga, Threshold: Tsian the Wise.