Books

The Lady in Glass

The Lady in Glass and Other Stories

Ace
February 27, 2024
Hardcover, ebook, and audio book

Cover design:
Adam Auerbach

available as audio bookavailable as ebook

 


EXCERPTS FROM THE LADY IN GLASS AND OTHER STORIES

Copyright © 2024 Anne Bishop. Used with permission.
(Suggested reading age: 15 years and older.)

Excerpt from "HOME FOR THE HOWLIDAYS"

Dormente 17
Simon Wolfgard studied Twyla Montgomery, who stood on the other side of the book cart and gave him a look that clearly indicated there was only one correct response to what she'd just said, and if he wanted to keep all the fur on his tail, that was the response he would give her. The trouble was . . .

"Roo-roo? Roo-roo!"

 . . . standing outside the back door of Howling Good Reads, waiting for the Wolfgard pack's human grandma.

"The other children are going over to Eve Denby's house to decorate cookies," Twyla said. "That includes Sam, so that means including Skippy. It would break that boy's heart to be left behind."

He knew that. He did. Skippy had been trying so hard to shift to a human form in order to do things with the human children who played with Sam. But . . . "Skippy can't pass for human."

"No, he can't," Twyla agreed. "But he's managed a between form that's balanced."

Meaning from the waist down, Skippy looked like a Wolf standing on his hind legs, and from the waist up, he looked like an adolescent human male who needed a good meal.

"Roo-roo?"

Any minute Skippy would start his yodeling arroo and alert the rest of the human female pack that something was going on in HGR's stock room. As much as he liked the females individually—most of the time—he was wary of them when they approached him as a pack because the female pack always had ideas that even human males barely understood and usually made no sense at all to the terra indigene.

"He doesn't know how to decorate cookies," Simon said.

"Neither does Sam," Twyla replied. "Neither does Frances, for that matter. Her folks weren't much for holiday traditions that children might enjoy."

She looked sad. Frances's sire, Cyrus "Jimmy" Montgomery, had been one of Twyla's grown pups and a very bad human—and had been responsible for doing so much damage to Simon's mate, Meg.

"Skippy can go over to Eve's house in his Wolf form and then shift to his between form when he's inside," Twyla said. "I've got a flannel shirt for him to wear that will keep him warm and is long enough to cover the boy bits that the girls don't need to see. Then when he and Sam are ready to go home, Skippy can shift back to Wolf."

"The cookies won't be pretty." He'd seen some of the decorated cookies that Nadine Fallacaro had made for Tess to sell at A Little Bite and didn't think any of the pups would make anything close to that good.

Twyla huffed. "Pretty is not the point. The children are going to have fun decorating cookies for their families. No one expects fancy or perfect. Not from children that age."

Meg would be thrilled to receive a decorated cookie from Sam—and from Skippy. But Simon tried one more time to do his job as the Lakeside Courtyard's leader and protect the skippy-brained Wolf. "The human children will laugh at him."

"They will not."

Simon leaned away from the cart. Did Miss Twyla just growl at him?

"Do you really think I'll stand by and let that happen?" Twyla asked.

No, but words could be like a trap hidden under leaves. The damage was done before you knew the trap was there.

"Besides," Twyla added, "it's the children from families already connected to the Courtyard who will be there. Children that Skippy plays with every day. Anyone who uses sharp words will be sent to their room or sent home."

Simon gave in. Miss Twyla was not only an older female and Lieutenant Montgomery's mother; she was also a member of Simon's pack—by her choice. "Okay."

Twyla nodded. "Doesn't matter what those cookies look like; you will praise the effort."

That growl was aimed right at him. "Okay." Before she could turn away, he said, "Miss Twyla?" Would she understand how hard this was for him to ask?

"Yes, Mr. Simon?"

"The cassandra sangue who were kept in those compounds and cut to reveal prophecies. They never had a chance to participate in human holidays. This will be Meg's first Winter Solstice celebration, and humans give gifts to other humans. To special humans. But when I asked her what she wanted for a present, she said she didn't need anything."

He swallowed the whine of frustration. How could he help Meg celebrate if she wouldn't cooperate?

Twyla shook her head and smiled. "My husband, James, used to get the same look on his face when he'd ask me that question, because I gave him the same answer that Miss Meg gave you. Gifts don't always have to be things, Mr. Simon. Sometimes it's being able to do something special that would make a person happy." She looked at him, and her smile warmed. "I'll do a bit of gift sleuthing for you and see what I can find out."

Gift sleuthing. He liked the sound of that.

"Roo-roo!"

"I'd better get these children over to Eve Denby's so we can start decorating cookies," Twyla said.

"And I'd better get this cart of books out front and restock the display tables before Vlad bites me," Simon replied.

"Mr. Vlad is up in the office. It's Miss Merri working the front of the store today."

Great. He'd rather deal with his Sanguinati comanager than the exploding fluffball who was now the bookstore's assistant manager. At least he knew when he was about to rile Vlad. With a human female? What had her snapping at you one day wasn't the tiniest bit of bother the next.

When he reached the front part of the store, Merri gave him a disapproving, narrow-eyed look before she tried to grab the cart and haul it over to the checkout counter instead of letting him take it to the displays that needed to be restocked. It took snarling at her to win the tussle for the cart. She still grabbed an armful of books off the cart's top shelf and reassured the customer on the phone that they did have those particular authors and titles in stock and she would hold them under the counter for forty-eight hours.

It wasn't his fault it had taken so long to bring the stock to the front of the store, but he was certain it would end up being his fault if he said anything. So he growled softly to himself and refilled the displays with sentimental stories by human authors and grisly thrillers by terra indigene authors—and wondered what it said about humans buying gifts for other humans that the fang-and-claw thrillers were selling as strongly as the sentimental stories.

dingbat

 

Excerpt from "SHE MOVED THROUGH THE FAIR"
Following his impatient sons, Jagar Langley strolled toward the banner that read Greenfields Fair. His wife's hand was tucked in the crook of his arm, but with every step he felt another hand wrap around his heart, ready to squeeze the life from it.

What life was left in it.

He hadn't set foot on this land for fifteen years. If Hadrea's father hadn't insisted he come to Greenfields to negotiate a property deal for land on the other side of the lake, and if his sons, Franklin and David, hadn't turned into whiny brats once they'd fixed on the idea of seeing the damn fair, he still wouldn't have set foot in this place.

His father-in-law was a clever man who didn't believe a cold marriage bed was any excuse for behavior that might queer a business deal—especially when that marriage bed held secrets that could queer more than a business deal. So he was being punished for an affair that hadn't been quite as discreet as he'd thought, and Hadrea was being reminded that she had wanted this marriage enough to . . .

"Do you think we'll see the ghost?" David Langley asked eagerly as they passed under the banner.

"Really, David," Hadrea Franklin Langley said, eyeing her nine-year-old son with dislike. "Wherever did you hear such a thing?"

"Franklin told me," David replied. "There's a ghost who walks the fair two days each summer, and this is one of the days."

Hadrea sniffed delicately, a sound that conveyed a frigid contempt. "We send you to one of the finest schools in the country, Franklin. Is that the kind of foolishness they teach you there? If that's so, I'll tell your grandfather he's wasting his money on your tuition."

Color blazed in Franklin's thirteen-year-old face, but he raised his chin and looked at Hadrea with eyes that were as old and as cold as hers. "In point of fact, Mother, it was Grandfather who told me about the ghost."

Jagar glanced at Hadrea, torn between delight and sympathy as he watched her pale. Her father's verbal thrust had been placed perfectly, especially since it had been delivered by the boy. Tell Franklin just enough to intrigue, just enough that he would tell his younger brother, who would bring it out in the open. And bring the memories with it.

Did you take Franklin into the parlor and point out the portrait you had commissioned for Hadrea's eighteenth birthday? Jagar wondered as Hadrea and Franklin looked away from each other, this moment being just another brick in their mutual wall of hate. Did you bring his attention to that one-of-a-kind dagger with a hilt decorated with inlaid gold and black enamel and a ruby as big as an eye?

I wish to God I had never seen that dagger. And I wish even more that I didn't know how Hadrea lost it.

Ah, Lucy. Hadrea's father bought a secret with a dowry and a business deal, and I married cold ambition instead of marrying you.

He saw her then. Her dark rose jacket and long skirt were both fifteen years out of fashion. Her blond hair was done up in the simple style that suited her. The hat matched her outfit, accented by one jaunty white feather.

Light and life. Love and joy. That was Lucy McGuire. That had always been Lucy McGuire.

They had been engaged. The wedding day had been set. Then Hadrea had told him something that had changed everything.

Soon it will be our wedding day.

Fifteen years ago, that was the last thing Lucy had said to him before going off to shop at the merchant booths that made up the fair. Buying things with her pin money to set up housekeeping.

The first star was in the sky when she left the fair and headed home, taking the road that followed the lake.

She never reached home. Was never seen again.

He watched her now, as he'd watched her that day, still loving her as he had never loved anyone else before or since.

"Jagar? What on earth are you looking at?" Hadrea asked, her voice oddly shrill.

"Nothing on earth," he replied, his chest aching as Lucy looked right at him. Maybe he'd been mistaken all these years. Maybe she had been here all along, moving through the fair, tending the land her father had owned. If he got close enough, would he see age lines in her face, see proof of the years that had passed?

"Jagar!"

Lucy turned and began walking toward the other end of the fair. Toward the road that followed the lake.

Despite all the other visitors milling around the booths, he never lost sight of her. But when he took a step to follow her, she simply disappeared, as if she were no more than a dream.

Or a ghost.

 


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