For those who have been waiting for it, the ebook versions of Mother of Souls are now available through non-Bella distributors, including iBooks, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble among others. (I would remind readers that Bella gets a bigger cut when ebooks are bought directly, but of course the best place to buy a book is always the one where you actually buy it. So I will never quibble as long as you buy!) This seems an opportune time to remind readers that reviews on the major reader-review sites like Amazon and Goodreads really help with visibility. There is, in theory, a "magic number" of 50 Amazon reviews that pushes one over into being part of automatic book promotions, and three years after release Daughter of Mystery is still staring longingly at that number with 47 reviews. Since the theme of today's excerpt is jealousy, I'll confess that I'm jealous of authors who don't have to beg and plead to hit that "magic number". (The fall-off in review numbers for later books makes it likely that none of the other Alpennia books will ever hit it.)
Have you ever had that experience of working intensely with someone on a creative project and then reaching the point where it's time for other people, other skills to be drawn in? It's easy for a proprietary interest in the project to become entangled with the intimacy of the partnership, especially if there's a sense that one's own contributions are being left behind. Taken for granted. Even when they aren't. Serafina has never before known anyone the way she knows Luzie. And she has no practice in disentangling those reactions.
Chapter 26 - Serafina
Serafina recognized the small creature that nestled in the pit of her stomach. It was jealousy. She’d learned to recognize it long before she’d learned to ignore it. Who was she to be jealous of anyone? Just as she had no right to give herself wholly, she had no right to expect the same in return. She’d been the first to urge Luzie to draw others into the plans for Tanfrit. But it had been theirs—just the two of them—for so long. Now here was Jeanne, visiting or summoning Luzie to discuss the business of the performance. There were the regular letters from Maistir Ovimen that left Luzie glowing with a pride that no one else could have given her. And there was Iulien Fulpi.
“I was thinking,” Luzie had said, as they rode back together from the Academy at the end of one of the music days, sharing the fiacre with Doruzi Mailfrit and another of the Poor Scholars. “I was thinking I might ask Iulien to look at the libretto.”
And when Serafina hadn’t responded immediately, Luzie continued, “I know, she’s dreadfully young. But you couldn’t tell that from her poetry. And that’s what we need: poetry. The libretto tells the story well enough, but we both know it isn’t what it might be.”
The lyrics of the two pieces Iulien played for the depictio class had seemed nothing special—perhaps she simply hadn’t an ear for Alpennian verse—but the way they wove into Luzie’s settings… There was a crispness, a definition.
Margerit had acquiesced with only a few rules. “She must be properly chaperoned. She isn’t allowed to be wandering around the city by herself.” With a wry smile, “She’s already sweet-talked me into letting her go down to Urmai by boat in the mornings so she isn’t tied to my schedule. It isn’t that I don’t consider Maisetra Valorin a proper chaperone, but…”
But trips to the Academy were a simple matter of going back and forth from the private dock at Tiporsel House. Evidently it was less thinkable to let a girl like Iuli walk alone through the Nikuleplaiz, even with a maid for company.
“I’ll ask my Aunt Pertinek if she can find time to bring her,” Margerit concluded.
And so Serafina sat on the sofa with Maisetra Pertinek, while Iulien sat beside Luzie on the fortepiano bench and eagerly followed along in the libretto as they worked, part by part, through the score.
“Are you enjoying teaching at Margerit’s school?” Maisetra Pertinek asked.
Serafina pulled her attention away from the music and its effects. It was always hard to remember that most people were blind to the visions.
“I’m not really teaching,” she said. “Just helping at this and that. I’m there as a student.” She was enough ahead of the other students in the philosophy and thaumaturgy classes to be frustrated at their progress. That would improve, Margerit promised, once enough students had learned the basics that they could hold advanced classes. But would she have that long? Every day she expected a letter that Paolo’s duties in Paris were over.
“Oh,” Maisetra Pertinek said. “I had thought from what Margerit said… Well, never mind. What do you know about this opera that Iuli will be helping with?”
What do I know? I was there when the seed was planted. I dug through Margerit’s library to find every scrap of history we might use. I’ve sat by Luzie’s side for months shaping it into being.
“It’s a historic drama. One of your Alpennian philosophers. Did Maisetra Sovitre warn you that it’s to be a surprise and we don’t want it talked about before the performance?”
Maisetra Pertinek looked affronted. “I should hope that I know how to hold my tongue when asked. Margerit can tell you that.”
Yes, that must be true. There were secrets enough at Tiporsel House to practice on.