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Leon at Eleven

(Here’s a bit story about a character from Birthmarked when he was a kid.)

He felt the moment she crawled onto the end of his bed.

“Leon?” Fiona whispered.  “Can I sleep with
you?”

Leon rubbed his face before he remembered his sore lip, and the pain brought him fully awake.  He squinted through the darkness at his stepsister and pulled his feet up to make more room for her.

“Did you have a nightmare or something?” Leon asked.

She nodded.  “Your real father came and took you away.”

“That sounds like a good dream to me.”  Leon sat up, reached for the matchbox on his bedside table, and struck a light.  The flame wavered as he lit the candle, and then he turned to the girl.

“Your lip’s all swollen,” Fiona said.

He touched it gingerly.  “It’ll be okay.”

“I hate when he hits you,” she said, her voice rising.

“It was my own fault for lying to him.”

Fiona curled her arms around her knees, and in her white nightgown, she looked very small and half haunted still.  Her hair was mussed, the fine strands wisping about her big eyes.

She rubbed her nose.  “Did he take your last comic book?”

“He thinks so,” he said, and smiled, watching his sister to see when she’d get it.

Fiona laughed.  “Where are the rest?”

“I’ll show you some time.  Come on,” he said, throwing off the covers.  “Let’s get something to eat.”  He shoved his legs into his trousers, held out his hand to his little sister, and blew out the candle.  Along the back hallways, the lights of the Bastion were dimmed for the night, but the blue, clear light of the moon dropped in the windows and Leon would know the way blind.

He could smell warm cinnamon and yeast before they arrived at the kitchen, and he paused in the doorway, wondering which cook was working.  It was the new one, a young one, and Leon almost turned back, but Fiona pushed around him, the hem of her nightgown trailing over the brick floor.

“Hey,” Fiona said.  “I haven’t seen you before.”

“I’m Mabrother Cho,” the cook said.  “Which twin are you?”

“Fiona,” she answered.  “This is Leon.”

The cook nodded in his direction.  Then, with his rolling pin, he indicated a couple of stools on the other side of his big wooden table.  Leon helped his sister up, and jockeyed her stool a little closer to the table.  He was too fidgety himself to sit, and shifted to where he could keep an eye on the door.  The kitchen was brightly lit, and a pan of oil was heating on the stove.  There were bowls of eggs on the counter, two big hams, and a pumpkin, but it was early yet for the cook to be starting breakfast and the rolled dough on the table looked like piecrust, only square.

“Where’s the real cook?” Fiona asked.

Mabrother Cho laughed.  “He’s sleeping.”

“How come you’re not?” Fiona said.

“Maybe it’s the full moon.  I couldn’t sleep,” he said.  “What’s your excuse?”

“Nightmares,” Fiona said.  She reached out and took Leon’s hand.  “Do you have anything for Leon’s lip?  Ice or anything?”

Leon ducked his face away.  “It’s okay.  Forget it.”

The cook was frowning at him now.  “How’d you get that?”

“It was an accident,” Leon said.  “Come on, Fiona.  We should go.”

“No, have a seat,” said the cook.  “I could use some help, actually.”

“What with?” Fiona asked.

(To be continued.)

9 Responses to Leon at Eleven

  • Hi! I just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed Birthmarked! 🙂 I’ll be reviewing it later on my blog either tonight or tomorrow. I really enjoyed reading this excerpt too! It’s nice to see Fiona’s character. 🙂 She seems very sweet, and I love Leon! Leon is an extremely intriguing character.
    I loved your book! I can’t get over how much I love it! 🙂

  • Savannah,
    Thank you so very much! I’m delighted to hear you liked Gaia’s story. Leon’s a favorite character of mine, too, so I’m glad he intrigues you. I’ll watch for your review!
    All best,
    Caragh

  • I literally /just/ finished reading Birthmarked and I really enjoyed it! (I’ll probably be posting a review on my blog tomorrow.) Leon was definitely my favorite character and I love this little tidbit about him! Thanks for sharing it!

  • Becky,
    How kind of you to let me know. Thank you! It was interesting to visit Leon at a different age and find him materializing as himself then, too. I’ll keep an eye out for your blog!
    All best,
    Caragh

  • I’m really excited for the sequel if there is going to be one. Hopefully. I can’t stand not knowing what happens to Leon.

    I loved getting to read a little more of his background. Are you planning on continuing it? (I would think so based on the To Be Continued…) :).

  • Alyssa,
    I’m working on the sequel now, so I’m getting more time with my favorite characters. It will be out in the fall of 2011. Sorry for the wait! I’ll put up the rest of the bit story probably Monday. At least that I can deliver soon.
    All best,
    Caragh

  • I don’t mind the wait. Your books are definitely worth it. I did some research and found that the next title is Prized? Having a title makes it feel like it’s really on it’s way! Just take your time! Don’t feel rushed by fans! They all just love your books and are really excited.

    ~Alyssa

  • Thanks Caragh! Love getting extras. They’re really entertaining!

  • Kaylin,
    I’m so glad you liked it! It was fun to do.
    Caragh

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