Book Title: PRECISE OATHS, Liliana and the Fae of Fayetteville Book 1
Character Name: Liliana
“Hi! I’m Sadie with Safe Paths magazine. We write a guidebook for people who are a little, you know, different. It’s to find Other-friendly businesses when they travel. You’ve been recommended by, um, let me see … “ The tall woman in the sharp pants suit checked her wrist phone. “Janice Willoughby. She said you were a person who runs a local business that’s welcoming to those of the non-Normal persuasion?”
Yes. I do run a local business that’s welcoming to Others.
I was wondering if I could interview you? I’d like to ask you some questions, so my readers can get to know you and what you do here.
Oh. That’s fine then. I’m used to answering questions. Come into my business space and sit down.
This is your business? I thought it was your home. (She settles into a chair by a round table with a crystal ball in the center, and sets her wrist phone to record the conversation.)
It’s both. This room used to be a formal dining room, but I changed its purpose. Now, it is my business space and the rest of the house is my personal space.
I saw your sign outside on the lawn, Madame Anna Sees All. You’re a fortune teller?
I am a seer, yes. No one can see all, of course. They would go insane. But when I painted the sign, my second mother said, “Advertising doesn’t have to be accurate. Only catchy.”
Second mother? How many mothers do you have?
My second mother died some decades ago, and my first mother died years before that, but I had two, a long time ago. My father loved both my mothers and they loved each other. They were very happy together for a long time.
Actually, that might be a good place to start. Tell me about your family. How would you describe your childhood?
I usually don’t.
Why is that?
My species, spider seers, are nearly extinct because powerful people don’t like that we can see their secrets. They tend to put bounties on our heads. I prefer to remain not extinct.
Maybe we just won’t mention what type of Other you are in the guidebook.
I would prefer that.
Aren’t you a little concerned, living on this street just a few blocks from the entrance to Fort Liberty Army base? I mean, if you don’t want powerful people to know about you?
I forget sometimes that it is called Fort Liberty now, not Fort Bragg. Many of the soldiers or their families are my clients, so the location generally works well. I am careful to avoid CC TV and drone cameras. I don’t allow photographs of me to be made, and only accept cash for my work. I don’t have a bank account.
You mean cash like actual paper money? Does anyone still use that? I thought it was completely phased out some time in the 2040s, after the Energy Wars.
I meant the modern equivalent, pay cards.
And I didn’t think anyone still called Fort Liberty Fort Bragg. I’m barely old enough to remember when they changed it. Just out of curiosity, how old are you?
I am 146.
Really! You certainly don’t look a day over 25. Do you have children? Pets?
I am only 146. It will be four more years until I’m old enough to bear children. I have a roombot that cleans floors and does dishes, but I don’t suppose that counts as a pet. I feed the birds and squirrels in my yard sometimes?
I’m sure they appreciate it. I’m not familiar with spider seers at all, myself, and I thought I knew about most of the different types of beast-kin. I assume you’re beast-kin, and not Fae since they’re usually akin to some plant or stone?
Yes, I am beast-kin.
I assume your spider-kin abilities help you in some way with being a fortune-teller?
Um, could you actually tell me about how your spider-kin abilities help in your job?
Oh. Sorry. I misunderstood your question. I have four sets of eyes, each that see in a different way. My first human eyes are like Normals’ and my second eyes are useful in combat for seeing all around or in the dark. My third eyes help me to see people’s nature and motivations, but my fourth eyes are the ones that can see other times and places.
Wow, that’s a lot of vision. It must be great to see everything like that.
It is useful, but also it is a lot. I have had to split my mind to be able to control and process multiple sensory inputs simultaneously. It means I don’t think linearly as most people do. It can make communication and social interactions a challenge, sometimes. But you seem to be an easy person to communicate with.
All Others are significant. Is that a question?
(Chuckling.) I’ll take that as a no. Does your unusual way of thinking cause some challenges with relationships?
I am good at fighting and seeing. I’m not good at relationships.
That’s the second time you’ve mentioned combat or fighting. I can see why you’re particularly good at seeing with all those eyes, but why fighting?
When I was little, my visions would overwhelm my mind. My father and both my mothers used combat training to help ground me. It kept me sane. All three of my parents were fierce warriors and good teachers. I became very good at fighting.
(She blinks dark eyes suddenly sparkly and full.)
I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to bring up a painful memory. Did something bad happen to your parents?
I miss them a lot sometimes.
I saw … I saw that two of my parents and many more of my family were going to be torn apart by werewolves before it happened. I … I couldn’t … I couldn’t stop it from happening. And I couldn’t stop … seeing it over and over.
If you keep twisting your skirt like that, you might tear it.
How about we change the subject. What is your greatest source of joy?
I … It’s very satisfying when I give someone good advice and they take it, and good things happen to them because of it. But that is … satisfaction, not joy. I’m not sure… It has been a long time since I felt joy.
Surely there’s something that you like to do for fun?
Oh. Yes. I like to read books! I have copies of many classics, like the Lord of the Rings, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the Murderbot Diaries. I know most people frown on paper books nowadays. But I still like paper books. I am delighted that the Green is strong again and the air is fresh and the trees tall, but I still like paper books.
Well, as long as they’re older books that were created before the wars, they’re probably fine. No one is cutting down trees to make books now, certainly. Say, could you, possibly do a reading for me as an example of your work? That way I can describe what is involved to my readers.
Madame Anna sees all. Pay me what you feel is fair for truth that cannot be seen by other eyes. I see what is, what has been, and what might be. Ask and the truth shall be yours.
Do I have to pay you? The writeup in our magazine should be good for your business. Free advertising.
It’s just what I say before I see for someone. If you don’t feel you need to pay me, I understand.
Should I show you my palms, or you just look into the crystal ball, or–Omigod! There are giant, swirly eyes on your forehead!
I normally conceal them, but you already know what I am, so I didn’t see the point.
You said you had eight eyes. I just… Seeing them staring at you is a bit different from hearing about them.
You must not accept the blue box!
When the postman hands it to you, thank him, and drop it in the nearest metal trash can. That will contain the explosion.
What are you talking about?
The blue box is a bomb from an organization that thinks Others are an abomination and does not like that your digital magazine exists. If you keep the box, you will die.
Are you all right?
No. … I just saw your arms blown off. … You died screaming in agony as you bled out.
(Gulp.) I promise, if anyone hands me a blue box, I’ll put it right in a trash can. Do you know when this might happen?
Very soon. Probably tomorrow.
I’ll do exactly what you said. That means the vision you saw won’t happen. Right?
Are you all right now?
No. I am not all right. I will have new nightmares tonight. Even if you avoid that fate, I can’t unsee it.
You must have a lot of nightmares.
I have many nightmares, mostly of Celtic wolf-kin like the ones who killed my family coming to get me. But I also see ugly things like this sometimes in my work, people murdered, accidents, awful things.
I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to be the cause of more nightmares.
It is not your fault. You didn’t know. I am glad you will not die tomorrow.
Is there a friend you can go stay with tonight, maybe?
I don’t really have … well … friends. I had so many friends when I was a girl, and a big boisterous family and all the circus people who were like a bigger family, and the cats. I like big cats. My father and brothers were lion-kin and my second mother was jaguar-kin. Big cats were like family, too. When nightmares bothered me when I was little, I would sleep with the lions.
Aren’t there people here and now that you would like to be your friends?
It was easier to make friends when I was a child. Janice Willoughby, for example, is my favorite client. She is an enjoyable person, but I am uncertain how one crosses the line between client and friend.
So, you’re all alone here? What about love?
Unlike my mothers, I only find men interesting in that way, not women also. Men usually just want me for sex for a while, until I dislike their motivations enough to no longer enjoy them. Or if they are familiar with spider seers, they want my venom which can heal or extend life. I have never met a man who wanted me just for me beyond a few nights. I begin to wonder if men who love like my father loved my mothers don’t exist anymore.
It’s so hard to find a good man, I know. What kind of man interests you?
I prefer men who are fierce and dangerous. It is a spider seer species trait. My sister’s husband is a Komodo dragon-kin assassin. One of my first mother’s older sisters married Genghis Khan.
(Chuckling.) Well, if you do find someone, I hope it’s after I’m long gone and far away.
(Smiling ruefully.) It is highly unlikely that I will meet such a man any time soon.
Um. (Blinking the large swirling opalescent eyes on her forehead.)
What is it?
Nothing? Probably? I just saw a man’s face for a moment. He was handsome, dark-skinned, wearing an Army officer’s uniform, and had a scar on his temple. I’ve never seen him before.
Well, I’m going to get going now. Thank you for the interview.
I said you did not have to pay me.
Let’s just say that I feel it’s fair. Oh, I forgot to ask your full name, Madame Anna. For the article.
Madame Anna is what clients call me, because of my sign.
I am Liliana.
Even though spider-kin Liliana sees the past, the future, and into men's souls, she can still be surprised. After all, no one wakes up wondering if they'll be accused of murder by a werewolf.
Wolf-kin Peter Teague of Fort Bragg's Criminal Investigation Division analyzes the venom in six dead soldiers. He discovers the victims were killed by a spider-kin, and Liliana is the only spider-kin in Fayetteville. It's up to Liliana to keep Pete from executing her, and convince the skeptical scientist she's not the murderer, all while keeping her new friend from getting eaten by the real killers. As if that's not enough, she might even have to socialize! How will she survive this paranormal mystery that puts her as the prime suspect?
Paranormal Romance | Fantasy [City Owl Press, On Sale: June 1, 2023, Paperback, ISBN: 9781648983856 / eISBN: 9781648983863]
I am a science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romantic suspense author. I’m represented by Michelle Hauck of Storm Literary.
The first book in the Liliana the Spider Seer series – Precise Oaths is coming out from City Owl Press in June, 2023!
Paige E. Ewing, my maiden name, is my sci fi and fantasy nom de plume. I also write technical books with O’Reilly publishing, articles, blogs, etc. about analytics software and data architecture using my married name, Paige Roberts.
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