Kiss of Vesuvius

 

Black clouds billowed from the mountain that overlooked the city. Lightning split the darkness with sudden flashes of white. Claudius choked on the stench of sulfur as he turned the corner to get to his villa.

Panic gripped his chest. Where was his new bride? Florence couldn’t be at the market now.

A retching sound came from inside. Claudius burst through the doorway to see Florence bent over a pot. She wiped her mouth with her arm.

Her eyes widened. “Claudius, what’s going on?”

“The mountain is on fire. We must flee.”

“What about finding shelter?” Her eyes darted around the home he’d purchased when he retired from being a gladiator.

“I don’t think that’s possible. Come with me. I promised to take care of you.”

Claudius knew the expectant look on his wife’s face – the same look he received when he said he would marry her. He’d conquered the arenas—he would keep her safe. She reached out her hand, and Claudius led her outside.

A ball of flame exploded on their villa, the force of impact smashing through the roof.

Florence shrieked as stone fragments pelted them.

“This way. We’ll find a ship at the docks. It’s our best chance.”

They coughed with the foul dust that lingered in the air. Claudius led her down the road, but their progress slowed as they passed the market. He forced his wide frame through the panicked crowds.

Florence stumbled on the cobblestone and retched again. Claudius scooped her into his arms and pushed toward a side road.

Despite the ash burning his lungs, Claudius continued to carry his bride. Her color had drained, and her eyes threatened to roll back. Her black curls danced along his arm.

He stroked her face. “Stay awake. We’re close now.”

The air near the harbor still carried the sulfur stench, but the brine wafted through as well.

Claudius rounded a corner and stopped.

The crush of people storming the docks overwhelmed him. Too many were trying to flee.

He spied a few smaller fishing vessels away from the larger boats. Perhaps he could find someone there. His muscles screamed from exertion, but he pushed his way to the smallest dock.

People ran by, their voices cracking with stress and smoke.

Fire shot from the top of the cursed Vesuvius.

“Do you have room for us?” Every answer: no.

His heart pounded. He coughed hard with a sudden inhalation of soot. He’d fought all comers in the coliseum. He would keep his wife from harm. But how?

Florence cupped his face. “My love, it’s all right. Let’s go toward the countryside. We may find shelter there.”

No. Claudius gave her an extra squeeze, because he knew there was only one answer. His height and bulk scared off any potential rescue. But one petite woman?

One boat at the end wasn’t as full as the others. Claudius strode to it, where the owner loosed the ropes to push off. The older man sighed as Claudius approached. “I’m truly sorry, but I can’t take you both.”

“What about my wife? Can you get her to safety?”

He gently set Florence’s feet on the ground.

She whirled to face him. “No! I can’t leave you. I have to tell you something!”

A loud rumble emanated from the mountain. Fire shot from the top of the cursed Vesuvius.

“There’s no room for both of us, Florence. But I can give you the gift of life. Please.”

The owner waved his arms. “I can take her, but we must hurry!”

Florence shook her head violently, but Claudius scooped her into a fierce hug. “I love you. I will find you if I can.”

With that, he picked her up again and set her into the boat. She fought to get to the edge.

“Thank you.” Claudius gave the boat a shove and it bobbed away from the dock. The sails caught the wind blowing from the mountain and the boat cut through the waves.

Claudius leaned out, desperate to catch one last glance of his beloved.

Florence’s tears formed streaks through the ash on her face. “I have a gift for you as well. We are going to have a child!”

 

For more great stories of ancient history and heart pounding romance get the latest issue of Spark Magazine on sale now for Kindle and digital devices or subscribe FOR FREE to our newsletter and receive all the best Splickety has to offer.

Meet the Author

Displaying headshot.jpgJason C. Joyner is a physician assistant living in the high desert country of Idaho. He has traveled the world—from the jungles of Thailand to the cities of Australia and the Bavarian Alps of Germany.

He has written both suspense and YA speculative novels and is seeking publication. He’s had previous flash fiction stories published in Splickety magazines before.

He may have watched Star Wars one too many times.

Posted in Flash Fiction

Meet Melanie Dickerson

It’s our pleasure to welcome Melanie Dickerson to the Lightning Blog today! A bestselling author of fairy tales reimagined, Melanie lends us her talents in the latest issue of Spark with a story that proves Ancient History is still heart-pounding today. 

Who is your favorite character in all of literature and why?

I have a lot of favorites, including all of Jane Austen’s heroines and heroes, and even some of her secondary characters, but my favorite might be Margaret of Ashbury in the series by Judith Merkle Riley, beginning with the first book, A Vision of Light. She’s quirky, yet relatable, and very humble and honest about herself, which I love, and she’s surprisingly optimistic and takes things as they come. She’s also, in my mind, the medieval Forrest Gump. All of the stereotypical medieval events—forced marriage, the plague, accusations of sorcery—befall her sooner or later. And she comes through them all relatively unscathed. She’s just a fun character, and I feel as if I know her, which is a testament to the author’s skill!

What story has inspired your writing the most?

That’s a tough question. Maybe Beauty and the Beast, because love, moral character, and courage win out over all obstacles.

What classic are you ashamed to admit you haven’t read?

There are many I haven’t read, though I did read a LOT of classics, voluntarily, when I was young, because there was not a very wide selection in my high school library. I went to a tiny rural K through 12 school in south Alabama, but they had most of the classics. I read Gone With the Wind six times, but I wish I’d read Les Miserables, especially since now it’s one of my favorite movies.

If you were a teacher, what classic work would get most excited to share with your students?

I adore Jane Eyre, and all of Jane Austen’s books, but those mostly appeal to girls. But I’d be really excited to share The Scarlet Pimpernel, since I can’t imagine anyone, boy or girl, not loving it.

What are your writing quirks?

I write my stories chronologically, scene by scene, and never divide my books into chapters until I’m completely done and ready to send it to my publisher. I sometimes send my book in to my editor and an hour later have to email her and say, “Wait! I forgot to put it into the chapters!” And I spend the next hour or two deciding where to put in chapter breaks.

Tell us about your writing goals for 2017.

My goals are to finish my Aladdin story that I’m working on now and start on my Mulan story. I may also work on a book that I finished years ago but can’t stop thinking about the changes I want to make to it, as well as the sequel I want to write.

Win a copy of Melanie’s latest book, The Noble Servant!

 

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson beautifully re-imagines The Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm into a medieval tale of adventure, loss, and love.
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Meet the Author

Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author of historical romances. She loves God, family, romance, movies, Jane Austen, Audrey Hepburn, history, and CASTLES!

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Troy’s Ancient Fish Market :: Flash Fiction

The fish market in Troy rang with a swarm of voices. Tarun slapped two more fish on his table, looked up at the sun, and sighed. Oh that the citadel’s shade would reach his booth! His merchandise could use the relief. Already some began to smell of stagnant ocean.

“Excuse me,” a light, musical voice said.

Tarun’s stomach flipped as he brought his attention to Arina’s sea green eyes. She smiled up at him, her browned skin complimented by her purple dress and hood.

“Might you have a pristine catch for the honorable Priestess?” Arina asked.

“Y-yes, of course.” He turned and selected the best fish he had. “I kept it back just for you.”

She blushed. “The Priestess will be pleased.”

They stood gazing at each other for several moments. A soft breeze swept a loose curl across her cheek. Everything in him ached to lean forward and brush it away, to let his hand linger on her face, to lower his lips to hers. But the few inches between them seemed as vast as the difference in their stations, and just as impossible to breach.

“Hey!” A customer shouted shattering the moment, “Do you want my business or shall I go elsewhere?”

But the few inches between them seemed as vast as the difference in their stations, and just as impossible to breach.

Tarun fumbled and nearly dropped the fish. “Sorry, just a minute.” He placed the catch in Arina’s basket, covering it with a bit more salt.

She smiled and pressed two coins in his hand, her skin brushing his. “Until next week, Tarun.” Her hand lingered a moment longer before she ducked her head and wove away through the crowd.

“Until next week,” he murmured, and began counting down the hours.

Meet the Author

Adrienne has often been compared to Anne of Green Gables. Although she’s never desired to sleep in a wild cherry tree, she has yearned to use stories as a way of reaching out to others and pointing them to God. A student of The One Year Adventure Novel, Adrienne has been pursuing the art and craft of writing fiction for seven years, and is involved in several writing communities. Newly wed, Adrienne is settling into her next life chapter as a wife and homemaker, as well as getting back to her passions of writing and yarn creations. Visit Adrienne at https://thestorytopian.wordpress.com/
Social Media:
Twitter: @LadyALocksely

 

For more great stories of ancient history and heart pounding romance get the latest issue of Spark Magazine on sale now for Kindle and digital devices or subscribe FOR FREE to our newsletter and receive all the best Splickety has to offer.

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