Authors: Vicki Renfro
Soul Dancing with the Brass Band
Copyright © 2013 by Vicki Renfro
All rights reserved. No part of this book m
ay be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the expressed written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel is either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published in the United States of America
This book is dedicated to Ed and Hatti
y husband and best friend who were with me when I found my Guru.
I would like to thank all of my readers
who pointed out errors and made invaluable suggestions:
and most of all my dear friend Hattie Owen
Thank you to The Ice House Coffee Shop,
which became The Muddy Buck during this writing,
for letting me spend endless hours writing at their location.
And thank you to Ed Bischoff for his endless support.
oul Dancing with the Brass Band
AT THE Dark Moon, Dec 27, 37 A.D.
I sit astride my battle mare stroking her mane to keep her calm. I can feel the tension pulsate through her muscles as her skin twitches beneath me. Yet, she stands as quiet and motionless as a stone. The sun is dawning and we know it is imperative not to give away our position in the forest.
I have spent many sleepless nights trying to create a scenario that will keep my nine companions and small army alive. I know two will live to see another day because they remain in camp, many miles to the west. They are watching over the elderly and children to ensure our bloodlines continue beyond today. Born to meditate, these two, in many ways are the most important among us. They are “the dreamers”, the ones with the powers of mind to amplify my visions into reality. They are to break camp and disappear into the forest with the remaining Druids if we are unable to hold the battle line against the Roman soldiers. I have faith in the ability of these chosen two. If the battle turns against us and our lives are lost, they will feel the energy shift and vanish into the mist.
Deeply inhaling the scent of lavender, I gaze down at the three Druids that stand beside me. They are dearest to my heart, all very powerful, but only one is a true warrior, scarred and hardened by battle. The other two have refused to be left behind and will die in my stead if given the opportunity.
At the right edge of the clearing in front of me, hidden high atop the trees, sits a small but powerful figure. I can see a fog bank building and know he is weaving the magic of nature to his own desires. He will advance…or retreat…whichever is the God’s will today.
Two tall figures, black robes b
illowing in the wind, stand on the bluff to my left. They want to be seen. The mere sight of them strikes fear into enemy hearts. Their names are whispered around Roman campfires, for these mystics are known to use the fertile minds of others to plant confusing and terrifying thoughts.
I hear the clank of armor as the first group of Roman soldiers march into the clearing. My meager army has been holding on for so long
that our numbers have dwindled to far less than what is necessary for survival. I close my eyes and pray to my Deities. “Please provide me with the strength to defend my homeland….” but before I can open my eyes or finish my prayer, I hear the sickening sound of an arrow entering the beloved body standing next to me. I scream to the Gods, demanding it isn’t so... as my nostrils fill with the stench of blood. I hear my name on his last breath, “Hilsbeth...” My mare bucks violently beneath me….
I jolted straight up in bed as I awoke from a bad dream, trying to gather my scattered thoughts. Sweat soaked my pillow, and my heart beat at a dangerously fast pace.
“What the hell?” I said seeking to get past my panic, so I could remember the dream before it once again retreated into the void from which it came. I’d had this same dream, in one form or another ever since I moved into the freshman dorm. During sleep, it created a fury of anxiety that shook my soul, but when I woke I was unable to hold on to the details long enough to make much sense of it.
With exasperation I fell back on my pillows. “
Get up, Trinity
.” I said using my favorite line from the movie
. Usually it inspired me, but this morning it was of small comfort in light of the apprehension I’d been feeling, so I dragged myself out of bed and down the hallway to the steamy dorm bathroom.
If I were one of the hot girls, maybe I’d have all of this figured out. But I’m not and I don’t. I’m not bad looking, but I’m not beautiful. Everything about me is kinda average. I’m average height and average weight. My hair is average dishwater blond, which gets lighter in the summer from working outside on my folk’s farm. I’m a little shy, very smart and still a virgin.
The girls hardly noticed me as I entered the bathroom to take my shower. Everyone was much too busy talking about the big Spring Fling.
I found myself one sink down from a group of the most voluptuous girls on campus. I stared at their reflections in the mirror and wondered how they could be so perfect. Were they born that way or did all of those expensive products in their bags really make that much difference?
I must admit I was feeling more envious than usual that morning because I was also signed up to attend the Spring Fling. These girls had already picked up their invitations and knew which fraternity they were going to, but I still hadn’t worked up the nerve to walk down to the Student Union for my packet.
I’d like to say I don’t eavesdrop, but I do. Lord knows I could use some tips on the whole social scene thing. I moved into the freshman girl’s dorm last August and what an eye opener that was! I got my sex education while standing in the dining hall line, which was similar to the earful I heard here in the shower room. The gossip was mostly about the wild behavior at the
Spring Fling parties and it got more unbelievable as it was told. But whether the stories were true or not, I promised myself I wouldn’t chicken out. If I put myself out there I might actually find a friend.
I stood in a shower stall and let hot water run over my head until I calmed down. Returning to my room I dressed in my “springiest” outfit, a short jean skirt with a pink sleeveless t-shirt, and pointed myself
toward the Student Union to pick up my party invitation. The lines weren’t long, but I hung back anyway. That shy thing was rearing its ugly head again and I really just wanted to go back to my room. Instead, I dug in and with a few deep breaths made my way to the shortest line. I lowered my head, thinking it made me less obvious. It’s always hard to be a party of one.
–” I heard and looked up to see I had reached the head of the line. “What’s your name?” the guy asked.
I always hated this part. My parents named me Hillary. Bill Clinton was the first presidential candidate they ever voted for and as loyal Democrats, they decided in a moment of insanity, to name their first and only daughter, Hillary. They were hoping it would make me a strong woman like Mrs. Clinton, but it just made me feel old fashioned. Naming me Bertha or Mildred couldn’t have been any worse.
“Hillary Rubner”, I answered. Honestly, could a name really be any worse?
“Here’s your packet,” he said, and handed me two stapled pages. The top page was the name and address of the boy’s fraternity that had drawn my name, coupled with basic information about approved party behavior. The second page was a map with thick purple lines drawn from the spot where I stood and ending at the front door of my intended party.
I can do this!
I quietly whispered to myself and turned toward my Spring Fling destination.
As I put one foot in front of the other, it didn’t take long for me to notice that I was walking off campus. I had expected to be walking with a large group of girls, but there was no one else going in my direction. I began to wonder if I was lost. Maybe this was some elaborate prank! I rechecked the map one more time and figured my only option was to walk a block or two further and then turn back
toward home. As I scanned the area for any sign of human life, I noticed one girl about a hundred feet ahead of me. She was slightly overweight and wearing a rather formal green cocktail dress. I wasn’t sure if she was over-dressed or I was under-dressed, but I did know that I was going to try and catch up to her in case we were going to the same party. The last thing I wanted was to arrive at the party alone.
Hollering didn’t seem appropriate, so I kicked off my flip-flops, picked them up and ran to catch up to her. She seemed startled when I touched her on the shoulder, as if I appeared out of thin air. I imagined she was as baffled by the empty street as I was.
“Hi, my name is Hillary,” I huffed, slightly out of breath. “I think we might be going to the same party.” When I saw the relief on her face, I knew she was happy for the company.
“My name’s Ruth,” she said enthusiastically with outreached hand. “I’m so glad to meet you.”
Her face was really quite pretty with flawless skin, hair in artful disarray and green eyes the same shade as her dress.
I found myself staring into those eyes for much longer than what would be normal. “I’m sorry, you seem so familiar,” I said, while I shook my head to dislodge the feeling of déjà vu. And when her face broke into a spontaneous smile, I was even more confused by my instantaneous feeling of openhearted friendship.
Looking down at my map, I took a minute to recover my senses. “Looks like we are getting close,” I said.
“If we are the only girls at this party, we’ll be the center of attention,” Ruth said happily.
I smiled back at her, but with great trepidation in my heart. The last thing I wanted was attention.
When we reached the intersection marked on the map, we were face to face with an amazing old estate.