Emilie and the Sky World
is out today!It's available at:Barnes and Noble
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, or look for it in an independent bookstore in the US through Indiebound
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and DRM-free at The Robot Trading Company
Emilie took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
Twilight had fallen, and the quiet street smelled strongly of dinner. Karthea's house, like all the others, had a chunky stone facade and wood-framed windows with cheerful curtains and potted flowers on the stoop. The gas lamp on the corner had already been lit, glowing bright in the failing daylight.
There was no answer immediately and Emilie began to wonder if Karthea had closed the school temporarily and gone on some journey. If so, it was less of a disaster than it would have been a fortnight ago. Emilie had money enough for a room at an inn or boarding house, but it would be disappointing not to see her cousin. And wandering through town looking for a suitable place to stay was considerably less daunting than it had been a fortnight ago as well, especially considering that she had company.
"Maybe she didn't get my letter, or the package I sent," Emilie told Daniel, who stood patiently beside her. "Though I'm not arriving when I said I would."
"I think I hear someone inside," Daniel said. "It's nearly time for dinner, maybe she's just busy with--"
The door flung open, and Karthea stood there, wearing an apron and holding a partially peeled beet. "Emilie, you're days late! I was so worried!" Her eyes fell on Daniel, and she frowned in confusion. "Where have you been?"
"Karthea," Emilie said, smiling. "I have had an adventure!"
Karthea's eyes widened, then narrowed. She grabbed Emilie's arm and dragged her inside. To Daniel, she said, "Excuse us, please," and shut the door.
They stood in a dim hall, lit by a gas sconce and from brighter lights in the room at the far end. Emilie could hear the voices of young girls somewhere nearby, and a clatter of dishes. It smelled homey and comfortable, of books, dust, boiling beets from the kitchen. She took a deep breath. She had meant this place to be her refuge; it felt better to be coming to it as a guest.
Karthea still held her arm, and was trying unsuccessfully to look intimidating. Karthea was mostly Southern Menean like Emilie, with warm brown skin and dark eyes. She and Emilie looked a little alike in the face, though Karthea was taller and myopic and always wore eyeglasses. She had inherited their side of the family's somewhat unmanageable hair, and hers was just as frizzy and curling as Emilie's, in the process of escaping from the band she had tried to use to confine it. "Are you eloping?" Karthea demanded.
It was so unexpected, Emilie laughed. "Of course not!"( moreCollapse )