Kase: "Shattered Lace"
Updated: Aug 12, 2021
Ah! I am SO excited to share this with you guys. This idea has been marinating in my mind for a while (sorry for the steak reference, I'm a little hungry). Anyway, I decided to publish (here on my blog) some flash fiction and short stories in the same world as my upcoming debut, Cities of Smoke and Starlight!
I just love my characters so much I want to live in their heads for as long as I can. Ha. Anyway, each "snippet" will be from the character's backstory or history to give you a better understanding who they are so when you do meet them in my novel, you will love them even more! But don't worry. No spoilers here. You can still read the main novel (when it gets published) without worrying about having any plot points spoiled beforehand. These are just to give a little flavor. I also made an aesthetic just for the occasion.
DISCLAIMER: As my novel is unpublished as of this posting, the events, names, and so on are subject to change once it is. Also, the artwork in the aesthetic is not my own and is used for inspiration purposes only. If you are one of the artists appearing here and would like your work removed, please contact me here.
Without further ado, happy reading!
15 September 4495
If there was one thing Kase Shackley hated more than abysmal dinner parties, it was abysmal dinner parties where his mother forced him to wear a necktie. He tugged at his as he traipsed down the polished stairs of his family’s manor, loosening it to where he could breathe.
According to his mother, his usual manner of disarray was not appropriate for his sister’s betrothal dinner, but Kase didn’t think anyone would notice if his tie was looser than it should be. They’d be too focused on his ostentatious frock coat made for the occasion. Kase swore it sparkled as he passed under the electric bulbs of the foyer’s intricate chandelier. All of it was blasting ridiculous. Not only did he look like a pretty peacock, but this was also a family affair. Nothing good happened when someone forced all the Shackleys in a room together.
Almost within the moment he entered the parlor, his mother spotted him. She wove past guests draped in priceless jewels and more than one antique table full of little glass figurines before her soft, flowery fragrance enveloped him.
“Kase, dear. I told you to do something about that hair.” She paused and shook her head, the iridescent tiara glinting amongst her coifed black locks. “And your tie. Gracious day, did you not pay attention to anything I said beforehand?”
“I’m surprised you noticed anything past this stars-ugly frock coat you’re making me wear.”
“Sorry, Mother. I just don’t understand why it has to sparkle.”
She sighed. “It’s in fashion. Now fix your tie, please. The Morgans will think you uncouth.”
Kase raised a dark eyebrow as he glanced toward a tubby man sitting on the settee. The gentleman knocked back the rest of his drink, the ice clinking. “Mother. Calm down. I look fine. Lord Morgan is too deep into his glass of brandy to even notice.”
She chewed the inside of her cheek. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” She spoke low but with an outward smile to pretend all was well to their guests. “Have you seen Ana? She was supposed to come down fifteen minutes ago.”
Kase ran a hand through his dark curls, messing them further. “Haven't seen her, but she's probably deciding which scent to put on. Besides, I thought being a girl meant you took ages to get ready for anything important.”
Her blue eyes sparked for a moment, and Kase smiled. “I’m not wrong, am I?”
His mother sighed and offered him a slight smile. “You’re right, but this is her betrothal dinner after all.”
“I’ll go check on her.”
“Thanks, dearest. And have her lady's maid fix your hair, if you would?”
Rolling his eyes, Kase bowed and headed off in the direction of the grand hallway, passing his two elder brothers in a deep discussion with Ana’s newly betrothed. They seemed to like the guy, but Kase couldn’t care less. He didn’t even remember his name. Was it John? James? Really not important.
As he entered the hall, Kase snatched two salmon puffs from a serving platter with a nod to the manservant about to enter the parlor, then he headed up the stairs, his shining leather loafers slapping against the polished wood. Once he’d made it to the family wing, he knocked on Ana’s heavy oak door, puffs clutched protectively in his hand.
“I’m coming, Mother! Five more minutes, please!”
Kase grinned, putting a hand on the overly polished knob. “Not Mother. I’m opening the door in three seconds. Hope you’re decent!”
The door flew open, and Kase crossed the threshold. “Ana?”
“If you’re going to come in, at least have the courtesy not to stand like a dulkop in the doorway.”
Kase moved further in and turned to find his sister on the other side of the door. She shut it with a snap and crossed her arms, her gray eyes narrowed. “Did Mother send you up here?”
He held up a salmon puff. “I brought you one of these.”
“Thanks.” She grabbed it from his hand and took a bite. With a contented sigh, she closed her eyes and savored the taste. Kase scarfed his own down. The silky texture of the cream and salmon mixed with the flaky, buttery crust was blissful. No wonder Mother always ordered these for every dinner party. Maybe the only good thing about them.
Ana finished her puff and dusted her hands on her skirt. “Now, did Mother send you?”
Kase tore off his frock coat, dropping it to the floor. He gave it a swift kick before walking over to her unmade bed, pushing some silky material out of the way, and sitting. Someone had flung all sorts of lacy dresses, silky ribbons, and gaudy slippers onto every available surface. At least he couldn’t see the stars-awful marble floor any longer. “I volunteered. Where’s your lady’s maid? Isn’t she supposed to make you pretty?”
Ana flopped onto the bed beside him and fell back, her arms splayed. “I’m always pretty.”
“And humble. Please don’t say she’s buried underneath those ugly dresses over there.” Kase pointed to a lump of outdated styles piled upon Ana’s reading chair. “Smothered by lace would be a terrible way to go.”
“Mother would hate all the paperwork it would entail, I’m sure.”
“Yes. Because that’s the worst part of killing off someone in your employ.”
Anna’s sigh was lengthy and exhausted. “No, I sent Zurie away for the evening.”
Taking one of her pillows, Ana pulled it over her face, making her next words nearly inaudible. “I didn’t want…I don’t know…I…Kase? Can I tell you something? You promise not to tell?”
“Only if you tell me I’m your favorite brother and give me your dessert.”
Within a second, a goose-down pillow collided with the side of his face as Ana laughed. “You know you’re my favorite, but there’s no way you’re getting my chocolate tart. I picked it out especially.”
“Fine, I’ll allow it.” He threw the pillow back at her. “Now, tell me. Mother is worried you’re not down there yet, and neither of us wants Father to get upset.”
Ana played with the expensive metal ring on her finger and refused to meet his eyes. “But if my future in-laws want me to marry their son, shouldn’t they see how Father really is?”
Kase sucked on his teeth and looked up at the domed ceiling painted with a beautiful landscape while he gathered his thoughts. The artist had captured the subtle, golden rays of the New-Sun peeking through thick, towering trees of a forgotten forest, something neither Kase nor Ana would ever see in real life. He looked back at his sister, placing his hand on hers. He hoped she didn’t sense the regret in his voice. “You and I both know that’s a terrible idea.”
“Yeah,” Ana bit her lip. “I guess it is.”
When she didn’t say anything more, Kase spoke softly, leaning forward. “This is your chance. You understand that, right? I get to be a pilot in the Crews once I finish at the University, but you? This is your only way out.”
Ana looked up, her dark blonde hair falling into her eyes. She was a year younger than he, yet when she looked at him then, she was much older than seventeen...
© 2020 Alli Earnest "Shattered Lace"
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