Notes from the Studio

The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Twelve.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Twelve       Janet pushed against the massive French doors that opened into the great room inside, but when they wouldn’t give way, she noticed the red blinking light in the darkness of the room inside. Briefly glancing up at yet another of her father’s security cameras, she casually offers it an obscene hand gesture.        “Bloody stupid codes…”       Furiously she punched in a set of numbers and threw the doors open, letting them bounce against whatever they met, then impatiently slammed them shut behind her. Unconcerned, she tracked mud and leaves across the elegant Persian carpet that covered the floor of the room and ran quickly toward the stair. Aware that she was crying and desperate to be in her room, she took them two and three at a time        Her father, though, was waiting at the top of the stairs, concern fighting with anger clouding his face. Very quietly he asked, “Janet, can you join me in my office for a moment?”       Hastily wiping away her tears, she turned to face her father, “No! I bloody will not. I’m going to bed.”       Her father’s face set with determination as he firmly took hold of her arm, “Come along, this won’t take but a moment.”       When both Janet and her father were inside his expensively appointed office, John Ravenscroft gracefully eased his bulk down into the leather chair behind his massive oak desk. He gestured for Janet to sit as well. Ignoring his suggestion, she continued to stand, hoping that she’d be able to leave that much sooner.       But just as her father was about to speak, his mobile buzzed emphatically. Janet was surprised by the growing look of apprehension on her father’s face as his terse conversation with the caller continued.        Trying to ignore what was

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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Eleven.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Eleven       Both arms clinched around Tom’s waist, Janet welcomed the numbing exhaustion that almost smothered the chaos raging through her thoughts. The crowded streets flashed by offering a barrage of sight and sound that blesses her with needed distraction. But vivid images of first the dead man laying in a pool of his own blood and then Lottie’s father, kept relentlessly overpowering her thoughts. Fiercely she clutched at Tom’s arm and cried out, “The father of the only friend I’ve got might die because of me. And that other man, just who the fuck was he?”       But Tom’s concentration is elsewhere as they suddenly careened through a pedestrian-only thoroughfare. Doing his best to avoid the startled, angry people in front of the bike, he replied, “Who?”        Janet screamed into his ear, “That man back in the club! The one who died trying to protect me.        “Maybe he was one of your father’s men?  A new one whose face you didn’t recognize?”        Janet cried out, her frustration and fear making her voice crack, “Whoever he is, he’s dead … and I don’t even know his name.       Against his back Thomas can feel Janet’s tense arms clutching at him as she spoke, “That fucking world you wanted me to see is absolutely bloody terrifying!       “Then there’s you…with the sword. Where did that come from?       “And there’s the weird fucking language we were both speaking… Who talks like that, and why do I understand it,now?”        Then she leaned in close to Tom’s ear and hissed, “Tom, are you listening to me? What the fuck is going on?”       His determined silence only made Janet’s desperation grow, so by the time Tom pulled the motorcycle up to the gate of her father’s estate, she was tight with anger. Tom turned to look

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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Ten.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Ten       Unconcerned with the dead man at his feet, The Huntsman kept his eyes locked on Tom. “Have you chosen then to remain in this dreary realm?”        Ignoring the casual taunt Thomas shouted over the music to Janet, “Find the rear exit. My Vincent is parked in the alley. Get on it. Leave. Leave now!”       Shocked, Janet stared at the dead body of the complete stranger that had just tried to save her life. “What about him? Can’t we do anything…”        At that moment Lottie grabbed her arm, pulling Janet toward the back of the club. “You heard the man. There’s an exit back there. Use it!”       Janet was still frozen with indecision. Directly in front of the two women, Thomas engaged The Huntsman again, their swords glittering through the air. As calmly as possible the Knight of the Rose kept on speaking to Janet, “This is what I do. Please go!”        At that same moment, a still oblivious dancer slipped in the spreading pool of blood on the floor and grabbed his partner to keep from falling. He looked down and saw the body of the dead man sprawled at his feet. Beside him his friend let out a high-pitched scream when she also saw the pool of blood they were both standing in. Immediately, other revelers began to notice the trauma as well. Soon there were more screams as people started to panic, desperately trying to shove away from the body on the floor, running and scrambling over each other toward the entrance, trying to escape whoever was doing the killing.        Janet watched in horror as her knight with no visible armor leapt over all five beasts as they lunged after him, tusks bared. His blade slashed down, glittering brightly in the dim

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