SOMETHING was wrong on Talkers Isle. Drusilla had known it almost as
soon as she stepped off the shuttle yesterday. This Isle had always been
one of her favorite places on Vensoog. It’s aura of peace and
tranquility had provided solace to her angst-ridden spirit when she
first set foot on it as a child. Now, someone or something, had poisoned
that aura and Drusilla was going to make them pay for it.
The acute contrast between the atmosphere today and the feeling when she
came here years ago as a traumatized child had been just nasty. When she
had come as a child, it had been for further training in controlling the
impact of the emotions she picked up from the people around her.
Today when Drusilla had come back to Talker’s Isle to bring some of
the clan’s security forces here to take the Dragon Talker training,
she had looked forward to immersing herself into the Isle’s peaceful
aura for a few days. Apparently, that wasn’t going to happen.
“Alright,” Genevieve said, her voice jerking Drusilla out of her
brown study. “Enough brooding. Are you going to tell me what’s
“Can’t you feel it?” Drusilla questioned. “This whole place
reeks of despair, dissatisfaction and anger.”
“I’m not a Dragon Talker,” her sister reminded her.
“Trust me, something is very wrong here.”
“Have you discussed this bad feeling with Mother Superior?”
Drusilla shook her head. “I don’t think she’s well, Genevieve. I
don’t want to distress her. I know something is definitely not right
though. When I asked for a volunteer to go out to Veiled Isle, it was
almost as if the Talkers were hostile to the idea. When I was training
here, teachers used to trip over each other to volunteer for a sweet
assignment like that.”
Her sister made a face. “Well I don’t think that sour-mouthed old
bat who volunteered will be an asset. Why on earth did you choose
“She was the only one to come forward, Genevieve,” Drusilla reminded
her. “I can’t force anyone to come out to the Isle, you know
“So what are you going to do?” Genevieve inquired. She and Gideon
were expecting their first child during the Planting Festival, and
Drusilla had noticed she had developed a habit of patting her belly
protectively. She did it now.
“Someone needs to find out what is going on, but I can’t stay here
and root it out. I promised Katherine I would go back to Veiled Isle and
help with tutoring Violet and some of the other children while Mistress
Leona is laid up. I think I need to talk to Lucas,” Drusilla said
thoughtfully. “He’s going to be here for at least eight weeks and he
is a trained investigator. Once we know what is wrong, we can decide
what steps to take.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Genevieve remarked, reflecting with
hidden amusement that over the past year Drusilla seemed to have
developed a lot of confidence in Lucas. I do hope he’s on her List
because I think they might make a good match after all, she thought.
I’ll have to ask Katherine to check when we go back to Veiled Isle.
Drusilla had met Lucas, who was here to take the training, the first day
he had arrived on Vensoog with Genevieve’s husband Gideon. Lucas was
Gideon’s foster son and he had emigrated with him when Gideon married
Genevieve. Gideon’s marriage to Genevieve, as well as that of many of
Gideon’s unit who had chosen to take part in the Handfasting, had been
necessary to restore a healthy genetic balance to Vensoog.
Although Drusilla and Lucas had been considered too young to
participate, the two of them had spent a lot of time together. Lucas had
been the first young man to pay her the kind of attention a man gives an
attractive woman, and Drusilla had found herself immediately attracted
to Lucas as well. His quirky sense of humor and sturdy common sense had
appealed to her. He wasn’t bad looking either. Lucas was tall, with a
born rider’s broad shouldered, narrow hipped build, but his body
showed the promise of the heavy muscles that would come as he aged. Like
his foster father Gideon, he had light hair that he kept short soldier
fashion, sharp green eyes and clean cut features.
To Drusilla’s bewilderment and secret delight, Lucas had seemed to be
charmed by her person and had spent as much of his time with her as he
could manage. Lucas hadn’t been annoying but he had made it obvious he
wanted her. She sensed he wasn’t going to be patient with her waffling
about making a decision forever.
For the past several months he had shown all the signs of a man who
wanted more than just friendship, and Drusilla knew she was going to
have to make a decision about her relationship with Lucas soon because
the Makers were going to give them their Match Lists at the next
Behind them, she could hear Genevieve’s two foster daughters, Ceridwen
and Bronwen playing with a new litter of Quirka pups. Drusilla’s own
Quirka, Toula, nuzzled her ear gently in sympathy with her unease.
Quirka were native to Vensoog. They were about the size of a human fist,
with thick, mottled yellow fur that changed color to match their
environment. Originally making their homes in the trees and living on
nuts, berries and insects, Quirkas had become avid hunters of the pests
and creepy-crawlies who invaded human dwellings. Their main protection
against predators was their retractable, venom tipped quills running
down the backbone. They had a large bushy tail used for ballast when
leaping from tree to tree. One of their chief attractions to humans
though was the life bond they developed with certain men and women.
Leaving Genevieve and the children playing with the Quirka pups, she
headed for the student dormitory area. Drusilla spotted Lucas’s tall
form in one of the dormitory sections kept for temporary training
classes. Tomorrow, she knew the incoming class would begin the rigorous
conditioning designed to give them the mental and physical stamina
needed to turn them into Dragon Talkers. Tonight however they were given
free time to settle in.
When she appeared in the doorway, Lucas immediately came toward her.
“I need to speak to you,” she said softly, “Outside.”
This caused some good-natured teasing as he ushered her outside.
“Sorry about that,” he said smiling. “Most of them know I’ve got
a special feeling for you. They don’t mean anything by it.”
She waved it away. “Look, there’s something funny going on here on
the Isle. I can’t stay and root it out, but since you have to be here
anyway, I thought maybe you could look around some.”
If he was disappointed at her reason for seeking him out, it didn’t
show in his face. “Sure,” he said, putting an arm around her
shoulders and giving her a one armed hug. “I’ll keep an eye on
things for you, but I want a real date when we get to the Festival.”
Drusilla almost stamped her foot in exasperation. “Honestly, is that
all you can think about? I tell you there might be trouble brewing and
you want to talk about our Match Lists?”
“Well, what is going on here on the Isle is important, but then I
think we are too.”
“Oh, alright!” she exclaimed. “We can go to the Introductory Ball
“You got it Darling,” he said, managing to plant a quick kiss on her
mouth before walking away. “Oh, by the way” he said over his
shoulder, “I was going to keep an eye on things anyway; Gideon already
gave me a watching brief on it.”
This time she did stamp her foot. How did he always manage to knock her
off balance? No one else did that to her because she didn’t allow it.
Somehow though, Lucas always managed it. Despite her irritation at
falling for his trick, she watched him walk all the way back to the
dormitory, unwillingly admiring the effortless way he moved. She
couldn’t help but appreciate his cleverness, despite her irritation
because he had tricked her again. Somehow, Lucas roused a response in
her physically and emotionally in a way she had never allowed another
man to do, and darn it, he had managed to kiss her again. Drusilla
sighed in exasperation. The problem wasn’t with Lucas, she admitted.
If she hadn’t kissed him back every time, he wouldn’t have reason to
think she was falling in love with him. The real trouble, Drusilla
acknowledged, was she was afraid he was right. She wasn’t exactly
proud of her behavior; it wasn’t fair of her to allow him to kiss her
and then push him away. It wasn’t Lucas’s fault she was afraid of
the emotion growing between them—she knew was leery of her own power
and what a loss of control could mean to others around her.
Irritably, she kicked a pebble off the path back to the guest quarters.
She had looked forward to the peace and tranquility she had always found
here, but she hadn’t found it on this trip. Yes, someone was going to
pay for spoiling Talker’s Isle. Drusilla intended to make sure of it.
Excerpted from "All Our Tomorrows (The Handfasting Book 3)" by Gail Daley. Copyright © 2016 by Gail Daley. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.