In presenting teasers for Mother of Souls, I find myself jumping around a little. Since I'll mostly be choosing "atmosphere" scenes, in order to avoid spoilers, I hope no one will find it confusing. (I make no promises about spoilers for the first two books. If you don't want those, then go out and read them already!) Today's excerpt skips back to Chapter 2, Barbara's first chapter, when she has finally traveled to take formal possession of her new lands in Turinz.
I am inordinately fond of the supporting character René LeFevre, Margaret's business manager and Barbara's oldest friend from when he served in the same capacity for the late Baron Saveze. He was a significant presence in Daughter of Mystery, not least because he served as a foundation stone for both women as they struggled through the changes in their lives. I've been sorry that there hasn't been a good opportunity to continue that level of presence, but I have a lot of characters to juggle and the women come first. It's quite possible that, at some point, I'll feature LeFevre in one of the stand-alone short stories I have planned. (It's how I console myself when I cut various subplots from the novels. It's also a way of getting around some of the rules I have for viewpoint characters in the novels--though those may soften up eventually.)
But in Mother of Souls, I provide a bit of context for why LeFevre might be stepping a bit more into the background of the action.
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[From Chapter 2]
LeFevre ran a hand through his thinning hair leaving an uncharacteristically unkempt look, then drew off his spectacles and closed his eyes briefly. “We’ll need to find someone trustworthy to take on the management here. Someone local who knows all the secrets, and then a second clerk to keep him honest. And you should find someone in Rotenek to oversee the Turinz accounts separately.”
“Separately?” Barbara was startled. “Do you expect it to be that much work?”
He shuffled the papers before him and stacked them neatly. Barbara knew it for a delaying move. It was a habit of his before opening a delicate subject.
That caught her attention. He hadn’t addressed her by her Christian name since the day Prince Aukust had set the signet of Saveze on her finger.
“Barbara, I’m not a young man. Haven’t been for a very long time. With Maisetra Sovitre’s properties, and your lands in Saveze…I don’t think I can do justice to another entire estate.”
Barbara examined him closely. Did he indeed look more tired than usual or was he only now allowing it to show? Or had she simply not been paying attention? There had been a time in her life when that inattention could have been fatal. She tried to remember LeFevre’s age. Near what her father’s had been. Marziel Lumbeirt had fallen before his time, but… She felt a worm of fear. In many ways, LeFevre had been more of a father to her than the old baron had been. How could she not have taken more care for him?
“Of course,” she said quickly. “We’ll find someone. Perhaps it might be better to appoint separate managers for all of the properties. That would leave you to review accounts and read their reports.”
LeFevre let his breath out in a sigh. “I don’t know. That’s becoming the worst of it. The reading. My eyes. Mostly Iannipirt reads for me these days, but…”
Barbara followed his thoughts. A clerk who could no longer read was crippled indeed, even with as faithful a secretary as Iannipirt at his side. “Why didn’t you ask Ianni to come with you? He would always be welcome at Saveze.”
“I didn’t want to say anything,” LeFevre continued. “It comes and goes. And Ianni spends the summer with family. The holiday is good for both of us.”
Barbara reached out and took his hand. “You should have told me. Did you think I’d turn you out into the street?”
They both laughed at that. He had enough properties and investments of his own in Rotenek to live comfortably. But most of his life had been given in service to Saveze. It must pain him to admit his growing incapacity.