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Flor’s Fiasco (Icehome)

Flor’s Fiasco (Icehome) PDF

Author: Ruby Dixon

Publisher: Independently published


Publish Date: August 25, 2022


Pages: 258

File Type: Epub, PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface


I’m not supposed to resonate to him.

It’s been a few years since I’ve landed here on Icehome Beach, and as resonance after resonance dwindled the list of bachelors, I knew who I’d end up with. As soon as we got past our differences, I’d end up as R’jaal’s mate.

On an everyday excursion, however, my khui decides otherwise. It sings all right…but not to R’jaal.

Instead, I resonate to I’rec – the forceful, brash, overly-alpha leader of Shadow Cat. Did I mention he’s got a long-distance girlfriend already?

It’s a big mess, and it’s about to get messier.

But as things get chaotic on the beach and our way of life is threatened with upheaval, it’s the small things that end up mattering. Small things like the way I’rec kisses. Or the way we seem to have a lot more in common than we thought. Or the way I’rec can be gentle, but only with me…

A Note About Content

Hello there!

In an effort to be conscious of what readers might find upsetting, here is a list of things I feel might potentially be triggering. If I’ve missed something, please write me and let me know! I’m happy to update this list.

If you don’t want to be spoiled, please skip ahead!




While this book is somewhat lighter in tone than say, SAM’S SECRET, there are a few things that might be upsetting. In no particular order:

— Loss of parents/family

— Pregnancy/Fertility

— Kidnapping

— Cloning

— Identity issues/sense of self-worth

— Brief discussions of medical checkups/medical context

— Bad luck and curses

— Abandonment issues




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(Readers that wish to see content warnings, please flip back a few pages if your book starts here!

— Ruby)


I scratch on the privacy screen covering the door of Gail’s hut, my project basket balanced on my hip. “You in there, mama? Or should I come back later?”

That gets an immediate reaction. Footsteps thunder across the boards of the floor, followed by a “Slow down” in a total mom voice. I’m grinning as a half-dressed Z’hren pulls back the privacy screen and gives me a goofy look. “She’s my mama, Tita Flor. You can’t have her!”

“She can be my mama too,” I say, unable to resist teasing the kiddo a bit. “Can’t she?”

“No she can’t,” Gail calls out. “I’m not that much older than you, so stuff it.”

“Where should I stuff it? In my ear?” I call back, and Z’hren giggles as if I’ve told the naughtiest joke ever. He’s too young to get all the implications of that particular joke, so I keep rolling with innocent body parts. “My nose?”

“Your nose is full of boogers!” Z’hren cries, because he’s at that age when boogers are a shocking thing. He chortles at his own joke and then wraps three arms around my waist and the fourth one goes fishing for my covered basket. “What did you bring over?”

“Ah ah,” I say. “No peeking or it’s bad luck!”

“You say everything is bad luck!”

Kasi totoo, that’s because it is.” I shake my head, tsking. “You’re lucky you have me here to steer you away from it.”

“Come on in, Flor,” Gail calls to me. “And Z’hren, come back here so I can finish tying your tunic.”

The kid is an absolute dervish. He gives me a sneaky grin and races back over to his mother, who works on the tunic flapping loose around his shoulders. I wait in the doorway to be polite, because my mother would smack the back of my head if I didn’t respect Gail’s hospitality. I watch as Z’hren squirms in place, impatient to be out the door. When the last tie down the back of his tunic is knotted, he races off, pauses, races back to Gail’s side to give her a kiss, and then races off again, darting past me.

“Pak and Rukhar are playing ball on the beach with N’rav and Tita Devi,” I call as he runs past.

“They could use another!”

“Bye, Tita Flor,” he yells at me.

Gail just shakes her head and gets to her feet. “I do not understand how that boy has so much damn energy. Him and Vaza both. I swear their khuis are set to eleven.”

I chuckle and set down my basket, before moving to her side and taking her hand in mine. I bow and then touch my forehead to her knuckles. “Bless po.”

“I told you not to do that,” Gail scolds.

“My Nanay would have my head if I didn’t respect my elders,” I tell her mischievously. “And you and Vaza are the elders around here.”

She gives me a wry look and snatches her hand back as I straighten. “Elders,” she huffs. “You’re an elder too, then. You’re older than all of these young ones.” She waves a hand at the beach, indicating the tribe.

“Nah, I’m the auntie,” I say, picking up my basket and sitting down by her fire. “It’s a very different spot in the social strata of the tribe. Every family’s gotta have at least one auntie to spoil the children and gossip about everyone else. By the way, Callie’s cooking tonight and she said to tell you

that she’s using the last of the not-potato you chopped up last night. I’m supposed to pass along the message.”

Gail pulls out a couple of cups and ladles me a bit of hot tea from over her fire. She hands the cup to me and I sniff it, admiring the scent. The others love shrimp tea, but Gail makes her herbal tea strong enough to put hair on my chest, and it reminds me of home. “All right,” Gail tells me. “I’ll have to think of something else to make when it’s my turn again.”

“I’m tomorrow night,” I point out. “You’re not for a few days. But if you want to go gathering this afternoon, I’m game. I need some herbs and I might as well go look for some not-potato. You busy?”

She grimaces. “I can’t. Z’hren says his boots are hurting his feet again so I promised I’d piece together new ones for him.” Gail shakes her head. “That boy is growing faster than a weed. Maybe take Daisy with you?”

I shake my head. “She’s out fishing. I saw her take U’dron’s raft and O’jek went with her.” I wiggle my eyebrows as I sip my tea. “Gonna get a little steamy on that raft if you ask me.”

Gail chuckles. “You think they made up, then? I thought they were fighting.”

“That was earlier. I talked with I’rec though and he says that O’jek is smitten but he’s scared to act on it or something. Judging by the way he chased after her the moment she got out that raft, though?

I’d say he’s no longer scared to act. Plus, I’rec saw him talking with Juth earlier. Said Juth was giving him a firm talk.”

“What about, do you suppose?”

“Daisy, of course. I’rec wants her to be part of Shadow Cat. He thinks O’jek’s just being stubborn. He doesn’t care if they make a non-resonance baby. He just wants more Shadow Cat babies, period.”

“Mmmhmm.” Gail gives me a questioning look as she sips her tea, seated across the fire from me.

“I’rec sure likes sticking his nose in if you ask me.”

“He just wants the good of the tribe. I can’t blame him.” He looks at his interference as his personal duty to ensure that Shadow Cat flourishes.

“Because you stick your nose in, too,” Gail teases.

She’s not wrong. I love gossip and sharing information. Not just because I’m the unofficial auntie of the tribe. I am the chismosa, the gossip that sticks her nose in to help out. These are my people now, my extended big family. And after despairing for a time, I’ve found my niche. After it came out that I wasn’t going to resonate anytime soon and I wasn’t the one with the healing khui, I flailed for a while. If I’m not a nurse and I’m without my family, who am I?

But as the years have passed, I’ve found that while others might be the best at hunting, or fishing, or even healing, I have my spot. I’ve appointed myself the unofficial glue of the tribe. I’m the one that brings spirits up. I suggest celebrations or feasts. Steph might be the actual counselor, but I share gossip and stick to those that look like they need a friend, and basically clown around to bring smiles to the group when people seem down.

Just like I’rec views himself as responsible for Shadow Cat clan, I consider myself responsible to bring a cheerful mood to my fellow human women.

“I do stick my nose in,” I agree cheerfully. I’m not even offended. It’s just part of my job. “But if I didn’t, how would you know that I caught Bridget and A’tam in their little pottery cave yesterday and they weren’t making bowls, if you catch my drift.”

“I wouldn’t know that,” Gail moans, making a face. “And now I wish I didn’t.”

“Could be resonance,” I say cheerfully. “Might be another baby on the way.”

“Or they might just be horny.”

“Or it might be that,” I agree. “Speaking of, how is Vaza today?”

“Horny,” Gail tells me in a prim voice, and then chuckles. “He’s lucky he’s got such an understanding mate.”

“Now who’s the gossip?!”

“It’s not gossip if I’m the one sharing it!” Gail grins into her tea. “It’s just me bragging on my man.”

God, they are so cute. I smile at her words. I love that Gail is totally into her element and finding love in her fifties. It gives me hope that my silent khui isn’t a total write-off. After four years of absolutely nada, I’m convinced mine is either playing hard to get with R’jaal or I’m going to have to wait for someone in the next generation to grow up and go all cougar on them.

I’m really not sure how I feel about either scenario. R’jaal is…difficult. But so is the thought of getting sexy with anyone else. Then again, Sam and Sessah are incredibly happy, and Sessah’s years younger than her.

Then again, Sessah was the oldest of the young generation. Anyone else that resonates is gonna make me a cradle robber in about ten years, and that’s kinda creepy. Rukhar’s a sweet kid but he’s barely ten and I don’t even want to think of him as an adult.

So for now, auntie.

But I can still love Gail bragging on Vaza. He’s a horny old goat but he’s only got eyes for Gail, and that’s just the cutest. “Where is your man today anyhow?”

“Out with his traps. He’ll be back for dinner. What are you up to anyhow?” She gestures with her cup towards my basket. “What’s in there?”

“The reason why I’m here,” I say brightly. “I’m working on birthday gifts.”

A worried look crosses her face, the look of a mom who’s forgotten something important. “Whose birthday is it?”

“Mine!” I pull my basket into my lap. “So in the years before I never really had the time in advance to work on things, but this year I’ve got a little free time since everyone’s all paired up, right? So I’m just sitting alone in my hut, and I thought I’d use that time to work on gifts for everyone else. My mom always did it when we were growing up and said it was a custom back home. Since everyone here is my family, I thought I’d make gifts for everyone else in time for my birthday next month. And right now I’m working on a croquet set.” I pull out a pouch of leather-covered balls that I’ve created. “They’re not completely round so I rolled them in strips of stretchy leather—kind of like rubber band balls I used to make when I was a kid—and I want to dye them bright colors. Not only that, but I need them to taste bad.”

Gail’s eyes light up with understanding. “Because of the little ones.”

“Yeah, so they won’t mouth on them.” Not only do we have kids of all ages on the beach, but there are more every year and each toy is considered precious. I know that if I give a croquet set out, everyone is going to use it. “So a dye that makes nice colors and tastes like shit. I thought I’d see if you have any ideas.”

“These are a good size,” Gail says, picking one up. “I used to play croquet in my backyard when I was a kid. Who’s making the mallets? Do you want me to get Vaza to help?”

I shake my head. “I’rec offered to do it for me.”

Gail gives me a sharp-eyed look. “You sure do spend a lot of time with him lately.”

I’m not surprised the conversation went in that direction. I’m a single woman, he’s a single man.

It’s not anything I haven’t heard before, but I’rec has made it clear that he’s waiting for Tia. “It’s not like that. We’re friends and he owes me a couple of favors. So…can you think of a dye?”

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I CHAT with Gail for a bit longer, have a second cup of tea, and then drop my basket off at my hut and switch it out for my gathering bag. I sling the large leather satchel crosswise over my shoulder and clutch my bone staff with the sharpened end that I use for digging. Everyone’s busy, and I still haven’t seen Daisy, so I’m going to go out hunting for the tiny, curling leaves of the young sweetweed plants.

Gail says that the immature ones taste terrible and they’ll make a brilliant blue when mixed with a dark yellow fat, so I’m going to give that a try.

A baby cries as I pass by Veronica’s hut, and I can’t help but stick my nose into things. I tap on the doorframe, even though it’s open. “It’s Flor. Need a hand?”

Veronica comes to the entrance with a squirming baby in her arms and a frazzled look on her face.

“Oh gosh, I hate to impose…but do you have a moment?”

“That’s why I asked,” I say cheerfully. I set down my bag and pole and then take my shoes off before coming inside. “What can I help with?”

She jiggles the little one in her arms. “I need to feed this one but I’m trying to cook up lunch for his brother, who doesn’t want to wait. He just got up from a nap and is cranky.”

“Maamaaaaa,” wails Katamneas. “I’m hungry!”

“I know, baby,” Veronica calls back. “Give mama a moment.” She gives me a pleading look even as the baby in her arms whimpers.

Right. This I can help with. I wink at her and head inside. “Tita Flor is here, Kata. I’m gonna make you some lunch. You want a booger stew?”

“No!” he cries, and breaks into giggles.

“Uh oh! But that’s what Tita Flor knows how to make!” I move to his side by the fire and tickle him, then press a kiss to his crazy puffy golden hair, a sign of his dad’s strong genes. “Let’s see what mama made for you then, huh? Oh, a yummy porridge and it’s almost ready. Let’s stir it, shall we?”

I end up staying at Veronica’s through lunch as she feeds the baby and Kata firmly tells me that I should call him Katamneas because that’s his name and Kata is a “baby” name. I let the little one scold me and pretend to be chastised, biting back a smile. When the healer burps the baby in her arms and gives me a grateful look, I feel guilty that I once harbored resentment towards her. She got the healer khui and I didn’t, and it made my expertise as a registered nurse rather useless. Knowing wound care and how to handle illnesses and take care of patients is redundant when a healer can fix everything with a touch.

But I’ve come to know Veronica and she’s utterly guileless and sweet. She’s also over her head with two strong-willed baby boys and just looks frazzled at the moment. “Where’s Ashtar today?”

“Oh, he went off looking for Daisy and O’jek,” she tells me, rubbing Varukhal’s small back. “Said there looks like there might be more storms today and he wanted to make sure they didn’t get washed out to sea. He’s heading over to Croatoan tomorrow and just wants to make sure he isn’t needed for a search before he heads out.”

“Are they missing?”

Veronica shakes her head, a wry smile on her face. “Have you seen Daisy paddle that raft? I don’t think they can get far. More like Ashtar’s just being nosy and using it as an excuse.”

I laugh, because Ashtar is as much in everyone’s business as I am. “Fair enough. I don’t suppose you have any of the really young sweetweed leaves in your herbs, do you? The tiny curled ones?”

When she shakes her head, I sigh. “Ok, well then I’m still heading out.”

“Didn’t you hear the part about the storm?” Veronica chides me. “Don’t make me send my mate after you, too.”

“It’s just more snow,” I joke. “And I’m not going far. Just up the hill and looking for some of the sweetweed. I’ll come right back to camp. I won’t be gone more than an hour, maybe two. And I’ll bring a cloak.”

“I’ll go with you, Tita Flor,” Katamneas says brightly.

Veronica frowns down at her young son. “No you will not, sir. You’re going to stay in camp.”

“I shall go with her.”

I cringe at the sound of R’jaal’s voice. Damn it. Do we have to do this song and dance today? I turn towards where R’jaal stands at the entrance to Veronica’s hut. I’m not entirely sure if he followed me here or if there was some other motive, but I’m a little annoyed at his presence. Doing my best to hide it, I smile brightly. “I’m sure you’re busy, and I’ve got to go get a cloak…”

He holds up a spare poncho with a hood on it. My poncho. The one I left in his hut a million years ago and never went back to get.


Smiling tightly, I take it from him and slip it over my head. “Your timing is amazing. Really.”

“Thank you,” he says, not catching my sarcasm. “Shall I carry your bag?”

If it was anyone else, I’d be all over that offer. But because it’s R’jaal, I practically snatch it away before he can touch it. Everything with R’jaal comes loaded with a ton of guilt. “I’ve got it.”

Veronica gives me a sympathetic look. “Maybe you shouldn’t go out after all.”

I’m tempted. Spending the afternoon listening to R’jaal’s self-recriminations is not high on my list of things I want to do. He’s clearly torn with what he wants from me, and I’m just done with it all. But at the same time, I want to work on the dyes. If I don’t go out and get the leaves today and a storm comes in, I’m going to be sitting in my hut twiddling my thumbs. That decides me.

“It’ll be fine. Come on, R’jaal. I’m heading for sweetweed plants.” I grab my walking stick, salute Veronica, and head for the distant cliff paths that will take me up into the snowy foothills.

R’jaal keeps to my side, even when I slow down as the path grows steeper and a thick snow starts to fall. To his credit, he doesn’t try to push me into returning to camp. In fact, he doesn’t say anything at all.

It’s unusual, but it suits me just fine. I head along one of the paths, scanning the cliffs for the sweetweed. There’s a fair amount of plant life that thrives under the snow (I guess they don’t require much sunlight) that the dvisti eat, but for our part, we tend to stick to the stuff that clings to the cliffs and the bushes that dot the landscape. Sweetweed is one of the cliff vines, so I keep to the rockier parts of the trails and wander along, keeping an eye out for tiny curling leaves and a bluish-green sort of plant.

“I fear we are not friends any longer,” R’jaal says suddenly as I climb over one large rock.

Oh. Errr. How do I answer that without being unfair? “Things just get weird between people when they break up. Not that we were together, but you know what I mean. It’s not just you. It’s how I feel about the situation, too. All of it is just kind of awkward.”

“I do not know what you mean,” he says gravely. “What is broken between us?”

He has to ask that? Is he being deliberately obtuse or is he truly that clueless? I frown in his direction, and then I’m saved by the sight of a sweetweed plant halfway up one of the cliffs. “Aha,” I say, pointing at the object of my desires. “Found one.”

R’jaal practically races forward. “I will retrieve it for you.”

He’s clambering up the cliff wall before I can protest. That’s a little irksome, but it beats having a

tough conversation. This is probably difficult for him, too, and I feel a twinge of sympathy. “Great, you get that one and I’ll head farther down the path. Where there’s one, there’s got to be more.”

We collect in silence for a bit, the retrieval of the plants occupying our time. The moment R’jaal points one out, he heads for it, and so I deliberately go find another, and I think about the awkward situation that got us here.

It was all during that first year, when everyone was resonating right and left around us. When it seemed like it was just a matter of time before our khuis went off like rockets and solved the problem of who we’d mate to. I’d been flirty with R’jaal for a while. He’s handsome, and thoughtful, and sweet. Very gallant, something that makes me appreciate his selflessness, and he seems more mature than a lot of the others. As the oldest single woman amongst the humans, I can appreciate a bit of maturity.

I thought we were a natural fit. And the way he shyly flirted back with me, I thought he felt the same way. So one night, during a party to celebrate someone’s resonance (I don’t even remember whose), I approached him. Took him by the hand and led him back to his hut. Once inside, I stripped out of my outer layer of leathers, put his hand on my breast, and kissed him. Let him know that I wanted to try being pleasure-mates, no strings attached. I let him know I was his. That I was leaping forward in this next step.

And he said no.

It baffled me then. It still baffles me a bit now. A man turning away a willing woman? But R’jaal was firm. He wanted to wait for resonance. He wanted that special bolt of lightning, and he was convinced it was just around the corner, and all he needed to do was wait.

So I turned and left. At first I was humiliated, but then it made me angry. And as the tribe has whittled down with only a few single people remaining, it’s ironic that both R’jaal and I are yet unresonated. Something tells me that fate is going to pair us together and we’ll have to give this mess between us another shot…and I’m a little bitter about that.

Apparently I’m only good enough for him if resonance says I am. All the flirting? All the sweet looks and the few stolen kisses? They don’t mean anything unless we have that song going in our chests. It makes me mad. What if I never resonate? What if I’m not fertile because I’m over thirty-five now? Am I just not worth anyone’s time unless I’m a fertile womb?

Fuck all that.

Just thinking about it again irritates me, and I hack at the next sweetweed plant with more than a little annoyance. When I climb down from the cliff wall, R’jaal hands me another cluster of vines.

“We should head back soon. The snows grow heavier.”

“You go ahead. I’m not done yet.” Please, please just go away.

But R’jaal doesn’t take the hint. He gives me a sad-eyed, soulful look. “I never meant to hurt you, F’lor.”

I shake my head at him and head farther down the path. It occurs to me that I’ve gone a lot farther away from camp than I anticipated, which means a long walk back in the driving snow. Don’t care.

Snow is just more of a mild annoyance with the khui keeping me warm, and I know how to find my way home. I can keep going a while longer.

“Will you talk to me?” R’jaal asks.

“What is there to talk about? I threw myself at you, you said no, it’s the end of the story.” I gesture at a distant cliff. “I’m going to find more sweetweed.”

He grabs my arm when I turn away. “I would like for you to ask me again,” he says in a low voice, his somber eyes shining. “This time, my answer will be different.”

I gape at him. Is he…serious? But I can tell from his expression that he truly is. He has no idea that the last thing I feel for him right now is attraction. And yet he wants me to give him another shot?

Is this because Daisy has decided to pounce on O’jek without resonance? Is he feeling desperate now?

Is that it? He’s desperate and decided I’m good enough once more?

I try to wriggle out of his grip, but my poncho gets in the way. “Look, R’jaal. We weren’t together and you made it clear that even if you were attracted to me, you want to wait for resonance. That’s fine, but what makes you think I want to jump in the furs with you now? How do I know the moment your khui decides to light up for someone else I won’t be booted out the door?” I shake my head.

“That kills any sort of attraction I might have had. The ladyboner is dead, all right?”

“Lay-dee bo-ner?”

“It’s just a phrase. What I’m saying is that you want to wait for your best shot, which means I’m always second best. And I’m not good with that. It tells me that you think you’re not going to resonate to me, so sleeping with me would be a mistake.”

R’jaal scoffs. “I do not think I am going to resonate to T’ia, if that is what you are worried over.”

“Oh no? Some part of you must,” I point out, and try to delicately pull my arm out of his grasp again. “Because you’re still waiting for resonance.”

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