Do you know what your problem is?
Coral knows hers. People have been telling this tenderhearted 13th-century woman for years. So when a heroic army officer proposes, she decides she’s stronger than people realize and her dreams have come true.
Except, the perfect man turns out to be less than ideal. And she’s gotten pregnant. And her homeland is gripped with fear of a pending Mongol invasion and she cries about everything now that she’s with child.
When a friend suggests the ever-caring Coral possesses a power well beyond what anyone imagines, Coral’s sister decides this formidable talent is what the realm needs. Can Coral raise a baby, placate an absent military husband who thinks he’s stopping the invasion, and help her sister save her homeland?
This is just the sort of problem encountered by a woman who cares too much.
“Remember the day we thought thieves were coming to attack the school?”
Of course I remembered it.
“I’ve been wanting to ask you something ever since.”
My heart pounded.
Had she seen me sneak off to meet Davor that night? If so, had she noticed other nights as well? Had she talked to others about it? How concerned would the school be about such behavior?
“How did you ever get those two kids to stop bickering that day?” she said. “I deal with them all the time and believe me, once they get started, there is nothing I can say to shut them up.”
I laughed with relief. I hadn’t thought about how I had done it.
“I talked to them the way I talk to my own class. You know. Do it now.”
“No, I don’t know,” she said. “I could say that all day and they’d still ignore me.”
I shrugged. She hesitated, as if she was about to ask me an impolite question.
“Do you know what a luski is?” she said.
I did. “It’s some made-up magic person who supposedly makes people do things by the way she speaks. People tell stories about luskies to scare small children. You don’t believe in them, do you?”
“It’s not made up. My great-aunt was one. It’s rare, but I know it’s real.”
“Are you serious?”
She looked completely serious.
“Wasn’t it creepy having a relative who could make you do things?”
“No, because it doesn’t work that way. It’s an emergency tactic; they can only use it when it’s important. I think you should find out more about it.”
“Why?” Then I realized why. “Oh, wolf scump. Everyone keeps telling me I’m too nice. I’m certainly no luski.”
“You don’t get it,” she said. “Luskies aren’t monsters; they can be nice people. You should ask the Velka at one of their market stalls. I’ve heard they know about luskies, and can tell if you are one.”
“You think I should talk to the Velka?” Frankly, I found these women of the forest, the keepers of most of the magic in our realm, scary in their own right. I’d only spoken a few words with them and I didn’t wish to ask a Velka if I was some kind of freak.
“No thanks. I’ve got enough problems right now.”
And I did. I had all the problems I knew of, and a few more I hadn’t discovered yet.