Yule Gift Giving Scene from Heart Fate (excerpt from the book)
Soon Tinne and Lahsin ended the ritual, and took the food and drink from the altar and put the victuals between them as they leaned back on the pillows.
A scritching came outside the door. **All saying words is done?** asked Strother, the huge dog. **Flair came and went. Feel better. You done?**
Lahsin stood. "Yes, we are, time for a sharing of gifts."
**I do not need any gifts,** he said with anticipation.
Lahsin opened the door and Strother trotted in. For reasons known only to them, a big, red ribbon tied in a bow was around his neck. He looked ridiculous, but Tinne kept his mouth shut.
He also realized that he didn't have a gift for the dog. He reached to the Turquoise House for a bag of cat treats he hid from Ilexa. Since she was still loafing at T'Holly Residence, engorged on Yule feast, she'd never know that he'd given her treats to Strother. He'd replace them before she found out. With effort, he ported them to a spot behind the pillows.
The dog sneezed, blinked watery eyes. **Too much smoke smell in here.**
With a wave and a little regret, Tinne banished the fragrant spirals of incense, another bit of the ritual atmosphere that had blanketed him and Lahsin together, gone.
"I have gifts," Lahsin said, looking at him and Strother.
The dog sat, his tongue lolled out.
"I do, too," Tinne said. "Gifts between Fam and person, then man and animal first."
Strother wagged his tail and gave an approving look to Tinne. My first gift. He sat straight and watched as Lahsin brought out something wrapped in softleaves. She put it in front of Strother and he pawed at it until a string of beads fell out.
**A Fam collar!** Strother sounded thrilled.
Tinne studied it. The necklace was composed of bright dried berries and larger rosehips of orange and red, accented with dark seeds and a nut or two, all strung on thread.
Lahsin untied the bow and fastened the collar around the dog's neck. "It looks good against your gray fur."
Sure wasn't emeralds.
But Lahsin had made it with her own hands and that was more important than emeralds, though
Tinne's Fam hunting cat, Ilexa, might not think so.
"I've spellshielded the string. It will only break if you get caught and can't get free."
The dog's brows lowered.
"I'll make you a new one if that happens," Lahsin said.
Strother grinned. He trotted to the door and brought a large mass of gray-brown something gently held between his jaws. He dropped it at Lahsin's feet and sat with a doggie grin.
"Mushrooms! Prized truffles! Ooh."
Wagging his tail, Strother said, **I have heard that people consider these tasty.**
"We do," Lahsin assured him. "I haven't seen these in the estate, where did you find them?"
Strother's chest puffed out with pride. **Saw little ones near my den in the glasshouse. Sent them Flair and they grew. For you.**
"Thank you!" Lahsin hugged him.
The dog rumbled satisfaction, then turned his head to Tinne. Tinne brought out the packet of treats. Strother's nose twitched. **Good morsels.**
"Treats," Tinne said.
Lahsin raised her eyebrows at the wording on the envelope: "Special bits for your FamCat from D'Ash."
Tinne shoved the packet to Strother, who gave it a strong sniff. **Good.** He decorated the wrapping with drool.