Don’t get caught – new novel excerpt

Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from Eboracum, No Turning Back. Please, tell me what you think in the comments below.

From Chapter VIII:

She had no idea of the time, for the hut was dark and her sleep had been restless. The first intimation was a vague coldness about her legs, and the appearance of a black shadow that did not belong. Then her mind shrieked into consciousness as hands parted her knees, and a shadow fell on top of her body, smothering her with its overpowering weight. She wriggled and arched her back, but a hand clouted her face as the other hand grasped at her hair, holding her head firm against the dirt floor. Twisting and turning, she tried to break free, her mind in a crazed, snarling, frightened panic, then another blow fell across her face, a hard slap of knuckles that helped restore her reason.

She’d expected this, dammit; she’d figured as much! Selia reached awkwardly upward, her hand frantically groping for the rock hidden beside the rolled-up shawl she’d used for a pillow. At the same time Morlen’s wild poking succeeded, and she screamed as he rammed himself inside her. A large, heavy hand closed over her mouth, shutting off her cries, and, inanely, she remembered how filthy his hand had been. Her grasping finally found the rock and she found the sense to take a firm grip before swinging it as hard as she could against his temple.

Morlen stiffened, his body jerking with several short but heavy spasms, then grew rigid as if gripped by the mortification that followed death. Selia’s first thought was that she’d killed the man, then she swore aloud. The bastard had climaxed! She struck again, harder this time, her hand driven by disgust. But Morlen’s body had already begun to sag from the first blow, and he slowly rolled to one side as if dead.

She scrambled quickly to her knees, her mind a sickening mixture of disgust, filth, and blinding anger. For the moment she simply stared down at the dark shape sprawled by the embers and gasped for breath, vainly trying to halt the shaking that seemed bent on taking over her entire body. She belched aloud and realized her belly was doing its damnedest to vomit. She shook her head violently to stave it off, drawing deep breaths through a mouth suddenly rancid with the taste of sour fish. Then, with a raw determination born of need, she straightened her back, sagged to her knees, and reached for the man’s pulse. Its slow, steady beat offered neither relief nor regret. Morlen was unconscious, and she just hoped he’d stay that way.

What she did next remained mostly a blur, but through the jumbled haze she realized that flight was the one and only option, time was her enemy, and she had an overpowering need to clean herself. She lit several candles from the embers of the fire, filled a wash bowl, straddled it, and soaked and cleaned herself with a dripping wet cloth, at the same time wanting nothing more than to immerse herself in a deep, hot, soapy tub of clean water and remain there forever. But choice was not her ally.

Cursing under her breath, Selia climbed to her feet, dried herself on the hem of her skirt, and began gathering what she could from around the hut. Morlen’s knife; food-mainly barley and rolled oats; flints; candles; her bowl…the iron pan would have to remain, the only practical item of worth the Pict had brought with him; extra socks; soap; and a few odds and ends from the cupboard. For good measure, she added the gutted hare, then hastily pushed the whole lot into Morlen’s empty sack. She hefted it to figure the weight, decided it wasn’t that heavy, and threw the iron pan in anyway. There’d be at least something of value to gain from the man. Once finished, she stood by the fire’s embers and scowled down at the unconscious figure. If Morlen was discovered before waking, it would be obvious what had happened. His britches were around his ankles, and his limp penis drooped against his thigh, still leaking the last of his seed. Selia grunted her satisfaction at what they would find: the man would be judged a fool, and ridiculed. Yet while that gave a modicum of satisfaction, it was of no help, and there was certainly no staying around to find out.

As she turned to go, it occurred to Selia that there might be something of value hidden in his clothing. She again knelt down and ran her hand around his shirt and his jerkin, but found nothing. Then, as much as she was loath, she felt her way around the britches bundled around his ankles. A leather pouch hung from his belt, and she tossed it in the sack with the other items without a second look.

She stood up, finally ready to leave, but Morlen’s unconscious body stirred, and a low groan rolled from the back of his throat. The fool would be awake before she cleared the scattered ruins of the fort! For half a dozen heartbeats she considered slitting the man’s throat and having done with it. But if she was subsequently caught…Selia shook her head at the possibility of being retaken. If Morlen stirred and raised the alarm, then that would almost guarantee her capture. And then, well…and then the hell with it! If she was caught, she’d rather kill herself, first!

She reached for Morlen’s sack, meaning to retrieve the knife, but at the last moment decided she couldn’t cut his useless, gormless throat, not like that. It was just…well, it was just too much. Yet how much time did she need to get clear? The darkness beyond the door could still be well short of midnight, or it could be only two hours before the sun rose. Either way, she could take no chances. Selia hefted the rock, groaned her despair, and bashed it hard against the side of Morlen’s head. The blow felt far more solid than the last two, and when he didn’t so much as grunt, she suspected it just may have killed him. If not, and she hoped it was “if not,” he certainly wasn’t going to stir this side of dawn, whatever time it may come.

She moved over to the bed and pulled another two warm woollen vests down over her head for their extra warmth, then wrapped her cloak around her shoulders. She bent down to retrieve the sack, and as she did so, her eyes fell on the brooch still sitting untouched on the stone block.

It was nothing unusual, an ornately worked circle of silver left open at one end, where the heads of two hounds faced each other across a gap less than the width of her little finger. The fool had actually brought a gift with him, and Selia slowly shook her head, her eyes turning to the body lying silently on the floor. Was it dead or alive? She wasn’t up to finding out. Instead, both anger and despair swept through her mind. Anger because the oaf figured she was his for a woman’s trinket; despair because he had actually bothered to bring a gift with him. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but she was far too close to one or the other, and there was no time for either.

Selia heaved the sack over one shoulder, left the brooch where it was, and carefully slipped out through the door. It was almost as dark outside as it was inside, but for the moment there was a quarter moon casting enough light to tell one shadow from another, and she paused, pondering which way to go. They would surely think she’d choose south, and follow the coast from there…

For Chapter XII, go to my website: http://bit.ly/2wQNqfP. To buy the book, go to http://bit.ly/2h0zkBc or for the ebook: http://amzn.to/2jZyWEw.

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Breaking up is hard to do

Me in my 'Man Cave' on a rainy September 2017 morning.

Me in my ‘Man Cave’ on a rainy September 2017 morning.

I dedicated Eboracum, No Turning Back to the recent Brexit decision. Brexit is controversial, to say the least, but it is history going full-circle. After more than sixteen hundred years, Britain will free itself of rule from Europe for the second time. As with most break-ups, it won’t be easy. There will be tears and fighting and lots of red tape. Perhaps an author in a couple thousand years will use it as fodder for a historical saga in the same way I’ve used the Roman invasion of Britain in my own Eboracum stories.

All my Eboracum books differ from what is usually found in historical (Roman) fiction and No Turning Back follows the same pattern. Yes, the books stick to the historic facts and are well researched (like most historic fiction); yes, there are conflicts and battles and crises that take place; and yes, there are complicated relationships and individual stories and a certain amount of romance. However, the characters’ stories are told with a pragmatic, realistic edge to them, to which you, reader, can ready relate. There are no stalwart heroes, no nasty, evil villains, but more the average person(s) for the most part – people like ourselves who struggle to get things done despite our flaws and idiosyncrasies and the odd ‘screw up.’ I feel that my characters are people you might still know today: people who mess up, and have their plans go awry; women who have moods and minds of their own; and men who are just as likely to go sideways as forward. The results often take place with that dark, ironic humour that surpasses time.

The ebook version of Eboracum, No Turning Back  is available now. It was just released today. I hope you’ll download a copy, curl up in a corner and spend time with some people in the past. They might have different names and hygiene habits but they’re just like you and me. As well, while you’re being entertained, you’re also getting a history lesson and learning about Eboracum…York…my home town.

Eboracum, No Turning Back  is also available in hardcopy and can be ordered by clicking here. Looking to start with Book I? Click here for the entire four book series.