Blurb: Emer thinks there's nothing worse than a Viking slave camp...until a buyer appears and pays silver for her.
The overseer’s cane caught Emer’s shoulder. She cried out at the bruising sting of it, flinched away from him and tripped over someone’s feet.
‘One more word out of you,’ he bellowed, ‘and I’ll see you on the next ship for Africa!’
Against such a threat, the pain seemed insignificant. Scrambling to get out of his way, she reached the back wall of the slave compound, sank to her haunches in the dust and hugged her knee as she used to do when a child. Trembling with fright and anger, she bit her lip to hold back tears.
A hundred paces away, the huge wooden doors of the stockade creaked open. Around her, male slaves stood straighter, but the women, fearing the worst, clutched their children. Men thought buyers offered an opportunity to get out of the slave market, but the women feared separation from their children. Emer, one of the few very young women in the compound, squeezed her eyes shut, and then decided she had to see what was happening and opened them again.
The buyers marched across the compound. The older man held himself well though his face was seamed with years and his beard streaked with grey. Strength and confidence shimmered in the air around his much younger companion, and sunlight bounced off his silver-gilt hair. Emer swallowed against a sudden rush of fear. They looked like Norsemen, and everyone knew the stories of how they treated their slaves.
The overseer cracked his whip in the air. Male slaves moved forward and the women and children stayed where they were. Emer stood at the back of the group. Her heart still beat faster than usual, and she bit her lip as she watched the strangers. Though she’d only been in the stockade a few days, the foul, stinking compound and crude shelters seemed a better option than being dragged away to some other miserable future.
The buyers walked among the male slaves, and chose young men who would no doubt work in their fields and barns. Emer hung her head and breathed a silent prayer of thanks that she had been spared.
Alerted by the shuffling of feet in the dust around her, Emer looked up and stiffened. The buyers had spoken to the overseer, who barked out a command. The women shuffled away from Emer when the guard strode forward and seized her arm. Yanking her out of the line, he dragged her to the front of the group.
Emer found it hard to breathe. Frantic prayers ran through her head. Not me! Dear Lord, don’t let him take me! She tried to free her arm, would have run if she could, but the guard’s rough grasp tightened, making her yelp in pain.
Title: Far Aftr Gold
Author: Jen Black
Genre: Historical romantic suspense
Price: $1.57 and £0.98