Thursday, 27 December 2018

#BlogaBookScene - Theme"Season's Greetings"Taken from "Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure"

At Prairie Rose Publications we have a monthly Blog s Book Scene on various themes. December's is "Season's Greetings" and for this I have a celebration of a winter hunt, in my Medieval Sweet Romance, "Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure."

Here's the scene:



He was taller than the hooded man, she was sure, and for that small mercy Maggie was glad. The rest of him, the way his light blue eyes constantly passed over her, the way he bowed to her after the other ladies, the way he nodded to her two protectors, made Maggie suspicious. After his greeting and embrace of Lady Ygraine, his gifting of the partridges to her, he means to make similar courtesies to me, and for what reason? I sense he is not only Conrad’s brother but his ancient rival.
Discomfited, she stepped back, plucking a prickly holly bough off the nearest trestle table to form a barrier between them.
“Going so soon?” He smiled down at her, a trickle of snow melting down his open, handsome face, all boyish good humour and charm. “Is my grim younger brother such a draw?”
“I am with him,” Maggie replied steadily, aware that one of the ladies had rushed to find him a towel, that the others were envious of his attention to her. You can have him, for me.
Richard’s grin did not dim in the slightest. He reached out a hand, as if she was a comfit or other sweet treat, and said in a cozening way, “Shall I hang the bough in a timber crook for you?”
Yes, it would give him great pleasure to seduce me from Conrad.
“My thanks, sir.” Maggie’s fingers tightened on the branch. “But I can climb up easily enough.” 
“She would, too,” said a new voice, and Maggie looked past Richard to smile at Conrad. He limped into the hall, a finger or so shorter than his brother but more sinewed and compelling, his face stark with cold and his dark hair falling like a storm about his shoulders.
“Did you wrestle the deer bare-handed, sir?” she asked, as the damsels pointed and tittered at his ripped trews and muddy, blood-stained tunic.
“Not a clean kill.” Lord William said stiffly as he marched into the hall with the rest of the men. “Steward here finished off the beast, stepped in and stopped it flailing and thrashing.”
“It needed doing,” Conrad replied, bluntly acknowledging the point. From the way he did not look at Richard, and Sir William’s pinched expression, Maggie guessed that his brother had made a mistake in the hunt.
Richard ran, to claim glory that was not his. Conrad stayed. “He loves the show not the substance,” he had said of his brother, and with the deer his warning was made manifest.
Without any conscious design Maggie dropped the holly and reached out to touch his splattered tunic, her fingers spread protectively over his heart. “Is any of this blood yours?” she asked gently. “Are you hurt?”
Not even a little.”
“My lord is a good hunter,” put in Sir David, boasting and loyal, unaware of the tensions of the room. She felt Conrad flinch and understood at once.
His brother will want to do something to bring attention back to him.
“Not when I am here,” Maggie muttered, and in that moment knew what she would do. Light-headed with her own recklessness, she kicked the end of the holly bough aside, launched herself upwards as if rising to the surface from a mill pond, stood on tip-toe and kissed her dishevelled companion.
“My turn to rescue you,” she whispered, as she sank back onto her heels.  He tasted of sweet salt and safety and it was hard to break their embrace.
“Thank you,” he whispered in turn.
“A song!” Richard bellowed, thrusting himself forward again. “Let me give you good folk a lay of our hunt.”
Lord William frowned. “Should that not be Sir Conrad as he brought home the deer?”
“Alas!” Richard gave a glittering smile. “My brother makes a bittern sound sweet! Allow me—”
No I will not. Maggie turned in Conrad’s embrace, faced the high table and breathed out an “O”.  Before Richard could call for a harp or drum, she sang the rest of The Hunt of the Perfect Hind,  pinching Conrad’s arm lightly and unseen so that he would join in the chorus.
Bring the holly, bring the snow,
To hunt the perfect hind, we go.
Their voices, hers clear and sweet, his a dark burr, blended together, lifting the simple tune. By the last verse, Conrad was singing with her and all joined in the refrain.
“You save me again,” he said softly, while the men in the hall applauded and stamped and Richard must join in or look petty.
“I cannot wield a blade but not all rescues are brawn, or protectors men,” she answered, not wanting Conrad to feel in any way obligated to her. I did it so Richard would not triumph, no more than that.
Or so she told herself.
“Indeed they are not! Still, I cannot thank you enough.” Conrad may have said more but a clear horn rang out from the woods and Maggie could make out the steady thunder of hooves.
Please, whoever is coming now, please let Michael be safe with them. Please let Michael be in this company, and happy and whole.
A foolish, forlorn hope, perhaps, but she prayed for it all the same.


Lindsay Townsend 

SIR CONRAD AND THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE TO READ WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Gold, Gold, Gold - plus excerpts from "Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure"

I am fascinated by gold. People in the past were also inspired by it and made many beautiful objects with the metal. One of these ancient treasures is a torc and in my latest historical romance, "Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure" I have a torc as a precious relic at a northern church.

I had in mind the magnificent Snettisham gold torc as my relic. Here it is.

From the British Museum


Here's an excerpt from my sweet Christmas romance, "Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure" where we see Sir Conrad and Maggie together.



Chapter 2

                                             
A gathering of horses, war-chargers, palfreys and spare mounts, a hasty bringing together of men, weapons and supplies, and they were off. They pounded out of the bailey, through the village and onto the track to the old Roman road. Sunrise to sunset they rode and then on through the night, sunset to sunrise. Riding in front of Conrad, his thick arms braced on her either side, Maggie felt her world shrink down to her heartbeat, the scalding ache of her thighs, the glare of snow and the relentless drum of the galloping horses.
Had she ever imagined the recovery of Michael would be an adventure? Wishing she could clasp her aching head but not daring to relinquish her grip on the horse’s mane, Maggie longed to stop.
   “You awake there?” Conrad growled, his lips close to her ear. She shook her head as if he was a bothersome fly and forced her wind-chapped lips to reply.
  “Doing well,” she said, determined her teeth would not chatter. In truth she was not so frozen. Sir Conrad had supplied her with a thick cloak and a woollen cap, cloths to wrap round her boots and rags to bind her hair. If I could only have some eastern cushions for my hips, perched on this bony nagWho knew horses had such a spine? Glancing sidelong she caught a knowing gleam in her companion’s deep eyes, as if he expected her to complain. But I shall not.
“Yourself?” She tried a smile, the cold light of the coming dawn piercing her cheeks.
 “We make camp soon, rest the horses.”
“Naturally. The horses. And the pack mules,” she added, wondering why she was teasing him as she might have done Michael. The truth was, she had ridden with this man for hours, her back snug against his chest, her legs pressed against his long shanks. It was hard not to feel a kind of closeness to him.
Now, she felt rather than heard Conrad’s rumble of a chuckle and knew a fleeting lightness in her soul as his arms tightened briefly about her.
“You will not be outdone, will you?” He guided their mount onto an unpaved section of road that did not jolt her bones, which was overall a blessed relief.         
“Is this a contest?” she replied, catching her wind-sore mouth in a yawn before she could stop it.
He smiled against her woollen cap and Maggie closed her eyes. The great horse moved beneath her, smooth now as a sailing ship on a calm river, the beat of its hooves strangely soothing, like a lullaby. I wonder how Michael is faring, she thought as she slid slowly, inexorably into sleep.
                                                                   ****                                        
Conrad gently lowered the sleeping girl onto the rough pallet of bracken and hay that he had set before the new fire. She had done well, he decided, nodding to Davie, a silent reminder that the man guard her, before he checked on the horses and men. A palfrey had picked up a gorse or bramble tear on her flank. Conrad was conferring with a groomsman how to treat the wound when the weary peace of the camp shattered.
Lurching out of the darkness, Maggie staggered back to the fire, plucked out a burning branch and brandished it at the figure coming after her.
“Back!” she cried, stabbing the flaming brand at her would-be attacker, “You will get none of what you want from me!”
Conrad thrust the salve at the nearest groom and began striding back, to hear the farrier, Brian, say, without shame or apology,
“Come on, goldie, I can give you a sweet time—”
“What is happening here?” Conrad pushed between the pair, scenting the mead on the farrier’s breath.
“A bit of sport.” Brian swayed on his feet, squinting past the taller man as he gave the girl a wave.  Has this fool been drinking all night? Supping while on horseback?
“I do not expect to be set upon when I slip into the hazels to pass water!”
“You take on so, goldie, not fair—”
She took a deep breath that would have fit a dragon, clearly ready to light into the fellow afresh, when Sir David with his uncanny ill-luck, stepped out of the trees where he had been setting guards and said drily, “Women following soldiers are usually bed-mates.”
“I am not following anyone!” snapped Maggie, as red-faced as a dragon’s fiery breath, “I am seeking my brother and your lord is meant to be aiding me! Or do such courtesies only count for knights and ladies?”
Conrad sensed the camp about them stiffen and knew his men were leaning in to listen.
“Ladies do not bawl like market criers,” he drawled.
The bright stare cut towards him. “How else am I supposed to be heard?”
“Enough!” He made a cutting motion with his arm, tired of the whole squabble, and addressed his men. “The girl is with me, mine, and you all know it. Brian, get yourself a pail of water and dunk your head. We move on in two hours, when the sun tops that pine tree. Get on!”
He caught the girl’s arm and led her, none too gently, back to the pallet by the fire. “You stay,” he ordered, ignoring her look of utter betrayal.
He turned to leave, go back to the horses, when a narrow wiry hand grabbed his cloak. Looking back, he almost flinched at the flinty glare which stabbed him.
“You need the farrier, yes? But mark this, my lord, you also need me.”
His temper bridled at her insolence. He leaned down into her face, part of him amazed at how very blue her eyes were, in her anger. “I just saved you from a mauling or worse. Why did you not wait for me to escort you? Are you so naive?”
If she could, she would have shot poison like a snake, he guessed, though her words were pin sharp. “I did not know such courtesy was required in your own camp.”
Not even a gesture of thanks, the ungrateful little wench. Did she think they were equals? “You do not tell me how to govern,” he began afresh, but she interrupted,
“Then rule yourself first. I thought you, sir, were different.”
With the I was wrong hanging between them, she stepped aside and flounced down on the pallet with such force that a puff of hay-dust rose in the air between them. Sensing he had made a mistake, loathing that feeling, Conrad stamped back to the horse lines.
Later, too brief a time to be truly rested, they rode on, into the forest of Galtres. The girl sat before him, silent as a stone. I thought you were different. “What happened to you?” he growled, too low for her to hear. He disliked her being so stiff, that was all.
I do need my farrier. She had no right to complain. As for Brian approaching her, it is the way of the world. In a war-band, everyone expects it.

So why did these reasonable justifications seem hollow?

Here's another excerpt, where we see the golden treasure of Ormingham church.

Inside the church Conrad noted that his brother and the earl were most keen to see the treasures within its crypt. In contrast, Maggie—or Margaret—was intent on the stout door of the underground chamber, the narrow stone steps leading down to it and the huge key the priest produced from his surplice to unlock the sanctuary.
“No one has ventured here for a while, thank our holy mother,” she observed, as the priest shouldered open the thick door and Richard and Earl John jammed together in the small opening in their haste to be first into the crypt.
Would be funny, I vow, were my girl’s plight not so serious.              
“Why do you say that?” Conrad asked aloud, interested in her and her reasons rather than the costly trinkets stashed within.
Maggie smiled, her eyes less strained than he had seen them for two days, and pointed down. “Dust and cobwebs on the steps, before the holy father walked down,” she answered, “which means no thieves, either, so we can set a trap for them here.”
“Snares have no places in the house of God!” protested the priest, while Conrad could only think she said we. She is glad we work together. In that instant his joy burned as fierce as the newly-lit torches.
“By all the saints, look at this!” Richard’s loud excitement over-rode the cleric’s disgust and the earl rocked back and forth on the heels of his two-tone coloured shoes, murmuring, “My, my, such handsome works.”
Curious where he had not been greatly intrigued before, merely staying with Maggie to ensure she was safe, Conrad waited for the smoke of the priest’s spitting, damp torch to settle, and then looked for himself.
So much bright gold, was his first thought, while Richard, naturally stretched out sticky fingers to paw at the pieces and Earl John intoned, “Roman, or earlier, and fit for a king.”
“This is the holy moon torc of Saint Oswald!” snapped the priest, keen to put the church’s ownership beyond doubt, “Discovered in a pond near here by my great-grandfather!”
“I have heard tell of such sacred wonders before,” said Conrad, hoping to prevent the priest and earl from saying more in anger or gold-greed that they could not take back.
“It was a woman’s,” said Maggie softly beside him, glancing once at him to share her thought.
“Why do you say that?” asked Conrad.
She pointed. “Because of the safety chain.”

Here's a picture of the gold torc with safety chain that inspired me.
From YouTube

My sweet medieval historical romance, SIR CONRAD AND THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE, is now out. You can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

On Amazon. Com here
And Amazon UK here  

Monday, 26 November 2018

Sweet Medieval Historical Romance: "Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure" by Lindsay Townsend





My sweet medieval historical romance, SIR CONRAD AND THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE, is up for pre-order. You can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

On Amazon. Com here
And Amazon UK here


SIR CONRAD AND THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE TO READ WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED



What is the true treasure of Christmas?

Maggie’s younger brother, Michael, is kidnapped by outlaws, and it’s up to her to rescue him. Appealing to Sir Conrad, the grim steward of the northern English high lands, is the very last thing she wants to do. With the very real possibility that the outlaws know of Michael’s talent—the ability to open any lock, to reveal any treasure—Maggie races against time to find him before his usefulness to the outlaws is ended.

Sir Conrad desires Maggie from the minute he sees her—she makes him feel alive again—and that has not happened since the death of his wife. Though he hasn’t known Maggie before, a strange feeling of familiarity nags, and he agrees to aid the beautiful peasant girl in this quest of finding her brother.

Joining forces, Maggie and Sir Conrad form a tenuous bond. When an assassin attacks Maggie, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit, and Conrad realizes that even Maggie doesn’t know the power she holds. But Conrad not only must keep Maggie safe, he must thwart the dangerous devices of his spiteful older brother, Richard, who has lately returned from crusade.

As love blossoms, Maggie and Conrad must protect one another. Evil is all around them, and doubt is a cruel enemy. Will their faith in each other keep them united? In the world of dangerous courtly intrigue, who is saving whom? Love is all that matters…but can that be enough?

This story is available via pre-order and will come out on December 7th, 2018

Saturday, 28 July 2018

"The Folded Notes" Historical Fiction set in India on the Indian Railways, by Mandz Singh



Blurb of The Folded Notes by Mandz Singh


Inspired by true events

Bath, 1898: Catherine embarks on a trip with her mother to Lahore in India to meet her father, who is posted at the Punjab University.

There, her path crosses with Kharak, a recently qualified engineer from Lahore who works for the Indian Railways, and a mutual friendship blossoms.

In disapproval, her father, with the help of Ivan, a colonial engineer, conceives a plan to keep Catherine from falling in love with Kharak by getting him sent away to work in another British colony.

He manages to leave two notes for Catherine before departing.

Realising that her feelings for him are overwhelming, she leaves Lahore, following him to Mombasa without her parents’ knowledge.

Little does she know that not only will Ivan be there as Kharak’s supervisor, but as her pursuer.

With everything to lose, hope is all Catherine has to enable her to triumph in expressing her enduring love for Kharak.


“The book’s cross-cultural relationship is refreshing, and its peek into sites around Lahore is delightful.”

- Kirkus reviews




Buy link: https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/historical/the-folded-notes/ 






Excerpt from The Folded Notes by Mandz Singh



The chirps of the native rock buntings were a poetic harmony to wake to. The golden rays of the morning sun trickled through the glass window and hit the bed. Catherine’s eyes slowly adjusted to the bright morning sun as she gradually woke up. Her body felt weightless, relaxed, and her mind addled.
A knock on the door finally awakened her senses, and she realised where she was.
“Come in,” she answered, befuddled.
The door creaked open and Sana, the lady’s maid, wearing a peach sari and holding a tray with a teapot and teacup on it, walked in.
“Good morning, memsahib,” she said softly. “Your bed tea is here. I shall leave it by the bedside.”
“That will be lovely, thank you,” Catherine replied as she leaned up and backwards, resting on satiny cotton pillows in front of the cushioned headboard.
The aroma of the Darjeeling tea brewing in the teapot beside the bed was invigorating.
“Is there anything else you need, memsahib?”
“No, thank you.”
The woman bowed and effortlessly walked backwards in her sari, closing the door behind her.
Without hesitating, Catherine made a cup of tea and took her first sip; it was different to the tea she was accustomed to. It had a refined taste that she immediately liked. She placed her cup on the tray, got up and walked towards the curved armchair next to her bed and collected her bath gown to wear over her nightdress.
Picking up her cup of tea, she walked towards the window and twisted the brass handle to open it. Lavender-flowered jacaranda trees intertwined with red-flowered sumbul trees greeted her eyes. The lawn was lush green and finely manicured. The air was filled with a fragrant scent that was appealing and fresh.
Seeing the garden reminded her of the dream she’d had the night before. She scanned the garden, looking for those yellow flowers she had plucked, but there were none. After all, it was a dream.
It then came to her where she had seen the yellow flowers, and she remembered Kharak’s face.
She smiled to herself as she sipped her tea.

Kharak woke with a jolt. His heart was pounding as beads of sweat rolled down his forehead. He was breathless and hollow. It took him a few seconds to realise where he was and it was the biggest relief he had ever had.
It was just a nightmare. Mighty soul-destroying and numbing it was.
He should have held her hand; never let it go; perhaps he should have stopped her before she ran across the wooden bridge. It was disturbing to hear the cracking of the wooden planks and to see Catherine drop through the gap. He had held her hand, but it slipped through his. She screamed as she fell into the raging, brackish water of the river and disappeared. He yelled for her.
That’s when he woke up. It was just a bad dream, he reassured himself, wiping the sweat from his forehead as he allowed his pulse to come back to its normal rhythm.
He sat up on the edge of his bed with his feet on the floor and his forehead resting between the palms of his hands, and gradually the images of his dream drifted into the background as his reality overcame his sleepy thoughts.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Guest post - "The Lamorna Reach" by Joy V Sheridan. A dark historical romance

The Lamorna Reach presents a Zola-esque tableau of raw, elemental life in Cornwall at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Issy Penhalligan, the heroine, is incredibly beautiful and talented, but these qualities do not secure her a happy, comfortable life. She enters the world as a foundling, under the most brutal circumstances; she is fostered. Issy undergoes rape and abuse, and is pressurised into a prestigious but oppressive marriage. There is a saga of mutual obsession between her and the fascinating but totally dark and menacing Tobias Carmichael, who seduces but does not finally control her. There are brief glimpses of euphoria and romance. Issy is a fiercely independent spirit; true to form, she disguises herself as a man and goes on a maritime expedition. Eventually, jealousy and prejudice conspire against her. She leaves the world, but her spirit lives on.
This novel has the added bonus of multiple perspective, alternating between first and third person narration.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lamorna-Reach-Cornish-Saga-ebook/dp/B079T4QYGB


From The Lamorna Reach
(I can only compare the two of us to be some kind of immortal duellists, twinned in love and in hatred, with a thread running betwixt us that neither man, God, time nor space could alter.)
Tobias came towards me, his face light and shadowed; only his eyes were fixed, hard as serpents, or like stars in some mysterious galaxy – to my face. His hands were very steady as they reached out towards me. I noticed how pale he looked. Those hands – they seemed like birds winging their way all up and down me, fluttering. He made them seem to pass over me, moving from my shoulders to the tip of my head, then swooping them down to my ankles. I thought ’twas all most odd, but I was fascinated by his every movement: indeed, I got a rare measure of delight from this eccentric behaviour. Then, seeming satisfied, he moved away and sat in a chair. He looked down once, then up and straight into my face; he spoke clearly and slowly.
“Undress for me Issy, undress.”
I suppose he guessed my nervousness, or thought I needed more brandy. I know there was a sheen of sweat about my brow. I began to tremble very mildly. He handed me a glass of brandy, nodded at me solemnly as though he were some lawyer or judge. I drank a hefty amount, rather too quickly. I coughed as the flames of that molten potion burned my throat. He continued staring at me, sitting in the chair bolt upright, with his fingers stretched out along the arms. He moved one hand so that it supported his chin, his head being thrown slightly to one side. He moved his head again, his lips forming the unspoken command “U N D R E S S”.
I began to obey his wishes; the brandy had given life to my fingertips, which had suddenly numbed on me, from fear or chill. I began to ease the buttons undone from the side fastening of my blouse; then I shook my head – watching his reactions – trying, I dare say, to adopt his almost insolent attitude. I began to ease the garment over my head The underclothing I had was delicate but worn thin in places. My stitching, never first class, would – I was sure – give him the clue to my impoverished state. I had to pretend to be strong, so almost involuntarily I tightened the muscles in my chest, so that my breasts poked out, springy and firm.
He moved from the chair and began, very quickly, to undo his own garments – throwing off the jacket in a trice, then the waistcoat. With speeding fingers he had the breeches unbuttoned, till he was left wearing only his flannel undershirt. I could see his passion throbbing like a small ghost under the edge of the garment. But (and in imitation of him) I pushed the flattened palm of my upraised right hand at him. I was not ready yet and – if this was the game he contrived to play, then I could play it (I thought) as well as he.
Slowly I began to undo the fastening to my skirt, holding the blouse before my breasts. I let the garment flutter to the ground, then applied both hands to the skirt. I made sure to adopt some mightily provocative poses, for I had to occupy my time somehow at Whitehays and I was really quite a performer in this area. I shook my breasts towards him – the nipples hard and pointed. Sensuality was most assuredly in the air, so that the invisible musk of what was inevitable, seemed to be spicing the atmosphere. My hair was down and tumbling about my shoulders; it tickled a little and I suppressed the urge to laugh. It was a game in deadly earnest after all!
There was hunger in Tobias Carmichael’s face now. Again, I stopped him from moving in on me. I ran my fingers over my Mount of Venus, moving to a sideways position and pressing the fabric taut upon myself, so that he could see the better what was his principle design for conquest. Then – off with the skirt; the petticoat wriggled down to my hips, bending from the knees to pull at the waist, which was snagging over my heel, till at length I stood bolt upright before him, stark naked.
I recall saying to him that this was, on my part, planned adultery and on his seduction and ravishment – if not out-and-out stealing. He all but threw himself at me, but I was determined to play the game well and squirmed from his grasp – meanwhile giggling and attempting to hoist the shirt off of him. He got my drift and it was removed in a flash. The air was pressingly over-charged with our mutual longings – and in a pant, with an almighty gasp, he was in me – his tool actually seeming to hurt as though I were that same virgin girl he had taken three years before.
I began to relax, enjoying the sensations as they swept over me; I had all but forgotten what it was like to feel a man’s hardest and most intimate part moving within me. He was groaning and sighing, his lips devouring mine. I could feel the crescendo building up in his phallus, which was now so hard and big, that I wondered how I could take it. I stopped moving, for I wanted to prolong the ecstasy. He grasped my unspoken meaning and we lay still for a few minutes – both our loins throbbing, veins of pleasure sweeping about us, so that it seemed we were mutually bound by some exquisite electricity. I began to rise to a crescendo; our juices were flowing now and I could detect that rooting smell as it pervaded the air about us. He began to sense my moment – faster, faster – our antics were surely singeing the sheets. Then the ultimate: our outburst of joy was mutually matched. We lay quiet, sated to our first point – for that moment exhausted.
So the night continued, and ’twas as though the ardour increased with the coming dawn. Not that we hadn’t taken time to sup and drink, and to see that my poor little puppy had his eats. We left the inn, but I cannot truthfully say if what had passed between us had proved to quieten our mutual selves. Tobias rode with me to the outskirts of the estate. We barely communicated for the greater part, though I urged Carmichael to pick up Happy and let him ride on the steed in some fashion, for the poor little creature was all but beat. Carmichael pulled me down from my mount as we were nearing the entrance to the estate. His lips were all tenderness, his hands weaving delicate patterns about my cheeks and hair.
“Issy,” he murmured, “to the Gods: I believe it was not a ghost we’ve laid at all, but we have to raise a multitude of unearthly beings.” There was despair in his voice. I was mute: what could I say? Feelings of guilt and remorse were washing over me now that I was back on home terrain. He pushed me gently from him, surveying me; then he was down on one knee, looking up at me beseechingly. I gestured him up with an impatient wave; I felt foolish to be so approached.
Then I was all ruthlessness and was back upon Soda, flying up the drive towards Whitehays. I did not cast a glance to where Tobias stood. Panic – and a wild, exultant abandon were mixing in me like some illicit concoction, mixing perhaps like grape and grain.
I determined to leave Whitehays. I would find Morgan. Or Tom. Or anyone. Or no-one. For I could not let Carmichael have the possession over my being – as he had done three years earlier – and indeed had all but succeeded in doing once more, in the past ten or fifteen hours.