I’m ramping up my release list for 2014 and thought I’d share some of the potential releases. It’s going to be a great year of Medieval Madness, the kind of romances that kick you in the gut (in a good way) and leave you breathless.
This excerpt is from WALLS OF BABYLON, a truly deep and emotional Medieval Romance that is in the pipeline for release. Here’s the set up: Sir Kenton de Riveaux is one of the greatest knights in the arsenal of Henry V. Think of him as a cross between Gaston de Russe and Stephen of Pembury. He has been charged with the acquisition of Babylon, a castle that holds one of the major gateways into Yorkshire. Kenton manages to breach the castle only to find the lady of the keep, the Lady Nicola-Aubrey Thorne, and her three young boys. The lord is missing, and Kenton very much wants to get his hands on Lord Thorne. This is from the initial meeting inside the castle when Kenton confiscates it and demands to know where Lord Thorne is. Take a listen:
“Lady Thorne,” he rumbled. “I will say this one time only, so listen carefully. I have come a long way and have lost many men in acquisition of this castle. It is now mine. You and your family are my prisoners. I will ask you where your husband is and you will tell me, truthfully, or I will remove those three boys from this place and you will never see them again. Is this in any way unclear, my lady?”
Nicola paled. “Since when do knights murder children?”
“My patience is at an end, madam. You will give me the answer I seek.”
Tears suddenly glimmered in her eyes. “I… please, you do not understand.”
“I understand all too well that you are protecting an enemy of the rightful king of England.”
“I am not protecting him at all. I am protecting my children.”
“You speak in riddles. I told you I would not ask again.”
“And I am trying to answer you. But you are not allowing me to do so.”
Kenton didn’t say anything. He just stared at her. Nicola knew he was not soft, nor sympathetic in any way. This was the great Kenton de Riveaux, a man feared and hated throughout the realm. Why he had to attack Babylon was a stroke of bitter luck. They had held out as long as they could. Now she could see it was all at an end.
She lowered her gaze and looked away. “I will… show you.”
“You will tell me.”
“Please.” Her tone was almost desperate. “I must show you.”
“Madam, I am trying to be as tolerant as possible. Your stalling attempts are not well met.”
“I am not stalling, my lord. But I would ask…. please, that if you must know, you must allow me to show you.”
Kenton pondered that a moment. He didn’t like to compromise a demand. It showed weakness. But he removed his arms and stood back, indicating for the moment that he would trust her word as a lady and allow her to show him where her husband was. He motioned to Conor.
“Stay here with the prisoners,” he said. “I will take Gerik and Ack with me.”
“Where are you going?”
“To find Lord Thorne.”
Conor cocked an eyebrow but said nothing. He motioned to Gerik and Ackerley, who immediately went to their liege. The three knights followed Nicola from the kitchens, listening to the sobs of her youngest children undoubtedly thinking they would never see their mother again. From the great hall above the kitchens, she led them out into the bailey, hardly flinching at the death and destruction she saw there. Across the muck was a rather large, half-moon shaped structure built into the inner wall. There were long, thin windows on the curve of the structure, allowing weak light to penetrate into the gloom.
The interior was cool and dark, and Kenton immediately recognized the chapel. The majority of the room was set deep into the protective inner wall. Three pews were situated towards the front of the chamber and there were at least four sepulchers that he could see, two with large stone effigies affixed to the tomb.
Kenton paused by the door, thinking Gaylord to be a wise man to seek sanctuary within his own chapel. Public or private, the Holy Church had jurisdiction over all sacred meeting places and removing the man from here would prove controversial at best. He watched Nicola make her way over to one of the low-built, stone crypts.
“I am waiting, madam.”
She looked at him and he could see a tremendous sadness in the pale green eyes. Then she reluctantly patted the stone. “He’s here.”
Kenton cast her a long look. “Where?”
“Four months, now.”
He made his way over to her, slowly, his gaze sweeping across the plain gray tomb. There was nothing of decoration on it at all. Without remorse or emotion, he turned to his knights. “Open it.”
Nicola was horrified. “No! You mustn’t!”
“I must confirm your story, madam. Surely you know that.”
“But… you cannot violate his tomb!”
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “There is no name on this tomb. It could be empty for all I know and your husband could be half way to Scotland by now. If he is not in here, your children will receive the punishment for your lies. You do realize that, of course.”
“Of course I do, I’m no fool,” she struggled not to become hysterical. “He is in there, I tell you. I would not lie with my children’s lives at stake.”
Gerik returned to the chapel bearing a heavy hammer. He marched straight to the sepulcher and raised the hammer above his head.
“Wait!” Nicola cried. “Please, hear me first before you smash it to bits and release this horrible secret!”
Gerik ignored her. He was in the process of bringing the hammer down when Kenton stopped him. His incredible strength halted what surely would have been a crushing blow. Kenton looked at the woman, his ice blue eyes hard.
“This is the second mention of such a secret. You will tell me now.”
“I will. But please… do not smash the tomb.”
…. what dark and dirty secret could she possibly mean? You’ll never guess, I promise, but it’s a doozy! Stay tuned for the release date of the wonderful romantic and tragic tale.