Saturday, January 14, 2012

Born of Blood - Book Excerpt Two

March 23 is coming and with it the release of Born of Blood. My debut novel. In anticipation of the release and to curb my excitement I have prepared a second book excerpt. Welcome to a sneak peek of Book I of The Blood Chronicles Series. Enjoy!

The rider’s head swiveled as she searched the hillside for any sign of pursuit. Wet mud flew high in the air from her horse’s hoofs as they thundered down the rutted trail. She shifted her eyes for a split second to look at the bundle snugly bound against her midsection.
“Just a little further now,” she whispered.
The cold night air whistled past her ears, but sweat continued over her brow. The barren trees reached out with their finger-like limbs, threatening to rip her off her mount. At the last second, she swerved her horse down a side path. A glimmer of light in the distance called to her, and a burst of speed brought the weary rider to a ramshackle farmhouse with a single light glowing from a lone window.
The smoke from the fire was a welcoming sign of warmth as she approached the door. A soft knock, and it cracked opened. An old woman gazed beyond the traveler’s shoulder for a moment until she stepped aside and waved her in.
“You sure you weren’t followed girl?” a gray-haired man asked from a seat in the corner next to the fire.

The rider’s head swiveled as she searched the hillside for any sign of pursuit. Wet mud flew high in the air from her horse’s hoofs as they thundered down the rutted trail. She shifted her eyes for a split second to look at the bundle snugly bound against her midsection.
“Just a little further now,” she whispered.
The cold night air whistled past her ears, but sweat continued over her brow. The barren trees reached out with their finger-like limbs, threatening to rip her off her mount. At the last second, she swerved her horse down a side path. A glimmer of light in the distance called to her, and a burst of speed brought the weary rider to a ramshackle farmhouse with a single light glowing from a lone window.
The smoke from the fire was a welcoming sign of warmth as she approached the door. A soft knock, and it cracked opened. An old woman gazed beyond the traveler’s shoulder for a moment until she stepped aside and waved her in.
“You sure you weren’t followed girl?” a gray-haired man asked from a seat in the corner next to the fire.
“Yes, I’m sure,” the rider replied as she dropped her saddlebag on the table.
The old woman shut and latched the door. “Now, Pa, leave her be. She’s been on a long ride.”
“Well, if’n she was followed, it will be for naught.”
“I said I wasn’t followed.”
Pa stared at the girl for a moment and nodded before repacking his pipe with tobacco. “Then move over here to the fire and warm your bones.” He indicated the hearth.
Elizabeth stood close to it and absorbed the warmth into her stiff fingers. As she warmed, she removed her hat, scarf, and cloak, but the bundled blanket remained against her midsection. I hope I’m doing the right thing. She turned to the old couple.
“I know this is a burden on you. There are some supplies in the saddlebag. It’s not much, but it will last a few days.”
“That witch has done enough horror in these parts, so it’s the least we can do.” Pa spat.
“Well, let’s have a look,” requested Ma.
Elizabeth detached the bundle and handed it to her. With experienced hands, she pulled back a portion of the blanket. The angelic face of a sleeping baby girl greeted her.
“Oh, isn’t she darlin’.” Ma cooed at the babe. “Come look, Pa.”
Pa moved around the table and stared at the baby.
“I’d say that’s a baby, all right.” With that, he moved back to his seat.
“Never you mind him. I know him like my own hand, and he loves this little bundle already.”
Elizabeth gave a slight smile. “I knew she would do well here, but mind the countess will never stop looking for her once she figures things out.”
“You think she will?” Ma asked.
Elizabeth bundled up for the journey back. “I’m positive,” she exclaimed as she walked out into the night.
****
The elderly couple stood in the doorway with the baby and watched as Elizabeth disappeared down the darkened path.
“Did you see what that woman did to Elizabeth’s face?” Pa asked.
“You’ve heard the sayings, Pa. Now you know some are true. She’s a brave girl, doing what she did.”
“Yes, but it might cost her more then she wants to pay.”
The baby squirmed in her blanket, and their conversation shifted to her and keeping her safe.
* * * *
Elizabeth arrived back at the castle an hour before sunrise. It would be a long day, but if all went well, it would be worth it. She corralled the horse and crept to the kitchen through the back of the stable yard. With silent steps, she climbed the stairwell, ever mindful of other servants who, to find good favor, would notify the countess. Her door swung open on oiled hinges. With growing confidence, she stepped into the comforting darkness of her room, but her hand stopped on the sconce where the torch should have been. Panic began anew as she patted along the wall, fingers trembling.
“Looking for this?” A voice startled her as the torch came to life. The old gray stone walls dulled the red and orange glow from the flame.
Elizabeth straightened as she turned to face the countess. She dropped into a deep curtsy.
“Countess, I didn’t expect you up so early.”
The countess glared at the girl before a cold, heartless grin creased her face. “Oh, this is a special day,” she replied and moved to the window to gaze over the darkened countryside.
“Why is that, my lady?”
“Before we get to that, I would like to know why you took one of my horses out so late.”
Elizabeth froze as her mind raced for an excuse.
“I…uuummm…”
“Never mind. My newest addition is nowhere to be found on the same night you go for a joy ride. Isn’t that interesting?”
Tears ran down Elizabeth’s face. “Countess, I’m deeply sorry. I…”
The countess flew over from the window and stopped just as her nose touched Elizabeth’s.
“I have no time for a sniveling little whore like you,” she yelled.
She stepped back, took a deep breath and smoothed out her dress. “Look at me. You’ve got me all in a mess. You are right about one thing…you’ll be deeply sorry.”

Want more? Check out my site HERE.

3 comments:

gail roughton branan said...

Freakin' AWESOME!

Brian said...

Gail - Thank you!

gail roughton branan said...

Some things just grab you from hello, darlin'. This does.