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Arrow’s Fall
Excerpt

“As you have curtailed our evening's entertainment perhaps you would care to engage Mr. Summers in a little demonstration for the guests,” he went on unfazed. “I am sure he is quite keen. I understand he was under a slight disadvantage last time you met. Something about a dog bite if I remember correctly.”

Summers remained in front of me, his face impassive, his eyes burning.

Laura's nails dug into my hand.

“I don't think so,” I said.

My head was spinning from the drink and the smoke, and the girl had released demons into the room. I needed clean air, and space to breathe.

Summer's lips drew back in a mocking grin and he leaned towards me.

“Perhaps we could compete for the tart,” he murmured in a voice only the three of us could hear. “I see you're fucking her now. Not that she was all that great, mind you. Except for the last time of course. That was outstanding.”

I looked at the sneering face and the world shrank and there were only the two of us, and I was lying by the dugout dazed and bleeding and then the stifling smell of hay in the barn and the oppressive dust filled heat and the stillness of the other prisoners around us in a circle as the rage built and consumed me like a prairie fire.

“This time I'll kill you outright, Wakosky,” I murmured, and his face grew puzzled and a hand was pulling at my shoulder and I pushed away and there was a crash and Danny yelled and then I was up and had Summers by the throat and hurled him across the table and he slid across in a crashing of dishes and fell.

He rolled and came up smiling, much quicker than I remembered and he kicked me twice before I spun and took the leg and jack-knifed him down but he rose again as if on springs, so light for a heavy man, the dust from the hay clouding the air around him, but Wakosky was much thicker and I pondered this and he hit me again and I fell heavily and he danced away, changing shape and I rose and crouched and caught him in the throat as he came in, and he buckled and fell and I grabbed a fallen knife and leaned down and stared at his face and his eyes changed into the blue of my Grandfather's and I screamed in rage and terror and brought the knife towards him but Danny was there holding me and Summers rolled away.

“The demonstration is over,” Danny said.

Waverly looked at us and I saw him calculating, but there were guests, important people, and he was no fool, and he smiled and the tension left his body.

“Perhaps we can do this again another time,” he said. “I hate to leave things unfinished and I am sure Captain Summers feels the same.”

We turned and walked away, Padraic, Molly and Laura in a tight group, her father's arm around her, and Danny and I bringing up the rear. We went outside and there were two uniformed men waiting in the launch and they took us back to Arrow without a word from anybody. Molly left and the others went down below and then Danny came back out with a bottle and glasses and we sat in the cockpit drinking in silence.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked me once.

“No.”

He nodded and poured another drink and we sat there for the longest time.

I put the evening away and pulled the covers over it and buried it back down deep and held it there until the alcohol and the tiredness dulled it down and then I closed my eyes and slept. I woke once and Danny was still there, talking to someone in a low voice, and it was just breaking dawn. I squinted my eyes and it was Elinor, dripping wet in the cockpit, and this struck me as strange but I fell asleep again before I could make any sense out of it.

When I woke again I was alone and hoped I had dreamed it all.

~

“I thought you were going to sleep forever.”

I took the cup of coffee and grunted my thanks. I noted a slight bruising on Laura's left cheek. I felt like shit.

“Sorry about last night,” I muttered.

“My fault. I should have stayed out of the way. I suppose you were sort of defending my honor.”

I fumbled around the cockpit for my sunglasses. The cloud cover was thin, and it was exceedingly bright.

“Or don't you remember?”

“I remember.”

“Do you always drink so much?”

Jesus Christ. “Look, I said I was sorry.”

“Do you want some rum in your coffee?”

“No.”

“How about a Caesar then?”

“Look, I'm not an alcoholic. I just like to enjoy myself once in a while. Summers last night, that had nothing to do with drink. We don't like each other very much.”

“What did you call him?”

“Summers.”

“No. Last night. Something else.”

“I don't know. Asshole maybe. What does it matter? He was out of line and I lost my cool. Forget it.”

She stared at me, her face thoughtful.

“What time is it?”

“Ten o'clock. Everybody else has been up for ages.”

“I think I'll go for a shower.”

I stood up and looked out over the harbor. The Golden Dragon was gone.

“They left an hour ago. Dropped all their guests ashore before they pulled out,” Laura said.

“Good riddance.”

I'd drop over to Port Control, see if I could find out where they had cleared out to.

I went down below to grab some clean clothes and a towel and halted in surprise. Danny and Elinor were sitting at the table drinking coffee.

“What's she doing here?”

“She swam over early this morning. You said Hi to her.”

“I thought I was dreaming. But what's she doing here?”

“Hi again,” Elinor said. “I decided I didn't want to stay aboard that boat any longer. I don't know why I didn't leave when my friend Susan did a month ago. I don't particularly like any of them and Waverly gives me the creeps. And that girl he keeps. Ugh.” She shivered. “After you all left last night he told his guests there'd been a change of plans, they would have to leave.”

“And that included you?”

“No. I was crew. But he was angry with me about last night, as if some of it was my fault because I was with your lot. I don't trust him.”

“I'm not sure I trust you,” I said.

“C'mon Jared. Relax. She's all right.” Danny glared at me.

“Waverly selected you to be our hostess?”

“Yes.”

“Why was that?”

“I don't know. The others were taken, I guess.”

“Taken?”

“You know. They were with the other guests.”

“And you weren't with anybody.”

“That's right. Not right then. But I have been some other times. I don't have to make excuses to anybody,” she said, standing up. “I just needed to get away from the Dragon, and I didn't have anywhere else to go right away. I’m leaving now.”

“No. I apologize. If Danny wants you to stay, you stay. It's his call,” I said

“What would you like to do?” Danny asked her.

“I'd like to stay aboard Arrow and help you beat that arrogant manipulative bastard,” she said.

With her makeup washed off and her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she bore little resemblance to the sophisticated woman of the previous night.

“Beat him at what?” Laura asked.

“Recovering the treasure. I heard them talking about it.”

“Welcome aboard, Elinor,” I said, “now please tell us everything you know.”

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Seasons of War 3-Book Bundle

Seasons of War 3-Book Bundle

Come Looking for Me / Second Summer of War / Run Red With Blood
edition:eBook
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Run Red with Blood
Excerpt

Prologue

The night shrouded the carriage in a suffocating darkness as black as the loam of a grave. The rain fell in torrents, pounding against the windows like the fists of a riotous mob. Pools of water had gouged the serpentine road, causing the carriage wheels to swerve and careen, and Emily’s head to repeatedly strike the inside wall. She screamed for the driver to stop, but it seemed the carriage had neither driver nor horses — headlong it hurtled along an unknown track, stoked by a ghostly energy of its own.

Across from her sat Lord Somerton in his sombre suit of clothes, his eyes lost in shifting shadows, his mouth nothing more than a grim slash across a pallid jaw. The pitching motion of the vehicle did little to disturb him. Aside from his finger-tapping on the head of his cane, he sat completely still.

“Where are you taking me?” Emily cried.

There was a slight curling of his lips, but silence was his answer.

The carriage escalated its reckless speed. Wet, shivering trees flew past in the darkness — the twisted fingers of their branches scratching at the mournful sky, searching for a way to escape the night. A set of iron gates suddenly appeared and opened like jaws, intent on swallowing them whole. As they passed through them, Emily grew cold and shaky. She recognized this place. She knew its twisting pathway and the grey, foreboding grounds heaving around it like an angry sea.

Hartwood Hall!

Frantically, she wrestled with the latch on the carriage door. Dear God, no! She had already fled from here once before, stolen away in the night when everyone was preoccupied with dancing and feasting and drinking — no one having seen her except for Fleda, who had wept at her leaving. She had gone looking for Leander and had managed to find him, somewhere near the sea.

The carriage came to an abrupt halt, and the leaden facade of the Hall filled its windows, formidable and startling as an enemy frigate slipping from a swirling bank of fog. Candles burned in the Hall’s sash windows, and scurrying figures poured forth from its doors, rushing toward her. Roughened hands dragged her out into the pelting rain; voices shouted: “Hurry! Hurry! You have kept them waiting.”

The shadowy molesters prodded her toward the house and into the front entrance where the lights flickered upon a hawk-faced clergyman in his black weeds and white collar. In his pious grasp, he carried the Book of Common Prayer. Bound in a tight semicircle around him was an assemblage of familiar faces, yet there was no happy welcome in their stares. The Duchess of Belmont exuded indignation; her heavy husband wheezed disinterest; Glenna McCubbin was a clucking hen of disapproval while Uncle Clarence’s mood was aloof and dark with bitter disappointment.

In his extravagant knee breeches and frock coat, Wetherell Lindsay paced with impatience, his high heels clicking upon the marble floor, reflections of candlelight playing upon his bald pate where his wig was normally affixed. Lord Somerton eagerly steered Emily toward him. Wetherell pulled her roughly to his stout side and attempted to lock up her hands in his, but she pushed away, shaking her head in defiance, refusing to participate in their mad conspiracy. Enraged by the rebuff, Wetherell stomped off into a subterranean passage of the house, instructing the wedding guests to follow him, leaving the servants to douse the candles and shutter the doors. Trailing them was Fleda, a haunting, dreadful sadness in her green eyes. As she walked away from Emily, the masonry and mortar of Hartwood Hall fell around her, disintegrating and then vanishing into the earth.

One wedding guest stayed behind. He stood like a scarecrow in the abandoned field where the house had been. The uniform of an American naval captain hung upon his gaunt frame, the wind trifling with the threadbare fabric of his jacket. The brim of his bicorne hat was cracked and moth-eaten. His feet were naked and bleeding; he possessed no mouth, and where his nose should have been there was only a skeletal cavity. He turned to face Emily. His eyes — cold, dark, and merciless — sent icy fingers scuttling down her spine while the distance between them loudly echoed a familiar word.

Pity.

Unable to move, she watched as he raised a black pistol, cocked the hammer back, and levelled it at her pounding heart.

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Spindrift

Spindrift

A Canadian Book of the Sea
edition:Hardcover
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