April 5, 2015
Kate Pavelle here with Sean and Asbjorn from “Landfall,” the third book of the Fall Trilogy, which came out on April 3rd (find it here http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6215). This is my 6th book with Dreamspinner Press and my 9th novel overall, but it’s my first-ever book where I had to actually research. The nautical element was key to the story, but I don’t do boats happily. I get sick, and if the water isn’t like glass, I puke. I’ve been known to throw up off the bow of a boat that was moored at a reef north of Bermuda, where our sedimentology class studied reef and dune formations. The wind took my eggs and toast down to two guys, who were collecting plankton samples a foot underwater. They were none too pleased when they found out where their “plankton” sample came from – but they were jerks, so no guilt on my part. I’ve even gotten a bit ill in a kayak on the river when a police boat sent wake my way.
If you get seasick and if you found a way of getting over it, you’re a lot tougher than I am. You’ve got guts, and a cast-iron stomach to boot.
Boats, though. I did some reading and let my imagination fill in the blanks between a number of tropical vacations and ill-fated fishing trips. Then I passed the manuscript to my technical beta, my cousin-in-law. She boats, her friends and family boat – they all fed her answers to my questions, and she pointed out the obvious goof-ups that would yank a boater right out of my story. Like, you don’t navigate a brand-new boat single-handedly around Camp Hatteras in the winter. That’s a good way to lose the boat. You use the IntraCoastal Waterway. The ICW is a passage leading from Maine to Florida, and it takes advantage of protective barrier islands, rivers, estuaries, and man-made canals to allow both commercial and pleasure boat traffic to make its way up and down the coast year round. Even when the Atlantic is unpleasant or downright dangerous, the ICW offers sheltered passage, ports, food, fuel, and technical assistance to boaters up and down the coast. Furthermore, a 55ft boat is a big boat, even for Don. Honey, I shrunk the boat. That way, Adrian can drive it, too, even with his very limited experience.
Speaking of Don and Adrian, Landfall has given me a welcome opportunity to explore the dynamic of this married pair a bit further. Their friendship is an integral part of the plot, and their understanding of the world helps Sean and Adrian get closer and stay that way. However, I’m not done with them, and Don and Adrian will get their own book at some point.
My session is almost over. Comment on any of these post and I’ll put your name in the hat for a free e-book. One of mine, naturally, but of your choice. Not everyone has read the same books, after all.
Thank you for visiting with me!
April 5, 2015
Kate Pavelle here, with Sean and Asbjorn on their tropical vacation. Since some of you were a bit chilled from my earlier out-take, here’s a taste of the salty warmth. The sun isn’t the only thing that burns a lot hotter down there, too. (Find the book at http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6215). Comment on this post to win one of my free e-books (your choice which one!)
TROPICAL WATERS EXCERPT
The good part about living on the beach was the ability to stumble into the waves and wash off right after making love. Sean smiled at the memory of having done exactly that. The bad part about living at the beach was bright sun in your eyes if you happened to have rolled from under the tarp overnight.
Sean stood and stretched. It promised to be another beautiful day, with nary a cloud in the sky. He could hear the crashing of the surf nearby. A brisk morning breeze rose, cooling his skin and raising goose bumps. The sudden chill alerted him to the fullness of his bladder.
A full bladder while camping on a deserted island meant returning his morning water into the ocean. And if he was down there already, he figured he might as well catch some fish for breakfast. They would still be in the shallows now, and if not, he’d check out the reef.
Sean pulled on his swim trunks and strapped his knife to the outside of his left calf. He checked his fishing spear, picked up his facemask, snorkel, and his flippers, and shook Asbjorn’s shoulder. “Rise and shine, sleeping beauty! I’m going fishing. Just so you know.”
“Be careful,” Asbjorn grumbled. “Sharks feed in the morning.”
“Don’t forget to drink some water,” Asbjorn called out.
Sean rolled his eyes but bit back a mother-hen comment as he pulled a lukewarm bottle of water out of a plastic bin. He drank some, leaving plenty for Asbjorn. They would both need it.
He skipped down the sand with a grin on his face. What a night, and what an early morning! The sky to the east still had that sweet pastel tinge that told him it was barely an hour after sunrise. What hunger, too, and he didn’t want to face another peanut butter and jam sandwich anytime soon. He waded in hip-deep, where the surf no longer tried to shred the skin off his legs and where the waves only bobbed him up and down, and looked up and down the shoreline. If he swam out to the still line of breakers, he’d find the reef they’d had to steer past on their way in. There was fish to be had out there.
Sean emptied his bladder, put on flippers and a mask, and seated the snorkel in his mouth. He set the spear gun against his hip and stretched the rubber band above the spear, checking the line and clicking the safety on. Then he pushed off into the mild waves, facedown, and looked around. The water under him was clear enough for a close shot, and he did see a short silver fish with a forked black tail dart away. It wasn’t big enough to eat, though. He moved on.
The propelled himself through the water with languid kicks. There was no need to hurry. This was the time to steady his breathing and slow his heart rate. The calmer he was, the longer his breath would last, and the longer he could stay underwater.
The reef sat in about fifteen feet of water, just as he expected. Sean took a few deep breaths, looking at the still bottom. At this depth he could no longer see the distracting flickers of light and shadow, of the mesmerizing wave pattern that had held his attention in the shallows. The water around him was clear, receding into blue mist farther away. He filled his lungs with air and submerged with just the gentlest, slowest flick of his flippers. The world under the waves was silent, and the temperature was cool, but not so cold that he’d wish for a wetsuit.
Sean scanned all directions for company. There were no sharks, but he saw a flat fish. The reef was to his right, jagged, alive with bright colors and fleeting movement. Blue and yellow angelfish glided by as colorful little fish played in the anemones. Some were big enough to eat, but too pretty by far, and it occurred to Sean that he knew absolutely nothing about which species might be endangered and which were fair game.
This was not, after all, the same as spearfishing with his father and sisters in Micronesia.
April 5, 2015
Kate Pavelle with “Landfall” here (http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6215). This last book of the Fall Trilogy revolves around the following premise: Sean won a powerboat in a mail-order sweepstakes, and gave it to Asbjorn. The catch: the boat wasn’t “as advertised.” Those “claim your special prize” offers are still around. You win something, a camera or a free stay in a resort, and you go to claim it, but they sit you down for a time-share vacation resort sales pitch. So, tell me. What was the most interesting or most enticing thing you’ve been offered to lure you out like that? Answer this question, and your name gets entered into a free e-book drawing! (My book of your choice.)
My special wins: pens, watches, “free 4 day vacation” at various resorts, a camera… and yes, my parents once won a motorboat.
April 5, 2015
Kate Pavelle here, gleeful over the fact that “Landfall” is out! Despite the sunny cover, it starts with the unrelenting winter most of us have experienced. Here’s a little out-take:
Sean shivered against the icy wind and turned the collar of his parka all the way up. It almost met his knit watch cap, the one he’d borrowed from Asbjorn before they left for his first sword class. He sure hoped kenjutsu was vigorous and would warm him up. He hoped Margaret would pull them all into her kitchen and offer them tea, or even better, hot chocolate. Her husband was very kind to give him and Asbjorn a sword lesson on a Sunday. Their school schedule was crazy and they haven’t seen their friends – and yes, Ken-sensei and Margaret counted as friends – in weeks.
“Come on, I got to show you something,” Asbjorn said as they trudged from their car across the unshoveled driveway. “It’s in the back.”
Sean grumbled as he righted his sword bag that was slung over his shoulder. It didn’t sit right over his padded and quilted coat, and the carry strap kept slipping off his shoulder.
“Better be good,” he said, but he let Asbjorn nudged his elbow off the roofed walkway that connected the garage to the house and onto an expanse of pristine snow. Sean knew there was a flagstone path down there somewhere, down under the white stuff that reached past the top of his boots. The huffs of their breath and the icy kiss of snowflakes against his cheeks was punctuated by the crunching snow unfer their boots. He tuned it out. They were breaking path where no one has walked before. Like explorers, forging on through a wild and exotic place.
Ten more feet, and they came level with the back of the garage on the right and the house on the left.
Sean stopped. Asbjorn was right behind him, not quite touching but close enough to feel.
No footsteps through the snow, no labored breathing, no second thoughts. Even the wind stilled in the pines across the yard.
Sean turned to Asbjorn and glanced up four inches, meeting his gaze with a questioning quirk of his eyebrow.
“Go ahead,” Asbjorn whispered. A small, excited smile tugged on the corners of his mouth.
Sean registered his husband’s open jacket and bare head, the way his blond hair collected the stray snowflakes, the casual love of cold that let him ignore the miserable winter weather. True to his Viking ancestors, was Asbjorn.
Sean looked around. He listened to the silence interrupted by the click-clack sound of something… mechanical. But what, and why?
Few more steps through the snow. He tripped over something and righted himself just in time. There were boulders around, he recalled. Boulders and statues and stone lanterns, and the path meandered a bit, this way, then that. The white colonial house was to his left. A sliding door led out to a wooden porch and the steps led down into the Japanese garden. The pond in the middle of the lawn was now frozen and covered with snow. He remembered all that, but he didn’t remember a stone cistern, rectangular in shape, that edged the side of the porch.
A sudden gust of wind threw a spray of fine and bitter snow into his face, blinding him. Sean suppressed a curse and focused on the clean, fresh taste of ice in his mouth. He wiped his eyes with his gloved hand. How come snow had a flavor at all? It wasn’t at all like the woodsmoke that tinged the air around them.
Right ahead of him, past graceful mounds of white snow and blue shadows, was a bamboo fountain. A trickle of water poured into a bamboo rod, mounted on a hinge. It filled, overbalanced, and fell.
The fall splashed the water into the cistern, one that was now frozen and snowed over and covered with an ice sculpture of its very own. It hit something on the way down, too – something loud – before it swung up, offering the empty end to the brave trickle of water that made its way through a surreal shell of ice.
And so it went.
“It will work as long as the water runs,” Asbjorn whispered right by his ear. Sean felt his warmth despite the wind that had picked up again, despite the cap that covered him up. The heat was in the tone of his voice, in the lean of his body that angled toward him.
Always toward him.
“Not even the ice can stop it. As long as the flows keeps going, the fountain’s okay, and the water’s okay, and the fish beneath the ice can breathe.” Yet there was more to Asbjorn’s words than a mere explanation of how the shishi-odoshi fountain worked.
A slow quarter-turn on his heel, and Sean’s face was close enough to Asbjorn to see every hair of unshaven scruff on his cheeks. Lips soft despite the cold, pink with life and promise – Sean leaned in and brushed his own against them in a tender kiss.
Asbjorn pulled him in. Heat transferred through all the parts that touched, negating the icy wind that threatened to freeze their lips together.
The warm, wet tongue, a hint of peppermint gum and laughter and something that was just Asbjorn. Sean pressed back, squeezing Asbjorn’s waist to his own, lips bruising, the accidental click of teeth, the sensuous pass of tongue against a tongue.
The cold disappeared. There was just the empty, white silence and the deer-scare water fountain and the kiss… oh. The kiss.
A new, swooshing sound entered Sean’s senses. He dismissed it. Warm lips, cold scruff that scratched his frost-pinked cheeks. The kiss.
“Hey, you two! Margaret says you’ll freeze out there!”
They broke for air and turned toward Ken, leaning out the kitchen window, his lined face grinning with mischief. Yet the cold, dry wind failed to chill Sean’s wet lips.
Not even the ice wind could stop the flow of warmth in his veins.
“Hey Ken,” Asbjorn nodded, pulling Sean close to him again. “We were just admiring your fountain.”
“Uh-huh,” Ken said with a quirk of his eyebrows. “So you want tea, or hot chocolate? Margaret says I have to defrost you before I put a sword in your hand.”
Find “Landfall” here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6215
April 5, 2015
Hello, my name is Kate Pavelle and I’ll be chatting with you about the last book of the Fall Trilogy, “Landfall.” It came out on April 3rd and I’m so excited to share the cover. Look, a tropical beach! After a winter like this, we all deserve some sun and sand, and scenery that’s easy on the eyes! You can find “Landfall” here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6215
March 29, 2015
Okay, out of a small field – the winner is Angela!
email me at lee.rowan (at) yahoo.com with “DSP blog” in the subject line!
March 29, 2015
Well, it’s been a couple of hours and I’ve got an unexpected thing I have to deal with; I’ll be back later this afternoon with a download winner and in the meantime, here’s a discount code good for the next 2 days at the DSP site: Rowan0329 – case sensitive.
March 29, 2015
And here’s another excerpt, this one from All Souls – the Halloween story, complete with a very nasty ghost:
Midshipman David Archer woke in the dark, frowning as he tried to catch the edge of his vanished dream. Or was it a dream? He could not be sure. Something was wrong with Will; he knew that much. Since sodomy meant death in His Majesty’s Navy—and since Will Marshall was a loyal subject of His Majesty—Archer would never be able to tell Will how he felt. But his love, cherished like a small lamp in a dark cave, lent him an awareness of how things stood with his shipmate. Even now, Archer could not-quite hear something, hovering just outside his perceptions.
He sat up, his eyes growing accustomed to the dim light. Full moon tonight, All Hallows’ Eve. The cook had made a little soul cake and tied it out on the bowsprit—not that he was superstitious, mind, but one just couldn’t be too careful. Who knew what might be abroad on a night like this?
No north wind could blow colder. Archer closed his eyes, steadied himself, then opened them again.
His nemesis stood before him: George Correy, pale as the grave, wearing midshipman’s breeches and a plain shirt. The horrible dark blotch across his chest spoke of his death-wound. “Cat got your tongue, boy?”
Archer swallowed. This was not possible. “You—you are dead,” he managed. Dead three years now, and at Will Marshall’s hand. Will had not bowed under Correy’s bullying, as Archer had done; he’d faced Correy’s demands and threats and called him out. Only eighteen, but his clean shot put an end to Correy’s reign of rape and terror among the younger midshipmen. From that day on, Archer had been Marshall’s, body and soul—if only Will had wanted either.
Correy leered as though he knew all that. He shrugged. “Hasn’t stopped me, though, has it? Not tonight.” He took a step forward, clearly expecting Archer to give ground.
“You are dead,” Archer repeated, trying to convince himself. “You have no power here.”
“Oh, don’t I?” Grinning, he swung a fist, and Archer ducked vainly, knowing he’d moved too slowly.
But with a strange, damp chill, the fist passed through him, and with that proof, his courage returned. “You cannot touch me.”
“Not yet, Davy-boy, not yet—but I will. You’ve grown since we last met, haven’t you? Gotten above yourself. But you don’t have the shelter of your body, boy. You’re a naked spirit, just as I am. And when you despair, you’ll sink down to a level where I can reach you.”
Archer felt very strange, realizing there was still a body in his hammock. His own body, wrapped in a blanket, snoring a little. As he held his hand before his face, he realized that the body he wore now—this body, that felt as real as any—was glowing faintly, and a bright silver cord stretched back to the self in the hammock. He looked back and forth between his hand and his bed, bewildered.
“You think you’re strong, do you?” Correy waved toward the hammock. “You don’t have that flesh swaddling you, you little git. You left it to help your dear friend, and you can’t get back until the morning. By then you’ll be mine again, Archer.” A savage flash of teeth. “All mine. Forever. You and that swaggering bastard who shot me. I’ll have you both.”
Oh, my God. Will.
Even as he thought it, he was in Will’s little cabin, gazing down on his sleeping friend. But the sleep was very, very deep, and Archer saw another silvery cord stretching up through the ceiling. “What have you done to him?”
Correy smirked. “Not much. Not yet. Nightmares, Davy. You know all about nightmares, don’t you? I know I taught you the very best I could.”
This made no sense. It had to be some kind of dream. “You are not real.”
“Tonight I am. You know what night this is. And your wonderful Captain Smith”—he spat without effect—“has brought this ship into a very special place. The veils are thin here, boy. I was finally able to pass through, and I can stay all night.”
“Oh, of course. You’re still living, you wouldn’t know. It’s attachment. Strong feeling, love or hate. And you must know, my dear Mr. Archer….” The ghostly fingers shivered along his face, clutched into his throat. “You must know how very cordially I do hate you both.”
Archer felt that hate, stronger than a physical blow.
And Correy saw it, his face lighting with an ugly anticipation. “Oh, you’re getting closer, aren’t you? Closer all the time. It won’t be long now, Davy.”
He had to get to Will. And as quickly as thought, he was there—up in the fighting top, where Will knelt against the mast, head bowed, one arm draped over the rail, his stare focused down into the water. He didn’t look up at Archer’s arrival or seem to be aware of his presence, even when Archer knelt beside him.
“He doesn’t know you’re here,” Correy whispered in his ear. “In his dream, he saw me drive a knife into your heart and throw your body overboard.”
“But you never—”
“I would have, if I’d had time. And that’s what I showed him.”
“But he killed you! He put you out of our lives forever.”
“Oh, that.” Correy aimed a kick at Will; he flinched, as if he felt something. “There! Much better. He’s getting down to my level. He doesn’t know he saved you, you see. He thinks the dream was real, and the truth was just a dream. And when he gets down here, I’ll have him. He won’t be able to go back to his body. Perhaps I’ll see if I can take it, instead. I always wanted to be a Lieutenant….”
Archer searched the deck below. Was there no one else on board who could see what was going on, who might help?
“No one.” Correy answered his thoughts as though he could hear them. “There’s no one else aboard who shared that special bond we three have. You were both such tender little morsels, so vulnerable. No one can see me now—or you either. They have their own affairs to mind….”
He waved a hand, and Archer was suddenly aware that the ship was full of shades, some of them in uniforms, English or French, some women, children—loved ones who died while husbands and fathers were at sea. The men awake, on duty, were wholly oblivious, while the others saw only those to whom they were bound, through love or hate.
What in God’s name am I going to do?
“Will?” He put a hand on Will’s shoulder, and it sank through, and Correy laughed—and as Archer’s heart contracted in fear, the shoulder under his hand grew firm. If feelings governed contact, then he had reached that same level of despair where Will was caught. All right, then. At least we’ll go together. “Will!”
Will blinked and looked up, and his eyes filled with tears. “Davy!” He caught Archer’s wrist. “Oh, God, Davy, I’m sorry, I never guessed he’d—”
“I’m all right, Will. It’s all right.” How to explain this madness? “I’m not even hurt.”
“Are we both dead, then?”
Sorry to end it there, but… they do come through with flying colors…
March 29, 2015
Sail Away is kind of a family album for the Royal Navy series – a collection of novellas, short stories, and vignettes featuring Will Marshall and David Archer – and some of the secondary characters in the books, given a starring role for a change. For instance, in See Paris and Live, you’ll meet Christopher St. John, Baron Guilford, who is instrumental in giving Winds of Change a happy ending. In “All Souls,” Will and Davy finally banish the ugly spectre of the bully who made Davy’s first years in the service a living hell.
And Sail Away also has “Voyage to London,” a novella set immediately after Ransom, giving us a look at a very new couple figuring out just what this exciting but dangerous relationship was going to mean in their lives together.
Here’s how it starts:
“When does it all end?”
“End? Will, we’re just on the outskirts! London is the greatest city in the world—I’ve read that there may be as many as a million souls here now.” David Archer was in his element and pleased to be there.
“I grew up in a village of less than three hundred.” Lieutenant William Marshall sighed and turned away from the post chaise window and the seemingly endless line of homes, hostelries, and other businesses along the London road. The outskirts? What they’d already seen was far bigger than Portsmouth or any other town he was familiar with.
He’d seen the smoke of the city long before the road became crowded with shops and houses and all the clutter of human activity. If this was the very edge of the urban area, no doubt it would be worse yet before they reached the hub. He’d seen maps, of course, but those did not give a sense of the overwhelming size of the place, or the smell. Small wonder at the verdant growth in the gardens along the road—the amount of manure from daily traffic would be enough to keep any number of kitchen gardens knee-deep in the stuff.
But he was with Davy, and that made the odor of ordure a little easier to bear. He lowered the window shade and put an arm around Davy’s shoulders, resting his head on Davy’s. “I’m going to miss this.”
“Yes. We’ve become terribly spoiled, but I don’t regret a moment—or a penny.” Ordinarily, a private post chaise would have been an outrageous expense for a pair of young officers in His Majesty’s Navy, but a very peculiar run of luck had left them with modest fortunes that made the indulgence possible.
Had it been good luck? Marshall sighed. In many ways, yes. Being kidnapped had transformed his life for the better, financially. He could imagine no other way—at least, no legally and morally unimpeachable way—that a man of only twenty-one might go from living on the careful budget of one hundred pounds per annum to having a tidy sum of six thousand in the bank, drawing interest with no effort on his part. And his heart had reaped a startling and wonderful but potentially dangerous bounty as well: he and David Archer had become lovers during that time. So long as they kept that a secret, they were safe. If they were ever found out, they would die—badly—hanged as sodomites under Article Twenty-Nine of the Royal Navy’s Articles of War.
It was worth the risk.
But the riches had come at a terrible price. If he had been asked to go back to that day in mid-July and somehow given the chance to take a different course…. “Davy,” he said aloud. “If you could change this past month so that we’d never seen or heard of Adrian and his damned brig, would you do it?” Because that was the one dark stain on all their good fortune: the two weeks of humiliation and sexual abuse that Davy had endured.
Davy was silent for a moment, the light of his blue-gray eyes a little shadowed. “No,” he said at last. “No, I wouldn’t.” His sudden grin lifted Marshall’s heart. “I’d given up hope of ever getting you into bed, Lieutenant. If not for that bastard’s schemes, I might never have managed it. And, by God, it felt good to be a hero at the end, instead of a victim.”
“You were that all along,” Marshall said, and leaned down for a kiss, so much better than the first and filled with the power to set his whole body afire with longing. He groaned and pulled away. “We can’t, not here in town.”
“I know.” Davy sighed and sat back. “Damn the Articles. We should have made better use of our time in that cell.”
How many times had it been, now? Twice only, aboard the renegade’s brig—the first time, and then the night when they seized their chance because they’d never thought they’d leave the ship alive. Their first coupling had been little more than an instinctive reaction to the fear and uncertainty of their situation, David coming panicking out of a nightmare and Marshall, a virgin himself, taken flat aback. There’d been precious little intention to that wild surge of passion, though Davy confessed later that he’d had feelings since they first served together. And then yesterday afternoon in the post chaise—was it really only yesterday? And a long, wonderful evening and night and morning at that little inn, with a thunderstorm to mask the sounds of their misbehavior.
Not nearly long enough. But that was how it would be, always—at least as long as they were able to serve together. A stolen moment here and there, an occasional shore leave—
“I shall have to write my mother,” Davy said abruptly.
Marshall blinked. “Sorry?”
“I am under strict orders that if I’m ever in town, I must inform my mother. At this time of year, the whole family will likely be out in the country, but if Mama is in town for any reason and learns that I was too and didn’t let her know…. Well, I can’t omit that duty. She hasn’t seen me since I went to sea, more than five years ago. I shall send a letter to the townhouse. If they have to send it on, she will know I’ve done my best.”
“Is she a Tartar, then?”
“Oh, no, she’s quite unlike my father. I’d very much like to see her if time allows. I haven’t seen any of the family since we ran across my cousin and his fiancée. You remember Kit and Zoe.”
“Kit” was Christopher St. John, Baron Guilford, a young man who looked enough like Davy to be his brother. Some years back, their frigate, the Calypso, had happened to run across a smaller vessel carrying the Baron, his bride-to-be, and her father out of the insanity of the postrevolutionary Terror in Paris. St. John was a delightful fellow, and it was clear that he and Davy had a longstanding friendship as well as family ties.
Marshall felt a sudden stab of guilt. “I’m sorry—I’ve no family myself, it never occurred to me that of course you would want to see them. Should you not stay at your family’s home, then?”
“No! If they are here, naturally I want to see them, but I think not until after I’ve been promoted—or failed. Think of how grand it would be to arrive as Lieutenant Archer, when I left as a lowly midshipman. And if I fail—”
Davy shook his head. “Either way, there’d be no harm done because I thought I’d missed the chance for promotion this year. I only sent a note assuring Mama and my sisters that I was alive—I didn’t know what my future held that day we came into port. So long as my father’s not in town, a visit will be no hardship. And if he is, well, he’ll be on best behavior for my mother’s sake. He’d cut off his own arm rather than hurt her.”
Will did not reply, knowing that Davy’s father, the Earl, did not respect his bookish son as he should. “I’m glad. I know it’s selfish, but I want you to myself for as long as possible.”
“I’m just as selfish, Will. I’d have been content to lurk about the inns in Portsmouth with you. Though I suppose we’re safer, so far away from anyone who might know us.”
The coach slowed and swayed as it made a turn, bumping a little on the cobblestones. “Not long now,” Davy said. “I wonder how we’ll manage, aboard ship. I hope I haven’t drawn you into something that will ruin your life.”
Odd that only yesterday Will himself was thinking that—and how the night had chased his doubts away. He shook his head. “No. My father always said it takes two to make a quarrel, and the same is true of our situation. You may have startled me, but you certainly didn’t seduce me! However difficult this may be, we’ll find a way.”
They had just time for a kiss before the chaise slowed to a stop and the postboy called, “Here’s the George, gents!”
Will took a deep breath and followed Davy out of the chaise, doing his best to maintain a blasé expression that said he’d done this a hundred times before. It took him a moment to get used to standing on solid ground after the interminable joggling of the chaise. Davy, apparently less rattled, paid off the postboy.
Their bags landed at Will’s feet, so he handed over the sum that Davy had advised him to give for the service. Since one of their tasks would be to replace the dress uniforms damaged during their late adventure, his own bag was no burden, and they only had to carry their things to a room at this same inn. Will suspected the reason they were staying at the George was because, as Davy had informed him, it had been one of Shakespeare’s haunts. He would have preferred something smaller and less hectic, but the aromas wafting out of the kitchen as they booked a room convinced him to put up with the racket.
“Of course, it had to be rebuilt after the big Southwark fire back in 1677.” Davy’s lecture continued as they followed a boy up two flights of stairs and along a gallery to a room near the end. “But it didn’t burn down completely, and we’re not too far from Whitehall. Tomorrow we can find another inn that’s quieter, if you’d rather,” he added, as a mail coach rattled into the courtyard. “The Bard didn’t have to contend with all this traffic.”
Will glanced down at the hubbub as hostlers ran out with fresh horses, unharnessing the ones who’d just pulled in and replacing them in the traces at amazing speed, sending the coach on its way again faster than he would have thought possible. “I think I should like that,” he said absently. “I suppose they must practice, to change so quickly.”
“Yes, like gunnery drill,” Davy said, tipping the boy who unlocked the door and handed him the key.
They entered and set their bags down; Davy locked the door. They listened a moment, while the boy’s footsteps retreated down the gallery, and then moved into a brief embrace, pressed up against the door. Will felt himself relax once more and drew back. “What now? You were thrilled at the thought of London—well, we’re in London. Shall we go to the tailor’s first?”
Davy gave him a puzzled look. “That would do us no good. It’s Sunday.”
“It is?” They’d been sent off on Saturday; the coach broke down that evening, just last night. “So it is. Yesterday morning seems such a long time ago.” He looked about the room. Small but adequate—larger than a ship’s cabin, at any rate. A small table sat before the window, with a chair on either side; the bed took up most of the wall beside the door.
“We should work out an itinerary.” He chose one of the chairs, pleased to sit on something that was not swaying back and forth.
“We should go find some dinner. We’ve two days before I walk into the lions’ den, and after that, come what may, we’ll have a week of freedom. And we needn’t eat here. There’s another inn just next door.”
“Who dined there, Marlowe?”
“You’re on the scent, but it’s the wrong scent. Chaucer.”
Will rolled his eyes heavenward. Dinner was on his mind—but not only dinner. “Must we? Immediately?” He leaned over to peer through the window and saw nothing but the brick wall of the building opposite.
Davy lifted a small towel from beside the wash-basin and draped it over the doorknob, blocking the keyhole. “We must, but not immediately. Did you have some other activity in mind?”
His voice had a tone in it that sent a warm flush down to Will’s toes. Then he sauntered over and stood close enough that Will could put an arm around his hips, so he did. “Well, yes.”
“Very likely the same thing I do,” Davy said, and bent until their lips met. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the entire British literary pantheon fled, replaced by the sudden need to get as close as possible to that amazing warm body.
March 29, 2015
I’m going to be blogging today to celebrate my new release, Sail Away, a collection of short Royal Navy universe stories. But if you’re like me, the ‘new releases’ out in the garden may be a lot more interesting… going from this
Of course, this is what I’m really waiting for – but it’ll be another couple of months!
At this time of year, I’m tired of winter and ready to start the garden—under a couple of shop lights attached to a thrift-shop storage shelf. Right now I’m gathering up the seed-starter trays and trying to find the peat pellets (I know they’re around somewhere) and waiting for the heritage green bean and kale seeds. This year I’m going to try Iron Lady tomatoes, a variety supposed to be blight-resistant – we have late-summer blight endemic in the soil around here, which means drastic measures when the first signs show up.
Are there any other gardeners out there? Where are you at in your spring planting? I know those lucky folks in the UK are already harvesting some spring produce, and so are Zone 7 denizens (we’re in Ontario, zone 5). I’ll be picking a winner for a Sail Away download from responses on all the posts today.
If you’re not a green-thumb person, would you prefer a bit of snuggling sailor goodness?
Excerpt coming up!