Title: For King and Country (Battle Scars II)
Beta readers have given me 2 thumbs up. I’ve revised the manuscript and addressed their comments – nothing earth-shattering, thank goodness – fixed typos they spotted. I have a few “last checks” and then I’ll turn the whole 141,000+ words to my editors. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this snippet from the book. Stephan has returned to Yorkshire to seek help from the brother who threw him out of Castle l’Aigle before he’d left on Crusade a few years earlier…
Excerpt from the work-in-progress
Stephan crossed the aisled great hall, fondly remembering Geoff lying on the floor to study and then draw pictures of the stone arches high overhead. The late-day sun flooded the room with light. The sight of the l’Aigle crest hanging above the dais made him swallow hard. He could almost hear his father’s voice engaging the manorial court or celebrating the harvest. Gil’s wedding feast had been here, too.
“I’d thought to fill this place with children’s laughter.”
Stephan turned abruptly to the voice. Gil stood at the door of the solar, his face shadowed and unreadable.
“God has not sought to bless me.” Gil’s voice cracked. Despondent or angry, Stephan couldn’t tell. Gil took a step back. The light revealed a face drawn with deep lines, aged beyond his thirty years. He gestured Stephan to follow. His step was lively, his body fit, just as Stephan remembered. Sitting in a high backed chair near the window he raised his arm, the azure blue silk of his wide sleeve billowing as he snapped his fingers. A young servant filled two goblets with wine and then hurried from the solar without a word.
Stephan approached his brother and tipped his head. Sweat tickled his neck. He was glad the windows were thrown open to the breeze.
Gil retrieved one of the goblets and held it out to him. “Drink. Sit.” He waved Stephan to the other chair.
Stephan met his brother’s gray eyes. He noticed how pale Gil looked. “I wish you’d written of your loss. I am sorry. I remember Mylla.” Home for a brief time before he joined Richard’s mesnie, Stephan had met her shortly before his seventeenth birthday. His special day had been forgotten when Gil’s wedding turned l’Aigle upside down.
Gil looked at him for a long time. “Is that so? I do recall you attended my wedding.” His face reddened, his voice black. He swallowed his wine and poured another. “I am surprised you saw anything other than the tanner’s son falling into your bed. Christ! Thank God Father did not know and Geoff was away at Southwell.”