TITLE – The Vow SERIES – The Lady Quill Chronicles AUTHOR – D.D. Chant GENRE – Historical Fiction PUBLICATION DATE – July 2014 LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 107,500 PUBLISHER – Self Published COVER ARTIST – D.D. Chant
BOOK BLURB / SYNOPSIS
Dear Reader, My next story begins with Valrek, where Lord Rafe and Lady Adele’s arrival was cause for much celebration and rejoicing. However, Finan of Gourney, Rafe’s foster brother and the captain of Valrek’s army, could not help a lingering feeling of worry. Were Rafe and Adele truly safe from Lord Kyule’s hate? As Finan fights the shadows in his past, he must face the added problem of Lady Esme, Rafe’s sister. Used to keeping his distance from the ladies of Valrek, circumstance forces him to bear Lady Esme constant company. As danger and treachery envelops them both, Finan and Esme find themselves drawn together to fight for their loved ones. What secrets will they unearth in their search for the truth? Will they find their stories to be more closely linked than either of them ever knew? Allow me please to answer these questions. Lady Quill
Finan lay perfectly still on the bed and listened to the wood crackling and spitting in the fire. Esme was seated beside the flames, her head bent over her task. Finan had been ignoring her for so long that he had given himself a headache. Why couldn’t she just leave him in peace? She sat completely unconcerned and carefully set feathers to the wooden shaft of arrow after arrow. He was thankful at least that she was accomplishing some task more useful than garish embroidery. The sound of the spiting flames made him restless. Every pop caused him to tense and the acrid smell of smoke brought a gagging sensation to his throat. He wondered vaguely if he would ever be able to sit beside a fire and simply enjoy its warmth ever again. Would the nightmares continue to plague him? He shuddered involuntarily remembering the fear for Rafe’s safety and the overall impression that something was wrong. He had tried to ignore the memories, pushing them to the edges of his mind, but they refused to be quelled. Finally he had faced the fear and realised that the consequences of the night he was injured were far from over. He thought back to the fiery room, closing his eyes and forcing himself to relive every horrible detail. There could be no denying the truth; the fire had not been an accident. Even that night, with worry for Rafe taking up almost every thought, he had seen the truth. There had been no trailing flames from the fire, they had be concentrated around Rafe’s bed in a very suspicious manner. The furniture in the room had been moved to block in the bed, as though someone had been trying to make sure that even if Rafe did wake, he would not be able to escape. Who within Valrek’s wall would lift their hand against their master? It was not possible that an enemy had breached Valrek’s defences, he would stake his life on his men’s conscientiousness. Nothing passed through Valrek’s wall without detection, not so much as a mouse. Was it possible that it had been Rafe that, through his own carelessness, had started the fire? He had been the worse for wear, having imbibed more freely than was his custom of the mead served at the feast. Finan shook his head, he couldn’t believe it. Rafe was far too competent a soldier to make such a mistake, however drunk he might have been. Years of admonitions drilled care within a soldier when it came to dealing with fire. That meant it had been deliberate. As unthinkable as it was, someone with Valrek’s wall wanted Rafe dead. “What is it?” Esme’s voice held a slightly exasperated note and Finan pretended sleep. He had no wish to speak to her, in fact he was fast coming to the conclusion that she was the most irritating of her sex. Had he been in a more generous frame of mind he would have realised that he knew several far more unpleasant woman. However Finan was feeling out of charity with the world in general and Esme most especially. “I know you are awake, Finan, is there anything you require?” Finan gritted his teeth against the retort that sprang to his lips and forced himself to remain calm. He was an easy tempered man usually, but the constant pain had shredded his tolerance completely. However losing his temper had not helped him so far and it galled him to let Esme know how badly she affected his equilibrium. “I need nothing, my lady.” Cool fingers touched his brow and he opened his eyes to find her beside him. A worried frown touched her face and her lips formed the thoughtful pout that was becoming so familiar. It was an endearing habit he remembered from her childhood, but it irritated him horribly now. More worrying was the fact that he hadn’t heard her move. A man that prided himself on his ability to hear even the stealthiest of approaches and he had not been aware. He blamed lady Esme’s addiction to the manly pursuit of hunting for the silence with which she moved. “You do not seem fevered,” she mused aloud, transferring her hand from his brow to his cheek and then to his neck. Finan felt and uncomfortable churning in his stomach, as though Brute had almost succeeded in unseating him. “I am well enough, you need not concern yourself with me.” Esme grinned. “What an odd sort of healer I would be if I did not concern myself with my patients comfort.” She smoothed the hair back from his brow. “What troubles you, Finan?” For the first time Finan noticed the dark circles around her eyes and the tired stiffness pervading her body. Had she slept at all last night? He had very little recollection of his nights rest, but he clearly remembered hearing her soothing voice each time he had regained some lucidity of thought. An uncomfortable guilt washed over him. Lady Esme had seen to his wounds and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. That he had not wanted her help did not excuse the rudeness of his behaviour. “Is it Evoric?” Esme gazed forthrightly in to his eyes, her words as unadorned as Rafe’s always were. The only sign that she was uneasy with her question, was the way her work roughened finger traced the edge of the furs covering the bed. “Why do you ask that?” “You spoke of him last night when you were feverish.” “I did?” Panic raced through his veins. What had he said? Worse, what unmanly feelings had he betrayed? “You still miss him as violently as though his death had occurred just yesterday, do you not?” “He was my brother.” “He was my brother too.” “Tis not the same.” Esme gazed at him unwaveringly for a few moments, chewing her bottom lip. “Perhaps that is so, but it does not change the fact that I love and miss him as well.” Finan did not answer her, his heart had begun to thump uncomfortably in his chest. He did not wish to talk of Evoric, to remember his pain. It was still too raw, over the years he had managed to bury his memories so deep he could almost believe on occasion that he had rid himself of them completely. Concealing his hurt from the world gave him some relief. Yet ever since Rand had re-entered their lives, forcing them to revisit old wounds, the protective wall he had built had begun to crumble. After last night it lay in ruins about him, freeing his agony to consume him once more. The years that had passed had not provided him with any more defences against its onslaught than he had possessed in youth. He worried had no strength to pull himself from the mire of his despair a second time. It had been years since he had dreamed of Evoric. Years of precarious, uneasy peace that he had grown accustom to, that had been his salvation as a boy. Now it was gone and Esme was prodding the festering wound it had exposed. “Finan, will you not tell me? Perhaps I can help?” “Why? Why should I tell you? Why should I rip my soul apart just so that your curiosity can be appeased?” demanded Finan, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “Who wants you to understand? Who wants your help?” As he spoke, he stood, advancing on her slowly. Apprehension danced in her eyes but she remained defiant, her eyes never breaking contact with his. Every step she retreated before him was diffident, until he had her backed against the wall. “Why must you always seek to interfere in my affairs? You have no right and you are greatly mistaken if you suppose I welcome your meddling.” Esme lifted a hand and carefully placed it against a healthy and undamaged patch of skin on his chest. He looked down, surprised at her touch and the firmness with which she pushed him back a step. For a long while they looked at each other in silence, her large eyes filled with compassion. It shook him, for he had expected, wanted, to scare her, hoping she would run from him as she had once before. “I only wish for you to heal, Finan. Evoric would not want you to be alone and filled with misery and sadness any longer. I cannot watch you despair and suffer like this. Your grief is a poison spreading through you, an agony you bear in silence. You must learn to let it go.” “How am I to let it go? Must I forget Evoric? Would you be able to let go if you were to lose Rafe?” An inflection of pain crossed her features but he steeled himself against the regret burning through his veins. “I would hope there would be a friend with whom I could share my sadness, someone who would comfort me.” “Am I to gather that you wish to be such a person to me?” taunted Finan coldly. Anger simmered in her eyes but she refused to be bated. “I think that Rafe or Leofric would be more suitable friends to choose. You can at least bear their company.” Her bracing words were free from accusation but for some reason he still felt as though he’d been slapped.