Novel Excerpts

Excerpts from my books --
***may contain adult language!!!

  *****Comments are most welcome!!!!

Another from Immortal Summer 


Penny and Joseph had driven to the next valley to spend some time together before her birthday party the next weekend. The Landeck Castle, built in the thirteenth century and serves as a cultural center for the Tryolean region of Austria, had become one of their favorite places to visit. Penny loved walking through the art gallery, working in the research center or attending one of the many outdoor events. She would go on forever about the history of the castle and its former residents. Sometimes, she and Joseph would act like they were the original count and countess as they wandered the halls. But today Penny had been exceptionally distant, preoccupied. Several times throughout the day Joseph would say something and her mind would be lost in some far away thought. Later, when he tried to give her a kiss she didn’t respond as she usually did. 

“What’s wrong?” he finally asked her. “Are you mad at me, Babe?”

“No, why would I be?”

“Because you haven’t been yourself all day, you’re too quiet. Normally you’re talking my ear off.” He pulled her close against him, “As a matter of fact you’ve been acting a little sketchy for the past week but today it seems like you’re not even here at all.”

“I guess I’m just tired.” She wriggled from his embrace and walked a few steps away. “Theirry is kind of a workaholic. He doesn’t mean to be, but he wants to get this paper done before the term starts. It’s driving him crazy.”

“I could have guessed he had something to do with it.”

“What do you mean by that?” Penny spun around to face him.

“Nothing.”

“Tell me.”

“Look, I like the guy, but he takes up every second of your time.”

“He does not. He’s not taking up my time right now.”

“Yeah, he is. Your body may be here but your mind is back there locked in that room with him.”

“What? No it’s not.”

“Look.” Joseph took her hands in his. “I really care about you.”

“I care about you too,” Penny came back.

“Let me finish,” Joseph said softly. “I don’t think you care about me the same way that I care about you. There’s a wedge between us Penny and I’m pretty sure that wedge is named Thierry St. Germain.”

“What are you saying?” She gave him a puzzled look.

“I’m saying that….” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I love you Penny, very much, but you are very much in love with him.”

“That’s ridicules! You’re just being jealous. I think he’s interesting and different and knowledgeable, I love working with him but in love with him? Come on, Joe, he’s cynical and he doesn’t like crowds—”

“Penny,” Joseph cut her off. “I can see it in your eyes every time someone mentions his name. He’s all you ever talk about lately.” Joseph left Penny standing by the castle entrance and walked backwards the few yards across the road to where his motorcycle had been parked.  “The bunch of us, the twins, Franz, even my grandfather, can see what’s going on.”

“And just exactly what is supposed to be going on?” Penny, still standing at the entrance, shouted out.

“Penny, you’re in love with your boss. All of us can see it and from the look in his eyes whenever I mention your name I’ll bet he loves you too and I think you know it.” He let out a heavy sigh as Penny caught up with him. “I’m going back to the states next week before the fall term starts.”

“What?”

“I said I’m going back to California; I’m going back to school.”

 “You’re going back to California now? What about your grandfather? I thought you were going to wait until January?”

“I can be of better use to him if I finish my degree now.”

“But we were going backpacking before it got cold and planned to spend the holidays together then go to school, in LA, together?”

“My granddad wants me to finish and frankly I can’t put it off any longer. I only have one semester left. He’s hired a couple of kids to fill in until the snow comes and I’ll graduate before the holidays. He doesn’t need me right now.” Joseph sighed again. “And neither do you.”

“Of course I do.” She blurted out without thinking.

“How?”

 Penny stood frozen, not sure how to react.

Joseph leaned back against his bike. “How do you need me?”

“I-I…just—” Penny stuttered.

“You don’t love me, Persephone. Admit it. You are head over heels for Thierry and I can’t sit back and watch you fall into the arms of another man. I can’t see you with him day after day and not feel the jealousy building up inside me. I love you but I want you to be happy and I, apparently, am not the one to provide it.”

“But I do love you.”

“Maybe you do but you love him more.” He took her by the shoulders, forcing her look him straight in the face. “Reach inside yourself and tell me I’m wrong. Tell me that I mean more to you than he does. Please, Babe, I want to be wrong about this.”

Penny stared at him. She could see the combination of sorrow and anger hanging on his face as his eyes pleaded silently for her to answer in his favor. But being pushed to face the truth, she couldn’t give him what he wanted. She quickly came to the shocking realization that the prospect of losing Joseph didn’t hurt her nearly as much as if it were Thierry who was leaving. Oh My God, I do love Thierry. Penny hadn’t allowed herself to believe it. Now that it had been brought to the surface, she realized that it she had been using Joseph as a shield to hide behind. It was Thierry St. Germain who had been locked tight in her heart these past few weeks and not Joseph.

 “Joe, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to hurt you. I really tried to make myself believe that you were the one for me, but you’re right.” She quickly turned away, not knowing whether to blush, laugh or cry.  “There’s something about him that I…. Do you really think he…loves me?” She turned to face Joseph again. “I hope we can still—” Joseph put his finger over her lips to hush her.

“Be friends? Save it. I’ve heard that line once this year already.” He forced a small grin. “We can end this now. I’ll go on to LA and you go on to Hamburg and—”

“But I wasn’t going to apply there. I—”

Joseph hushed her again. “You know you want to be with him.” He gently sandwiched her face between his hands for a moment, kissed her forehead. “You wouldn’t have decided on UCLA if I didn’t push you. So go to Hamburg and be happy.” Joseph swung his leg over his motorcycle. “I had better get you home, come on.”

“Joe, you’re a really great guy.” Penny kissed him on the cheek before she climbed on behind him. “One that is way better than I’ll ever deserve.”

 



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Coming in late 2014-----
The Queen’s Secret

Book Three

Lady of Rose Cottage Series
 

The sun peeked out every now and again from behind the dark clouds of early March. The wind blew cold, though not nearly as bitterly cold as it had been over the passing winter. Sir Thomas and his young squire, Mark, were making final preparations for their journey to King Constantine’s castle in Carlisle. With winter ending at last all the knights would be recalled from their private estates to full duty and as Commander of the King’s army Thomas was expected to arrive first.

Mark had served since last spring as Thomas’ squire but he was also, by the King’s decree, Sir Thomas and Lady Warrick ‘s adopted son.  Excited to be going, Mark begged his father to be on the road earlier. He was hoping to be presented to the King for Knighthood. Thomas assured the boy, now fifteen, that he would have nothing to worry about. He trained hard over the winter and even managed to unarm Thomas quite a few times, a sure sign that he was ready.

“Calm yourself,” Thomas said as they walked from the stables to the old forge hut across the garden which now served as a weapons store. “Your mother is in no hurry to set you on the path of manhood and frankly neither am I. Remember, being knighted after two or three years of training is rare these days but reaching that status after only one is nearly impossible. Besides you are only fifteen and another year as a squire would do you good. I trained you in skill but wisdom comes with maturity.”

“But I’m ready now, Father, you know I’m ready. If I can defeat you I can defeat anybody.”

“That’s for the King to decide.” Thomas patted him on the back.

“I doubt my cousin will deny you your dream, my son.” The pair heard a woman’s voice  behind them.  Marianna, now lovingly known as Lady Warrick, walked up snuggling a small bundle wrapped in a blanket. Thomas smiled and gently took the bundle from her. Cradling it in the crook of his arm he let a corner of the blanket fall away revealing the face of a newborn child.

“And how is my beautiful Lily Rose this morning?” He asked as the child gripped his pinky and yawned.

“Content with a full belly and ready to sleep again but first she had to come and say goodbye to her handsome father and brother.” Marianna stood on her tiptoes and gave Mark a kiss on the cheek. Mark stiffened and looked around to see if anyone was watching.

“Good Morning, Mother,” he said softly.

 “Relax, son,” Thomas said without looking up from the baby in his arms. “No one saw you get kissed by your mother.”

“No one would care if they did.” Marinna put her arm around Mark’s, “You will never be too old to kiss your mother.”

“Mother, please,” Mark said under his breath. He paused a moment, rolled his eyes then reach around and hugged her.

“Remember to be chivalrous and be cautious with the wine.” She told him. She held out her arms as a sign for Thomas to hand over his daughter. “And that goes for you too.”

“Me? Commit the sin of drunkenness? My love, you know I would never.”

“I’ll believe that when it snows on midsummer’s eve,” she took the baby from him.

“My lady, you pierce my heart with such mistrust,” Thomas smiled and cupped his hand on her cheek.  “I promise I will keep watch over the boy and limit my own celebrating.”

“Thank you, my lord,” Marianna said  then kissed him on the cheek. “I shall put our daughter to bed then return to say good-bye to my husband properly.”

“Sweet dreams, my little angel,” he said as her ran his finger across the child’s tiny cheek.

Thomas stayed and watched until Marianna disappeared into the house. “I am a very lucky man.”






 Yet Another Excerpt From
Immortal Summer

***

“The girl was found buried in the snow half dead and crazy with fear.” Grams whispered to her husband. They were in their bedroom getting dressed for Penny’s party.

“That is old women’s ramblings, Anna.” Papa told her. “It is one thing for children to talk and make up stories and another for grown women to speculate someone’s life based on half truths and old gossip.”

“But we must tell Hanna.”

“Tell her what? That Penny is being mentored by a man who was cleared of any wrong doing when his girlfriend overdosed on drugs eight years ago?”

“What about the wounds she had when they found her.”

“I saw them myself, remember? They were animal bites. She was on drugs and wandering around in the woods, which explained why the girl claimed she was attacked by a wolf-man.”

“There is something sinister about him.”

“Anna, you think all the tourists are sinister too. He is a well respected, educated man.” He paused for a contemplative breath. “Hanna does need to be told about him, because Penny has become infatuated with him, not because he you think he is evil. I will talk with her, later. I’ll not have the conversation mingled with out of date town gossip and the imaginations of old women.” He opened the door. “Penny may still be a little irresponsible, like all teenagers, but that young man has done a world of good for that girl. He has helped her to better focus on her future and I will not let anything ruin it.” Papa grumbled quietly as he left the room.

“You won’t let anything ruin what?” Hanna asked as she came out of her room.

“The party,” he said. “There was talk of a rainstorm later today.”

A knock came at the front door. “I’ll get that. It is probably the twins.” Papa gave his wife a stern look before he went down the steps.

Hanna turned to her mother. “I know that look Mama. Is something wro
“We’ll talk about it later.” Grams followed Papa dow

Who do you think Thierry really is?

Queen Elizabeth I of England stood staring out upon the snow covered garden below her chamber window. Thick gray clouds filled the sky making the day damp and dismal. The weather mirrored the heaviness in her heart. Alice, one of her ladies-in-waiting, timidly entered the room.
“Lord Westermen to see you, Your Majesty.” The girl curtsied as she spoke.
“Bid him come.” The Queen said. She remained at the window.
A young man, barely twenty, entered and bowed. “You summoned me, Your Majesty?”
The lady-in-waiting shut the door behind them and waited.
“You look well today, Lord Westermen.” The queen pulled the window shutter closed.
“Yes, Your Majesty, I am quite well.” He bowed his head.
“Leave us Alice,” the Queen said.
Alice promptly left the room.
Once alone behind closed doors Queen Elizabeth invited him to sit with her. “When your mother died we promised we would look after you.”
“And you have been quite kind, my Queen. I have been generously provided for.”
“It was the least we could do considering who your mother was,” Elizabeth said. She poured two goblets of wine from a pitcher that sat on a table near the fire and handed one to Thierry.
Since he was a small child people in the court speculated and gossiped about the Queen’s interest in the boy and his mother, who had been one of her waiting ladies. Though he was born of nobility his birthright allowed him but a minor lordship. A rank which the other men of the Privy Council perceived not nearly prestigious enough to deserve the excessive attention as was showered upon him by the Queen. She had also afforded him the finest education.
After his mother’s death the Queen awarded him a suite of rooms near hers. By age seventeen he had already served as an ambassador to both France and Italy and then, at eighteen, was appointed to the Privy Council, as an advisor. A position envied and fiercely sought after by many men much older than him.
Elizabeth greatly valued the young lord’s skills in politics and the power of persuasion. He had the ability to convince anyone toward his “or rather the queen’s” point of view. He also had a great aptitude for languages, he spoke Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian fluently. She considered him her closest companion after Lord Dudley. And often mentioned to her ladies how she could trust his loyalty above all else. However, there was many a jealous courtier when it came to the Queen’s affection for young Lord Thierry Westermen.
Elizabeth leaned back in her chair. “We swore many years ago to our father that we would never reveal the true circumstances of your mother’s heritage.” She let out a heavy sigh. “And thus the truth of whose blood runs through your veins.”
Thierry paced leisurely around the room. “People talk, Your Majesty, and the things they say are lecherous but it is all theory and conjecture. There have been rumors that we are lovers, absurd I know.” He cracked the window and briefly peeked out. “Then there is the one that claims I am a love child resulting from an affair between you and Dudley or some obscure Duke or another. That I had been raised by Lord Westermen and your waiting lady to conceal the truth. There are at least a dozen more. It’s only talk.” Thierry took a drink from his cup.
“Which brings me to my purpose,” the Queen said. “We have two dilemmas to discuss with you.”
“The first?” Thierry asked, sitting in the chair next to the window.
“We have received yet another request from the Tzar of Russia.”
“What does old Ivan ask of you now? To marry your horse? First you then Lady Hastings, he can’t seem to take no for an answer.”
The Queen flashed him an unamused look. “He wants us to allow him asylum, or as he phrases it, to visit our fair and peaceful country for rest and repose.”
“Asylum?”The young man threw his head back and laughed. “Ha!”
“And,”the Queen added, “he wants England to pay the expense of it.”
“Ivan the Terrible; No wonder his country is rebelling against him. He’s mad.” Thierry was on his feet again. “I can write him another refusal if you wish, Your Majesty.”
“No. That won’t be necessary.”
“Are you going to ignore his request, again?”
“No, We are going to send you to deal with it personally.”
“Me?”
“Yes, and to our other dilemma.” The Queen put down her goblet and rose to her feet.“It is getting dangerous to have you here at court.”
“Dangerous? Life is dangerous for anyone who has the ear of the Queen of England. I am not the only one to share in that brotherhood, Your Majesty.”
“Dudley and his new wife have been banished and therefore no longer pose a threat, but you do. There are those who would plot to destroy you.” She took a few steps away from her seat then came back again. “Several of these men have warned us that you are a traitor, although those accusations are more for their own benefit than for our protection.”
“Again, I am not alone in that respect. William Cecil and Francis Walsingham have an equal share in that status. Besides, there is no proof of such things. I don’t fear their slander.”
“You are much like our father,” the Queen said softly. “But you should fear them. You must.”
“Surely Your Majesty does not believe such lies.”
“No. Absolutely not. We trust you with our life. But people have already begun to speculate as to whom we should place on our throne when we die. Those who want our crown will kill to get it and he who does will eliminate anyone they think a threat to keep it. These men will find a way to make proof against you. And unless that proof can be dispelled, and they will guarantee that it cannot, we will be forced to… we cannot let that happen.”




 
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Excerpt 2 from
 Immortal Summer



The heavy clouds and thick early morning fog that covered the mountainside made for a slow bike ride into town and, since she was already anxious about her meeting with the Professor, it was feeling as if she was never going to get there. Her heart began to beat faster when she reached the library door and saw that Professor St. Germain was already inside speaking with Frau Faeber, the librarian. She watched through the glass doors as she wound the chain of the bicycle lock around the front wheel. He took the keys to the locked cases and nimbly climbed the steps to the balcony.

“Damn,” she whispered pulling the door open, “so much for making it here first.”

“Good morning, Penny,” Frau Faeber greeted her with a smile.

“Good morning.” Penny replied, walking up to the counter. “I think it’s going to rain soon.”

“It certainly looks that way,” another woman behind the counter added.

“I think someone needs to invent an umbrella you can attach to a bicycle. Getting home later might be a little…” Penny didn’t get to finish her sentence.

“Surely you’re not afraid of getting a wet are you, Miss Vascos?”  The Professor said as he descended the stairway and sauntered over to the desk.  He politely   handed the keys back to the librarian. “Thank you, Mien Frau.”

“No,” Penny answered, “just making an observation. Rain doesn’t bother me.”

“So you intend to occupy your usual seat today?” Thierry asked as they strolled over to the other side of the library.

“That’s the plan,” she chimed, “I thought I might look into the history of the town.”

The Professor gave a sudden gasp then coughed as if choking.

“Are you alright?” Penny asked.

“I’m fine. It’s just a bit of dust I think.” He gruffly cleared his throat. “I was thinking that perhaps you would like to help me with my research.”  The Professor said. However his usual calm tone seemed to have a slight edge.

“Really?” Penny replied, “you want me to help you?”

“The best way to learn is to do,” he smiled as he held the door to the research room.

“Thank you,” she was astonished that he would let her work with him. “I’m not sure I am up to your level of expertise Professor.”

He slowly pulled the door shut behind them and set the books on the table. “That is why,” he said, assisting her with her chair, “I am the teacher and you are the student.”

“Me? Your student?” Penny couldn’t think of anything to say after that.

“I have a feeling about you, Miss Vascos.” He grinned as he sat in the seat at the other side of the table. “You have promise and I could use an assistant. That is, if you wish to earn some money.”

“What? I-I would loved to,” she beamed though deep inside she felt inadequate and unsure of herself , “I’m honored. I’ll try not to disappoint you.”

“Honored? I fear that after a week in my presence you may not think me so generous. I can be a slave driver and , as I have been told, egocentric.”

“Please Professor, you couldn’t possibly be worse than my mother, trust me.”  She let out a giggle and he responded with one of his crooked grins.  “What are we researching?”

“I am writing a paper on how the belief in intangible mythological beings or events has given root to tangible history.”

“Sounds really fascinating, I think I’m going to like this.”

“Shall we get to work” he handed her a pair of gloves and a book. “I’m looking for cultural traditions that came about because of earlier stories of mythological belief. Do you understand what I mean?”

“Kind of like how King Arthur or St. George and the Dragon played into the creation of the laws of chivalry?”

“Precisely,” he seemed shocked at her answer, “I knew you had promise. You already have more knowledge of the subject than I had expected.”

“Thank you.” Penny suppressed the squeal that begged to escape, put on the gloves and opened the book.

“The two you mentioned are among the more obvious instances I need the more obscure, lesser known examples.”

“I understand, Professor.”

They worked through the morning in total silence until a loud crash of thunder broke the Professor’s concentration.  He glanced at his watch and closed his book. “Are you hungry, Miss Vascos?”

Penny looked up from what she was reading. “Now that you mention it, Professor, I am.  I wasn’t sure if I was hearing the thunder outside or my stomach growling.”

“Collect the books and have Frau Faeber keep them at the desk, if you would, and let me have your notes,” he said as he stuffed his own pad and pen into the briefcase.

Penny handed him her notepad and brought the books to the librarian. “The Professor would like you to keep these behind the counter for later, please.”

“Of course,” Frau Faeber took a cloth and wrapped it around the books while Penny removed her gloves. “I have been here for five years and have never seen him work with another person before.”

“Really?

“You must be very talented,” the older lady smiled.

“I don’t know about that,” Penny whispered, “but he sure surprised me by asking.”

“Well, enjoy your meal. These will be waiting when you get back.”

“I will, thank you.” Penny nodded  and returned to the reading room where Thierry sat looking over the work she had done.

“These are excellent. You explore the content with great detail, very good indeed.”

“Thank you,” she replied.

He put her notes in his briefcase. “Shall we get a bite to eat.” He said politely and opened the door allowing Penny to exit first.

Halfway to the diner the sky let loose with a deafening crack and a torrential downpour.  The Professor pulled Penny close under his umbrella. A shiver ran up her spine. She felt like some star struck fan that had just been touched by their favorite rock star.

The pair came crashing in from the storm and sat at the Professor’s usual table.  “My goodness, you are soaked!” Gretchen exclaimed as she handed each of them a second napkin to dry themselves and poured them both some coffee. “What are we having today Professor?” she asked.

“I think this is perfect weather for a nice hot bowl of soup,” he said as he sipped his coffee. “I’ll have some of your delicious spargel  crème, wenn Sie bitte.”

“And you Fraulien?” Gretchen looked at Penny.

“That actually sounds wonderful. I’ll have the same.”

“Two bowls of soup.” Gretchen winked at Penny.  “Anything else?”

“A slice of apple strudel, please.” Penny added. “That is my one weakness, I just love it.”

“Come to think of it that sounds delightful. I’ll have a slice as well.” The Professor proclaimed.  

“I’ll be right back.” Gretchen said and went off the kitchen.

Penny knew the Professor was not much on small talk so she tried to start a conversation about the research they were doing. “I really want to thank you again for letting me help you. But I am really nervous and I hope I don’t disappoint you.”

“I think you are more than up to the task from what I have seen so far.” He gave her another of his crooked smiles. “But let’s talk about something other than business, shall we?”

“Okay,” she answered.

“What kind of music do like?” he asked her.

“Oh, all kinds,” she didn’t expect that kind of question from him.

“Hip Hop, Rock and Roll, oldies?”

Penny pointed at his faded Aerosmith shirt. “Actually theirs is the only music my mother and I agree on.”

“Good taste.”

“You don’t seem the type to like…”

Thierry jumped in before she could finish her statement. “To like rock and roll? People can be surprising, just as you don’t seem to be the type to be listening to Heir Beethoven.”

“How did you know I like classical?”

“I peeked at your Ipod when you went to exchange books earlier.” He grinned. “I must say I am quite impressed at your list.”

“The classical stuff helps me think. But if any of my friends in New York ever found out I’d be mortified.”

“I promise, I won’t tell.” He touched her hand

Gretchen returned with their soup and a fresh hot loaf of bread. “Enjoy your meal.” She said happily then went on to other patrons.

“I understand you had a bit of trouble back in New York, that’s why you’re here.” Thierry said.

“How did you know about that?”

“I may not indulge in the townspeople’s idle conversations, Perephone, but I do have ears.”

“So you know I got arrested and you still want me to work for you?”

“Everyone is entitled to a few mistakes. It’s what makes them human.” he looked deep into her eyes. “After losing a loved one life can become unbearable, I understand how you feel.”

“Have you ever lost anyone, Professor?”

“Unfortunately, yes, someone who was very dear to me,” he allowed his glance to drift down. “But life must go on, the world stops for no one. All we can do is keep their memory in our hearts and live life in a manner that would honor them.”

“I wish I could feel that way.” Penny’s expression saddened, “I miss my dad so much.”

“In time your heart will heal,” he gently squeezed her hand, “and continue to honor him with your deeds.”

“My deeds haven’t been all too honorable the last three years.”

“That is understandable, pain makes people do things they later regret. But you must move on now and make amends.”

“I’m trying,” Penny took a deep breath. “Can I come and talk to you when I feel lost?”

“Certainly,” he brought his napkin up and wiped the tear that escaped down her cheek.  “You know where to find me.”

“Thank you, Professor.” Penny sniffled.

“I think under the circumstances we can be less informal when we are in private situations. You can call me Thierry.”

“Well then, thank you Thierry, so much.”

The month of June had come and gone with surprising speed. Penny enjoyed working on the research project the Professor gave her. She enjoyed learning and especially enjoyed being in his company. The three day a week bike ride to town became three days at the library and Saturdays riding his horses through the forest around his chateau.  Sundays of, course, were spent at church with her grandparents, Joseph and the twins barely saw her any more. She would meet the girls at the café on Tuesdays.  Joseph came to the house on Thursdays to help her and her grandfather with the gardening and in the evening they would ride his bike up the mountain until dark.

“What’s wrong?” Joseph asked her one night when he kissed her and she didn’t respond as she usually did.  “Are you angry with me?”

“No, why would I be?”

“Because you have not been yourself all evening,” He pulled her close against him. “As a matter of fact you have not been yourself for a couple of weeks.”

“I guess, I’m just tired,” she pushed herself back and walked a few steps away. “The Professor is kind of a slave driver. He doesn’t mean to be but he wants to get this paper done before the next term starts.”

“I could have guessed the Professor had something to do with it.”

“What do you mean?” Penny spun around.

“Look,” Joseph took her hands in his. “I really care about you.”

“And I really like you too.” Penny came back.

“Let me finish,” Joseph said softly. “But I don’t think you care about me the same way. There’s a wedge between us Penny and I think that wedge is named Thierry St. Germain.”

“What are you saying?” she snapped at him.

“I’m saying that,” he sighed heavily, “I love you Penny, very much, but you’re in love with Thierry.”

“That’s ridicules! I think he’s interesting and different and knowledgeable, I love working with him but in love with him? Come on, he’s older and cynical and he doesn’t like crowds…”

“Penny,” Joseph cut her off. “I can see it in your eyes every time someone mentions him.  The whole town knows you’re in love with him and I think you know too.” He kissed her cheek, “I’m going back to the U.S. next week before the next term starts.”

“What?”

“I said I’m going away, going back to school.”

 “You’re going back to California now? What about your grandfather? I thought you were going to wait until January?”

“I can be of better help to him if I finish my degree now.”

“But we were going to cross country backpacking for the next term and then go to school?”

“He wants me to finish. He’s hired a couple of kids to fill in until the snows come and I’ll graduate just before the holidays, he doesn’t need me right now,” Joseph sighed again, “and neither do you.”

Penny didn’t know how to reply. “Of course I do,” she blurted out without thinking.

“How,” he leaned against his bike, “how do you need me?”

“I-I…” Penny stuttered.

“You don’t love me, Penny. Admit it. You are head over heels for the Prof.  and I just can’t sit back watch you fall into the arms of another man. I can’t see you with him everyday and not feel jealously. I love you and I want you to be happy.”

Penny, shockingly, came to the realization that those words did not hurt nearly as much coming from Joseph as they would have had they come from Thierry. She had not really allowed herself to think about it but now that he brought it up she did love Thierry, deeply. 

“Joseph,” she paused, “But we can still…” Joseph stopped her from talking. “Look, don’t go there. I don’t want to hear the ‘we can still be friends’ line, okay, once this year was enough.” He gave a small grin, “I think it best that I go. We can end this now. I’ll go on to LA and you go on to Hamburg and be with Thierry.” Joseph swung his leg over his motorcycle.  “I had better get you home, come on.”

“Joe,” Penny cradled his face in her hands and kissed him on the forehead before she climbed on the bike behind him, “you’re a really good guy. One that is way better than I’ll ever deserve.”

Penny felt more than a little self-conscious the next morning when she met Thierry at the library.  She tried to act as if it was just another day but her extra effort to act normal only made her behavior more suspicious. After last night’s revelations her reaction towards Thierry’s presence became more apparent to her. Her heart pounded in her chest, her mouth was dry and her hands were shaking. She caught herself watching every move he made and holding her breath when he came within close proximity. After two hours of silent self-torture she decided that any type of conversation might help ease the tension.  “Joseph is heading back to California next week, did he tell you?”

“Yes, he did,” Thierry answered without an upward glance in her direction. “He told me yesterday afternoon. I’ll have to find someone else to look after the horses when I’m away.”

“Well, I’m glad he’ll at least be here for my birthday on Sunday.”

“Yes, he did say he was pleased that he would not be missing your party.”

“Are you coming? I would really like to have you there. My mother is coming from New York and I really would like her to meet you.”

He looked up from his writing, “No, I’m afraid I cannot attend, though nothing would please me more than to be an introduced to your mother, but I have staff meetings at the university on Friday and Saturday to prepare for the next term and then I am having brunch with a colleague on Sunday morning.”

“So I won’t see you on Friday either?”

“No, I was going to tell you at lunch later, I am sorry to have to miss your birthday but it is that time of year again.”

“That’s okay, I understand and thank you anyway, your kind words mean a lot to me,” she said politely, attempting to hide her great disappointment.

“I’ll bring you back a present, I promise.” Thierry smiled and winked at her.

“You don’t have to do that.”

“You have been working hard, you deserve it.”

“Well, thank you, in advance.”

“My pleasure.”



Thierry tried to relaxed comfortably in the lounge chair in his den as he stared at the IV set up that was currently dripping the his coveted serum into his left arm. There were two bags instead of the usual one, he had to increase his dose of plasma as the pangs of his illness had increased immensely as of late.

The burning log in the fireplace crackled loudly at diverted his attention to the painting which hung over the mantle. Like the one in the main parlor this one carried the image of a lady with long sandy blonde hair drawn up in a braid that circled her head like a crown. However, in this one, standing beside her was a man with dark curly hair whose face was now covered by a strip of black cloth held in place with nails. Both were clad in sixteenth century clothing.

“She has possessed me.”  He sighed and softly whispered to the picture, “she need not speak a word yet she calls me. Night and day, she is in my thoughts, her very existence dares me to betray your memory, my love.  My other calling grows stronger as well. I fear I cannot control it much longer.” He sighed again, “Pray for me, my love, most of all pray for her. I greatly fear for her safety, for her life.” He turned his attention back to his treatment. Both bags were now empty. Slowly he removed the needle and then wrapped a strip of gauzed tightly around his arm, tossed the IV kit in the fire and laid his head back on the headrest.  Amidst the sound of the howling storm outside Thierry attempted to close his eyes and sleep. 


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    excerpt from Immortal Summer:
Thierry dropped a match onto the kindling wood and newspaper in the fireplace of the dimly lit drawing room. In seconds the flames were blazing and he set a small log in the midst of the flames then stood there staring mindlessly into the orange and yellow glow. The face of the young woman he had met at the library earlier that day seemed to glare back at him from the fire. He could not block the sound of her voice from his ears. The loneliness he had become so accustomed to, and learned to ignore over the years, seemed to awaken with a vengeance. His eyes slowly moved upward until they rested on a large painting of a woman holding an infant above the mantle. His face was filled with even more sadness than as before and one silent tear of hopelessness ran from his dark lonely eyes.
“She reminds me so much of you, my love,” he whispered as he looked longingly at the painting. “She has your eyes, your lips, your tender gaze,” he stretched out his arms and leaned against the mantle glancing down at the floor. “Looking upon her is like a knife twisting in my heart, yet I cannot turn away,” he looked back up at the woman in the painting, “I sense a part of you within her or is it perhaps just wishing?” He felt a wrenching pain in his gut. “No!” he grimaced and sank down to his knees with his hands grasping at his abdomen, “God help me, it has awakened too soon,” he growled pulling himself to his feet and staggering from the room.

He fought against the convulsiveness as he made his way down to the storage cellar in the basement where he fumbled wildly with the keys until he found the right one. The cellar, originally built to hold preserved food for the winter, had been converted into a cooler and, behind a smaller locked door built in the wall, held a supply of the precious secret that had been so vital to Thierry’s existence.
He grappled with the padlock, his hands shaking uncontrollably. The pain was becoming almost unbearable as sweat cascaded down his face, the salt stinging his eyes and blurring his vision. He burst through the door and stumbled forward dropping the keys which then slid under a metal shelf. Fighting the crippling pain and burning sensation that swept through his body he tried to retrieve the key chain but his fingers weren’t quite long enough so he tilted the shelves forward sending them crashing to the floor. The keys reclaimed, he battled with yet another lock on the wall-safe at the back to the storage room. His vision began to fade and his senses were rapidly deteriorating. He impatiently grasped an IV bag and sank to the floor. The violent spasms increased as he fought to control actions enough to insert the needle into his arm. His fingers spasmed violently as he released the clamp that allowed the liquid to start flowing, then collapsed, unconscious.
He awoke nearly an hour later with his pain greatly subsided but not gone. He pulled the needle from his arm and grasped the shelves to pull himself to his feet again. He relocked both doors and groggily went back up to the drawing room. It had been many years since his affliction had caused him such severe and incapacitating pain. Thierry could not recall the last time he had been stricken so badly. For nearly thirty years he had been symptom free and the serum he kept in the safe in the storage room had been the miracle that prevented his fate from destroying him. But now, suddenly, it was back and apparently not as responsive as before.
The professor sat beside the fire until he felt more himself. When he felt a bit stronger he went into his library, the only room in the house that had electricity, supplied by the generator in the cellar, and turned on the computer. Quickly typing in some information he turned it off again then, with a book and some maps in his hand, went outside behind the chateau to the heliport where sat his personal helicopter. In minutes it was roaring over the tree tops heading north.


Excerpt from Forsaken Legacy:
Marianna was led to another cottage and locked in. Guards were posted to patrol all around, there was no way out. There was only one door and a small window and at both stood soldiers to keep her in. She paced the floor, weeping. She had no idea what was going to happen next or how she would continue with her charade. All she knew was that Thomas was waiting in the woods to storm the village. She dreaded the thought, she knew they were greatly out numbered and could never over power the enemy. She had brought everyone into a slaughter, and for that she could not forgive herself.
Darkness had come and there were no candles to light the room. The Queen sat alone in the dark waiting for what would come next. She heard the key turn in the locked and jumped to her feet. The door opened. The first thing she saw was a blinding light from a lamp. Once her vision adjusted she could see it was Daniel, he had brought her some food. He closed the door behind him and set the lamp down on the table. “Something to sustain you, my lady.” He said softly holding up a plate of meat and bread. “How are you fairing? Shall I build you a fire?”
“That would be kind of you Daniel.” She settled down at the table. Daniel added some kindling to the hearth in the center of the room and began to light it with his flint. “Daniel?” The queen paused.
“Yes, my lady?”
“Are you?” She paused again. “Are you still on our side or have you given in to him?”
“I am as loyal as ever to my cause, my lady.” Daniel answered without looking away from what he was doing.

“To your cause? What about to the King, to Constantine?”
“That has become quite complicated, my lady. I have had a few revelations of my own, but they will not interfere with my original task.”
“How do you plan on getting the throne away from your father and brother?”
“Under Saxon law, there is only one way to take the throne from them.”
“And that is?”
He turned and looked at her, his expression was steady and sure. “To kill them.”
“My lord!” One of Thomas’ men hurried through the woods to the commander’s position. The man was a lookout watching the Saxon’s movements in the village. “My lord!” He rushed over to Thomas, “The Saxons have imprisoned the guards and the boy.”
Thomas felt as if his heart had been ripped from his body. “What about the Queen?” He asked.
“Her as well, she’s locked in a cottage next to the longhouse and the others are in two huts at the other side of the village.”
“I was afraid of this. Go back and bring the rest of the guard and knights and the archers. Get anyone who can lift and sword or pull a bow. And hurry, you must be back here before dawn. Take my horse, he’s fast.”
“Yes, my lord.” The man jumped on the horse and took off.
*****
Working his way around to the back of the community barn Thomas came to the small cottages where the Saxons had put the Constantine and his men. He distracted the first guard by throwing a rock into the trees opposite from his location, he hid around the corner and waited for the Saxon to come back and then pounce on him in the dark like a cat, a quick dagger in the ribs and one more guard down. He did the same with the one at the door. He took the keys and unlocked the door. When he entered he came face to face with Sir Brendan.
“ Am I ever happy to see you.” Sir Brendan exclaimed in a low voice.
“And I you.” Thomas greeted him. “The way between here and the woods is clear. Hurry and no one will see.”
“The King is two cottages over. I don’t know what has become of the Queen.” Sir Brendan told him.
“I know where she is.” Thomas whispered. “I’ll get Constantine and meet you at the camp.”
“I’m coming with you.” Brendan insisted.
“No, take the men out of here.” Thomas ordered him.
“You can’t do this alone. The men can take care of themselves.” Brendan recoiled and waved off the others. “We need to drag the bodies in here so they won’t be noticed.”
Thomas and Brendan pulled the bodies of the dead guards into the hut and relocked the door. They hid behind the brush working their way to the house where the King, Francis, Lucas and the boy were held. They each quickly disposed of a guard and unlocking the door pulled the bodies in with them.
Francis sprung to his feet when the door flew open. “Thomas“Brendan, thank God!” Sir Lucas let out a sigh of relieve.
“Are you alright Father?” Brendan embraced Sir Lucas.
“We’re fine.” Constantine replied for all involved.
“We need to get you away from here quickly, Your Majesty.” Thomas explained as he unlocked the shackle on the Kings ankles. “The guards we killed will soon be missed."
“What about Marianna?” Constantine appealed. “We can’t leave her.”
“You must, your Majesty. You need to get out of here and she would be the first to agree, you know that.” Thomas argued. “ I will come back for her." Thomas led everyone through the forest to safety, then told Brendan to move the men forward to attack as soon as the rest of the guardsmen and archers arrived. “Send the boy back to the city with one soldier.”
“No, my lord! I want to fight!” Mark protested.
“You’re not trained and not another word about it. You are going back.” Thomas ordered.
“Yes, my lord.” Mark hung his head.
“Do not wait until dawn.” He said to Brendan. “If I know Mari, she already told them we’re coming at day break. I want this to be a surprise.”
“Why are you telling me this? You can’t possibly be going back there alone.” Brendan argued.
“I have to. I love her and I am not leaving her. The King is safe and back where he belongs. She’s all I care about, Brendan.” Thomas explained.
“You’re a damn fool, my friend, but a loyal fool. Go save your lady. My father and I will lead the attack.” Brendan called as his friend turned away, “Sir Thomas.” he held out his hand and Thomas gripped it tightly. “For King and Country.” Brendan sounded proudly.
“For love.” Thomas smiled and vanished into the darkness.
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Excerpt from Beyond the Legend-

In the morning when Marianna opened her eyes she found Mordred’s arms gently wrapped around her. His body was warm and she could feel his strength even as he slept. She instinctively lifted her hand to caress the arm he had around her waist but gasped as she remembered herself and instantly tried to get up without waking him. Unfortunately when she moved, he sighed and pulled her closer.
“Good morning, my love.” He whispered in her ear.
“Good morning, my Lord.” She said quietly and bolted out of the bed as fast as she could. “I must get to work.” She forced a smile and a little laugh. “The fire has died and the water needs to be drawn.”
“Wait.” Mordred said firmly. “Come here and sit down.” She turned and sat down on the edge of the bed as he swung his legs over and slowly rose to his feet in front of her. “Mari, why won’t you let me love you?” He placed his hand under her chin he gently lifted her face towards him. “Look me in the eye right now and tell me you don’t love me.” His steel blue eyes gazed so deeply into hers that she was sure he could see right through to her soul. “Tell me.” He said again but Marianna turned away.
“I can’t. I can’t tell you that because I do. But I didn’t mean to.” She was crying again. “Long ago I felt pity on a little boy who was treated unjustly. I hadn’t planned on him growing into a man that I would love so much.” She took his hands in hers and looked up at him. “Mordred I loved you even before I came to you in the woods, though I didn’t realize it. When I saw your face and your eyes, so filled with pain, pleading to be released from it my heart broke with the thought of not holding you in my arms forever. I’ve tried not to let my love for you show and I prayed that you would go when you were healed. Mordred, I beg you, you can’t stay here! You have to go. It’s not safe for you here.
Still holding onto her hands he sat beside her on the bed. “My path goes where I want it to, where my heart tells me to go and it tells me to stay here with you. I did not think on this lightly. I considered all the same reasons you did, my love. I made my decision. I could see the love in your eyes no matter how hard you tried. Your heart is much too kind and open to hide that from me. How can you have given me this gift, this freedom and then deny me the one thing I want most in this world? What we both want."
“I wanted to give you the chance to prove yourself honorable, to be the knight you should have been allowed to be. To earn your standing as the son of Arthur, not stay here and be a simple peasant farmer. You are a prince.” Marianna softly pleaded. “I gave you back your soul so you could live your life full and free with dignity and honor.” Standing, Mordred walked to the middle of the room and slowly spun around. “Mari, look at me,” He asked her softly, trying to temper his old charm with new found humility. “I am free. Dignity and honor are not only for the titled privileged of the king’s court. Honor comes from deep within the soul not one’s rank. I’ve known far too many of the privileged who have less honor than a slug. Thinking back, I’ve seen slaves and servants display more honorable postures than some kings.” Mordred inhaled deeply, letting it out slowly. “Will you not accept my love, please?” With one swift move the once great and evil Prince Mordred was on his knees hopelessly begging for the love of a woman of whose station in life, but two months earlier, would not even have been considered worthy of his attention. The emotion and desire in his eyes permeated straight through her as he spoke. She could feel loves energy spreading like wildfire in her soul, sending its flames through her entire body. The young man whispered. “I’m begging you. If you truly want me to go, to leave forever I will. If that’s the sacrifice I am meant to make for love, I will face it. But please, tell me there is no need for such a penalty. Tell me you want me to stay."
Unable to hold herself back, Marianna lowered herself to the floor. “I can’t.” She stressed again.
So gentle was his touch as he pulled her tightly against him and kissed the top of her head. “I want you to be my wife. I want to be at your side forever. Please, all the honor in the world means nothing to me without you.” Mordred implored her as his kisses traveled down to her cheek and then her lips. Her heart and mind battled inside her. Her head kept telling her that Mordred had to leave. But her whole being longed to hold on to him for eternity and though she desperately tried, she could not bring herself to reject his loving embrace, she had never felt more fulfilled than when she was in his arms. Like a magnet his heart pulled her own closer and closer until she could no longer resist.
“How could I ever let you go, my lord?” As she surrendered to his embrace she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. Mordred tightened his embrace.
“You and I, forever,” He vowed.
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