I wish to tell you a tale that began with a promise destined to change the lives of many.
When only a child, Lady Adele of Berron lost her family during a dreadful battle and was betrothed to a stranger.
Lord Rafe of Valrek, only a boy himself when the battle of Calis raged, grew to be a feared warrior and trusted advisor to his King. But sadness filled his past and Adele served only to remind him of all he had lost.
However the promise that bound these two together caused great anger to some.
What, Dear Reader, happened in those days of treachery and darkness? Incline your ear that I may whisper the secrets that you so desire to hear......
My next story begins with Velrek, where Lord Rafe and Lady Adele's arrival was cause for much celebration and rejoicing.
However Finan of Gournay, Rafe's foster brother and the captain of Valreks army, could not help a lingering feeling of worry.
Were Rafe and Adele truly safe from Lord Kyule's hate?
Adding to Finan's problems was the unsettling presence of Rafe's sister, Lady Esme. Used to keeping his distance from the woman of Valrek, Finan found that he could no longer escape as before.
As danger and treachery enveloped Valrek, Finan and Esme found themselves drawn together to fight the shadowy assailant that threatened the lives of those they loved.
What secrets would they unearth in their search for the enemy that taunted them?
Would they find that their stories were more closely linked than either of them ever knew?
Allow me please to answer these questions...
BUY & TBR LINKS
THE PROMISE LINKS
AMAZON KINDLE US – http://goo.gl/rgGvmI
AMAZON KINDLE CA – http://goo.gl/z62IGq
AMAZON KINDLE UK – http://goo.gl/xaZuk4
SMASHWORDS – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/138438
GOODREADS – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22351209-the-promise?from_search=true
SHELFARI – http://www.shelfari.com/books/29576782/The-Promise-(The-Lady-Quill-Chronicles)
THE VOW LINKS
AMAZON KINDLE US - http://goo.gl/nwM7sb
AMAZON KINDLE CA – http://goo.gl/qyl0u6
AMAZON KINDLE UK – http://goo.gl/QGtbxp
SMASHWORDS – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/462611
GOODREADS – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22463885-the-vow?from_search=true
EXCERPT (The Promise)
Rafe watched as Adele pushed a wisp of hair back from her cheek and tucked it behind her ear. She was unaware of his eyes upon her, all her attention was on the robin that hopped about on the frozen earth, pecking at the crumbs she had scattered for it.
She must be tired, she had to be. Eda was even now asleep, curled up in the shelter of a fallen log. It was Eda who had begged for rest, for food, but never once had Adele demanded anything, no word of complaint had passed her lips. Still he was uneasy.
Adele and Eda had talk in a desultory manner, but there had been silence between himself and her for too long. At first he had not noticed, his head was too full of plans and worries for him to spare a thought for conversation. But for a long while he had been conscious of the deafening silence between them and had been made uncomfortable by it.
That was strange in itself because he had been used to long marches from an early age and had never found the quiet awkward before. Certainly he had never voluntarily conversed with any lady not related to him. He was surprised to find that the hush had become oppressive and longed for her to say something, however inconsequential, to show him that she was not upset by his having ignored her for so long. Maybe he should talk to her, but he could think of nothing to say.
The robin, encouraged by Adele’s stillness and enticed by the crumbs, bravely moved a little nearer. Adele smiled breaking another piece of rye bread and crumbling it between her fingers before dropping them to the floor. The robin fluttered away nervously and Adele laughed.
“’Tis only crumbs, you silly thing.”
The robin cocked its head to one side, regarding her speculatively from one beady eye before hopping a little nearer. He was so close that Rafe could see with incredible clarity the overlapping feathers on his bright red chest and he realised that he had never really looked at a robin before, not really looked.
“He’s a handsome fellow, isn’t he?”
Rafe was startled to hear Adele’s warm and friendly voice. He looked up to find her regarding him from wide, clear eyes.
“Welcome back to the land of the living, you were gone a long time you know.” She was still smiling, there was no reproach in her words.
“I was thinking,” answered Rafe apologetically. “Forgive me, I have not been very good company for you.”
“You are worried,” shrugged Adele. “I only hope that you have found some solution to the problem that vexes you so. It is not pleasant to be always troubled.” She scattered a few more crumbs for the waiting robin. “You know, this little fellow reminds me of a passage in the Bible.” Adele smiled again. “When Jesus was teaching upon the Mount of Olives and he said to take a lesson from the lilies of the field because they neither toil nor spin but even Solomon in all his glory was not comparable to one of them.” Her serene eyes drifted up to meet his gaze. “’Tis true; for I have never yet seen a fabric that could equal this little robin redbreast.”
Rafe stared hard into her softly unfocused eyes for some moments.
“You are a very unusual girl.”
The words slipped from his mouth before he could check them. Adele’s eyes met his and, for the first time in the short while he had known her, he saw that they were clouded with uncertainty.
It had been meant as a compliment, in his own mind it had been a praising description, although it was true that he never meant to speak the words out loud. It seemed that although she might well be unusual, she did have one thing in common with the rest of her sex. That was the belief that in a woman, unusual was not an epithet to aspire to. She had taken the comment to be little better than a slight and was embarrassed, he could tell.
It was with some surprise that he discovered that he would have given a great deal to unsay those words, or to come into possession of others that would assure her of his meaning. But he had none.
He knew not how to converse with women, although there were many who would have refuted that statement. Rafe was held as a favourite with ladies, they thought him charming, attentively courteous and yet still retaining that elusive air of reckless danger.
Rafe had never been easy in their company, it had rendered him silent. Strangely enough this silence had the effect of inspiring admiration in female hearts and these ladies believed that his lack of words had betrayed a great depth of emotion and sympathy.
Gradually he had learnt to suffer the discomfort he felt in their presence stoically. He had never found their conversation particularly interesting, but then again he had not found it to be fraught with as many difficulties as conversation with Adele so often was. Indeed these ladies would have said, had they been asked, that it was possible to converse with Lord Rafe in complete openness.
Rafe was innately polite and had always listened to their prattle in well concealed boredom, leaving them with the impression that he was a wonderfully sensitive man, with whom a lady could always enjoy a deep and meaningful conversation in which the souls of the principals had been poured out with unrestrained and frank honesty. The fact that Lord Rafe rarely said a word, but listened in silence while the Lady in question divested herself of her opinions on every subject under the sun, completely escaped them. This left said Lady with the impression that Rafe were something of a fountain of wisdom.
Thankfully there had never been the need to say very much, for it had often been his reflection that ladies were quite capable of holding a conversation without the participation of a second party. In fact they seemed vaguely put out when one interrupted them half way through their monologue.
It was different with Adele, she required active participation. To her conversation was to learn about others, not discussing, at length and in great detail, her own feelings and needs. He should have found the change refreshing, and in a way he did, but he found it alarming too.
Adele would have been greatly surprised to know that he had any interest in her at all and her opinion of this last remark was not well defined. She was conscious of a sinking feeling of disappointment, tangled up with hurt and embarrassment.
It had never occurred to Adele that she might be different to other girls, for she had thought that the whole point of her training at the fort was that she might conform to the idea of a proper wife. It came as something of a shock to find that this was not so and she knew a sudden and uncomfortable fear that perhaps she would not please Lord Rafe, that he too would be disappointed.
“Are you thirsty, Lady Adele?”
Rafe didn’t know what she was thinking, but he misliked the look of perturbed concentration on her face. She looked up at him, not having heard what he had said but knowing that he had addressed her. Her large, troubled eyes met his and he felt as if the breath were knocked from his body, suddenly he heard himself speaking.
“I did not mean that!” He registered the meaning of his words and began to stammer. “That is… ‘tis not that I didn’t mean it, ‘tis just… I just…”
He broke off, unsure if his tangled explanations were making it worse. He was relieved to find that the worry had faded from her eyes and that they were filled with the beginnings of mirth.
“You are funny when you become nervous.”
“I’m not nervous!” Rafe looked vaguely revolted by this description. “It is only that I did not mean it like that.” Again he looked sheepish. “All I meant was, that to be different… ’tis good... that is, Lord Rafe will be pleased.” He broke off abruptly again.
“You do not think Lord Rafe will mind?” asked Adele blushing. “You think he will like it, Finn?”
“I… yes.” Rafe cleared his throat and stood, looking in the direction in which they had come.
The conversation was becoming a little too complicated, too difficult. He even had a vague suspicion that the discussion should not have been taking place.
As he looked through the trees, his eyes keen and searching, worry entered his face. Adele saw it, saw his mind change track and begin on lines wholly different to those of a few moments before. He was gone again, lost to her as a companion. Though his form was still there standing across from her, his mind was somewhere else, somewhere along the trail that they had traversed, restless, questing, searching for answers, for something that she did not know.
Rafe turned at the sound of her voice, it was low, gently probing and for a few seconds he said nothing as he tried to recover his wondering thoughts. She didn’t speak again, did not question him, but sat looking up, her eyes placid, waiting for him to say something. He had the feeling that she was not requesting confidences, but merely seeking reassurance, the comfort of companionship with another person.
“You look tired.”
“So do you,” she replied. “In truth I think you must be more weary than I, for ‘tis you who must bear the responsibility of our journey.” She stole a look up at him from beneath lowered lashes. “And I think you are plagued by much worry, more even than befits the gravity of our situation.”
Rafe was taken back, few were the people who could read his thoughts with such a degree of perspicacity, and rare was the person who could hold their curiosity in check, questioning not from whence these other worries came. For some reason her understanding unsettled him.
“We have yet much ground to cover before we make camp tonight, it is best that we move along now.”
EXCERPT (The Vow)
The night was black as pitch, so dark that Finan could not make out anything in the room. He sat upright, wondering what could have woken him. He was by no means a light sleeper and during the evening’s festivities had indulged liberally in mead. It had not been enough to inebriate, but enough to relax him and give him an altogether more cheerful view of the world.
So why was he sleepless now?
Grinding a fist against his eye, it suddenly occurred to him that the room was too dark. The fire had gone out, leaving the air to take on the chill of the night. He shivered and grumbled irritably under his breath.
He had managed to remove his tunic before falling in to bed, now with the woollen blanket and the furs covering the bed pooled at his waist, his skin was covered with gooseflesh. Vaguely he wondered if he could be bothered to relight the dead fire, or if it would be simpler to find another blanket. He was almost certain there was a spare at the foot of his bed.
Yawning he flung back the covers, but his sleepiness made him clumsy and he cracked his knee against the table to one side of the bed. With an angry oath he lurched to rest against the wall, soothing his bruised appendage. He stood there for some considerable time, cursing with a fluency that would have alarmed Lady Ebba, if only she had heard him. He found a great many things to curse: the table, himself and whatever fool had thought to put the table there in the first place.
Finally he straightened and sighed heavily. The flavour of smoke hung on the air and Finan frowned glancing to where his fire should have been burning merrily. There was enough of the scent of smoke to burn the back of his throat, yet no source for its abundance.
The mists of sleep cleared sharply from his brain, replaced by an uncomfortable sensation that something somewhere was amiss. It was a feeling that he had learnt long ago not to ignore, a cold certainty that clawed in his stomach giving him no peace.
Opening the door he stepped out into the hall beyond. The main house and great hall was used only during the day. One of the smaller secondary halls housed the bedchambers. It was a square structure with an apex roof, built with a secondary wall within a first and partitioned into private rooms. Finan had been given the first chamber on the left, as his duties called for him to be readily available for his men.
The stench of smoke was stronger in the hall but the large fire toward the end of the room was nothing more than a few glowing embers. After a few moments investigation, Finan found the source of the smoke; it seeped under the door of Rafe’s bedchamber. Panic welled within him and he threw back the bedroom door.
Smoke billowed out, causing him to recoil, with a shout for help he plunged into the room, almost blind with tears as the smoke laden air assaulted his eyes. He fought his way forward to the bottom of Rafe’s bed. He could just make out his friend’s form, unnaturally still beneath the covers, a twisted woollen blanket spreading flames over the furs.
Finan’s hoarse voice had no affect on the still form and he reached to pull the burning covers free from the bed. The walls on either side were aflame preventing Finan from stepping forward, and greedy flames licked at the frame of the bed. Finan made out Rafe’s heavy, fur lined cloak carelessly thrown over a nearby chair and used it to cover Rafe’s inert body.
It would at least shield him from the flames long enough for Finan to get him out of the room. He sucked in a dry lungful of hot air that scorched his throat and wiped the sweat free of his eyes.
There was no way past the flames that surrounded the bed, no way to reach Rafe but through the scorching heat. With sudden determination Finan plunged forwards, pain filling his mind as he felt the touch of fire on his hands and crawling along his forearms.
This couldn’t happen again, he couldn’t lose another brother!
Wrapping Rafe within the cloak, he hoisted him over his shoulder and staggered towards the door. The scorching burn against his shirtless skin was agonising but Rafe’s lax body in his arms frightened him more.
Dimly he was aware of shouting as the rest of the house became aware that something was wrong. As soon as he made it into the hall, eager hands lifted Rafe away from him.
“Don’t put him down in here.” Adele’s voice cut through the noise, her tone calm and confident. “Get him outside, he needs clean air, Finan too.”
“I must help with the fire.”
A firm grip fell on his shoulder and Finan grimaced shifting away from the touch. Esme released him immediately.
“You have helped enough Finan, there are sufficient people to see the fire is put out.”
Looking at the men staggering to and fro with buckets of water, he saw the truth of her statement. Worry for Rafe propelled him out into the cool night air.
Too many was the time he had seen someone shut too long in a smoky room die.
It didn’t seem to matter whether the flames had touched them or not, they fell into a sleep that no one could rouse them from.
Adele directed the men to lay Rafe down some distance from the house. She was shrouded in a plain nightgown, without a cloak to offer her protection from the night air. She looked more childlike than ever with the voluminous white folds billowing about her and her hair plaited neatly down her back.
Finan swayed, his vision blurring and nausea making his stomach roll.
“Finan? What is it? What is wrong?” Lady Esme’s concerned face swam before his eyes and he shook his head attempting to bring her into focus.
The nausea hit harder and Finan turned and vomited on to the grass. He’d never felt so weak before, his legs as unsteady as a newborn colt. Someone slid their arm around his waist, giving him much needed support as he discharged the rest of his evening meal on to the ground. His legs gave way and he dropped to his knees, despite the cold air his skin still seemed to burn.
Esme watched his laboured breathing worriedly. His hands were fisted and pressed into the ground either side of his knees and his head was bent forward, eyes tightly closed. She could see the pain in the lines of his face and red burns stood out patchily against pale skin.
Reaching forward she drew his head to rest against her shoulder, surprised that he didn’t pull away, but sagged tiredly against her. The new position gave a better view of his arms and hands.
The blood drained from her face and she winced.
Large blisters and red open wounds covered his skin from hand to elbow. Finan would bear a constant reminder of this night for the rest of his life.
Finan’s voice, rough and husky made her jump and she looked where Adele held Rafe’s limp form in her arms. Tears blinded her, closing her throat so she could hardly breathe.
It didn’t seem possible that her energetic, vibrant brother could be lying so still and silent. Was it just a few hours ago that he had stood before them all with the tale of his adventures?
Her gaze shifted to where her father clasped her sobbing mother tightly, a grey expression of horror drawing his features tight. Aisly stood to one side, immaculately elegant as ever, her long chestnut locks hanging around her slender frame, making her appear as some ethereal pagan goddess. There were tears standing in her eyes but Esme knew that Aisly would not let them fall. She clenched her hands into fists and stood stiff and defiant.
Finan struggled upright on receiving no response and cast a worried look down into her face. Whatever he saw expressed upon her features caused him to pull away and drag himself to where Rafe lay pillowed in Adele’s embrace. Adele wasn’t crying but there was bleakness in her expression, pain in her eyes.
“Give him but a moment.”
Adele’s soft voice was no more than a whisper and Finan felt that she was not exactly answering his question but reassuring herself. He gazed down at Rafe’s lifeless body and pale face. Bile rose in his throat as he recalled another white face and lax body laid out as if in sleep. His vision blurred between the two faces, both so dear to him.
Once again it seemed as though he sat in Lord Brogan’s tent, a bloody battle field without and Evoric’s body laid within. His brother had looked so calm, so peaceful, as if he slept. Finan had felt that he had only to reach out and touch his shoulder and Evoric would rise from his slumber.
He couldn’t recall how long he’d sat by his brother’s still form. It hadn’t seemed possible that Evoric was truly dead, Finan’s mind had recoiled from the idea, yet deep down he had known it to be the truth. It was why he could not bring himself to touch Evoric’s body and find it cold and lifeless.
In the end he had sat beside his brother through the night, and when the soldiers came to bury him the next morning, Finan had exchanged his own dagger with Evoric’s. At least they would always have something of each other that way.
Finan jumped at Adele’s soft voice, she was stroking Rafe’s cheek with gentle fingers. “You must wake up now, you have to try, can you not do that for me?”
Her voice trembled with the effort it took to hold back her tears, but still Rafe made no move. She bent her head to touch her lips to his brow.
“I know how strong you are, your heart still beats with the might of a warrior.”
Adele shifted to set a lingering kiss against Rafe’s mouth. Her next plea was so softly spoken Finan doubted anyone but he heard it.
“Pease, Rafe, you cannot leave me all alone.”
Hi everyone! My name is Dee Dee, I’m twenty six and I live in a beautiful part of Devon, England with my family. I have a younger sister, Amy who is a brilliant guitar player, some chickens, duck, geese, pheasants, a cat (that adopted us when we moved in!!!) and some Koi.
Broken City is actually my second novel. My first, as my Aunt so delicately put it, was crazy but in my defence I was only sixteen at the time. On the plus side I learnt a lot (or so I hope) and two years later ‘Broken City’ was finished.
I really hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.
I love reading and have a kindle: I read almost anything with adventure and romance in it! I also like to cook and wear impractical high heels!!! And as you might have noticed I have a horrible addiction to exclamation marks!!!
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TWITTER – http://www.twitter.com/dd_chant
1 Set of the Lady Quill Chronicle Books (The Promise & The Vow) via smashwords