Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Simmer excerpt #2

In which Sule pushes Olaf to try to get him to lose his temper, with very unexpected results.


"You didn‘t answer my question, ox," Sule snapped, and gave Olaf a shove, or tried to; it was like pushing against the stone face of a cliff. He snarled and shoved harder, this time causing Olaf to stumble just a bit.

"Stop it." Olaf growled, frowning, his heavy blond brows drawn together.

Finally, a reaction. "Stop what? Stop this?" Sule asked, slapping Olaf on the shoulder, then on the chest. "This?" A kick with his instep to the side of Olaf‘s calf. "This?" A cuff to his head.


"And if I don‘t?" Sule stepped back, lifted his fists into position for a serious fight, began shifting his weight back and forth from foot to foot. It was too bad there would be no witnesses, but fighting on board would probably be enough to get the oaf expelled from the crew. It would be his word against Sule‘s.

"I don‘t want to fight you."

"That‘s too bad," Sule said and shot out a fist. It caught Olaf on the chin, knocking his head back but not causing nearly the impact Sule was hoping for. Before Sule could hit him again, Olaf threw the blankets aside and rushed forward, his shoulder hitting Sule in the chest, driving him backward, slamming him into the bulkhead. Sule‘s head banged against the wood, and then his body was pinned there by Olaf‘s. No room to kick, Olaf holding both of Sule‘s wrists tight against the bulkhead as well. Sule snarled and looked up to meet Olaf‘s eyes—it infuriated him that he wasn‘t quite tall enough to look directly into them. What he saw there wasn‘t anger or hate—he would have recognized those emotions in someone else‘s eyes—but he didn‘t care. He jerked his right wrist free, or tried to, but Olaf kept it pinned to the bulkhead. He pulled harder, but he could not break the grip on his wrists.

Simmer except #1

When Olaf (who isn't actually Dutch) gets invited to stay on the ship.


"I will not!"

"I‘m captain, and I‘m ordering you to do it!"

Sule snarled at William, who snarled right back at him, even as he kept one hand pressed tightly against the Dutchman‘s side, trying to stop the bleeding. The Dutchman‘s eyes jerked between the two angry men as they argued in English.

Sule felt the old rage bubbling up, burning through him like molten iron. He clenched his fists and tried to will it away, but just hearing Dutch brought back memories of the plantation, the life he thought he‘d escaped. "Bill…," he began, trying not to lose his head completely.

William sighed, the anger draining out of his eyes. He shook his head. "Do you know this man? Was he one of the men who beat you when you were a slave, or who fought with you the day we met?"

Sule looked away. "No," he muttered.

"Then he deserves none of your ill will."

"He‘s Dutch!" The words spat themselves out of his mouth, and he started to step forward but stopped at the icy look in his captain‘s eyes.

"Dutch bleeds the same as African. Right now, he needs our help, and we‘re going to give it to him. So you will kindly extend my invitation—in fact, you will persuade him to come aboard the ship, at least until we can stop the damned bleeding. Do you understand your orders, Mister Okonjo?"

"Yes, Captain." With a red haze in front of his eyes and a buzzing in his ears, Sule focused on the cut over the Dutchman‘s right eyebrow and said that Captain Shaughnessy would consider it an honor to welcome him on board as their guest, and that their surgeon would be happy to see to his injury.

The plan is hatched -- excerpt from "A Cunning Plan"

In which Morgan Villenie discusses The Plan with Alec,  Earl of Whittlesey.


Villenie frowned. “Even if a man doesn’t need an heir, most men crave the companionship and the, er, warmth… that a wife provides. Might I ask why you don’t?”

“No.” Alec scowled. “It’s none of your damned business.” He stood again, ready to end this outrageous conversation, but Villenie again caught his wrist, holding on with a surprising strength.

“Well, you see, really, it is.” The hint of steel in his tone caught Alec’s full attention. “If I’m to let Penny marry you—”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Oh, yes, well, that’s the plan.” The steel was gone, and his smile had returned. “A marriage of convenience between you and my sister, Penny. Penelope. Of course, I can’t let you marry her if you pose any danger to her, so I feel I must insist upon—”

“I don’t want to marry your damned sister!” Alec pulled his wrist free of Villenie’s grip. “You’re mad! Return to whatever corner of Hell you crawled out of and leave me be!” He started back toward the house, stumbling a bit on the gravel pathway. Ten feet from Villenie, he stopped. “And I don’t want you near my mother again,” he said without turning around. “If I hear that you’re bothering her, I’ll set the constable on you.”

“I’ve committed no crime.”

“You told me yourself that you have.”

“Ah. Well, I meant recently. Or that can be proven.” A crunch of gravel came from behind Alec, and then Villenie peered around his shoulder. Alec’s scowl didn’t seem to deter Villenie in the least. “Look, the plan is simple.” He draped a conspiratorial arm over Alec’s shoulders.

Alec's memory of the fox

An excerpt from my novella, "A Cunning Plan". This scene is a memory Alec has of a time when he and his brother had snuck out to the lake to play, when they were children.


As they headed home, they heard a noise behind them. When they turned to look, a fox stepped out from behind a tree. They stared at the animal, which stared back at them.

“Alec? Is it going to bite us?” Hugh asked, his voice quavering.

Alec made sure to keep his own voice steady when he replied, “No. It’s just curious. Let’s keep going.”

They turned away from the fox. Ten-year-old Alec pushed seven-year-old Hugh in front of him, and they began walking again. After a few feet, he looked over his shoulder and saw the fox was following them. He stopped and turned to face the animal.

Hugh stopped too. When he saw the fox, he let out a whimper, huddling close to Alec. Alec shushed him, then shouted, “Shoo!” at the fox.

The bold creature sat on its haunches and gave them a look as if to say, “Whose forest do you think this is?”