FREEDOM IN SHELL GAME AND THE STRANGE THINGS THAT RESULT FROM IT

Freedom has always been a big one for me, for what am I as a gonzo if I cannot judge, poke fun, get it wrong and then slide in a rueful subtext among the laughs and guffaws?

That’s my mission, anyway, and as SHELL GAME’s release date draws near, the notion of freedom as it relates to the plot and characters who seek to keep it has grown more dear.

Imagine a world peopled with ungoverned free-spirits culturally sanctioned to say whatever they like. You wouldn’t have to go too far. Ricky Gervais showcased the concept brilliantly in the film THE INVENTION OF LYING (2009). In it, characters managed to convey whole truths without the sturm und drang of hand-wringing, hair-pulling and copious tear-filled apologies. Chaos did not ensue, at least not until the protagonist started lying through his teeth.

The same happens in SHELL GAME. There, in the humble burg of Pictontown on the Downs, gentle folk go about the business of doing a great deal of damage at little or no cost to the neighbors they try so hard to ignore. It is only when a mysterious and very beautiful black cat enters the picture that untidied things like lies, invasion of privacy, group sex and a missing spouse become important; important because with each new revelation, the freedom to do as one pleases becomes very difficult.

Misunderstandings as a vehicle to catapult the plot forward figure prominently in SHELL GAME as one’s presumed murder victim becomes another’s bratwurst sausage. Likewise, the Beautiful Boy Politician. With all his wealth, intelligence, glamor and promise, it becomes very easy to mix him up with his lackluster opponents because they all wind up saying the same blah, blah, blah to the effect that nothing and everything changes.

A Shell Game is defined as “a deceptive and evasive action or ploy, especially a political one”[1] Readers might want to let that percolate when deciding if the surviving characters are free by book’s end, for as we all know, freedom is subjective and absolutely always illusory.

SHELL GAME releases September 21 on Amazon through Solstice Publishing. As a thank you to readers and supporters, it will be offered as a FREE DOWNLOAD September 21, 22 and 23. Get it here.

Adult, unapologetic, and wholly cognizant, I am

A.B. Funkhauser

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Twitter https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

And this website

 

UP NEXT:

THE ULTIMATE SHELL GAME Q & A

 

[1] Google dictionary, of course.

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MURDER MOST FOUL AT MOM’S HOUSE

Blog fave Maighread MacKay returns with her sophomore paranormal novel, this time with a BIG difference. This time, she wades into the murder mystery genre with a cast of characters you will love. Maighread has always wanted to write a who dunnit, her blood-thirstiness heralding from ancient roots. If you don’t believe me, check her DNA! Her take on the after world is refreshing, as is her ghost protagonist’s unique approach to crime solving.

Congrats, m’lady, on the new book. Welcome back!

 

1.

Your new book, MURDER AT MOTHER’S, features an observant ghost with plenty to say. How did you get to her story?

 

I’ve wanted to write a murder/mystery for ages as I am a huge fan of the genre. Awhile ago, I needed to write a short story about sharks circling their prey, and I came up with MAM. It was only about 1500 words to start with, but when I got thinking about it, I thought, wow, I can make this into so much more… and it took off from there.

 

2.

MURDER is dark and humorous in the English tradition. What spirit guide directed your hand?

 

Ha ha. Probably the spirit of my ancestors. I did the Ancestry DNA and found out that I’m 58% Great Britain and 25% Ireland, so the English tradition is pretty well ingrained in me.

 

3.

You told me while you were penning it that the characters hijacked you and changed the ending. Without giving spoilers, can you tell us what that was like?

 

That was a weird experience. Throughout the whole process, and in the original short story, I had one killer in mind and at the very last minute, while I’m writing the ending, another person let me know they were the killer and it made sense. I could feel the madness and the reason why they were driven to commit the murder so I wrote it that way. It’s very strange how the characters take on a life of their own. The same thing happened in Stone Cottage. I had the characters going one way when, all of a sudden, the story turned around on me. I just go with the flow and let the characters speak for themselves.

 

4.

STONE COTTAGE, your previous work, is also a paranormal mystery. What inspired you to explore the afterlife?

 

I have always been in awe of the vastness and complexity of our universe. This enthusiasm has led me to study a variety of viewpoints from different scholars and scientists. We humans are so limited in our understanding of who we are and why we’re here. The genre I write is termed Visionary Fiction, which is defined as “Besides telling a good story, VF enlightens and encourages readers to expand their awareness of greater possibilities. It helps them see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.” The ideas presented are by no means meant to be a definitive answer to any question about life, death and what happens next. They are presented to give the reader a starting point for their own exploration.

 

5.

Do you believe in it?

 

Yes, I do believe in an afterlife although to me, it’s all life. Only the body dies. We continue, just in a different form of energy.

 

6.

What are you working on now?

Stone Cottage gives a tiny glimpse of how reincarnation, past life regression and a love that goes across time and space could play out in a life. Murder at Mother’s illustrates what could happen to a soul immediately after death, the consequences of its actions while in the body and the energy that connects us all.  My new novel has a working title of “Inn Time” and explores a young woman’s journey through parallel dimensions and what she learns from her experiences. I am excited about the new science of Quantum and String Theory and, although I don’t even begin to understand it, the possibilities they open to understanding our existence and the universe in a whole new light. Such fun.

 

 

CATCHING A KILLER FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Murder_at_Mothers_Cover_for_KindleA killer lurks at the Bancroft estate and the Matriarch, Martha Bancroft is murdered. Royally pissed, she hangs around to see what happened. When she doesn’t go immediately to the light, a member of her soul group shows up from the other side. Gladys is adamant Martha needs to come with her, but Martha has no intention of going anywhere until she helps Detective Ian “Mac” MacKellar and Coroner Dr. Cecilia “Cissy” Walsh find the murderer.  Gladys joins Martha and the two set out on their quest.

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR MURDER AT MOTHER’S 

 

I hope that Author MacKay had fun writing this story, because I know I had a marvelous time reading her latest book. – J.C. Henry, Author

 

This is a wonderful light weave of mystery, family drama, metaphysical and psychic threads …with a dark strand of greed added to the tapestry. I loved it. – R. Davies

 

This book has good pace, excellent characterisation and enough twists and turns to keep you interested. There’s humour too. – Becca from Amazon.co.UK

 

Excerpt

 

The fire was the first incident which caught Martha’s attention. One of the ranch hands needed a rope from the tack room and arrived in time to smell smoke and dampen the blaze. A few weeks later, Jared discovered a fence bordering the back forty was down. He repaired it before any of the horses escaped. She shivered as she thought about the danger they’d be in wandering around the forest at night. Both episodes could have been accidents.

Today, dressed in her favorite jeans and boots, Martha strode down the hill to the horses. As she walked, her cane stirred the dry ground with small circular puffs of sand. Her heart and pace were more accelerated than usual as she thought about her beloved mare. Her first baby. Wonder how she’ll take to being a mother. Jared said the delivery went well, but I’ll feel better once I’ve seen her for myself. As she approached the barn door she heard a call. “Grandma, look out.” Forceful hands grabbed her in a firm grip. Her cane went flying. Her hair lifted as something whizzed past her ear and caused a burning sensation where it grazed her arm. She clutched the arms which held her and looked up into the shocked eyes of her grandson.
 

Other Books by Maighread MacKay

 

STONE COTTAGE

book coverIf you could plan your life before you were born, what could that life look like? Rebecca Wainwright, successful, polished EVP tumbles into depression and panic attacks after a traumatic incident. Seeking a respite from the well meaning, but smothering care of her family and friends, she stumbles onto an old stone cottage where she feels like she has come home. After purchasing the home, she discovers it already has an occupant. Annie McBride has been trapped in her home for over 150 years. What do these two women mean to each other? Why meet now? A story of how love bridges the years and can heal even the saddest of hearts.

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR STONE COTTAGE

The reader gets to know how the events finally affected the characters’ lives and how they are dealing with a new reality. A lot of books omit this important piece and the future of the story is simply left up to the reader’s imagination. – Edna Marie

 

 I enjoyed the stories of the main characters, and found this book to be an entrancing read. – A Happy Reader

That the author weaves two parallel plots in different historical frames seamlessly is a joy for this reader. – A.B. Funkhauser, Author of Shell Game

 

Excerpt

The cacophony of the moaning wind and lashing rain concealed any sound of a horse’s hoofs.  She could see nothing, except the murky fog.  No light.  No Will.  Where are you?  Her anxiety escalated to new heights.  Her baby girl was asleep upstairs, but she seemed to have been sleeping for a long time. Was Maddy sick?  Victoria knew there was something important about the baby that she had to explain to Will, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was.  She needed her husband to come home to take her in his arms and tell her everything would be all right. Panic, like a bird’s wings trapped by the cage of her ribs, fluttered in her chest.  She leaned her head against the cold glass and clenched her fists. Taking deep breaths to try and calm herself, she flattened her hands on the window.

“He’s fine,” she said.  “I know it.  Oh, Will, where are you?  I need you so much.  Please, please come home.  Everything will be all right once you get here.”

Tears coursed down her cheeks. The old dog, sensing her unease, leaned into her leg and began to whine. Absentmindedly, she reached down to stroke his head.  She would just wait.  Wait for as long as it took for Will to come home.

Wait…wait…wait, her mind chanted to the ticking clock in the hall.

Tick…tock…tick…tock…tick…

 

About the Author

AuthorGhosts, spirits and things that go bump in the night. Ancient mysteries and the riddles of our vast universe. Questions – lots of fascinating questions about the reality of our cosmos. Are there other dimensions or planes of existence? Are they inhabited? Do parallel universes ever converge? Angels, Spirit Guides. Are they real? Can we communicate with them? What about other entities such as the Fae, Unicorns, or Dragons? Could they exist? What happens when we die? Has the soul that inhabits our body been here before? Why would we come back? What about animals? What happens to them when they die?

These questions have led me on a journey of investigating Christian Mysticism, Yogic Spirituality, Native Theology, Wicca, Celtic Shamanism, Quantum Physics, the Realm of the Fae and many other related topics.

Using my experiences to draw on, I weave tales of Visionary Fiction for both children and adults. Whether nine or ninety, I hope readers will join me in exploring alternate paradigms about life and the after-life experience.

 

Links

 

Website: http://mhefferman.ca/author/my-blog/

Amazon Author Central:  amazon.com/author/maighreadmackay

FB: https://www.facebook.com/maighreadmackay

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaighreadMackay

 

SHELL GAME: GENESIS

I didn’t plan on writing a cat book. In fact, I had every intention of devoting 2017 to THE HEUER EFFECT, the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND. But I was sidetracked—drawn into a direction I had not counted on.

IMG_20151111_143637Two years ago, I met this cat. A comely fellow, he appeared at my back door with a “come hither” look that couldn’t move me. You see, I had lived my life deeply saddened by the knowledge that I was allergic to almost all things “fur and feather.” This did not dissuade him. Perhaps he knew I was susceptible—possessed of that human quality (or weakness?) of wanting that thing that I couldn’t have.

His visits went on for days, marked by chalcedony green eyes and an almost inaudible purr from cat epiglottis to my own ears. I didn’t stand a chance: he literally compelled me to open the door and let him in.

I’m so glad I did, and for so many reasons; chief among them, SHELL GAME.

Not long after our first contact, my fine visitor, along with his many free-spirited confrères, became the subject of a dedicated cat hunt spear headed by local Animal Control. According to the letter left on my door step, free-wheeling kitties and the accomplices that aided them were now subject to punitive fines / loss of liberty—theirs to roam, ours to love them on our own terms.

There’s a debate going on about whether it’s right to keep cats indoors and I can see both sides of that argument. But for the purpose of my latest fiction, let’s just say that free range kitties and the humans that aspire to similar behavior do so with the best of intentions.

Tomorrow:

FREEDOM IN SHELL GAME AND THE STRANGE THINGS THAT RESULT FROM IT

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Twitter https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

And this website

 

 

A GONZO NEW RELEASE WITH A CAT’S EYE VIEW

September 11, 2017

SHELL GAME, A. B. Funkhauser’s third offering in the unapologetic lives series, launches September 21 on Amazon through Solstice Publishing. Part mystery, part social commentary, it will take a satirical look at a community fighting unwanted change through mechanisms silly and life-threatening. With insights that are both sympathetic and stinging, the novel’s hero and narrator, Carlos the Wonder Cat, will suffer overtures from an awkward feline fetishist sex cult, observe political gamesmanship that keeps going and going without apparent purpose, and assume a crucial leadership role in narrowing class divisions drawn by lines in a forest.

All with the lick of a paw.

If you believe—as many do—that cats are more than just cats, then SHELL GAME might be for you. For when has unquenchable curiosity not led to things unforgettable?

SHELL GAME

This time, the cat wins

Buy link pending

 

Tomorrow:

SHELL GAME GENESIS

 

For more information:

Twitter https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

And this website

 

 

STAND AND DELIVER! HISTORICAL ROMANCE AUTHOR CRYSSA BAZOS DOES IT WITH OUTSTANDING DEBUT

 

1.

You have a debut novel. How are things going?

 

I have learned that excitement fortunately doesn’t kill you, and it is possible to run on caffeine and adrenaline. I’ve had an amazing first week. I’ve managed to maintain my position on Amazon’s top 100 in my category, and even made a Hot New Release. I’ve also discovered new things about myself, specifically how competitive I am. Traitor’s Knot has been battling The Last Kingdom’s Utred son of Utred for position on the charts. “If it’s reputation you want…” Can you not hear him say that? At one point, he and the heroine on my cover were cozying up too close for my hero’s comfort, and he had a few choice warnings for the Dane. I was not best pleased with my grumbling hero when Utred pulled ahead. I’ve locked him in a water closet for now.

 

Ed. — That’s amazing! Congrats. 😀

 

2.

Tell us how you settled on 17th century England?

 

I’m not sure that I settled on the 17th century England as it settled on me. When I was mulling on what to write (the desire to write something came before what that something would be), I realized that all my favourite reads came from that era (i.e. The King’s General and The Three Musketeers). 17th century England is a time of social and political reform, civil war, advances in science and exploration! The Tudors have nothing on the  Stuarts (IMO) except a cross ginger-haired serial husband. The Stuart men were far better looking, with their dark, wavy hair, larger than life personalities, and their tragic ends. One day, HBO or Netflix will wake up to them.

 

3.

The monarch’s side is not usually favored in film and popular novels (unless it’s NETFLIX’S The Crown). Are you a monarchist generally, or specifically, as in the case of Charles?

 

That’s a good question. I wouldn’t consider myself a monarchist and yet I do find myself on the Royalist side. Here I am, waving an oak sprig. I can’t argue against what Parliament tried to accomplish in rising up against the crown. They had to deal with a stubborn king who believed in absolute monarchy which left no room for the will of Parliament. The moderates were trying to hammer home a constitutional monarchy, which happens to be  the system that we have today in Commonwealth countries. Furthermore, one of the movements that caught fire at this time were the Levellers, who lobbied for the freedom of men. If the war was only about fair representation and democracy, I’d be sporting a rosemary twig in my hat (nod to the Levellers). Unfortunately, as with all revolutionary movements, the fanatical extremists fill the void and redefine the conflict. The result was that the fanatical Independents (Puritans) in the New Model Army, with Oliver Cromwell at their head, purged the moderate elements and forced the King’s trial and execution. Cromwell sets himself up as a de facto king with a weak Parliament and no more rights for the common people.

 

4.

We’re hearing more and more about “blended genres.” Some might say that TRAITOR’S KNOT is a blend. Care to comment?

 

I do believe that Traitor’s Knot is a blending of the historical fiction genre with the romance genre in a way that the description ‘historical romance’ doesn’t entirely fit. The heart of the historical fiction genre is incorporating historical details to build a world that a reader can become immersed in. The history forms the spine of the story and propels the characters (historical or fictional) through the events. Historical romance is similar to historical fiction in that the best of the genre is well-researched and conveys a sense of place and time. But here, the romance drives the story, not the history. As a result, most historical romances are played out in the charm of a drawing room or a ballroom.

 

Traitor’s Knot puts the historical events front and centre with a central love story. Instead of allowing them to remain in the safety of a drawing room, I’ve thrown my lovers into the middle of a civil war. Their reputations are less at stake than their lives. They don’t spend the book wondering if they should or shouldn’t; James and Elizabeth instead fear that they will never see each other again. I would consider Traitor’s Knot a darker historical romance.

 

5.

Strong female characters are ‘most wanted’ these days. Gal Gadot’s Wonder WomanVikings’ Lagertha, and House of Cards’often villainous Claire Underhill. How would you classify your character Elizabeth Seton? Do you favor her over her beloved James Hart?

 

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I don’t have a favoured child, mostly. 🙂 I believe there is a strength to a woman that is not defined by her ability to run off and be badass. It comes through in the choices that she has to make and the steel in her spine when faced by those who want to take her down. In historical fiction you need to capture the sensibility of the age so it wouldn’t be credible to have sent my 17th century heroine off on a rampage. But she found other ways to show her strength, through her resistance against a hypocritical regime, protecting the weak, and defending those she loved. Not as badass as James racing along the highway, but both characters bring different strengths to the fight as well as compliment the other.

 

6.

Interesting. But how would they do in a modern context? How would they cope in our time?

 

James would be a football captain (British for soccer), and he’d give David Beckham a run for his money. James is a natural leader and inspires his men to pull together and never give up, no matter how deeply behind they are. Besides, he’d look great with his stubbly beard and shoulder length hair while rocking a red and white jersey. But he’d be pretty oblivious over his effect on his groupies.

 

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Without question, Elizabeth would be doctor. Probably an emergency physician. You can’t take the herbalist out of the girl no matter how many centuries pass. She always considered healing people to be her greatest calling, and she fought so hard for the right to practice her art. I can see her in a white lab coat and blue scrubs. Her dark hair would be tied back in a pony tail, and she’d be practically attached to her clipboard. Come to think of it, she’d probably be the attending physician when James is brought in over a pulled tendon.

 

7.

What are you working on now?

 

I’m working on the second book of the series, the Severed Knot. It touches on the fate of the Battle of Worcester prisoners, many who were shipped to the colonies as indentured servants. This story will focus on one of the characters from Traitor’s Knot who is captured and shipped down to Barbados. I’m not telling who though. I’m very excited about this as this is a part of history that hasn’t received very much attention.

 

8.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

If you enjoy being immersed in the past and are looking for a love story combined with action/adventure, then you’ll Traitor’s Knot should be your next read. Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon. And don’t forget to leave a review!

Ed. — Thanks, Cryssa. Let’s take a closer look at TRAITOR’S KNOT.

 

 

TRAITOR’S KNOT

Traitors Knot CoverEngland 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

 

 

Praise for Traitor’s Knot

 

“A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story. Five stars.”

– Elizabeth St. John, bestselling author of The Lady of the Tower

 

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.”

– Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife

“Cryssa Bazos is equally at home writing battle scenes as writing romance, and the pace keeps the reader turning the pages.”

– Deborah Swift, bestselling author of The Gilded Lily.

 

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Excerpt

From nowhere, a racing black horse flashed past her window, the rider passing close to the carriage. Startled, Elizabeth craned her head, wondering at his reckless pace. Without warning, the coach veered off the road and pulled up, throwing her onto the floor. The others shrieked and braced themselves. They heard panicked shouts from the driver and the deep, jarring voice from another.

“Stand and deliver!”

Elizabeth heard the measured clopping of a single horse drawing close and the nervous shifting of their team. She crept to regain her seat. Mistress Pritchett shook with terror, and Elizabeth reached out her hand to reassure her.

“One inch more and your brains will lie in a pool at your feet.” They heard the click of a cocked pistol.

Elizabeth froze, fearful that he spoke to her. But with his next words, she knew that he still dealt with their driver.

“Toss your musket over the side.”

“You’ll have no trouble.” The driver’s voice cracked, and the carriage swayed and creaked as he scrambled down from the top seat.

“Everyone out!”

Elizabeth followed the Pritchetts, nearly stumbling on her skirts. Her foot found the first step and froze. A pair of pistols trained upon her, unwavering and baleful. Slate-grey eyes burned with equal intensity above a black scarf. Although every instinct screamed retreat, Elizabeth descended the coach.

The highwayman rode a large black horse with a white blaze on its forehead. He commanded the powerful animal by his slightest touch, moving like one, rider and horse, fluid and instinctive. The highwayman wore all black from his heavy cloak to his mud-splattered boots.

“Richard Crawford-Bowes.” The highwayman’s voice cut through the stunned silence. “Step forward. I would fain make your acquaintance.”

Sir Richard did not twitch.

Provoked by the absence of a response, he pointed his pistol at Sir Richard’s stubborn head. “Mark this well—I never repeat myself.”

“I am he,” he said and stepped forward.

The highwayman circled Sir Richard with the imposing horse. “This is a unique pleasure, my lord. Are you beating the countryside looking for desperate souls to fill your court, or have you reached your quota?”

“Now listen here,” Sir Richard sputtered. “If you persist in this venture, I vow to bring you before the assizes and see you hang!”

The highwayman shrugged. “You deserve nothing more than to share the same fate as the honest men you rob in the name of your Commonwealth. Strange idea that— common wealth. As though the wealth stolen from the King would ever be given to the common man. Deliver your coin or die.”

Sir Richard’s brow darkened. From his pocket, he withdrew a handful of shillings.

A shot fired. Elizabeth jumped and smothered a scream, pressing her hand to her mouth. Shouts and shrieks erupted from the people around her. The highwayman lowered his smoking pistol. Sir Richard remained standing, a foot back from where he had been and pale as chalk.

“My patience is nearing an end,” the brigand said, levelling his other pistol. He tucked the spent one in his belt and replaced it with a primed carbine. “A few pieces of silver. I’m sure you have more than thirty.”

Colour returned to Sir Richard, and his thin mouth pressed into a resentful line. “You will regret this.” He drew a larger pouch from his cloak and took a step forward, but the rogue’s next words stopped him.

“Take one more step and it will be your last. I care little for the honour of judges and trust their intent even less. Hand the purse to someone else.” His flinty gaze passed over the huddled couple and singled out Elizabeth. “Come forward, mistress. You’re neither fainting nor quivering.”

Startled, she considered pleading to be left alone but smothered the impulse. She would not show fear to this villain. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth walked towards Sir Richard. A sheen of sweat beaded his forehead, and his Adam’s apple bobbed in this throat. She held out her hand and tried to keep it from trembling. Her nape prickled as if the pistol pressed against her skin. Sir Richard clutched the purse, glaring at her as though she was the villain.

“Your purse, my lord,” she whispered. “Please.”

Sir Richard hesitated for another moment before shoving it into her hands.

Greedy wretch. Elizabeth’s annoyance with Sir Richard gave her the courage to walk up to the brigand. With every step, her determination grew. She would be quite happy to hand over Sir Richard’s money.

The rogue motioned her to give him the pouch, and when she dropped it into his outstretched hand, she met his direct gaze. Elizabeth expected to see the cold eyes of a ruthless madman, but to her surprise, she did not. There was a hardness in those grey depths, but also a keen, calculating intelligence that heightened her curiosity. He stared back at her boldly, and she could not look away.

“My thanks.” His tone was an unmistakable dismissal.

Elizabeth stood puzzled. Old Nick’s small purse rested under her cloak, the sum of everything she owned. She would have been sick over parting with it but wondered why the highwayman had made no demands on her or the others.

“Was there anything more, mistress?”

She was about to shake her head and back away, but the muffled weeping behind her ended thoughts of retreat. Having reached the end of her endurance, Mistress Pritchett began to cry, soft at first and then with more violence. She would have collapsed to the ground had her husband not supported her. Elizabeth grew outraged for the hysterical woman. The audacity of the scoundrel, with all that he dared, awakened her. “Pray, what is your name, sir, so that we may know the coward who threatens us behind a scarf?”

The highwayman’s eyes narrowed. The silence unnerved Elizabeth. Beneath him, the great black shifted. “Who are you?”

“Elizabeth Seton, late of Weymouth.”

“So, Mistress Seton from Weymouth dares where others fear to tread.”

“Your words suggest you were once a King’s man,” she said, ignoring her better judgment.

“Aye, proudly so.”

“Your manner disclaims it. The Royalist soldiers I knew did not hide behind scarfs.” His expression darkened. “Times have changed,” he said in a rough voice. Instead of firing his pistol, he urged his horse closer. Its shadow cast over her. “Your people fought against these rebels?”

Elizabeth’s stomach gave a sick lurch as she realised her blunder. She prayed that Sir Richard didn’t mark the significance of her words. Being caught between a highwayman and a Roundhead justice, she should have had the wits to mind her tongue. Elizabeth’s eyes darted to Sir Richard—his entire attention seemed to be focused on the purse in the brigand’s hand.

The highwayman waited for her response, and when none came, it seemed to Elizabeth that he smiled behind his scarf. He leant forward as though they were the only two on the road. “’Tis a shame that we had not more with your bravery. We may have yet won the war.”

With a curt nod, he spurred his horse and disappeared down the road. Elizabeth released her breath in a rush, and her limbs dissolved into unset jelly.

 

 

About the Author

 

fullsizeoutput_d9Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction writer and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, is published by Endeavour Press and placed 3rd in 2016 Romance for the Ages (Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance). For more stories, visit her blog cryssabazos.com.

 

 

 

 

Links

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbazos/

Twitter: @CryssaBazos

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cryssabazos/

Traitor’s Knot is available through Amazon.  http://mybook.to/TraitorsKnot