This blog is to keep my readers updated about my forthcoming historical romance books and to tell you a little bit about the history behind each one. I hope you enjoy reading it and feel free to comment.
Thursday, 24 April 2014
To Catch a Demon
This is the first chapter of my new novel, which I hope to publish within the next couple of weeks. It is called: To Catch a Demon
Stuart is back in England!"
Jasper shouted frantically, his voice bellowing up the stairs and making Diana
shudder at the prospect of his presence."Quick.We must leave at
"Leave?To go where exactly?"
His face was
crimson and sweaty from the unaccustomed exertion of dragging his bulk up the
oak staircase at such a rapid pace.His
hair was wet along his receding hairline from the excessive perspiration to
which he was prone.His stomach hung
over his grey flannel breeches and swayed as he moved, making Diana grimace
He called to
the maid as he came through the door.
sworn to capture and execute anyone who had anything to do with the old king's
death.That means us."
He strode to
his chest and began to pull open the drawers, yanking out his belongings and
discarding them onto the bed.
Diana shook her
head and stared at him defiantly.This
was the moment for which she had waited ten years, the moment she could finally
free herself of this man who had forced her into marriage, had imprisoned and
She had almost
lost hope of ever seeing this day.Even
when Cromwell finally died and she had thought the monarchy must surely be
restored then, but it was not to be.The
country had suffered two years of his son, Richard, before parliament finally
invited the rightful King to return to his throne.
Now the words
she had longed to hear for ten years had been uttered by the foul mouth of
Jasper Philbert, arch traitor, sadist, sexual deviant, puritan and her lawful
husband.Charles Stuart is back in England.
she answered."That means
what's the difference?You are my
maid arrived and gave a quick curtsey.
Mistress Philbert's things packed.We
are leaving within the hour."
as he left the bedchamber, then her eyes wandered around the familiar walls at
the delicate plasterwork, at the beautiful mahogany furniture.Was it possible that she could at last get
her house back, that after all these years she could at last get her life back?
The maid began
to open drawers and pack things into boxes.She did not look up, did not raise her eyes to her mistress.Jasper returned, still hurrying, with his
valet keeping pace behind him.The young
man started to open the drawers in Jasper's chests and pack the contents into
similar boxes, while Jasper scooped his things up from the bed where he had
tossed them and packed them into a smaller box.
Diana made no
move to help the maid.She was busy
planning the best way to escape, the best place to hide.
straightened up and stared angrily at his wife.
you just standing there, Madam?"Jasper demanded."I have
booked passage on the Henrietta; it sails for the Americas in two hours time."
"I am not
coming," Diana replied.
He stood with
his hands on his hips, staring at her angrily.
you are coming," he declared."What else do you think you are going to do?I realise you are not very bright, Madam, but
even you must be able to work out that Charles Stuart will be reclaiming his
throne and all my property along with it.This house will be forfeit."
house is not your property," Diana retaliated. "It is mine."
mine when you became mine, make no mistake about that.You will have nothing; you will be on the
streets and you cannot earn a living there.That is one skill you will never master."
She bit her
lip.He did not have the power to hurt
her, he never had, but if she lacked the skill to earn a living on the streets,
she knew who to blame.
hurry," he said urgently."This is no time for your histrionics."
you.I am not coming."
enraged him and he took one long stride across the room to where she
stood.His hand reached out and grabbed
her arm, his fingers digging into her flesh and pinching painfully, while his
other hand rose high above her head to come down on her face with a hard slap
which snapped her neck around.The two
servants looked up sharply, the woman blushed, then they continued with their
tasks.The scene was a familiar one and
they had learned to ignore it.
Jasper said, his hand still firmly gripping Diana's upper arm. With his free
hand he began to unfasten his leather belt. "Are you going to get yourself
ready, or will a good thrashing make you move faster?"
He did not
complete the task of unfastening his belt; he did not have time but it would
not have been the first time he had beaten her with his belt.He released his grip and shoved her against
the wall, bouncing the back of her head against the solid oak panelling. Diana's eyes moved to the embarrassed
maidservant as she resisted the need to nurse her injured cheek or to hold her
aching head.She would not give him the
satisfaction.She finally made up her
mind and made toward the door.
you going?"He demanded
suspiciously and for one horrifying moment she thought he would insist of going
with her, but at last he turned away and began to fill his pockets with his jewellery.He would not want all those
rings on display on a ship.
with it then!"He shouted."If you make me miss the tide I shall
see that you suffer for it."
If he missed
the ship, he would be the one to suffer for it.She would make quite sure that the returning king knew precisely who and
where he was.
downstairs and outside toward the outhouse.She opened the door and glanced back at the house, at the upstairs
windows, to be sure no one was watching.Once she was sure she was unobserved, she closed the door and sped along
behind the outhouse to the barn, where she climbed the ladder to the hay loft
and burrowed her way beneath the broken bales of hay.
She had no idea
what was going to happen when her husband left; he would have no choice but to continue
on to the Americas
alone if he could not find her, but she would rather live on the streets than
spend the rest of her life on the other side of the world with him.
She could have
saved herself a lot of pain and humiliation over the last ten years if she had
meekly obeyed his wishes, but she felt compelled to resist him at every
The civil war
had disrupted the lives of everyone, but none more so than Diana and her
parents, Sir William and Lady Ferguson.Diana had been betrothed as a child to Peter, the son of Sir Edward
Spicer, and he, along with the Fergusons, supported the King.They believed that everyone would support the
rightful king and the war would be a mere skirmish when Cromwell learned that
he had little support.After all,
whatever one's beliefs, to raise arms against the King was high treason and not
many would have the stomach for that.
it became clear that many people no longer trusted their King.His son, Charles fled to France, along
with some of his loyal followers, among them Sir Edward and his family.That was the last Diana saw of Peter and she
was no longer certain if he were alive or dead.They had not been able to correspond as both their fathers deemed it too
She was only
fifteen then but she loved Peter and had anticipated a happy life with
him.When he went to France, Diana
thought it was the worst thing that could happen to her.She knew better now.
Peter so much and each night she would imagine that the King had returned,
bringing Peter with him.They would be
married and make love and have babies and live happily ever after.
came and stifled her imaginings for good.
execution of the King, Diana and her family had kept to themselves, thankful
for the remoteness of their small mansion.It was out in the English countryside, many miles from the nearest town
or village, and if they grew their own vegetables and raised their own livestock
for meat, nobody would remember that they were there.
The civil war
had been bitter and violent, and Diana's father had lost manyfriends who had fought for the King and the
royalist cause.But inevitably the
battle had been lost to Cromwell's new model army and since then until his
death, he had ruled England
as Lord Protector.His laws were based
on his puritan religion and England
had become a dismal place with no inns, no theatres, no dancing or even bright
colours for the ladies.Everyone went
about in black or grey, women were forced to cover their hair with dreary white
caps, as showing long hair to the world was a sign of a loose woman.
uncovered, long hair had been a sign of a virgin;now it was just the opposite.
their remoteness, the Fergusons were able to dress in their normal flamboyant
manner, with their satins and lace and bright colours, and there was no one to
see or object.They lived quietly with
their small staff of servants and had thought to see out the protectorate
quietly.Diana had no hope of a
marriage, as there was no one to make a match with her, but she did not want
one anyway.She loved Peter and still
hoped one day to see him again, to hold him in her arms again.
Then Jasper Philbert and his small army of roundheads had come and realised that
here was a house they had missed.They
could easily see that Diana's father was a royalist; they could tell by their
clothing, by the bright colours and jewellery they wore.But he was, like most parliamentarians, a
Diana was just sixteen
years old the day she saw them riding up to the house.She called to her mother and father and they
all ran to hide in the cellar, but they were too late.Sir William could not run; he had a lame leg
which would not bend and he walked with the aid of a stick.One of Jasper's men had seen them.
They sat on the
dirt floor among the racks of wine and huddled together, holding their breath
in the hope they would not be heard, but the footsteps coming down the cellar
steps toward them declared that to be a vain hope and sent shivers of fear
tingling through their bodies.
holding her mother's hand tightly, their nails biting into each other's flesh,
and she felt her mother's body trembling uncontrollably.
nothing," her father ordered."Leave it to me."
They were happy
to do so, expected him to be able to talk his way out of their predicament, but
it was not to be.
They looked up
to see the bloated and ruddy face of Jasper Philbert as he leaned over the
stair rail and peered at them with a satisfied grin.
we here then?" He muttered.
They could see
the men behind him, their little round helmets reflecting the light from the
torches in the hallway above them, their swords held ready.
my house," her father started to talk, but he was cut off.
Jasper made a
swift movement of his head and the soldiers rushed down the rickety wooden
stairs and grabbed him by the arms, dragging him behind them up the stairs.Frequently he fell onto his face, as they had
hold of his arms and he could not put out a hand to save himself.With his stiff leg he had no hope of keeping
up with them.
you doing with my husband?"Her
mother cried in alarm.
you think should be done with traitors, Madam?"
"He is no
traitor!You are the traitors!"
showed clear in his expression and he hurried down the stairs and grabbed hold
of Lady Ferguson. He pulled her roughly to her feet, forcing her out of Diana's
grasp, not giving her time to put her feet firmly on the ground.Diana clambered to her feet and lunged forward
in an attempt to help her mother, but one of the soldiers grabbed her arms and
held her back.More soldiers held back
the servants; they all watched helplessly as their leader pushed Lady Ferguson
down on to the ground.One of the
soldiers knelt down at her head and held her down, while the leader unfastened
his breeches, pushed up her skirts and forced himself into her, while she
struggled in vain.He made no attempt to
cover her screams; he seemed to want everyone to hear.
crying and struggling with frustration, but when she closed her eyes against
the awful sight, the soldier who held her pushed his sword to her throat and
yelled in her ear.
them!"He cried out."You need to know what to expect."
was hammering as she held back tears, knowing that these barbarians would find
them entertaining.When the captain had
finished, he got to his feet and yanked his victim up with him, then climbed
the stairs to the ground floor, dragging the sobbing woman, who tripped over
the stairs as he gave her no chance to walk at a pace she could manage.
her arm forward, trying to free herself from the firm grip of the soldier who
held her, wanting to follow her mother.She had little doubt that this day would be the last for all of them and
she wanted to be with her at the end.But she was held fast.
put," he told her gruffly."The captain has not finished with you yet."
She knew then,
she knew that this awful man would do to her the same as he had done to her
mother.Her knees almost gave way
beneath her; she was a virgin and this was not how she had dreamed of parting
with that treasure. She had always expected it to be Peter, to whom she would
give herself willingly, Peter who would take her virginity in love.
trembling, cursing herself for the weakness, as she watched the captain
clambering down the stairs again.There
was no sound from the top, no sign of her mother or father.He turned to the soldiers who remained.
servants upstairs," he ordered."Give them the choice."
unsure what he meant by that, but she knew she would not have to wait for long
to learn the answer.
He grabbed her
arm painfully and held fast to her while she struggled and he watched the
soldiers take the servants up the stairs and leave them alone.She turned defiant eyes on him, shuddered as
he leered at her lasciviously.
she challenged him."Is this the
wonderful puritans at work?Persecuting
innocent and helpless women?Degrading
us to make yourself feel like a big man?"
His eyes blazed
with fury and he slapped her, hard across the face.That was to be the first of many blows she
would receive over the next ten years.
beneath the hay in the barn, and tears began to drift down her cheeks as she
remembered every ghastly detail of that day, of the last time she had seen her
parents alive.Jasper and his soldiers
took them out and hanged them from a tree branch, and Diana awaited the same.But he had worse in store for her.After he had raped her on the cellar floor he
had locked her in and left her, sobbing hysterically, from pain and bitter
disappointment.Her mother and father
were a loving couple and had taught her that the marriage bed was a place of
love.She would never experience that
love, not now.It had been spoiled
captain had gone out to watch her parents' hanging, and on his return he
magnanimously told her that she would be spared because he was in need of a
His theft of
her virginity had been painful and she was bruised and bleeding and wondered if
it would be like this every time.She
shuddered with disgust at his large belly and stinking breath and the idea of
marriage to him made her want to jump from a high window.
rather hang like my parents," she protested.
He grinned with
would that get me?"He
replied."If I hang you, I will get
nothing.If I marry you I will get a
ready vessel every time I want it and this house and estate.It is time I retired and a lovely young wife
is just what I need to settle down with."
He had stolen
her life and her property, he had taken and sold whatever he wanted from the
house and he had paid a minister to marry them, paid him with her money. The man ignored her protests and arguments; he
had been well paid to do so, so much for being a man of God.Once married, all her property legally
belonged to Jasper.
She would not
flee, even should the opportunity present itself; it was her house, her lands
and despite what the law said, one day she planned to get it all back.The only way to do that was to kill him, but
she never found the opportunity.If she
was going to do it, and she would have done so eagerly, she needed it to look
as though it were an accident or natural causes.She could find nothing that could be used as
poison and he kept her under close supervision the whole time.She was not even allowed to go to the nearest
town without him or to buy from a travelling peddler.
Once she had
found what she thought were toadstools in the woods beside the house and she
picked them eagerly. This would be ideal;should anyone suspect poison it could pass for an accident, toadstools
confused with mushrooms. She took them to the kitchen and prepared and cooked
them, then she found a valuable brooch she had hidden away and bribed the cook
to keep quiet about her involvement.None of the servants cared for him at all and it would likely not
trouble their consciences if he died as a result of their negligence.
impatiently for signs that the poison was taking effect but instead of death
came hallucinations; he seemed to think she was an angel come to punish him for
his evil deeds.If only!But once he had recovered, the fear of that
avenging angel soon disappeared.That
was as close as she had been able to get to finding anything with which to
dispose of him.She spent a lot of time
searching the forest for more poisonous plants, but found nothing, not even a
simple nightshade berry.She supposed
that her father had ordered all such plants dug out and destroyed when she was
a child, lest she poison herself with them.
Each night he
would force himself on her while she turned her face away and struggled to be
free of his heavy body.It took a long
time before she realised that the struggling was firing his passions, that he
enjoyed the resistance.After that she
just closed her eyes tightly and lie rigid; he hated that.He even slapped her a few times to try to
make her resist him, but she was determined not to react and her stillness made
the sessions of abuse shorter.Once he
had forced his ugly organ into her mouth, but she bit down hard and drew
blood.He screamed and yanked her to her
feet, grabbed his belt and beat her until she bled, but he never repeated the
disgusting act.It also kept him away
from her until he had healed, so she thought it was worth it.
Each night when
he had finished with her she would go into her little dressing room where she
kept a large bowl and lots of hot water.There she would douche herself and submerge herself in the bowl in the
hope that his seed did not take.
She was unsure
whether he wanted a son or not, but she had no intention of breeding one for
him if she could avoid it.
Now she heard
her name being called from outside in the grounds.She had been in the barn for a good half hour
and she could hear his harsh voice, yelling angrily.
"Diana!Get yourself out here!"
where she was, longing to peer through the slats in the wooden walls but afraid
of being seen or even heard.He yelled
"I have no
intention of missing the tide for you," he shouted."I shall be forced to go without you and
you will be left to fend for yourself.That is not as easy as a spoilt little slut like you might think."Silence but for his footsteps crunching on
the gravel."Get out here, you
bitch!Wait till I get my hands on you!You will regret this, I promise you!"
She heard the
carriage wheels, she heard Jasper's angry voice calling again but still she did
not move;her ears were filled with the
drumming of her heartbeat as she held her breath and lie still.
well!Have it your own way.Do not think that the King will pardon
you;he will assume you supported your
husband, which is what a decent woman should do.But we both know that you are no decent
He was trying
to anger her in the hope that she would give herself away to retaliate and she
knew it.It was very difficult for her
to keep silent, when she really wanted to tell him what she thought.That trait had left her with a lot of scars
and caused her a lot of pain over the years, but he seemed to enjoy it.It gave him an excuse to beat her, which he
seemed to savour more than anything else.She bit her lips to keep them silent and at last heard the carriage roll
still in the hay loft for another hour just in case it was some trick.If he had had spoken the truth, he would have
gone by now.The Henrietta would not
wait for him and he could not afford to be left behind.