I hope to include a deleted scene in the autumnal edition, as well as information about my upcoming events and giveaways. To get your copy sent directly to your inbox, make sure to sign up before the equinox by following this link: newsletter signup.
If you missed my summer edition with a deleted chapter from Wild Lavender, I’ve included the excerpt here. And to view the newsletter in its entirety, follow this link: Summer 2017 Edition.
Deleted Chapter from Wild Lavender:
[Warning: Contains spoilers if you haven’t read until at least chapter 52 of Wild Lavender]
Note: In the original manuscript, Gorman is only wounded by Lord Roger’s dog, Garamantes. It is Lark’s action of removing Garamantes’ corpse to bury the dog that allows Gorman’s lungs to fill with air. In this scene, Gorman returns to carry out the vow he made to Lord Roger.
Swords and Shears
From Wild Lavender written by Nicole Elizabeth Kelleher
Her chamber door groaned. Thinking it was Grainne with refreshments, Anna remained near the basin to finish her toilette. Odd, Grainne usually announced herself. Perhaps it was one of the children. She rinsed the soap from her face and blotted her skin with a soft cloth. She stole a peek in her looking glass, and her legs nearly buckled. It was Gorman! Or what was left of him.
She had but one means to arm herself. “Have you brought my tea, Grainne?” she asked, willing her voice calm. He was only a few feet away now. Though silent, she could smell his excitement. A dim shadow of lifting arms tracked up the wall before her. Anna raised her ridiculous weapon, the open blades facing away from her neck, and did the impossible: she waited.
In a blur of motion, his hands came down on either side of her head, and she calmly observed the garrote as it raced to find its home. When the cord bit into the sides of her neck, she snapped the shears closed, cutting his weapon in half. Hands suddenly free of tension, Gorman reeled back. Anna spun on him, stabbing out with her tiny blades and missing. His hand reached for his hilt. Shears against sword—she’d faced worse.
What remained of Gorman’s face was an impossibility. His visage was horribly mauled; the bottom lip ripped open, throat ravaged. He was missing an ear. He stared at her pathetic weapon and laughed. “You didn’t think to live happily ever after, did you, Lady Aubrianne? I swore an oath to kill you, after all. Do you remember?”
“I haven’t forgotten a single thing, Gorman.” She had to balance the odds, if she could but distract him, perhaps get him talking, she could buy some time. “I heard that you were dead,” she spat. “How did you—?”
“After you sent the dog to attack me, your friend came to check to make sure I was dead. Looks like he made a pretty big mistake.” Gorman sneered. “I was dead. I’m sure of it. My throat was half ripped open. But I managed to kill the hound before he finished the job. The damn beast collapsed dead on my chest. I couldn’t move him off. I couldn’t breathe. I could feel my heart beating slower and slower. Your guard is the reason I’m still alive.”
He took a step closer to her. “All of a sudden-like, the weight was lifted from my chest. They wanted to bury the dog; I was to be left for wild animals. But I played dead, then crawled back to the clearing. And you know what I found there?”
Anna shook her head. He did not advance; he was so close he didn’t need to.
“My horse.” His laughter was a sickening garble of twisted scars and wet, unhealed flesh.
Anna raced to her bed and grabbed her dagger. There was a crash behind her and the hissing sound of metal clearing leather. She spun on her heel and threw her dagger just as Gorman brought down his sword. Frozen, she was helpless as the blade descended. And then, unbelievably, there was a clash of metal against metal. Lark!
His sword caught Gorman’s, and with a flick, Lark disarmed the man. But it mattered not to Anna’s would-be assassin, for he was already dead from her dagger. More people piled into the room, and Lark rounded on them. He lowered his weapon upon seeing Gilles and Will.
“Are you alright?” Lark demanded.
“Better now that you are here. How did you know?”
“Will recognized Gorman’s horse. It’s been missing for days.”
She fell into his arm while Gilles and Will dragged the body away. Lark tilted her chin and stared at the angry marks on her neck. He was avoiding her gaze, Anna realized. Letting her go, he stooped to retrieve her dagger. He studied at the floor as if Gorman’s smeared blood held all the answers.
“Anna,” he started, finally looking at her. And for the first time since meeting him, she couldn’t tell what he was thinking.