I am happy to announce that you can now get The River Maiden in paperback from Amazon. Other retailers should be able to order it in the next few weeks.
The number one question that I get asked on when folks finish The River Maiden is, "When does the next book come out?"
This is a difficult question to answer. I confess work is moving slowly, because with summer vacation and travel, there isn't a lot of writing going on. I do however, have the book outlined and have started writing and researching.
To prove it, and because I love teasers. Here is an excerpt from the new book which currently has the working title of Cauldron. Enjoy!
Sarah tapped her fingers on the handle of her suitcase as she watched each floor tick slowly by in bright red numbers. She was only going to the sixth floor, but this was possibly the longest elevator ride of her life. She had hoped that leaving Raleigh before dawn would have helped her sleep on the flight over, but no such luck. Nerves, her seat, and the loud talker in the row in front of her had kept her up the most of the way.
Now, she was practically swaying on her feet while the elevator crept at a pace that made her wonder if it wasn’t being pulled up manually. Finally the six appeared with a soft ding and the door slid open to reveal a long gray hallway dotted with mostly closed doors. She couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. She was expecting the University of Edinburgh to look more old world, but this building was 1960’s modern. With a sigh she stepped out of the elevator dragging her suitcase behind her. As she made her way down the hall she noticed small signs next to some doors stating what the offices housed. Most of them seemed to be university administration offices.
She could see one door nearly at the end of the hall that was flung wide open. On the floor outside was a stack of cardboard boxes. She made her way to it to find a sheet of white paper with ‘Scots Preservation Field Team’ scrawled in black marker taped over the little plaque beside the door. ‘Looks like this is the place,’ she thought taking a bracing breath and stepping inside.
The large room appeared to be in disarray. Several desks were pushed into one corner while a few chairs were shoved into another. There was one long table up against the wall next to the window. Boxes were stacked on almost every available surface and a petite dark haired woman with her back to the door was rummaging in one of them.
“Pardon me,” Sarah cleared her throat and said, “I’m looking for Dermot Sinclair.”
The woman turned around and arched an eyebrow at Sarah. She looked to be in her mid-twenties, pretty, and obviously annoyed at having been interrupted. She rolled her eyes before walking toward a narrow hall that Sarah hadn’t noticed. The young woman leaned into the hallway and said loudly. “A’Dhiarmad. Tha an bean an seo.” (Dermot, there is a woman here.)
Sarah heard a muffled voice from the office say something but she couldn’t make out the words.
The woman made a clearly unhappy face. “Ma thogair! Tha ise Aimeireaganach.” (Who cares! She’s American.)
The last bit was said with a decided sneer, and Sarah wondered how jarring her accent must be to folks around here. The words had the desired effect. After a sound that must have been a wheeled chair smacking into a wall, Dermot came barreling out of the office and into the larger room his eyes aflame.
He made straight for Sarah. She thought for a second that he would grab her, but he caught himself abruptly a few feet away. His eyes scanned her from head to toe. His face looked thunderous. “I don’t know whether to kiss ye or throttle ye.”
Sarah gave him her most beguiling smile. “I know which I’d prefer.”
“D’ye have any idea how worried we’ve been?” She could tell he was upset when his ‘worried’ sounded like ‘wuhrrit’. Sarah felt just the tiniest bit of satisfaction that her stunt had gotten under his skin.
She cut her eyes over to the young woman who was avidly watching their exchange. “And here I thought you’d be glad to see me.”
Dermot pulled his shoulders back and she could tell he was making an effort to calm down. “I am glad. I just wish ye would have told me ye were coming today.”
“That’s better,” Smiling, she turned to the dark haired woman and extended her hand. “I’m Sarah MacAlpin. I’m going to be helping with the fieldwork.”
The woman looked at Sarah’s outstretched hand then at Dermot. “Aimeireaganach? Bheil gu dearbh?” (An American? Really?)
Dermot looked sharply at the young woman. “Kirstie, don’t be rude. This American…”
Sarah stopped him before he could say more. “It’s no problem, Dermot,” She smiled sweetly before addressing the young woman in flawless Gaelic. “I may be American, but I’ve spoken Gaelic all my life. I learned it from my Grandmother who emigrated before The War. It’s nice to meet you, Kirstie.”
The other woman’s face turned red and she grunted before turning back to the box that she had been digging in before.
Dermot eyed her and Sarah had a feeling Kirstie would be getting a little talk about teamwork and professionalism in the near future. He looked back at Sarah and held out an arm indicating the direction of the interior hallway.
Sarah walked ahead of him and found her way to the first door on the right. She glanced over her shoulder in question and he nodded. She stepped into a tiny office that could barely fit a desk and two chairs. Dermot stepped in behind her.
As soon as the door was closed he turned her around and pulled her into a rib cracking bear hug. Sarah buried her face in his sweater and inhaled filling her lungs with the scent of wool and soap and him. She felt a small easing of the tension she’d been carrying around for weeks.
“I thought ye’d run away.” He whispered into her hair without loosening his grip.
She’d thought about it many times, wondered if she’d have made it, if she’d have been successful where her mother had failed. “And leave you here to have to explain why,” She pressed her cheek to his chest not caring that the wool of his sweater was scratchy. “Would I do that to you?”
She tore his heart out almost daily without even trying. Who knew what she would do when she set out to hurt him? He’d been holding his breath since getting the call from Fleming that Sarah hadn’t been in her apartment this morning. Now, with the solid shape of her in his arms and her curls tickling his nose, he could breathe again. His Sarah was safe.
Safe. Not his. Reluctantly he released her and stepped around his desk. He didn’t look at her again until the desk was between them. She stood in the same spot as if she was waiting for him to come back and hold her again. When he didn’t she sat in the chair on the other side of the desk. When her eyes met his they burned with that quiet determination that he’d seen before. She may be here, but she had her own agenda and Dermot was sure it probably ran contrary to his.
“Ye’re a week early,” He said.
“Well, there wasn’t much to stay for. I packed everything up and Amy was gone for the holiday. I thought I would get out of the way before she got back.” He didn’t miss the note of sadness at the mention of Sarah’s friend and roommate.
“How is Amy?”
Sarah took several seconds to answer, her eyes drifting down to examine a scuff on the toe of her brown clog. “It’s hard to tell. You saw her when she got the news. There are a lot of different emotions going on there. I think she understands intellectually that Ryan was playing her, but she still doesn’t want to talk to me. I called her on Christmas Eve, but she wouldn’t talk, so I just left a message with her mom.”
“That’s ballocks!” He hated that there was a rift between the two girls. They’d been like sisters when he met them.
“Like I said, a lot of emotions. Besides she doesn’t have all the background information that we do. She just thinks a psycho pretended to be her boyfriend to get close to me so he could kill me,” A ghost of a smile floated across her face. “I can cut her some slack, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to hang around there feeling guilty and awkward while she works it all out. I’d rather get a head start here.”
“Aye, and here ye are.” He watched her carefully as he asked the next question. “What exactly does that mean?”
She lifted her eyes to his. They burned with the same fire that lit them when she’d told him how she would get over being held hostage by her roommate’s boyfriend just 3 weeks ago. “It means that I have a dissertation to finish and that’s just what I’m going to do.”
She again seemed fascinated with the scuff on her shoe. “James is a big boy. And no matter how much his family has spoiled him, at some point he’s going to have to learn that he doesn’t get everything he wants.”
He made one of those equivocal noises that Sarah called his mumbly grunts. If anyone could challenge James Stuart, it would be Sarah. Dermot just hoped that there would be something left of her after she tried.