Promises to Keep goes live TOMORROW

I am at the point of authorial collapse. Uploads begin this afternoon… in the meantime I am biting my nails to the quick, agonizing over last minute adjustments.

Let’s give you a sample scene.

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I returned to our cabin. The door was closed. It was a stout log door, friendly and familiar, but it opened to the blackness within. I stood on the flagstone for a few moments and wondered if I closed my eyes and took a step of faith, would it become a portal to take me… but no. Thinking that way wouldn’t do.

I stoked the fire and prepared the cabin for Alex. Wash water went in the hearth to warm, food went onto the fire to simmer, and I brewed a pot of chicory coffee. Then I rifled through the blanket chest to examine the state of his clothes. His spare shirt had a loose button and part of the cuff coming off. I sat in my armchair to mend it.

Hours went by. I took the food and coffee off of the heat. I finished mending all of his things and folded them neatly on the bed. At loose ends, I sat at my spinning wheel and spun the small amount of flax I had at hand. When that was gone and Alex still hadn’t come home, I paced the cabin for a while, furious. Finally I snatched his sock-in-progress from the work basket and sat down to knit on it.

It had long gone dark outside when he returned. He closed the door more carefully than usual; he knew he had worried me. I gave him an unfriendly glance and returned my attention to the sock.

“There’s cold soup and coffee.”

Rough fingers stroked my shoulder, catching on the coarse linen of my blouse, and played up the side of my neck and into the base of my braid. I bent my head to hide from him.

“I didn’t know you could knit.”

“I’m a woman of many talents.”

“I apologize for staying out late. I had to speak with people.”

I snorted. “You’ve got days to talk. You told Renske so. I heard you.”

“I had to speak with Angus and John, too. And with Arthur.”

My eyes slid shut. So that was it. I stopped knitting and let my hands rest in my lap.

“What did he have to say?”

He massaged the back of my neck, and took a slow breath.

“He wonders if I’m up to the task. He wonders if I really have it in me, to lead us to safety… or the closest thing to it. He’d have me remember that in order to effect good, one must sometimes do evil.”

My tears, so near the surface in recent weeks, swelled up and briefly trembled on my lashes before they fell down my cheeks in two straight lines. I held my hand over my eyes.

“Can you do evil?”

He let me go, and I heard his chair creak as he sat.

“I don’t know, Anna. I hope to God I won’t find out.”

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