Authors: N. Gemini Sasson
Tags: #Historical Romance, #medieval, #Scotland, #time travel romance, #Romance, #Historical Fiction, #Historical Fantasy
IN THE TIME OF
N. GEMINI SASSON
Cader Idris Press
IN THE TIME OF KINGS
What if you could remember another life?
What if you could re-live it and find love again?
Professor Ross Sinclair has everything he could ever want. Reunited with childhood sweetheart Claire Forbes, Ross can finally begin to heal the pain of his childhood and live in the present. A honeymoon in Scotland is the perfect beginning.
But when tragedy threatens Claire’s life, Ross’s dreams come to a crashing halt. He must now face the possibility of a future without her. Then, in one unfortunate moment, he’s hurled back to another time and confronted with even bigger problems.
Suddenly, it isn’t 2013 anymore. It’s 1333. The English have laid siege to Berwick, Ross has a wife he barely knows, more enemies than friends, and a past that brands him as a heretic.
Only on the battlefield can he prove his innocence. But if he does that, he’ll never get back to 2013. He may not even survive the fourteenth century.
IN THE TIME OF KINGS
Copyright © 2013 N. Gemini Sasson
This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Author.
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he first time I set foot on Scottish soil, I felt like I’d arrived home, even though I’d never been there before. I was overcome with a sense of belonging, of ‘knowing’ the land deep in my soul.
Since then, five of the novels I’ve written are based on the lives of Robert the Bruce, James Douglas, Queen Isabella and her husband Edward II, as well as their son Edward III. It wasn’t until a year after the last of those books was published that I began to research my genealogy further and discovered I am a descendent of several of the people I had written about.
My previous historical novels are all based on rigorous research of factual events. This book, while it does center around a short period in Scottish history ending shortly after the Battle of Halidon Hill, is largely fictional. I have borrowed names from the past and created some characters purely from my imagination. At the end, I’ve included a Historical Note regarding some of the events of the time.
I had many starts and stops while writing this book. In the end, it was a matter of understanding
I had to write it. Insight can come in a sudden seismic shift or gradually like the tide wearing away at the shoreline, as our subconscious grapples to replace old concepts with new ones. For me, the answers came in their own time, as so many things do.
But when the answers do come, when you meet that special ‘someone’, you just ... know. Your soul knows. Trust it.
Enjoy the journey,
N. Gemini Sasson
LONG, LONG AGO
Scotland — 1333
ot yet nineteen and already she had lost a husband. Only lately had she begun to love him.
Perhaps if she hadn’t, if she had remained strong, God would not be punishing her like this.
They had said he was a heretic. She believed them now.
The cold of the chapel room flagstones seeped into her flesh, chilling her to the bone, even though it was still summer. How long she had lain by the altar she did not know. All she was certain of was that the sun had set many hours ago; its light had been intrusive and she was glad to see it gone.
She welcomed the night. Embraced the stillness. Immersed herself in the nothingness. Somehow, the darkness seemed more familiar, more ... protective. Like a burial shroud.
Grief filled her, consumed her. Throughout the corridors, the sounds of keening echoed, although it brought her no solace to know she was not alone in her loss.
Her heart was as hollow as a tomb robbed of its corpse. She could never love again. Why, then, even live?
She stared past her outspread fingers. A threadlike shadow caught her eye, small and nimble. The spider scampered toward her, but she did not move, could not. Her strength had fled along with her hope.
The spider skittered across a patch of sunlight, paused, and then retreated into the shadows.
. Was it dawn already?
Slowly, she lifted herself up — onto her elbows first, then her knees. Hugging the column closest to her, she stood. Not until her legs stopped shaking did she take the first step. When she reached the arched doorway, she clung to its frame for a long while, uncertain of where she was going or what she would do. Nothing had purpose to her anymore.
From an open window somewhere, the low roar of the sea beckoned, whispering her name in a throaty rasp.
She moved through a dim corridor, each step as forced as the one before. Faces, blank to her, turned to watch. Ghostly voices came to her as if muffled through wool. Hands grazed her arm, grasped at her shoulder, but she shirked them away and continued. Her left hand trailing along rough stone, she descended the tower stairs, her steps coming faster now.
Shoving the door open, she inhaled the air, suffused with the smell of salt and moss. The sky’s brightness drew her onward. A hundred steps more and she was at the furthest point of the headland. Wiggling her toes, she looked down. The wind rushed upward, making her skirts billow and snap. She could see little of the cliff’s rugged face, so sheer was the drop. Waves thundered against the jagged rocks below, their impact sending the spray up so high she could taste the sea on her tongue.
Wind tore at her hair, red as a stormy sunset. She lifted her tear-swollen face to the sun, now fully risen above an endless sea.
“Mariota,” it called.”Mariota!”
“I am here. Here!” she cried. Then more softly, “I am here.”
Her arms wide, she surrendered.
“Oh that ‘twere possible
After long grief and pain
To find the arms of my true love
Round me once again!”
From Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s
NOT SO LONG AGO
Balfour, Indiana — 1990
arge, calloused fingers curl over mine. The grip is firm, unrelenting, in the way that a carpenter would grasp a hammer.
“Hold on real tight, Ross!”
My scrawny legs dangle from the edge of the seat. Flakes of green paint cling to the crackled surface of the swing set’s frame, begging for small fingers to peel them loose. I look past scraped knees and bruised shins at dusty red sneakers. On each shoe are matching holes where my big toes have worn through.
My mom waves to me and I smile. This is the best day of my life.
Tied to the handle of our picnic basket, a helium balloon bobs at the end of its blue ribbon. Inside the basket are the strawberry frosted cupcakes my mom made for my sixth birthday. She snaps the red plaid blanket out, then begins laying out the plates and food.
I kick impatiently and clamp my hands tighter on the chains. “Push, Daddy. Push!”
He nudges me forward. Gently at first, so the ground rocks beneath me, like when Mom used to hold me in her arms, my head tucked against her shoulder, and sing me to sleep. Metal creaks against metal. A warm breeze whispers across my cheeks, my arms, my shins. For a split second, I hang at the pinnacle of my ascent, suspended in the heavens. My stomach somersaults into my heart.
Then gravity yanks me backward and the world reverses. A whoosh of air races by and parts the hair at the back of my head. The packed dirt of the ground looms far beneath me and I erupt into laughter, knowing I’m safe.
I beg for more; my dad pushes me higher, higher, higher. Sky blends with earth, blurring the horizon. A lemon-yellow sun darts erratically amidst swirling clouds like a bee in search of nectar. I imagine that I can fly. And I can — but not in the way you’d think. Because in that moment something ... shifts. Time shifts.
Salt spray spatters over my forehead. I hear the raucous cry of seabirds. Startled, I close my eyes to wish it away. Yet my face dampens more and the shrieking intensifies, piercing my eardrums. Cautiously, I raise an arm to shield my face and look again.
Crescents of white flash across my vision. Moments later, I realize I’m standing on a cliff watching a flock of gulls explode upward. Below, sunlight glints copper off an angry sea.
Bewildered, I blink several times. Still, I see it, as real as the rust staining my palms and the metal links pinching my fingers.
I gape at the glittering water, awed. I’ve never seen the ocean before. How is it that I can see it now?
But I do. I do! I’m there. Then. A long, long time ago. I sense it all around me: the deep expanse of sky and sea, the rush and retreat of waves upon the shore, the scent of saltwater and damp stones, and the wind scrubbing at my face.
And then, there is the girl. No, not a girl. A woman. Her reddish-gold hair whips in the wind. My arms are around her, holding so tight she must know in that moment that we will always, always be together.
For those few moments — or are they minutes? — I’m someone else, in some other place and time. A grown man who’s lived a life full of adventure and danger.
The woman in my arms murmurs and steps away. Fingers spread wide, I reach toward her, wanting to draw her back, afraid of losing her forever. I speak her name, but she keeps walking, the distance between us small, yet gaping. Desperate, I leap forward, my balance pitching with a gust of wind, and —
That’s when I slip. Not in that time, but in this. The wooden seat of the swing flips from beneath me and thunks against my spine. As I slide, my T-shirt snags against an exposed bolt on the seat, scraping skin raw. The back of my ribs burns. I flail a hand, but can’t grab the chain. As my body twists toward the earth, my arm catches between the seat and the S-hook where the chain attaches. My knees plow into dirt, but my torso continues to pitch forward. I hear the ‘pop’ of my shoulder being wrenched from its socket.
For what seems like a very long minute, I don’t cry or scream. I just stare at my arm, turned in a position I’m sure it’s not supposed to go.
A shadow moves across the sun. His lip twitching in annoyance, my dad stands over me. “Clumsy jackass. I told you to hold on.”
HERE & NOW
Scotland — 2013
am and eggs, sir?”
The shade on the airplane window snaps open. I blink at the watery brightness pouring in through the small glass square and nudge my glasses back to the top of my nose. Everything comes into focus. A rising sun fans its amber rays above the cloud tops, heralding morning. Where had the night gone?
“Ham and eggs?” a distinctly British female voice repeats. A simple phrase and yet it stirs so many unwelcome memories.
A stewardess — far too pert for this ungodly hour — locks the cart wheels into place. The flight has been so smooth and the infant seated with its mother in front of us so quiet that I had actually fallen asleep. Then I realize I haven’t slept all that long, given that we’ve lost five hours of daylight in the time zone jump.
Claire tugs at my sleeve. “Ross, did you forget to tell them?”
I stroke her wrist, feeling her tendons taut beneath my thumb. “You know I always do. It seems perfectly normal to me.”
She gives the stewardess a saccharin-sweet smile. “He’s a vegetarian. The biscuits will be fine. And a fruit cup, if you have any.”