In the first part of this two-part blog-swap, Susan A. Royal discussed how she started the “It’s About Time” series and how she fits writing into her busy life. In this part Susan discusses the next installment in the series.
I’ve got almost 20 chapters of Into the Past, the next book in the “It’s About Time” series. In Not Long Ago, I wrote Erin and Griffin’s love story. In From Now On, I shared what they had to endure to be together again. In Book 3, they’re newlyweds, and she begins to realize how different their worlds really are. While Griffin spends long hours fulfilling his duties as seneschal and repaying the debt he owes to Lady Isobeil, Erin’s left with nothing to do but sit in their quarters, twiddling her thumbs. To make matters worse, Griffin has become so overprotective, he’s smothering her. She can’t go anywhere or do anything without an escort. Of course, it isn’t long before she begins taking matters into her own hands.
When Mierla’s brother arrives at the castle with strange and unsettling news about her family, Lord John charges Griffin with taking her home. But Castle Llewellyn is an overnight ride into the mountains of Wales, and Erin knows Mierla has a thing for Griffin. No way in hell is she going to let her husband go without her.
I had so much fun with my supporting characters in the first book, I’ve brought some of them back and given them a bigger part. They’re like real people, so if I don’t treat them right, they don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m enjoying Erin and Griffin’s journey, and I can’t wait to see where goes next.
This is an unedited excerpt.
The noise came from somewhere in the alleyway behind me. It echoed in the growing shadows that signaled the end of the day. Common sense argued it was nothing more than a stray dog or cat, prowling around outside the tavern kitchen in hopes of finding food scraps. Maybe a night bird stalking its prey. Or the clumsy steps of a tipsy farmer. That’s all.
Only…what if it was none of those things? The thought stopped me in my tracks and left me straining to listen. Possibilities raced through my mind.
It sounded again, closer and more distinct this time. Pebbles crunched beneath heels and the sound came closer. A fist of tension squeezed all the air from my lungs. My nerves grew taut with realization. Not an animal. Not someone stumbling around in the dark, trying to find their way home. Someone moving with a purpose.
Halfway through my first mug of ale back at the tavern, I had glanced up to see a familiar face. The stocky young man making his way through the door wasn’t just an acquaintance. We had a history. Not only was Deroc the son of Griffin’s closest friend, he’d known me when I masqueraded as a boy on my first visit to the castle. While the other patrons might notice nothing more than an ordinary young man with a few coins to spend on ale, he’d see past my disguise and recognize me.
As the wife of Sir Griffin, knight and seneschal to Lord John, I was considered a lady. In this world, ladies did not frequent taverns. Not alone and certainly not at night. Once Deroc saw me, there was no doubt in my mind what would happen. He would insist on escorting me back to our quarters. I could refuse, but if I did, he’d go straight to Griffin and spill his guts about where he’d seen me. Either way, I’d be in trouble. His appearance left me with no other choice but to slip out a side door and hurry back to the castle, praying he’d been too busy ogling the barmaids to pay any attention to my hasty exit.
Damn the luck. He must have recognized me and followed. Only why lurk in the shadows?
I whirled around. “Deroc?”
“If you’re trying to teach me a lesson by scaring me half to death, you might as well give it up. I know it’s you, so quit playing games.”
A voice came out of the darkness. “This is no game, my lady.” Only it wasn’t Deroc speaking.
Panic set my feet in motion. My only thought was put some distance between us. The narrow passage between the tavern and the buildings on the other side was filled with jutting angles instead of a straight line. I stumbled over uneven ground, praying I wouldn’t fall. It was like trying to maneuver my way through a maze in the dark.
After bursting out of the alleyway, I turned left and threw myself against the rough stone wall at the back of the tavern. Every muscle in my body trembled with exhaustion. My lungs were on fire and my heart was racing. I flattened a hand against my chest as if to keep it from escaping.
The castle was less than a hundred yards away, its dark shape crouching at the top of the hill. Flames from the torches along the wall flickered, beckoning like the signal from a lighthouse. All I had to do was run uphill and through the gates to be safe. The thought left me giddy with relief. Only one problem. There was no foliage on either side of the path leading up to the gate. Once I left the shelter of the buildings, I’d be running in plain sight of whoever was after me.
My fingers tightened around the handle of my sword for some sense of comfort, but it offered me nothing. I didn’t even know how to use the damn thing. I pulled it from its oiled leather scabbard, held it in the air and tried to remember the daily sword practices Griffin had expected me to take part in during my brief stint as his squire. What was he always saying about defense? I pictured him in the practice field, feet apart and sword drawn, standing tall and broad-shouldered, feet apart, it came to me.
“Hold the blade at a downward angle and try to catch your opponent off-guard. If someone comes at ye with his sword drawn, swing your blade down to your left side at a forty-five degree angle and parry the attack away from your lower body,” he’d said. “Always make sure the blade is pointing down towards the ground.”
I could try to catch my pursuer by surprise, land the first blow and get away. It was worth a try. With a little luck, it might work. I took a deep breath, shifted to the balls of my feet and made ready.
Thanks again for having me, and stay tuned for the rest of the story.
Susan A. Royal writes Scifi/fantasy with adventure and romance. She takes her readers on adventures to other worlds where anything can happen.
Her books (available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads):
- Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery) (Due out in Fall, 2015)
- In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
“It’s About Time” series (time travel, adventure, romance):