Welcome to Tuesday Teasers with ZA Maxfield! This week we have author Alex Beecroft joining us!
Fans of Teaser Tuesdays know what’s going to happen here:
I’ll post a snippet from one of Alex Beecroft’s books with the character names asterisked out.
Your mission is to guess which of Alex’s books the excerpt comes from! Email your answer to William at AuthorAssistants (at) gmail DOT com. Please be sure to put “Teaser Tuesday” in the subject line! I’ll draw a random winner each week. It’s that simple! Come play along… If you guess correctly, you’ll be entered to win a prize!
Here’s a little bit about Alex:
Alex Beecroft was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where she worked for a number of years.Now a stay-at-home mum and full time author, Alex lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world.She has lead a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800 year old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
Find out more about Alex on her website or her blog.
HERE’s the snippet:
******’s dream rushed and bucked around him, a continuous blur of fast-moving grey, an impression of water and high speeds, then a pressure on his shoulder, warm and bright. The pressure increased, shaking him more gently than the storm, and gradually all his attention moved to that spot, drawing in the comfort of a firm touch, the warmth of fingers through his soaked nightshirt. As he woke, the welcome burr of a deep voice coalesced out of the general impression of chaos. Words became recognizable.
“Wake up, sir. Show a leg, you slug-a-bed. It’d be as easy to rouse a sleeping log.”
****** smiled, still in his half state between sleep and waking. The battering outside, of which he’d dreamed, continued as the Valiant pitched and tossed her way through a winter squall. He tried to sit up just as the wind heeled the masts almost into the sea. His cabin threw itself sideways, wall becoming floor. His cot clattered against the hull, and a torrent of seawater washed across the upper deck and flooded like heavy rain through the gaps between the planks above his head.
“Good morning,” he said. I’m so glad you’re not dead. “It’s a sprightly one today, ***.”
“It is that.” *** grinned, hugging the covered jug of water he carried under one elbow. He had jammed his foot into the rope handles of ******’s sea chest, itself lashed to a ring in the deck. With the other hand he held tight to the rail of the cot, and he was currently at forty-five degrees to the horizontal, his long brown pigtail hanging down to trail over ******’s shoulder. The end insinuated itself inside his nightgown and dragged like an artist’s brush across the damp, cold skin of ******’s chest.
Not that it was cold, after that.
The ship righted itself, and *** took the chance to assemble ******’s washstand and secure it to the door-frame with a twist of rope. He jammed the pot of water into its holder and looked up just as ****** was peeling the wet nightshirt from his goose pimples.
*** did that a lot, ****** thought in the moment of intimacy that followed. He watched his master in the manner of a dog begging a treat. But he said nothing, and ****** was afraid to take a gamble on the thoughts left unspoken in those soft brown eyes.
He was a brown man all over, ***, with thick hair that in the sunlight disclosed hints of chestnut, and devoted eyes, warm and sweet as chocolate. He had the outdoor tan of his profession, and on him it seemed a sign of good health. A nondescript-looking young man, otherwise, with a pleasant enough face, a Roman nose and cheekbones too prominent for beauty. Far too strong-boned for the smooth, boyish oval of the masculine ideal, but not without his own rough-and-ready charm.
****** became aware that he too was staring. He had caught ***’s gaze and had not broken it. They were, therefore, sitting here gazing at one another like sweethearts. With a wrench of effort, as though snapping a stout twig between his hands, he pulled away from the connection, cleared his throat. “Give me the shirt I had on yesterday. No sense in bringing out clean stuff in this weather.”
*** opened his mouth as if to speak. He had not taken the hint or looked away, and ****** could feel his gaze over every inch of skin. It dragged like that fleeting touch of his hair, soft, almost worshipful, leaving trails of heat.
******’s breath roughened, and he shifted amongst his blankets. Pleasure and panic drove in like a pin through the small of his back, echoed and amplified by his indecision. He wanted, very much, to hear what *** had to say. At the same time, he was terrified to move the friendship they had—so comfortable, so well-worn a harbour—out into the open sea. This potentiality between them could be managed, surely, whereas any venture into the actual would be a disaster ruinous to them both.
He twisted the moment and strained to break it again, interrupting ***’s thoughts with a command and a question. Each time, the turning away was harder. One day, perhaps, it will be beyond my strength altogether, and what will become of us then? “Pass me my small clothes, ***. How long to the change of watch?”
“A half bell yet, sir.” *** wrung as much salt water out of the shirt and drawers as he could and, when he passed them, took the chance to catch and hold ******’s hand. “You could rest awhile longer if you want.”
The possibility that he was only imagining the invitation in the faint smile, which lit ***’s face more effectually than any lantern, seemed remote. Over the course of a decade they had been sounding one another out, talking around the central fact until its shape could be guessed by the absence of everything else, like a bubble of air beneath the water.
*** still hinted, invited, waited for ****** to gather his nerve and ask. But despite the touching shyness of his manner, he was a very manly fellow. He would not play the woman’s part and wait forever for his lover to speak. One day, soon perhaps, he would grow tired of that game and make a decisive move himself.
That, ****** dreaded. To be asked to choose between love—yes, he could admit love—and everything else, to save his heart and lose his soul? Or save his soul and lose his heart? What kind of a choice was that? One, surely, you should never put before yourself in the first place. One that should be staved off whenever it hoved into view.
****** withdrew his hand without comment, hopped out of bed and wriggled into shirt, breeches and stockings stained grey with salt water—damp, clinging and bitter chill.
Lantern light ran like a merry-go-round around the white-painted wooden walls of ******’s cabin, gilding the falling water. Outside, the wind in the rigging shrieked and whooped, and if the Wild Hunt had passed in the riot beyond the firmly closed gunport, they could not have made the gale bay louder.
Valiant heeled to port, bow digging down as she passed the crest of a mountainous sea. ***, who had chosen an ill moment to stoop to pick up ******’s waistcoat, was sent bowling into the partition wall, where his impact dented the flimsy wood. As the head came up again, he ricocheted off, flailing for a handhold, and ****** caught him before he could stumble over the sea chest or smack his head into the knee of the deck above.
It felt as if he had been struck by something much heavier than the yielding body of another man. He tightened his hold, caught on to the hammock ropes, and they clung together, waiting for the roll back to place, for the brief moment of calm and stasis before the opposing heave.
~ * ~ * ~
Thanks for joining us, Alex!
If you think you know what book this excerpt came from, don’t forget to email William at AuthorAssistants (at) gmail DOT com with your guess!