As promised, I have another little sneak peek of the brand new book for you, fresh from the steaming-hot keyboard.
I'll be posting more and more as I power on towards completion. I'm being very shady about this book, I know, but that's because I want to do it right. I also want you to be thoroughly surprised by the finished product too, so in the meantime, please do excuse my cryptic tweets and my drip-feeding of material. I'll be revealing more and more over the coming weeks! Who knows, I might even tell you the name of it soon...
So without any more of this trivial ado, here's some more of the new book! (Of course, the usual disclaimer applies here: Please bear in mind this is a WIP, so may, and probably will, contain mistakes ;) And don't forget to leave a comment below!)
‘The Kingdom of America,’ Tonmerion gave the man a flat stare that spoke a whole world of disbelief. Witchazel was his name, like the slender shrub, and it was a name that suited him to the very core. He was more stick than man, loosely draped in an ill-fitting suit of the Prussian style, charcoal striped with purple. His hair was thin and jet-black, and smeared across his scalp and forehead like a oleaginous paste. Tonmerion had never like the look of the lawyer. One with power should dress accordingly. His father’s words, once more.
Witchazel shuffled the wad of papers in his leather-gloved hands and coughed. It meant nothing except a resounding yes. Tonmerion looked to Constable Pagget, but found him idly thumbing the dust from the shelves of his ornate bookcase. Tonmerion looked instead to his knees, and the woven carpet just beyond them. He tugged at his collar. The constable’s office was stifling, heavy with curtains, mahogany, and leather. The news did not help matters. Not one bit.
‘And this aunt…’
‘Liliana,’ filled in Witchazel.
‘Lives where exactly?’
Witchazel’s face took on an enthusiastic curve. A look of excitement and wonder, one that had been well-practised in the bedroom mirror, or so it seemed to Tonmerion. ‘A charming place, right on the cusp of civilisation, Master Hark. A frontier town, don’t you know, going by the bucolic name of Fell Falls. A brand new settlement founded by the rail-road teams. They’re aiming for the west coast, you see, blazing a trail right across the country in search of gold and riches. An exciting place, if I may say so, sir. Full of I’m almost envious!’ Wichazel grinned.
‘Almost,’ Tonmerion replied.
Witchazel forced his grin to stay and turned to look at the constable, hoping he would chime in. All Pagget could do was smile and nod, mumbling more to himself than to the others. ‘Fell Falls,’ he said.
Witchazels produced a map from the papers in his hand and slid it across the desk so the young Master Hark could see. ‘Here we are.’
Tonmerion leaned forward and eyed the shapes and lines. ‘It looks small.’
Witchazel templed his fingers and hid behind them. ’Yes, but it has so much potential to grow,’ he offered.
‘You have to start somewhere!’
‘And forty miles from the nearest town.’
‘Think of the peace and quiet. Away from the hustle and…’
‘It’s literally the end of the line.’
‘Not for long, mark my words!
‘And what does this say? Desert?’
Witchazel’s temple collapsed and he spread his fingers out on the desk instead, wishing the green leather would magically transport him out of this office. What a fate, this boy had inherited. Whisked away to Almighty knows where. No mansion. No servants. No money…
‘Desert. Yes. It seems that the territory of Wyoming is somewhat, wild. Deserts and mountains and, oh, what was the word…’ Witchazel clicked his gloved fingers, resulting in a leathery squeak rather than a cracking snap. ‘Prairies, that was it. But surely that’s exciting, isn’t it?’
Tonmerion had crossed his arms, and now his eyes were back on the lawyer, trying with all his might to drill right into the man’s pupils, to whither him, as he had seen his father do countless times. ‘And you are telling me that I have no say in the matter.’
Witchazel made a show of checking the papers again, even though he already knew the answer. ‘I’m afraid now, young Master Hark. The instructions are very specific. You are to remain in the care of your aunt. Until such time…’
‘I heard the first time.’ Tonmerion bit down on the man’s sentence. He let out a long sigh, ruffling the strands of sandy blonde hair that stubbornly insisted on hanging forward over his forehead, not lying down with the rest of his ill-trained mop.
‘And what manner of woman is my aunt?’ He’d barely known of her existence until twenty minutes ago. Now he was staring down the barrel of a seven-year exile, with her and her alone. He felt a lump grow in his throat. He tried to swallow it down but it stuck. ‘Is she the mayor, or a businesswoman?’ he croaked.
Witchazel flipped through a few pages once again. The boy seemed to accept his answers more if they came straight from the pages, inked as they were with his late father’s swirling signature. ‘She is a businesswoman indeed, you’ll be pleased to hear.’
Tonmerion sagged a little in his chair…
Witchazel peered closely at one line of script. ‘It says here that she works as an undertaker.’
…And he came straight back up, stiff as a board.