A Rip in the Veil
On a muggy August day in 2002 Alex Lind disappears. On an equally stifling August day in 1658, Matthew Graham finds her on a Scottish moor. Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.
Alexandra Lind is thrown three centuries backward in time to land at the feet of escaped convict Matthew Graham.
Matthew doesn’t know what to make of this strange woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies—what is she, a witch?
Alex is convinced the tall, gaunt man is some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she, not he.
Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with her new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here—and not exactly to extend a helping hand.
Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew, a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But Matthew comes with baggage of his own and on occasion his past threatens them both. At times Alex finds it all excessively exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.
How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she really want to?
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Enjoy an Excerpt – in which Alex proves she is not entirely defenceless
They came from the east, two men who crested the hill, stopped for a moment, and began to make their way towards them. Matthew rose, frowning at the approaching strangers. One was carrying a sack, a brace of hens thrown over his other shoulder, while the other was holding a staff of sorts—a long stout stick. They went barefoot the both of them, with mended, ragged breeches and dirty shirts.
Alex scrambled to her feet. “More soldiers?”
He shook his head. Nay, not soldiers, but fighting men none the less. Matthew frowned; armed, he’d warrant, and he had nothing but a dirk to defend them with. He stooped, closed his hand on a heavy branch and felt somewhat comforted. Not much of a defence against the staff, but he was not an inexperienced fighter— rather the reverse.
“Stay in the cave,” he said.
“Why? I can—”
“Do as I say, aye? Those two have their sights set on something, and I warrant it’s you.”
“Go! I don’t want them looking too closely at you.”
Alex hobbled off, ducking into the small opening just as the two men reached them. The older of the two nodded a greeting, and gestured for his companion to set down his burden.
“Nay,” Matthew said, “I’m in no mood for company.” Father and son? Brothers? Related at any rate, both men sharing dark, coarse hair, lumpy noses and receding chins. After a quick inspection, Matthew dismissed the younger of the two as essentially harmless. No; it was the elder, the man with the staff, who was the one to watch out for.
“Oh aye? Is it the lass you’re concerned about then?” the older man said. “Don’t fret man, we won’t touch her—not unless you invite us to.” His dark eyes leapt from Matthew to the cave opening, to the branch in Matthew’s hand, small mouth curling into a contemptuous smile. He handled the staff with assurance, and now that there was only a yard or two between them, Matthew could see the top end had been sharpened. A stake then, not a staff, and from the matter that clung to its tip well used. Matthew shifted on his feet, ostentatiously weighed the branch in his hand.
“I won’t. She’s not for the likes of you.”
The younger man snickered, keeping his eyes on Matthew’s hands.
“Strange looking lass,” the older man said. “We saw her as we came over the moor, before she hid away in yon cave.”
“Strange? How strange?”
“Odd clothes,” the younger man piped up, pointing at the bright red jacket, left behind by Alex in her haste. He made as if to set down the sack and the fowl.
“Go,” Matthew said. “I already said, I don’t want company.”
The older man laughed. “I think not.”
Out of a capacious pouch he produced a flintlock pistol which he aimed at Matthew. Matthew took a step back. Pistols were fickle things, even at close range, and from what Matthew could see, this particular weapon was not well maintained. But a loaded muzzle was always a danger, and Matthew was not quite sure what to do. The ruffian grinned, hefted the pistol higher. His stave fell to the ground beside him.
“Get the lass,” he said to his younger companion. “She’ll be worth a pretty penny or two.”
The young man dumped his load on the ground, took a few steps forward. Matthew sidled away, putting a further yard or two between himself and the pistol. The younger man ducked into the cave. Matthew tightened his grip on his dagger. Should he throw it? The muzzle wavered, the man’s interest distracted by the loud yells that emanated from the cave.
“Useless shite,” the man muttered. “What is taking him so long? A few slaps and she’ll come along nicely—they all do.” Matthew took the opportunity to launch himself at him, moving like an enraged viper over the ground.
“Stand! I’ll shoot, aye?” The man swung the pistol back, squeezed the trigger and . . . nothing. Wet powder? Worn flint? Matthew didn’t care. The pistol was thrown to the side, the man lunged for his staff, and Matthew flew the last few feet, tackling the man to the ground.
He was screaming now, the brigand, and even more when Matthew flipped him over, dagger raised. Something glinted. Matthew cursed, pulled his head back; a knife, a wee blade that narrowly missed his neck. Matthew brought his own dagger down, once, twice. The man shrieked, raising a hand to defend his face. Matthew changed his grip and brought the dirk’s hilt down so hard the man flopped and went still, subsiding mid-scream.
From the cave came the younger man, dragging a struggling Alex with him. She did something; her free hand flashed down and with a howl the man let her go, cradling his arm. Not entirely defenceless then, this strange lass.
Matthew pushed himself off the ground, strode over to the younger man and collared him, dragging him choking and gargling to join his companion, sprawled on the grass.
“I told you,” Matthew said. “We have no wish for company. Now go, before I do you more harm.”
A few minutes later they were gone, the younger supporting the elder who was bleeding profusely from his face—as he well deserved. Matthew picked up the staff, worn shiny after years of use, and with a grunt swung it at a nearby boulder. The stave bounced off. Again, and it splintered. Matthew threw it to the side.
“Will they be back?” Alex said, appearing by his side.
“I reckon not.”
“You’re bleeding.” She pointed at his hand.
“No lass, not me. Them.”
“Oh. How hurt are they?”
“They won’t be coming back in a hurry.” He looked over to the two hens left behind by the two rogues. “Do you like chicken?”
Had Anna Belfrage been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!
Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com
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