Over the last few weeks I have shared excerpts from my novels about Thomas Radwinter who traces his family history, and then later investigates other people’s stories, and not just genealogical ones, but mysteries in their everyday lives.
Over the next month I am sharing excerpts from my other novels; this is the opening chapters of ‘Loving Judah’:
They sat at the kitchen table, the flame from the candle flickering slightly in the draught. It was a round, fat creamy coloured candle set in a saucer between them. It was very cold, the range hadn’t been lit or had gone out or… but who cares. They stared at the flame as if hypnotised, utterly silent, absolutely still. There was nothing to say and there was little point in doing anything.
Aislin shivered suddenly and Peter glanced up, startled. Aislin’s teeth started to chatter audibly and she realised that her ankles were cold. Peter stared at her expressionlessly. His face was shadowed and gaunt and he looked more like his father as his father looked now. Peter looked as he would when he was eighty.
“I think I shall go to bed,” said Aislin. “Can I get you anything before I go up? Would you like a cup of tea? Or anything else?” Her smile was a mechanical contraction of muscles in her face, it took a deliberate effort.
“No, thank you,” Peter answered coldly, as if offended.
Aislin didn’t ask what the matter was. They had buried Peter’s son today, her step-son.
She stood up and her chair scraped on the tiles. Peter winced and frowned slightly as if she’d done it on purpose.
“Sorry, Pete,” she was contrite, squeezing her eyes to stop the tears.
She got the lantern from the dresser; the matches kept going out and she burnt her fingers before the wick lit.
“I’ll leave it at the top of the stairs so you can see your way up,” she said.
It was a bizarre thought but should she kiss him? Of course she should, but when she tried to kiss his cheek he turned his head sharply and her nose bumped against his ear.
He wasn’t rejecting her, of course he wasn’t; his grief was making him fragile, the slightest chink and he would shatter completely.
At the door, she looked back at Peter; the swinging lantern cast strange looming shadows round the chilly kitchen. He was staring at her aggressively.
“You shouldn’t have encouraged him to go,” he said in a low voice. “If he hadn’t gone to Kashmir he would still be alive. You shouldn’t have encouraged him.”
Aislin was stunned, shocked out of the daze in which she’d floated all day. Poor Pete, poor, poor Pete. She had loved Judah, she was riven with the pain of his loss, but Peter was his father, Peter had seen him come into the world, had been the first to hold him. Judah was his son.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I am so, so sorry.”
Pete looked at his hands, cupped on the table before him.
Aislin waited but he said nothing more.
She turned and almost slipped between the joists, forgetting there were no floorboards in the hall. The heel of one shoe hooked against a timber and she tumbled forwards, by luck arriving on all fours, her bottom ludicrously in the air, the lantern fallen into the crawlspace. An inappropriate laugh bubbled, but she choked it back for fear it would bring her even nearer to tears. She glanced over her shoulder as she regained her footing, still crouched on the joists. Peter hadn’t moved despite her broken off cry, still staring at his hands, either lost in thoughts or deliberately ignoring her.
Aislin knelt on the timber to reach the lantern which amazingly had landed on its base; the rough edge of the wood dug into her shin and as she got up her tights snagged and tore.
She was suddenly angry; angry that she’d hurt her shin and ripped her tights, angry that she’d twisted her wrist when she tumbled, angry that there were no floor boards and no electricity, angry that Judah was dead.
She’d managed not to cry at the funeral although she’d nearly broken down when embraced by one of Peter’s cousins, a younger woman she hardly knew. Now sorrow and grief boiled inside, seething like pain and she wanted to scream, howl and cry her anguish.
She looked back at Peter.
She climbed the stairs.
Here is a link to ‘Loving Judah’:
… and here is a link to my other e-books: