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Into The Past

I’m hard at work on Book 3 of my It’s About Time Series: To The Past. So I thought I’d share an excerpt and give my readers a hint of things to come. I’ve barely gotten started, and Erin’s already in trouble.

A faint noise sounded from somewhere in the alleyway behind me, echoing in the looming shadows forming as darkness descended. Common sense argued it was a stray dog or cat, prowling around outside the tavern kitchen in hopes of finding food scraps. Or a night bird stalking its prey. Or some tipsy farmer. But what if it was none of those things? My steps faltered as I strained to listen, possibilities racing through my mind.

The noise came again, closer and more distinct this time. A fist of tension squeezed all the air from my lungs and made every nerve in my body taut with the realization the noise wasn’t some animal. Neither was it someone stumbling around in the dark, trying to find his way home. Pebbles crunched beneath heels and moved closer.

“Who’s there?”

At the sound of my voice, all noise stopped. Someone must be following me.

Panic set my feet in motion. Filled with jutting angles instead of a straight line, the narrow alleyway between the tavern and the buildings on the other side was like trying to run through a maze in the dark. I stumbled over uneven ground, praying I wouldn’t fall.

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 up the hill 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.

While struggling to control my breathing, grim determination took over. I had no one to blame but myself. It’d been my bright idea to sneak off to the tavern all alone in the first place.

As it was, I’d only been halfway through my first mug of ale before spotting a familiar face. Damn the luck. The stocky young man making his way into the tavern wasn’t just an acquaintance. We had a history. The son of Griffin’s closest friend, Deroc had known me when I masqueraded as a boy on my first visit to the castle. While other patrons noticed nothing more than an ordinary young man with a few coins to spend on ale, Deroc would almost certainly see past my disguise and recognize me.

As wife to Sir Griffin, knight and seneschal to Lord John, I was considered a lady, and ladies did not frequent taverns. Not alone and certainly not at night. If he saw me, there was no doubt in my mind what would happen. He would insist on escorting me from the tavern and back to our quarters. I could refuse, but then he’d go straight to Griffin and spill his guts about where he’d seen me.

Deroc’s appearance had left me with no other choice but to slip out a side door and make my way home, praying he’d been too busy ogling the barmaids to pay any attention to my hasty exit. Or maybe not. Maybe he had seen me leaving the tavern and was following to see where I was going. He might be trying to frighten me bad and teach me a lesson.

Not likely…Who was I trying to kid?

Griffin had warned me. My stomach twisted in a knot at the thought of our conversation. “Do not leave castle grounds without an escort. Strangers pass through the village every day.”

“Don’t you think you’re overreacting a little? We’re talking about people, not monsters.”

“Aye, ‘tis true most of them are harmless travelers, but I do not want to take the  chance.” After that he’d lectured me at length, reminding me of all the dangers in his world. Why hadn’t I listened?

Who’s following Erin down a dark alleyway and why? And why’s she there all by herself? If she’d listened to Griffin, none of this would have happened. This time her stubborn determination may result in something she never expected.

I’m not done yet, so stay tuned! And please, let me know what you think so far.