Here’s the first excerpt from book 2 of Sons of Alba, which will be entitled Son of Redemption. Here we meet Seumas, who inherited all the stubbornness and fire of his parents Eithne and Ruairi. As you’ll see, he’s got a long way to go.
Seumas was in the stable loft, nursing his pride and his bruised arms when she found him. It was Fionnaghal, and he brightened considerably as he saw her dark, shining head at the top of the ladder.
“I’m sorry,” she said in her soft, light voice. “I heard about your grandfather.”
“Oh, thank you,” he said, letting his grief show. Girls liked that, he had learned. “We expected it – he was ill for some time.” She crawled over the straw to sit beside him, and he noticed with a lurch of his heart that she was becoming a woman. Many of the girls his age were showing such signs, to Seumas’ intoxicated delight.
“I’m so sorry,” she repeated, putting her hand on his shoulder. He smiled, enjoying the womanly sympathy.
“He made my father Toisiche,” Seumas added, trying to sound disinterested. He hoped the idea might interest Fionnaghal.
“Oh,” she said, as if she had known already.
“It’s bad enough without my cousin being here,” he said, hoping to salvage more of her attention.
“Why is that?” she frowned. Girls didn’t like when boys didn’t get along. He’d have to go carefully.
“He’s such a brute – he’s always using his strength and his position to put himself over me. Just today he grabbed me for no reason.” Seumas rolled up the wide sleeve of his leine to show her one arm, carefully flexed, where a ring of purple bruises were beginning to show. For the first time, he was thankful for his mother’s fragile, pale skin, prone to bruising.
“Oh, Seumas!” Fionnaghal exclaimed, and reached out a fingertip to brush his injury. Seumas closed his eyes, savouring her touch. She mistook his gesture for pain and withdrew. “I’m sorry. A Dhia, he is awful!”
“Ah, but he’s my cousin, and so I must bear him,” Seumas shrugged, leaving his sleeve rolled up.
“Well, I think you are very honourable to forgive him,” she said, smiling sweetly. She looked up at him through thick, dark lashes, her cheeks dimpling as her lips curved. Before Seumas knew what he was doing, his lips were on hers, clumsily drinking in her sweetness as a bee drains a flower.
She stiffened, but did not pull away, and as he cupped his hand around the nape of her neck, she opened to him.
“Oh, there you are, a bhalaich,” said a familiar and completely undesirable female voice from the middle of the ladder. “Oh! Seumas mac Rhuairi!”
Fionnaghal leapt back from him as though burned, pressing the back of her hand to her lips. Ruairi lowered his head, wincing at the fiery look in his mother’s eyes. He had seen that look many times before, always followed by a good tawsing at the hands of his father, and a thorough tongue-lashing by his mother afterward.
“Fionnaghal, get you home,” Mamaidh said shortly. “And tell your mother what you’ve been doing.” Fionnaghal was gone in a heartbeat, gathering up the hem of her leine to descend the ladder while Mamaidh looked imperiously down on her as she left.
“You, a mhac,” she turned to Seumas and said, “Are going to tell your father about this, and he won’t like it a bit.”
Let me know what you think. And feel free to share your own.