I must apologise for my tardiness in posting today. I hope you will excuse it as I have a great reason. In celebration of the forthcoming release of Under the Full Blooded Moon I decided to hold an Afternoon Tea & Pimms Party. Not only is Afternoon Tea considered rather English, but I do believe Pimms is also exclusive to us. We tried to get a game of croquet on the go, but guests were more interested in the tea, Pimms, cucumber sandwiches and miniature scones with cream and homemade strawberry jam.
The afternoon was a huge delight. I got to read an extract (which is below) from Under the Full Blooded Moon and my lovely ladies were all given a gift of a tote bag and bookmark.
Under the Full Blooded Moon is due for release on 11th July, but if you wish to reserve your copy, it is on pre-order right now.
Where to Find Diane Saxon
Website – http://dianesaxon.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authordianesaxon
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Diane_Saxon
Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diane-Saxon/e/B00DDL4C5W/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/DianeSaxonAuthr/
About the Author
Diane Saxon lives in the Shropshire countryside with her tall, dark, handsome husband, two gorgeous daughters, a Dalmatian, a one-eyed kitten, a ginger cat, six chickens and a black Labrador called Beau, whose name has been borrowed for her hero in For Heaven’s Cakes.
After working for years in a demanding job, on-call and travelling great distances, Diane gave it all up when her husband said, “follow that dream”.
Having been hidden all too long, her characters have burst forth demanding plot lines of their own and she’s found the more she lets them, the more they’re inclined to run wild.
Here’s an excerpt:
“You’ve heard the tales of selkies?” Her voice wasn’t quite as controlled as she thought it would be. The tremble in it not from nerves, but desire.
“Many of them.”
“Aye. There are many. Folks reckon half the population here has selkie in their blood.”
“Do you?” Doubt laced his low whispered question.
It wasn’t an obscure prospect, given the history of the entire island, but there was no selkie in Ruth’s blood. “No, but you may not have heard this tale yet.” Not many of the islanders repeated it. They found it too close to the truth rather than a mythological fantasy. Uncomfortable with it, most folk steered clear of her. Rather than let little hints of gossip taint his view, she decided if there was to be anything between them, as she knew there must be, then the tale should come from her. The truth as she knew it.
With a light step and hope in her heart, she moved into the circle of stones and sank onto the soft, cushiony ground. The moss so thick and cool, it gave underneath her, like a downy pillow.
Stuart joined her, tucked his knees up to his chest, and wrapped his arms around his legs. As he wasn’t used to the cold, she should have warned him to wear warmer clothes. Her woolen shawl kept out the chill and fell to well below her knees, so when she sat, it kept the icy dampness of the ground from soaking into her backside.
He waited in silence for her to begin, so she switched off the flashlight and let the last rays of weak light filter through the gaps in the thick umbrella of leaves above them. The gloomy shadows of the trees deepened by the moment. Relaxed in the darkness, Ruth drew in a slow breath before she started.
“For generations, my family have passed this tale down from mother to daughter. As far as I’m aware it’s still as accurate as the first telling, although I imagine you understand from your own studies how stories can get twisted out of shape.”
She gave him a sideways glance and tucked her hair behind her ear, so the curls didn’t bounce about her face to obscure her view of him. He appeared relaxed enough. His hands dangled from where he rested his forearms on his knees. Shadows deepened to give a sinister appearance to his handsome features and made her wonder if it would have been better to keep the flashlight on.
His slow nod encouraged her to continue, but the air thickened in her lungs. She glanced away at the surrounding stones to get her balance back. She was safe there. Nothing could harm her within the circle of stones, although she hadn’t cast her circle in deference to his obvious doubts about her magical abilities. She had no physical fear of him, which was why she’d invited him within the protective ring. She was more concerned about the damage he could do to her heart.
The salty evening air settled in a heavy blanket around them, but his scent wrapped around her to heighten her senses. His closeness she felt just as sure as if he stroked her skin.
She scraped her fingers through her thick mop of hair to stop it falling across her face, and with determination, turned her attention back to the story.
“The year was 1672. This tiny island was virtually uninhabited—a mere handful of people. Some say they came from shipwrecks, some that they were escaped criminals from Edinburgh jail.” She gave a shrug and peered through the shadowy light at Stuart to see the glitter of his eyes in the shadows. “They were all of them, strong people. For whatever reason, they’d survived, and they banded together for safety and company. Strange bedfellows so to speak. No one knew how many lived here, not many I imagine, from the small numbers we currently have. Counting probably wasn’t their strong point.” She smiled, but he remained motionless, his silence an indication of how intent he was on the story. She paused for a moment while she gathered herself for the next part, but Stuart remained still as she continued.
“One night a squall blew up. We have many storms, but this particular one raged for three nights. I would imagine not dissimilar to the storm which accompanied your arrival.” She gave an embarrassed laugh and then continued before he could ask any questions and distract her from her story, but it seemed from his silence she’d captured his attention. “The islanders believed the fury of the gods punished them. Food became short because they couldn’t fish in the torrid seas and of course, in those days, it was the mainstay of their diet. The wind was so strong they feared to go outside of their little stone houses in case it whipped them away.” Absorbed by her own story, Ruth stared at the stones. Each one touched the one next to it. None had ever been moved from where they’d laid for centuries. “On the fourth morning, the storm broke, the sky cleared, and the sun shone through. A few of the islanders went down to the water’s edge to forage, desperate for food and fresh water. Shipwrecks brought in a good haul after a storm. Pirates were rife in these waters in the 16th and 17th centuries, and their bounty could be rich.” She raised her head and stared through the dusk at Stuart’s impassive face again. Could he be bored, or did he listen intently? She squinted into the dark shadows obscuring his features, but he never moved a muscle. Only the subtle sound of his light breath could be heard in the silence.
She took a breath before she continued.
“What they found, though, was not what they’d expected. Among the debris lay the body of what they first believed was a woman. Long flowing hair, sleek and black. It covered half the naked body. Where the hair ended, the rest of the body appeared to be that of a seal.”
“Frightened to approach, they edged forward, none of them brave enough to touch the woman, but a pitiful cry emitted from under the swathes of hair and seaweed. One brave young girl picked up a stick and lifted the heavy weight of the hair from the half human, half seal. She exposed the body of what they later described as a selkie. It was, in fact, a male. Beautiful beyond belief.”
Ruth paused, waiting for a response, while the air thickened and grew heavy with tension. She leaned in, quieted her voice in the stillness. “The story goes the young girl fell in love with him in an instant. In his arms, he cradled a tiny bairn. A newborn with its umbilical cord still attached to the placenta. Its pathetic wail enchanted the young girl, so she leaned in and took it from the circle of the selkie’s arms. As she cuddled the bairn to her breast, the selkie opened his eyes.” Ruth closed her own to envisage the scene better as though it were her own memory and not just folklore. “Liquid black gazed up at her to melt her heart. Afterward, she claimed he’d spoken, but no one else heard his words, just the muffled sound of an animal in pain. What they were witness to was her swearing to protect the little one for all time. A human baby girl with hair as black as night and eyes as deep green as a summer sea.”
As the night turned pitch black Stuart never moved, but she felt his attention on her as the air between them sizzled with his interest. They sat so close she realized it must have been her who had shuffled nearer until their knees touched and their faces were separated by a mere sliver of air.
Aware his interest lay in the story, she swallowed to ease the dryness of her throat before she continued, conscious her brogue thickened as she slipped deeper into the story. “After the bairn was removed from the haven of his arms, and he’d gained the promise from the young woman, it’s said the selkie turned back into a seal and died. Legend has it he’d clung onto life until he knew the bairn was delivered into safe arms. It’s said that his descendants have continued to grace these shores with their presence, protectors for generations of the wee bairn’s kin.”
The rustle of Stuart’s clothes drew her attention in the silent circle as he moved for the first time, shuffled even closer to her. His interest was palpable. “What happened to the baby?” His warm breath puffed across her cheek.
“The young woman raised her as her own. She never married but lived to a ripe old age. They say she never fell in love again but died content that love had touched her soul.”
“…and the child?”
She had to lean away from him for her own sanity, but her voice thickened as she replied. “She grew up, married and had a daughter of her own.” She loved the romance of the story. The whole idea intrigued her of being rescued and living a life loved by the people who surrounded her.
“Where did she come from?”
Ruth shrugged, it didn’t really matter to her. It had been centuries before and who would have been able to tell in those days? “It could have been a shipwreck.”
“Could she have come from the mainland? From Scotland?”
It seemed a strange thing to question. Why would she have come from Scotland? The crossing for a baby would have been too far, too cold. She would have died. The only logical explanation was she’d been in a shipwreck, and the selkie transported her to the nearest island. The magical powers of the selkie were well known, but would one have been able to cast such a powerful net of protection over a newborn to transport it so far?
Ruth puffed out an impatient breath, unsure why she felt so irritated by his line of questions. There was no logic. It was folklore, a tale. She’d related a story; it didn’t mean she had all the answers. “I suppose, but it’s more feasible to be a ship in those storms.”
“Was there nothing to indicate where she’d come from?” He placed his hand on her thigh and shot heat straight through to her heart, avid in his attention, unaware of the effect he had on her.
“No. She was naked as far as the tale goes. A wee newborn. Nothing to indicate she came from anywhere but the sea.”
“But she wasn’t a selkie herself?”
“No.” Heat rose up her neck, to stifle her until she jerked her leg away from his hand and came to her knees in front of him.
Oblivious of her discomfort, Stuart shuffled closer. “How can you be so sure?”
“Because she would have turned into a seal at some point and from what happened with the male selkie, certainly when she died.”
“No one ever saw her change?” He also came to his knees and leaned in until the heat from him touched her, washed over her until she thought she would suffocate with his tangible annoyance. A shard of dusky light highlighted his features so she could once more see the depths of his piercing pewter eyes. She faltered for a moment before she replied. He seemed desperate for her to agree the young bairn had been a selkie, but she couldn’t bring herself to weave that kind of ambiguity around a tale she’d lived with all her life.
“Not in any of the tales I’ve ever heard. It’s never been questioned before.”
“Perhaps she managed to hide the fact from them.”
Angry now, she shot to her feet. All she’d wanted was to please him with her tale, steal a kiss or two in her magical place, but he’d spoiled it with his insistent questions. She flicked her shawl tight around her and jammed her hands into the woolen folds.
Her throat had become so dry that the next words she spoke came out on a strangled breath.
“There would be no reason to. Everyone knew she’d been delivered there by a selkie. One who gave his life for hers. Besides, everyone knew she was a witch.”
His harsh intake of breath accompanied his quick leap to his feet.
“You never mentioned she was a witch.”
Offended by the accusation that she’d deliberately withheld information, Ruth leaned in until her nose almost touched his, and the air between them sizzled to life. “Well, I tried to tell you a story, Stuart. You interrupted. Several times. I was getting there.”
This time she was left in no doubt he was as irritated as her as he flung himself away from her to trace the stones around the circle’s inner edge, his back to her.
“What’s the stone circle got to do with it?” He touched his toe to one of them and her muscles bunched in anticipation of him kicking them.
It may have had no connection, just a place where she liked to find contentment, but Ruth knew there was strong magic there. Ancient magic which drew her constantly, and she had no desire to see it desecrated because the control on his temper had slipped.
In an effort to appease him, she softened her voice. “The story goes the young girl insisted they bury the selkie here. She asked for a humble stone cottage to be built for her and the wee bairn.”
He stared down at the stone his shoe touched, hands on hips, silent but for his breath drawing in through his teeth, no longer it appeared in anger, but disappointment. The warmth she’d gained from his closeness had turned to ice. Regret slammed through her. What had she done? What had she said? Her heart trembled in her chest. Distressed, she stared at him. He’d taken her words to heart, and somehow, she’d managed to hurt him.
He whipped his head up as though he’d forgotten she was there. “Yeah?”
The dark pits of his eyes were unreadable, and Ruth realized time had flown since they’d arrived. She had no desire to hurt him anymore, nor would she allow him his way with the story. She couldn’t change it to suit him, and the best course of action seemed to be to back off. She hugged herself and stepped to the edge of the circle. “I think it’s time for supper.”
He rubbed his hand over his mouth, then turned and stepped over the stones to stride away in the opposite direction.
“Stuart? You’re going the wrong way. Supper will be ready.”
“Ask Clarisse to keep mine warm. I’ll be back later.”
“But it’s dark. You might lose your way.”
“It’s a goddamned island, Ruth. How wrong can I go?”
As his temper whipped back to slap at her, she had no idea what she’d done to annoy him, but she wasn’t tempted to apologize or grovel. Dammit, she thought he’d want to hear her tale. He’d been fascinated by everyone else’s. What was wrong with hers?
Never easy at the thought of hurting another, she called out in the dark. “Do you want the torch?”
He’d already disappeared from view, but his voice drifted back to her. “I’ll be fine. Go home, Ruth. Go back to your nana.”
The strange flutter in her stomach distressed her. She hadn’t meant to upset or annoy him. She’d hoped he might hold her hand on the way back, maybe press his lips against hers again. A sweet promise of more to come.
She bent to pick up the flashlight, and a blue flame shot skyward as her fingers reached for it, wrenching a high-pitched squeak from her. She slapped a hand over her mouth and peered into the darkness, grateful Stuart had departed. She didn’t need him to witness yet another pathetic pyromaniac accident.