EXCERPT

ONCE UPON OUR time, there existed an abundant, sagacious old wood, where misshapen time gambolled capriciously within the hidden furrows of memory.

In the distance of this abundant wood roamed a young woman, whose disheveled state painted a dramatic image of distress. For the torn black silky night gown that hung precariously on her slight frame, told immediately, that this excursion was not deliberate in nature.

As she continued on a pathway, that to a willing visitor would have delighted, her confusion was made evident by erratic movement. With dark probing eyes darting to and fro upon the foreign landscape, she held onto her arms tightly as coarse scrub scratched against her weary body.

A plethora of wispy ferns surrounded the path, the gossamer foliage of which glistened through cylindrical shafts of light. But with shadows in pursuit, the busy wood sang in a cacophony of scurrying birds, warning of night’s entrance. Gazing up, she saw a remote and distant sky, the blue horizon so unfathomable, that it could have been a faraway sea.

Thus resignedly, with legs heavily fatigued, she sallied forth, like a somnambulist along an unchartered route. With only time, illusive as the mist of a fleeting lover, by her side.

From afar, suddenly a figure appeared. The desire for illumination prompted the desperate woman to cry out, but her voice would not travel. Again she tried and again, but to no avail. It was as if she was trapped within a nightmare, where fear itself had intervened and stymied all chance for salvation.

Jumping up and down, frantically waving her arms about, she attempted to attract the young man’s attention, only to fail, for he continued in the opposite direction. While a mass of thorny, impenetrable scrub prevented her from following him. So helpless she remained, observing the surreal character drift along.

Appareled in historical costume from a period long gone, and resembling a character from a Georgian novel, he wore a bright burgundy velvet coat, the colour of which was intensified by a contrasting pearly satin brocaded waistcoat. With a cravat wrapped up to the chin, tight cream britches, and black riding boots, he radiated a physical beauty that defied gender. Tall and svelte, his fair long hair framed eyes that emulated a clear blue sky.
But completely oblivious to her pleas, he continued on, with his concentrated focus, much to the desperate woman’s chagrin, looking forward.

Shaking her head in silent despair, breathlessly she watched on, as the ethereal figure floated further, and further away, until disappearing completely into the arcane forest.

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/391707

Alternative Excerpt
One day, not long after Percy had discovered the truth of his birth,
he accidentally stumbled upon a journal that he had inherited following
Lady Elizabeth’s death. It had been lying in wait somewhere forgotten,
amongst many other objects. With its very existence having faded
from his memory, it took him aback that this diary should suddenly
appear, particularly during such a momentous period. So with the guilty
fascination of a voyeur, he opened the aged book. Most of what was
written offered Percy no significant insight, then with the fading of the
afternoon light, and just when he was about to close the journal, he came
upon the following passage:

Today having woken to another dark and foreboding morning. I
found myself in a situation by day’s end that in all my too brief life never
happened upon. We had a visitor. Uninvited, there she lay, fear stricken,
wildly presented and most mysteriously, of a name that alarmed me, by its
reference to darkness. By night’s entrance, I was inclined towards the belief
that the devil himself had orchestrated provocation on a house already
burdened by much dispiritedness.

Well there was the proof! All ambiguity had suddenly dissolved with
this one passage.

Some days later Sammy had made good his word, and arrangements
were made for a fortune teller to come to Alderry Place. The friends,
who naturally, had invited themselves along, were irresistibly compelled
to be audience to this most unprecedented happening. Percy however, felt
no such keenness, due mainly to a delicate mental state which rendered
the poor man hesitant lest any further revelations should arise. To the
collective however, this imminent occasion lent a theatrical flavour to
their reality, the confounding and abstruse nature of Scura’s manifestation
had certainly brought renewed animation to all.

It was on a moonless night when the fortune teller Luna Llena
arrived, bringing with her an air of inscrutability, in the form of a solemn
and shrouded figure clad in dark earthy shades. Of an indeterminable
age, her sombreness was intensified by dark and ancient eyes, and with
a bearing that exemplified the archetypal mystic, there was promise at
the very least, of an eventful soiree.

Sammy had found her practicing her craft on the streets of London, and rapidly made arrangements for her to visit Alderry Place, where now, candles and incense added a mystical tone, while a table dressed in indigo velvet, was primed for the impending spiritual consultation.

Earlier that day, Scura had felt an extreme aversion to the thought
of partaking in this paranormal scrutiny. In fact, it anguished her such
that she remained in her room. Adeline now entered and upon seeing the
downcast girl, sat beside her and said in an upbeat tone:

“Darling you are still here. Why don’t you join us? She has arrived.”
She placed her arm around Scura, in the hope of drawing her out from
introspection. Adeline who in contrast, was feeling loquacious declared;
“You won’t believe her name.”
Scura looked up at her mirthful friend and shrugged her shoulders.
“Luna Llena! Can you believe that? It is wonderfully befitting. Full
moon! That’s what her name means.”
“Yes I know it is Spanish.” Scura replied nonchalantly.
“Oh sweetie, do come and join us.” Adeline goaded Scura while she
sat on the bed, continuing to embrace her dispassionate friend.
“Why are you so concerned? I recall you telling me that you did not
believe in spirituality.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that. But then again how can I believe anything
anymore! With all that has happened, it is now highly illogical of me to
hold on to these tenets.” Scura glumly stared at the floor. “I have felt more
tranquil this month than I have for a long while, and I fear that something
outrageous will be disclosed and anxiety will reign once more.”

It is true to say that since that astonishing revelation, Scura had
managed to settle into a residence that was hospitable, beautiful and
populated with affable people. This was especially the case with Adeline,
with whom she had developed a warm and close amity, almost bordering
on sisterhood.

Unfortunately, these amicable feelings were not felt
towards Sammy however, an uncouth and ribald character who repelled
Scura. It seemed incomprehensible that a refined and sophisticated
individual such as Percy should be enamoured with such a coarse and
devious scamp. It was patently obvious that Sammy was taking advantage
of the poor man and was visibly detached from his affections.

Having noticed Sammy’s salacious attentions towards her, prompted
Scura to speak to Adeline about this unwanted attention, only to
be informed that he was here as an expedient only. That he had been
witnessed flirting with wealthy older women, and it was common
knowledge that he desired a more ‘conventional’ arrangement. Disinclined
towards male partnering, Sammy was only planning on being at Alderry
Place until such a time that he might entice a lonely and prosperous
widow.

Not wishing heartbreak upon Percy, Scura felt extremely vexed by
this knowledge.

“Why don’t you tell Percy of this?”
“He knows.” Adeline stated in a matter of fact tone.
“He knows? Then why doesn’t he send him away? It is obvious that
Sammy does not share the same feelings.”
“It is a long story my dear girl, do you really wish to hear it?”
“I suppose I do, then again, perhaps not.”
“All in good time, sweetie, all in good time” She replied, while
stroking Scura’s hair.

The two women had formed an emotional liaison. Adeline, a
committed Sapphic, had by now fallen in love, while Scura, disinclined
towards such an association, was nevertheless still comforted by her
friend’s geniality and fondness.

Purchase at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HZCQLM2 (kindle edition)
https://www.createspace.com/4591207 (soft cover book)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/391707

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