Friday, November 14, 2014

"Descent" Excerpt Number 3 from Part 3: The Oath


Hey all,

Here is another excerpt from the finished version of Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1). The book is pretty much finished, save for double checking historical details and correcting some typos, as I'm finally to a point where I can read the book straight through pretty quickly without having to constantly stop and make changes (YAY!). While formatting the book for release might take a little time, the planned release date is November 30th (at least to Smashwords and Amazon) with Sacred Atonement (The Birthrite Series, #1.5) set for a Christmas Day release.
I had originally wanted to release the two on the same date, but I found myself concentrating so much on perfecting Descent that I did set Sacred Atonement to the side for the time being (which was the better thing to do anyway). I also wanted to have a pre-order set up for the two books, and hopefully I will be able to for the subsequent books in the series. But in writing a story, I am the type who will be making corrections and changes all the way down to the wire in order to make it as perfect as possible, though we shall see in the future installments.

For the time being, I hope you enjoy these excerpts from the (nearly) finished version of Descent. This next one is from Part 3 of the book, which is titled "The Oath." This chapter is the introduction of the incomparable Teresa.

Read after the jump. :)










PART 3:
THE OATH

Spain
1846

CHAPTER 4

Aragon, Spain
May 5, 1846

1

The elusive young man had taken over sixteen-year-old Teresa's every thought after her first encounter with him near the lake. It was on that fifth day in May, when she was there washing blouses and other top garments with her twelve-year-old sister, Alea. After wringing out the soap from the last clothing article, the girls took up their laundry basket and headed toward their Romani village to hang them to dry. That was when Teresa caught site of him. Immediate curiousity filled her as he swiftly moved toward them from the opposite direction on the dirt path.
As Teresa stood fixated on the mysterious stranger, Alea tugged at the sleeve on her sister’s dress.
“Teresa!” the little girl urged, trying to steer the older girl in another direction.
But Teresa ignored her and broke away from the younger one's graps. She hastened her steps as she went to meet the young man with Alea protesting after her. Even if the man meant no harm, the girls could still get into trouble. Both were unmarried, and conversing with any man not approved by their guardian, Gabriella, or the village elders was never permitted. It was also widely known that a suitor was actively being sought out for Teresa. Of course, the older girl’s peers were ecstatic for her. Everyone was...except Teresa.
Teresa did manage to feign a smile whenever the subject was addressed in her presence. In fact, an outsider might observe the girl as being content with her life, and Teresa would likely agree if asked. She did love her village and those she grew up with. She also loved Gabriella, who had taken over as guardian to her and Alea after their parents disappeared eleven years ago. Teresa had also helped raise Alea and seemed to have strong maternal instincts of her own.
To those around her, she seemed beyond ready to take on the expected duties of a wife and mother. But if one were to witness the girl lying in her cot late at night, wide awake and restles, perhaps then he or she might witness the emptiness that churned at her core. Upon the first encounter with the strange young man, a flame from deep within was ignited. She was immediately captivated by the dark eyes and chiseled features that were framed by wavy black hair that touched his broad shoulders. His strong, lean build was evident beneath dark clothing. Thin facial hair covered his jawline and he stood a little over a foot taller than she was. He also appeared a few years older and carried all his worldly possessions in a bag slung over his torso.
As the gap between them closed, Teresa offered him a bright smile and greeting. It took every last ounce of strength she had to keep her face from flushing when he quirked the left side of his mouth up and nodded in response. Engaging him in conversation was not as easy as she hoped it would be, but he did reveal his name, calling himself Luiz. He spoke the Romani language of her people, though it was evident that he was not from anywhere nearby. Although Teresa was hardly learned in dialect and geography, she knew enough to figure him being from somewhere further East. When she questioned him on his origins, he simply stated, “I am not from here.”
He does not seem to trust people, Teresa observed, feeling instant pity for him
Without a thought, she boldly reached out and touched his arm, paying no attention to Alea gaping wide eyed at them.
Teresa’s heart palpitated as her fingers closed on Luiz's developed bicep. She felt him tense, but that hardly fazed her. As far as she was concerned, they were the only two individuals in Aragon. 
He quickly backed out from her touch, and Teresa surprised all three of them by suggesting he stay at her village until he was ready to move on to where he was going.
Luiz hesitated, shifting his gaze between the two girls. “You are certain those in your village will approve?” he asked.
“Teresa!” Alea whispered.
Teresa continued ignoring her sister and gave him a confident nod.
Luiz cast his eyes to the field at the side of the road as he considered the offer. Finally he accepted, still visibly unsure of the situation but muttered a ‘thanks' before offering to carry the girls’ laundry basket for them.
During the walk to the village, the conversation between Luiz and Teresa was rather one-sided as he kept his half brief and clipped. The only information he shared was his intention of reaching a seaport as soon as possible.
“Really?" Teresa pressed. "A seaport? Where are you going?”
“Wherever it will take me,” he answered.
Alea observed the pair while walking along side of them. She could tell her older sister was already fond of this young man despite his obvious lack of interest in her. There was a sudden spark in Teresa that Alea never recalled seeing before.
When the village came into view, dread churned inside the younger one. She braced herself for what would she knew would happen next.

2

As Alea expected, her older sister was harshly scolded. The little girl chopped vegetables for that evening’s supper, hearing Gabriella reprimand Teresa in the sleeping area the sisters shared.
“How do you expect to attract a decent suitor if you are bringing strange men around here?” the older woman yelled. “What do you think this does to your reputation? Or even mine and Alea’s? Your actions are reflect on us all! How could you be so selfish?”
Teresa sat on her cot with her eyes lowered, fighting the urge to question how offering someone hospitality can be considered selfish. She knew a defensive rebuttal would only worsen the situation, for her and Luiz.
Instead, she said, “I’m sorry. I thought since he is a Rom…that it would not be a problem. I never would have brought him back otherwise...” 
Gabriella sighed and rolled her eyes to the heavens. "Oh, foolish girl," she muttered before returning her attention to her adopted daughter. “Alright, only because he is a Rom, he can stay. A day or two. No more than three.”
Teresa brightened and sprung up from her cot. “Yes! Thank you! I shall go tell him right now!”
“You will do no such thing,” Gabriella said, halting Teresa in her steps.
The girl was unable to mask her disappointment when she turned back to face her guardian. “But who will tell him? He already knows me, so I thought—“
Gabriella cut her off. “I will inform Felipe of our discussion and he will relay the message. We will let this incident go but only this one time. I will see him placed on the other side of the village, and I am certain the elders will agree. And if this Luiz has any decency in him, he will as well.”
Teresa's heart sank, though it was to be expected. At least he is staying, though.
She was not content with the notion of having that first interaction with Luiz as her last, regardless of what Gabriella or anyone else said.

3

The young man was provided a tent at the other end of the village. Although he was polite, showed gratitude to the village elders, and seemed very well-mannered, solitude seemed to be his preference. Teresa's intrigue for the brooding stranger was rapidly increasing, and she sought out any possible opportunity at escaping Gabriella's watch in order to pass by the general area he stayed in.
Since birth, Teresa had a natural sense of wonder that had increased after her parents, Ferdinand and Dominique, vanished. At the time, she had five years in age and Alea had one. At first, the women in the village contributed to caring for the two little girls, but then a recently widowed Gabriella was assigned as their primary guardian. Gabriella and her late husband had been unable to have children and she was therefore happy to raise Teresa and Alea.
Teresa’s curiousity often led her to imagining scenarios of what might have happened to her parents, and the lack of answers to her questions always left her discouraged. While this curiousity did prove helpful in some intances, it more often got her into trouble.
There was one night when Teresa was only eleven and her questions lead to a rather heated argument with Gabriella. She was on the verge of tears as she begged of her adopted mother...

“Please! Why won't you tell me anything?"
Gabriella paused, taking in a breath before turning away. “You ask too many questions, Teresa,” she stated. “Sometimes knowing too much is worse than knowing nothing at all.” Her eyes flashed as she faced the girl again.“Some things are better left unsaid. Sometimes it is best to leave well enough alone.”
Teresa could sense the activity churning inside the older woman’s head. “What do you mean?”
Gabriella closed her eyes. “Your mother, Dominique, was a free spirit. Too much of one." She reopened her eyes and regarded the little girl. "I'm afraid I see a lot of her in you.”
Teresa frowned and started to respond, but the woman cut her off.
“Our people have been through enough pain and suffering," Gabriella said. “We are just now starting to live peacefully among the outsiders. Please let us keep it that way. Work at learning to leave well enough alone. Trust me on this.”

Over the years, Teresa constantly replayed that conversation in her mind. The memories she had of her parents were scarce, but she was able to recall the carefree personality of her mother and strong, serious nature of her father. She also remembered them seeming rather secretive in the weeks leading up to the morning she awoke to baby Alea crying in her cradle. The morning Ferdinand and Dominiqe were nowhere to be found.
As she grew, also Teresa learned of the rather gruesome history behind the Rom of Spain and France. A horrific history that involved centuries of nomadic lives, persecution, and slavery. The careworn faces of the elderly folk in her village bore the many painful memories and while slavery had been long abolished in Spain and many other parts of Europe, there were countries in which it still thrived.
Teresa wondered if the history of her people had anything to do with what happened to her parents; after all, an abolishment of slavery did not necessarily mean an end to discrimination and persecution.
At times, Teresa wished she could be more like Alea: someone with no recollection of their parents and the type to accept life as it was. While Teresa lay awake at night consumed by scattered, broken memories and a desolate inner void, Alea always slept well. Now, Teresa found herself unable to forget Luiz's intention of heading to a seaport. The more she thought on it, the more the idea appealed to her (especially if it were to mean going away with him).
Romantic images of her and Luiz sailing away together washed away Gabriella’s warning until it was reduced to a mere echo in the furthest back region of her conscious mind.

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