Cover art is proceeding on THE WOLVES OF PORT NOVO, the Novel Formerly Known As Eel’s Reverence. Does it surprise you to know that I’m a super pill when it comes to covers? I always like other people’s covers, but never my own. I’m just a super pill that way. Sure not proud of it, but I have to own it. Kind of like having a poor body image, I guess. Or something.
ANYWAY, the book WILL be reissued in print and for Kindle and Kindle apps, and, as soon as it works its way through the pipeline, in various formats through Untreed Reads.
Meanwhile, here’s a sample, in which the narrative character, an elderly priest of Holy Sweet Micah, “Aunt” Libby, meets violence face-to-face. Hilda and her family are holding Aunt Libby protectively against her will.
No Bloodshed. Maybe.
excerpt from THE WOLVES OF PORT NOVO
by Marian Allen
Hilda brought down a plate of cake and a pot of tea. I sat in the hardest chair I could find and made the hardest face I could make. Hilda put her gifts on the table and went back upstairs.
I noticed a vibration, very faint, but growing quickly once I noticed it.
I heard Hilda scream. “What is it? Oh, Micah! What is it, Isaac?”
I was out of my hole and through the trap door before anyone could stop me.
“Get back down there,” said Isaac. “Please! If you’re found here, we won’t have a chance.”
“I won’t go back down there and let you face whatever this is alone.”
Horses pulled up outside.
“Who is it?” Hilda whispered.
“Churchwardens?” I asked.
Isaac peeked out. What he saw bewildered him. “It’s Fortunatos,” he said. “Why Fortunatos?”
“Open up!” shouted a raucous female voice.
“What do you want?” Isaac shouted back.
“I want you to open up!”
A massive blow cracked and splintered the lower half of the door. A second blow opened a large, jagged hole. The back legs of a shaggy black horse withdrew delicately from the shambles they had made.
Hilda grabbed a full-length cape from the cloak rack, wrapped me in it, and pushed me into a deep chair before the fire. “You’re my mother,” she whispered. She closed the trap door and kicked the rug into place over it.
A woman seemed to pour through the hole in the door. She was on her feet before I realized she was all the way in, a short, thick-bladed dagger in her right hand. She shifted it to her left and, with her right, unbolted the door and swung it open. The woman was almost as small as I, but she was strongly muscled. Her cornflower blue eyes looked vague, but the curl at the corner of her mouth did not. Her wheat-blonde hair was twisted into a knot at the top of her head.
She wore a brown vest and pantaloons, a voluminous brown cape tied back off her shoulders, and brown boots that reached over her knees. A short sword hung at her side. Fortunatos – soldiers of fortune, mercenaries. What had they to do with me? Would Uncle Phineas have sent them, when he had his wolves to watch for me, and his churchwardens to take me?
“We want the priest,” said the woman, in the raucous voice we’d heard from outside.
“What priest? You mean Uncle Phineas? He left.”
“The old Auntie. Where is she?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“You have a true priest here. An old Auntie. We want her.”
“A true priest? I wouldn’t know a true priest if I saw one. What makes you think –”
A tenor voice from outside my vision called, “Forget the priest, then. Bring the child. The urge to nurture is upon me.”
Hilda cried out, clutched Evrard to her, and backed into a corner of the cottage. Evrard woke, squalling in protest. Isaac snatched a cleaver from the wall.
The blonde woman drew her sword.
I struggled out of the overstuffed chair and took off my borrowed cape.
“Stay back,” Isaac ordered.
I went to the cloak rack and hung the cape on its peg. “We won’t have any bloodshed,” I said.
“I don’t mind if we do,” said the Fortunato woman.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about a horse.