Sunday, April 15, 2012
A Thousand Word Thursday Excerpt from JL Merrow
JL Merrow says: The picture reminded me instantly of a scene in Wight Mischief – it’s set in a ruined castle, not a house, so the stairs are stone, not wood, which ups the ouch factor nicely!
Researching this scene was kind of fun, in a schadenfreude sort of way. While I’m grateful for the resource, I’m even more thankful I don’t have the kind of friends who think it’s hilarious to set me up to trip downstairs, and then upload the video to YouTube!
Will, our hero, has gone to visit Carisbrooke Castle with his friend-with-benefits Baz, who claims to be looking for ghosts. But that’s not all he’s trying to uncover—and someone is determined to keep things hidden....
“Come on, I’ve seen enough, haven’t you?” Baz muttered and pushed past Will to head out into the sunlight.
Will followed, blinking. “Going up to the keep?” he asked.
Baz glared at the twelfth century stronghold, built on a large mound of earth, as if Will had just suggested he run up Mount Everest. “The temperature’s in the nineties, there’s about a hundred steps up there, and for what? No, don’t tell me—the air’s really fresh up there.”
Will grinned. “The view? The exercise?”
Baz shuddered dramatically. “That’s your department, not mine. I’ll be in the nice, cool well-house, trying to get a glimpse of Moaning Myrtle.”
“Yeah, well, don’t lean in too far or you might end up joining her!” Will called cheerfully, and started to bound up the steps. There were only seventy-one, he found—but it seemed Baz wasn’t the only one put off. Granted, they were pretty steep steps. There was a handrail to help the visitor for the bottom two-thirds, but the rest of the staircase was bounded by a brick wall.
The keep was practically deserted, only a couple of other people milling around. Will leaned on the walls, looking out over the ramparts. You could see a long way in the clear, island air—Will gazed over treetops at the little village of Carisbrooke, and beyond to Parkhurst Forest. Turning back to look across the castle in the other direction, Will realised the other visitors had disappeared, and he wandered over to the far wall of the keep, almost tripping over another well. Unlike the one in the courtyard, which had a whole building over it, this one was just a hole in the ground, fortunately covered with a heavy iron grate. Will had heard that you could see the stars in broad daylight from the bottom of a well, and although he’d never been sure he believed it, he didn’t fancy testing the theory in person.
He rounded the walls, looking out over farmland for as far as the eye could see. You’d be able to spot invading hordes miles off, which he supposed was pretty much the point of building a castle here. Will wondered what it must have been like, to be holed up in here with nowhere to go, just watching an army swarm over the fields toward you. It wasn’t like they could radio for reinforcements in those days, either—in fact, how on earth did they get word out at all, once they were surrounded? Odd to think of people fighting and dying here, while friends who might have helped them stayed in blissful ignorance of anything going on at all. Despite the heat, Will shivered again.
Vaguely aware that he no longer had the place to himself, Will reluctantly decided he probably ought to go in search of Baz. He was probably getting bored by now. Unless, of course, he’d actually found his ghost. Will grinned at the thought of Baz telling her she was just a figment of his imagination. He put a foot on the top step—and suddenly felt a huge thump between his shoulder blades.
Everything lurched, and the steps came toward him in slow motion. Will realised, almost calmly, that he was falling. He hit the steps first with his left shoulder, the force knocking all the breath out of him. Bugger. The world spun. He tumbled down and down, slamming into hard stone again and again. Walls? Stairs? He couldn’t tell. Someone screamed.
It was the handrail that saved him. So close. Will grabbed—and went right over it. He landed on the grassy slope beyond. Nearly tumbled again, but managed to stop himself with a thrown-out arm that made him gasp in pain.
He lay on his back, half-stunned. A face appeared in his field of vision. “Are you all right?” It was a young girl, aged about ten by the look of her. The sun shone through her wavy blonde hair, making it look like a halo. Right now, Will could have done without the angel reference.
“Um,” Will said, not sure he quite knew the answer to her question. He probably ought to try and sit up, reassure her, but right now horizontal seemed…safer.
Her thumb crept to her mouth. Maybe not ten. Maybe younger. “Did you fall down the stairs?”
That was an easier one. “Yeah.” Then Will frowned. Had he fallen? Or did somebody push him? He’d felt… Hadn’t he?
A stranger could light up his world...or drive him deeper into darkness.
Will Golding needs a break from his usual routine, and he’s been looking forward to a holiday helping Baz, his friend-with-benefits, research a book about Isle of Wight ghosts. When an evening beach walk turns into a startling encounter with Marcus Devereux, Will can’t get his mind off the notoriously reclusive writer’s pale, perfect, naked body. And any interest in ghostly legends takes a back seat to the haunting secrets lying in Marcus’s past.
Marcus, painfully aware of his appearance, is accustomed to keeping to himself. But the memory of tall, athletic Will standing on the beach draws him out from behind defenses he’s maintained since age fourteen, when his parents were murdered. While his heart is hungry for human contact, though, his longtime guardian warns him that talking to anyone—particularly a journalist like Baz—is as dangerous as a day in the sun.
As Baz gets closer to the truth, the only thing adding up is the sizzling attraction between Will and Marcus. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that someone wants to let sleeping secrets lie…or Will and Baz could end up added to the island’s ghostly population.
Product Warnings :Contains perilous cliffs, elusive might-be ghosts, a secret tunnel, and skinny-dipping by moonlight.
Find it here.