The Other Side of Dusk
The Eilan Water Trilogy Book 1
by Cherime MacFarlane
Genre: Historical Romance
Print Length: 312 pages
Publisher: Paper Gold Publishing; 1 edition Publication Date: May 23, 2017
The Romans are already there in force. The Antonine Wall stretches from the firth of Clyde to the firth of Forth. While the Romans pursue conquest on a grand scale, the Scotti are infiltrating Pictish territory slowly.
Ualan’s people are a mix of Pict and Scott. They face the Romans on one hand and the Picts on the other. Their hold is tenuous. Things take a terrible turn when Ualan’s someone kills his mother and sells him into slavery to a Roman woman.
She needs a stud, a young one who won’t challenge the master. Her life depends on producing an heir. Ualan hates her and all she stands for. Her plot backfires when an old soldier mentors the boy. He helps Ualan escape with their son. At home, his troubles are far from over. War with his Pictish kin looms, and the master seeks the child he declares is his, not Ualan’s.
"A story of kinship, hard men and a constant readiness to face conflict are key ingredients in this superb story. The romantic interludes are painted with a deft hand and given the story, I would credit the sexual scenes as ‘hot’, rather than ‘cozy and heartwarming’.5 stars
McGrath House Indie Book Award Finalist 2017
NOTE: May contain triggers.
In the corrie, Sorcha lay with her head supported on Ualan’s left arm. As he leaned over her, his fingers traced her eyebrows and trailed down to Sorcha’s ear. With her eyes closed, she luxuriated in Ualan’s touch.
A wave of warm breath was the first indication Sorcha had of the kiss which settled on her mouth. Slowly, he withdrew, and when her neck arched upward, Ualan buried his face in the hollow of her throat.
His tongue licked across the tops of her breasts. Sorcha couldn’t contain the sigh. His lips nibbled at the soft skin; it was almost too much. Sorcha found one of his braids and tugged on his head.
When Ualan’s eyes met hers, they held a wicked gleam in the blue depths. He licked his lips. “Yur ah most tasty morsel. Are ye going tae end this torment soon and allow me tae declare ye mine?”
Ualan deliberately threw one leg over her and pressed against her hip. The man wanted her to know how hard he was and what he wished to do next. But there were other things she needed to learn.
“Ye’ve never said aught about tha woman who bore Taog.”
The question had come up before, but Ualan did not want to open the pot. He stiffened and lay his head back down on her chest. “Are ye never going tae let that one lie?”
“I’m nae trying tae open old wounds. Surely ye ken why I need tae hear this.”
Ualan turned away from her. He sat up, pulled his knees to his chest and wrapped both arms around them. After huffing out a breath, the man looked down at her.
The smile vanished, and his eyes were distant. “Aye. But I’ve never...”
Without finishing what he might have said, Ualan turned away and put his chin on his knees. Sorcha wiggled close, put her hand under his leine and stroked his bare skin. “I ken.”
“Nae,” he growled out. “Ye have nae idea what ye ask.”
Sorcha pulled her hand away and sat up. “Then ye must tell me. This thing will be ah wall between us until ‘tis torn down. How can I be yur woman unless I ken all? I’m nae an empty-headed dolt.”
She rose from the grass and dusted off her clothing. “Come now. Walk me back. But ye are tae think on it. Until ye tell me all of it, there’s nae point in going further.”
As he rose from the ground, Ualan took hold of Sorcha’s forearm and pulled her against him. “Ye are far tae hard of head. Give way. I’ll tell ye; it will take time. I’ve said naught to anyone. Afore I do, there will be things I ask of ye.”
His whole body was rigid. “Assurances mayhap?”
“Well, be sure of this, I’ve nae found another lad I wanted. Let’s go back. ‘Tis getting late. Taog needs his supper, as does his da.”
“His da is hungry for something other than food. One hard-head of ah woman is going tae cause my balls tae swell and mayhap burst.”
Ualan was trying to lighten the mood. Sorcha decided to allow it. It seemed he had endured enough this evening. She felt grateful Ualan did not insist and attempt to take what she withheld. “Poor man! Sore put upon are ye? Perhaps we should forgo ah walk tomorrow. Were yur sack tae burst, how might ye walk?”
“Ye are ah mean wench. A bit heartless and somewhat cruel in tha bargain.”
“And Ualan is ah bairn, and ah grasping one at that.” Sorcha pulled away from him and took off at a run down the trail. Ualan stayed right behind her. He could catch her if it pleased him. But didn’t do so until they were almost to the clearing.
Ualan pulled her into his embrace, put both hands on her bottom and held Sorcha tight against him. “Dinnae drive me tae far up ah tree. If I lose my mind, it will be yur fault.”
With a grin, Sorcha ran her finger over his lips. “If ye lose it, then I will help ye find tha thing. Now, let be. Get yur laddie and go along. ‘Tis late.”
A Bard's Desire
The Eilan Water Trilogy Book 2
Print Length: 475 pages
Publisher: Paper Gold Publishing; 1 edition Publication Date: October 16, 2018
A tale of the twilight of the Roman Empire.
Aed’s dreams of Muirne fill his heart with yearning. She is his desire, all he hopes for. Sending the message alerted her father and uncle, but he and Muirne did not part as lovers. He thought to give her hope that he would return. Curse the land. Curse his kin, she is his heart’s wish.
Muirne believes Aed. Come spring, he will come. While she waits, Muirne must thwart her father and uncle’s plans and avoid her cousin. Grainne’s seduction of Aed should have earned her a slit throat. Muirne must wait on Aed. All hinges on his ability to evade his uncle and cousins, snatch Muirne and avoid Grainne.
Ualan agreed to go with the bard on a raid to take the woman from her kin. The two young men set off in a skin boat for Eire. They need a band of warriors and have only themselves and a determined woman who waits in Eire.
The feel of her slick, sweat-soaked thighs on either side of his hips caused Aed’s fingers to dig into her flesh. His body craved the woman like liquor. As she came down, he strove to punch upward until she sucked in all he gave her. Even then, it wasn’t enough. Aed spread her nether lips and rocked into her again.
“Muirne! My heart’s desire.” And he would fill her…
The sudden awakening had him gulping in deep breaths of the cool night air. Alone, nestled in the bed of furs, Aed gripped his cock so hard it throbbed in his hand. The tryst with Muirne but a dream, he still needed the relief. With a weary sigh, he grabbed his dirty tunic and stroked himself until he spilled.
His insides felt as empty as his sac. Aed reached for the other tunic. Another matter to address somehow.
He dare not think about the chest he left behind in Eire. The spare clothing was not the least of it. A small pouch hidden away inside held a bit of gold coin, something he could use.
Did Grainne or her father go through his things or simply toss the lot on the dung heap? Whichever of them found it first would make a difference. Grainne would have destroyed the contents in anger; her father would not have tossed the lot without a glance. He would investigate.
Outside the communal roundhouse, the chilly air filled his lungs. Above him, patchy clouds raced past. Some weather might be on the way, but it appeared the morn would be bright.
The lower floor where the animals gathered at night needed to be mucked. Ualan had advised him to pile it all in a mound outside when cleaning the area and he did as his friend, the chief’s son, suggested. Come spring, it would be spread on the fields and turned under. It fed the earth, according to his friend.
Before the time to plant came, he would go to Ualan. The other man had given his word to accompany him back to Eire. There was one matter left there to attend to—the abduction of Muirne. Aed did not want to live another day without her.
The beautiful body wasn’t all he craved; Aed had to have all of her. But the expression in Muirne’s eyes when Grainne insisted they wed left him in no doubt as to her anger. Mending the rift would take all his charm and wit. Injured and angry, she might extract revenge and the woman wielded a knife well.
To the east, the sky over the mountains surrounding Glenmore Water turned a lighter hue. A broader, more open valley than that of the Eilan, the land did not disappoint. Torcuil’s description had painted a true picture.
In the faint light of a star-filled predawn, Aed followed the watercourse down toward the river. His other soiled tunic in hand, he sought the pool a short distance away. If he left the garment for Cinnie to clean, she would plague him with comments for days. Aed planned to sink the thing with a stone and let the burn scour the dirt from the cloth.
Bedding Grainne had been a foolish move on his part. Aed regretted it as he did nothing else in his life so far. Even ignoring his mother’s warning against his uncle and the subsequent attempt at assassination paled when it came to Grainne.
He found the pool he sought and, after lifting a large rock from the frigid water, sank the tunic. On his haunches beside the fast-flowing burn, he scooped water and drank. His glance took in the grassy bank even as he listened to the sounds of the land waking.
Never again would he be fool enough to ignore his surroundings. That nearly cost him his life. Aed stood and his gaze followed the path of the watercourse as it made its way toward ultimate absorption in the Glenmore.
Every hand’s-breadth of the land had become as familiar to him now as the place he grew to manhood. A place he would likely never see again. All that bothered him about never looking on his birthplace again was his mother, but she knew he lived and that must suffice. "Land lost another’s gain, The old gone for good, The loss a heavy pain. Life’s river will move on. I’ve a fertile new place, A new day dawns. "
Not one of his best verses, he would not count it the worst. Nonetheless, an adequate description of his mood this morning. Or nearly so. Aed dared not try to compose a new ballad for his heart’s desire.
A Wanderer's Dream
The Eilan Water Trilogy Book 3
Publisher: Paper Gold Publishing Publication Date: October 16, 2019
She is a prisoner here, but still in the north, far from the fat trader her father would have bargained her away to. Since she manipulated Aed into bringing her along, she cannot complain. Things are not as bad as they could be for Grainne until Ualan takes steps to keep her from his father. Insisting she become the Roman’s woman, Ualan forces them together against all advice.
Roman by citizenship, Berber by birth, smith by choice, Aghilas has exchanged one master for another. Ualan gave him no choice. Die or submit, he became Ualan’s man. Forced to take Grainne as his woman, Aghilas is angry and frustrated.
The Picts of Corda are an ever-present threat. Torcuil, chief of the mixed band of Scotti and Pict fears all-out war. While he spirits away more settlers from Eire, Ualan is in charge of Eilan Water. The chief of the small band hopes more warriors will equate with victory. Two smiths should help increase the weapons of war for they will need them.
Clang! With a last hammer blow, noise from the smithy stopped and silence reigned. Grainne plucked the small wads of wool from her ears and looked back over her shoulder at the three men. Chests bare, they worked to close the forge for the night. Grimy and wearing black streaks far up his arms, Deorsa grinned at her.
Grainne smiled in response and turned back to the length of cloth growing on her loom. She prepared to lift the heddle for a new shed when a voice hissed in her ear.
“Leave the boy alone.”
Aghilas. She could smell the sweat and tang of metal on him. “Tha lad’s ah free man. I’m free, there’s nae harm in looking.” She bent forward to make the shed to throw the shuttle, and a hand landed on her shoulder. The shuttle wobbled as her fingers trembled. Grainne couldn’t move.
“Free, are you?”
The man’s grasp of their speech grew daily. She still heard the faint accent in his words, but it waned as the days lengthened, but there was still a hint of something beneath the rhythm which marked him as Roman. She would not answer. The shuttle fell into her lap.
“Ualan gave you into my guardianship. As such, I demand you stop this game with Deorsa. It will only cause trouble.”
“This is nae Rome, laddie. Torcuil rules in Eilan Water, ah thing Ualan made plain. Aye?”
She shook free of his hand, lifted the shed and tossed the shuttle through, catching it deftly on the opposite side of the material. The sharp breath drawn behind her gave Grainne a moment’s satisfaction. She had scored a hit on the man. He was no freer to come and go as he pleased than she.
They were both in Eilan under Ualan’s hand. Baltair, the Smith, and Silia, his woman, watched them both. Until they proved themselves, she and Aghilas lived in the smith’s broch on sufferance.
She understood Aghilas to be worth more to the band. Deorsa had not proved the best apprentice and blacksmiths, good ones, were difficult to find. As long as Aghilas continued to please Baltair, he would have a place here without question.
Both his hands, filthy from working in the forge all day, closed around her shoulders. A glance to either side revealed those blunt fingers digging into the cloth of her borrowed leine.
“Have a care. Your wicked tongue could goad the mildest of men to anger. I have never been mild.”
His fingers pressed into her skin and Grainne knew he had bruised her. She felt him turn away, but refused to emit a sigh of relief. Grainne denied him knowledge of her fear. That, she held in. From the corner of her eye, she noticed Silia at the hearth stirring the cooking pot.
This time the sigh refused to be held back. Not of relief, it was born of resignation. Surely, the other woman would have words to say to her. Aghilas irritated her like a thorn in a thumb. Grainne couldn’t hold her tongue, and Silia would take her to task.
The next throw of the shuttle zipped back across the shed and Grainne took up the beater. On either side of the length of fabric, she had set a string. Anchored to a peg driven into the ground, it marked the edge of the cloth. She brought the course to the edge of the twine. When she beat the threads tight against each other, Grainne allowed no variance. Each thread must sit alongside its fellows, touching the strings on the outside edge only.
Baltair’s voice calling Aghilas and Deorsa to pick up the buckets and follow him rang in the courtyard. Feet shuffled to her right. Deorsa’s voice, pitched higher than either Baltair or Aghilas gave his agreement to the smith’s command.
The ring of the stirring stick against the side of the pot sounded twice. Bare feet slapped to her left and Silia stood behind her, off to one side. “’Tis ah rare gift ye have. Ye didnae stretch tha truth of yur talent for weaving.”
“Thank ye, Silia. ‘Tis tha thing I prize doing above all else.”
“I ken, lass.”
“Yur loom is old an slow. I had made changes tae mine. Is there any here who kens tha way of wood?”
The older woman laughed. “I fear tha furniture is much like tha owner, I’m nae ah trotter these days. We have Para. He kens tha woods, tha creatures therein, an tha fashioning of trees intae useful things.”
Grainne turned to her eagerly. “When can we see him? What I need isnae tae difficult.”
“Mayhap on tha morrow. Much depends on where tha lad is. If Torcuil means tae take him tae Eire on his journey tae find settlers, it may be nigh on high summer before they return.”
“There’s none else?”
Silia tapped her on the arm. “Ye could always try it. With ah sharp blade cutting is easy enough. For now, come along. Tha lads will return from tha river an we’ve ah meal tae give them.” With a grin the older woman waved a hand at her. “Dinnae bother with tha speech. Ye can heat oatcakes an stir tha pot while I cut tha cheese.”
Closing her mouth on the refrain she had pleaded too often, Grainne followed Silia without a word. She could manage heating the cakes tolerably. Nor would it do her any good to repeat all the reasons she shouldn’t be allowed near the food. Silia would only smile and tell her to try. Baltair’s woman regarded her somewhat like a backward child. Indulged by her mother and ignored by her father, she might well be.
Meet Cherime MacFarlane, Award Winning, Best-Selling Author. A prolific multi-genre author, she has a broad range of interests that reflect her been there-done-that life. Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Science Fiction Fantasy, Paranormal and Inspirational novels, all sorts of characters and plots evolve from a vivid imagination.
As a reporter for the Copper Valley Views, Cherime MacFarlane received a letter of commendation from the Copper River Native Association for fair and balanced reporting. She was part of the Amazon Best Selling in Anthologies and Holidays, Fantasy Anthologies, Short Stories, and Mystery. The Other Side of Dusk, historical romance, was a finalist in the McGrath house awards of 2017.
Love is a quirky thing. Women in Alaska still have the upper hand with more men here than women. However, as the saying goes, ‘there are lots of goods, but the goods are odd’. When selecting a man in Alaska, approach with caution. Years ago, I decided I’d had enough and told my husband of twenty years we were done. For a couple of years, I’d been watching the mechanic across the road. A good friend, each time I checked none of the local females had the brains to grab the guy.
Six years younger than him, I gave it a lot of consideration before making my move. Logic said he would get some young girl who wouldn’t appreciate him at all if I didn’t step in. I discussed what would happen with my teenagers. They planned to stay with Dad and finish school but assured me they would be okay with my leaving.
My marriage done, I walked across the road and into his shop. I told him I was all his, what was he going to do with me? We didn’t get far from his bed for close to a week. And we had twenty fantastic years together before he died. I should have walked across the road a lot faster than I did. The man was the love of my life.
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