Today I welcome authors - Alison Morton, Amy Maroney, Anna Belfrage, Annie Whitehead, Charlene Newcomb, Cryssa Bazos, Derek Birks, Elizabeth St John, Helen Hollick, Judith Arnop, Mercedes Rochelle and Tony Riches and their collection of stories - Betrayal - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde).
I'm delighted to be able to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.
A promise broken
A mission betrayed
A lover’s desertion
A parent’s deception
An unwitting act of treason
Betrayal by comrades
Betrayal by friends
Could you resist the forces of misplaced loyalty, power hunger, emotional blackmail, or plain greed? Is there ever redemption, or will the destruction visit future generations and even alter history? These questions are still with us today.
Read twelve tales by twelve accomplished writers who explore these historical yet timeless challenges from post Roman Britain to the present day.
Publication Date: November 17, 2020
Publisher: Historical Fictioneers
Page Length: 486
Genre: Historical Fiction
You can purchase a copy of Betrayal via -
Now for the excerpt -
By Alison Morton
Imagine a tiny state surviving through sixteen centuries from the dusk of the Roman Empire . . . Roma Nova.
Roma Nova, present day
Back in his office, the care home director remembered to speak the usual words of condolence. Then he coughed and looked at me. Ah, the bills, no doubt.
‘Be assured any outstanding invoices will be settled through the Mitela Foundation,’ I said in a cold voice.
‘I have every confidence they will be. But there is something else.’
‘When Publius Mitelus joined us, we naturally safeguarded his personal effects. The instruction he gave was to hand them over to Countess Aurelia Mitela.’
‘Unfortunately, she has passed into the shades herself, but you may safely give them to me and I will ensure his testament is read.’
‘Is there a problem?’
‘It was marked personally for her.’
‘I’m sure you don’t wish to take Charon’s ferry yourself to give them to her. I am her personal as well as public heir. The Mitela family recorder will send you a formal receipt.’
* * *
I drove away with two archive boxes on the back seat, relieved to be out of the director’s presence. The boxes were still sealed, but I wondered whether he had an idea of what was in them. Back at the house, Conrad helped me unload the boxes which we deposited on my study desk. I called in Dalina from the business office.
‘Okay, take some photographs and record this officially. Just in case.’
I unpacked file after file, Dalina spoke into her phone, interrupting only to photograph each file cover. From what I could see, it seemed to be files of stuff on obscure topics of personal research, some photos of Publius as a younger man with the two female cousins in the forum and at Castra Lucilla, plus some personal papers, his passport, bank card and ID. At the bottom of the second box was a flat, rectangular parcel wrapped in old-fashioned brown paper and tied with string. I lifted it out and pulled the string bow.
Inside was a pale green book with a tooled leather spine and corners. In the middle of the front cover was a faded cream label with the date 1873 in copperplate writing.
‘What’s this, buried treasure?’ Conrad said, half laughing.
I opened it.
Today, I am forty-two years of age, that same age my mother, Statia Mitela, reached when Mercury took her to the edge of the Styx. It is thus fitting that I recount my understanding of those events.
Leonia, Countess Mitela
And there were pages and pages of neat classical Latin, under headings of days and months, written in a careful and dry style. We sat in the atrium and took turns to read it out loud. Allegra came and sat next to me, leaning on my shoulder. In between the stilted words my imagination filled in the rest.
Outskirts of Rome, Italy, 2nd July 1849
‘Mercury be thanked,’ Statia rasped when she saw the ancient milestone ‘Roma VI.’ And these would be six good Roman miles. She swallowed hard which made her dry throat worse. Despite the broad-brimmed riding hats the four of them wore, the brutal heat of the early July sun beat down, exhausting them all. Statia pulled up her mount under the shade of one of the occasional clumps of pines and patted his shoulder almost absent-mindedly. The poor horse, a hired animal, was as weary as she was. And as dusty from the road.
‘Domina?’ Her leading companion drew up beside her.
‘I need a drink, Valerius,’ she said and swivelled round in her saddle. The other two riders were only a few paces behind. ‘And so do the animals.’
‘The Anio below us would be best and we can rest by the bank.’
They picked their way down to the river where Valerius supervised the two servants watering the horses. After a few moments, he left them to it and sat by Statia on the wool rug she had pulled from her saddle pack.
‘Yes,’ she said as he stared at it. ‘I know. Well and good for the mountains we’ve come through from the Adriatic, but inappropriate for Rome in June. But even though we’re incognito, I don’t want to enter Rome with grass stains or mud on my breeches’ arse.’
Valerius laughed. The first time, Statia noted, since they’d left Roma Nova eleven days ago under the cover of darkness. She hadn’t known what a terrible sailor he was until they’d slipped out of Pula in Istria on the merchant ship. He’d kept a pale, grim, nearly green face until they’d landed safely at Aternum, or Pescara as the Italians called it now. A former Praetorian centurion, he was used to travelling fast through mountains on ramshackle cold trails. These days, he guarded her home, the Domus Mitelarum, but more than that, he gave her, informally, wise counsel almost as a father would. He’d tried to stop her mission, calling it demented, but had given in with a grunt when she said she would go with or without him. Now they were near Rome, Statia was starting to have her doubts. Perhaps she should have stayed on the farm at Castra Lucilla where she knew what she was doing.
Elizabeth St John
You can learn more about the book and its authors by visiting other blogs on the tour -
I hope you will check out this book.
That's it for now.
Till the next time.
Take care Zoe.