Wednesday, March 5, 2014

GATEHAVEN: Part 3 of 10 Parts

Set in a scary mansion in the north of England, Gatehaven by Molly Noble Bull is a Gothic Historical Novel with a strong Christian message. Read the first six chapters at no cost to you. Then click below for
A Chance to Win a $100.00 Amazon Gift Certificate 
and books by Molly, Barbara Derkson and Cheryl Colwell. 

Gatehaven was divided into ten parts. Each day for ten days one of the ten parts were to be posted on a different blog. Below is the list of blogs so you will know exactly where to go each day. But if you miss a day, no problem. Molly will post each of the ten parts at her Writers Rest blog on the day after each posted date.

.   Daily Chapter Excerpt Schedule for Gatehaven can be found at:
March 5: #3 Molly Noble Bull  
March 6: #4 Cheryl Colwell
March 11: #7 Emma Right
March 12: #8 Kimberly Payne
March 13: #9 Martin Roth
March 14: #10 Molly Noble Bell   

Now for Part 3 of the Gatehaven series. 

Part Three of Ten

Shannon had only planned to go as far as the road that lined the farm where they lived. When she reached the gate that fronted the property, she stood there a moment.
Apparently, her parents thought her brother was perfect; therefore, Peter never had problems like this. He was three years older than Shannon, but if Peter had wanted to go to England when he was nineteen, he would have been given permission as soon as he asked.
“Peter is the sort of boy a man can be proud of,” her father once said.
Then her mother had added, “And he takes his responsibilities seriously.”
Her mother didn’t actually say that Shannon never took her responsibilities seriously or that she acted like a child, but she might as well have. In Shannon’s mind, her parents’ true feelings were clear enough.
Peter wanted to immigrate to the colonies where Uncle Henri and his new wife lived, and he’d convinced Grandma and their parents to travel with him. Mama and Papa would insist that Shannon immigrate too. But how could she? If only she could convince them that her future was with the earl.
The early autumn air felt cool on her face. The bushes and grass that edged the road clung to the thin, rocky soil like a lifeline, and though there weren’t many trees, the few she saw pointed upward to a clear and windless sky.
In the distance, heather bloomed sweetly, coloring the hillsides in shades of pale purple and gray. She took in a deep breath and released it slowly. Despite everything, she savored the moment.
The farm didn’t front the loch like Ian’s farm did. But sometimes when the wind was right, she smelled the faint odor of the sea.
Today, a mist slowly draped the landscape like it often did over the Loch.
Shannon shivered. There was something haunting about a mist—especially when it hung over the smooth yet deep waters of the loch like old lace. When they were children, Ian had often taken Shannon and her brother out on his small boat on sunny afternoons in summer when the sky was clear.
They picnicked on a nearby shore, and sometimes on their way home, she would lean over the side of the boat, dip her fingertips in the cold water, and gaze at the rocky shore. She never tired of studying her surroundings—green hills and a lake as big as the sky.
“Do not do that, lass,” Ian would say. “Sit right in the boat. If ya lean over like that, you could upset the balance. We could go tumbling into the loch.”
Ian was the tallest and handsomest young man in Luss. Everybody thought so. He watched after her like an older brother might, but Shannon already had a brother. She would love Ian forever, but he didn’t make her heart beat faster. Just looking at the earl did.
The Earl, Edward.
Thoughts of her recent conversation with her parents blocked out everything else. She longed to see the earl—needed to see him—at once.
He was staying at his hunting lodge, but sometimes he came to church in town.
“To see you,” he had said.
The village of Luss beckoned. She never went to the village unless Mama or her brother went with her. Today, she would. She would stroll down the country road until she reached the village and pay a visit to her grandmother. Grandma Aimee might be the very one to convince Papa to change his mind and let her go to England with the earl.
The earl had men working for him. Shannon called them his spies because whenever she entered the village, she found them watching her. Sometimes the earl would appear a few minutes later whether at church or at the shop where she and her mother bought bread. Maybe she would see him again today.
Her heart beat faster with the hope.
She was about to cross the bridge over a small stream when she noticed Ian strolling briskly at the water’s edge. Ian’s father was the second son of the Laird of the village, and though his family lived as modestly as hers, Ian’s last name had always given him a certain prestige among the villagers that newcomers, like the Aimee family, had never known.
Ian didn’t appear to have seen her yet.
The soles of her shoes tapped the wooden bridge. He probably couldn’t have heard, but he looked up.
If only he’d smiled. His smile always warmed her—even on the coldest day in winter. Merely looking at him made her almost forget her troubles at home, and she’d always counted on Ian in her time of need. Maybe he would be willing to talk to her father about the earl on Shannon’s behalf.
“Good morning, Ian.”
“Morning, lass. I am surprised to see you walking out here alone.”
Normally, dimples dotted both his cheeks, and his wide smile lifted her spirits. Today, the sun hid behind the clouds, and she saw no smile at all. Today his hair looked as thick and dark brown as her father’s. Yet on other mornings, the sun turned it almost as red as her own.
“Where is your brother?” Ian asked.
“You would have to ask Peter where he went this morning.”
“What brings you to the village so early in the day?”
“I thought I would visit my grandmother. She has been feeling poorly of late. It was time I paid her a visit.”
“Mind if I walk along?”
She turned. “Please do. I would appreciate the company.”
“Maybe we should take the road nearest the Loch. We are less likely to be seen there this time of day, and we would not want to damage your good name.”
Shannon looked up at him and smiled. Despite the tender sound of his words, the flesh around his lips tightened, and he didn’t smile back.
Her head barely reached his shoulders, and he’d always walked with a long stride. Yet when they walked together, he often set his pace to fit hers. Today she had to practically run to keep up.
Obviously, his normal good humor had faded. She would need to find a way to revive it.
“Ian, I’ve known for a long time that you hope to go into the ministry. Have you found a mentor yet—now that our pastor will retire to his sister’s home in the country soon?”
“Not yet, I am afraid.”
“My father would be willing to teach you about the Bible. But that would never make you a man of the cloth. However, I know someone who might.”
“And who would that be?”
“I am sure you know that the Earl of Northon has a hunting lodge near here. But you might not have heard that I agreed to marry him.”
“Aye.” He glanced away. “I saw you dancing with him at my uncle’s ball.”
Then he looked down at his feet like he always did when he didn’t want to say more.
Shannon scolded herself internally for feeling obligated to rush into a long explanation. She had the right to marry whomever she pleased. At the same time, Ian was her oldest and dearest friend.
“I know it seems unlikely that a man of the quality would choose me—a young woman with no money or high station in life. But as amazing as it might sound, he loves me, Ian, and I love him. It would so please me if you told Papa you agree with the match.”
“Apparently, congratulations are in order,” Ian said, ignoring her request. “But what does any of that have to do with me?”
“I am getting to that.” She was talking much too fast and probably telling more than he needed to know. “You see, the earl employs a vicar to tend to the spiritual needs of his family and those who live in the village nearby, and every few years they select a young man to come and live at the vicarage and learn from the vicar. They are looking for such a young man right now. All I would need to do is say the word, and I am sure the earl would choose you.”
Shannon had tried to fill her voice with the promise of great things to come. However, Ian’s cold glance indicated that he hadn’t received her suggestion with interest and excitement as she’d hoped.
 “Like your parents, I am a member of the reformed church,” he replied. “What benefit would learning the ways of the Church of England be to me?”
She tried not to roll her eyes. “Is it not true that just last Sunday our pastor said that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever? So the earl’s church must be more or less the same as ours.”
He shook his head. “I disagree about all the churches being the same.”
“Still, how could serving under an English vicar not help in your quest to become a pastor?” Shannon’s lips turned up at the edges. “Besides, I would miss you terribly if you did not go to England with us.”
“Would you now?”
“Most certainly. You are my oldest and dearest friend. Please say you will go.”
“I cannot promise. But I will agree to think about it.”
If Shannon were Ian’s judge, she would say that he wasn’t as happy about her good fortune as she had hoped. In fact, she didn’t think Ian wanted her to go to England at all.
He gazed at her like a provoked parent might do. “To be completely honest, lass, I do not trust the earl. I feel it my duty to warn you. Continued association with this man could put you and perhaps your entire family in danger.”
Shannon bit her lower lip to keep from saying something she might regret later. As much as she loved and trusted Ian, she was in love with the earl. Why didn’t Ian understand?
Her grandmother wasn’t home, and Shannon didn’t see the earl or any of his servants, so they headed back to the farm. Ian bid her farewell at the gate of the family farm and went his own way.
“I must finish my chores,” he said.
Before Shannon had reached the front stoop, her father rushed out the door to meet her. “Shannon.” He seemed relieved to see her. “I thank the Lord that you are home.”
Shannon halted. Tears moistened the edges of her father’s dark eyes. He’d never looked so grave. Something was terribly wrong.
“Your mother was so worried about you, Rachel Shannon, after you ran away like you did. Now, she—she—”
“What is wrong, Papa? What happened?”
“The baby is coming. Hurry, she is in the bedroom. She will need you now.”
Shannon raced into the house. Her mother groaned as Shannon hurried into her parents’ bedroom.


Caroline said...

Good job, Molly. Looking forward to reading your book!

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks, Caroline. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book as well, but be prepared. It's kind of scary.