QSFer Eric Alan Westfall has a new MM historical romance out!
Please join me in welcoming Eric Alan Westfall to my blog. Eric is here today generously sharing an exclusive excerpt with us!
No Way Out by Eric Alan Westfall
Series: Another England (Book #3, Note: It is not necessary to have read the previous books in the series)
Release Date: Monday, September 10 2018
Format/Price: eBook / $2.99
Length: Novel / 150,000 words
Cover Artist: Roberto Quintero
Pairings/Genres/Keywords/Categories: MM Romance, historical, alternate history, humor
It’s April of 1816 in Another England.
And Jeremy—a whore from the Dock—is living in a guest bedroom at the London home of the (in)famous Iron Marquess, with over fifteen days missing from his life.
For someone who remembers everything from his third birthday on, it’s unnerving not to know. Fine, fourteen days for the coma and the infection delirium. But those first thirty-six hours. Do they explain how he got hurt, how he got to Ireton House, and why his lordship’s mountain-sized valet is taking care of him? Or why his ironness looks at him with nothing iron at all in his eyes?
Jeremy and the Iron Marquess both have dark secrets. Forced engagements, an inheritance, a scheme to clap Jeremy in Bedlam, the revelation of the missing hours, a problem with plumage, some numbered accounts, and a long sea voyage, all seem to mean there’s no way out of the snares surrounding them. Or is the old saying true: where there’s a waltz, there’s a way?
6 April 1816
Ireton House, London
no way out
The voice was back.
Inside my head.
Still I swiveled, twisting to look behind, knowing I would see what I always see when the words are said—nothing. The unpainted, scuffed wooden floor was empty. The door to second story elegance had not creaked since we passed through, shutting it behind us, moments ago. The stairs to lesser third-story elegance and fourth story no elegance at all were both bare of bodies who might whisper words only I could hear.
I turned forward again, teetered, and reaching out, slapped my palms flat against the walls of the narrow servants’ stairs. Pressing hard, I tilted back, but my socked foot slipped on the slick wooden edge. When I landed, the floor made known its displeasure with a sharp splinter through the rope-belted loose trousers, ill-fitting smalls, and into my bum. I yelped.
The cold voice of Thomas, the senior footman, rose up the stairwell from the landing below. “His lordship is waiting.”
I shifted my weight to my left hip, and rolled to my knees, giving him a fine view of my bottom if he was watching, which was by now instinctive. I made a point of lifting my left leg with great care, and with equal care placing my foot on the floor, again in case he was watching. A right foot repeat and then some clearly awkward struggling to get myself as upright on the landing as I could—although a boy with a twisted spine and a twisted leg can never be truly upright—followed by a shuffle-step away from the edge. I suppressed the temptation to rub my right arse cheek. Without turning around I called down, “Well, bugger ‘is bleedin’ lordship! Me feet ‘urt ‘n me arse ‘as been ‘urt, too.”
My feet didn’t hurt much any more. Though bandaged still, and covered with the thick wool stockings sagging around my ankles, they had almost healed. But the pretense might keep me here, with a comfortable bed, and good food, for just a while longer. I grinned a small, wicked grin to myself, and wiped it away as I turned to face the stairs. “Right, then. Shall I drop me britches, turn ‘n bend and you can see what’s stickin’ in me bum, ‘n maybe come up ‘n pull it out?”
It was amazing how much disdain could be contained in stare and stance. Thomas even managed to look down his nose while looking upthe stairs.
“Orright, orright. Jus’ wait a bleedin’ minute. ‘n you might want to close yer eyes so’s y’don’t see somethin’ what might ‘orrify you, just in case me grip slips, ‘cause I ain’t goin’ nowhere with somethin’ stickin’ in me arse.”
My hands were on the knot in the rope, and I grinned broadly when the footman closed his eyes, with a stern “Be quick about it then, boy.”
I untied the knot, loosening the waistband since whoever supplied the trousers was much thicker around the middle than me, using my left hand to hold the pants up. I reached behind, and working my right hand into my smalls and found the painful little bugger. With thumb and forefinger I wiggled it free, brought my hand round to the front, and looked at the bloody, bloody thing. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I lifted the three-quarter-inch sliver before my face. “Oi! Is this a dagger wot I see before me?”
Bloody hell. Bloody, bloody, bloodyhell. Maybe Thomas wouldn’t…. Well, bloodyhell all over again, he did. The footman was looking at me now, his eyes wide, his mouth open to say something, and then he slowly shut it.
It would only make it worse if I tried to cobble together an explanation of why, or how a sixteen-year-old street boy (the age I gave) could paraphrase The Scottish Play. I shut my own mouth, dropped the splinter, retied the knot, and began descending the stairs with care, one thumping step at a time. I braced one hand against the wall—his lordship did not believe in hand rails for his servants—in case of another slip. The footman waited until I was almost at the landing before turning away. Watching my downward struggle, he was unconcerned about the possibility of another fall, his expression informing me if I fell I was on my own. I followed in silence as we went through the halls of the first floor to the front of the house.
Ah, his lordship’s library. I stared at the door.
I’d been in there, just the once, when I shouldn’t have been. But then, I shouldn’t have been in the house in the first place, but I was, though I didn’t know why. Or how I came to be here. Both were part of what was missing. I could remember every…bloody…thingin my life up to the night before…whatever…happened. Remember the Dock on the 12th, the clock in my head saying it was ten thirty at night when I finished the last man. I remember the glint of the shilling as it spun through the air, making me get off my knees, bend and stretch to reach it in the muck. The feel of the metal between my fingertips as I picked it up. Then the twist and roll away, my back taking the brunt of the kick meant for my belly. The man was one of those who, once done, and eager to be tucked and buttoned away, feels guilty and lashes out at the one responsible for his sin. I remember his silhouette as I got to my feet, his realizing how much taller I was, and how the silhouette turned and hurried away.
Then nothing more until I woke up too damned many days later in a bloody nobleman’s house, in sobbing agony, weak, my feet, head and thigh throbbing with pain.
☆ Exclusive Excerpt ☆
From Chapter 1: It All Begins
6 April 1816
Ireton House, London
Imagine a hall. Yourself standing in it, facing one wall. Whether there is a wall behind you or not is of no matter, since you never look. Directly in front of you is an oil painting, brilliantly candle-lit. To your left there is another painting, the lighting discernibly less brilliant. If you were to turn your head you would see—as I see, when I choose to look, am forced to look—another painting, then another…and another…and another until there are no more candles, and it is only the accumulated brilliance of the nearer candles creating a dim light for the paintings going on, and on, to the final painting. Or in reality, the first. Your beginning.
My beginning was the day I heard my father say of me, his voice dismissive, “It is doubly unfortunate he is both my heir and looks so much like her. But I needed her dowry.” The “her” to whom he referred was my mother, who had died shortly before my first birthday. I regret having no memories of her.
I was three years old, plus one day, the day I knew the baron did not care about me and never had. Nor ever would.
I was three years old, plus one day, when my mind painted, in excruciatingdetail, the sights and sounds of the baron’s voice speaking to someone whose identity I never learned. I did not move from the shadows outside his library, where I stood behind the round pedestal with the tall Grecian urn on top. I didn’t peek around the partly open door to see who he was talking to. Nor did I peek around the fat, curved wooden column, smelling of beeswax, when I heard the footsteps of the unknown leaving. If I’d done either, they would have been a part of my painting.
Instead, the painting shows me sliding down the wall, knowing I would get dirty, knowing I would be punished for my dirt, dropping my little bum on the carpet, pulling my knees to my face, wrapping my arms around my knees, and then doing my best to cry so I would not be heard.
I became very good at crying so as not to be heard.
Standing there, if you look to your right, the hallway stretches away in utter darkness, though you know very well somewhere farther along it will come to an end. But since you can have no “memory” of what is yet to happen, the absolute darkness only disappears—section by section—when a new painting appears on the wall.
The paintings from those early years are not as well-done as the ones around you now, but then you’ve been painting them for sixteen years and more. Practice begets perfection, it’s said. And every one of the recent ones is of such extraordinary realism it is almost as if you are there. Inside the painting.
As Iam there. I do not look at these paintings as a member of the Ton might raise a quizzing glass to examine a Turner masterpiece on display at the Royal Academy. Instead, I am inside. Experiencing it. All of it. Whether if I choose to revisit a particular painting, or whether my attention is drawn to it by accident. The catalog in my mind of everything which has ever happened to me is far more accurate than the lists at the British Museum telling you where to find the statue of this or the sarcophagus of someone. I refused to look at the day before my fifth birthday, looked instead at a part of the hallway further to my left, the part belonging to 13th March to 27th March—a space empty and unlit, except for two small paintings, lit by a few candles.
I forced myself to move, to walk past the first, stop in front of the second. Forced myself to look at the painting. I remembered.
14th March 1816. It was early in the morning though not yet dawn. The clock in my head accompanying my paintings was muted. Perhaps because of the excruciating pain…the right side of my head, my left thigh, pure agony in the soles of my feet. A voice. Harris’ voice as I later learned, saying, “I’ll send….”
My voice, ragged, raw, shrill, the high voice of the terrified sixteen-year-old I had been when I ran, “Don’t send me back!”
My hand, thin, frail, quivering, flailed about until it was swallowed in the enormous rough palm of the mountain’s hand. The other enormous hand held a cloth, wiping away, with surprising gentleness, some of the sweat pouring off my face, dripping onto bed clothes already soaked. I grabbed his forearm, felt the thick hair, felt how weak my fingers were, tightened them as much as I could, while I begged, as I had so often, with such desperation, begged for other things never granted, but with a faint hope of success this time. “Please, please, don’t send me back!”
His voice was deep and rumbling as he promised me he would not. My right hand, arm, lost all strength, dropped to the bed. He set my left down on the soft, thick counterpane. I started drifting away.
“Where are you from, boy?”
The words caught me before I was gone. Yes, yes, it made sense. He had to know where not to send me. “Enderby,” I said.
All royalties will go to a local LGBT organization!
Meet the Author
Eric is a Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “His first sea voyage was with Noah.” He started reading at five with one of the Andrew Lang books (he thinks it was The Blue Fairy Book) and has been a science fiction/fantasy addict ever since. Most of his writing is in those (MM) genres.
The exceptions are his Another England (alternate history) series: The Rake, The Rogue and the Roué (Regency novel), Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture (Victorian), with no way out (Regency) coming out a month after Of Princes.
Two more fairy tales are in progress: 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar (Eric is sure you can figure this one out), and The Truth About Them Damn Goats (of the gruff variety).
Now all he has to do is find the time to write the incomplete stuff! (The real world can be a real pain!)
Eric is giving away two backlist eBooks (ePub or mobi) to one luck winner!
a Rafflecopter giveaway