Apologies Yankee in Yorkshire readers but I am taking a hiatus from the blog to meet a deadline for my first novel, which hopefully will find a publishing home courtesy of my new agent. I may find time for odd updates but obviously the book is my priority until Christmas. Meanwhile, here is the prologue to Circle of Lost Sisters.
Waxing Shepherd Moons
I have waited so long
to forget me
He was not impressed by their plan for catching a sheep.
The boy slapped a dog lead nervously against his leg. The sound of it cracked through the constant rhythm of rain on the moor—the third day in a row of ceaseless rainfall. The girl’s eyes clung to a wavering torch beam; the only source of light. The moon hid beneath a black cloud-padded sky, unlikely to find its way out tonight. No matter. He knew it was there. He didn’t need to see it.
The girl lost her footing and stumbled hard into the sodden ground. She rubbed at her knee then frowned as blood stained her soaked jeans and glove. He shivered. The boy urged her on toward a pale shape in the distance.
The targeted sheep did not react when the girl shone her torch on its flank. The boy gripped it by the scruff of its neck, digging frozen dripping fingers into its heavy coat. The sheep lurched awkwardly dragging the boy several feet through the mud before he pinned the beast. The girl scoffed. The boy struggled to stretch the dog’s lead about the sheep’s thick neck. He twitched.
‘Told you it wouldn’t fit,’ she mocked through chattering teeth.
The boy wrapped the lead around the beast looping the collar through the handle. The sheep felt warm, and the boy buried naked hands in its greasy, sodden fleece before half dragging the sheep along the path indicated by the torch beam bouncing across the turf.
The stones were difficult to make out, even by torchlight. Boy and girl snuggled against the biggest stone, which offered some protection from the fell wind. They wedged the sheep between them, and waited.
‘He’ll be here soon,’ the boy insisted with stubborn confidence.
The man entered the stone circle. Boy and girl leapt to their feet pulling the reluctant sheep with them. The man was naked to the waist, tall and lean muscled with a heavy crown of grizzled hair which dripped around his face like melting wax.
Don’t hesitate. One thrust and it’s done.
‘Don’t hesitate,’ she repeated. The girl looked down at the sheep struggling under the boy’s grip. It did not want to be there.
‘I can’t,’ the girl stuttered.
‘We have to,’ the boy hissed.
‘You do it.’
‘He said it had to be you.’
‘Don’t want it to be me.’
‘This was your idea.’ There was silence then she whispered.
‘I changed my mind.’
Isn’t this is what you wanted?
‘Yes, of course.’
Then see it through.
‘See it through,’ she echoed. The man knelt in the mud before her.
I swear to you this won’t hurt a bit.
Rain pelted against his bare, grey chest. The girl lifted a trembling hand and spread her fingers wide over where she knew his heart would be. As easily as digging through thick mud to find a buried stone, she pressed her palm through his flesh. Her searching fingers wrapped around a thumping knot of muscle and tissue. She pulled.
His pulsing heart heated her trembling fingers surrounding her in a veil of steam. Hot blood mingled with the rain staining the dark moorland. The boy straddled the panicking sheep and wrenched open its jaw while the girl stuffed the man’s heart into the mouth of the protesting beast. The boy clamped his hands together over the wet muzzle to keep the sheep from spitting it out. The man caressed the sheep’s throat with forceful stokes.
That wasn’t so bad now was it?