Shannon here: Carole Towriss shares her characters’ meeting in her Biblical Historical Fiction title, Prize of War. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated Feb 6 – 9 to enter the drawing for two copies, 1 print and 1 digital for two lucky winners. Deadline: Feb 17th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Carole:
My latest book, Prize of War, is based on the story o Acsah, daughter of Caleb, one of the only two spies to believe God when He said Israel could conquer the giants.
I must admit the idea of a father giving his daughter as a “prize” was difficult to make palatable to today’s audience, but I think I came up with a good reason for him to do this. Caleb is righteous man and loving father, and he wants the best for his only daughter.
In biblical times, women married as soon as they reached puberty, but men waited until they were in their mid-twenties. In my book, Acsah is nearing the ripe old age of sixteen. Othniel and Acsah are cousins, and grew up together on the eastern side of the Jordan River, before Israel crossed into Canaan. I’ve imagined Othniel as seven years older than Acsah, and he’s been in love with her for as long as he can remember.
The following is their first meeting in four years.
Except from Prize of War by Carole Towriss:
“Othniel?” Acsah stomped her way across the roof. When she reached the far edge, she whirled around and slammed her arms across her chest. “Surely you mean a different Othniel and not my cousin.”
“Of course I mean your cousin. I know of no other man named Othniel.” Abba waved his hand in dismissal.
“But Othni? He’s shorter than I am! And skinny.”
Abba laughed. “He was the last time you saw him. That was what, four years ago? After we conquered Jericho? He’s grown, just like you.”
She scrunched up her mouth, trying to imagine him as anything but the scrawny little boy she remembered. “Still …”
When she’d agreed to meet him, she didn’t mean right now. Perhaps later. But there was no time for later.
A deep, easy laughter caught her attention. A tall, broad-shouldered man stood in the courtyard with Abba, his back to her. Abba said something, and the man chuckled once more. The sound was … almost musical. Bubbly, but deep, like the springs outside Hebron’s walls.
Abba left the courtyard, and the man turned and moved toward her, his easy stride belying his bulk. His light brown hair was unruly, reaching the neck of his tunic. A shiver raced down her back at the sight of sandals laced up to his knees—soldiers’ footwear.
“Acsah.” The man smiled, and her heart fluttered. This could not be Othni. This was a man, not a boy. His bronzed skin boasted of hours in the sun. A strong jaw showed off a gentle smile.
Shallow breaths denied her a chest full of air. Her heart pounded in her ears. Why should she fear him? He had done nothing to threaten her, but he was a stranger to her. She walked past him into the shade of pomegranate trees, her mind racing. She wanted—needed—proof he was Othni. What piece of information, what object could Othniel possess no one else could?
It hit her, and she whirled to face him. “Show me your knee.”
“Excuse me?” He raised a dark brow. “Why should I do that?”
“Show me your right knee!”
He lifted his foot.
She bent to examine it. “Ha! There is no scar there! You are not Othni!” She backed away and folded her arms over her chest. This man was an impostor. She would never marry him—he was a liar.
“Scar?” His brows furrowed, then his face relaxed, one corner of his mouth tipping up. “Oh … from the race, our last race. When I fell.” He bent to bring his face nearer to hers. “When you tripped me, which was the only way you could win.”
The blood drained from her face. How could he know that?
He lifted his leg again and pointed to a spot below his knee. “It moved when I grew taller.”
She stared at the white, raised mark. She winced as visions of Othni on the ground, blood running down his leg, flashed through her mind. Her stomach soured. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t know there was a rock there.”
He laughed. “I know. You told me. Repeatedly.”
Her face heated, and she became once again the young girl kneeling before her best friend, blood on her hands, her tunic, the grass.
Othni touched her shoulder.
She raised her face to his, sure to find him laughing at her. Instead, his graceful smile greeted her.
When had she seen him last? In camp at Gilgal the summer after Israel had conquered Jericho. They’d been about the same height then. Now, her head came to his shoulders. Muscles bulged under the short sleeves of his tunic. A beard covered his jaw.
Perhaps he had finally grown into his name—lion of God.
About Carole: An unapologetic Californian, Carole Towriss now lives just north of Washington, DC. She loves her husband, her four children, the beach, and tacos, though not always in that order. In addition to writing, she binge-watches British crime dramas and does the dishes for the fourth time in one day. Learn more and connect:
About the book – Prize of War: Acsah is the only daughter of the mighty Caleb, Israel’s most famous spy. When Acsah can’t seem to choose a husband, Caleb feels he must step in, and she soon finds herself betrothed to a warrior. That’s the last thing she wants, however. Soldiers are never home….
Othniel has loved Acsah for as long as he can remember. When Caleb makes his unbelievable promise of picking a trusted warrior for her husband, he fights not only for Israel but for her hand in marriage.
Once safely settled in Debir, Acsah relaxes, believing Othniel can stay home and never fight again … until the giants come back and threaten nearby Anab. Can Acsah deny the people of Anab her husband’s skill and leave them to the giants … or can she trust God if her husband goes to fight once again?
Can’t wait for the drawing? Get your copy now! Prize of War – Amazon
Question for Readers: Acsah and Othni grew up together and were friends long before they were interested in each other romantically. How did you meet your best friend?
Come back Feb 13th for Patricia Lee!