Historical romance author, Laurie Alice Eakes shares a romantic excerpt from her novella, Over a Barrel & a chance to win a copy of the collection, Colonial Courtships. Comment on any post dated Oct 1 – 5 to get your name in the drawing. Deadline: Oct 13th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Laurie:
Excerpt from Over a Barrel by Laurie Alice Eakes
From: Colonial Courtships (a novella collection)
Glassenbury, Connecticut Colony 1758
The barrel was too light. Under no circumstances could the keg Micajah Ingersoll dragged from its corner of his storage room contain a hundred and ninety-six pounds of flour. Less than half of that at an immediate guess.
Bending his six- foot frame, since stooping had become impossible thanks to a French musket ball wound in his right leg, Micah examined the lid of the barrel. No seal. The wax poured around the edges had been neatly cut.
“Who would sneak in here and take flour?”” He spoke to a room empty of everything save the ingredients for breads and the occasional pie—flour and sugar, the sourness of the yeast starter and sweetness of apples, the tartness of dried fruits and the exotic perfume of spices in their locked chest.
The spice chest was the only lock in the bake house Micah used. He kept itthe shop open so townspeople could use the ovens when they needed them, in the event he was occupied elsewhere and they needed to bake. Glassenbury residents had always provend to be an honest lot, leaving money on the counter for the use consumption of firewood or any other supplies they used, with the exception of the spices too expensive and too difficult to obtain at times to share as he did a pound or so of flour. He had been known to share as much as five pounds in an emergency. Micah had his small inheritance from his uUncle FPhineas. He didn’t care about giving away a few shillings’ worth forof flour.
“But half a barrel and more’s worth?”
With a sigh at the idea that he might have to start locking up the bake house while he slept the few hours of the night his leg and the Glassenbury baking needs allowed him, he tipped the barrel onto its side and started to roll it into the more brightly lit bake house the better to better examine the pilfered barrel.
A squeak emanated from inside the wooden staves.
Micah froze. Surely he was mistaken. Mice could be enterprising when they wanted food. Because of the quantity of flour and grains he kept on hand, he fed a veritable army of cats just enough to keep them near his business, but not enough they wouldn’t hunt the local rodent population away from his supplies. In the past six months, he hadn’t seen so much as one mouse dropping in the storage room or bake house, and in his entire life he hadwas yet to meet the mouse who could apply a knife to a wax seal. Chew through it, most certainly. Slit it with the neatness of a tailor cutting out a shirt pattern, never.
There it was again, a squeak,; a rustle now, too.
And a whimper?
“Egad.” Micah dropped onto the lid of another barrel and plowed his fingers through his cocoa -brown hair. It tumbled loose from itsthe black grosgrain ribbon holding it away from his face, and he lowered his hands to his leg, rubbing the right calf so obviously smaller than the left. Too obviously smaller than the left beneath low his knee breeches. Despite the leg’s shrunken muscles, the pain was absent most of the time now. Surely he had enjoyed enough sleep to not be losing his reason as happened to some other soldiers wounded in the war on the frontier.
No, more likely one of his brothers was playing some sort of trick on him, exchanging a barrel full of flour for a barrel full of rodents. A few dozen mice squeaking at once might come through the wooden sides like a whimper in the stillness of the predawn hours.
Not wanting to release the vermin inside the bake house, Micah struggled to his feet and gave the keg a push toward the outside door. He would roll the thing right down to the Connecticut River and then pretend to his brothers that he had experienced nothing odd during that night’s baking.
A thump and a cry rose from within the barrel.
A thump bang of his heart sinking into his guts, and a groan of dismay rose from within Micah. No mice squirmed and scrabbled inside that barrel. It was something much larger—larger than a mouse anyway. Larger than a mouse and much smaller than his tall, broad form.
Feeling more lightheaded than ever the surgeon’s laudanum had made him, Micah tipped the barrel onto its end again. Another thump and cry slammed against his ears.
“Lord, please do not let me find what I think I am about to find.” He shot up a prayer to God, perhaps the first one in months, and slid tthe edgeblade of his ever-present knife between the edge of the barrel and the lid. The latter popped up on one side. Micah grasped it and tossed it aside. It clattered onto the floorboards with a resounding roll. His heart felt as though it clattered to somewhere near his boot soles, as he saw exactly what he had prayed not to see.
About Laurie: “Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the top,” writes Romantic times of bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes. Since she lay in bed as a child telling herself stories, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author with a dozen books and novellas in print and more on the way. A graduate of Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program, she also teaches writing and gives inspirational talks to women’s groups. She lives in Texas with her husband, dogs, and cats. Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurieAEakes. Read excerpts from her books at: http://www.lauriealiceeakes.com
About the novella – Over a Barrel: After being wounded while fighting on the frontier, Micajah Ingersoll figures his future lies in making the town bakehouse a success. He doesn’t expect to find a woman willing to marry a partially lame man. He especially doesn’t expect to meet her in his storeroom after hiding her daughter in an emptied barrel. Sarah Chapman can’t be up to any good. But being near Sarah may mean losing his heart regardless of her past.
Come back Oct 5th for a slice of romance from my real life, plus another book up for grabs!