I am very excited to be revisiting my first novel, My Brother’s Keeper, to prepare if for re-release with Edin Road Press. I’m also pleased that it is an opportunity for me to ‘reorder’ the books properly. My Brother’s Keeper was the first one that I put out, but it was not the beginning of the story. By Right of Blood (originally published under the title By Right of Will) was actually the last one I wrote, but was the beginning of the story. Thanks to Edin Road for acquiring my contracts, I am now able to have the story told in the proper sequence. At the same time, it gives me an golden opportunity to polish up the original manuscripts.
The best part of re-editing is to go back and reacquaint myself with some of my favorite scenes, and to reread others that I had forgotten about. This may sound a little self serving, but it is also gratifying to be enjoying the story as if it were new to me as well. I hope that once it is out there, the folks who’ve read By Right of Blood and enjoyed it, will also enjoy My Brother’s Keeper when it is re-released at the end of November 2012.
As a tease, I thought I’d share one of my favorite little scenes from early on in the book.
It is William’s wedding day, and he is trying to get dressed. Fortunately, Sean is there, as always, to cover his back — literally.
Excerpt: Chapter 1 – My Brother’s Keeper
William stared in dismay at the array of fine clothing laid out on the bed before him. “All right. Now, honestly, I can do this.” He held up a stiffly embroidered tunic, shaking his head in mock disgust that someone expected him to adorn himself in lilies of the valley. “Flowers. As if the hat isn’t silly enough.”
“Would you prefer ducks?” Sean teased.
With a deep sigh, William prepared to don the elaborate garment. “First things first.” He turned it several times in his hands, trying to decide which side was the front. “Aha! This way.”
“Yes, that’s right, Will. Put it on backwards,” Sean laughed. “You truly are hopeless.” Sean put his drink down on the table and bowed dramatically. “All right, my liege, your humble servant is here to help you dress, like it or not.” He took the tunic from William and put it back on the bed. “You’ll need to put the trews on first,” he said, then handed William the puffy leggings, also embroidered with lilies of the valley.
“I hate these,” William groaned.
Sean pushed William onto the chair and handed him the trews. “You’d look fetching without them, I’m sure, but it may be drafty.”
William pulled them on properly, then rebelliously flattened out the puffs. He stood in front of the mirror shaking his head. “Do the king’s men actually wear these in public?” He reached for the tunic, then stopped and turned to Sean. “Now?”
William examined it again, turned it front to back several times then held it out to Sean. “I give up. Dress me, humble servant.”
“You’re sounding more like a noble by the minute.” Sean took the garment and held it up in front of William. “Now watch, so you don’t have to spend the rest of your life naked.”
Before William’s amazed eyes, Sean pulled the front of the tunic apart. The opening had been concealed behind all the embroidery. William allowed Sean to put it on him and fasten it up.
Sean primped up the sleeves; William flattened them down. Sean scowled and primped them again, slapping William’s hands when he tried to flatten them again.
The belt and scabbard came next. William ran his fingers over the fine leather tooling. “Thank goodness, there are no flowers on this.” He held it up for Sean’s appraisal, before he secured it around his waist and adjusted it to the proper place on his hip. Sean reverently retrieved William’s sword from its old tattered and worn scabbard, draped carelessly over the back of the chair. He presented it to William in a proper knightly fashion: over his left arm, hilt first.
William bowed in mock tribute and ceremoniously slid the sword into the new scabbard. Sean draped the tartan around William’s shoulders with a flourish, bringing the corners together at his left shoulder. “We can’t forget this,” he said, as he picked up a silver badge from the dressing table.
“I should say not.” William grinned and took the badge that was adorned with a silver eagle—the official designation of Edward’s house. “It’ll be official tonight. I’ll be part of the clan.” He pinned the badge to his cape, securing it at his shoulder. It had been given to him as a token of acceptance when Edward had blessed William and Mehlyndia’s betrothal. William had worn it proudly during the tour, but not until tonight, when he was properly wed, would he truly be part of Edward’s clan.
Sean stood back to look at the fully dressed bridegroom.
William struck a lofty pose. “Well? Am I presentable?”
“Be still, my heart,” Sean prattled. “Look at you. You could turn even my head!”
William glanced at him sideways.
“I mean it. You are absolutely stunning.”
William admired his reflection in the looking glass. “For once in your life, you’re right. I am stunning.” He let out a hearty laugh and tossed his dusty tunic at Sean, hitting him squarely in the face. “Or perhaps I’m only just stunned.”
Sean picked up his goblet and handed one to William. The two shared a quick toast.
With one last glance in the mirror, William took a deep breath. “Well, I would say I am as ready as I will ever be.” He extended his hand toward the door. “After you.”
Sean pushed William’s hand down and extended his own. “No. After you.” He shook his head. “Some noble.”
They laughed and started toward the door. They were stopped by a firm knock.
“Are you expecting guests, Will?”
“I never expect anything. Makes everything much more interesting.” He chuckled and opened the door. The smile on his face faded as quickly as it had appeared. “Thomas. What are you doing here?”
“Would you leave your only brother standing in the corridor? Or may I come in?”
“Actually, we were just on our way down. You can walk with me if you choose.”
Thomas ignored the comment, walking straight past William and into the room. He strode to the table and helped himself to some wine, then turned slowly to face William. “I see you have finally learned the proper way to dress yourself,” Thomas said, scrutinizing William as he would a horse he wished to purchase, then gave Sean a dismissive glance. “A pity that you still need lessons on what company to keep, however. William, there is a matter we need to discuss. Could we have a private moment?”
Sean bristled and started toward the door. William held up a hand.
“I don’t think there is time now, Thomas. You really don’t want me to be late for my own wedding, do you?” William turned to leave.
“I wouldn’t be so quick to turn your back on me, brother.”
William stopped, then slowly turned to face his brother. “I beg your pardon?”
“I said, there is a matter we need to discuss . . . privately.”
“Say what you came to say, but Sean will stay here. If you will not speak, then we shall go down to the hall.” William clenched his teeth to keep the confident edge in his voice, but he could feel the redness forming in his face.
Thomas took a step forward, locking his eyes on William’s. “Lord Ogham is not amused at the way you so eloquently convinced some of his earls to shift the trade routes from his tenants. You may have held your own against his dull-minded twits, Drunbalk and Wesley, but are you prepared to take on Ogham face-to-face?” He took another step forward, glowering. “I cannot believe Edward sent you to the negotiations, a beardless boy. Is he trying to condemn the lot of us?”
William scowled at his brother, resisting the urge to reach for his sword. “Edward has no such concern, Thomas. At any rate, I will not speak with you further on this subject tonight.”
“Then allow me a word of brotherly advice. You have angered some considerably dangerous adversaries.” Thomas sauntered toward the door, a wry grin coming to his face. “You would be wise to watch your back, William. It’s obvious you have no one capable of watching it for you.”
Sean crossed the room in less than a heartbeat, his hands clasped tightly around Thomas’s throat. “That’s twice! No further threats will come from you.”
Thomas twisted awkwardly, trying to free Sean’s hands from his throat.
William strolled toward the two. He spoke in a soft and steady voice as Sean and Thomas grappled, “We don’t have time for him, Sean. But feel free to finish this later. Right now, I’d like to go downstairs to get married.” He casually returned to the door. “Now, is anyone going to join me?”
Sean released Thomas with a shove, sending him flailing over the table. The wine bottle and glasses hit the stone floor with an ear-splitting shatter. Thomas rose to his feet quickly. Red-faced and furious, he stormed toward William. “You have set your course, brother. Mark my words; this is not finished!” The echo of the threat hung in the air as Thomas stalked past William and out of the room.
“How pathetic,” William said, more to himself than to Sean. “He still attempts to intimidate me.”
Sean set the table straight, leaving the broken glass where it lay, and returned to William’s side.
The scarlet slowly fading from his cheeks as William brushed the dust off Sean’s shoulder. “Thank you, Sean. You handled that quite nicely. I would have hated to ruin this fine outfit.”
“My pleasure.” Catching his breath, Sean grandly primped up his own less-grand sleeves. “Will,” he began, still struggling with his breathing.
“What is it? We’re late, you know.”
“Don’t worry about your back. I’ve got it covered.”
“I’m counting on that, my friend.”
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