Jolabokaflod: Historical Writers Forum Christmas Blog Hop.


Below is an excerpt from my new book:

July, 1501

Doña, my dear Latina, We have been at A Coruña for weeks, waiting for weather to favour our departure.


Maria hurried towards the waiting boats, aware of the darkening sky. Moments before, sunlight shimmered on their wind-plucked robes, but in an instant the dazzle was gone, deadened by the dim light. Even the peacock colours of the grandees’ cloaks became peahen. Don Diego de Cordova, Count of Cabra – a loyal servant of Catalina’s parents and a man they had known all their lives –stood close to the Archbishop of Santiago. The two men journeyed with them to England to act in loco parentis for the princess at her wedding. The count was tall, but beginning to lose the litheness and leanness of a lifelong soldier, while the Archbishop was stocky and short, his dark skin made darker by his black robes. Long, mature face and round, aged face, the men wore close to the same serious expression. Sailors helped members of their party into the boats that would take them out to the ships. When they lifted the blackamoor servant into a boat, the girl looked like she was going to her execution.

María scrutinised the sky again. An enormous purple-black cloud scudded across the sun, edged what seemed like a thin ribbon of cloth of gold. Sea birds flew through retreating slants of sunlight escaping from tiny cloud crevices. Moment by moment, the crevices sealed up, decreasing the light. Beating their wings against wind, the land-bound birds became first Midas-touched and then blended with the mounting darkness. They cawed a never-ending warning. The strengthening gale wrapping her gown tight around her body, she paused again, her hand on her anxious stomach, glancing the way they had come. Despite the warmth of her mantle, she trembled, cold of body, cold of spirit, cold of heart. She pushed herself another step towards the boats, and then another step, then another and another – determined not to falter. Again, the wind intensified, her ears buzzing with its aeolian whirr. It pushed her back, blowing the fine gossamer silk veil tight around her neck. Struggling to fix her veil, sea spray stung her eyes. She crinkled her nose at the smell of nearby rotting fish and human refuse, a stench overpowering the fresh tang of the sea. Her veil at last untangled, she took in again the grey, endless ocean. For years, she had anticipated this day. Now she needed to surmount the reality. She heard in her mind the voice of her mother, “Dear one, I am here. I am here. Always,” the words her mother had said on their last day together. The words no longer comforted her, but spoke of everything she sacrificed. An ocean of grief choked her. I do not want to go. I do not want to leave here. How can I leave and know I will never see Mother once more? She looked ahead to Catalina, and her heart ripped apart. I love her. I cannot leave her. I can do this. I can make a life in England as long as I am with my Catalina. I must. I promised.


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