— One —
Talikan, Spring, 1323
A horse’s whinny, imperious and insistent, was heard, and Johanna laughed. “Ihsan! Open the door before North Wind opens it for you!”
The door opened and Johanna shot through the opening as if she had been loosed from a bow. Still, North Wind was there before her.
Ihsan, the stable master, was the only man in Sheik Mohammed’s entire stables who could even marginally handle North Wind without injury. He was certainly the only one courageous enough to saddle and lead the stallion from his stall, and smart enough to flatten himself hastily against the stable wall as the great white stallion moved past him at a gait unsuitable for the relatively cramped quarters of the stable yard. She laughed again, caught a handful of mane and swung herself up on North Wind’s back. He didn’t stop as she settled into place, continuing on toward the double doors of the stable yard, his intent obvious. Either someone would open the doors or North Wind would go right through them.
Johanna was disinclined to slow him down. Indeed, she urged him on. She heard Ihsan shouting and two brave or well-bribed souls ran for the gates and dragged them open just in time for North Wind to thunder through. She caught a confused glimpse of a man or men on horseback outside the gates and flattened herself on North Wind’s neck.
“Run, North Wind, run!” she cried, and felt his stride lengthen. The wind flattened her clothes against her flesh and tore her hair loose from its braid. The looming shadow of the palace walls fell away and they were at last gloriously out on the ribbon of sand groomed soft for the sheik’s racing horses.
The trail ran next to a wide canal shadowed by date palms and almond trees, beyond which a horizon of undulating hills beckoned more alluringly than any line of hills on any horizon she had ever seen. Freedom. The hills seemed to whisper the word in her ears. Freedom.
In the sheer pleasure of the moment the rigid guard she held on herself at all times slipped, just a little. Jaufre. Shasha. How far beyond those hills were they? Had Shasha kept her promise?
Was Jaufre even still alive?
And for those of you who like their books in print…
I’ll be signing the trade paperback edition of By the Shores of the Middle Sea, live! and in person! this Saturday, at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, November 29th, at 2pm. Come on down! or click here to pre-order your copy of the trade paperback. The Pen will have me sign it and they’ll mail it to you.
Everything Under the Heavens is now on sale!
Of course because I love you, but mostly because I’m determined to seduce all of you die-hard “I only read Kate books and when is the next one coming out” fans, upon publication of By the Shores of the Middle Sea the price of the first Silk and Song Book, Everything Under the Heavens, drops to $4.99.
Download and rejoice!