Drowning Deceit will be published on 8th July. Here is a sneaky peak at an excerpt from chapter one:
As Falchar neared his family home, he saw a cart driving away and a small hunched figure making their slow way across the yard in front of the house. Hurrying over, he saw it was an elderly woman, a shawl wrapped around her head.
“Here, grandmother, let me lend you my arm,” he said in Pinnate.
She startled at his voice but wrapped her hand around his arm without looking up and leant a little on him.
“Graci,” she thanked him in a scratchy voice.
“What brings you to the Duoradofalco house?”
“I have a message from your uncle,” she replied in Pinnate with only a hint of a mainland accent.
“Come in, then. Let me fetch you some tea and you can tell me everything.”
He ushered her through the front door and into the sitting room. His housekeeper appeared at the door as he was helping the woman into a chair.
“Tea and refreshments, please, Luci,” Falchar instructed her.
She nodded acknowledgement and disappeared out of the room. Falchar lit the lamps and settled into the chair opposite his guest.
“What’s your name?” he managed to ask before all the air left his lungs and his throat closed.
The woman’s face was shadowed by her shawl and lined with age but he would know those eyes anywhere.
“Hope,” he whispered.
She was stopped from replying by Luci bustling into the room with a tray full of tea, cups, plates, cake and fruit. Falchar could not look away from Hope. Luci closed the door behind her and Hope pushed the shawl away from her face, exposing her glossy black hair. The disguise was a good one and the way she had moved had fooled even him.
His name sounded strange from her lips. No one had called him that in a long time.
“Falchar,” she amended. “Are you well?” She spoke in the common language.
“Yes.” He cleared his throat. “Yes. It’s good to see you. I had hoped-“
She held up a hand to forestall his words.
“I do truly carry a message from your uncle. It’s Ryden. He’s missing. That’s why I’m here.”
Falchar sat back in his chair. The way she spoke his cousin’s name, the pinched look of worry around her eyes, her reason for visiting, all combined to cause an icy wash of dread.
“Please, Harrison, I need your help.”