Monday, 23 May 2016

Chapter One

The Dead London Chronicles: Vol I, June 2016 is now available FREE at SmashwordsApple and Kobo!

On with the tale...

The sky had never seemed so blue, so bright, so full of promise, the evening sun a burnished gem high above a city that basked in its balmy glow. If not for imminent partings, long-dreaded goodbyes, it was a summer evening on which anything could happen, when dreams might come true, loves be confessed. 

It was the sort of night when hearts could break.

From where he stood on the edge of Salisbury Crags, Robert Faulkner was able to push away the thought of tomorrow's departure, of the long months until Christmas when he hoped his own summer might return to Edinburgh. Only then, with the coming of winter, would Hampshire let Alice Tyhurst return to him, the girl of sun and snow.

At the thought of her he turned slightly, knitting his hands behind his back as he leaned out into nothing, one foot on the edge of the cliff, the other precarious as it hung in mid-air.  For a long moment he stood silently, his gaze fixed on Alice as she worked at her sketchpad and then he looked to the valley, tottering buildings of the Old Town stretched out dark and forbidding far below, the New Town where he made his own home polished and pale beside its sibling.  

"One foot," he announced mischievously  feeling immortal as only a seventeen year old boy with the world literally at his feet could, "It feels like flying."  

"I wonder," she looked up to meet his gaze, a strand of golden hair blowing in the slight breeze, "What it would be like. To fly I mean." 

"Magical," he said, voice a gentle breath. "Would you like to?"

She considered a moment, before setting down her pad, getting to her feet to cross to just before where he stood. "It would make coming back here each summer easier for a start -- and it wouldn't have to just be summer either, I could fly back here whenever we wanted....."

"Do you think we might see you," he attempted to sound casual and failed, of course, "For Christmas?"

"I could ask Papa," her response was careful, considered, betrayed by a flicker of excitement in her eyes, "He might be swayed by the thought of painting the crags in the snow...."

Faulkner felt his heart jump in a way that it never did when she wasn't here, the thought of Christmas with Alice finer than any other celebration  could be. Without thinking he took her hand, as he must have hundreds of times in the years they had been friends, yet this time it was somehow different, somehow more.  Perhaps it was the sun in her hair, the warm breeze on his skin, the freedom... Perhaps it was just Alice. 

"Will you promise me something?" she asked softly, gazing up at him in that way that made it feel as if the world consisted only of the two of them.

"Anything," he told her without hesitation, knowing he would deny her nothing. 

"Promise me," she leaned closer, "That you won't fall off any cliffs? I would miss you terribly."

Faulkner returned his foot to solid ground, his heart beating wildly when he raised their joined hands to his chest and said, "I swear it on my life, Miss Tyhurst."

"I hope," she told him solemnly, hand warm and safe within his own, "That it never comes to that." 

The thought of not seeing her, those long months without her smile, their wanderings, hit him then and he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it very softly. She might pull away, he knew, but it was a risk that he was willing to take.

She did not, the gaze in those blue eyes softening as she regarded him, the world narrowing to contain nothing but them. "My boy...."

"That girl..." his voice was as soft as her gaze, the sun in her hair somehow enchanting him. Let him be the medical student tomorrow, the sensible lad, this evening he could be anything.

"Your girl...." she corrected, something in her gaze setting his heart pounding.

"Would my girl mind if her boy kissed her?" 

"Not," her voice was a soft whisper, "One bit."

It felt so natural out here on the edge of the world to slip his free arm around Alice's waist and draw her closer, the friendship that had grown and fostered since as long as he could remember now something else entirely. She was part of him, the other half of him, and whether he was seventeen or seventy, she would be the girl in his arms.

"You will always," she told him then, as if reading his mind, breath soft as she leaned up towards him, "Be my boy...."

"I would want no other girl,” was his whispered reply, his lips meeting hers a moment later. This, he told her silently, was the first of many such kisses, of a lifetime of nothing but happiness. Her free hand came up to rest against his shoulder, lips warm and soft beneath his own, held there for a long moment until something cold and fleeting touched against his skin. Even as another snowflake fell and another after that, Faulkner didn't let the kiss end. Snow in summer was nothing compared to this, to knowing that he loved this remarkable girl. 

"I will make sure," her voice was filled with conviction as they finally broke for air, her soft hand brushing a snowflake from his hair, "That I am here for Christmas...."

"For many more kisses..."

"Many, many?" 

"And then," he smiled, committing her face to memory for the months that were about to come, "Many more than even that."

"It's snowing," she observed belatedly, "You and your Scottish weather..."

"And my girl," he supplied the natural full stop to the observation with another kiss, the glittering jewel of her Christmas return already shining on the horizon.

Don't miss Chapter Two on 30th May.


  1. It's a nice, romantic starting to the story. I was just a bit confused at the beginning. I didn't understand the situation very clearly. At the beginning, I don't know why, I thought Robert Faulkner was an older man remmebering younger days.

    I liked the way the scene unfolds. I just found the fractred dialogue a bit confusing. I wouldn't mind this technique to be used sparingly, but used in basically every line of dialogue was a bit distracting. At least for me.

    There is a definite Romantic, Victorian feel to this. Very nice :-)

    1. Chapter two does indeed begin with Robert looking back on his younger days, so you're ahead of the game. :-)

      Thank you for your comments on the style too, as the story develops you'll see much longer chapters with more dialogue and more narrative, so this is almost our "pre-credits" scene in a way.

      We're glad you're enjoying the story, romantic is what we're aiming for!