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    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

A Stubborn Mind (Book Nine)

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"But you told Frances—you promised her that no one would take advantage of her. And I could have sworn she believed you!"

"Aye," Jamie said quietly. He picked up the piece of rock maple and his knife, and began mechanically cutting slivers. "Aye, I thought so, too—hoped so, at least."

I sat still, watching him.

"I suppose it was foolish," I said at last. "To think that reassurances and promises would be enough. I imagine we don’t know the half of what she saw, being raised in a brothel like a—a prize calf."

"And one knowing it was bound for slaughter?" he put in quietly. "Aye."

We lapsed into a strained silence, both thinking of Fanny. After a few moments, Jamie’s hands resumed their work, slowly, and a few moments later, he glanced at me.

"How many times did ye tell me Jack Randall was dead, Sassenach? How many times did I tell myself that?" The wood shavings fell in small, fragrant curls around his feet. "Some ghosts dinna leave ye easily—and ye ken fine that it’s her sister who’s haunting wee Frances."

"I suppose you’re right," I said unhappily. It wasn’t quite a shiver that I felt at mention of Jane—but a cold sadness that seemed to sink through my skin. "But surely there’s something we can do to help?"

"I expect there is." He set the cleaned stick of wood aside, and bent to sweep the shavings onto a sheet of paper. "Were we in reach of a priest, I should have a Mass said for the repose of her sister’s soul, to start with. If I can find one in Wilmington, we’ll do that. But otherwise… I’ll speak to Roger Mac about it." His mouth twisted wryly.

"I daresay Presbyterians dinna believe in exorcism, or prayers for the dead, either. But he’s a canny man, and he kens the heart; he may call it something else, but he’ll know what I mean—and he can speak wi’ Frances, and pray for her, I’m sure."

He shook the wood shavings into the fire, where they caught at once, curling into brightness and sending up a clean, sweet smoke. I came to stand behind him, watching them burn, and put my hands on his shoulders, warm and solid under my fingers. He leaned his head back against me and sighed, closing his eyes as he relaxed in the warmth. I bent my head and kissed the whorl of the cowlick on his crown.

"Mmphm," he said, and reached up a hand to take mine. "Ken, it works the other way, too."

"What does?"

"The stubbornness of a mind that willna let go." He squeezed my hand and looked up at me. "While we were parted, how many times did ye tell yourself I was dead, Sassenach?" he asked softly. "How often did ye try to forget me?"

I stood motionless, hand curled round his, until I thought I could speak.

"Every day," I whispered. "And never."

Go to my Book Nine webpage for more excerpts (Daily Lines)!

Originally posted on my Facebook page on February 8, 2016.

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28 Responses »

  1. Do you do book signings? I love love your books!!! You have a amazing talent!!! I was so excited to learn you live is AZ I just assumed you lived in either Scotland or England. I live in Utah so it would be possible to travel. Thanks again for the hours and hours of bliss!
    ~Megan Kleckner

  2. Thank you for these excerpts from Book 9. I am dying for some word of Young Ian. There has been a mention or two of Rachel, but I have loved Young Ian for several books now and have not read one word about him in all of the passages so far for Book 9. I really hope he and Rachel and young Fox, Wolf, Rollo, Oggy have some time to be happy together.

  3. I have completed the 8 book series of Outlander, and am looking forward to the next book. There are so many loose ends to tie-up. I’m just not willing to put down the the people and places you have brought to life. I’m going to read the Lord John series while I wait. Thanks Diana for being…..you!

  4. Hi Diana,

    Do you have resources (I’ve tried Amazon–no luck) where I might find the Outlander series on CD? I’ve gotten the series from the library (a cumbersome process) but out of my grasp to purchase. I’ve read all of the books enough that the descriptions are burned into my psyche, and I’ve memorized a lot of the cogent dialogue and sequences of events. What I want is having the books on CD available to listen to as we go on road trips. The reading by Davina Porter is so soothing! Since we’re so familiar with the books, a set of abridged copies would by fine, I think.
    There is so much intriguing detail in the books on so many varied subjects, that taking “side trips” into investigating these tantalizing subjects is an extra bonus!
    I am also interested in the possibility of finding the Gaelic words and phrases used in all of the books on CD. I am very strongly an aural learner and would like to be able to pronounce these significant additions to the stories

    Thanks for any suggestions. I have both of the Outlandish Companions and have poured of them, but do not hear the words in my head as a fluent speaker would pronounce then. Bobbie


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