Thursday, August 10, 2023
Just a quick snip for distraction while waiting for Ep. 708 of the Outlander TV series…
[Excerpt from Book Ten (Untitled), Copyright © 2023 Diana Gabaldon]
[Not really any spoilers here, but if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about Book Ten, you might want to beware.]
In which William goes to the stable on Fraser’s Ridge to fetch his horse, before leaving with Jamie on their quest to find Lord John, and finds Fanny, who has been readying his horse for the journey.
“Not on the cheek,” she said. She sounded slightly breathless, but determined. “I’m not a little girl.”
He realized, with an odd feeling that ran down his backbone like quicksilver, that she wasn’t. He took her hand, and bowed over it.
“My apologies, Miss Pocock.” Her hand was quite warm in his, and surprisingly larger than he’d expected. Her fingers were long, supple and well-shaped—and they turned, moving between his own and grasping his hand.
“And not that, either.”
He’d straightened up in surprise, but didn’t—not yet—pull his hand away.
“I’ve kissed men before, you know,” she said.
“Who?” he asked, not at all sure he wanted to know, but unable not to ask.
“I’ve been kissing men since I was five years old,” she said boldly, and he realized suddenly that while Jane had saved her sister from violation and defilement, there were other services a very young girl might be required to perform in a brothel.
He concealed his shock, though, asking lightly instead, “Oh? What about the tall Scottish chap that’s been skulking about looking daggers at me? Hasn’t he tried to kiss you?”
“Cyrus can’t skulk,” she said, without offense. “He’s much too tall. He didn’t have to ask. And you should be pleased it’s only looks. He’s a Highlander and a fisherman and he hasn’t punched you yet because I told him not to.”
“I appreciate your forbearance, Frances,” he said gravely. And not so gravely, took his hand from hers, and lifting her chin with a forefinger, bent again and kissed her lightly on the lips.
It lasted no more than a second or two, but long enough to leave a sense of softness and warmth.
“Goodbye, Frances,” he said, meeting her eyes, the soft yellow-brown of half-cured tobacco. “I’ll see you again.” And picking up his saddlebags, took [horse’s] rein and led him toward the daylight.
At the open door, though, he turned for a moment.
“Why did you do that?” he asked.
She was standing quite still in the shadows, the curry-comb hanging from her hand, and her eyes still on him.
“In case you don’t come back,” she said. “Often people don’t.”
Click to visit my Book Ten webpage for information on this book, and to read more excerpts from it.
Tobacco-leaf Image courtesy of University of Kentucky Extension.
This excerpt was also posted on my official Facebook page on Thursday, August 10, 2023.