First off, I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who has supported this anthology, and a very loud shout of gratitude to everyone participating in the blog tour! Find some links below to take you to everyone who’s posted so far.
If you missed participating in the tour, but have questions about the stories or contributors ( Devin O’Branagan, Keri Lake, K. L. Schwengel, Suzanne Hayes Campbell, or myself), you can Chat with the Authors on Devin’s writing forum!
My story “Circle Unbroken” focuses on Bridget Hawthorne, the daughter Margaret & William Hawthorne who lost their lives during the Salem trials in the original Witch Hunt. Bridget is now 21 years old, dealing with deep-running guilt and a determination to stay true to her faith.
They sat in companionable silence for a while. A blanket of cloud covered the stars and the large waxing moon, leaving everything in darkness. It would snow tonight, but for now the weather had paused, as if taking a breath.
“If Father keeps making these evenings so lavish, I may need to consider becoming conveniently ill before each of them,” Peter said, breaking the quiet. He gave her a nudge with his shoulder. “You could help me with that, couldn’t you?”
Bridget giggled. “I could, but I wouldn’t. It would be far too suspicious if we both fell ill with the same malady, and I’d rather keep the escape for myself.”
“It’s unfair for one so beautiful to be so cruel and ungenerous,” Peter replied. “But gentleman that I am, I will sacrifice my own happiness for yours.”
“Then you’ve successfully failed. You know I could never be happy knowing you were not.” She said the words with a smile, but they still held truth.
“Then make me happy, Bridget Hawthorne,” Peter said. He stretched his hand closer to hers, but did not take it as she knew he wished to. They never knew who might be watching. “You know one simple word would make me the happiest man in the world.”
“And you know I can’t give it.”
Peter shifted uncomfortably with his hands gripping the edge of the seat, and then he was on his feet, pacing in front of her. Bridget watched his sudden change in demeanor with alarm.
He dropped to his knees and took her hands – apparently no longer caring if they had an audience or not – stealing her gaze.
“Please see reason, Bridget. You must know things can’t stay the way they are forever. The world will tear us apart unless we stand strong together.”
“Peter, what is it? What’s happened?”
He dropped his eyes to their entwined fingers, and then let go and was on his feet again. “Is your blood really so important to you? So important that it surpasses even your love for me?”
Bridget blinked, unsure how to respond. “I made a promise. You know what that means to me, Peter. It’s all I have left.”
“Then teach me!”
This new idea caught Bridget off guard and her mouth fell open.
Peter sat again, possessed of some great energy that Bridget neither understood nor liked. The fever in his eyes was a drive she had never seen in him. A desperation that suggested he would drown if she didn’t save him.
“We can leave together tonight and I can learn, Bridget. What you know – what you need. I can take it all in and be like you. You know I have no commitment to my mother’s faith. It’s you I choose.”
“It—” Bridget collected her thoughts. “It doesn’t work that way, Peter. It wouldn’t be enough.” That wasn’t what she meant to say, the words falling confused between them.
“You mean I wouldn’t be enough.” His shoulders slumped as he stared at the ground.
“No!” Bridget reached out and rested her hand on his cheek. “Peter, you know that’s not it. You know you mean everything to me. The one thing in my life that’s been good and pure. How could I do anything to hurt you, knowing that? And if I can’t be with you, I’m determined to remain unmarried.”
Peter’s mouth twisted with disappointment. He couldn’t be surprised by her answer; they’d been through it too many times with the same results, yet some of the life left him and he leaned his face into her hand. His eyes were full of deep sadness, but still he didn’t tell her what was wrong, and she was too afraid to ask. “Then I’ll have to settle with being content, knowing you love me.”
With a deep concentration, Bridget gathered all of her emotion into a glowing ball of light inside of her. It began at her heart and travelled down her arm and from her hand to his. She held the image of that light clearly until she saw the emotion register in Peter’s eyes and she knew he had received it.
“Even if all I have to offer is my love, it’s yours,” she said. “No one can change that.” Peter held her gaze, neither of them willing or ready to end the moment.
A particularly raucous laugh came through the window and forced the two back to the reality of the snow-covered garden. Peter smiled sadly and stood, taking Bridget’s hand. He placed a gentle kiss on the back of it, then lingered longer than necessary before he disappeared back inside.
Bridget was in no such rush to return and she stayed on her bench, much colder than she’d been a moment ago.
Blog Tour – first week!
A nice mention on Llewellyn’s Publishing website
A fantastic review by Sean Hayden that’s as entertaining to read as the story itself
J. A. Campbell’s interview with the authors
Anne Michaud and I chat on Musings & Little Obsessions
A fantastically fun Q&A with Jen Wylie