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Friday, July 28, 2023

Books Available on Google Books

I have recently uploaded a few books to Google Books with more to follow. I feel this gives a worldwide sales platform for my books as other online retailers do not cover the same amount of countries as Google.

Here is the link Google Books

Below is an excerpt from Blue and Silver: Caishel - the first of the Cloud Kingdoms series.

The pile of glossy fruge tempted Caishel. A quick movement of her hand and the red fruit lay safely tucked between her fingers.
“Stop thief!”
Experience had taught Caishel to run first at any shout and only stop and plead innocence if nothing else worked. She flew through the market, and a quick glance over her shoulder revealed the stallholder chasing her, his chubby face glowing as he tried to match her speed.
Anybody would think I’d taken his life’s savings instead of one fruge. The old potbelly’s got no chance of catching me.
Laughter bubbled up inside her, but an immovable object in the form of a body stopped flight and mirth. A tall aristocrat blocked her way, his feet planted wide to take the impact. The air whooshed from the man’s lungs as her head collided with his chest. Caishel attempted to get free, but strong hands grabbed her skinny arms then held on tight. Her desperate struggles only resulted in the loss of the fruge.
“Let I go!”
Ominous ripping noises came from her shirt and Caishel kicked frantically at the boot clad shins, but her bare feet had no effect. Unable to escape, her next stop would be Duke Robard’s law courts.
First I got caught, now I’m going to be arrested. Great!
“Hold him, Ailan.” The Duke’s voice rose above the marketplace noise.
An eager crowd gathered in anticipation of a free show as the Duke stepped up beside the noble he’d called Ailan. “Now then my good people, who calls this boy a thief?”
“It’s me, your lordship.” The stallholder whined as he nervously approached the Duke.
Caishel carefully watched the face of the noble holding her, hoping for a chance to escape. On his cloak, above the house emblem of a silver dragon, were the rank marks of a Sire. A look of disgust crossed the man’s face. His nose lifted haughtily and he took shallow breaths as the stallholder came closer.
Arrogant man. Who does he think he is? We have no choice but to live like this. Downside only the strongest survive. Let the lofty Sire try living in the filthy streets of Ardville and see if he can keep himself clean.
“It’s not exactly a major crime, is it?” Duke Robard said dismissively and Caishel silently chuckled with glee. The Duke had lost interest. “Ailan, attend to this, would you?”
With a negligent wave of his hand, Robard gathered his entourage around him and left the market, heading for the sky port.
“How much?” Sire Ailan asked the stallholder.
“Three d’jars, your lordship.”
“For one fruge?” Caishel saw the greed in the stallholder’s eyes. Apparently so had the Sire. “I’ll give you half a d’jar. It’s not worth any more.”
Sire Ailan tossed the stallholder a coin with his free hand and the man snatched it out of the air, checked its authenticity with his teeth, and hurried back to his stall. Now that the show had finished, the crowd lost interest and wandered off.
Caishel tried to free herself while Sire Ailan negotiated with the stallholder, but the noble had kept a tight grip on her arm the whole time.
“Going so soon, boy?” Ailan asked.
Caishel saw his lips twitch with humor and anger boiled up inside her, followed quickly by relief. At least he hadn’t discovered her true identity.
“Let I go.” Thankfully, her voice sounded young, not frightened. The Sire frowned and took a closer look at her. Her body shrank as far away as his hold would allow.
“I’ll release you if you repay me for the fruge.” The laughter in his voice lay below the surface.
“You stupid? Why I steal fruit if I could pay? Where you think I get money for you?”
For a moment, Caishel thought she’d gone too far. He didn’t look like he would release her. What would happen if he discovered her secret?
“I’m going to let you go now. Make sure you don’t get caught thieving again.” Ailan released her arm and Caishel stepped away from him, rubbing the sore spot on her skin.
“I not get caught.” Her voice could barely be heard. “Your fault I got caught this time.”
Caishel quickly disappeared into the crowd before he changed his mind.
Best to take some of the back streets in case he decides to follow. Must stay low for a while. So much trouble for nothing. I didn’t even get the fruge.
Using the back alleys, she headed for the artifact shop selling relics from the ancients. Looking in the shop window reminded Caishel of her father, and thoughts of him always calmed her down. The next corner brought her to her destination, but a muttered oath escaped her lips. Sire Ailan walked down the narrow street ahead of her. Caishel quickly ducked back into the alley. Cautiously peering round the corner, her teeth ground in frustration.
Stupid man. Why did he have to stop outside the artifact shop?
Her head pulled back round the corner, but a flicker of movement overhead caught her attention.
High above the street, a pedestrian bridge spanned the space between the upper stories of the buildings. A misty figure flickered into existence out of nowhere and Caishel’s stomach dropped in horror as it pushed a large urn from its pedestal. Once the urn left the pedestal and tumbled toward the ground, the figure vanished as abruptly as it had appeared.
The urn hurtled toward the unsuspecting Sire and Caishel desperately flung herself from her hiding place. With her head low, her body rammed Ailan’s again, knocking him sideways to the ground where they ended up in a tangle of legs.
“What the…” Ailan struggled to get to his feet, but blinked in shock as the urn smashed noisily in the exact spot where he’d been standing.
“Saw it coming. Didn’t want you to get hurt,” Caishel muttered.
Sire Ailan slowly looked up at the empty bridge then dropped his gaze to her face. Recognition dawned in his deep brown eyes and her heart sank. Her safety depended on her anonymity and keeping a low profile on the streets.
“What are you doing here?” Ailan asked as he brushed down his clothes and straightened his dark brown hair. “Why did you push me out of the way?”
“I owed you one. Don’t owe nothing now.”
“You really thought you owed me?” Ailan raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Now you’ve saved me from disaster, perhaps I should tell you my name. I’m Sire Ailan of Lan, part of Duke Robard’s court. What do they call you, boy?”
“What’s it to you?”
“I’d like to talk to you, and it would be easier if I knew your name.”
Idiot, don’t tell him your real name.
“Name’s Cail. What you want to talk about?” Her voice came out low and gruff.
“Let’s eat while we talk, shall we?” Ailan led the way back to the market and approached a hot food stall where he purchased two babbit pies and mugs of kee.
Caishel picked up her pie and, aware of Ailan’s gaze on her, made a desperate attempt to restrain her hunger. Soon, only an empty cup remained, and the rich gravy dribbling down her chin.
“I don’t think I’m hungry after all,” Ailan pushed his own food away. “I’ll drink my kee. It seems a shame to waste this. Would you like it?”
The words had barely left his mouth when Caishel seized and devoured the hot pie.
“You said you wanted to speak to me.” Her hands caught the last of the gravy from her chin. Her tongue savored every drop as she licked her fingers clean. To her horror, her street cant had disappeared and the next words came out abruptly. “What you want to talk about?”
“I’m in your debt for saving me from serious injury, maybe even death. I’d like to thank you. How would you feel about being my page? You look about the right age, and a job would be better than stealing.”
“A page! Up there?” Caishel’s finger jabbed skyward at Ardon Castle floating high above the town. The Sire must be joking. Nobles didn’t give scruffy urchins important jobs.
“Yes. Up there.”
“Me. A page! Don’t be daft. I live on the streets. Why you want me for your page?” Despite her astonishment and excitement, Caishel remembered to keep talking like an urchin.
“Do you want the job or not?”
“What do I get out of it?” Suspicion filled her voice. Men in Ardville never did anything without expecting a favor in return.
“Food. A bed. Education. If we suit one another, I’d pay you a small wage.”
“Would I have a room of my own?”
Caishel tried to hide her interest. It wouldn’t be possible for her to share a dormitory with the other pages. In such close proximity, they’d soon discover the truth about her.
“You’d have a small closet off my rooms, and yes, it would be entirely yours.”
Her body relaxed with relief. A room of her own would ensure her safety. The job would give her a chance to get away from the dirt and grime of the streets.
“Okay.” Caishel tried to stop the happiness showing on her face.
“Do you mean yes?”
“You’ve got deal. I be your page.” Her hand extended to offer the Sire a handshake to seal the deal. Ailan hesitated, but a glare from Caishel dared him to withdraw his offer. He shook her hand.
“Fine. I’ve got a few matters to attend to. Can you be ready in an hour?” Caishel nodded. “Meet me at the sky port and I’ll take you up to the castle.”
“See you at the port then.” Caishel turned to leave.
“Cail. You will turn up, won’t you? I don’t think you’d like the consequences if I had to come looking for you.”
Caishel turned, glancing warily at him. Sire Ailan stared piercingly at her without speaking then he turned and hurried away, disappearing quickly into the crowd.

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