Here's Chapter one of the next book. Let me know what you think could happen next!
Sarah stared at the approaching beach, her heart thumping in her chest. She could make out dim figures waiting for them.
She raised a hand to wave then dropped it. She was tired. More tired than she could ever remember being. The adrenaline had got her out of that festering cell and to the beach with Martin, then back again after her second capture. But now all she wanted to do was sleep.
She hoped her mother was on the beach waiting, and not hiding away in the house as she usually did.
She felt her father’s weight shift next to her. He was clutching his wounded shoulder, muttering under his breath. She looked at him and felt ice run down her back.
She looked back at the beach. Mum, have you come out? Did you dare?
The boat was nearing the shore now, its occupants shifting, preparing for landing. Ruth, her face pale as ice and her lips trembling, stood up. She smoothed her hands on her blood-stained trousers and sniffed the air.
Ruth had been in the cell next to her, and Sarah hadn’t even known it. She’d even run off without taking her.
She hoped the village would forgive her.
Ruth turned. “Sarah, can you help me with Roisin?” Roisin had been imprisoned in another cell; she’d lost a lot of blood.
Sarah nodded. She wasn’t used to being asked for help, but her ordeal had made her one of them now.
She leaned over Roisin and, together with Ruth, took her weight. The boat’s keel was scraping on sand, slowing as they crept up the beach. People came forwards, arms outstretched. No one spoke.
She saw a pair of hands reach for Roisin and looked up. The girl’s mother.
“Oh my God, my poor girl. Michael, come here. Help her.”
A tall stocky man pushed his wife out of the way and leaned into the boat.
“Sweetheart. What have they done to you?”
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” said Ruth.
The man looked at Ruth, their ragtag community’s de facto doctor, and nodded. His lips were tight and his face lined with worry.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
Ruth nodded. She helped him manhandle his daughter out of the boat, Sarah flailing to help.
Ruth turned to Sarah. “I need to check you over too. Your face. And your foot.”
Sarah put a hand to the knife wound on her forehead. Her foot throbbed but she’d managed to ignore it for the last few hours.
“My dad first,” she said.
“Of course. Ted, can you stand?”
Ted grunted and pushed himself upright. His dark coat was stained with blood and his face was ashen.
“Will he be alright?” Sarah whispered.
“Shut up, girl. I’ll be fine.”
Ruth threw her a sympathetic smile. “Can’t argue with that. I’ll need to take you up to the pharmacy though, Ted.”
“Can’t be doing with that. Fussing’s for women.”
“It’s also for a man who’s been stabbed in the shoulder. You’ll need antibiotics.”
“Then bring ‘em to the house.” He put a hand on Sarah’s shoulder and stumbled out of the boat, all but falling onto the sand. No one came forward to help him.
“Where’s your mother?” Ted muttered.
Sarah clambered out of the boat, ignoring the aches in her limbs and belly, and went to his side.
“She’ll be at home, Dad. Waiting for us.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
Sarah looked up to see the crowd parting to let them through. A few people threw her awkward smiles but no one spoke. In contrast, behind her Ruth was being thronged by well-wishers wanting to welcome her home.
Sarah shrugged and pushed on. She was used to this.
“Stop.” Ted stopped walking.
“Come on, Dad. Mum will be worried.”
“No. The boat’s going back out. I need to wait.”
She felt her stomach dip. “No, Dad. Let’s get home.”
He glared at her, panting. “I need to talk to that little bugger. Find out what he did to you.”
She looked out to sea. The boat was heading south again, silhouetted by the reflection of the low sun on the waves. It would return soon, with the rest of the villagers who’d been at the farm. Plus one extra passenger.
“Dad, can’t this wait?”
He shrugged off her hand. “Go home. See your mother. Tell her we’re back.”
He turned back to the beach. Harry would be on that second boat, her father’s friend. Would he restrain him? Did she want him to?
Ruth was level with them now. “Sarah. Come to the pharmacy, will you? Bring Ted.”
“I’ve already told you,” said Ted. “I’m fine.”
Ruth put her hands on her hips. “You can intimidate my husband, Ted Evans, but it won’t work on me. Your wound needs cleaning up. You need drugs.”
“Talk to Dawn. Give her the drugs. She can clean me up, too.”
“Very well. Can you ask her to come to the pharmacy, when you get home?”
He grunted and walked past her towards the sea, not making eye contact.
She turned. “Ted, you’re going the wrong way.”
He waved a hand in dismissal. “Stop telling me what to do, woman. I can look after meself.”
Ruth looked at Sarah, her expression one of exasperation. “You’ll come?”
Sarah nodded. “Will it be quick?”
“I have to see to Roisin first.”
“In that case, I’ll wait with my dad. Come on later.”
Ruth shook her head. “You need rest, Sarah. Your forehead could get infected.”
Sarah raised her fingers to the welt on her forehead, remembering. The knife. Ted hurtling through the door, throwing himself on her attacker. Martin coming at him, plunging a knife into the man’s throat. The sucking, gurgling sound of blood leaving his body.
She swallowed a wave of nausea and spread her arms to steady herself. “Alright.”
Ruth picked up pace, catching up with Roisin’s family who were almost at the village square and the pharmacy beyond. Sarah looked back at Ted. He stood at the shoreline, fifty feet from the crowd that had stayed behind to wait for the second group. He stared out to sea.
Don’t hurt him, Dad, she thought. Let me deal with him.