The Firstborn – An Excerpt

Okay, so I promised to blog more. And to fill everyone in on what I’m working on at the moment. Which is about six different projects. But let’s get started with the one that is the most complete (I’m up to Chapter Twenty-Four with maybe a chapter and a half to go).

This one is called The Firstborn. It’s set in 1814, in England, and takes place in several locations, including London (of course), Northumberland, and Derbyshire. One of the main locations is in a little village called Stantreath, which I’ve based – loosely – on the real village of Bamburgh on the coast of Northumberland. Which looks a little bit like this:

Bamburgh Castle, England

Yes, I know. I KNOW.

Also, Stantreath, the name I created, breaks down to Stan=stone, stony and treath=beach. So “Stony Beach”. There you go.

Now, the story in The Firstborn is fairly basic, I think. Our male main character, Finnian Haughton, is the oldest child and son in his family, and has been left with the task of cleaning up all the messes made by his younger brother, David. Our female main character, Sophia Brixton, is the oldest of two daughters, and has been left to manage the messes made by her flighty and immature younger sister, including a child her younger sister bore out of wedlock. To Finnian’s younger brother, David.

*ahem*

Hence the title “The Firstborn”, since our story centers around three characters (Finn, Sophia, and the baby George) who are all the firstborn of their families.

Our two main characters meet when Finnian travels up to Northumberland in order to take care of business, i.e. throw some money at Sophia (who he initially and mistakenly supposes to be George’s mother) so that she’ll never turn up on his doorstep or reveal that his younger brother has been cavorting around town, so to speak, producing illegitimate children all over the place.

Sophia, as you might imagine, does not take kindly to Finnian’s intentions.

So today I bring you an excerpt from the third chapter, which is also when Finn and Sophia first sit down and make one another’s acquaintance. So to speak.

***

“I see you’ve decided to be tenacious,” Sophia said without pausing in her work. She leaned across the table, wiping from corner to corner before returning to the wash basin to wring out her dripping cloth. “All right, then.” She slapped the cloth over the edge of the basin and spun around, her arms crossed over her chest, her mouth set. “What brings you here? And no attempts to baffle me or to evade the truth, if you please. Just tell me… what do you want?”

Haughton felt uneasy. Up to this point, nothing had transpired in the way he’d imagined it would. And as for Sophia, she was too blunt, and too intelligent. And that was what worried him most.

He gestured towards the recently vacated table. “Will you be seated?”

The slightest stiffening of her spine. “I’ll stand, thank you.”

He cleared his throat. She was not going to make this easy for him. A point for her, since he doubted she had any idea what had brought him all this way. “The child—”

“George,” she said, interrupting him. “His name is George, after our father.”

“Of course.”

“No,” she spoke again, while his next words still danced on the tip of his tongue. “Not ‘of course’. Such a phrase denotes your being aware that our father’s name was George, or knowing what type of a man he was and why we would choose to honor him in such a way. But here you are, darkening my doorstep seven months after his birth. A fact which proves to me that either you didn’t know about him before now, or you simply didn’t care.”

He inclined his head, yet dared not take his eyes off of her, not for a second. “My apologies. I assure you it was the former, and as soon as I discovered that my brother had a son—”

“And where is your brother? And why are you here in his stead?”

Haughton could feel his temper beginning to rise. Never before had he ever allowed himself to show anger in front of a woman, and yet she seemed to be the most infuriating creature he’d ever encountered, almost as if she’d been designed to say precisely the right things that would most irritate him. “He is… in London. I assume.”

“You assume?” To his surprise, her mouth broke into a smile and a soft laugh emanated from the back of her throat. “In other words, you have about as much sway over the life of your brother as I have over my sister.”

“I’m not here to discuss my family,” he said, his voice taking on a note of warning he hadn’t even intended to be there.

“Oh, but I’m sure you’re here with the sole purpose of discussing mine. Or am I wrong?” A flash in her eyes countered the steel in his voice. “The mere fact that you’ve arrived today with a prior knowledge of not only both our names, our location, George’s existence, and no doubt a myriad other trivial items concerning our past and present life tells me that you’ve gone to great lengths to find out everything you could before traveling all the way here from…” She waved her right hand in a vague circle. “… wherever you call home. Which means, no doubt, that you wanted the upper hand in this discussion. Which also means that I will most likely not care for whatever it is you’ve come to tell me.”

Haughton fumed in silence. If the baby’s mother was even half as maddening as the woman standing before him, he wondered how David had survived with his manhood and his sanity intact. “I had come here with the intention of speaking to the mother of my brother’s child,” he ground out between clenched teeth.

“But she is not here,” she said, delivering the confession as if it were a weapon. “And she is not like to be anytime soon. And since your appearance here is most likely connected with George, then you will have to make do with speaking to me.”

“Very well,” he sighed. But he felt as if all of his confidence had been drained away from him, and the surety he’d felt upon arriving here that the matter of the child’s welfare would be swiftly dealt with—and in his favor—had been skillfully chipped away by every word to come out of Sophia’s mouth. “Shall we?” He inclined his head towards the chairs that flanked the table.

“Of course,” she said, and slipped gracefully into the seat that he pulled out for her.

***

 

 

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