Bella Books has authorized me to do a few e-book give-aways to celebrate the release of Mother of Souls--and entice, new readers, of course! I'll be spreading them out around various online venues, so keep your eyes peeled for chances. In fact, let's do a giveaway right here and now! Comment on this post (must be on the alpennia.com website, not any place this is reposted or RSS-fed) and I'll select a random winner on Saturday. (Note: winner must set up a Bella Books account to redeem, but this only involves giving them an e-mail address, no financial information.) And if you already have a copy, you can transfer your win to someone else as a gift! (As long as they're willing to follow the redemption requirement.)
Comments are still going through manual moderation, so don't worry if it doesn't appear immediately. Check back on Saturday for the winner!
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Margerit Sovitre knew that setting up a women's college would be a complex, intense, and difficult project. But she didn't expect the opening of the first term to be accompanied by an avalanche of other disasters.
Chapter Twenty-One: Margerit
On returning home to Tiporsel House, there was barely a moment for Margerit to sense something was amiss. It was in the way the footman at the door glanced sideways with an ostentatious air of not telling her something important. But there, just beyond him, was Barbara, pacing the floor with a scowl and clearly waiting for her arrival.
Barbara jerked her head in the direction of the corridor to the back of the house and led the way, saying, “I’ve already sent a messenger to your aunt and uncle.”
Margerit’s stomach clenched. “To Aunt Bertrut?”
“To Chalanz, to the Fulpis. Best to reassure them with no delay. I took the liberty of suggesting that if the matter hasn’t gone beyond all hope of repair, it might make sense to put it about that the visit was planned.” Barbara paused at the closed door to the office. “I’ve left the scolding for you.”
The confusion resolved itself. Margerit slipped through the door and shut it behind her.
The figure that stood nervously before the small hearth might have been taken for a boy except that the cap that had hidden her tumbling riot of chestnut curls was now clutched and twisted in her hands. Margerit could guess the rest of the story from the ill-fitting brown wool coat and trousers—respectable enough not to provoke questions about a young man traveling alone on a public coach—and the small valise at her feet, barely large enough for the most basic necessities. Knowing her cousin, the first of those necessities were her journals. The stricken look on the girl’s face suggested either that Barbara had not been honest about the scolding or that her cousin had grown mindful of the enormity of her situation.
“Iulien Fulpi, what are you doing here?” Margerit demanded, seizing her cousin by the shoulders and shaking her violently. She wanted desperately to embrace her instead, relieved at safe passage through hazards only imagined now that they were past. “You’re too old to be running wild! What were you thinking?”
Iuli’s mouth quivered. “You promised.”