Nicole Canfield is a freaking badass writing machine and all around wonderful person. I’m so very chuffed she agreed to posting a snippet of her book here, because I’m sure you guys will love her too!
If you enjoy gothic fantasies or supernatural thrillers, you will find yourself pleasantly lost in the dark world of the Cotton Family. A world full of witches, restless spirits, folk magic and shapeshifters. Pick up a copy of Familiar Spirits, Book 1 of the Cotton Family Series on Amazon today.
~ Sami x0x
Copyright: Nicole Canfield 2016
“The wrinkles in the corners of her eyes deepened as her thin lips curled into a warm grin. She returned my affection by caressing my stomach in a circular fashion.
“Oh, yes. Darling, once you’ve finished powdering yourself, can you go fetch Zakiah for me? And don’t forget your shoes!”
“Your wish is my command, Grandmother.” I smirked and gathered up my skirts.
I sauntered upstairs to the boudoir at the end of the corridor. No matter how brightly the sun shone outside, the inside was always shadowy. Was it the deep burgundy pine wood the house was made of that kept the interior like the twilight? Or was it the remiss of windows to the outside world?
Entering my room, I noticed a pristine, corseted dress hanging from the armoire. It taunted me with its tight waistline, its form-fitting bustier. If I really was with child, this dress would surely not fit me in two months’ time. What would my father say? Or more terrifyingly, what would he do? Elias Cotton wasn’t known for his mercy or compassion in the Old World. And his temperament hadn’t changed since coming to the New World.
Scrubbing the muck from the bottoms of my feet, I stared at my reflection in the wash basin. How could I have done this to myself? To my family? I’d allowed my desires for Sagani to overcome my better judgement. My father would surely hate the child. He would call it a bastard savage. Unless I married Peter and could convince everyone the child was conceived in wedlock, the baby would be the bane of the Cotton Family name. Maybe Grandmother would help me, if no one else would.
After washing, powdering and dressing myself, I walked outside and called to Zakiah. He slid down off the back of the bull and tugged at his sagging britches. Mumbled something in his native tongue to Shadrach and another nearby servant. One man grunted as he tightened the leather strap against the bull’s haunches. The sun was beginning its descent on the horizon to make way for the moon’s lilting glow.
Knowing my grandmother would have serious words for me if I soiled my dress and boots, I went back inside and curled up in the parlor with a book from my late mother’s library. A collection of poems by Thomas Warton. How my mother loved poetry and would read me a poem or two every night while tucking me into bed. Someday I would do the same for my child.
A shuffling noise emanated from the kitchen. A door slammed. Grandmother’s voice arose from the silence like a phoenix rising from the ashes – with unequivocal power. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear enough for me to hear, so I tiptoed to the closest corner to get a closer listen. I pressed my ear against the wall. The grain of the wood scratched against my cheek lightly. Zakiah’s voice was low, as if he was cowering in my Grandmother’s presence.
“Zakiah! I told you to keep that boy locked in the cellar. Elias will return soon and has an insatiable craving to satisfy.” I’d never heard Grandmother’s voice in such a flustered, angry tone before. It wasn’t the kind voice I was used to hearing. It frightened me. She sounded like another person entirely. Why would Father need someone locked in the cellar? My mind searched the halls of my memories but found no answers.
“I know, ma’am. I am sorry. Truly I am. I don’t know where he got to.” Zakiah pleaded. My heart bled for him. Anyone could hear he was truly regretful for his mistake. “I promise I will find him. Surely I will, Ma’am. He couldn’t have got far.” Before Zakiah could beg any more, a muffled choking noise filtered through the wall. Sputtering and spewing, Zakiah gasped for breath. Was Grandmother strangling the poor man? Shock filled me so completely that I stood there, stiff and confused.
“There. There. You know I do not like punishing you, but sometimes it is necessary.” She spoke in a soothing, motherly manner. I could picture her calloused palms stroking Zakiah’s hair. I was astounded at such a frightening change in her demeanor. Was my father aware of Grandmother’s sadistic side? Did he know of the disgusting way she was treating our workers? I had to tell him. But then, she might alert him of my news. No, I had to forget the whole thing. Put it out of my mind once and for all. Like it never happened. And what was this insatiable craving of my father’s that needed to be satisfied?
She spoke again. “Here. I will remove the rope, if you do as I say. Go ahead, now. Open your mouth, Zakiah. Eat your pie. That’s a good boy.”
Book two will be released September 23rd!