Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cold Winter Nights

How many of us are tired of this scene? Cold days, cold nights, what's a girl to do?

These sub zero temperatures are just what I need because when the temperature is above twenty degrees, I have a tendency to feel guilty that I should be doing something other than curling up with my laptop in front of the fire. Yet, I long for the days of walking on the beach with sand between my toes.

This weather is far from desirable, but the cold winter nights are a writer's paradise. Love scenes in front of a raging fire. Being stranded in a deserted cabin to shield your loved one from a storm. A Highlander removing his kilt as a makeshift blanket. Och, aye. What was I saying? Oh, yes. The weather can definitely inspire an author.

But sometimes we're fortunate enough when an idea comes out of nowhere. I love those! In my latest novel, To Wed a Wicked Highlander, this was a scene I created in order to torture Lady Sybella MacKenzie. And yes, I had a strong desire to bathe after this one. I was kind enough to leave out the bug scene in the excerpt below. lol

* * *

In the middle of the night, she walked through the darkened halls in her bare feet dressed in nothing more than a nightrail and a blanket. She shivered, but it wasn’t from the cold. The pit was where her father threw the most unsavory of men…until they died. Their faint screams could sometimes be heard from the kitchens. Perhaps her father only had the men escort her to frighten her. Of course, that was it because her sire would never treat her this way. He couldn’t. She was his daughter. The daughter of the MacKenzie laird. A lady.

Sybella quickly pushed back the thought when they descended the cold, damp stairs. The smell overwhelmed her senses, reeking of bodily excrement and making her gag. The guard reached down and lifted the gate from the floor while the other lowered a ladder. They forced her to climb down.

She took one step and tears welled in her eyes. “Please donna do this. I beg ye.”

“We donna question our laird’s command. Please climb down, m’lady.”

With no choice but to descend into the devil’s dungeon, she reached the bottom and the men lifted the ladder. The gate locked over her head and she was embraced by darkness. Muck of unknown origin squeezed between her toes and when she tried to step, she slid and fell into something thick and wet.

She screamed.

The hole was dark and foreboding, and she felt a wretchedness she’d never known before. A raw and primitive grief overwhelmed her. She pulled herself to her feet, and when she slid again on the slimy floor, she sat down.

Sybella felt something move on her lap. She reached down and grabbed a ball of wiry fur, whipping it away from her body. Dear God, her father left her alone with the rats. She gulped hard, hot tears slipping down her cheeks. Perhaps Mary or Colin would hear her.

“Please help me! Please help me! I’m here! I’m here!” she screamed. “Mary! Colin! Help me! Let me out!” When she heard no response, she bellowed, “Mo mhallachd ort!” My curse on you!

When cursing her father didn’t work, Sybella’s tears choked her. Her throat was raw from her screams of terror, her teeth chattered, and her body trembled. A sensation of intense sickness and desolation swept over her.

She jumped.

“Where is the stone, Sybella?” Her father’s voice echoed from above. “Tell me where ’tis and I’ll lower the ladder.”

“Cha leig thu leas.” Don’t bother.

Temptation in a Kilt  2012 RT Reviewers' Choice nominee

X Marks the Scot     2013 RT Reviewers' Choice nominee

To Wed a Wicked Highlander  RT Book Reviews and Night Owl TOP PICK