It took me a while to decide what part of the book to use as an excerpt. It had to be interesting, but not a Spoiler. And it couldn’t be too long, either. Just a little taste. A teaser, if you will. So after a week of trying to decide, I came up with this. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the book. I hope you guys like it.
This is the very end of Chapter Eight. Marcus, the Centurion, is in his private apartments mulling over the murders of two of his men. He has ordered the guards at the gate to report any suspicious people coming or going. Unfortunately, this ambiguous description has resulted in numerous reports from the guard sat the various gates. His Second, Gordian, has just informed him of yet another stranger, but this one seems genuinely suspicious (for reasons which are mentioned in the preceeding paragraph, which is not shown here). Ready? OK, here we go:
Marcus leaned back in his chair, digesting the news. Well, now. That is interesting. Several bloody footprints had been found in the street surrounding the bodies that morning, which indicated the killer must have stepped through the gore while it was still wet. Marcus would have cleaned his sandals first thing, but not everyone would think to do so, and it would be easy to overlook a spot or two.
Still, it proved nothing. The man could have been a shepherd after slaughter. Jerusalem was in the middle of Passover, after all, and lambs were being killed by the dozen. Even so, it was the closest he’d gotten all day, and after hours and hours of interrogating his own men with nothing to show for it Marcus wasn’t about to let this lead, small as it might be, slip away. “Who reported this?”
“Where is Lurio now?”
“I sent him back to the Damascus Gate to continue the watch. There are only a handful of men stationed there, and it would not do for—”
“Yes, yes, Gordian. I’m aware of the reasons we need a guard.” Marcus toyed with his Centurion’s Seal while he thought about his next course of action. “Have the man followed. I want to know where he goes tonight. Send Taras, I don’t want this stranger to know he’s being observed.”
“It is already done, Centurion. Taras left the Damascus Gate half an hour ago.”
“You sent Taras after the man without consulting me first?”
“My apologies, sir,” Gordian offered. “Time was of the essence, I knew you would want the stranger followed, and who better to do so than Taras?”
Marcus mulled it over. Gordian was right. He did want the stranger followed, and they would have lost too much time if Gordian had come to the barracks to get orders from Marcus. One of the reasons he’d chosen Gordian for his Second was the man’s ability to think on his feet and act accordingly. Once again he’d proven Marcus had made a good choice. “Good. Very good. Thank you, Gordian. You may go.”
Gordian stood and walked to the door, he was just about to close it when Marcus thought of one last question. “Wait.”
Gordian poked his head back into the room. “Yes, Centurion?”
“Which direction did the stranger take?”
“West, toward the Mount of Olives.”
“Probably going to the Gardens of Gethsemane,” Marcus mused. “Isn’t that where the rabbi from Galilee is staying? What’s his name?”
“That’s the one. Is he staying at the Gardens?”
“I believe he is staying with some of his followers in Bethany, but he is often found in the Gardens, preaching to any who will listen.”
Marcus rubbed his chin with his fingers. That’s intriguing. Jesus was known for speaking of love and forgiveness; it would be interesting to discover if one of his followers had gotten the message wrong and slaughtered two Roman legionaries. Such a thing would not bode well for the Nazarene.
“Thank you, Gordian. You may go.”
Gordian bowed and left the room, closing the door behind him. When he was alone, Marcus got to his feet and walked over to the fireplace. He leaned an arm into the wall as he stared into the embers. He thought about his brother, and he thought of his brother’s wife and children. They would probably be in a panic right now, wondering when Didius would be home, if they hadn’t heard the rumors on the street already.
That thought brought him upright. Dear gods! I still have to tell Adonia she is a widow! His vision blurred as he imagined the look on her lovely face when he broke the news to the family. Teeth clenched, he gripped the handle of his sword, wanting nothing more than to run someone through with it. At that point, it wouldn’t have mattered who. He just wanted to lash out at someone. Anyone.
With a growl, he swept the bust of Caesar from the mantle, taking a small amount of satisfaction in hearing the clay shatter. He would have to clean that up before anyone saw it, but it could wait. For now he was alone in his chambers, and it felt good to break something. Soon, he promised himself, he would be able to take out his anger on his brother’s killer. He hoped it was the man the guards saw leaving the gate, the stealthy man headed for the Mount of Olives. This train of thought soon turned to the other man currently staying in the Gardens, and the strange things Marcus had heard about him. Ridiculous stories about healing and miracles, tales only a fool would believe.
“Are you involved in this somehow, Nazarene?” Marcus asked the empty room.
He didn’t know, but by the gods, he was going to find out.
OK, that’s it. Hope it tweaked your interest a little bit. You can read the rest on March 29. 😉 Unless you won the contest, of course, in which case you could be reading it now. Speaking of which, I am still two winners short. DAVe and Georgia have yet to claim their prizes. Now, I am not going to say they need to get back to me by midnight, etc. etc. or they lose their prize, but I sure would like to hear from them. Sooner rather than later. 😉
For everyone else, Tyhitia Green is hosting another contest to win a free Advance Copy, so go check it out. Additionally, I will be giving away one more in the coming weeks, as well. So stay tuned, folks!