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Friday, 20 January 2012

Read My Novel, Free, Here: Chapter 2.


Breaking Faith was published as a paperback 3 years ago and, on 24 October 2010, I published it as an ebook through Smashwords and on Amazon Kindle. I'm now posting individual chapters here on the blog, so that anyone who wishes can read the book in full and free of charge.

The Prologue was posted on 6 January. Here's a link, if you missed it: http://stuartaken.blogspot.com/2012/01/read-free-my-novel-here.html .
Chapter 1 was posted on 13 January and the link can be found in the archive.

Read, enjoy, tell your friends.

Just a word or guidance, since you'll have read the previous chapter a week ago. The book is written from the viewpoints of the two main protagonists and each takes a full chapter, narrating in first person. So, last week was Leigh's point of view, this week Faith tells part of the tale. It continues in this way throughout, but sometimes one of the characters will tell the tale in a couple of chapters in a row.

Chapter 2

I crossed pristine snow on the village green to use the phone box for the first time in my life and trembled with more than just cold. Mrs Greenhough, cosy in her post office stores, might have let me use her phone but Father called her the village gossip and it was not worth the risk.
I followed the scratched and faded instructions and dialled the number, taken from a card in the post office window. The ringing tone stopped and I heard his voice for the first time, and felt an unexpected and disturbing tingle at its deep, musical quality.
A relief map of the local area stood next to the phone box to show tourists the walks. Fortunately, someone had scribbled ‘House of Sin’, in bright red felt tip on the map; otherwise I would not have known how to find Longhouse.
Four miles from the village; it took me less time to cross unknown fields of snow than I planned. Better early than late. Though, with feet and fingers numb from cold, I could have done without the wait. Father’s watch, leant so I would not be late for my job at the Dairy, showed I still had a few minutes before the interview.
Curiosity, and a sense of mission; to save Leighton Longshaw’s wicked soul, took me to Longhouse. The inevitable punishment from Father, if I returned home without a job, after walking out of the Dairy earlier that morning, had only a little to do with it.
I ploughed through deep drifts that lay against blackthorn hedges lining the steep lane. Fresh snow worked its way into worn shoes Father had bought from a jumble sale, joining slush already soaking my socks. Near the white five-bar gate, I considered running back home to face the belt. Better the devil you know….
On the gatepost, a sign warned ‘Beware’ above a blue and white glazed tile of a man chasing a woman. I had never seen a man without his clothes and, although I should have turned away, I was fascinated. Father often saw Hope and me undressed but I had not seen him, of course. A man, being forged in the image of God, must preserve some mystery.
I wondered if they all looked like that; if I got the job, I would soon know.
The long, old house crowned the soft curve of the hill, its three entrance doors facing me. The left one seemed to lead to a workshop or garage with a stone arch over closed double doors beside it. The right, with its deeply carved panels polished by time and use, had to be the main entrance. The plain centre door opened as I looked and a man, aged somewhere between twenty-five and forty, poked his head out and beckoned me in.
I drew breath sharply; this danger might overwhelm me, if I let it, and that was enough to make me enter. I closed the gate, crossed the space rutted only by one set of car tyres, and turned to find his deep-set eyes gazing into mine with a directness I had not met before.
‘Step on it, love. Ma’ll have my balls if I leave this door open much longer.’
Ma? Of course, Mrs. Hodge, his housekeeper; respected by everyone, in spite of all the dreadful things they said about Longhouse. I would be safe with her in the house. Though safe from what, I had no real idea. And I was not at all sure what his balls, whatever they were, had to do with it. He opened the door wider so I could step inside and the bright colours of his patterned shirt assailed my eyes.
‘No further in your shoes, love. Can’t have wet footprints all over Ma’s polished floor.’ He closed the door behind me. The trap snapped shut as I knelt uncertain on coarse cocoanut matting with ‘Welcome’ written on it.
My fingers were numb and the knots in my frozen laces almost defeated me. By the time I had them untied, the heat inside the room was overpowering. I got up too quickly as he offered to help with my coat. His next words made no sense through a loud buzzing in my head. My skin felt wet and cold. The walls swayed in and out of focus, as if they might fall in on me. Abruptly, everything went black.
Brightness, like white unbroken snow, made me squint; a fine black line cracking its surface as my eyes focussed. My face was too warm on one side and the ground hard but smooth beneath me. I heard the murmur of voices at the same time as I realized I was on my back. A second later, I knew where I was and that my feet were in the air, naked as my knees.
‘Steady. Steady, love. You’re safe.’ The voice made me tingle, again.
‘She’s concerned she’s decent.’ Mrs Hodge moved into my field of view. ‘Don’t worry, lass, no-one can see your unmentionables.’
The fold of skirt between my legs reassured me he could see no more than my knees and lower limbs, though that was bad enough. He held my bare feet in his hands, massaging them so that a dull, hot ache flowed through the flesh to offset the surprising pleasure of his skin on mine.
‘Stay there. No one’s going to harm you and you’re safer on your back than standing, for the moment.’
I must do as he said, though Father would punish me for this pleasure I could not help but feel. I turned to face the source of heat and saw flames flickering round thick logs in a large, black grate. His feet were in view, pale skin visible between the dark leather straps of his sandals. Blue, shaped inserts with embroidered flowers of gold, red and violet widened the bottoms of the legs of his pale khaki, denim jeans.
‘Fainted, love.’ Mrs Hodge frowned down at me. ‘Fainted with the heat after the snow.’ She spoke slowly and loudly, as if I might be deaf, or stupid, like so many others did.
‘Thank you, Mrs Hodge, I know. I’m sorry. I don’t usually fall over when I meet people.’
‘Don’t worry on my account, love. Women fall at my feet all the time.’
‘Bighead.’ Mrs Hodge accused him.
Father held women inferior to men but I had seen them behave almost as equals at the Dairy. It was good to know that, in this house of sin, women were able to speak their minds.
Mrs Hodge squinted down at me. ‘You all right, love?’
‘I’ll be fine if you’ll help me to my feet and let me sit for a bit, thank you.’
Her look of confusion deepened.
‘Told you.’ The man smiled back down at me with satisfaction. ‘Sure you’re ready to be upright?’
‘I’d feel happier perpendicular than prone, now my brain’s recovered its circulation, thank you.’
Mrs Hodge looked utterly flummoxed but helped me to my feet and guided me to a wooden chair in front of the desk. ‘It’s no good, love; I’ve got to know. You are Faith Heacham, aren’t you?’
‘Yes. I’m sorry about that. I normally just say hello, you know.’
The man grinned and held out his hand. ‘Leighton Longshaw; pleased to meet you, Miss Heacham, or is it Faith?’
I took his hand. It was warm, dry and firm. At the Dairy, I had started with Father’s formal approach but quickly learned most people preferred first names. ‘Faith.’
He held my hand for what seemed a long time and only let go when a slight frown crossed his brow. ‘Coffee or tea, Faith? Or something stronger?’
‘What are you having, Mr Longshaw?’
‘Call me Leigh, everybody does. “Mister” makes me feel a hundred.’
‘And he’s only ninety-eight, you know.’
I saw a twinkle in Mrs Hodge’s eye and, starting to understand some of the humour I had heard at the Dairy, wondered if I should risk joining in. The way she spoke to the man made me bold. ‘I can’t believe that, Mrs Hodge. I wouldn’t have thought Leigh was that old.’ She looked at me expectantly and I dared the rest. ‘No, not a day over eighty-nine.’
They both laughed and the look that passed between Leigh and his housekeeper showed me I had been right to try.
‘I’ll get the coffee.’ Mrs Hodge left, shaking her head.
‘Ma thought you were…, your reputation, you know?’
‘Reputations, Leigh. I suspect, and hope with all my heart, that you know more than most folk just how false they can be.’


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Of course, whilst I want you to read the book, it would be even better if you bought it. So, if you can't wait until next week's instalment, check the links below, which will take you to a place you can make your purchase, either as paperback or ebook, depending on your preference.

            Sample or buy as any format Ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/stuartaken
            Barnes & Noble - Nook: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Breaking-Faith/Stuart-Aken/e/2940011126079
            Amazon paperback or Kindle To buy from USA Amazon
            Amazon paperback or Kindle To buy from UK Amazon
            Apple idevice:



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