Behold! Another snip from the house party going on at the forum (full story here).

This one features Rose and Lord Rochester (thank you Adderbury!) at dinner time; I post it here because it reveals a lot of the plot for Out of the Water:

Rochester piled a plate high with meats and fruits; anything he could find that he thought Rose might never have tasted, including potatoes and tomatoes. He tossed a couple of oranges into the pocket of his ridiculous apron, for pudding. They perched together on a single wicker chair, and he fed her bits and pieces from the plate, delighting in her rosebud mouth, her dainty manners and the way, when she thought no one was looking, she licked sauce off his fingers. He'd brought a tiny smear of foie gras on some homemade bread, and began explaining it to her, when she interrupted.
"I've eaten that! In France, at the inn..."
She might never stop surprising him, this girl. "When were you ever in France?" He asked. Suddenly she was telling him all about her journeys. Separation from her parents in Spain, the sojourn in the monastery where she'd met Arcturus, her capture by the Inquisitors and how she'd rescued an entire group of her cousins by setting the place on fire...
"You did what?"
"I tricked the guard, and ran away, but I couldn't leave my family! At least, I'd talked to Uncle San already - my father - and I knew they weren't my relatives, really. I guess everyone here knows that much about me. But I couldn't leave my cousins there! So we started a fire, in the woods, Arcturus and I..."
He stared at her, then caught up her hand and kissed her knuckles. "Very noble of you, my dear. A knight couldn't have done better."
She blushed and ducked her head, so he leaned in and kissed her.
"You still haven't told me how you came to be in France," he said, a long while later.
"Arcturus and I led my family across Spain, over the border to France. We separated there -all except my cousin Joseph."
She blushed again, and he wondered if there was more to this Joseph fellow. He wouldn't ask, of course.
"We went on to [Nice], to the port, to find a ship that would take us to Constantinople. I wanted to find my parents - my former parents."
"What happened to your father?"
"Didn't I mention it? He sailed with Senor Colon, to find a new route to the Indies."
Rochester choked on a grape, and pounded himself in the back, coughing. Rose passed him a glass of water and he gulped it down. "And you haven't seen him since?" He asked, finally.
She shook her head, silent.
"How long were you in France?" He asked, drawing the conversation away from maudlin territory.
"Only the weeks it took to travel to the port. We spent one night at the inn there and met Baha the next day. He got us onto his ship. Did Arcturus tell you he was seasick the entire journey?"
Rochester grinned. "I believe that detail escaped him. No wonder he hardly ever mentions the journey itself; only talks about France and Constantinople."
"I was with Baha the entire time we sailed along the Italian coast and -"
"You were in Italy?" Rochester interrupted. She nodded again, her face beaming. Knowing Baha, he'd introduced her to all sorts of friends and shown her all kinds of beautiful places. To think that he might have walked the same roads, the same woods that she had! "So was I," he told her. "Did you see the grotto at Capri?"
"I did! Only, that's where Joseph disappeared and we had to rescue him!" She told him the story.
He gazed at her in wonder. She seemed to have grown a foot taller, at least. It was astounding to think of Rose doing all these things, practically all on her own. He'd been half-teasing that morning when he'd suggested that Charles might be able to doctor the fog, to bring her to his time permanently. If he made the same suggestion now, he was afraid the desire for it might break him. He remembered how she'd looked at Charles' court on her first day, when she'd arrived for the Washing of the Lions, young and nervous, when he'd given her no more than a passing glance and an encouraging smile. If only he had known! He could have had her with him in his very own chambers.
"Why are you staring at me, John?"
He came to himself with a jerk, and told her the truth. "I'm awestruck, my dear. Is there anything you haven't done?" He pulled an orange and a knife from his pocket and began scoring the rind.
"I haven't - I don't think -"
He looked up, to find her eyes had wandered. They seemed to be watching Kasia, standing by a table, laughing, a hand resting on her belly. Ah, now he understood. Jake's faraway expressions, Kasia's closeness to Sarah, it all meant only one thing. But why should it affect Rose so strangely?
"What is it, my love?" he asked, slipping her an orange slice. She took it, their fingertips grazing, but didn't eat it.
"Oh, John." She sighed. "My father's disappeared, I have no mother, no family, no faith. I'm keeping house for a dying man -" she gulped "- and a monk. Who would ever have me in marriage? And without a husband..."
He smiled inwardly, but kept his face serious for her sake. So it wasn't marriage she longed for, it was children. He might tell her of his own, but that wouldn't be much of a gift. He'd tell her of Columbus instead.
"Eat your orange, my love," he prodded. "And I'll tell you about your father's journeys."


Piedmont Writer said…
This is fantastic, like the one yesterday that for some reason stupid blogger wouldn't let me comment on.

I love the descriptions, it's so lyrical. I love the food, I'm so hungry now.

And that hook at the end was superb. I'd love to know what the look on his face REALLY meant.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thank you!!
As for the look on his face... it was probably a mixture of stuff. He'd like to have had her in his chambers but - in his own time, he's a bit of a player. So the two can only have this kind of faithful love outside their own lives and eras. Shucks, that's just the sort of strange mayhem that goes on at these houseparties, when you get characters from so many other writers!

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