Under These Restless Skies will be released on February 20, and every day until then, I'll be posting a small excerpt. You can check out the book's blog here, including more excerpts and information on the Tudor historical characters in the story, and the legend of the selkies on which the story is based.
He tried for a soothing tone. “Hal, a healthy child is a blessing. There will be others.”
It was as though he hadn’t spoken. The king put the dented tabernacle back on the altar.
“They will laugh at me, Will. For her, I set aside my wife and risked war in breaking with Rome. To obey God’s will, I defied the crowned princes of Europe, the pope, my own people—and for my pains I get naught but a drasty girl! All of them . . . They will laugh at me.”
Will had no answer for that. He could have only repeated there would be other children, but Henry didn’t seem to want to hear.
“Why, Will? Why are we being punished so?” For a moment, Henry had a horrible, vulnerable look in his eyes, and Will saw an anguished creature, tired and confused. His compassion was automatic, and he laid his arm across the king’s hunched shoulders.
But the moment ended as fast as it had come. “It must be her. Anne must have a secret sin she has not confessed.”
Ice stabbed into Will’s stomach. “I do not think the child is a punishment. She is healthy and a blessing—”
“I must go to Anne,” the king said. His narrowed eyes glittered in the dim light “They will be watching me for signs of disappointment. I must not give them the pleasure.” Without genuflecting, he turned and strode from the room. Will crossed himself and bobbed a quick bow before he followed the king from the chapel.
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