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.
On New Year’s Day, Henry settled into his throne to receive the gifts of the court. Everyone, from the lowliest dustman to the highest-born dukes, presented the king with a gift as fine as their budget would allow. Will and Emma had given Henry a book of Italian music, which Will had managed to buy cheaply from a diplomat who tried to curry favor with him in hopes Will would present his requests to the king.
Anne, who was in her rooms receiving gifts herself, sent the king some fine hunting spears. Jane Parker gave him a shirt with silverwork embroidery on the collar. The king was enjoying this parade of tributes until two servants entered the room, bearing a chest they opened to reveal a bejeweled gold cup, sent by Katharine.
“Take it back to she who sent it,” Henry said, his gray-blue eyes like storm clouds. “And tell her to send no more gifts to me.”
The servants trudged from the room, their feet heavy and slow with disappointment. Will guessed they must have been hoping for a fine vail at the end of their long journey. He took pity on them and quietly gave them some coins when they reached the back of the hall.
Will thought of the lonely Christmas Katharine and her daughter must be having, receiving only the gifts of their few servants, and being forbidden to send gifts to each other. He wished things could be different.