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.
Twelfth Night was the official end of the festivities. It was another grand feast, and Will wondered if the court ever tired of them. From along the walls, the poor watched with hungry eyes, waiting for the scraps they’d be given by the kitchen door when it was over. Peeking from beneath the wooden dividers, Will could see bare feet on the parquet wood
They all had a slice of the massive Twelfth Cake, in which a golden bean had been baked. Emma let out a faint cry of surprise when she bit into it, and Anne’s napkin bearer hurried over to hold a cloth in front of her while she extracted what she had bit down upon.
Henry laughed at the bewilderment on her face. “ ’Tis a sign of great fortune, Lady Fool,” he said, raising his voice so all could hear. A hush fell over the room. “Emma has found the bean!”
The other diners smiled and clapped, though each struggled to hide disappointment they had not. The consumption of the cake was less enthusiastic afterward, though they did not have to be careful as they chewed.
“You are now the queen,” the king said to her.
“The queen?” Emma repeated. She looked over at Will for an explanation, and Henry laughed again.
“Aye, queen for the day! What is your royal command, Your Grace?” Henry bowed to her from his chair, his eyes twinkling with merriment.
“I can give a command, and you all have to do it?” Emma surveyed the courtiers, and the peasants who watched from the stands along the walls.
“Aye, whatever you command,” the king declared.
Will closed his eyes and prayed Emma would command the courtiers to dance or something harmless, but when he opened his eyes, he saw her face harden with determination and knew the hope was futile.