Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland. Today I am sharing an extract from the novel:Book Description:
What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?
The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.
Here is the extract from Bone Deep:
Other gifts arrive from the young Lord Musgrave: love tokens, lockets, even a pony, white as new milk. It is unusual for the younger sister to wed first, and Father pretends to be angry, perplexed and put out in equal measure. There are long discussions in secret between the two men, and much ale is consumed. Eventually the deal is struck, and a wedding date set. Elspeth has never been thwarted, after all. Bella can’t bear to be in her mother’s bower anymore, as the talk turns to flowers and dresses and bairns. They even discuss the wedding night, making Bella turn crimson inside and out. She begins to dread that she will never know such a night, that no man will ever come to her father’s castle to seek her hand. Maybe she will die here, unloved, with just the old hound standing guard over her body. The hate seed burrows deep and germinates.
Love tokens. Doesn’t that conjure up something sweet and timeless and real? My fingers are stiff with cold. I put down my pen and tug the blanket more tightly round my shoulders. If I look like a bag lady, so be it. My circulation is shot to hell, all a result of this heart problem they cannot get to the bottom of. Love tokens. I press my palms against my ribcage, as if searching for the butterfly ghosts of some lost emotion, but all I can detect is a slight, tight burning sensation, the result of too much banana on my cornflakes. Jim once carved for me a love spoon out of apple wood. I think I can still remember the tickle of possibility deep inside, the belief in magic.
A memory surfaces. An elderly spinster aunt, living alone here in Fettermore, in the house by the church, my mother packing me off at regular intervals. Make yourself useful. She has no one else. The house smells of broth and mushrooms, and the dust on her fine mahogany dining table is dappled with cat-prints. I wipe them off, make tea, volunteer to shop. From the cupboard under the stairs, the old dame drags a tartan shopping trolley, deep and wide. I notice cobwebs in the corners. It is a relic, the type of monstrosity that negates my whole self-image. My mini skirt, my cute beret, my whip-smart understanding of the nuclear arms race and the ethical treatment of animals: my whole being droops like a pair of un-elasticated pants as I drag the relic along the village street. Folk stare at me from cottage windows. I am an incomer, a foreigner with a posh accent and a borrowed shopping trolley. I still remember that walk of shame.
I lived for the times when my old aunt ran out of flour. It meant I could escape to the mill. Jim would be there, a young man just out of school, helping his father. He’d fill my measure with fresh, powdery flour and smile and voice mundane country thoughts that meant nothing to the young, urban me. Been a good growing season. His slow, blue-eyed smile. Looks like we’re in for a dreich day. I started to tell him about my life in Edinburgh. My visits to the mill became more frequent. I’d wait for him in the half-dark under the apple tree, imagining the taste of flour on his lips. The apple tree was the oldest one in the mill den. It would be even older now, if that ignorant gardener hadn’t chopped it down. Back in those days, people knew how to prune trees, and one day, in the month before I left for Cambridge, Jim presented me with a love-spoon, carved especially for me from one of the branches. It’s in the drawer somewhere.
It must be. The need to find it is overwhelming. I push my chair back from the desk and get heavily to my feet, completing a 360-degree spin around the room. I feel disoriented, as if the stacks of books are bearing down on me. I bend double, hugging my laboured breathing close to me. The love token. I must find it. You kept it. You did. Every bitter bone in my body laughs off the notion. Memory chimes in with a snigger. You snapped it over your knee. You fed it into the Aga.
Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Scotland. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. She returned to higher education her 40s, to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Dundee University. In 2016 she won Creative Scotland funding for a residency at Barry Mill, a National Trust for Scotland property. Her debut novel was Beneath
the Skin (Polygon, 2016).