Here’s an excerpt from my last book, Rift. I hope you like it!
The vase grazed the young woman’s face, and Kate wished instantly for better aim. The couple scattered like garden bugs over the floral sofa – she, screaming and clutching her barely bleeding cheek, and he, yelling and collecting his trousers from the floor.
The butler was surprisingly fast. He wrapped his arms around Kate and pulled her from the parlor door. She struggled for a moment, and then stopped. Her body melted into sobs, and he dragged her nearly to the front entrance before she could compose herself.
Moments later Kate was out on the street, stalking down Pemberly Avenue and away from Schoefield House. The mist, so common in Bath, hid her tears from passersby, more so than her tightly bound bonnet. By the time she had reached Astor House, she had made up her mind.
Kate tore the large sapphire and gold ring from her finger and dropped it into its velvet bag. She hurriedly wrote a note and sealed it in an envelope, and handed it to a maid.
“Have this delivered to Mr. Darren Schoefield immediately,” she said. The maid curtsied and hurried from the room, leaving Kate clenching her fists as she stared at her reflection in a large ornamental mirror.
It appeared her engagement was over.
Once she could breathe again, Kate went to her room, and tossed her cloak on her bed. She ripped off her bonnet, and threw it at her dresser. It hit the mirror with a dull thud. She paced the room. Her footsteps clicked loudly in time with her breaths.
A sharp knock at her door broke her twisted reverie. Instead of waiting for an answer, her mother stormed in.
“What did you do?” she snarled. She walked up to Kate and grabbed her arm. Kate shook her off.
“I don’t care what happened, stupid girl. The maid from Schoefield house came by, and told me of your horrific behavior,” she said
“Mother, you don’t understand,” Kate cried, holding up her hands and shaking her head. “He was with her, on the sofa!” she said. Her mother, fast as gossip, slapped her across the face. Kate held her cheek, mouth hanging open in shock.
“He’s a man, he’s allowed to do what he wants,” she said. “You are lucky he even agreed to marry you in the first place. How dare you question him? Think of what he can do for our family.”
“You can’t possibly believe that,” Kate cried, massaging her cheek. “Father would never have done anything of the sort.”
“Do not speak to me about your father; you have no idea what he was like,” she said. “That man ruined my life in ways you will never understand. Dabbling with stupid young girls was the least of his problems.” She shook her head, silently mouthing curses in his name. Kate exhaled sharply.
“He was a wonderful man, and he would want you to support me,” she yelled.
Her mother, inappropriately named Grace, tightened her thin lips and shook her head.
“It won’t be long before everyone knows what you’ve done. I need to see what I can do about it,” her mother said. She stormed out of the room, leaving Kate a heaving and crying mess. She clutched her stomach, willing herself not to vomit.
Then, with a sound as sharp as a guillotine, the lock on the door snapped shut. Kate ran to it, and twisted the handle. It didn’t move, as she knew it wouldn’t. She had much experience with being locked in her room, though it had been a long time.
Kate slept fitfully, fully-clothed except for her shoes. She had kicked them at the wall, leaving dark scuffs on the powder-blue paper. The daisy quilt had been pulled up to her chin at some point, and she clung to it while she slept.
Suddenly, scratchy material pressed into Kate’s face, pushed there by a large hand. Instinctively she woke up and reached for her attacker, clawing at his arm.
“Hold her down, she’ll hurt herself,” a husky voice yelled.
“Oh darling, don’t struggle,” her mother’s voice called in a mock-tone of concern. She seemed far away.
“Help me, stop!” Kate yelled. By then, they had pulled her quilt down around her ankles, and several pairs of hands held her down. Someone had taken her wrists and was tying them together. She allowed herself to be sat up.
“Can’t you remove the mask?” her mother asked.
“No, it frightens the fragile too much. We don’t want to over-stimulate her,” the husky voice replied. It was just then that she realized the scratchy material over her face was in fact a hood.
Suddenly, she was being lifted from her bed.
“What are you doing? Where are you taking me?” she yelled, but no one could hear her through the hood and the shuffling of feet.
“We’ll take good care of her, Mrs. Astor. She’ll be as good as new soon.”
An hour later, Kate was deposited into a small room, and her hood was removed by a woman in a white uniform. There was only a small bed and an oil lamp.
“Where am I?” Kate whispered, holding herself. The room was drafty.
“Change into this,” the woman said, and held up a white cotton gown.
“Tell me where I am,” Kate demanded.
“You’re in The Gardens. Now, change into this before I have to get the doctor,” the woman said, and thrust the gown toward Kate.
“This is unbelievable, I will not allow this. Let me go at once,” Kate said, crossing her arms firmly. She knew all about this asylum.
“Look here, girl. Your mother sent you here, and we’re going ‘ta take care of you. Don’t make me tell you twice, or I’ll get the doctor,” said the woman. She pressed her lips in to a line that would not be argued with.
“Do what you want, but I will not allow this. I demand to see the doctor. I’m going home,” Kate said. The old woman sighed and dropped the gown onto the bed.
A few minutes later she returned with a man who must have been the doctor, as well as another nurse.
“I will not allow this. I demand to be released at once,” Kate said as soon as he entered the room.
“Please, sit. We can discuss this, Catherine,” the doctor said, using her full name. She hated it. He smiled and motioned to the bed. Kate sat down slowly, and he sat next to her. “Your mother believes that you need some time away after your hysterical outburst,” he said.
“Outburst?” Kate said. “I caught my fiancé with my best friend, sir. I hardly call my actions an outburst. They deserved far worse.”
“Be that as it may, your mother feels that this behavior is unacceptable. We must keep you here. It is not your choice.” His voice was irritatingly calm, and Kate already disliked it.
“I’m leaving immediately,” she said, standing and walking to the door. The nurses grabbed her and threw her to the bed, much harder than she would have expected. The doctor pulled a syringe from his coat pocket, and Kate struggled as they held her down.
“This is for your own good,” he said, flicking the vial.
“Let me go! Let me go this instant!” Kate yelled. The syringe plunged into her arm, and within seconds she stopped struggling.
“There you go. Just relax,” he said, patting her back as she slumped over. The nurses began to undress her, and the doctor left the room.
“No, please, help me,” Kate whispered. She closed her eyes, and drifted into darkness.