Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Book Giveaway Today and Vote for me for Book of the Week!

I'm honored to be nominated for Long and Short Reviews Book of the Week!

Alisha Paige's A LOVE BEYOND TIME!

To Vote

Cursed for mocking Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Clio, Muse of History and her lover are thrust back in time to the Salem Witch Trials and then the Italian Renaissance. Only love can save them both, but is their love strong enough against the one goddess who can end all love? Is their love A LOVE BEYOND TIME?


A Love Beyond Time
Alisha Paige

This Friar boasts that he knows hell,
And God knows it, that it is little wonder;
Friars and fiends are but little different.
For, by God, you have often times heard tell
How a friar was carried off to hell In spirit once by a vision;
And as an angel led him up and down,
To show him the pains that were there,
In all the place saw he not a friar;
Of other folk he saw enough in woe.
Unto this angel spoke the friar then:
`Now, sir,' said he, `have friars such a grace
That none of them shall come to this place?'
`Yes' said this angel, `many a million!'
And unto Satan he led him down. `
And now has Satan,' says he, `a tail
Broader than of a large galleon is the sail.
Hold up thy tail, thou Satan!' said he;
`Show forth thy arse, and let the friar see
Where the nest of friars is in this place!'
And before half a furlong way of time,
Just as bees swarm out from a hive,
Out of the devil's arse there began to rush
Twenty thousand friars in a crowd,
And throughout hell swarmed all about,
And came back again as fast as they can go,
And in his arse they crept every one.
~ From The Summonours Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Chapter 1

A twig snapped as Clio moved closer to the village just beyond the dense woods. Swarms of fireflies lit her way. Thick, gray smoke spiraled across the full, golden moon as she looked heavenward from where she’d been plucked. She could barely make out a cottage in the distance.
She blew out an exasperated sigh. “How long will you make me suffer, Aphrodite?” she whispered into the silent woods.
A deep, feminine chuckle echoed in her mind. Do you not regret your words now, my dear Clio?
“A million times over, my goddess. I deeply regret my words to you regarding your love for Adonis. It was not for me to say or judge you.”
When Clio shut her eyes, she could see the beautiful Aphrodite smiling down at her, a smug smile full of child-like pleasure at the next lesson to be learned by Clio, muse of history. Clio wondered which time period she’d been sent to this time. She was still exhausted from her jaunt into ancient Egypt. To think Aphrodite allowed her only one week’s rest and on a day she planned on joining her sister muses for a much deserved holiday. Never again would she speak against the goddess of love, but how much longer would she be punished?
Perhaps you will not fail this time.
Clio dug the heels of her hands into her closed eye-lids and hissed. “It is not easy to change the past, my goddess. Cleopatra, as you know, was very stubborn. I did my best to save her from the deadly asp.”
For once, Clio thought Aphrodite’s features reflected sorrow, but she wasn’t sure for whom, herself or Cleopatra. It was only a fleeting moment, though, and then her golden eyes sparkled with wicked intent, making it nearly impossible for Clio to see her as a goddess of love. To Clio, the goddess had become a holy being intent on revenge. A few silly, thoughtless words cast upward about her undying passion for Adonis had humiliated the goddess so much that Clio was still seeking atonement for her cruel words.
“Can you not tell me where I am then, dear goddess? Or shall I be in darkness all of the way?”
Another fiery giggle erupted from Aphrodite’s full lips. You will never be alone, my dear muse. Your sisters know of your whereabouts and since not one of them is seeking atonement for wrong doing, they shall all be at your disposal and I, of course, will be watching. You may only call on me once during your trials and I trust you will use that one time wisely. And remember, dear muse, you may only call on me for matters of the heart, not life and death. Those matters will be yours alone unless another god takes pity on your plight.
“My plight?” Clio snapped.
I must go now. Clio watched as a strand of bright red hair blew across the goddess’s face as she faded away.
“Don’t go! I have no idea where I am!” Another faint giggle and the goddess was gone and in her place was the sound of an owl hooting and the mouthwatering scent of ham coming from the cottage fire.
By the position of the stars, Clio knew it was dinner time. A sense of foreboding crept along her skin. Like a cold snake, slithering from a muddy creek, she could sense danger nearby. Her only possession was her bag of books and scrolls, full of ancient history and teachings from the greatest minds throughout time: Plato, Socrates, Confucius, Nostradamus and others. This knowledge and the help of her sisters was likely all the assistance she’d receive while in this unknown lifetime and who knew how long she’d be here.
She was at the mercy of Aphrodite and the other gods for that matter. From what she’d learned from her sister muses, many of them had thought her words toward Aphrodite atrocious. Clio meant only to tease her half-sister about her love for Adonis, but her blasphemy toward the two heavenly lovers bordered on hubris to the gods. Such an act of overbearing pride and lack of humility could result in fatal retribution. Clio’s one salvation was her father, Zeus. Were she not bred from the king of the gods, her fate might have been sealed and she’d surely be visiting Hades rather than a quaint village tucked into the past of who knows where.
Only a grove of willows separated her from the cottage now. Upon closer inspection, she could see two homes nearby. A larger, thatched cottage with a wide front porch and a much smaller dwelling, perhaps fifty yards behind it. She could see clearly now, that someone was tending to a fire outside. Broad, summer winds tickled her hair, bringing with them another scent from the cook-fires. Bread. Clio’s stomach rolled. The figure of a woman bent over orange flames. A dark skinned woman…perhaps a servant. Clio thought twice about approaching her. She should approach the main house first, but a gentle hand prodded her on. A sign most likely from her sisters. She didn’t expect help from any of the gods other than the muses and even their help she knew to be limited now.
Clio took a deep breath and stepped out of the line of trees and onto a well worn dirt path that led directly to the rear home. The woman sensed her approach and rose from her cooking, peering into the darkness.
“Who goes there? Is that you, Missus Parris?” the woman asked, as she hooded her eyes from the smoke.
Clio noted her clothing: a simple, drab frock. No shoes, but it was warm outside and the woman was home now. Stray hairs stuck straight out of the sides of her bonnet like dozens of black spider legs set upon her frazzled head. Sweat trickled between her eyes and down her broad nose. The muse looked upon her own clothing for the first time and noticed a similar design, though not as worn; another frock, brown in color, devoid of frills or lace. Upon it lay a thin, cotton apron. Thick soled, leather boots with worn laces adorned her slender feet, making them appear three sizes larger. She, too, felt a bonnet about her head.
She guessed herself to be in Old England, the London countryside perhaps. Wracking her brain, she attempted to guess the time period. It would be a time of historical importance. She shuddered. The Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London came first to mind. Surely Aphrodite would not have thrust her into an abyss from which she could not recover, though she knew it was her job to inspire persons responsible for historical significance. Inspire them to acts of goodness and grace or courage perhaps…courage to fight and change the course of history when headed in a downward spiral. She argued endlessly that her duties within the universe carried the most weight, though her sisters disagreed vehemently.
“Forgive me for intruding on you in this late hour,” Clio began.
The woman threw a thick cloth over an iron skillet and tossed it onto a pile of sand before standing in front of it. “What is it you want? You look lost.”
“Aye. I’m only passing through but I must stop for the night. A wheel broke on my carriage and I’ve walked the rest of the way. I’m looking for lodgings. Do you know of any?”
“Lodgings? In Salem? Not likely. You could ask the Minister Parris and the missus for a bed. He lives there,” the woman explained, pointing to the larger home in the distance.
“You work for them, then?”
“I do. Where are your traveling companions?”
“Oh. They’ll be along,” Clio lied. Clearly women did not travel alone in this time period or in these dark woods.
The woman nodded with slanted, disbelieving eyes.
Clio cleared her throat, pondering the century she’d just stepped into and its place in history. “I could smell your rye bread from your open fires. Do you have any to spare? I’m quite hungry.”
The woman gasped. “I should say not! This bread is not fit to eat! Not by you, missus!”
Unsure as to whether she’d been insulted or not, Clio decided to question the woman further. “Bread unfit to eat? And why is that? I’ve never heard of such a thing, lest it be poisoned.”
The woman looked to her master’s home and then behind her, into the darkness before leaning forward. Another dribble of sweat slid down her nose and onto her full lips. The woman licked it off before hissing softly. “It’s witch’s bread!” “Witch’s bread?” Clio whispered, as goose bumps scattered across her flesh.
“Aye, miss. It is meant for the dog only. To punish the witch who casts spells on the poor afflicted souls.”
“Poor souls?”
“Aye. The devil dances in Salem. But don’t tell the Minister or his wife! I beg of you,” the woman spat, falling on her knees at Clio’s feet, scattering dust. “Those poor girls. When the dog eats the bread, we will know!”
“Know what?”
“Who in Salem works with the devil! Then we’ll know and all of this will come to an end,” the woman whispered, sputtering hot breath upon Clio’s knees.
“I promise. I won’t breathe a word of the witch’s bread. Please rise.”
The woman rose on shaking legs, her black eyes filled with a kind of crazed terror. She looked to be on the verge of hysteria. Clio grasped her shoulders and shook her. “Gather your wits, friend. My name is Clio. I’m here to help.”
“It is not I that needs help, ma’am. It’s all of Salem. Against the devil.”
Clio nodded, recognizing the significance of the town’s name. Salem. She was thrust into Salem, Massachusetts. The famous witch trials. Heavens! “I’ll go see about a bed, now, thank you. I never got your name, miss.”
“I am Tituba.”
“I’m not sure we have room for you,” Minister Parris explained, as he fastened his spectacles onto his head after answering the rap at the door.
His wife stuck her head under his arm to get a peek at the nighttime caller. “We could have her sleep in Betty and Abigail’s room, dear. There’s two beds and the girls can bunk together for the night.”
“I’d be ever so grateful, ma’am.”
The bald minister opened the door wider and let Clio inside.
“This way, dear, I’ll show you to your bed,” Mrs. Parris said. Taking Clio’s hand, she guided her down a narrow hallway. “Do you teach school?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I noticed your book bag.”
“Ah, yes. Yes, I do,” Clio lied.
Mrs. Parris pushed open the door to the bedroom. At the vanity sat a young girl. An older girl brushed her long, blonde hair. “Girls, say hello to our houseguest, Miss Clio. She’s a school teacher, just passing through.”
The older girl curtsied and muttered a hello while the younger girl giggled. “Oh goody! A slumber party!”
“No, Betty. Miss Clio’s wagon has broken. She’ll be on her way in the morning. She just needs a bed for the night. You girls hurry up and hop in bed. I suspect Miss Clio is rather tired from traveling all day.”
Clio watched the two girls kneel beside their bed, utter a quick prayer and then snuggle beneath the covers.
“Good night, girls.”
“Good night,” they chimed in unison
Clio sat on the edge of the bed and began to unlace her shoes when the woman walked back in. “Here’s a nightgown for you.”
“Thank you.”
“Sleep well, dear,” Mrs. Parris said, as she softly closed the door behind her.
Clio removed her shoes and blew out the candle before stripping off her apron and dress and pulling on the cotton nightgown. She fell back into bed, exhausted from the transition into another new suspicious world that cradled a dark hysteria within its womb. Hysteria so spectacular, the very mention of the name of the town now reminded one of wicked lies, false rumors and death by hanging. Her last waking thoughts were of the poor souls that perished within the town…those whose cries to the heavens went unanswered. Souls craving to be avenged, long ago dead…


Happy Reading and Writing!


Skhye said...

Love the internalization in that last paragraph. ;)

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Sounds great, Alisha! I voted for you earlier. :) Good luck!

Beth Caudill said...

I already have a copy. :)

Just wanted to let you know I voted. Good luck.

ddurance said...

Congratulations! I certainly hope you win!