A peek into A Garden of Shadows
I have exciting news brewing to share very soon, but in the meantime, I thought I would give my subscribers a first glimpse into A Garden of Shadows. Book two of my series is set in Spain, which opened a new and excited world of research. I became fascinated with al-Andalus when I visited Spain in 2017 and decided it would be the next place I would send Linnea on her journey. I hope you enjoy this visit to Granada.
Rounding a tight alley, I emerged into the open air of the plaza. As indicated by its name, it was narrow and long, the bricks broken by embedded stones that formed a swirling pattern. Mid-morning light spilled across the ancient walls turning them the color of fresh baked scones. Benches were scattered through the middle of the plaza, and I found a spot on one next to a pair of elderly women. One woman passed the other wedges of an orange as they observed the market crowd.
“Quieres una rodaja?” The woman asked, offering a slice.
“Por favor. Gracias.” I responded. The tangy citrus exploded in the mouth, tickling my throat. We rarely had citrus on Chiloé, and my tongue tingled from the intensity of the juice. With a nod to the ladies, I left the bench and meandered through the stalls. The scents of fresh baked bread and ripe vegetables made my stomach grumble. A tostada was my first selection, vibrant red tomato smashed into the bread and piled with a few slivers of jamón. The next stall held precarious pyramids of oranges and I filled my pockets. I paused to nibble the bread while sipping a cup of coffee at the corner cafe. The location allowed for an unobstructed view of the steady stream of people moving through the market. Granada had a different feel from Cádiz. Cádiz was a bustling port town that was preoccupied with business or defense, it was precise, formal. Granada on the other hand was more relaxed. Diffuse music drifted on the air and the people of Granada moved with the rhythm: loose-limbed, with ample time to reach their destination. In the far corner of the plaza, a group of people gathered around a speaker, a woman. I was too far away to hear the subject. Curious, I finished my coffee and crossed to join the crowd.
“Too many people are still suffering. Families were lost during the epidemic and children orphaned. Their homes and land are being snatched up by the rich. They want to move us out of the neighborhoods, so they can choose who will live there! We must act!”
The men around her shuffled their feet and rumbled in agreement. A young man standing near the woman glowered from beneath the brim of his hat.
“The king is an infant! His regent mother is a pawn controlled by politicians. They’ll do everything they can to prevent change.” Our eyes met over the heads of those in between, a beam of sunlight highlighted her face and her amber colored eyes sharpened.
“More foreigners arrive every day, trying to change our country. These people support those in power and their obsession with raza. They will live in these houses! Sagasta allows himself to be swayed by money and power!” The hatred in her stare seared with such force that I rocked on my heels. As the eye contact between us lingered, others took note and closed in. Prickles of perspiration spread along my hairline, on my neck. The animosity was shifting toward a target, me. Before the crowd could block my escape, I spun around fleeing across the square. I could hear her speaking again, but the sensation of being watched sizzled between my shoulder blades, so I didn’t slow my retreat. Cobbles and uneven bricks caused my feet to slip and ankles to twist. I slowed my pace to catch my breath and steady the nerves. There was no reason for such haste. Leaning on a nearby wall, I unfolded the map to confirm my location. When I stepped from the shadows a flicker of movement less than a block away drew my attention. It took the distance of another block to be certain. I had a watcher. Clenching my hands into fists, I tried to calm the rush of fear. There were other people on the street and my dagger in my boot. Despite these facts, my heart hammered, and my palms were damp. Subtly speeding ahead, I ducked around the corner and into a shop. The space was empty, so I squatted low beneath the window lintel and waited for them to pass. A man paused in front of the shop, and I was able to observe him from my hiding place. I didn’t recognize him. Perhaps he was a member of the group at the plaza? He lingered at the intersection at the end of the street. I could hear footsteps coming from the rear of the shop. Not wanting the shop attendant to find me and draw attention, I sidled out, clinging to the brick wall. Fortunately, the man turned left and out of sight. I went the opposite direction, taking a circular route that looped toward our house, moving with a constant watch over my shoulder until the familiar portico came into view.
I ran up the steps and inaudibly closed the door before collapsing against the heavy wood. The linen of my shirt was soaked with sweat and my knees trembled from fear and exertion.