I know April Showers brings May flowers is the proper statement but this month me and several author friends are going to shower you with fun tips to make the best of this Corona Virus Pandemic, crafts and or recipes plus there is a big giveaway at the end so read on and enter! This week’s guest is Jan Selbourne
Who would have thought, when we welcomed in 2020, that April would see all of us in lockdown or confined to our homes? So many things we’ve taken for granted are now cancelled, closed or declared out of bounds. Where I live, New South Wales, Australia, restrictions are firmly in place and there’s no denying our lives have changed, but a pandemic doesn’t discriminate. All of us are in this together. Mother’s Day this year without the kids will be tough but thank heavens we have Skype and Facetime. We can talk, wave and reminisce and plan a get-together when it’s safe to do so. I will be doing just that with my kids. The last time I Skyped on Mother’s Day was 2015. I was on an Anzacs on the Western Front tour, visiting the battle sites where my grandfather and thousands of Australians and New Zealanders served during WW1. It was a very humbling experience and it made me wonder, in that carnage, if a soldier could swap his ID tags with a fallen comrade. After all, war service records were handwritten, no electronic checks in those days. I researched and was told it was possible, but chances of being caught high and penalties very harsh. That was good enough for me to write The Proposition – a wounded soldier is given one slim chance of a new life with terrible consequences
Title: The Proposition
Author: Jan Selbourne
Cover designer Nomad Authors
Publisher: Nomad Authors
Genre/heat: Historical Fiction M
Pages : 322
War changes a man. For Harry Connelly it’s down to a bullet on the Western Front or arrest and prison at home – until, badly wounded, he collapses beside the body of Andrew Conroy. Same build, same colouring, illegitimate, no known family. His only hope -what does he have to lose – Harry swaps identity discs.
Now Andrew, he’s another face in post war London until a letter. A cousin from the dead soldier’s unknown family wants to meet, to make amends. Barely surviving on his pension, Andrew agrees and is presented with a shocking proposition. Accepting is out of the question, refusing pushes him into a nightmare of murder and blackmail and a very frightened Lacey Haines.
Lacey is barely coping with the consequences of her sister’s treachery until Andrew saves her from a vicious assault. Can she trust him when she’s hiding secrets that could kill them both?
Harry screamed as excruciating pain tore through his ears, then something slammed into him. He couldn’t hear, he couldn’t see, he couldn’t move. He was dead and the Man he didn’t believe in had despatched him to sinners’ hell. His throat convulsed and gagged on the dirt stuffed in his gaping mouth. Oh Christ, he was buried alive by the huge weight pressing down on him. His heart thumped with terror. Don’t move, don’t swallow, but his throat gagged again, and instinctively he coughed and spat. Frantic, he gasped and coughed again and felt cloth brushing against his face. He was lying on his outstretched arms. Hot tears filled his eyes. Very soon this little pocket of air would be gone, and he’ll die a slow death. No, think, think, push your hands forward. What if he was lying upside down?
The earth beneath him shuddered and soil fell onto his head. The weight above him was shifting, just like the underground coal mines before they collapsed. More soil fell on his arms and the blackness above him turned grey. Scrabbling like a crab, he wriggled upwards and howled in agony when a savage pain sliced through his leg. Gasping and terrified of falling back, he pushed up further into the light. He had no idea where he was.
Dragging the precious air into his lungs, Harry lifted his head to a silent scene from hell. Black roots of trees pointed to the sky and thick smoke poured from huge craters gouged into the earth. Just like the books on the Apocalypse. It took many seconds before his eyes told his brain the craters were dark red and littered with dozens of bloodied, twisted bodies. Some stared up into nothing, some face down. Harry looked behind him and opened his mouth to scream but no sound came out. He’d been pinned beneath todies submerged in the crater still smoking from an exploded shell. The entrails of one body oozed into the bloodied soil and the other body, oh God. Harry’s stomach heaved, he was covered with blood and guts. Using his arms, he lurched forward, bit by bit over the churned earth towards the blackened tree stumps. The ground shook again making him cringe. In the distance, a thick pall of black smoke was covering the rows of men fighting furiously while shells pounded around them, but it was eerily silent. Like the films at the picture house without the words on the screen.
Harry struggled to his knees and almost fainted from the pain in his leg. Closing his eyes, he fell onto his side, breathing deeply, then reached down to feel the blood oozing through his trouser leg. He rolled onto his stomach.
“Come on, move, move.” He dragged himself forward until he came to a mound, but his strength failed. “Give up,” his mind screamed, then his eyes settled on a water canteen half buried in the earth. Pulling it out, he unscrewed the cap and drank. Nectar. Spitting the dirt out of his mouth he gulped the water greedily, feeling it flowing through his body and clearing his mind.
“Oh, Jesus.” The mound was a pile of bloodied bodies with sightless eyes. He couldn’t crawl over them. He couldn’t do it. Crying and wheezing with the pain in his leg he inched around them and looked back. The crater was barely thirty feet behind him. He had to stop. Why crawl to the trees? Stay here. Rest.
The throbbing in his leg forced Harry’s eyes open. If he could crawl to the little rise ahead of him, he’d stop there. Using his elbows to propel him, he inched forward and without warning, the earth gave way. Tumbling down the small slope he fell against a solid lump. A lump in uniform whose blank eyes stared directly into his. Jerking back, he clutched his head as excruciating pain tore through his ears. Moaning, he rocked back and forth until it eased and when he opened his eyes bile ran into his mouth.
Insects were taking up residence in the gaping, oozing chest cavity while the neck and chin, mouth and nose were strangely untouched. The scalp had gone. Harry turned away as his stomach heaved again. Move, move. Inching forward, his fingers touched a shiny object in the churned soil. He stared stupidly at the unscathed cigarette case.
“Oh no!” he turned back and leaned closer to read the name on the identity discs. Andrew Conroy, his service number and C E. The poor scared bastard with no family. He wanted to move away but his feeble strength failed. He’d rest here for a while. Holding the cigarette case with both hands, he lay back against the crumbled mound. He was so damn tired.
Voices, shouting. He forced his eyes open and everything tilted sideways. Blinking, he squinted at the hazy moving objects, oh yes, the Red Cross stretcher bearers and wagons were picking up the wounded before the ghastly task of removing the dead. Feeble, whimpering cries rose from the churned soil, arms outstretched from the wounded and barely alive pleading to be rescued from this bloodied, silent, wasteland.
Harry looked at the cigarette case in his hand and its owner lying next to him. It was a hanging offence. If he did, there would be no turning back. If he didn’t…
He had no strength; his fingers wouldn’t work. Do it, for Christ’s sake, do it. His chest wheezed, and his weak hands fumbled with the effort of pulling Andrew Conroy’s discs over the gaping skull. His arms ached with the mammoth task of removing his. When it was done, he lay beside the body. He wanted to say something, beg him to understand, but he couldn’t find the words.
A lump was in his throat. “Mate, you are in a better place.”
His tears dripped onto the soil beside the body before he crawled away and lifted his arm.
Jan Selbourne grew up in Melbourne, Australia. Her love of literature and history began as soon as she could read and hold a pen. Her career started in the dusty world of ledgers and accounting then a working holiday in the UK brought the history to life. Now retired, Jan can indulge her love of writing, and when she can afford it, travel. She has two adult children and lives near Maitland New South Wales.
Jan is giving away an Ebook copy of The Proposition to one lucky winner. It sounds very good!
There are two grand prizes. #1: Grand Prize #1: grand prize total of $45 in gift cards, a paperback book, eBooks (both mm and M/F) and a personalized book bag. Grand prize #2 (for dark MMromance lovers only) The entire Don’t Audiobook Collection by Jack L. Pyke and lots of individual giveaways. Be sure to comment if you have a preference on MM only or Mf only or you may get something you don’t like.