Paul here! I hope everyone is doing well today. Before I get to Julia’s excerpt of the YA book A Raucous Time let’s recap what’s currently going on here at Sher A. Hart blog. There’s the Sunshine Syndicate tour and huge giveaway and be sure to check out Daynight by Megan Thomason Book Blast & Blog Tour Be sure to visit the blog tour of Rise of the Fire Tamer by Kailin Gow. Check out The Freak of Nature Book Blast too.
Ms. Hughes was kind enough to provide us with an excerpt for you to read. I must confess, that this is an excerpt from one of my favorite parts of the book. As I stated in my review Aunt Dottie is an all time great character. So, be my guest and have a read, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Rhyllann Jones dismisses his cousin Wren’s wild claims that an old dairy will lead them to King John’s treasure – that is – until people start dying. Detective Inspector Crombie is also sceptical, but determined to keep the teenagers safe, and has arranged for them to stay with foster mother “Auntie Dottie”. Wren is certain that Crombie is lulling them into a false sense of security, and Aunt Dottie’s house is bugged. Rhyllann is certain his super-geek cousin has finally snapped; especially when Wren seems to lose his memory.
The next day, after Baby Henry’s mum collected him, auntie Dottie became even bossier. She found a heap of chores for them. Rhyllann mowed the lawn, while Wren weeded a flower bed.
‘The devil makes work for idle hands!’ She said, overruling any protests. She ignored the dirty looks and mutterings, chivvying them when they slowed, encouraging their efforts. Rhyllann found himself whistling as he tidied the lawn mower away.
Wren grinned at Rhyllann as they seated themselves on comfy wicker chairs around a green plastic patio table, knowing his cousin was addicted to the sugar buzz of coke and yearned to guzzle a can.
‘You keep yourself busy Auntie Dottie!’ Rhyllann said, trying not to wince as he sipped. The sun shone warmly on his back. Aunt Dottie’s house was homely, the garden peaceful, and the cooking excellent. If only the lemonade wasn’t so sour. He decided it was an old people thing. Gran loved her acid drops.
Aunt Dottie swiped her forehead. She’d worked just as hard alongside them.
‘Phew! You’re telling me! Sometimes I do wish I had eight pairs of arms, like a spider.’
‘Four. Spiders have eight legs – four pairs.’ Wren corrected, with a meaningful glance at Rhyllann.
Aunt Dottie chuckled. ‘Get you! Proper little know all aren’t you?’ Dusting her hands down her trousers she said slyly. ‘Churchill.’
Wren blinked politely and waited.
‘It was Churchill. And what he said was “When the final tally is counted, it will be seen that John’s vices far outweigh the virtues of other kings” He meant the Magna Carta.’ The glee in her voice said “That’s you told! Not quite so clever after all.”
Rhyllann stared at his cousin – Wren had been right all along! Aunt Dottie’s house was bugged – how else would she have known about Wren’s lapse of memory last night? Carefully avoiding the amazement on Rhyllann’s face, Wren gave a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
‘Course! Silly me! Churchill! Aunt Dottie, you really would make a wonderful teacher.’ Adding ‘D’you think I could have some more of this delicious lemonade?’
She flushed. ‘Of course sweetie.’ Heaving herself up, she waddled into the house.
‘Okay! Okay! I believe you!’ Rhyllann whispered watching Wren rooting in his pocket. ‘Oh no, brawd – you can’t – you can’t do that.’
‘Watch me!’ Wren dropped a small yellow pill into Aunt Dottie’s empty glass, then topped it up with Rhyllann’s unfinished drink.
‘She could use a rest anyway!’ he hissed as Aunt Dottie returned with a jug covered with a lace top.
‘Here we go boys! Oh Rhyllann – would you like some more lemonade?’
Rhyllann’s taste buds cramped in alarm.
‘Erm – I think I’ll sweep the path for you Aunt Dottie.’
His shoulders prickled, feeling Aunt Dottie’s happy beam on his back. Wren jabbered on about garden pests, Aunt Dottie chimed in from time to time but eventually her voice trailed away. Wren placed her floppy hat over her face, then limped over to join Rhyllann.
‘Quick – we haven’t got long – they’ll wonder why it’s gone quiet.’
Rhyllann scowled. ‘I’m not running away! I gave Crombie my word.
‘I just wanna talk. Without being spied on.’
Sighing, Rhyllann sat on the grass. Wren lowered himself next to him.
‘I don’t know what you’re planning – but your notebook’s been nicked. Remember?’
Wren laughed. ‘Stern’s welcome to it. Why d’you think I threw in a map of Scotland?’ His eyes twinkled with glee.
Rhyllann just stared.
‘Stern’s son. Poor old Mike. I warned him not to trust anyone. Mikey Stern “Junior”. Fancies himself as a player. He’ll never be half the man Mike was. And he knows it. He’s working team handed – with some kind of cult called the Brotherhood, I think – convinced them he’s the man they need. No matter. Don’t looked so worried Annie – I told you – I’ve sent them on a wild goose chase to Scotland.’
Wren was playing a dangerous game of bluff and double bluff. Rhyllann wondered if he ever had the wool pulled over his eyes.
‘Is there anyone you trust?’
‘You.’ Wren let go a juddering breath. Suddenly Rhyllann felt sorry for him.
‘So – what next?’
‘You up for this?’
The last time Rhyllann accepted that challenge he’d watched as Wren drained the contents of Gran’s fat fryer into Rhyllann’s step father’s newish car. Just to see if diesels really could run on vegetable oil.
Almost against his will he inclined his head slowly, feeling a strange excitement stir in response to the devilment in Wren’s eyes.
‘Good. We’ll wait till Monday – school. We need to get the original text. Annie – I’ve been to London’s Public Record Office and the British Library.’
Rhyllann’s jaw dropped, but before he could get his mind round that Wren rushed on, his voice choking with excitement.
‘I’ve checked the dates Princess Joan gives in her diary. It’s all true! She was there! In October 1216, she travels with King John from King’s Lynn to the Castle of Newark! The week he lost his treasure. The week before he died. She must have been frantic. The country on the brink of civil war – the King dead – and she held the crown jewels. The royal regalia. An illegitimate English princess, married to one of the last great Welsh princes. It would have been high treason. She had to do something … and she hid it – so well it’s never been found. We just have to find out where.’
Rhyllann didn’t like the sound of that. ‘Isn’t there a map or something?’
Wren shook his head briefly. ‘I can hear a car. We’ll talk in school Monday. I’m gonna spend tomorrow in bed or resting my foot if I can.’ With that, he sprawled full length on the grass, cushioned his head on his arms, and closed his eyes.
PC Rodgers had a key. Rhyllann smiled brightly as the tubby policeman puffed into the garden. Indicating the manicured lawn – Wren and Auntie Dottie apparently asleep – Rhyllann held a finger to his lips, while giving a thumbs up signal. Returning the greeting, Rodgers crept out again. Inside Rhyllann fumed. His word wasn’t good enough for old Crombie. Right. That meant he didn’t have to keep it. Wren ‘s imagination ran riot at times, but if he was right about this treasure … momentarily dizzy at the thought of riches beyond his imagination, Rhyllann screwed up his eyes. He opened them again, and gazed over at Wren, slumbering peacefully. His blond hair swept over his forehead, and he looked the picture of innocence. Rhyllann sighed deeply, knowing he had once again been suckered by his younger cousin. Crombie said Wren couldn’t be trusted, Wren said the opposite. Rhyllann sighed, and muttered to himself. ‘Blood’s thicker than water, and anyway – what have I got to lose?’
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