Visiting to today is fellow author Anna Butler, sharing with me an except of her new novel The Jackal’s House.
Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy…
Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.
Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?
Title: The Jackal’s House
Sequel to The Gilded Scarab
Series: Lancaster’s Luck: Book II.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 30 October 2017
Genre: Steampunk adventure m/m romance
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Illustrator (Map): Margaret Warner
We didn’t stay up late. It was barely ten when we headed up to our rooms on the second floor, trailed by Sam and Hugh. Todd was out at the aerodrome, keeping watch with his men over the Brunel.
“I’ll be glad to get back to the dig tomorrow,” Ned said. “Come and have a cigar and some brandy, Rafe.”
Which invitation I was quick to accept, as you might imagine. Hugh gave me a knowing grin and went off to his own room with nary a backward glance. Ned’s room, beside mine, overlooked the Ezbekieh Gardens. Sam had left the floor-to-ceiling windows open when we went down to dinner, the billowing muslin curtains filtering the sounds and smells of the Cairo night. The faint scent of woodsmoke and tarry aether rolled in as an autocar went by on its way to the Abdeen Palace where the Khedive held court.
Sam was suddenly the perfect servant. He brought Ned and me glasses of a fine champagne cognac and a box of fragrant cigars before moving on silent feet to close the window shutters against the night and light the lamp on a small table near the bed. The little screw-valve at the side of the globe squeaked as he turned it clockwise to open the pipe, the luminiferous aether hissing louder than a snake at the zoo when someone taps the glass sides of its terrarium. Sam adjusted each lamp to a warm glow inside the big glass globe by passing his hand over it. The lightning in the globe sprang into life, crackling and spitting as it followed his palm. He was careful not to make the room too bright, leaving thick dark shadows inhabiting the corners.
“I’ve locked the outer door, and I’ll sleep in there.” He nodded to a sort of anteroom that led to the main corridor. “I’ll close the door, but keep the noise down. I don’t want to hear nothing. G’night.”
It was difficult not to laugh. Dear Sam. I felt really quite mellow toward him, a sentiment he’d no doubt resent intensely. Ned grinned at me as soon as the door closed behind Sam, and dear Lord, but I just had to kiss him. Couldn’t help myself.
We took our time getting down to our skin. It wasn’t something to be rushed. Aesop’s tortoise had it almost right: less haste, more pleasure.
For a while I was content with kisses, Ned’s face so close that drowning in those hazel eyes was a real possibility. The touch of Ned’s tongue against mine had me making rather embarrassingly soft noises in the back of my throat. You know, getting lost for all eternity in those kisses, in the feel of Ned’s body pressed against mine… I couldn’t think of anything finer.
Our jackets were on the floor somewhere, long abandoned. Now all my attention was on tugging Ned’s shirt out from his trousers and running my hands up underneath it and over the heated skin beneath. Ned moaned and bucked his hips so hard that, laughing, I pulled my mouth from his. “Ah, you liked that, did you?”
Ned moistened his lips and pulled me in closer. “It wasn’t entirely disagreeable.”
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Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.