Another short extract from The Blood Covenant that I hope will tempt you into buying a copy (or asking your library to buy one – maybe even both!) Most bookshops seem to have copies now, although it’s not out until the 30th officially. If you ask them nicely, they might well be able to get it to you for Christmas…for online ordering, this place has the cheapest price, with free UK postage, and they can get it straight out.
Jane’s turn this time.
Jane turned off Boar Lane on to Albion Street and knew someone was there. She had the sense of him before she could see anything. Tightening her grip on the hilt of the blade, she peered into the darkness.
Suddenly he was in front of her, no more than three yards away. As if he’d appeared from nowhere. Looming like a giant. Tall, broad as a house. If she allowed him to come close enough, he’d be able to crush the life from her.
The bayonet that usually hung from his belt was in his right hand.
Perkins. Arden’s bodyguard, grinning at the sight of her.
‘You and your boss, you’ve been poking in places where you don’t belong. Causing trouble for Mr Arden’s friend.’
Jane didn’t reply. She was watching him, her mind racing over the advice Dodson the crippled soldier had given her. A dirty fighter, brutal, with years of experience. If he won, he’d leave her for dead without a qualm.
A weak right knee. That was what Dodson had said. Not much, but it was something.
Perkins moved towards her. Only a single pace, but it was enough. He was going to use his size and weight against her. He had to be in his fifties now, grey hair cropped close against his skull; old for work like this. But he still had power. What he’d lost in speed he made up for in trickery.
Jane could see it in his eyes; he believed she was an easy target. A girl who’d have no fight in her. He took another pace forward. She tried to feint to her right, but he was already moving to stop it. Old, but not so slow. And not slipping on the packed, frozen snow.
He wanted to keep her moving backwards until she was pinned against the wall. Once that happened, he could take his time. Finish her as quickly or slowly as he wanted.
She was watching. His eyes, his hands. His feet. They’d give the clues. Even knowing she might die here, she felt calm. She touched the gold ring. A single step back, to see what he’d do. His eyes glinted, as if he already sensed victory.
Good, she thought, let him. Maybe he’d let down his guard a little.
Perkins swung his arm, the bayonet slicing through the air. But that wasn’t the danger; it was a diversion, he’d put no power into it. He was shifting his balance, preparing to kick her. As soon as he raised his foot, she darted forward with a kick of her own.
She put all her weight behind it. She felt the hobnails on the sole of her boot crash into his right knee. The feel of something giving in his leg. He staggered, arms out to try and keep his balance. Mouth shut tight to stifle the cry. Eyes filled with fury and surprise.
She could run. He wouldn’t be able to follow. But if she did that, Jane knew he’d recover and come for her another time. When that happened, she wouldn’t have the smallest chance of staying alive.
The thoughts flew through her head in a moment. No hesitation. She kicked his knee again. This time it gave. He fell on to the pavement, scrambling backwards so he could try to defend himself.