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|Gerry McCullough award-winning Irish writer & poet – author of Belfast Girls|
Read Prologue of this new novel:
The boat deck creaked precariously under their feet.
There was a loud, ominous crackling from the sails.
Nora looked round her. Was she imagining it, or had everything suddenly grown darker?
A whirl of angry clouds scudded across the sky, and a fierce cold wind pulled her long, black hair loose from its clasp and whipped it about her face. Nora put her hands up to push the hair out of her eyes.
‘Jik!’ she yelled.
‘Wow!’ said Jik.
Nora knew he had shouted, but she could hardly hear him. His voice was faint against the creaking of the ropes and the flapping of the sails as the mast swayed in the sudden gale.
She felt herself staggering as the Lady Molly began bucketing about in the wild lashing of the waves.
Seizing the grab rail she collapsed onto the bench behind her, and heard her own voice crying out, ‘Snapper! Help!’
Jik, flung across the cockpit by a quick lurch sideways from the boat, landed on her knee, panting breathlessly.
‘Wow!’ he said again.
Unbelievingly, Nora realised that he was enjoying this.
He was mad!
They were both mad!
What did The Snapper mean by bringing them into this? He should have warned them!
She heard a soft laugh near her ear, and realised it was The Snapper. He smiled briefly at her, showing bright white teeth against his tanned skin. His curly white hair and beard flew round his face in the fierce wind.
He was clutching his captain’s hat with one hand.
‘Hold on tight!’ he roared. ‘Nearly there!’
Then, abruptly, the noise of the gale died away, the boat settled down, and Nora was able to breathe again.
Strangely, though, it was still dark, although it should be the middle of a July afternoon.
But Nora had no time to wonder about that.
A hand seized her roughly by the arm, pulled her to her feet. A voice spoke into her face.
‘Ha! What have we here? Stowaways, by my oath! Speak! Who are you, and what do you want with me, aboard White Lady?’
But just before the storm, they had been safely on board their own boat, Lady Molly! What was happening?
What were they to do? Was there any way out? Any way to get home?
Nora, trembling with horror, could say nothing.
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