BY PROMISE MADE
By Susan Furlong
Blurb of By Promise Made: She wants to take off his head. He wants to win her heart.
Hugh Cullane, accused of murder and sentenced to hang, is forced to deliver a message of betrothal to four-year-old Queen Mary of Scotland. He faces death yet again when, in rejecting the proposal, the queen’s guardian orders his severed head sent back to England in a jar.
Trained to protect her queen at all costs, Katherine Payne can show no mercy to the handsome messenger, despite the way his stolen kiss unsettles her single-minded sense of duty. Trapped between the English and Scottish armies, she must escape with Mary. Hugh joins her as they are chased by men determined to murder the young queen in their own quest for power.
(After escaping the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Kit, Hugh and young Mary flee north)
In the distance, bobbing heads of the horses of an English patrol headed in their direction.
“Down the cliff is the only way. Ye take Mary,” she said, tugging the straps of Mary’s carrying sack off her shoulders. “The wall of the cliff has a small cave in it about halfway down. We can hide inside. I’ll go down first and lead the way. Ye follow with the babe. I’ll guide ye. Here.” She hefted Mary and the carrying sack onto Hugh’s back. “The straps will rub on yer shoulder and start the bleeding again, but there is no other way.”
“Doesna matter. Are ye set, little one?” he asked Mary.
She kissed him on the cheek. “Aye, the man will take good care of me, Kit”
… “I think I see the cave.” She pointed. “I’ll start that way and call for ye to follow.” Swinging her legs over the side, she quickly started the climb down.
Hugh watched her from the top, trying to memorize where she put her feet and hands. “Mary, ye watch Kit verra carefully so ye can help me put my feet in the right places. Ye can even grab hold of the stones with yer hands to help me. Can ye do it?”
“Aye. Kit and I climbed this cliff more than once. Captain Rand put a rope around her waist, but we didna need it. Kit and I climbed up and down all by ourselves.”
“Are ye ready?”
Hugh adjusted quickly to Mary’s extra weight, and he found it relatively easy to follow Kit’s route down over the jagged rocks.
About halfway down the face, Kit called to him. “I see it. The cave. About thirty feet to yer left. I’ll get there and lead ye to it.”
“Aye,” he said.
That’s when loose rocks started sliding down the cliff, not the pebble or two that fell off when his hand hold wasn’t secure, but bushels of debris falling fast and hard. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Kit fighting to find a foothold. She had a grip on a rock with both hands, but her legs swung uselessly. She grunted and strained, but she didn’t cry out.
“I am coming to ye!” called Hugh.
“Nay!” she called back. “Get to the cave where Mary will be safe. I’ll find a way.”
Her right hand slipped off the stones, followed by her left, and she fell fast and hard. Time slowed down as she flew through the air, bouncing repeatedly against the face of the cliff. Two, three times she slammed into the wall. Her tunic caught on a stone and ripped nearly off. On the fifth time, another jagged edge caught her boot and tore it from her foot and twisted her body until she fell headfirst toward the ground. She landed on her back at the edge of the road below with a sickening thud.
MEET SUSAN FURLONG
Susan Leigh Furlong was born in the middle of a blinding spring snowstorm at the University of Michigan, which forced her mother to walk across campus in the snow to the hospital while in labor. Susan doesn’t remember any of this auspicious beginning, but it always makes for a good story! As a child she moved six times to various big cities across the country before the age of fourteen because of her father’s career. At college she met and married her love and moved to his small hometown in southern Ohio. At first the small town was a shock with a stoplight that went on flasher at 11:00 pm, but now you couldn’t get her out of there with a crowbar! She taught first grade and fourth grade and raised her children who did not have to change schools even once.
Creating stories started early in life—as is typical of most writers—even before she could actually write. Then came handwritten pages stuffed in her underwear drawer, followed by stories generated on a manual typewriter. Her first computer—a Commodore 64—was replaced by a series of computers and laptops with storage space that her husband promised could never be filled up, but she always did. Since retiring from teaching, she tries her best to keep filling up even more computer space with her writing!
At age 32 she performed in her first community theater play—Guys and Dolls—where she quickly realized that she wanted to play ALL the parts, which is exactly what a writer gets to do. She writes and/or directs church-related plays, one of which, The Twelve Seats at the Table has been presented over 100 times across the country, and along with writing sketches for adults and children, she also performs and sings with a music and drama ministry, LightReaders.
Her love of history led her to write two plays about her now hometown, performed in readers theater style by local citizens with nearly 100 antique photos displayed on a screen. These plays were followed by two historical non-fiction books about the people and history of her town published by Arcadia Publishing. She loves to do the research even though old books and documents make her cough and sneeze!
Susan first discovered romance novels when she won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux at the local bookstore. She reads all varieties of books, but historical romance is forever her first choice.
The shelves in her closet are filled with her stories and books, but Steadfast Will I Be and By Promise Made are her first works published by The Wild Rose Press. A third one is in the editing stage.