by Regan Walker
An Inspirational Novel of Scotland
For anyone whose faith has ever faltered…
The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to seek refuge in Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.
The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who have come to serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon!
Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The king has promised her to one of his favored warriors, but she has given her heart to a lowly scribe.
When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?
Note: All profits for The Refuse will go to the Christian Alliance for Orphans
Note: The Refuge is an inspirational retelling of Regan Walker's Rebel Warrior. It has been revised with material added and removed.
Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance
Content/Theme(s): Medieval, Warriors, Scotland
Release Date: November 22, 2016
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“Arise! The queen departs!” a raspy voice shouted.
Catrìona heard the command in her mind, instantly aware the harsh voice was not Fia’s. Since the attack on the vale, Catrìona slept lightly. A whisper could bring her awake, but the servant who had hissed the command could not know that. “I am awake,” Catrìona mumbled, knowing Fia was not, for her cousin slept like a rock.
The door thumped closed. She opened her eyes and sat up in bed. Darkness surrounded her, the only light in the chamber a soft glow from the brazier’s banked fire. Edgar’s warning had not been an idle threat. They were summoned before first light to pray.
God must be fond of the dark.
She fumbled on the small bedside table to find the candle, knocking it over at her first try. Finding it with her fingers, she righted the small tallow column in its stand. Once she was certain the flame had caught, she turned to see her cousin still asleep.
“Fia! Wake up. Else we will be late for the queen. One of the servants already shouted as much.”
Fia groaned and tried to cover her face.
Catrìona pushed herself off the bed and crossed the room to her cousin, shaking Fia’s shoulder. “Hurry. ’Twill get easier once we are used to the unholy hour.” The irony of praying at an “unholy” hour made her smile.
Leaving her cousin, she reached for the water in the bowl on the side table and splashed it onto her face. The cold water brought her alert as the servant’s shout had not. She dried her face and lifted the clothes she would wear today from the peg where she had hung them the night before.
Slipping her gown over her linen undertunic, she darted a glance at Fia, who, she was pleased to see, was finally stumbling out of bed.
As quickly as they could, they made themselves presentable, donned their cloaks and descended the stairs to the hall. Torches set in sconces along the walls lighted the large space and a fire blazed in the hearth set in the middle of the cavernous room. The servants were obviously well trained to their mistress’ habits.
Catrìona stifled a yawn as she spotted one of the queen’s ladies waiting near the front door, a candle in her hand.
“I am Audra,” the woman reminded them. “The queen bid me stay to show you the way to our place of morning prayer.”
Catrìona was tempted to tell the woman it was not yet morning, but she refrained. She was now in the queen’s service and at Margaret’s disposal. Moreover, Audra’s pleasant manner at so early an hour told her that this one might become a friend. “Thank you,” she said.
They passed through the open door, Catrìona and Fia following Audra as she hurried along.
“Where are you taking us?” Catrìona asked. In the predawn light, she could see little.
“To the new chapel,” said Audra. “’Twas where the king and queen were wed. Margaret had it made larger. Now ’tis a fine place to pray. Some afternoons the queen goes away to a cave to pray alone but in the mornings we attend her here.”
“A queen who prays in a cave like a hermit,” Catrìona mumbled under her breath as she stepped carefully over the rocks and tree roots she felt through her leather shoes.
Fia was having the same trouble making her way and reached for Catrìona’s hand to steady herself.
Eventually, they came to a small building on the other side of the tower. Inside, Catrìona glimpsed the queen on her knees before an altar lit by a single candle. The three other ladies were beside her, their heads bent in prayer.
Audra knelt next to the queen and, not wishing to disturb the queen’s prayers with an apology for being late, Catrìona took her place next to Audra. Fia quickly joined her.
The small chapel was silent except for the women’s whispers as they prayed, the smell of stone and dirt strong, the stillness nearly tangible. It was not unlike the chapel at her home in the vale, only larger.
Catrìona hesitated. Should she say something to God before beginning the ritual Latin prayers? She had not spoken to Him since the day her parents had been killed. When Angus and Niall had laid them in the ground, she had prayed for their souls. But even then, she had questioned how a God who cared about His children could permit something so horrible to happen. How could He allow pagan savages to rampage unchecked and unpunished?
What kind of God lets innocents suffer while evil triumphs?
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Other titles by Regan Walker:
& the Thistle
& the Rose
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