She reached the upriver end of Temple Island, saw again the pale wedding-cake shape of the folly, and slowly, slowly, the dim shapes of familiar landmarks moved by. If before she had had the sensation of slipping backwards in time, now she felt suspended, as if only her own efforts could inch the clock forward.
She pulled harder, again and again, lost in the rhythm of the stroke. It was only in the instant of calm following a perfect drive that she heard the floundering splash. The boat creaked as she stopped, as if it were resisting the cessation of forward motion.
The sound had been close, and too loud for a diving bird. A large animal slipping in from the bank, perhaps?
She tasted salt, realized her nose was running from the cold and wind. Shifting her grip on her oars into one hand, she swiped at her lip with her other sleeve. The boat rocked slightly as she twisted to look upriver and she quickly grasped the oars in both hands again. Then she peered at the bank, but the shadows beneath the trees had deepened to impenetrable ink.
Shrugging, she rotated her oars, putting the sound down to her imagination. But as she slid up to the catch, she heard a cry. The voice was unmistakably human, oddly familiar, and she could have sworn it had called her name.
Excerpted from No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie. Copyright © 2012 by Deborah Crombie. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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