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Dolores A McCabe

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The Highest Destiny
by Dolores A McCabe   

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Books by Dolores A McCabe
· Axios
· Northwind
· The Shadow of the Phoenix
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Category: 

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Infinity Publishing ISBN-10:  0741464829 Type: 
Pages: 

177

Copyright:  April 29, 2011 ISBN-13:  9780741464828
Fiction

Daneh, daughter of a Druid priestess, surrenders her heart and her heritage to the Roman General Corbulo. She accompanies him to Rome as his mistress, where she learns the cruel lesson that dreams can't overcome an unbending legal system.

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Enter Another Age
Enter Another Age

Enter First Century Imperial Rome under the reign of Claudius. The fledgling general Domitius Corbulo is sent to serve with the seasoned General Flavius Vespasian to subdue the rebellious province of Britain. There he meets the strange, wild daughter of his host.. Daneh decides he is the man she has been waiting for, and accompanies him to Rome as his mistress. While there, under the stern tutelage of Corbulo's patrician aunt, Daneh attracts the interest of Catonius Merullus, close friend to Claudius and the leading legalist of his day.

Corbulo's family frowns upon his liason with this strange, beautiful woman, and demands that he fulfill his obligations by marrying the patrician Cassia Longina. They plot to eliminate this impediment and shame to their family. They turn to Merullus for assistance. But Daneh has formed a friendship with this solitary, haunted legalist, and she, too, turns to him for assistance. In a brilliant stroke, he fulfills his obligations to Corbulo's family and to Daneh. He takes her under his protection, and she discovers a future she never could have imagined while climbing the rocky cliffs of Britain.


Excerpt

Longinus entered, his expression grim. Daneh gazed from one implacable Roman to the other.
“But she is my daughter, she is my soul, you cannot take her from me!”
“The hour has come to repay my sister for everything you have stolen from her,” Longinus said bitterly. He shoved his friend aside and bent over the sleeping infant. Then he was gone.
“Bring her back!” Daneh screamed. To her appalled astonishment, Corbulo blocked her way to the door. “Gnaeus, he must bring her back!”
“No.”
“No? You tell me no?”
“It is time you understood that you are my property. You are only a slave. Everything you are, everything you have, belongs to me!” he shouted. I have given you everything! Now I ask one thing of you and you dare to refuse me? Be damned, then! I will take our daughter and give her to my legal wife. She has not denied you anything. It is time you gave something in return for all the good things we have given you!”
She wailed in her native language and fainted. Corbulo gently placed her upon their bed and left her to recover. Tomorrow they could talk it over. There would be other daughters. And when she saw how fortunate this daughter was, she would forgive him.She would understand that this had been a terrible ordeal for him, as well as for her. She would see that they had purchased their life together with their first daughter. He would explain it to her, and she would understand everything.
*******
Daneh tossed fitfully and started up violently. She glanced at the empty blanket on her bed. She hadn’t dreamed it! They had come and taken her baby away. She rocked back and forth for a long time, her mind utterly blank. Like a coral reef rising from the receding high tide, a dangerous resolution thrust itself from the deep, writhing waters of her soul. Corbulo would pay. He would pay, he would pay, he would pay…
Rising in inhuman calm, she washed her face, dressed, and summoned a litter. The streets were practically deserted at this noon hour. The trip was not a long one. Her porter rapped at the door. Merullus’ steward opened it. Without expressing the slightest surprise, he let her in.
“The Master is not yet returned,” he apologized. “But we expect him today. You are welcome to wait for him. I am sure he will be delighted to see you.”
Daneh forced a smile and walked woodenly to the library. She sat, her back very straight, her hands folded loosely in her lap, and simply waited. At suppertime, Crimens asked her if she’d care to eat anything. She smiled again and shook her head. At sunset he lit the lamps for her and quietly withdrew. She did not seem to notice. She sat in silence, her wounded spirit dipping over the swelling sea, calling, calling, calling to the spirit from which she had sprung.
At midnight, she slipped into sleep. Crimens found her and gently covered her with a light blanket. Merullus arrived shortly before dawn. The ship had been delayed by a sudden calm and the oarsmen had been worn from receiving only half-rations. Upon landing, he had cashiered all his overseers and hired new ones. He then promised to return with his accountants and review the books. He entered his home, tired and dusty and thirsty, and accepted the cup of watered wine his steward held out to him.
“There is a lady within,” the old man informed him. “A certain Tatia Diana. She has been here all night.”
Merullus raised his brows in blank astonishment. He went to investigate. He removed his toga and handed it to his steward. He sat down beside Daneh and roused her. “Why are you here?” he asked bluntly.
“Merullus!” she whispered, sitting up violently and clutching desperately at his tunic. “Merullus, you must help me!”
“I will certainly try,” he assured her.
They…came to my house…they took…my daughter…” She choked. “Merullus, I will surely die if she is not returned to me!”
“They?” he demanded sharply. “Who is ‘They’?”
“Longinus and Corbulo! Make them give her back to me, Merullus!”
“I cannot,” he replied without hesitation.
She wailed in her native language.
“Corbulo is the infant’s father. No one can come between him and what he decrees for the baby,” he explained. “But why would they want to do such a thing?”
“His wife! Corbulo’s wife wanted the baby! She sent him to take her from me!” She dissolved into Celtic lamentations once again. Her eyes widened. “I…I think I am…drowning….”
“Yes. I know.” He held her in a comforting, sympathetic embrace. “Can you listen to me yet?”
She nodded.
“You cannot have the child back. But you do not have to accept the injury. Do you wish to avenge yourself?”
She became strangely still. She lifted her head. Her deep blue eyes searched his for a very long time. Once, when she was a child, she had been caught within a sudden flood. The water had been utterly still, and yet it had risen with tremendous speed. The men of her tribe had thrown a net out and had caught her and dragged her to safety. But as she looked into his deep, dark eyes, she could still remember the feel of the water, rising so quietly, so silently, so very coldly…She shivered. She nodded. “In that case, you have come to the right man,” he said quietly.
“My Lord,” a discreet voice came from the doorway. “A message.”
“Wait here, Daneh,” he told her, kissing her lightly on the top of her head. “I will return directly. We will discuss what can be done.”
Merullus took the scroll from his servant and perused it. Pomonia placed her demand and asked that he attend her on this matter of grave importance. She asked him to come at whatever hour he received this missive. His eyes narrowed. He glanced toward the silent library.
“There will be no reply, Crimens.”
He returned to the library and pulled up a small bench. “What do you want to do, Daneh?”
“I must return home,” she said with tremendous difficulty. “I will die if I cannot go home. I cannot breathe, Merullus! I try, but I cannot breathe!”
“Yes. I know.” He considered her for a moment, measuring the weight of her grief, and made his decision. “I will send you back to your mother as soon as arrangements can be made.”
“And can you arrange for…him…to be sent somewhere? Somewhere that he will not follow me?”
He gazed at her expressionlessly. “Yes, I can arrange for that, as well.” Then he smiled. “Where are your sons?” he asked politely.
“I left them. I didn’t think I could bring them with me. Could I bring them back home with me, Merullus?”
“Oh yes. I definitely think you should. Don’t you?”
Again, her dilated eyes locked with his. “Yes.”
He smiled in an encouraging way. He patted her shoulder gently. “You must be so tired. What a terrible ordeal for you. Let my steward take you upstairs. I will handle everything.”
“Your little book!” she cried.
“I will handle everything,” he promised. “Take her upstairs, Crimens. She must sleep, or she will not have enough strength for her journey.”
Tears glimmered on her dark lashes.“I thank you…Merullus…”
“Tomorrow is another day,” he said philosophically. “You think you have reached the end of your world, but like me you will learn that tomorrow will bring another day to be lived.” With a swift, unexpected motion, he placed his hands on either side of her face and kissed her lightly on the lips. “Good-bye, Tatia Diana,” he smiled sadly.
“Good-bye, Catonius Merullus,” she wept. “And thank you.”




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