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About the author:
Lorain O’Neil is the author of Coquina Hard [Historical Fiction Standalone], Alien Advantage [Humorous Adventure Standalone], The Dangerous Path of Loving Jaesha [Very Dark Erotic Humorous Standalone Thriller], Angelique Rising [Humorous Standalone Dark Thriller], A Kiss From Moët [Humorous Paranormal Standalone Romance], The Liar Charms [Humorous Standalone Thriller], and co-author of Bedmonsters are Cool [Humorous Standalone Fantasy], all available on Amazon.
What inspired you to write your book?
Shogun by James Clavell
Here is a short sample from the book:
“Kill me first,” her disbelieving mind shrieked as she rammed her mortally thin body between the barrels. “Don’t let the Italians touch me.”
Forni had already raped two Minorcan girls, declared himself Captain-General over the settlement and seized a schooner to flee Florida. Three hundred of Forni’s rioters now roared toward her, smashing storehouses, plundering rum casks, murdering overseers. She heard one overseer die trying vainly to ward off the rioters’ blows, dying in the sand as the Greeks stabbed him in the groin, chopping off his nose and fingers.
Her name was Toria Brighton and she was a member of the largest single migration ever to come to America, surviving a wretched Atlantic crossing only to be crushed by starvation in the new Florida settlement.
“Help me, God,” she hissed, every fiber of her bursting in terror. “Save me.”
The frenzied mob careened onto the great coquina wharf of New Smyrna, directly to the barrels Toria cowered behind.
New Smyrna itself was more than a hundred thousand acres of Florida swampland and pine barrens, owned by one Dr. Andrew J. Turnbull and his aristocratic partners. Rushing to settle Florida, the British Crown had rashly granted huge tracts of land to British speculators but on one invidious condition: the land had to be peopled within three years. Failure resulted in complete forfeiture.
A man smashed a barrel, exposing her. I’m dead now, she told herself as mind-numbing horror engulfed her. Hands seized her, but not the drunken Greeks or Italians, but sixteen-year old Levy the Jew, from Minorca.
“Levy!” she tried to scream above the roar of the mob. For just an instant, the bellowing of the men and the wails of the captured women already forced onto the schooner distracted the rioters.
“GET ABOARD!” Forni exploded in Italian from the deck of the Balmer. “We’ve got to make tide, you dung-eating bastards!” Forni was ursine, his dark skin stretched tightly over a gaunt frame. He knew, as all New Smyrna’s survivors knew, they’d been tricked into slavery at New Smyrna and nothing but death awaited them there.
“Freedom!” a crazed Greek howled from shore. In chaos, a hundred rioters overwhelmed the Balmer’s gangplank and joined the hundreds of men already on board. Levy the Jew went with them, clutching Toria tightly. Aboard, he placed her on the deck where the abducted women already dragged on board cringed in a group, crying.
“They’ve tied up overseers below,” a panicked woman whispered in Catalan, the language of Minorca. “They’re going to starve them, say it’ll teach them what it feels like.” In the months the colonists had been at New Smyrna each had received only a quart of corn a day. Hominy was ladled out and men were forced to publicly whip their wives for trying to steal bread for their starving children.
Forni continued thundering orders at the mob, the Greeks not understanding Italian, the Italians too drunk to care.
We’ve wasted too much time, Forni snarled in boiling fury, too much time! Three days to convince the Greeks to come, never able to convince those idiot Minorcans. But now we have Turnbull’s ship, we’ll make Havana, and leave those stinking Minorcans to die here in the pissing swamps!
The wind in the harbor was against them and they missed the tide.
“A pox on this place for eternity!” Forni raved. “Now we have to wait for the next filthy tide to get us over that devil’s sandbar!” And out of Mosquitto Inlet forever. “Turnbull might be warned by then!”
“Ha!” a drunken voice answered. “What can Turnbull do against hundreds of us?”
Forni paid the fool no attention. Have they heard of our revolt in St. Augustine? he asked himself for the hundredth time. He scanned the north horizon uncontrollably, searching for the mast of a ship, any ship. They can’t get here in time he prayed. But three days, three days has been too long! Three days to organize the men, kill the overseers, provision the boat, wait for the tide. That foul sandbar! I’d be gone from Florida forever but for that damn bar blocking the harbor!
Forni sailed the Balmer southward, following the waterway close to the beach, waiting for the high tide to lift the ship up over the bar and out to sea. To Havana. To freedom.
“Maybe the British in St. Augustine will come,” Toria cried out, unable to accept her fate.
“How could they know what’s happened? And if they did come what would they do? Blast us out of the water!”
She turned and saw Levy the Jew behind her. He slipped a piece of bread into her hand and walked away, looking at the north horizon.
All eyes riveted on the north horizon. And the tide. The tide was rising.
“We’re going to make it!” Forni gasped.
The Balmer turned and warped easterly from the lagoon, toward the sea. They were within a cable’s length of the bar when they saw the first British packet bearing down on them from the north. Then they saw the sloop that accompanied her.
Forni cursed wildly at the two British vessels patiently waiting for him on the other side of the sandbar.
“The East Florida and the Juno!” he screamed furiously, uselessly. “Fitted with carriage guns and swivels!” And deckfulls of troops.
The rioters and prisoners hushed, all wondering in sickening horror whether Forni would fight or surrender. From the north the East Florida began crossing the bar toward them. The Juno waited outside with grim efficiency.
The Balmer was blockaded.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” a berserk voice shouted as thirty-five of the rioters’ leadership hurled themselves overboard onto a small boat.
The East Florida fired one cannon ball at the Balmer intentionally missing. Panic exploded on deck and two Greek gun crews grabbed swivels to fire back.
“NO! NO!” Forni screamed insanely, his black eyes flaming. The Greeks paid him no mind and fired one round each at the East Florida.
It was enough.
The recoil of the weapons caused the stolen schooner to run aground backward onto the bar.
“I’m hung,” Forni muttered in madness as he watched his escaping friends in the rowboat disappear southward and the Juno glide off after them.
The Balmer struck, and when the rising tide lifted her off the bar the East Florida forced her back up the harbor. The women and children were freed and seventy-five of the three hundred rioters were taken prisoners by the British.
Toria ran from the boat to the tiny palmetto hut that was her home. She was nine years old and amazed to still be alive.