The page 69 test. There's a movement by this name. Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works.
So, without further adieu, here is page 69 of Bloodlines. I'm not going to introduce it but I welcome your response.
stung with the pressure of her arms behind her back. Her scalp crawled with lice and the niggle and twitching beneath her cropped hair was almost beyond her endurance as she stood there, bedraggled, in front of
her father’s former aide.
‘I am sorry,’ Rachel said dipping her head. ‘I have heard of your pain.’
‘Pain?’ Calum scoffed. ‘What say you of such things?’ A page ran over and gave the king a goblet, which he drained. ‘You,’ he said, pointing to Rachel. ‘Have no understanding of this word.’
His rage reached across the flagstones and punched against her chest. Oh, how wrong he was but she could see that the real Calum was not a reasonable man and could not be relied upon.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘You are correct.’
Her words seemed to give him pause and he shifted in his seat. ‘Good.’ He nodded at the guard who stood behind her. The man removed a long knife and her heart skipped a beat. This was it then. It was all finished and now she was to meet her saviour.
Rachel closed her eyes and held her breath, waiting for the fatal wound, but instead the guard used the weapon to cut the rope that held her hands behind her back. She stood there a moment, disorientated, but was brought back to the present by the stinging in her hands.
Calum eyed her as she rubbed her wrists and tried not to make a show of wiping away the tears on her face. ‘Your father always said that you were stronger than your brother. Perhaps he was right.’ She stared at him uncertain as to what his expectations were. He waved a hand. ‘You are an observer, Rachel. Very much like me I should think.’ The comparison chilled her. Never had she felt so far apart from this man. ‘Which is just as well because I have plans for you, young princess and I am pleased that you are now in my possession.’ Calum grinned as he bowed low and Rachel dug her nails into her palms.
He stood again and rubbed his eyes – an action that she had seen so many times before. Did Calum suffer from pains in the head? Was his vision affected? Was there something physical that worsened his mood?
‘Are you unwell?’ She asked.
Calum paused, tilted his head sideways and studied her. ‘My physicians have attended me and are giving me instruction to alleviate the pains I get in my head. Even the monks, when I was in solitude, offered up prayers for healing. Yet, I am still afflicted. It is because the weight of my obligations to the living and the dead press in on me.’