In my gallop through extracts from my books leading up to Read Tuesday, we have reached the most recently published one, Bravo Victor, number 6 in the Princelings series. Next week I have an exclusive for you, a discussion of various themes that will affect the final book(s) of the series. I’ll also be revealing all the special offers I have for Read Tuesday.
Bravo Victor (book 6)
When we first met Victor in book 1, he was a simple barkeeper looking after the Inn of the Seventh Happiness for his father. In the second book he revealed he was studying for a business degree ‘by correspondence’ and in book 3 he had a work placement or internship at Castle Buckmore, helping George to launch the new energy machine. Now, despite trying to get away from the bar to do business advisory work, he is covering for his father who is increasingly frail. He gets some funny customers, but none so strange or mysterious as this one… (Contains spoilers for the series so far)
From Chapter 4: A Blackbird Sings
“Good evening, sir,” I say to the dishevelled vagabond leaning against my bar, newly arrived on the stage from Humber or Wash.
“A dreenk, a meel, an’ a rhoom, pliz,” he replies in a very funny accent.
“Certainly, sir. I have a nice single at the back, or a small room with two beds, below. Half price if you share–of course, you don’t have to.”
“No share, seengle at back, pliz.”
“What would you like to drink, sir, and here’s our menu.” Customers are customers. Despite the accent, he seems to understand me well enough. He points at a celery spritzer on the shelf, and at the Melange du Jour on the menu.
“Right away, sir. Cash or credit?” Just being careful. I learnt that from my dad.
He produces a gold coin. “Eez zis okee?”
I pass my hand over the coin and give him two silver coins as change, in a slick move that would please even my dad. “Of course, sir, that’ll do nicely.”
“Can I open a leen of credit heer?”
“A line of credit, yes, sir. You can open an account here at the inn, or more formally with the trade accounts over there in the kiosk set into the wall.”
“I see. Sank you.”
He doesn’t open a line of credit with me. It reminds me of something that happened when I was very little. I always watched my dad open lines of credit for customers because it fascinated me. We got gold, the customers could go anywhere they wanted, and we sorted out their bills as long as they kept in credit. And they always reminded me of Hugo. He came in and set up his Wozna Cola business. I miss having him around. He was fun. And Willow. I never did find out what happened to Willow.
I keep thinking about the old days. It’s a busy day. Lots of people wanting to stay over. A party of young ladies going further north for some reunion of school friends. They’re lucky, I think. I didn’t go to school; I learned everything right here. Lady Nimrod had been behind that. She made sure that some of us young people in isolated places got our education anyway. A wonderful lady.
The foreign chap sits in a corner and watches everyone. I watch him watching everyone. I can’t tell you why I am so suspicious of him. I mean, usually people don’t attract attention to themselves. There is nothing he does to attract my attention–he just does.
The young ladies retire to their rooms. The older guys in the bar stop complaining that young people today have too much freedom. It’s true that when I was younger, hardly any females travelled, and especially not on their own. Things are changing, but slowly. Gertrude and a few of the other stallholders nip in for their evening meals once the stages leave and the arrivals have had time to shop. Things quieten down for a bit.
“Do yu sell Wozna?”
Of all the questions he might ask, that is the least expected.
I manage to hide my face by pretending to sweep something off the floor, giving myself time to think through a few different answers:
“Wozna? What’s that?” would be an interesting line.
“Not any more, sir. Where did you hear of it?” is more direct.
“No” would get me nowhere.
“Yes, but we haven’t any in stock,” has the benefit of being accurate, since if I had some, I’d sell it.
It’s been over five years since we sold Wozna. When the time tunnel closed, the stocks of Wozna dried up. If we manage to find a way to export cold drinks to the great metropolis of Hattan, across the Great Western Ocean, we will do so, and reimport Wozna Cola, sometime after July 2021. In the meantime, Wozna is strictly off limits. It is the price of closing the time tunnel and solving the problem of the Great Energy Drain. We don’t want to go back to those days. Most people in the Realms have forgotten about it.
Who is this chap?
I straighten up and say, “Wozna, sir? Haven’t had it for years now.” True. “Where did you hear of it?”
He reaches into a small bag he’s kept at his feet the entire evening.
“Zees iz Kingfeesher. Tests az good.”
He places a bottle of the same size and shape as a Wozna on the bar between us. I look at the picture of a kingfisher on the front, turn the bottle round, and stare at the label on the back.
A picture of Hugo stares back at me.
(c) 2014 J M Pett
You can buy Bravo Victor at full price ($2.99) from the following online retailers:
You can also get it at Smashwords in all formats at half price using the coupon code BD97K. If you’re lucky you may pick up a promotional price at one of the other stores too. The coupon runs until 16th December 2014, which is the theoretical end date for the other promotional prices, but the actual end times/dates are controlled by the retailers.
I hope you enjoyed this trip through the books – watch out for the exclusive content next week!