18 September 2014

Excerpt Thursday: PERFIDITAS by Alison Morton

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Alison Morton with the second in her Roma Nova series, PERFIDITAS. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free copy of Perfiditas. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating coup d’état thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country.

Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad. Once she’s proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…

“Sassy, intriguing, page-turning…  Roma Nova is a fascinating world” - Simon Scarrow

**An Excerpt from PERFIDITAS**

‘Captain Carina Mitela?’
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Who is this?’
Custodes XI Station. An emergency token with your code has been handed in. We’re holding the presenter.’
I dropped everything and headed for the tunnel connecting our headquarters to the police station.  The duty sergeant, with a typical cop’s bland expression but trying to conceal a speculative gleam in her eyes, handed me the token without a word.
As we walked to the interview rooms, I stared at the thirty-nine millimetre diameter disc, made to imitate a casino chip, indigo blue polycarbonate shielding the tiny microprocessor. The last one I’d had in was from an informant handling incoming diplomatic baggage at the airport; her sharp eyes had spotted a very undiplomatic cargo of compact assault rifles. Sure, Roma Nova was a small country, hidden away between New Austria and Italy, but we weren’t stupid or sloppy. Working with the Intelligence section, I’d traced the weapons back to their Balkan Republic origins and led a covert service unit to destroy their warehouse.
The figure I saw today through the smartplex observation window of the public interview room was slumped over, elbows on the table, hands braced her under her chin, her long black hair looking like it hadn’t seen a brush for days. Mossia Antonia. She owned and ran one of the toughest, and most exclusive, training gyms in the country. Right now, she looked like a street vagrant.
I shucked off my uniform of beige shirt and pants and black tee, and pulled on the casuals the custodes duty sergeant had found in lost property for me, ignoring the smell of stale food and cooking fat clinging to them.
Mossia jerked her head up as I entered the room.
Salve, Mossia. What’s the problem?’ I plunked myself down on the other chair, crossed my arms and waited.
‘Bruna?’ She blinked and shook her head like she didn’t believe what she saw.
I opened my hand in a gesture inviting her to talk.
‘Aidan has disappeared,’ she said, looking down and rubbing the table with her index finger. Inlaid with coffee rings from careless mugs, the plastic surface reflected the impacts of hard-tipped pens and handcuff scrapes.
‘Are you sure?’
She nodded.
‘How do you know? Aidan has other clients apart from yours. Maybe he’s gone on vacation, or been called away.’
Her head came up at that. ‘His first duty is to me – I pay him a good retainer to look after my clients.’
‘So what makes you think he’s not coming back?’
She pulled out a folded piece of paper with black, sloping writing. I read it, laid it down on the table, and leaned back in my chair. Then I picked it up and read it again. I couldn’t believe it. He wrote he couldn’t bear it any longer; he’d had enough of her unfair working practices. He resigned with immediate effect and would make sure her clients knew exactly why he’d done it. I pinched the bridge of my nose to make sure I was awake.
‘He took nearly a thousand solidi from the cash drawer and my gold pen.’ Mossia jabbed the air with her finger. ‘Whatever. What really bugs me are those lies.’ Her face was rigid and her eyes blazing. ‘I could kill him for that.’ Her chair crashed backwards to the ground with the force of her jumping up. She started pacing around the room like a lion in the arena.
I wasn’t surprised at her anger. She worked her people hard, but looked after them. I knew her employment packages were first-class; as an anonymous shareholder, I’d seen her accounts.
‘You’ve reported him to the custodes as a missing person?’
‘I’m reporting it to you.’
‘Why? I’m not the custodes.’
‘Well, you’re something like that.’ Ninety-eight per cent of my colleagues in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces would take offence at that, but I let it pass.
She came to rest by the table and looked down at me.
‘What?’ I said.
‘It’s personal.’
‘Were you sleeping with him?’
Her shoulders slumped and she crossed her arms across her chest.
‘Silly sod.’
She pulled a small moue.
I stretched over and touched her forearm in sympathy. I shot a side glance at the watch on my outstretched wrist. Hades!
‘I’ll have the custodes log it,’ I said and stood up. ‘You go home now or, better, back to the gym. The custodes will let you know of any developments.’
She took a full stride toward me, so near that she was all but touching me. ‘What do you mean? Aren’t you going to do anything about it?’
‘Okay, it’s bloody annoying, it’s hurtful, whatever, but it’s hardly a case for an emergency token. Leave it with the custodes.’
I stepped away and pushed my chair under the edge of the table.
‘Come on, Mossia, time to go. Think of the money you’re not making while you’re wasting time here.’
She shot me a vicious look. The anger was rolling off her. She took a deep breath and gazed unseeing at the dirty beige walls for a minute or so.
Had I been too harsh? A stab of guilt prodded me. I’d known Mossia for years, but my schedule was crushing and I was behind already.
I knocked on the door which opened inward revealing a blue-uniformed custos.
‘We’re finished here,’ I told him.
I looked at Mossia’s taut, silent figure. ‘The custos will see you out. I’ll stop by the gym if I hear anything.’
‘Well, screw you!’ She turned her back to me and stalked out without another word.

PERFIDITAS is available through your local bookshop (paperback), Amazon (myBook.to/PERFIDITAS) and other online retailers here http://alison-morton.com/perfiditas/where-to-buy-perfiditas/.
PERFIDITAS will be at a special price of $1.99/£1.29 from 17 September through to 25 September.
About the Author

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German, and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, which was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award, and PERFIDITAS, the second in series, have been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®, an award for independent fiction that rejects 90% of its applicants. INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS were shortlisted for Writing Magazine’s 2014 Self-Publishing Book of the Year Award. Alison’s third book SUCCESSIO came out in June 2014 and was selected in August 2014 by the Historical Novel Society as indie Editor’s Choice.


Connect with Alison on her blog http://alison-morton.com/blog/
Twitter https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison-morton

Buying links (multiple retailers/formats):
SUCCESSIO: http://alison-morton.com/successio/where-to-buy-successio/