Publication Date: 19th June 2020
Print Length: 295 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
The Titanic disaster is the catalyst that sparks a bloody feud between two families in early 20th century America.
Magda Asparov is travelling from her home in the Ukraine to be the chosen bride of American businessman Matthew Turner III. But the ill-fated voyage of the unsinkable ship has far reaching consequences for her and her savior.
Magda has lost her memory and a new personality, Maggie, has taken hold. The Captain of her rescue ship, Richard Blackmore, has fallen for Maggie.
A mental illness, betrayal, murder, and corruption destroy Blackmore's life until all that remains is for him to seek revenge.
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April 14-15, 1912
Magda was content as the mighty ship ploughed forcefully through the sea and she walked gracefully along the ship’s promenade deck. It was dark and cold, but the gay music from the ballroom washed over her and Magda reflected on her soon to be new life. She smiled at a passing ship’s officer, knowing full well he, and many others, secretly desired to get to know her better. But she considered most men to be beneath her and treated them to a smile, but a smile hiding her cold contempt. Not for her the drudgery of a scullery maid in a big American household, or the wife of a lowly ship’s officer. Magda would control her life, not her parents and certainly not her husband. In her new life, she would be the mistress, the power behind the throne to such a mansion that she had never suspected she would see inside. Magda had one goal in America, to gain money and power.
At only twenty-years of age she would become the wife of a man twice her age, a man she had never met. She had of course seen him; at least, she had seen a photograph. Not at all the same thing, she readily admitted, but it was better than nothing. Yes, he was overweight and yes; he was no doubt hungry for knowledge of her body. Magda would ignore those small facts. The bigger fact was that he was rich. Rich, powerful and more than capable of being manipulated and moulded into something Magda could manage, someone she could control. In preparation she had diligently learned English, perfecting her accent so that not a trace of her own language could be detected. She was ready for this challenge, ready for anything the world could throw at her.
A steward passed by Magda and smiled at her. He was carrying blankets for a small group of passengers chatting near the stern promenade. He had seen Magda many times and often day-dreamed of talking to her, maybe even taking her out for a drink in his local pub in Southampton. But Magda never smiled back at him, staring through him as if he didn’t exist. The shudder of the great liner brought him out of his reverie, and he looked round.
Magda too was shaken from her own thoughts and she also looked around. Suddenly realising she had walked almost the entire length of the ship and was now close to the stern, the bow to her rear. Magda turned and gasped, the cold night air blowing into her face causing her breath to form swiftly flowing clouds of water vapor. Against the backdrop of the ebony and bejewelled night sky, Magda saw something she had never seen in her life and instinctively backed away from it.
The ship shuddered once more and then lurched with shocking violence. Ice came crashing down onto the deck at the prow of the ship. Magda watched, fascinated, as the enormous iceberg crept inexorably along the side of the ship, dropping huge amounts of ice onto the luxury liner’s heaving and twisting deck as it passed by. With one last lurch, the ship veered away from the ice and Magda turned to her right to move away from the steadily falling ice.
Magda moved too slowly, her dress catching on a deck chair. The left side of Magda’s head was struck by a large piece of heavy ice, a piece of the brittle sea, the force of the blow cutting into her flesh and knocking Magda sideways to the ship’s rail and at the same time the ship lurched. As she fell, on that starry, cold, cold night in the Atlantic, blood poured from her wound and Magda Asparov fell into oblivion.
The darkness slowly gave way to a twilight world, a world that sparkled with light in a deep blue hue. She floated within a cocoon of soft grey, snuggling down into the softness, trying to fend off a deeply penetrating cold. Night came once more and once more the inky blackness took hold of her and enveloped her.
“You can’t have that, Pieter!”
Magda stamped her feet in anger and frustration as her brother threw another stick into the apple tree branches. The last remaining bright red fruit was ready to drop and would fall to the one that caught it, and Magda’s brother was better at playing catch than she was.
Her brother didn’t take his eye off the prize. “Father says you should call me Peter, for the sake of the American.”
“Hah!” Maggie snorted her derision but turned back towards the house and looked nervously at the large and expensive horse and carriage that had brought their American visitor from the city. He was here to meet the family, to ask a few questions and then he would depart, so her Father had said. But Magda wasn’t stupid, she was clever in her own way. She may have been in her late teens, but she still had the head of a wily woman. She had seen the way the American had looked at her, like a child in a sweet factory, but with pure lust in that lascivious gaze. Magda instinctively knew about men, and what men wanted. She wouldn’t give away her body to any man except for a price. Love never came into her mind when she thought about men and their desires. Magda was cool, calculating, and full of her own needs. The price for her compliance in a relationship was high, and it was too high for anyone she had so far encountered… except maybe this American. They had never met, or spoken, but even from a distance she could see the look in his eyes.
She knew her father had money problems. His business, canning fruits, and vegetables had been bought by a large company, but the price they paid had not been what her father had wanted. She knew he’d been cheated; that he was too weak and docile to act, which made her job that much easier, because she took what she wanted, always.
Peter’s cry jolted Magda back into reality and she stamped her feet once more when she saw him bite into the juicy and sweet apple. “That was mine,” she screamed.
The boy looked back at her, his blond fringe flying in his face as the wind picked up. “Finders keepers,” he said, taking another bite.
Before he could say or do another thing, Magda had picked up a fallen branch and hit the apple out of her brother’s hand, then proceeded to beat him across the back and arms. Wherever she could land the blows she did, all the while admonishing him for stealing what she knew was rightfully her apple. Magda’s anger knew no bounds when she felt cheated.
The cold was beginning to bite into her. Fingers and toes were burning, becoming numb, despite the thick ship’s blankets she was wrapped in. Her dream was broken, and the memories of her past life slipped away to lay dormant in the recesses of her mind. Briefly Magda became aware of her surroundings. She saw ice as well as splintered wood from the life-raft she had fallen into when she fell overboard. The small craft had broken her fall, then it had broken free from its divots. Falling down onto a breakaway berg from the behemoth of ice that had dealt the death blow to the ship, Magda, unconscious from the blow to her head, had been unaware even as it crashed into the ice that saved her from drowning.
While hundreds around her drowned and the great ship broke in two and sank, Magda’s icy saviour twisted and turned in the great convulsions of water that saw the passing of the Titanic. Magda, in her stupor, her body reacting to the cold, huddled down into the wrecked life raft and found a saviour in the multiple blankets a hurrying steward had thrown on top of her just as the divots had broken. The steward had watched in horror as the raft fell away but was then himself hit by a mass of ice as the berg had crashed into the ship. He was the first fatality on that starry night, but his actions had saved Magda.
As a child, Tom Kane's family always insisted he was born in the corner of the living room, behind the TV. That strange assertion, true or false, seems to have set the tone for the rest of his life. Kane's mother inspired him to write. Doctor Who and Isaac Asimov inspired his love of science fiction. Monty Python inspired him to be silly and he continues to blame Billy Connolly for his infrequent bursts of bad language In the corner or behind the TV, what is officially known about Tom Kane's birth is that it took place in England many moons ago.
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