A Secret in Ruins

At the beginning of the sultry English summer of 2003, Robyn Yates quits her job to photograph fifteen castles for a man she’s never met. A man who won’t tell her his real name.

What motivates her is an unusual ability she can’t explain nor understand. Somebody does though and is keen to exploit her secret.

But Robyn isn’t alone on her journey. An artist is painting pictures of the same castles. Wherever she goes, so does he, like a stalker. But is he dangerous? And could this man be the same person who wants her photographs?

She decides to challenge him, never anticipating that the confrontation will change the path of both of their lives.

The stifling summer will eventually end, but will Robyn find out the truth in time?


The breeze scatters the wisps of pine needles bringing with it was the smell of horse breath and churned turf. At last, the impatient crowd of the berfrois grandstand, which lines each side of the list, fall silent with wide-eyed anticipation of the spectacle to come. Riding forward, the gleaming, armoured stallion is held in check, and snorts loudly. Steam shoots out of his nostrils and colours the air a misty grey; the frosty night has lingered into the early morning. The horse stamps his hooves on the chalky tilt yard and demands its release. However, no signal has been given; the lance handler has just retreated. People grow restless, rowdy in their chants.

The tension grates on the rider, who tries hard to keep his steed under control. Through the eye slits, he focuses on the wooden barrier of the list, then into the distance, where his foe similarly struggles with his mount. Oblivious to the cool damp air, he sweats into his undergarments. The weight and oppressive nature of the garb provides no ventilation. Twisting his rigid form, he attempts to spot the scarf, still held up high and blowing in the breeze. Leather creaks as the saddle strains under the extra movement. Discomfort for the rider is inevitable and serves only to make the seconds feel like hours, and it has only been merely ten or so breaths since their lances rose.

The red cloth falls. Floating, for a moment it catches an up current and drifts, unsure. Then it slumps. Briefly, the jittery horses rear with excitement; the command is given. Unfettered by their grooms, both charge in unison towards each other. The joust has begun.

‘Are you all right, luv? You look… dizzy.’

I jerked, my eyelashes fluttering. A curtain of sunlight breeched my lids with a golden flash. Above me was the silhouette of the stranger whose chafing voice had interrupted me at a crucial moment. I huffed and grabbed the strap of my handbag. Between the teeth of the zipper, I slipped the camera out of sight.

‘Yes, fine.’ I rose and hurried off the small ridge.

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