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The Forever Girl [MultiFormat]
eBook by Mike Bonner

eBook Category: Historical Fiction
eBook Description: A romantic, yet unsparing and authentic novel of the destruction of the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum that far surpasses The Last Days of Pompeii. Young Kara is taken into captivity after Roman legionaries and their allies overrun her village. Within the space of a few months, she goes from being a cherished daughter of loving parents to an orphaned and exploited Roman slave. At the age of eight, she is cast adrift in a culture that has little regard for human life-especially a slave's life. But she has one asset: Kara's mane of beautiful golden hair keeps her alive because of its value in producing the blond wigs favored by fashionable Roman women. She is purchased by Agrippina, the wife of Senator Titus Clodius Eprius Marcellus for precisely this purpose. Along with the story of Kara, the novel follows the life of a Roman soldier who participated in the destruction of her tribe; plus Anicius, a slave who murders his master when he is denied the freedom that was promised him, setting off a chain of tragedies; the gifted young writer Tacitus, who struggles to make a difference, in the literature and politics of his age; the tormented former slave Aurelius tries to come to terms with a shameful past; the drunken fortune teller Paccia; the ambitious magistrate, Lepidus Salvus; the visionary Senator Marcellus, his privileged wife Agrippina, and their spoiled daughter, Amelia. Towering over all is immortal Vesuvius, serenely unconcerned with the frantic, haunted lives of the human beings at her base. As she grows older, Kara is charged with attending her wealthy Roman family's prized grandson and heir, Justus. Because she loves the babe, Kara is happy and filled with pleasure in performing this duty. This wins her the love of Marcus, the child's father, but also the hatred of Agrippina, who schemes to consign Kara to the brothel. On the day the fatal eruption occurs, it is the infant Justus that Kara risks her life to protect.

eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2010


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PROLOGUE

The infant in Kara's arms stirred restlessly. Justus needed changing and had not been fed since morning, but thankfully he had fallen asleep. Biting down on her lower lip, Kara shifted him carefully from her right shoulder to her left and tried to make herself comfortable in the stifling boat shelter.

All around her was darkness, broken only by a lamp in the far back. The absence of light magnified the sobbing and laments of the people within. Behind her, Kara heard others crying, moaning, whispering, or praying in hushed, worried voices. She fingered the small wooden cross in the pocket of her tunic, feeling reassured.

On Kara's left was her former Mistress Amelia, heavy with child, dazed and exhausted. The stress of the crisis had used up Amelia's slim reserves of physical energy.

On the other side of Kara sat Esther, the little slave girl from the villa. She too slept, curled up at Kara's side.

The heavy air did nothing to muffle the persistent rumble that issued from the mountain looming over the town. No one knew what was happening or why. What they did know was that the events of the day had driven most of Herculaneum's inhabitants fleeing from town in a headlong panic.

But not Kara and the dozens of people who had sought refuge in the boat shelters on the beach.

If only Amelia and her mother had seen fit to leave at the first sign of trouble, they might have reached safety by now!

If only.

Instead, the crisis had grown steadily worse since noon, when an explosion atop Vesuvius sent that terrible cloud billowing towards Pompeii.

At this moment, Amelia's mother stood outside the chamber, arguing with the Watch Captain about who would be first to go when their rescuers arrived.

Was it possible? The rumble suddenly grew louder, becoming a deep-throated roar. The ground beneath them began to shake, and people screamed. Kara hugged Justus tightly, stretching out on the ground, praying for the tremors to cease...


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