Short stories about Betrayal

Do you ever wish things might have turned out differently in the past, or that we could know all those enticing titbits of hidden history? In all the short story collections I’ve participated in, I’ve always written on this theme.

So in the two previous posts about short stories, we’ve looked at alternative outcomes to 1066, then at multiple aspects of the 1229 year history of Rome (in the West).

This time, we’re going for a whole stretch of history. Spanning eras from post-Roman Britain to the present day, this collection brings to life  legendary moments of deceit as well as imagined episodes of treachery.

In The Idealist, you meet Roma Nova’s much-loved Carina and Conrad again. Carina is in top snappy form as you’d expect but she’s devastated to discover a dark piece of Mitela family history from the 1840s which could rebound into the 21st century and bring ruin and exile for her, her children and family into perpetuity. (So nothing too drastic… 😉 )

I know, writing a dual timeline short story was madness, but you do get 12,000 words from me!

In stories by the other authors, you’ll encounter princes, soldiers, noblewomen, knights, highwaymen, pirates, and ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. All of these characters have something in common, though – betrayal. Collectively, these stories illustrate the truth that whatever its source – family, foe, lover, comrade – betrayal has devastating consequences.

Based on two continents and in five countries, the Historical Fictioneers include Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage,  Derek BirksHelen HollickAmy MaroneymeChar NewcombTony RichesMercedes RochelleElizabeth St John and Annie Whitehead.

And with these colleagues three of the four benefits of writing such collections were fulfilled many times over:

  • an opportunity to stretch your writing muscles
  • fun to join in a project with writing colleagues (new and old)
  • a chance to strut your stuff to their readers and beyond

The fourth, ‘sometimes you make a few bob’ doesn’t apply as we made the decision to offer the collection free of charge on Amazon, Apple, B&N Nook, Kobo and many other ebook retailers. You can go to them all via this link:

Here’s an extract from my story set in 1849/the present about Statia Mitela who was much too much of an idealist for her own good. And she never dreamed it could affect her 21st century descendant, Carina.

Outskirts of Rome, Italy, 2nd July 1849

‘Mercury be thanked,’ Statia rasped when she saw the ancient milestone ‘Roma VI.’ And these would be six good Roman miles. She swallowed hard which made her dry throat worse. Despite the broad-brimmed riding hats the four of them wore, the brutal heat of the early July sun beat down, exhausting them all. Statia pulled up her mount under the shade of one of the occasional clumps of pines and patted his shoulder almost absent-mindedly. The poor horse, a hired animal, was as weary as she was. And as dusty from the road.

‘Domina?’ Her leading companion drew up beside her.

‘I need a drink, Valerius,’ she said and swivelled round in her saddle. The other two riders were only a few paces behind. ‘And so do the animals.’

‘The Anio below us would be best and we can rest by the bank.’

They picked their way down to the river where Valerius supervised the two servants watering the horses. After a few moments, he left them to it and sat by Statia on the wool rug she had pulled from her saddle pack.

‘Yes,’ she said as he stared at it. ‘I know. Well and good for the mountains we’ve come through from the Adriatic, but inappropriate for Rome in June. But even though we’re incognito, I don’t want to enter Rome with grass stains or mud on my breeches’ arse.’

Valerius laughed. The first time, Statia noted, since they’d left Roma Nova eleven days ago under the cover of darkness. She hadn’t known what a terrible sailor he was until they’d slipped out of Pula in Istria on the merchant ship. He’d kept a pale, grim, nearly green face until they’d landed safely at Aternum, or Pescara as the Italians called it now.

A former Praetorian centurion, Valerius was used to travelling fast through mountains on ramshackle cold trails. These days, he guarded her home, the Domus Mitelarum, but more than that, he gave her, informally, wise counsel almost as a father would. He’d tried to stop her mission, calling it demented, but had given in with a grunt when she said she would go with or without him. Now they were near Rome, Statia was starting to have her doubts. Perhaps she should have stayed on the farm at Castra Lucilla where she knew what she was doing.

No, she must go on, whatever the cost. She had promised and that was an end on it. She knew the consequences could be harsh, but she was sure the imperatrix would see the justice of it. Well, Statia hoped she would. Constantia Apulia’s disinclination to help the new Roman Republic played on Statia’s mind. Consulted in strictest confidence, Councillor Branca, the imperatrix’s chief advisor, had pointed out to Statia that it would be reckless and would have to be carried out in the utmost secrecy if she insisted on going ahead.

Despite their friendship since childhood, a running dispute over land near Castra Lucilla had soured their relationship. Branca desperately wanted back the spelt fields that had been sold by her ancestor to Mitela in the fifteenth century. However, despite their bickering Statia had felt obliged to consult Branca about her self-imposed mission as the latter was the Imperatrix’s chief councillor. Statia hadn’t been fully reassured by Branca’s words but she hoped the councillor would act honourably and support Statia if there were repercussions.

Branca. Hm.  Was Statia right to trust her? And what was the secret mission that nineteenth century Roma Novan Statia was engaged on? And how di the repercussions run down the centuries?
Download a free copy of Betrayal and you will find out!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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