Return to Caesarea

“Return to Caesarea is an entertaining and well researched book. It transports you into the world of 1st Century Judea where different cultures collide.  The characters are well drawn and realistic making you keep turning the pages… and not put it down… to find out what happens to them and ‘who did it!.’

If you’ve read the first book…. then it’s good to hear more about those characters and their journey.”

Margaret UK

Volume 2 in the Leaving Bethany Series

It is five years since Martha, a friend of Jesus, and her family arrived safely in Cyprus and life has become predictable. Until one morning when a familiar face arrives with bad news. A friend is in prison in Caesarea on a charge of murder.

She immediately sails to help him and is faced with the possibility that he is guilty. Can she clear his name and find the real culprit in time to save him from a horrendous execution?

Help comes from an unexpected source and challenges Martha’s ideas of who can be a follower of Jesus. She must make impossible choices about who to trust and what to do to save her friends.

Set in Caesarea in AD 39, only six years have passed since Jesus rose from the dead and the new believers have important decisions to make as to who is now acceptable to join their group. But Martha is determined that nothing will stop her from helping those who need her.

Read the first page here

The young woman stood at the open window and beckoned her friend over. Nudging each other they giggled until I parted them to see what the fuss was. A handsome young man stood on the jetty talking to the harbour master who pointed towards our warehouse.  I shooed the girls back to work before a loud knock shook our door. He stood in the doorway with a smile of recollection, but I didn’t know who he was. This young man was unknown to me. His blond hair and blue eyes marked him out as different from the usual Mediterranean complexion. Behind me, the girls continued to giggle at this sudden arrival.

The man’s eyes widened. “Lady, it’s good to see you again.”  

Lady? There was only one person and his crew, who called me Lady and this was not that man. Everyone else used my given name, Martha.

My sister walked through the workshop with a sigh. “I’m told there’s a young man here.” She stroked her stomach. “Probably too late for me.” Behind her, the girls continued to giggle.

“Go back to your weaving,” I instructed but knew there would be no further work until he left.

He smiled. “I’m pleased to see you too, Mary.”

Mary stood in front of him, examining his features. She put her head on one side, then gasped and covered her mouth with her hands.

“Gallio, is that you? Martha, do you not recognise him? It’s Gallio.”

How could I recognise this young man with his smiling face and well-built, tanned body? The last time I saw him, he was a scared, emaciated, and abused enslaved child.

Mary took his arm. “Are you here with your ship? Where’s Captain Marcus?”

For the first time since his arrival, the smile turned into a frown. He searched inside the leather bag slung over his shoulder and pulled out a piece of folded parchment.

“It’s from the Captain, Lady. He needs your help. Three days ago, Roman soldiers arrested him, and now he’s in prison in Caesarea on a charge of murder.” 

I took the letter to an open window where the bright sunshine shone through, lighting up the dancing dust motes. Examining the paper, I ran a finger over my name, Martha of Bethany, written in Marcus’s neat handwriting. Then tore the seal open.

“Martha, I am in desperate need of your help. I beg you to believe me when I say I am wholly innocent of the crime of murder for which I am now in jail. The friends I thought I had have deserted me, and I have nowhere else to turn. From our conversations on board the Minerva five years ago, I remember you talking about your friend Johanna and her husband, who works for Herod Antipas. If you write a letter telling them of the service I did for you, do you think they would help me? I am not poor and have the funds to pay for any assistance given. I trust our friendship means as much to you as it does to me.

Marcus, Captain of the Minerva.”

The room grew unusually quiet, and I felt everyone staring. Sounds from outside drifted in through the open window. Shouts of men and rumbling of wheels were now loud in the silent room. Larnaca was one of Cyprus’s busiest ports, and the harbour and quayside were never quiet. Mary seized the letter from my hands and read it.

Gallio frowned. “The Minerva is waiting at the harbour, and it’s important we leave on the next tide, Lady.”

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