Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sunshine

As writers, we all have those lines or paragraphs that we are immensely proud of. Well, I have two such moments. A little background: this is a typical historical romance with instant attraction that is being fought every step of the way because of a Big Misunderstanding.Something happened between them (not romantic), and Duncan got hurt pretty bad. 

I actually wrote the scene where he got injured with them shifting into dragons – and his shift was violently ripped from him. That probably helps this make more sense. Fortunately (for the sake of my historical romance), those dragons hied off to parts unknown, so that whole bit has to be written over)….

Anyway, here is the first part – you can see the reference to dragons here. 

“You test my patience, Helena. I want to hate you. I really do.” Duncan said, running a hand through his dark hair.

Helena watched his movements through lowered lids. He grabbed up handfuls of sand, letting it sift through his fingers. But what?

When he did not continue, she asked. Her voice was quiet, barely audible above the crashing of the waves, her brow wrinkled. She could no longer handle the suspense or pain; loneliness pushed down upon her, the weight too heavy.

“How does one hate the sun, Princess?” He asked in way of a response. “It creeps slowly into your life, brightening your day, your world. Only once it has slipped away do you realize just how bright life was. How much better.”

Helena pushed herself up, looking Duncan directly in the eye. What, exactly was he telling her? “Do you forgive me for ripping the dragon from your soul?”

Duncan winced, pain clouding his eyes, “The sun burns when least expected, Princess.” Pausing to consider his next words, he said only, “I acknowledge it was not you, but rather the dragon.”

Next, several days later, they are overheard having the following conversation:

What is this Duncan?” The girl asked in hushed tones that barely carried to their hiding spot.

First names. They were intimate enough to use first names in public. Wait until she told Mama. The girl would be ruined. If she weren’t already, she corrected with a snort.

“It is the moon, Princess. You are the sun, so all I can do is hang the moon for you.” Duncan’s words whispered over Eloise’s skin, sending chills down her spine.

Emotion

I am turning my eye to a new (for me) style of writing – literary fiction. Character driven, emotional… That’s really right up my alley, isn’t it?

I recently purchased the Emotional Thesaurus on Amazon for my Kindle App. I love it. I love trying to explore the emotional roller coaster that is the doomed marriage of Thomas and Celeste. And the thunderbolt of instant connections – did you catch that last week?

Last week, I teased at the passion that lies between them. It was interesting, fun. This week, I explored a completely different emotion: jealousy.

So, my weekly serials are going to change in a few ways, although hopefully only one. I am going to pick an emotion, and make that the theme behind each installment. That’s the one change I know will happen. The second? You can thank Doctor Who for this one. Because time is not linear, it’s entirely possibly that my future posts will be out of order. It all depends on the emotion that’s chosen.

Have one you want me to explore? Let me know…

Now, lest you think I do not pay attention to my own writing…

Here, Celeste and Thomas met Eleanor for the first time. Celeste immediately recognized Thomas’ interest in Eleanor. She even lamented that it was the end of her rather polite marriage?

But, was it really?

Yes, Thomas neglected to insist upon better treatment of her. Yes, her father-in-law despises her. But Celeste is strong; she demanded the respect she deserved – it was such a part of her that I never even felt the need to write about it. She’s a Traveller, a Beaker. She is disciplined, educated, and independent. As for the elderly Lord Blacke… The deed is done, and there’s nothing he can do about it, despite his threats.

None of that, however, will stop the lust that exists between them. Thomas and Celeste have so much chemistry, so much attraction for each other – and they won’t deny it.

With lust and chemistry, and two such strong individuals, jealousy is bound to happen. It is, as the saying goes, a thin line between love and hate.

Thomas recognizes his jealousy for exactly what it is: a primal reaction to others admiring that which he considers his. Even if he no longer wants this particular toy, he’ll be damned if anyone else can have it.

As for Eleanor’s role in all of this? Well, she’s just a prize that he lost. He doesn’t love her, but he loves the idea of her – of being the Elder, possessing the Dragon Bride as his own.

100 Years of Breed “Improvement”

Occasionally, I share things that are not related to my writing. This is one of them. Adopt from shelters, people. I hear such an uproar over genetic modification of our foods, but no one blinks an eye when it’s a dog. Shame.

Science and Dogs

Everyone is free to copy this – in whole or in part – and slap it on their website without telling me about it. All I ask is that the work is properly attributed.

 If you come across this work without it being attributed to me (in any language) it’s plagiarism. Please use the Feedback/Contact form to let me know.

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#loveisnotabuse

Alicia Norris: A Blog

I have been going back and forth with myself on writing this blog. One part of me wants to just leave it alone. The part of me that is passionate about abuse is winning and has once again prevailed.

Of course, this is about 50 Shades of Grey. I am going to state this. I believe in the right to free press, free speech, and all that jazz. I believe this book has a right to exist. I understand that people need to differentiate fantasy from reality. However, when abuse is romanticized and glorified in a way that it has been with this story, it is putting people in danger. Completely irresponsible.

Christian Grey. This man is using his abuse as a child as an excuse to abuse those around him. An excuse. That is all it is. He is fueled by his past to control his life. Which is…

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Romancing the Paranormal, Cover Reveal

RomancingtheParanormal

 

Romancing the Paranormal

by Brandy L. Rivers,

Claudy Conn, Cynthia St. Aubin, Dakota Cassidy, D’Elen McClain, Gena D. Lutz, Julia Mills, Kym Grosso, Melanie James, Robyn Peterman, Stephanie Rowe, Teresa Gabelman, Victoria Danann

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Genres: Paranormal, Romance

Preorder

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13 BRAND NEW paranormal stories from your favorite USA

Today, New York Times, and Amazon Bestselling authors.

Passions ignite in 13 dangerously hot romances

Stephanie Rowe – Shadows of Darkness

Haunted by a tormented past that has come to reclaim him, a former assassin must choose between

saving the world, or protecting the one woman who can touch his heart and redeem his soul.

Robyn Peterman – Fashionably Hotter Than Hell

Book 5 of the Hot Damned Series

Victoria Danann – Konochur: Wolf Lover

In the middle of a war with dragon shifters, a human widow of a werewolf may get another chance at

love, but feelings of guilt threaten a blossoming attraction to the one wolf everyone thought was

untamable.

Kym Grosso – Lost Embrace

Dominant vampire leader, Kade Issacson, is devastated when his fiancée, Sydney Willows, is nearly killed

by a demon and her transition into the supernatural tests the limits of their bond. Deep in the heart of

New Orleans, they struggle to keep her alive while searching for an escaped killer who promises to end

Sydney’s life once and for all.

Dakota Cassidy – What Not To Were

Claudy Conn – Harley-Awakening

Harley is a Hybrid that doesn’t want to serve revenge up cold. She wants to serve it up now and she

wants serve it up HOT.

Teresa Gabelman – Forbidden Hunger

A shifter without a pack, Janna Lawson goes in search of the man who her mother died trying to protect.

What she finds is Garrett Foster, a man who has the power to decide her fate and causes a hunger inside

her that is forbidden to them both.

Melanie James – Gertie’s Paranormal Plantation

When you run a shelter for paranormal creatures, you can’t afford to let your guard down. When

carefree—and quite naïve—witch Gertie O’Leary welcomes an enchanting new guest to the plantation,

she finds herself caught up in an ancient struggle. Marie Laveau and the gang will have to pull together

once again to save Gertie’s love life. Love, lust and laughs await on the Paranormal Plantation.

Gena D. Lutz – Sonnet Vale: Paranormal Hunter

Paranormal hunter, Sonnet Vale, has the unique ability to hunt and kill vampires. But a chance

encounter with a handsome stranger is about to change everything, teaching Sonnet what it’s like to be

hunted and possessed.

D’Elen McClain – Fang Chronicles: Tyboll

A grumpy bear shifter, a stubborn she-bear shifter, and more growls than a bear clan can possibly

handle. Will the two kill each other or discover they make the perfect mated pair?

Julia Mills – Her Dragon’s Heart

Jace MacQuaid, the youngest Dragon Guardsman since the original knights has just found his mate,

Melanie Whelan…the one the Universe made for him…the light of his soul. Of course, to claim her he

will have to fight a force so dark not even the oldest of dragon kin has the answers. Fate really stepped

in it this time.

Brandy L. Rivers – Seductive Solutions

When Toryn’s trusted friend begins failing, he’ll search for a way to free him of the destructive bond. Isa

might have a solution for Scotty’s problem, if Toryn can help her find the courage.

Cynthia St. Aubin – From Hell to Breakfast

He’s a supernatural bounty hunter with a broken heart and a loose zipper. She’s a succubus with a smart

mouth and a long rap sheet. When her crimes become his problem, they’re in for one hell of a ride.

Here’s a list of all 13 paranormal anthology authors and where to find

them!

1. Stephanie Rowe – Facebook

2. Robyn Peterman- Facebook / Twitter

3. Victoria Danann – Facebook / Twitter

4. Kym Grosso – Facebook / Twitter

5. Dakota Cassidy – Facebook / Twitter

6. Claudy Conn – Facebook / Twitter

7. Teresa Gableman – Facebook / Twitter

8. Melanie James – Facebook / Twitter

9. Gena D. Lutz – Facebook / Twitter

10. D’Elen McClain – Facebook

11. Julia Mills – Facebook

12. Brandy L. Rivers  – Facebook / Twitter

13. Cynthia St. Aubin – Facebook / Twitter

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Hyacinths

Hyacinth.Jealousy

 

Thomas stood in the shadows, furtively watching his beautiful wife laugh at something her partner said. Bitterness swept through him, building with each new partner escorting her to the floor.

As Baldwin swept his wife from the crowded marble floor, he knew his father had been right. The urge to issue a challenge took over; one foot in front of the other, firsts clenched at his side. Swearing under his breath, he caught himself, and quickly moved back into the shadows.

Sweeping his gaze across the mirror lined hall, Thomas quickly found the source of his irritation. Nestled into an open alcove, Lady Harley relaxed on a blue settee, Lord Collins at her side. Not once had the girl looked in his direction. No, her attention was all for Collins.

A growl sounded in the back of his throat, revealing his hiding spot to a gaggle of wives nearby. Renalta Pourchard, wife of his man of business and inveterate gossip, followed his gaze. A knowing smile creased her drawn face. No doubt the information was being filed away to be better used at a later date.

“So, this is where you’ve been skulking, boy.” His father waved a hand, dismissing the young servant who had been wheeling him about. “I would know that rumble anywhere, son.”

“Hello, father. Don’t you have some hapless servant to terrorize?” Thomas smirked into his father’s sightless face, relishing the ability to do so.

“Insolent young pup,” Lord Blacke said. “Why are you hiding in the shadows while that doxy you call a wife flirts with every man present?”

Damn her. Who else had noticed her loose behavior as she flitted about the marble floor, smiling and laughing as if she had not a care in the world. How had his father…

“Who told you such nonsense?” Damn it, why did he even care what Celeste did?

“That harpy, Mrs. Pourchard, of course. Nosy woman. Watch out for her, son.” Concern pushed away censure. Disappointed as he was, Lord Blacke wanted only the best for his only child.

Thomas pushed his father’s large sedan chair from the alcove, making his way to the punch table. The gaggle of wives moved to allow them through, knowing looks on each face.

“No unpleasantries this night, father. We live to serve the new Elder, do we not? He honors us with his presence, as we honor his nuptials with this celebration.”

“How diplomatic, Pennbrooke.” The Earl of Dalrymple stepped into view, a grin breaking the severe lines of his face. “If only you had shown the council such sense prior to the vote.”

“How remiss of me,” Thomas answered drolly. Dalrymple could always be counted on for a laugh.

***

Later That Night

Thomas slipped through the door joining his room to Celeste’s. His bare feet made no noise on the smooth stone floor, yet she met his gaze once again in the mirror.

“Thomas.” His name was a sigh on her soft lips, slipping into his heart. He rejoiced that it was his name, not Baldwin’s, being whispered seductively.

His chest burned; spots clouded his vision. He suddenly wished harm upon Baldwin. His closest friend since boyhood, and a woman – no, two women – would finally come between them.

The candles burned low, flame throwing shadows across the corners of the room. The glow highlighted Celeste’s rich, chestnut curls as she slowly pulled pins from her hair. “Did you come to help me undress, husband?”

Pushing aside his feelings of inadequacy, Thomas came to stand behind his wife. “Of course I have, wife. Tell me, how did you find the evening?”

Celeste held his gaze in the mirror. Was that guilt he saw shining in her eyes? Teeth clenched, he started jerking the pins out of her hair.

Reaching up to stop him, Celeste winced. Quickly covering it with a laugh, she said, “Are you in such a hurry to bed me that you will tear out my hair, husband?”

Thomas growled in response. Celeste smiled. Hurriedly, she pulled free the last few pins, letting her long hair tumble loosely down her back.

Standing, she pulled the curls over her shoulder and said, “Please be careful, Thomas. I do rather like this dress.”

Remembering the appreciative looks of his friends, Thomas tore the gown from her slender body. Pulling her to face him, his lips met hers, fingers trailing to tease at the small of her back.

Burying his face in her hair, notes of hyacinth tickled his nose.

She wore nothing beneath the gown. The thought drove him mad as he directed her to the small chaise near the dressing table. Towering over her naked form, the large diamond pendant caught his eye, eliciting another growl.

She was his wife. His. Not theirs. Damn them all for trying to take her away.

An Opportunity For My Wonderful Followers…

I love the exploration of my weekly blog post. Characters are revealing things to me, rather than me just haphazardly assigning feelings and motivations. Today, I decided to see if anyone else wants in on the fun.

What do I mean?

Well, I am interested in starting a blog tour / round-robin style writing.

What I mean by this is that a group of bloggers will work in tandem to…

Either take turns posting a different short story of their creation, with the others reblogging the short story,

Or…

We could categorize the participating authors by genre, and have a new author in a genre writing a new scene or chapter each week,

Or…

We could challenge ourselves and write outside our genre.

For right now, it is up in the air as I add interested parties. The next step, of course, is to determine which of the above we want to work with. We will also need to determine which day works best for everyone.

If you are interested, please leave me a comment.

To What Do I Owe the Pleasure…

Question: Do we, as authors, have a responsibility to our readers to not disappoint them? What if we added the caveat of not hurting them “too badly”?

No. I am entirely serious. What do you, as authors, think?

Someone posted this sentiment in one of my online writing groups recently. I do not remember which one, nor would I name it if I did. Nor do I even remember the frame of the conversation at the time.

But let me tell you how I felt when I saw those words. Frankly, I was taken aback. I kept my opinions to myself to avoid starting any sort of drama or nonsense. Let me share them with you here; that is why I have this blog, right?

If you could not already tell, I absolutely disagree with the idea that I have a responsibility to not disappoint my readers. I immediately disagreed, but allowed myself 48 hours to reassess my feelings.

Nope.

I don’t know about other writers, but I write adult-themed books. Even if the action in my books never goes past second base, I am not writing young adult fiction.

Adults. Grown up humans. Decidedly not children. I expect adults to react to situations, including disappointment, as adults. It is not my responsibility to shield adults from something as mundane as disappointment. Frankly, it isn’t my responsibility to shield children from disappointment.

There is also the fact that I am writing for myself. Perhaps one day, I will consider trying to publish, but that just isn’t a goal right now. Here’s a tiny secret though: even if I do one day publish something, I’ll still be writing for myself. No one else.

Does this mean I don’t want readers to like my story? No. Are you telling me that people will only like what I write if I write for them and not myself? Do you think the greats worried about disappointing their audience? You know they didn’t. It seems to me that readers are smart enough to know an authentic voice from that of someone targeting an audience. And if I write to avoid disappointing everyone, I will lose my authenticity.

Want to know what I consider my responsibility to any potential future writers? Compelling characters and stories. Nothing more.

Passion

Abstract-En-Chuen-Soo-Juliets-Passion-20x40in-950x472

“Are you nervous about the ball, my lady?” Tansy stood behind her, brushing Celeste’s hair into an intricate updo. Bringing her from London guaranteed at least one ally in a house where she was deemed the interloper.

“Of course not. Why would I be nervous?” The maid’s flush of embarrassment caused Celeste a moment of regret. Why was she purposely alienating her most loyal ally?

Nevermind that Tansy did the most beautiful work with her unruly hair…

Turning, she admired the girl’s work. With a placating smile, she placed one hand on Tansy’s shoulder. “My apologies, Tansy. It would appear I am more nervous than I thought.”

“I hear the master will be there. Is he as ferocious as they, my lady?” Tansy bustled about the room, tidying as she went.

Celeste had counted on her for the latest gossip in London. It proved no different upon their arrival at Summer Haven. In a home where one was not welcome, it helped to have an ear to the ground.

“The old man refuses to meet me, Tansy.” Her cheeks burned as she admitted this. Swallowing the lump welling up in her throat, she acknowledged the truth at last: Summer Haven was killing her self-confidence.

Tansy tsked sympathetically, but said nothing further regarding Lord Blacke. Instea she asked which jewels Celeste would be wearing.

“I’ll have the diamond pendant, Tansy. I believe its simplicity will perfectly contrast the intricacies of my hair.”

“You would dishonor my boy by wearing the gift of another man?”

With a gasp, Celeste turned toward the door. She must have left it cracked because an elderly man in a wheelchair had pushed into her room. This must be Lord Blacke, she decided.

“Lord Blacke. How kind of you visit me. Finally. This is not, as you must be aware, an ideal time for a visit. Shall I call your valet to see you back to your room?” Celeste pulled her father’s old silk dressing gown tighter about her body.

“I am not so easily dismissed, girl. And I will not allow you to dishonor my House with your harlot’s jewels.” Lord Blacke’s sightless eyes bored into her. “You will not wear it.”

“You would rather I present myself as a dowdy frump with no jewels than wear something from my past? Where is the honor in that, sir?” Taking the large pendant from Tansy, she placed it on the dressing table at which she sat. “No fear, though. This is a family heirloom, passed down through the generations. I, and my jewels, bring nothing but honor to the Blacke family name.”

“Honor? From a worthless gypsy whore?” Lord Blacke spat in her direction. Celeste mentally gave thanks it landed quite short of her.

“Please leave my room, Lord Blacke. I will not allow you to spoil the beauty of this night.” Turning her back on the old man, Celeste watched through the mirror as he sputtered, red mottling his face.

“You go too far, girl. Ordering me about in my own home?” Spittle formed at the crack of his thin lips, dribbling onto the black jacket he wore. “I will see this sham of a marriage annulled, mark my words.”

Celeste let loose a brittle laugh, unable to stop it. “When Thomas and I have been sharing a bed these last weeks? I think not, my lord. Now, do leave me be. I have a ball to get ready for.”

Lord Blacke flinched. Jerking back in the wheeled sedan, he rolled himself away, muttering curses under his breath.

“Best not to upset that one too much, miss,” Tansy said, slipping back into sight.

“What the hell did you say to my father just now, Celeste?” Thomas threw open the door joining their suites, a pinched expression on his handsome face.

“Only the truth, husband. Perhaps you should be asking what he said to me.” Sitting down, Celeste let the dressing gown fall loose, breasts pale against the blue silk framing them.

“You dare question me? Clearly you said, or did, something to anger him. Damn it woman, learn your bloody place.” The veins in Thomas’ neck bulged as he shouted.

With a murmur, Celeste dismissed Tansy, secure in the ability to protect herself. A woman alone quickly learned these things.

“I know my place, husband. By your side, proud and strong. It is you who forgets. You, and the people in this cursed pile of stone.” Celeste dropped the thin gown to walk naked to the tall bureau in which she kept her jewels.

Lifting the heavy gold chain from its resting spot on a bed of velvet, she dropped it over her neck, allowing the cool diamond to nestle under her breasts.

“Which of the many before me gifted that to you, wife? Was it the king?”

“This was not a gift, my lord. It is a family heirloom, passed down over generations.” Celeste’s skin rippled as a shiver passed down her spine. “One day, I shall pass it along to a daughter.”

“I would ask which great family it was stolen from, but I honestly do not want to know.” Thomas moved closer to her, wrapping one strong arm around her waist.

It had become like this since their arrival. Words of anger, accusations, and name calling that ended in bouts of sex.

This time, her shudder had less to do with despair, and much more to do with excitement. Thomas’ lips met hers, and all sensible thoughts left her head. One hand crept down her naked back, roughly cupping her rear.

The kiss was over all too soon, however. Thomas broke the embrace, swiping the back of his hand across his lips. Stalking to the door, he said, “Get dressed woman. You are expected to be on time as the hostess. You will not embarrass sweet Eleanor with your crass behavior, either.”

Slamming the door behind him, Thomas left no room for Celeste to respond.

The sharp smell of peppermint soap lingered in the air. She trembled; her knees grew weak. Collapsing, she tumbled to the floor where Tansy found her moments later.

Tsking, the maid helped her stand. “Quick now, Miss Celested. I’ve strict orders to get you ready on time.”

“Yes. It is time for me to play meek hostess while my husband fawns over the young Lady Harley.” Pursing her lips, Celeste felt the bitter taste of jealousy, and despised herself for it.

“What possible excuse could I have for feeling jealous, Tansy. I hold no love for Thomas. Friendship, respect, yes. Love? No.”

“Maybe not, but he is still your husband, your family. We guard what is ours, do we not?” Holding open the shimmering emerald gown, she waited while Celeste stepped into it before tightening the corset bodice.

“Yes, we do.” Smoothing the silk gown over her curves, Celeste twirled in front of her long mirror, admiring the way the fabric shimmered. It would positively glow under thousands of candles reflecting off crystal chandeliers and mirrors.

“Now then miss, let us get you downstairs. No reason to give Lord Thomas another excuse to be angry.”

“No, I suppose not, Tansy. No need to wait up for me, of course.” Dismissing the maid, Celeste made her way down the grand staircase.

There, Thomas waited for her, tapping his foot against the cold marble floor of the Great Hall. Twisting the amber cufflinks at his wrist, he grabbed her arm roughly. “My father and I both told you not to wear the pendant, Celeste.”

“I guess it is a good thing you do not control me, husband.” She said. Plastering a smile across her face, she whispered, “Now release me. Our guests are arriving.”

Celeste felt the shift in the air before she even heard Peter’s melodic voice introducing Lord and Lady Harley. Thomas tensed next to her, hitching in his breath. Celeste quietly cleared her throat. Thomas exhaled in a disjointed breath, muttering quietly.

From her vantage point at the bottom of the marble stairs, Celeste could not see the mysterious earl or his young bride. Not through the crowd of people lining up to greet her. Next to her, Thomas kept the line moving. Soon, the auburn haired bride stood in front of Thomas, a polite smile upon her face. Towering in front of her, a… Really, she had no words. Towering above her, Lord Harley had golden hair, a chiseled jaw, and the kindest eyes she had ever looked into. When her knees buckled, he grabbed her elbow, steadying her. A jolt coursed through her body as his hand brushed against the flat of her stomach.

“Thank you, my lord.” Lowering her lashes, Celeste studied the man before her. She was as mesmerized as her husband. What a great bloody laugh, she thought.

“Baldwin. Please call me Baldwin Lady Blacke.”

“Only if you call me Celeste.”

Standard note: I do not own the painting shared with this post. No copyright infringement is intended. All credit remains with the original artist. I located it here, by the way. 

The Morning After

Each week, I am surprised by the direction in which I am tugged by Thomas and Celeste. Last week, it looked like Celeste had been backed into the corner. As Patrick Swayze said, Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner.

********************************************

Tucked away in her cramped room, Celeste spent a restless night mulling the meaning of Peter’s words. What did it mean when he said he saw her? And what did he think she needed to accomplish? Did he really see her, or was he acknowledging her position in the household where his wife would not?

When she eventually found sleep, Celeste fell into a series of visions. One vision was so intense, she wrenched herself out of it, chest heaving, breath coming in painful gasps as she fought for air; her lungs hurt, her sides ached.

The feeling of something – or someone – chasing her was too strong; she could not shake the fear from her head. Wiping the sweat from her neck, Celeste lit a nearby candle and rolled over, hoping to fall quickly into a dreamless slumber. A howl in the distance brought momentary comfort. The animals of the night were paying tribute to the heavy moon.

When next she woke, it was because a wet nose burrowed into her limp hand, dangling off the side of the narrow bed. Opening one yee, her gaze fell upon the largest beast she had ever seen inside a home. Nearly the size of a child’s pony, the brindle dog sniffed at her, poking her with that cold nose and licking at her affectionately, long tail thundering into the bare stone floor.

Celeste fought the urge to shriek or dive under the covers. Never let them see your fear, Nan’s voice echoed through her head. Clenching the thing quilt against her body, Celeste slowly sat up. The beast seemed friendly enough so she slowly reached out, patting his head tentatively.

The great, ferocious beast whuffed and whined in response, leaning into her hand. The more vigorous she rubbed the dog behind his ears, the more thunderous the beast’s tail became, drumming a staccato into the floor.

The heavy door into her room flew open, and Thomas stepped into her view. He was a glorious, welcome sight, and her heart soared.

“Grendel, you ninny. What are you doing inn – oh.” Thomas stopped laughing as he caught sight of her. Brushing a fall of thick black hair from his face, his eyes grazed over her. “Why are you hiding away in the east wing?”

Snapping his fingers at the large dog, Thomas continued, “This explains why you weren’t in your chamber last night. I went looking for you.”

“You didn’t look far then, did you Thomas?” Narrowing her eyes, Celeste forced a laugh, brittle and too loud. “And where did you search for me? Rather, when? I barely left this chamber last night.”

“At the supper gong, and again before I retired for the night,” he said. “But not here, no. We do not use this wing. I looked in the suite adjoining my own.”

“Then you and old Hagenbrock need to have a conversation, Thomas.” Spreading her arms wide, she said, “This is the chamber I was shown to last night.”

Thomas frowned. “There must be some mistake. You must have misunderstood.”

Celeste bit the inside of her lip to suppress the scream working its way up her throat. Before she could defend herself, Thomas was on a different subject.

“No matter. Now that I have found you, get dressed. Breakfast grows cold, and we have a ball to plan.”

Celeste smiled, saying, “Are we to have a ball celebrating our marriage, my lord? How delicious.”

Thomas gave her a queer look and said, “No, we celebrate Eleanor. Erm, Eleanor and Baldwin, I mean.”

Clenching her jaw, Helena ignored the sudden urge to kick the jackass wearing her husband’s clothing. Eleanor and Baldwin, indeed.

“And when do we celebrate our own nuptials, Thomas?” Sliding out of the bed, she let the quilt fall to the floor. Repressing a sigh, she allowed her husband to help her dress in the wrinkled dress she had worn the day before.

“We celebrated in London, Celeste. You are the one who chose not to have a wedding trip, after all.”

“Surely we shall have a small celebration here with the Council and your family?” Looking over her shoulder while Thomas tightened her dress, she asked, “When do I get to meet your father?”