Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Free to a Good Home, Serialized Historical Romance

Yeah, I'm giving it away for free. Just for the fun of it. A little love story that is situated in the Lake District of England, circa 1816, during the Romantic Era. A Historical Romance with a Paranormal Twist. Why ....... just because I can. And I love to give something back to my wonderful readers.

Book Excerpt:  Chapter 9, Part I  of  The Gypsy's Curse by Lily Silver.
Weekly posts available on my website. If you would like to start at the beginning of the story, click here.

  He had to be dreaming. The lovely young woman who appeared to him couldn’t be real.
          Stephan sat at the breakfast table alone, doing his best to appear to be eating the simple breakfast Annie, the housekeeper had prepared for him. The house was so big, so empty, so devoid of life. Stephan regretted coming, and he’d only just arrived.
          Ah, that woman--she captivated him. He dreamed of her all night long.
Lush, long dark curls. A heart shaped face, and startling eyes. He couldn’t discern the color of them in the low firelight--but then, did ghosts have an eye color? Did ghosts have generous curves?  Did ghosts speak to the living?
         His logical mind would say no, and yet, he’d heard of such queer events. They were becoming more the vogue in the romantic era. People like Mrs. Shelly and Lord Byron seemed to invite people to embrace the supernatural. And then there were those books his wife read voraciously, Gothic Romances by Mrs. Radcliffe. Perhaps his mind was merely too saturated with spirits of a different kind to pursue logic. He was certainly suffering the blue devils this morning due to his heavy indulgence.
         Ah, sweet spirit, come back to me. Whether it be my imagination or strong drink, do not leave me here alone to suffer the torments of a guilty conscience.

         Zara wasn’t sure what to do any longer. She wanted to stay, even more now that she’d seen the masculine beauty of the master of the house. And yet, the house was filling up with servants. There were three new ones here in the attic, on the opposite end where servant’s quarters were, but even so, they might discover her hiding in the storage attic if she lingered.
        It was harder to go wandering at night in search of food. Yes, there were the secret passages. She could use those if she really needed to. Zara found she resented the intrusion of people here. She’d been enjoying her solitary existence, eating and exploring, reading books, learning about the English world as she prepared to make an entrance therein. She didn’t like having to restrict her wanderings to late at night, and that with only the use of the passages between the walls. She’d love to be a guest here, able to meander about without fear of discovery or suspicion.
         And most of all, she’d love to taste the kisses of a certain gentleman.
         Tonight, she’d visit the man again via the secret passage. Maybe this time, she’d come out of the shadows and speak with him a little more.

         It was Midnight. St. John despaired of ever conjuring the same woman who haunted his dreams the night before. He sat in his private room adjacent to his bedchamber, his study, brooding before the fire. He’d had a few drinks, not as much as last night. He wanted to see her, remember her this time with a little more clarity. And yet, there was so much he wanted to forget.
         He fingered the crystal decanter, still half full, and deliberated over whether or not to refill his glass. The cool, hard surface between his fingers caressed his fevered mind. So many images he needed to forget, to banish. The brandy didn’t barricade their entrance into his mind as he hoped. Too many vile images pounded against the flimsy gate built by intoxicants.
        He tried Laudanum a few times. The sway of opiates was strong. Alluring, like that luscious woman who visited his dreams last night. He had a bottle of the heady stuff. He had only to go to his bedchamber to pour himself a draught. He caressed the brandy decanter, his fingers tracing the fine cut crystal ravines as if seeking shelter in their hard, sharp valleys.
        Moments later, Stephan rose and went into his bedchamber, seeking a stronger mistress than brandy to soothe his fractured mind.

         Zara hovered just beyond the curtain. She was trying to shore up her nerve and step out so the man could see her again. She’d been waiting, watching him, measuring how many drinks he’d had before she made her entrance. He’d had three glasses of brandy. Now he was returning with a small vial of some other substance cradled between his large fingers.
         She watched him sit down again and sip from the small vial as he stared into the flames. The substance must not be very tasty, as he grimaced each time he took a sip, as if he were being forced to drink a tincture of vinegar and herbs. Perhaps that is what it was, a healing drink. He finished it and set the glass on the small table beside his chair. He brooded, staring intently into the fire as if it held the answers to all his questions. His left leg was bent, his right extended in a lazy repose before him. He had his elbow raised and his head supported in one hand. He seemed to be getting drowsy with each passing moment. Zara wanted to kiss him. She wanted to taste his full, sensual lips and feel the warmth of his skin. She waited, wondering if he were awake.
          She might approach him while he slept and steal a kiss from him before leaving this place. Leave she must, or suffer discovery. Leave, but not right away, not tonight.
          Moments ticked by. The man seemed to be drifting into a comfortable sleep.
         Zara emerged from her hiding place behind the curtains and slowly approached his still form. He was breathing heavily, as if intoxicated, deeply so. She crept closer, step by step, until she stood just to his left, on the other side of the small table holding his ablutions. A snore, yes, a faint nasal drone that told her what she needed to know. He was sound asleep.
        She edged closer to the sleeping god, holding her breath as if it would betray her presence. She touched his limp hand as it draped over his chair in slumber. He started. And then he grabbed her wrist, imprisoning it within a strong cave of fingers and muscle. Zara gasped, uncertain of what to do. Was he dreaming? Or was he lying in wait for her?
Copyright  Lily Silver 2012

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