Each week I welcome a guest author to share a first meeting excerpt. I’m happy to have Lana Williams, a fellow Love Historical’s author, here this week with her paranormal historical romance. Take it away, Lana!
Hi Jill! Thank you so much for having me!
You asked me to share something fun about me…I am hopelessly addicted to M&Ms! I don’t think a day passes when I don’t have them. My husband always teases me, asking me why I bother to work out if I’m going to eat candy, and I tell him that I work out so I CAN have candy!
I’m excited to share the “First Meet” of the hero and heroine from my latest release, Unraveling Secrets, set in Victorian London. I must say, the first meet is a little unusual. Take a look and see if you agree.
Here’s the blurb to set the stage:
When her father’s murderer returns from the dead to threaten her family, Abigail Bradford attempts to warn him off, but soon learns chasing a ghost is no easy task.
Stephen Nolton, Viscount Ashbury, stumbles upon Abigail in the dirty streets of London’s East End. Able to read auras of good and evil after an electromagnetic experiment went terribly wrong, Stephen hovers on society’s edge, keeping secret his unique skill and personal mission. Despite his fascination with the lady and her unique golden aura, he intends to keep his distance.
Desperate to protect her family, Abigail turns to the one man she believes can aid her. In Stephen’s arms, she finds so much more than she hoped. Stephen tries to resist his desire for the independent beauty, afraid she’ll unravel his secrets. But when he discovers the murderer is linked to his own past, he must decide how much he’s willing to risk for love.
And here’s the First Meet:
As Stephen Nolton, Viscount Ashbury neared the corner of an alley, a muffled curse sounded. The hair on the back of his neck rose. In recent years, he’d become adept at detecting trouble.
Angry voices grew distinguishable and Stephen eased forward, trying to catch the words and locate the speakers.
“Tell me what rock!”
Stephen frowned at the educated diction to the woman’s voice—something completely out of place amidst the hopeless poverty of this neighborhood. He looked around the corner of the building into the alley where three shadows came into view.
The shadows of three men.
He studied the area more closely, trying to ascertain what was happening. The smallest—a boy judging by his size—aimed a gun at a man with a knife. The third man, dressed as a servant, stood just to the side of the boy. He couldn’t see where the woman was, but it was the boy who caught his full attention.
Despite his obvious ill intent as he aimed the pistol, golden light hovered around his head and shoulders.
In Stephen’s experience, a light-colored aura meant a good, honorable person. Yet this aura, speared with deep blue and yellow, defied description and left him speechless. The vibrant yellow meant success and intelligence. The dark blue indicated spirituality.
He doubted he’d ever get used to his ability to see auras, and rarely did he see anything but gray and black. But in the ten years he’d had the damned skill, never had he seen anything like this one.
The nervous servant’s aura was gray and murky—the color he saw most often as people’s auras were a mixture of their thoughts. The man with the knife had the imprint of the street on him—a worn, dirty jacket, a few days worth of beard on his thin, pale face, soot smeared on his cheek. His aura was dark with flashes of black permeating it, proof of bad intentions for certain. Auras told Stephen only a small part of the story, giving him clues to follow. The rest he had to discern by listening and observing.
“Answer me,” the woman’s voice demanded.
Not a boy after all. Even as Stephen processed that fact, the man with the knife lunged forward.
“No!” The servant yelled as he rushed toward him, using his hand to block his advance.
“Thomas!” she cried out. The gun she held quivered, just like her voice, but she quickly steadied both. “Get back,” she ordered the knife holder.
Though she put on a brave front, she was clearly frightened and unwilling to fire her weapon. Stephen didn’t blame her. Killing a man was no easy feat, nor was it easy to live with.
He stepped into the alley. “What goes here?”
As he feared, the lady swung the pistol at him. He held up his hands to show her he had no weapon. He preferred to use his fists when the occasion called for force. “Aim that elsewhere,” he ordered.
“Who are you?” she asked as she moved the gun toward her intended victim. The bill of her cap cast a shadow over her eyes, but the delicate line of her jaw was visible. An overly large jacket covered her frame. Her disguise was quite effective and hid the majority of her femininity. Despite yielding the weapon, her aura remained bright and colorful. She held steady, obviously not allowing her fear to overwhelm her.
What on earth was she doing here?
“I was passing by and thought you might require assistance,” he answered at last, then tore his gaze from the woman to glance at the man with the knife.
Her intended victim remained in place, trying to decide if he should fight or flee, the lady’s wobbling gun seeming to add to his uncertainty. Stephen’s presence helped block his escape route.
“You’ve interrupted a discussion of a personal nature,” she informed Stephen. “Please continue on your way.”
“Miss?” The servant held out his hand. Blood dripped from a deep cut across his palm.
She gasped, her gun trembling when she saw the blood. “Thomas, are you all right?”
“We’d best hurry this discussion along.” The servant withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket to wrap around his hand.
“Answer me, damn you!” Clearly angry, she steadied the pistol once again at her target.
Stephen lowered his hands and eased closer, watching the cornered man’s aura to see what he would do next. The thoughts and urges people had, even if only temporary, shot out spears of color. The man’s aura remained black as coal, his gaze fixed on the pistol. Not a good sign.
“Leave off,” the man snarled at her. The knife he held glimmered in the faint light.
Though Stephen couldn’t deduce what had brought the lady to this alley with a gun, her aura put him squarely on her side. She might have the more effective weapon, but her inexperience created a huge disadvantage. Stephen doubted she’d be able to pull the trigger, not with her aura.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the man lunge toward her.
“Christ.” Stephen rushed forward to block him.
A shot echoed in the alley, disturbing the quiet of the night.
Stephen jerked, his arm no longer his own. Blinding pain speared through him, stealing his breath.
“Damn me! I’ve had enough.” The intended victim plowed past Stephen, knocking down the footman as he flew into the street.
“Oh!” The woman cried as her pistol clattered to the cobblestones. “Sir, are you all right?”
Stephen dropped to his knees, shocked at the depth of the pain in his body. He’d known this night would come but hadn’t expected it quite so soon.
END OF EXCERPT
Thanks again for having me, Jill!
Unraveling Secrets is available at:
Find more about Lana and her other books at:
Lana and I both welcome questions and comments, and I hope you will come back each week for a fresh excerpt from a visiting author.