Today, I thought I would start things off with a teaser. Here are the first two chapters of Damsel in Distress? (Book 2 Time-Travel to Regency England).
They were getting closer. Harriet raced through the dark. With her heart thumping in her chest she raced across the lane and under the arched entrance of Hyde Park. Horses’ hooves pounded the ground behind her. She leaned lower on her horse’s neck and swerved him to the left to duck in behind a row of trees. She would not let them capture her. She didn't come to this time only to fail now, the King was counting on her to deliver the information she had safely tucked inside her corset.
The sun began to rise, casting pink shadows across the ground. Her horse was tiring and started to stumble, they had come so far. The foaming sweat on his neck flicked onto her face as she raced through the park. She was going to run out of places to hide once the sun came up. She urged him faster still when they broke from the trees and she dared a glance behind her. There was no one there. Relief flooded through her core and she momentarily loosened her death-grip on the reins.
A shot rang out through the cool morning air. Her horse screamed seconds before Harriet felt him stumble. She didn’t have time to brace herself as he went down. The ground rose up and connected with her face. The package hidden in her corset pressed itself into her ribs when she hit the ground and in the moment before everything went black Harriet wondered if her hiding place would be good enough.
Philip Blade, Baron Eaglestone, regretted his moment of weakness last night when he paid a visit to his mistress, as soon as he had climbed into her bed. He had already bidden farewell to her for good last month. Veronica was a passionate lady and as such was hard to let go, even if she was a candidate for Bedlam. Tonight’s episode proved his theory correct. Next time he wouldn’t be swayed! He might also decide to stay off the drink…or at least off champagne as it tended to make him forget his resolve to stay clear of her. Yes, he’d stick to brandy from now on. That was a much better idea.
Philip bit back a silent groan. His head was pounding to high heaven. What had he done? The naked woman beside him warmed his bare chest. In fact she warmed his entire body. As he lay in her bed, he watched the gentle rise and fall of Veronica’s breath until he was absolutely sure she was in deep sleep. He gingerly slid his arm out from underneath her neck and crept out of the bed. He didn’t dare breathe in case he woke her.
His head didn’t help matters. The room swayed in and out of focus as he made his way around it collecting various items of his clothing. He pulled on his trousers, cursing fashion’s current love of the figure-hugging pantaloons as they were dastardly to get into in a hurry. He shoved his shirt over his head and thrust his arms through the sleeves. Every few seconds he chanced a peak at Veronica’s sleeping form. Once he’d shrugged into his coat, he went in search of his boots. They had to be somewhere! This was ridiculous, they couldn’t have just disappeared. He got down on his hands and knees and searched under the bed and the many flouncy chairs in the room. Nowhere.
Damn. He stood up. Where the hell had they gone? He looked about the room once more. Veronica favoured the floral side of decorating. There were roses everywhere. In fact the multitude of flowers springing from the wall coverings, the chairs, the cushions and the bedspread did nothing to abate the queasiness in his gut. Alcohol he consumed earlier that evening threatened to make a reappearance on Veronica’s beige carpet, the one object in the room that was not covered in the God-awful roses.
Breathing shallowly through his mouth to stop any regurgitation, Philip finally remembered what had happened to his boots. With one last glance at Veronica’s sleeping form he crept from the room and down her stairs, retrieving his boots along the way. How he had managed to get them off while climbing the stairs without breaking his neck, or dropping Veronica, was beyond him.
At last he stepped outside and closed the door softly behind him, thankful that he had managed to make a clean getaway. He cut through Hyde Park to make it home before his sister found him missing. She was liable to put a search party out for him. The last thing he needed was his friend, Lord Bingham, finding out he had gone back to Veronica. Not after last time. He still hadn’t heard the last of it, and he had no desire to add to his torment.
A thundering of hooves broke into his reflections. “Who in their right mind would be out riding at this hour?” he muttered to himself. “They’ll kill themselves running their horse at that speed in the dark.”
He climbed a small rise and stopped dead at the sight that greeted him. A lone rider was riding hell-bent-for-leather with three others chasing after him. The rider in the front skirted around a row of trees while the three others split up and circled around to the front. The lone rider didn’t stand a chance.
Philip’s blood ran cold when he saw one of the trio raise his arm. Philip called out a warning. But he was too late. A shot rang out and the horse fell. A woman’s scream startled him into action. They had just shot at a woman! She flew from the saddle and landed hard. She didn’t move. What the hell was going on?
He took off down the hill, running faster than he ever thought possible, his heart pounding in his chest. He cut through the garden, the smell of roses thick in the air, the scent practically choking him with their aroma. He doubted he would be able to smell roses again without reliving this moment.
The men approached the fallen horse and dismounted. There was something wrong about them. Something other than chasing down a woman in the middle of the night and shooting her horse, that is. There was something about the way they rode, something about the way they approached the fallen woman and her horse. Philip couldn’t put his finger on it as he ran faster across the manicured lawn.
One of the men bent down and patted the horse on the neck. The man’s soothing whisper carried clearly through the crisp night air. The horse’s whimpers settled at his calming words and it lay quietly before the man.
Another shot rang through the air and the horse gave one last jerk as the bullet entered its head.
Philip supposed that along with the bullet hole, the poor creature had broken its leg when it fell. If that was the case, there was nothing that could be done for it.
The man rose and walked slowly, calmly towards the fallen woman. This time he crouched close to her and whispered in her ear. Philip couldn’t hear his words but pushed himself harder when he saw the woman stir. The man ran his hands over her body, whether he was looking for something or obtaining some sick pleasure from the situation, was unclear in the half light. The man pressed the muzzle of his gun to the woman’s temple.
“Stop!” Philip panted. He didn’t think he could make it to her in time. “Stop!” he yelled louder when they didn’t hear him. With his heart in his throat, Philip shouted as loud as he possibly could across the remaining distance. He forced himself to run faster still towards them. He had no weapon, but he could not watch while they killed a defenceless person, and a woman at that.
The man crouching over the woman lifted his head at Philip’s shout. He very calmly rose and considered Philip as though he had all the time in the world, but then he drew back his foot and kicked the woman in the head. A sickening crack rang through the air. The man turned and remounted his horse and left. The other two men got back in their saddles, swung their horses around and followed him through the park just as the sun broke the surface of the horizon.
I hope you enjoyed the teaser. To find out what happens next, visit my Books page for the links of where to purchase.