Thursday, August 21, 2014

ALICIA JOSEPH - A Rising Star

Alicia Joseph is a new author with Musa Publishing who loves life and enjoys the world around her. We sat down with Alicia for a few minutes to dig deeper into the writing part of her life.

What genre do you write and why?
I write mostly Lesbian Romance. I am a lesbian, and I love romance, so this genre is personal for me. I enjoy capturing the love between two women, even though that love can be very complicated. I suppose all love is, but that’s where my inspiration lies, and most of what I feel as I write, or what I try to convey, are emotions taken directly from my own relationships.

Tell us about your book.
Her Name is a story about a woman, Madison Andrews, who believes she has found the love of her life... but only in her dreams. She is convinced the woman is real and she seeks out their life together, and the love she believes is her destiny.

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of fate versus how much of our own destiny we control. This story explores that a bit. If two people are “meant to be” will the universe bring them together? If so, does it force us to see the other person? Or does fate only take us so far and it is in our hands to realize the moment?

What are you working on now?
I don’t only write lesbian fiction. I’m currently working on a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl growing up in the Fifties. Writing about an era I didn’t live in is challenging. It forces me to shed my own skin and become someone else completely, and I love that.

For a few hours of my day, I become a poodle-skirt wearing, boy-crazy teenager, bopping around my room while listening to Buddy Holly as pictures of Ricky Nelson cover my bedroom walls. Awesome!

Where do you find inspiration?
In everything I don’t know. Seriously, anything that makes me search for meaning, especially if I’m amazed at what I find, is truly inspiring.

And last but still important – what’s your favorite food and why? Pizza. Why? Hello, because it’s pizza!

Thanks for coming out, Alicia. Please share a little about your Her Name.
Gladly! And thanks for having me on the blog today.

Madison Andrews believes she has found the love of her life... but only in her dreams. She is convinced the woman is real and she seeks out their life together and the love she believes is her destiny. But how can Madison find the love of her life...and convince herself and her friends she's not just escaping the death of her mother?

Madison Andrews has spent her entire life--unsuccessfully--searching for love. She begins having vivid dreams of the same woman every night, and soon, Madison believes this woman is the love she has been searching for. Madison's dreams become more intense and she realizes the dreams she's having recreate moments taken from actual events from her life--and this woman is there for all of it. Madison searches for her, but how can she find a woman she knows everything about... and yet nothing? She doesn't even know her name.

To read an excerpt please click a vendor's name Musa Publishing - Amazon

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. This is her first published novella. She is currently working on a new lesbian romance novel. When not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, reading, and spending time with her many nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THREE MINUTES with IRIS WOODBURY

Where did you get the idea for Beryllium Chalice?
I have always had a big love of all things Greek. I read the Odyssey, Iliad and such as a teenager – and who doesn’t love Clash of the Titans? Add to that a devotion to all things lamb and yoghurty, and Beryllium Chalice became inevitable. More specifically I wrote a little short a year or so back called Flora and Oceanus. Nothing really came of it, but my writers group loved it so I wanted to do something in that vein since the genre worked well with my voice.

How did you develop your lead characters?

I think there’s a little bit of me in Flora. She’s feisty, determined, a bit stubborn and downright mental. The same came be said of her side-kick, Redwood. I was thinking of Simon Callow when I wrote him; Redwood is smart, loving, and has a permanent naughty twinkle in his eye. He’s a horny satyr with attitude – so perhaps he’s a little bit like me as well. The other one I love is my bad guy, Maljandra. He is deep, dark, complex, and driven by horrors in his own past which are evident in the book. He’s the kind of villain you hate and love at the same time. So again, just like me. So to answer your question, I guess I look inside my heart, and drag up remnants of myself.

What drives you to write fantasy?
I love the freedom of it. I close my eyes and I can dream up the most horrific monsters. I’m a huge fan of Tolkien, and the whole epic adventure thing is a big passion for me. The bigger the better I say. I do write other genres, but I have to say, fantasy is closest to my heart. I have another one I’m tweaking, and I hope to get that out there soon.

Here's a little from my latest release to tease your reading appetite.

"When sacrifice of blood is made,only then allegiance it will trade"

Flora, a dryad accused of murder and exiled from Mount Olympus…

Kytos, a battle-weary warrior who follows orders and believes the gods can’t be wrong…

Redwood, a fun-loving and perpetually aroused satyr…

What could these three possibly have in common? The Beryllium Chalice, the source of all life and power on Mount Olympus. With the chalice stolen from Mount Olympus by Hades, the other gods will weaken and Hades will be free to overthrow them and take control of the world. The only thing standing between the God of Death and his treacherous scheme are Flora, Kytos, and Redwood. They must band together to steal back The Beryllium Chalice and return it. In spite of their differences, can the three companions get the chalice and return it to Mount Olympus in time to save the gods and the world?

To read an excerpt from The Beryllium Chalice click here or here.

Iris Woodbury was born in London, England and currently lives in Maryland. She writes fantasy, fairy-tales, and romance. She loves nothing so much as a dusty old book except maybe an electronic new one. Iris is an avid cocoa worshipper and tea sipper - and a friend to all things of beauty. Her books include The Beryllium Chalice and Murder to a Tea. Iris is also a contributor the children's anthology, Read It Again, published by Alfie Dog Fiction.

Learn more about Iris Woodbury on her website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Recipe is Guaranteed to Never Fail

Vonnie Hughes, Regency and Contemporary Suspense author, is here to share her recipe for a delicious Never-fail Date & Nut Loaf that's ideal for family and company. This tasty treat is perfect with breakfast, lunch, or a good cup of tea.

Never-fail Date & Nut Loaf
1 large cup dates
Boiling water
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup chopped walnuts (or dried apricots or raisins)
3 drops vanilla essence (extract)
2 cups white flour (or wholemeal if you prefer)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place dates in a medium-size bowl. Cover with boiling water. Add baking soda and soak for one hour.

Beat butter with brown sugar. Add egg and beat well.

Blend walnuts and vanilla essence with the dates and liquid.

Lastly, stir in flour, baking powder and salt.

Bake in a greased loaf tin (with baking paper is easier) for about 50 minutes. Keep in a sealed container for freshness.

NEVER FAILS.

Here is a little from Vonnie's latest Regency.

A kidnapper makes a grave mistake and faces a revenge he never expected.

Annis's new husband investigates crimes, and Caroline's new husband is a capable ex-Army officer. When their ladies are kidnapped in an effort to suppress the evidence of pilfering and murder, Giles and Fort fight their way through all the lies and subterfuge to not only rescue them, but also to avenge them.

EXCERPT:
Fort approached the person on the seat. “Mr. Young, we’ve been looking for you.”

If that was Mr. Young, why was he listing to one side like a ship at sea?

“Is he injured? Has John hurt him?” She hurried towards them.

“Stop!”

Fort’s peremptory order stopped her in her tracks. She watched as Fort examined Mr. Young’s head and neck. He lifted Mr. Young’s hand. It dropped laxly.

“He’s dead,” Fort said, turning towards Caroline. “Sweetheart, do you know your way out of the maze? I must stay here with the body. There’s been enough moving of evidence already.”

“How—?”

Fort gesticulated with a finger across his throat.

“Oh! I’ll fetch Giles. Sir William Harding will have to be notified too.” Caroline cast her husband an anxious look. “Please be careful, Giles, in case John comes back.”

“You be careful too, my love. Walk slowly and listen for footsteps on the other side of the hedge. And if you meet anyone—anyone at all, man or woman—scream. Scream loudly.”

Caroline nodded and plunged back along the gravel paths surrounded by greenery. To her great relief she met nobody, although she was so rattled by events that she took a wrong turning and had to retrace her steps. “Hurry,” she told herself. “Fort is alone there and John is on the loose.”

BUY LINK

All of Vonnie’s books are available on Musa Publishing and Amazon.

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Weeds in the Garden

by Daniel Ausema

I don't claim to be an expert gardener. If my thumb is green, it's a rather pale, sea-green-crayon sort of color. But I do enjoy growing vegetables in our backyard garden and drought-tolerant flowers in our front-yard xeriscape/rock garden.

Naturally, weeds show up, often faster than I can get rid of them. One thing I like to do is choose a weed here and there that looks interesting and allow it to grow, as long as it doesn't crowd out anything else. In the xeriscape, a weed can provide a touch of green to an area that doesn't have anything growing yet. Some years I've discovered zucchini or other plants from our compost that are welcome additions to our vegetable haul. This year a weed grew quite quickly beside our cucumbers. It looked somewhat familiar, but I didn't bother trying to identify it.

A few weeks ago, I realized that it's a sunflower, which grow wild in the open space behind our house. And over the past week it's opened close to a dozen very nice flowers. They aren't quite as big as the quintessential sunflowers most of us likely imagine, but they're quite pretty and add glorious color to the garden.

Looking at that, I realized that I approach writing the same. Some things are carefully planned. But every story needs room for random weeds to take root, an unplanned character, a side trip with no connection to the main plot, a character quirk or interaction that comes out of nowhere as I write.

Some of those weeds disappear as I edit and revise. Sometimes they take over an entire story. Most often they remain largely minor, even peripheral, but the fact that I was open to adding them into the mix was part of what made the whole story possible. It's part of the excitement, the thrill of creating a story, that no matter how I have things planned out, there's never any knowing when the story will surprise me. The only thing I can do is to write it. Write and see.

Spire City Season One: Infected just had its season finale on August 8, so all thirteen episodes are available. A part of me is already focused on Season Two: Pursued (and Season Three: Unwoven), but it's good to pause and look at this completed season. Can I still tell which things were planned and which were weeds that grew into something more? Nope. You're welcome to read through them all and try, and I suppose I could go back through early notes and drafts and get an idea of what came when.

Each piece feels essential, now. Each episode adds to the full picture of who these people are and how they're fighting back against the mad scientist and his serum. It's no longer confined to the perfectly plotted lines I mapped out more than six years ago. Those lines still define the story and give it shape, but now there's an organic interconnection up and down the episodes, giving them not just a shape, but life.

Here's a brief intro. Let me know what you think.

What can you do when a steampunk mad genius targets you with a deadly serum? Fight back.

Spire City is home to mighty machines of steam power and clockwork, and giant beetles pull picturesque carriages over cobbled streets, but there is a darker secret behind these wonders. A deadly infection, created by a mad scientist, is spreading through the city, targeting the poor and powerless, turning them slowly into animals. A group of those infected by the serum join together to survive, to trick the wealthy out of their money, and to fight back.

Despite all their caution, Mint has tracked down the residents of the Weave to their neighborhood. Mingling threats with subtle promises to anyone who will betray the infecteds, he is coming closer and closer to discovering where they live. And now he may have kidnapped an innocent, uninfected child. The time has come for a real confrontation, but who will prevail? Find out in the climactic finale of Season One: Infected.

EXCERPT
With the shovel over one shoulder, she approached the coal.

The lantern light played over a figure seated on the pile, pointing a gun at her. Chels froze.

“Hello.”

Chels’s muscles twitched as she stared at the cold eyes. No, not possible. Not here. His gun didn’t waver.

“My name is Mint.”

The voice made it real. All the terror, the fear she’d felt each time she’d seen him. The sickening twist to her stomach when she recognized him at the coal seller’s. The months of wondering where he’d be, when he might find her next. It all came together, at first keeping her frozen, but then triggering her into motion. Chels threw the shovel at his face and ran the other way. Expecting to be shot down. Expecting him to surge to his feet and run after her. The shovel struck something soft and fell with a clatter. Mint cursed her. If he got a shot off, it made no noise and missed her fleeing form. As she passed through the door, she pulled the wheelbarrow across the entrance and didn’t look back. Mint’s swearing shifted to laughter, laughs that followed her, even with no sound of footsteps to accompany the noise.

BUY LINK

To read excerpts from the other episodes of Spire City or Daniel's other work, please click a vendor's name. Musa Publishing - Amazon

Daniel Ausema is the creator of the Spire City serial fiction project. His short stories and poems have appeared in Penumbra, Daily Science Fiction, The Journal of Unlikely Stories, and many other places. He has worked as a journalist and educator and is currently a stay-at-home dad. He lives in Colorado, where May blizzards, September floods, and summer wildfires engage in a never-ending war.

Learn more about Dan on his website Twigs and Brambles.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

NEW RELEASE for OLIVIA STARKE

Musa Publishing is ecstatic to announce Spank Me a Heat Level 5, BDSM erotica by multi-published author Olivia Starke is now available.

Cindy has but one request for her two new partners—spank me.

Recently divorced, Cindy is ready to kick start a new life in a huge way by fulfilling her kinkiest fantasy—being bound, spanked, and used for pleasure. Through a friend, she finds the perfect partners, a sultry English vixen and her gorgeous partner Cindy only knows as “Master.”

Cindy has never mixed pleasure with pain, nor has she ever dared explore her craving to taste another woman. Once she crosses that tempting line, there’s no going back. Will she have the courage to say “Yes, Master”?

EXCERPT:
Cindy picked up a wide wooden paddle and tested its weight in her hand. A tremor of excitement passed through her. She’d never taken this avenue for sexual pleasure. Definitely not with Jake the Jerk. He would’ve at best laughed, at worst tried to commit her to an institution.

Cindy dropped the paddle back onto the table. Handcuffs hung from the wall nearby, and in the opposite corner sat a strange contraption she didn’t recognize. Made from black steel, it looked something like an easel with straps for binding. Moisture flooded her pussy as naughty ideas of what it was used for filled her mind. Not that she would find out tonight. She’d requested only one thing.

The spanking bench loomed in her peripheral vision.

She jumped when a door opened against the back wall. Her heart stuttered, and a surge of nervous energy made her legs go weak. In walked a man and a woman. The man dropped a duffel bag next to the wall, and Cindy wondered what it held. She swept her gaze over the two quickly, taking in their attire. Wow, she was seriously underdressed. Heat spread from her chest up into her cheeks, surely coloring her a nice shade of scarlet. Second thoughts didn’t begin to describe what was rushing through her mind like a broken rollercoaster on a downhill track.

“Hello, Cindy,” the man said in a deep rich voice that made her quiver.

His blue-eyed gaze devoured her from head to toe. He was barefoot and dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt stretched snuggly across a vast expanse of chest. His shaggy sandy blond hair gave him an Adonis charm.

Her breath caught in her throat. He definitely didn’t look the part of Dom. She’d imagined someone dark and brooding, not California cool.

He nodded to his companion. “This is my partner, Isabelle.” Isabelle flashed a smile showcasing perfect white teeth. “It’s a complete pleasure,” the woman said with a decidedly English inflection. Lustrous waves spilled over her shoulders with the perfect blue-black sheen of a raven’s wings, while her onyx gaze reflected the flirtatious upturn of her lips. Dressed in a fitted red knee-length dress that accentuated her ample God-given curves, she was an olive-skinned Aphrodite.

Little plain Cindy Barrett was in the company of the gods. She swallowed over a hard lump of indecision, ready to run like the weenie she was. Who was she to upset the balance of the universe? She’d played the meek role of prude extraordinaire for so many years. Why not let the streak continue? She took a step backward. Isabelle and the Adonis glanced at one another.

The Adonis chuckled. “Come now. You’re not backing out on us, are you?” His southern twang spoke of Alabama or Georgia heritage. “I’m afraid my dear Isabelle and I would be completely heartbroken.”

“Will you help us fulfill our fantasy, Cindy?” Isabelle purred with a picture perfect pout. Her gaze roamed over Cindy.

This was wrong, a fantasy simply too wicked to carry out. Everything she had been taught growing up in a conservative Kansas town screamed in the forefront of her mind. The flames of hell licked at her heels for even considering this avenue of kink. Her heart thumped, ready to burst from her ribcage.

BUY LINK

Olivia Starke calls the Ozarks home. One of the most beautiful areas in the country, she loves hiking trails with her dogs, kayaking on the numerous waterways, and enjoying southern Missouri's fresh air and sunshine.

She's also 'Mom' to four dogs, a growing number of kitties that show up at her door, and four very spoiled horses that do little to earn their keep. Not that she'd ever hold that against them.

She's a HUGE fangirl of Doctor Who and to a lesser extent Supernatural, and has a pretty interesting love triangle (or square?) going on in her head between the Doctor and the Winchesters.

Learn more about Olivia Starke on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

NEW RELEASE for MAGGIE MCCULLOUGH

Musa Publishing is elated to announce Shaken, Book 1 of Colorado Bold and a Heat Level 5 BDSM erotica, by Maggie McCullough is now available.

Blame it on curiosity;after all, curiosity is the lust of the mind.

Anne Rutledge has always played it safe. Responsible. Career-conscious. Lackluster lovers. One stormy night changes everything. Anne meets a man who turns her well-ordered life upside down and inside out. Intense. Passionate. Forceful. Evan Jamison isn’t a man she can ignore. Sparks fly, ignite and spontaneously combust. Anne convinces herself a one night stand is the perfect solution.

Two weeks later and she can’t forget the wild, hot sex or the scarves Evan had tied to his bedposts; the scarves he says he’ll save for next time. She receives a text, an invitation to blindfolds and untold delights. Anne accepts; Evan doesn’t disappoint. Can Anne reconcile her chosen career with the not so proper sex she enjoys with Evan?

EXCERPT:
A shudder coursed through her body at the sexy rasp of his voice. Her nipples tightened. Any hope that he hadn’t noticed was quashed as his gaze moved downward.

Evan reached across the counter to brush biscuit crumbs from her lips, and she was lost, mired in a swamp of sexual awareness.

Her breasts were swollen and achy.

Her nipples chafed against the cotton tee.

Evan traced the curve of her lips with his finger. She melted inside like chocolate left in the sun. A tiny whimper escaped her open mouth as he stepped back.

But only for a moment. He veered around the counter and pulled her to her feet. His eyes were deep, dark pools of passion as his hand brushed the damp curls from her brow.

He caressed one cheek, and then the other, held her head between his two hands. The intensity of his expression made her go weak in the knees.

She held her breath as he lowered his lips to hers. Hallelujah!

His kiss was neither tentative nor sweet. It was hungry and possessive; it claimed ownership, commanded submission.

Not that she minded.

She didn’t resist.

She was wet.

Needy.

She wanted him as much as he wanted her.

Anne stood on her tiptoes, arching into his body. She couldn’t get close enough to Evan. Her heated skin sought contact with his masculine strength. His tongue demanded entrance; it became a mating invitation she was all too willing to accept.

He plundered her mouth, a purposeful foreshadowing of his ultimate objective.

Evan held her close, lifted her feet off the floor, and pressed her against the wall. Anne moaned and melted into him, molding her form against his.

What is it about this man?

She was a mess, a complete and utter wreck, after just one kiss, eager to submit to his every desire.

He captured both of her hands in one of his, pulled them above her head and held them there. He slid his other hand down her bare leg—thank God she had waxed yesterday—and, with a little hitch, pulled her upwards, snug against his groin.

She wrapped her legs around his waist; the soft silk of the borrowed boxers seemed non-existent as the firm length of him nestled hard and heavy against her heated core. She whimpered and trembled as he ground his hips on her sex.

Evan groaned deep in his throat and thrust her against the wall.

“God, woman, you drive me mad.”

His husky growl ignited her body.

His free hand made its way under her tee and cupped an unfettered breast, swollen and aching for his touch. Anne moaned sweet encouragement, whimpering as he rolled the hardened tip between his work-roughened finger and thumb.

With an impatient tug, he pulled her tee over her face, leaving her bosom bare. His mouth suckled one peak while he continued to manipulate the other with his hand.

The sensation was raw. Her body went up in flames. She arched into his groin, seeking the more intimate contact her swollen flesh demanded.

Another up thrust of his hips spread her legs enough to allow the rigid seam of his fly to press on her desperate nub.

Oh…my…God.

BUY LINK



Maggie McCullough resides in rural Colorado with her husband of many years, four horses, three goats, one goose, three dogs and one cat.

Stay connected with Maggie on Facebook

Friday, August 15, 2014

NEW RELEASE for BRITA ADDAMS

Musa Publishing is excited to announce Lucien and Serenity a Heat Level 5, erotica historical romance by multi-published author Brita Addams is now available.

Fulfill your wicked fantasies at the Sapphire Club

Serenity Damrill has returned to her husband, Lucien, after a ten-year absence. She carries with her a secret that could destroy her life and possibly all that Lucien has built. She needs Lucien's protection, and she is determined to repair her marriage.

Quite happy running the Sapphire Club, where his clients live out their wildest fantasies, Lucien has no need for the frigid wife who deserted him the day after they were married. Though he still desires her, he doubts she'll consent to the type of intimate relationship he craves.

But in the Sapphire Club, where rules don't exist, anything is possible...

Contains elements of bondage, anal play, voyeurism, spanking, and lots of romance.

EXCERPT:
1804 Outside London

With a keen eye, Lucien Damrill spied a rather plain young woman across the floor of the assembly hall. Something vaguely familiar stirred his curiosity—perhaps the hair, her smile, her beautiful eyes.

“You do know who that is, don’t you?” his brother Simon asked in his usual superior tone.

“I wish I did, but eight years away has dulled my memory of the village ladies.”

Simon clapped him on the back. “That is Serenity Malin, daughter of Lord and Lady Dalton.”

Upon closer inspection, Lucien saw the flicker of gold in her expressive eyes, the creamy skin. Though she possessed an unremarkable mien, he’d found her excessively pleasant in prior years.

“She must be of age,” he said idly.

“I hear she is six months shy of twenty and still unwed. Her parents have exhausted the patience of all the eligible young men, including myself.”

“What’s wrong with her? She seems a perfectly delightful creature, if not a bit shy.”

“I hear she’s skittish, afraid when a man speaks above a whisper. Perhaps her windbag father has poisoned her against men; that’s my suspicion.”

Serenity sat alone, the young men in attendance having claimed the other ladies for a quadrille.

“I shall let you know.” Lucien straightened his cravat and set out across the wooden floor.

Upon approach, he saw a lovely woman, with a smile that teased her lips, though she hadn’t yet learned to bring a sparkle to her eyes. “Good evening, Miss Malin. I fear you may not remember me, due to my long absence.” Lucien bowed. “Lucien Damrill, at your service.”

Serenity’s sapphire eyes sparkled for the first time in his memory. She invited him to join her, and they chatted the evening away.

“I fear the crowd has thinned, and I’ve occupied all of your time.” He stood. “You are a delight, Miss Malin. I have enjoyed our interlude.”

“As have I, Mr. Damrill,” she said, in a voice so delicate it nearly broke his heart.

“Might I pay you a call, say, in a week’s time?”

She smiled fully and wove a spell over him.

“Until next Thursday, then. I bid you good health.” He bowed as any well-trained fourth son of a viscount would do and made his exit, wishing the evening extended for many hours more.

* * * *

Six months later

“You make a rather handsome bridegroom, sir.”

Lucien glanced in the mirror at the cravat Hampton had just tied. “I thank you, old boy. However, I do believe my bride will eclipse all in attendance.”

“She is indeed lovely, sir. My hearty congratulations to you on this day. I look forward to serving you both.”

Lucien smiled at his butler, valet, and aside from Prentice Hyde, the Earl of Cheshire, his oldest friend. Hampton knew all the secrets, and he protected Lucien from others, as well as from himself.

A loud knock disturbed their preparations. “That is likely Lord Cheshire. I am expecting him.”

“I’ll see to it.”

A moment later, Hampton returned. “Sir, young Mr. Marlow is here to see you. He is in rather a fit.”

“Bring him in, please.”

Within moments, Lucien’s nephew staggered in, his face pale, dark circles under his eyes.

“She’s gone,” he said, a crack in his voice.

Lucien put his arm around the boy and led him to a chair. “Tell me everything, son.”

“She said she wouldn’t be long, so I tried to wait up. I shouldn’t have fallen asleep. When I woke up, I saw she hadn’t slept in her bed. You have to help me. I’m worried.” The young man clutched the neatly pressed sleeve of Lucien’s wedding shirt.

“All right, calm yourself. Hampton, get the boy a cup of tea.”

“Where did she go?”

“When she left, she said he wanted her to meet him at the rooms he keeps for their trysts. I went there before I came here, but she isn’t there. He said she never arrived.”

Lucien fumed. “I’ll go talk to him. You stay here. Hampton will take care of you. Eat something. I’ll return as quickly as I can.”

The boy nodded, his face a mask of grief. “Sir, your wedding. You are expected at the church in two hours.”

“I’ll be back in plenty of time.”

A half hour later, he banged on his brother’s door. When the aged butler, Smyth, opened it, Lucien burst in.

“Where is he?” he asked, his ire near boiling over.

“I’m here,” Simon shouted down from the landing above. “Pray, what has brought you out so early on your wedding day?”

Lucien stormed up the stairs, two at a time.

Simon backed away as Lucien went at him. Lucien grabbed the front of Simon’s shirt and shook. “I just left a very distraught Haynes back in my home. He says his mother set out to meet you at your rooms and has yet to return to her own. Tell me where she is, Simon, and I want the truth this time.”

Simon clawed at Lucien’s hand. “Release me, you madman. I have no idea where you got the idea she was to meet me, but it is completely false.”

Lucien held fast. “You’re already lying to me. Haynes said he spoke to you late last night and you confirmed Sophia was to meet you but hadn’t arrived.”

“Unhand me.” Simon gasped as Lucien’s grasp tightened.

“Were you to meet with Sophia last evening or not?” Lucien shook his brother harder.

“Yes, yes. She said she needed to see me. She threatened that she would call on Mary if I didn’t meet with her.”

“If you harmed that woman, I’ll destroy you.” Lucien shoved Simon, who skittered across the floor before he recovered his feet. “What have you done?”

Simon held his neck as he coughed. “What makes you believe I’ve done anything to her?”

“Because you’re breathing. You have treated that woman with contempt since Haynes was born. Then you abandoned them to whatever the Fates had in store. I’d say that is reason enough to believe you have done something untoward.”

Simon glared through squinty eyes. “She came asking for more money. Said she couldn’t go to you, that you’d done enough by taking care of the boy.”

“Your son, your responsibility, lest you forget. The son you refuse to claim, for fear your viscountess will get wise to you casting your seed about, while her field lay fallow.”

“Must only crudity spew from your mouth?”

“I am crude, admittedly so. However, I have never sired a child, only to leave the poor wretch and his mother to their own devices. Quite the contrary, brother dear. I have taken care of your son and done the best by Sophia that I could, in your stead.”

Simon raised a dismissive hand, his jaw squared. “You put your nose where you shouldn’t have. They would have made their way. Whores and their spawn always do.” He bared his teeth.

“You are indeed as despicable as ever. Have you no conscience, man?”

Fully recovered, Simon strutted about. “I’ve not seen her since she left last night. Now you must leave before Mary inquires as to the disturbance.”

“You’re lying, Simon, and I’ll prove it. When I do, I’ll lay it at your door myself.”

Lucien left and went back home, where he found his friend Prentice Hyde waiting for him.

“What is it?” the earl asked. “You look as though your bride has cried off.”

Lucien glared. “Not likely. I think Simon has done harm to Sophia.”

“I talked to Haynes, but he said you’d gone to talk to Simon. What makes you believe he’s did her harm?”

Lucien explained the situation as Hampton attempted to redress him. “I’ll need your help. Do you still have your contacts from our Army days?”

Prentice reclined in a comfortable chair and smiled. “Of course.”

“I suspect Simon has disposed of Sophia. No explanation for it, I just feel it. We must act with utmost discretion. Can you trust two or three of those contacts to search for her? Have them report only to you, and then you to me.”

Prentice rose. “Several owe me favors. I’ll call in the markers. Do you wish to know as soon as I do, or would you prefer a night with your bride?”

Lucien glared with good humor. “If my suspicions are correct, I don’t want Serenity upset by the news. I’ll make some excuse and come around tomorrow. Do you truly believe you’ll learn something today?”

“He’d find difficulty disposing of a body in London. Someone always knows something.”

“I pity the boy,” Lucien said.

Prentice clapped Lucien on the back. “He has you, and, my friend, he’ll need you more now than ever.”

Lucien nodded. How to explain the ready-made family to his bride?

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Brita Addams was born in Upstate New York, but now makes her home in the sultry south with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

Brita and her husband love to travel. They've enjoyed no less than twenty-five cruises and countless long car trips, as well as completed a Civil War battlefield tour, and visits to many sites involved in the American Revolutionary War. Their 2013 anniversary tour of England, Scotland, and Wales gave Brita fodder for many new tales. Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals, as well as few contemporaries, have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

Learn more about Brita Addams on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.