Publication date: July 13th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
The ghosts are angry, thinking I’ve neglected them.
Do not forget us, they call out from the grave.
I won’t, I promise them. Upon my life, I won’t.
Being a demigoddess in 1892 Stonehenge, Colorado isn’t all one might suppose, especially when the dead are involved. Yet as Veritas of the Rocky Mountain sovereignty, it is Hester Grayson’s calling to help restless spirits cross over by bringing their killers to justice. Blind and pale as an albino, she dwells on the fringes of the nouveau riche, working with her telepathic beau Tom Craddock to catch the guilty.
When a young woman is brutally murdered, Hester and Tom are determined to solve the case as they have every other. But this one demands more. The killer wears many faces and wields greater magic than even Hester possesses. All sleuthing stops, however, when Tom is gravely wounded, and Hester is cast out of her parent’s mansion into the brutal squalor of an asylum.
At the mercy of an insane doctor, surrounded by agitated ghosts, Hester fights to maintain her own sanity by planning her escape and the downfall of her enemies. Can she achieve her goal and expose the madman who sent her to hell? Or will he continue his bloody reign in Stonehenge?
Cordelia once read Thomas More’s Utopia to me and I remember marveling that gold meant nothing to the people within the book, so little that they made chamber pots out of it. Stonehenge is the absolute opposite of Utopia. It has a definite aristocracy, and it doesn’t come from blue blood. It’s entirely based on money. And wealth is just as important to Tom as it is to my father. The ironic thing is that Father was just like him once—before the gold rush.
I hold Tom close, wishing I’d never come to town. Things are just things. They don’t matter.
Because you’ve always had them, love.
Through telepathy, Tom allows me a glimpse of what’s in his heart. Sorrow, aggravation, fear. These feelings are soon replaced by a different passion, physical rather than mental. But as I sink into his kiss, Tom disappears from my arms.
Bodies roll across the cobblestones, fists strike muscle and debris crashes about in the alley. I switch down my hearing before my head explodes.
“You need lessons on how to treat a lady,” Dr. Noah Kelly mutters.
Tom laughs bitterly. “I was treating her quite well until you arrived.”
The doctor grunts, as though he’s been tackled and driven into the wall. He takes a good pounding before knocking Tom off his feet. The violence goes on for some time. They are gasping for air but still swinging.
No more, Tom. Please.
Tell that to your boyfriend—he fights dirty.
“I won’t allow Hester to be taken advantage of,” Kelly sputters, as though his throat is being squeezed.
“I’ll kill anyone who tries it,” Tom replies with a snarl.
After hitting the cobblestones, Kelly springs to his feet, the sound fluid as a cat. More punching follows. The moment there is a lull, I move between them and put a hand on Tom’s chest.
Kelly steps back, and I sense him studying us. “You’re friends with this man, Hester?” he asks, voice cool.
Nodding, I move closer to Tom, feel his arm slide round my shoulders. The doctor is quiet for a moment and then brushes off his coat. “A secret affair, is it? Well, to each his own, I suppose.”
Tom’s Scottish temper flares. “Careful, Doctor,” he says. “Show Miss Grayson the proper respect.”
Kelly moves past me. “Oh, I respect Hester. It’s you I don’t think much of. If she were mine, there’d be no sneaking around.”
Tom curses through his teeth. “Son of a—”
I grab his arm and open our telepathic link. Let it pass. He thinks he’s defending me.
The doctor walks to the mouth of the alley and waits for Tom and me to follow. “I am Miss Grayson’s escort at present,” he says. “And when I take a lady out, I damn well see her home.”
The body heat from the men at my side is stifling, and I want this encounter to end without further incident. I’ll go with him, Tom. It’s only a short ride, after all, and my mother will ask questions otherwise.
Anger pulses from Tom as he hands me what remains of my spectacles and strides away. The frames are bent, the lenses broken. It’s the topper to a hell of a day. As I despair over the spectacles, Kelly fetches my cloak from the hotel and leads me to the buggy, stiffly polite. Seems he’s angry, too.
Kelly whistles for a while as the horse trots along before turning to me, his knee grazing mine. “I’ve known my share of deceptive females, but your skills are of the first water. The ice-angel, butter-won’t-melt-in-my-mouth act fooled even me.”
Reaching into my pocket, I turn away from him and hold the lucky pebbles inside, thankful for the breeze blowing against my flushed face. We finally arrive at The Revels and Kelly walks me to the front door. I curtsy because it’s expected and thank him for taking me to tea.
“You’re quite welcome, but it seems alleyways are more to your liking. Had I but known you were in the mood for a tussle, Hester, I would have gladly obliged.”
Treacherous cad! All that talk about friendship and loneliness. And to think I defended him to Tom.
I release the pebbles in my pocket as Kelly raps on the door, alerting the butler that I’m waiting to be let in. “At your service,” the doctor murmurs.
I don’t wait for the butler and push the door open myself. As I stomp into the house, I hear Kelly call my name and turn around.
“The choking man survived, in case you were wondering. And I’ll see you in my office tomorrow. Your mother and I have made arrangements for your education.”
He walks toward his buggy, and I pull back the door so I can slam it. I’ll never go anyplace with him again, regardless of what he and Mama say.
But Kelly gets in a final jab before I slam the door. “Be there at one, Hester, and bring Miss Collins along to chaperone. I’d hate for your reputation to suffer.”
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