By C.J. Archer
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: August 11th, 2015
Victorian London: For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn’t raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.
People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.
Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly “made” creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world – Charlotte – but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he’s been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn’t trust?
Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they’re hunting.
I didn’t need to open my eyes to know that I was inside a coach. It had been many years since I’d ridden in one but the rocking sensation was unmistakable, as was the subtle scent of the leather seat on which I lay. My hands and feet were tied and I lay on a bench seat, facing forward. My shoulder still hurt, but not as badly as before. It had popped back into the socket while I was unconscious. By luck or by my captors?
At least one of them was with me in the cabin. I could hear soft breathing and feel a gaze upon me. My hair still covered half my face, reaching past my nose. A small mercy.
“I wasn’t expecting him to put up a fight.” That was Pretty’s cultured voice, coming from the seat opposite. Unless he was talking to himself, there must be another beside him.
“The lad’s got some fire in his belly,” Pretty went on. He paused, yet there was still no response from his companion. I suspected it was the one they called Sir then, not Ugly. Ugly was more talkative. “Do you think he’ll have answers?”
“Some.” Yes, definitely Sir. I recognized his rich, velvety tones.
“Do you think he knows where she is?”
She? Who was he talking about?
“Perhaps,” Sir said.
Pretty grunted. “Think he’ll tell us where to find her, if he does?”
“I’ll see to it.”
A cold lump of dread lodged in the pit of my stomach. He had no qualms rendering me unconscious to capture me, so what methods would he employ to get answers? Answers to what? I didn’t know the whereabouts of any missing women—
Unless he meant me, Charlotte Holloway. If so, it seemed he hadn’t connected Charlie the boy to Charlotte the missing girl. Yet. I needed to get away from him as soon as possible, before he worked it out. With my hands and feet tied, escape was not going to be easy.
The men didn’t speak for some time and the silence between them felt awkward. They weren’t friends then, but more likely master and servant. A good ten or fifteen minutes passed before the leather seat creaked beneath the shifting weight of one of them.
Pretty cleared his throat. “Odd that he hasn’t woken up yet.”
“He’s awake,” Sir said.
How had he known?
The leather seat creaked again and I felt warm breath on my chin. I opened my eyes, startling Pretty. “How long have you been awake?” he asked.
I didn’t answer. I didn’t want him knowing I’d overheard their conversation.
The man sitting beside him spoke instead. “Since we drove off.”
Sir was not what I expected. He was strikingly handsome, although he seemed to want to downplay his good looks. His black wavy hair reached to his shoulders, a few errant strands spilling over one sharp cheek. No gentleman I’d ever seen kept his hair that length or in such disarray. Nor was the hair on his face the latest fashion. Instead of being styled and oiled to a sheen, it shadowed his jaw as if he’d forgotten to shave for two days. If he didn’t wear such a fine, well-fitting suit, I would not have thought him a gentleman at all. He didn’t even wear a hat or gloves.
I sat up, which was not an easy task, trussed up as I was. Neither man assisted me. I shrank into the corner then remembered I was trying to look defiant and unafraid. I tilted my chin and stared into Sir’s black, black eyes.
That was a mistake. He met my gaze with his own fiercely direct one, and I felt like I was being sucked into a well so endless it would take a lifetime to reach the bottom. He gave away nothing through his eyes, yet I felt he could see everything in mine. Surely he must know I was not who I claimed to be. I wanted to look away before he saw too much, but I could not. He was much too compelling.
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two with her writing. Under her other name of Carolyn Scott, she has published contemporary short stories in women’s magazines, and she also writes romantic mystery novels under this name.
She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. She has won and placed in romance writing contests including winning RWAustralia’s Emerald Award in 2008 for the manuscript that went on to be released under the title HONOR BOUND. C.J. spent her early childhood in the dramatic beauty of outback Queensland, Australia, but now lives in suburban Melbourne with her husband and two children.
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