Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Fun! Photograph Flash Fiction...

Happy Halloween everyone! I love today. Like, I can't adequately express how much I love Halloween.

Instead of expressing it, I thought I would do one better. I haven't done it in awhile, but I love flash fiction and after finding a really cool prompt, I went for it.

Introducing Photograph... Follow the link at the end to find out what happened in the photo and how things will be resolved...

Years ago, I sat in this living room, surrounded by family members as we celebrated some birthday or holiday. Mother would enter the room from the kitchen carrying a tray filled with confectionary delights along with mugs of hot coco or cider. Nog, or hot toddies were for the adults. We laughed in this room, cried in this room, and gathered together two months ago to say farewell to our loving mother and father.

They went peacefully, according to their doctor. Mother died at 11:59pm and Father departed at 12:01am. They weren't very old, however mother had cancer. By the time she and Father explained it to my brothers and I, it had spread through her body, sucking the life from her day by day. It started as breast cancer. Who knew a small lump could create such havoc. It spread to her lymph nods then her spleen, liver, pancreas, spine then eventually her brain.

Her decline had been swift after they announced her prognosis. One day she sat there telling us all not to worry and the next we were calling the funeral home to have her and our dad picked up. Doc said daddy died of a broken heart. They were the love of each others lives, so it made sense, however it didn't make it any less difficult for us.

After their services and the reception we held at the house, my brother Dan brought up selling the house. I was inclined to agree, yet Kevin didn't want to. There were too many memories here. Good ones in fact, he couldn't see parting with our childhood home. I empathized with his assessment, and also realized in those minutes standing at the sink our mother used to stand at while filling the dishwasher, even the good memories hurt.

Somehow, Dan convinced Kevin selling would be the right thing to do. Today, we were having an estate sale, then whatever was left, we'd divide between us. The new owners of the home would be moving in by the end of the month and we, sadly, had to be gone.

One of the last boxes in the basement had been all of our old photo albums. Mom loved to have pictures of everything. Thirty years of life, love and happiness had been crammed into at least twenty albums. I decided I would split them evenly then distribute the pictures from the remaining album to all three of us. It seemed like the only fair thing to do.

As I placed each one onto the coffee table, I didn't even look through them, I couldn't. Not yet, anyway. But, when I grabbed the blue one with a Bunch of golden flowers and a small bunny on the front, something compelled me to look at it. I opened it up and grinned. There were pictures of our mother and father in this very living room. Mom was pregnant with Kevin and Dan and I were on the floor by the Christmas tree playing with whatever toys we'd gotten that year. Family members were also there, and I'm pretty sure my aunt Susan took the picture.

Going through the pictures, I was swept away by the nostalgia, until one of the pictures fell out of the album. What I saw sent a chill to my bones... PHOTOGRAPH

Monday, October 30, 2017

Celia's Spooktacular #Halloween Story

Hi Everyone and Happy Halloween!

In the spirit of this holiday, I have a spooky tale for you today, based on actual events as recounted to me by my Irish grandmother. Yes, it really happened to her. Read on, my dears... :-)

Bumped By The Banshee

cemetery yard decorations

I lived in a large two-story house with my parents, sister and grandmother. It was a cold, winter evening, nothing special or out of the ordinary. The family dined together, then my sister and I cleaned up while our parents and grandmother drank tea. We joined them at the dining table to do our homework, but my grandmother said she was tired and went upstairs to bed. My parents followed shortly after that, but my father paused on the landing.

“Maeve, it’s going to be a cold night. Fetch us some coal, please.”

I abandoned my homework, grabbed the empty coal bucket from the kitchen, and went down into the cellar. I filled my bucket and returned to the stairs. I had one foot on the first step when the temperature in the cellar, already cold, dropped dramatically. Chills ran down my back. Behind me, someone moaned.

But how could that be? I was alone...

Terror rooted me to the spot. The keening grew louder. I dropped my bucket and covered my ears. A cold wind bumped against my back. I stumbled forward as the shrieking wind rushed over me and up the stairs.

But how could that be? The cellar had no windows...

Above me, the cellar door slammed shut. The sound broke me from my stupor. I screamed and ran from the cellar, through the kitchen and dining room, up the stairs to my room. My parents and sister found me under my bed, shaking like a puppy lost in a snowstorm.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” They asked me, while pulling me from my hiding place.

“I heard the Banshee wail.”

We stared at each other in silence, all of us reaching the same conclusion moments later. We hurried to my grandmother’s room.

She was dead.

Copyright 2017, Celia Breslin, all rights reserved.

Have a great Halloween, Dear Readers, and see you back here on November 30th!


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Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Highlander is All That: Untamed Highlanders from Sabrina York #Giveaway


The Highlander Is All That
by Sabrina York

Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart...

… But perhaps a Scotsman can.

Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure.

Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

Read an Excerpt!

He emerged in the kitchens and, after greeting the plump and friendly cook—and snagging a scone from the cooling tray—he followed her directions out into the garden.
Ah yes. This was what he needed. The scent of mown grass, a hint of flowers, fresh air, and sunshine. He turned his face up to the sky and soaked it in.
Granted, it was a watery sunlight, and it struggled to shine through the haze of coal dust, but it beat the hell out of a musty carriage. He strolled along the path, studying the immaculately trimmed hedges, perfectly arranged rosebushes, and the affected pond in the center of the garden.
Everything was prim, proper, and utterly controlled. How British.
He missed the wild heathers of the Highlands, the raw scraggly trees that clung to the cliffs of the coast, the cold breeze gusting from the sea.
While he had been honored that Lachlan had entrusted him with this mission—for it clearly was important to the duke to support this family he had not known he had until recently—Hamish hated being away from home.
He had a business to run and had been in the process of seducing the lovely widow Dunn when the duke’s summons had come. But when a duke commanded one’s presence, one responded.
Ah well. The lovely widow could wait.
Hamish stilled and the little hairs on his nape prickled as he caught the trail of a tantalizing song. Like a sailor called by a siren, he followed the sound. As he rounded a corner, a whimsical gazebo came into view. There, leaning against a column, was his angel.
Her face was exquisite, delicate, and finely formed, utterly classical but for the button nose. Her hair, curly and glossy, skimmed her shoulders, and her dress pinched in at the waist, highlighting a fine form.
His breath caught as she tipped up her chin and warbled a few more notes. Then he must have made a noise, for she abruptly stopped singing and turned.
As she saw him, her cheeks turned a charming pink, and Elizabeth clapped her hand over her mouth.
“Doona stop,” he said before he could halt the words.
“Oh dear,” she said with a delightful laugh. “I’ve been caught out.”
“You have a lovely voice,” he said, stepping closer.
He should not step closer. He should not be alone with her, here in the garden. This he knew to the depth of his being. But, to the depth of his being, he could not resist.
Her grin was entrancing. “You are a very kind liar.”
“I’m no’ a lair.”
“Well, thank you, sir.” She gifted him with a mock curtsey.
“Do you often sing in the garden?” he asked.
“Only when I am certain no one can hear.” She turned away and stepped into the gazebo. He couldn’t help but notice the seductive swish of her skirts.
He clamped down on his lustful thoughts. She was a girl. One who was far too young to know a thing about seduction. Obviously, his imaginings were born of his own desire, and it would behoove him to remember that. He was here to see her wed. To be her protector. Not to pursue her.
She was the duke’s cousin.
Still, he followed her up the steps into the folly. She sat on a padded bench and he took a seat on the other side, far out of reach.
“Have you recovered from your journey?” she asked politely.
“Aye. A walk in the garden has helped immensely.”
“I can imagine. Traveling can be so dull.”
“Have you traveled much?”
“A bit here and there. Brighton, on holiday. York, for a house party. We went to Scotland once, but I was young.”
“Ah.” That caught his attention. “How did you like it?”
“Oh.” Her face transformed to one of rapt excitement. An expression that grabbed him by the solar plexus and tugged. “I absolutely loved it.”
“Did you?” How . . . intriguing.
“It was so beautiful and wild. The people were lovely and the food was delicious.”
“Even haggis?”
Her adorable nose curled a little. “It has its . . . charms.”
He had to laugh. Her lie was so blatant.
“I would love to go back sometime.” He appreciated the wistful note in her tone.
“I miss it already.”
“I can imagine you do.” She sighed. “It must have been difficult to put your life on hold to come here and help us.”
“The duke insisted.” He regretted his words immediately, as she flinched. “However, I’m certain we shall enjoy this adventure.”
“I do hope your time here is pleasant.” Unfortunately, she’d gone all prickly and formal, which he couldn’t help but regret.
“Thank you.”
“It must be difficult for your family to have you gone as well.” She looked away as she said this, but he caught an odd glimmer in her eye before she did.
“My family?”
She cleared her throat. “Your . . . wife? Children?”
Ah. That was it. The little minx was fishing for information. Something warm trickled though his veins, and he bit back a grin. “I doona have a wife, lass.” Why he invested the words with a low rumble, he did not know. Or perhaps he did.
Her response was immediate. A slow smile blossomed on her beautiful face. Was it possible it made her even lovelier? “No wife?”
“No’ a one.” He chuckled. Damn, if she wasn’t flirting with him. Though it was foolish, the prospect danced through him in ribbons of pleasure.
“And the baron?”
His mood plummeted. “What?”
“Does the baron have a wife?”
Aye, she was fishing for information.
On Ranald.
He shouldn’t be disappointed. He’d already acknowledged that his friend was a far better catch for her. “He is a widower.” A disgruntled offering.
“Oh, how sad.”
“He has a daughter.”
“Oh, that is even sadder. A helpless little mite without a mother?”
“Aye.” Though Catriona was hardly a helpless mite. She was more of a hellion.
“Does the baron plan to marry again?”
This was going from bad to worse. “He hasna spoken of it.”
“I was just wondering, you know, because he is very handsome.”
“And he seems very nice.”
“Aye.” There was no call for such misery, but it swamped him nonetheless.
“What a pity that Anne dislikes Scotsmen.”
Hamish blinked. “Anne?”
“They are of an age.”
Indeed, they were. He cleared his throat. “Anne . . . dislikes Scotsmen?”
“Oh yes. On account of the fact that she fell in love with one, and he broke her heart.”
He barked a laugh. “She canna blame all Scotsmen for that.”
“She can,” Elizabeth said with a smile. “And she does. Faithless philanders, all of them,” she warbled.
“That is no’ true. Scotsmen are the most devoted lovers!”
“Really?” She fluttered her lashes at him, which sent rivulets of delight and alarm through him. Her expression was far too intent. And again, not intent enough.
“I . . . ah. Aye. You’ll never find a more loyal man than a Scotsman.”
Her smile was stunning. “Well, I believe you,” she said, coming to her feet. He followed suit. “But you will need to convince Anne of that.”
He had no intention of doing any such thing.
She held out her arm and he took it as a matter of habit, and then they headed down the stairs.
He had no idea what happened next, other than the vague recollection of Elizabeth tripping on a stair, and his arms coming out to catch her.
But then, there she was. In his embrace. Staring up at him with wide doe-like eyes. Lips parted. Breath soft and sweet on his cheek.
She slipped a bit and gripped him closer, pressing her delicious body against his. His head spun. His cock rose.
She’s too young, some small voice cried from the back of his mind. She is unequal to your experience. This is wrong!
Ah, such a chorus of dissent.
He ignored them all and lowered his head.
The desire to taste her was far too strong, and try as he might to resist, he could not.
He was going to kiss Elizabeth St. Claire, and he was going to kiss her now.

Enter to win the Highlander Is All That Tiara!

Read all the books in the Untamed Highlander Series!


Other Historicals

Dark Fancy, Book 1
Dark Duke, Book 2
Brigand, Book 3
Defiant, Book 4
Folly,  Book 5



Friday, October 27, 2017

A Decadent Recipe, 2 Kindles and Foxy Time

Hello, Divas! I've missed you. As we roll into the season of all things decadent, I thought I'd share one of the recipes my favorite character, Rosie Peaks, loves on a chilly fall evening. Check out her newest book and if you read on, you'll see Megan Slayer and I are giving away 2 kindles, plushies, jewelry and more on Halloween night. If you make this recipe, be sure to let me know how much you love it. 
Markus Foxxe is in Eriewood for one reason. His boss wants Rosie Peaks. He doesn’t know why and he shouldn’t care, but after meeting her, there’s no way Markus will hand her over to the highest bidder.
Rosie Peaks left DuFour, Indiana two years ago and found a safe haven away from all things paranormal. Working at Mulcahy’s Pub has been fairly uneventful. Until Markus Foxxe rolled into town in his silk suits with a primal sex appeal that makes her want to spend every night with him banging like a screen door in a hurricane. The only problem is, Rosie isn’t looking for a commitment and Markus seems as though he’s a one-mate kind of guy.
Will Markus change her mind? Or will Rosie find herself on the run again?
**Dutch Apple Pie Cookies**
Preheat oven to 375 F
1 C. Melted Butter
3/4 C. Sugar
1/4 C. Brown Sugar
2 Beaten Eggs
1/3 C. Apple Pie Filling (Canned or Homemade)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3 C. Flour
Streusel Topping:
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Flour
1/4 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
Cookie Instructions:
Melt butter and add sugars. Add eggs and apple pie filling. When the filling is incorporated, add vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then, add flour. Mix well (wooden spoon works best).
Roll dough into walnut size balls. If dough is too sticky, chill for 1/2 an hour to and hour. Make thumbprint in center of cookie dough ball to flatten a bit. Sprinkle streusel topping in center.
Bake 8-10 minutes (depending on oven and altitude)
Makes 7-8 dozen cookies.

There you have it. I hope you enjoy Out-Foxxe'd and Rosie's recipe. Have a safe and happy Halloween, Divas.
Madison Sevier currently resides in Indiana with her husband, daughter and beloved pets. She’s addicted to coffee and all things romance. She firmly believes you will know if someone is your soulmate after you take a long road trip with them. If you both survive, you’re meant to be. 
Madison writes a variety of stories and always incorporates a bit of reality into them. Sometimes crazy. Sometimes over the top, but always written with love. She likes hot heroes, sexy relatable heroines and a lot of laughs.
She loves hearing from her readers and meeting new ones, so feel free to contact her at any of the following places…
RWA Member:
Madison Sevier
RWA Passionate Ink Chapter 207 
2017 RWA Passionate Ink VP of Communications and Marketing
Facebook: Author Page
Facebook: Profile
Twitter: @MadisonSevier
Instagram: @madison_sevier
Correspondence Email for Questions, Book Requests and Orders: madisonsevier9@gmail.com

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Writer's Creativity: Out of the Shoebox and Into a Book

Like most authors, I’m often asked how and where I get inspiration for the books I write. I like to think a lot of what I put into my books comes from personal experience. Not so much the steamy love scenes, or otherwise I’d probably still be married. Most often, my character’s personalities and story lines come from somewhere in my past. Usually, the more off beat the better.
The perfect example of using life experience resulted in the first book I ever sold. Many years ago, I worked for a large medical center in the very heart of a big city. One night on my way home I stopped at a red light. A man stepped off the curb and came to stand in front of my car. The neighborhood was dangerous, and I was terrified. I thought, if this man pulls a gun on me, I’m going to run him over right here in the street. No ifs, no ands, no buts! Instead of drawing a real weapon, he whipped open his coat and he was stark naked underneath. I began laughing, so hard in fact I think I insulted him. He got angry, closed his coat and stomped away. That ridiculous incident became the beginning of Courting Trouble, part of the Precious Gems line, from Kensington way back in 1996.

I remember telling that story at a writer’s retreat and one of the ‘younger’ participants bemoaned the fact that she must have led a sheltered life because nothing exciting ever happened to her. As a writer, you should never assume you’re too young to have had a book-worthy experience. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to use the stories handed down over generations as well.
When my mother passed away a few years ago, I was cleaning out her house and found a shoe box filled with what most people would consider junk. Not the writer in me ... the writer saw every item for what it was: a story waiting to be written. From the ten cent card of pearl cluster buttons to the book of ration stamps from WWII, everything screamed RESEARCH ME, PLOT ME, WRITE ABOUT ME! My creative mind just KNEW there was at least a half dozen stories in that one box of junk.
The experiences don’t have to be your own. The next time you’re out of fresh ideas, if you’re lucky enough to still have grandparents, call and ask them to recount one of the silliest, or most dramatic, events of their early lives. Chances are not only will you get a new story idea, but you will have also brightened their day and yours!
Inspiration knows no age and can also come from the young. Such is the case with my most recent release from Decadent Publishing. The idea for The Vessel - my first foray into sci-fi/alien romance - came following an end-of-world movie marathon with one of my grandchildren. The idea of an apocalyptic world where people of different species must learn to coexist for the good of mankind appealed to me. Once I had a handle on the "why" of an alien romance, the rest just fell into place.
A career soldier, Major Liam McGregor has been following strict military orders for over a decade. Considered one of the best by his superiors, it’s not surprising he’s the operative chosen for an assignment that, if successful, could save mankind.

Years earlier, chemical warfare left the women of earth sterile and the population is dwindling fast. The only hope for survival lies in the government scientists’ ability to successfully breed alien females with healthy human males. So far, their attempts have been mediocre at best.

Alora, second daughter of the House of Delawon, is their last hope. A government protectee since her family’s transport crash landed on earth years earlier, she is the last surviving fempod from Tethys, one of Saturn’s habitable moons.

Together Liam and Alora must travel from the government’s safe house in what used to be the state of Colorado to Traverse City, the new capitol of the United Republic. Their route takes them through both safe and hostile territory.

What poses more of a threat? The lawless marauders who’ll stop at nothing to vanquish their prey? Or, the forbidden desires tempting the soldier and the alien princess?

~ ~ ~
This is all for now. For the writers out there, keep plotting and writing and searching for that new twist! And, for the reader, keep reading. You are why we do what we do.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Anthology and Her Clockwork Heart by Dena Garson

London Calling
Three Scintillating Victorian Steampunk Tales
By Sorcha Mowbray, TL Reeve & Michelle Ryan, and Dena Garson
Publisher: After Glows Publishing
Release Date: October 17, 2017

Take a journey to Victorian London where an assassin meets her match, zombies invade, and top scientists go missing.

Four talented authors come together to bring you three BRAND NEW, full length Victorian steampunk novels of seduction, adventure, and mystery.

A look inside…

Seducing the Assassin (The Ladies League) by Sorcha Mowbray
Josephine Stanton, Madame and assassin, has another assignment to eliminate an enemy of the Queen. Too bad John Griffin, The Earl of Melton, has no intention of dying. Neither of the pair expects the heat that steams them up between the sheets and ultimately sets New Victorian London on its ear.

Darkness Rises by TL Reeve and Michele Ryan
A zombie horde has invaded London, England. Jonah McRae and his band of ghoulish Dreadfuls are London’s only hope. However, when Annabelle Craig threatens his mission he doesn’t know whether to kill her or claim her as his. Can the hunter and the huntee team together to take down the horde? Or will London be lost forever?

Her Clockwork Heart by Dena Garson
During her search for her missing brother, Trixie is reunited with Nathaniel, the man she never stopped loving. Sensing that Trixie might be in danger, Nathaniel lends his skills as an investigator to her efforts. Their love is rekindled as they race across the country looking for clues to more than one mystery.

Buy Links:

Teaser Book Trailer Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiU23CI5ZcM

Author Bios:

Sorcha Mowbray
Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.
She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!
For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, “Like” Sorcha on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She’s loves hearing from her readers. Email her directly at sorcha@sorchamowbray.com.

Website: http://sorchamowbray.com
Facebook: https://Facebook.com/sorchamowbray
Twitter: https://Twitter.com/sorchamowbray
Instagram: https://instagram.com/sorchamowbray
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5151174.Sorcha_Mowbray
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ytV65

TL Reeve
TL Reeve, a best selling, multi-published author with Cobblestone Press, Decadent Publishing, Evernight Publishing, and Loose-Id, was born out of a love of family and a bond that became unbreakable. Living in Alabama, TL misses Los Angeles, and will one day return to the beaches of Southern California. When not writing something hot and sexy, TL can be found curled up with a good book, or working on homework with a cute little pixie

Website: http://www.tlreeves.com/
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/tl.reeve2014
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/authorreeve.tl2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tl_reeve
Newsletter: http://tlreeves.us10.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=4f3a7697d7bfef81e9bc094bd&id=609c77b892

Michele Ryan
Michele Ryan is an author with Decadent and After Glows Publishing. She embraced her creative passion and co-authored several books with fellow author TL Reeve. Michele has also published two solo novellas. Michele is a lifelong resident of the state of New Jersey, along with her husband and three children, whom she refers to as her hobbits. When Michele is not plotting or writing, she can be found either volunteering at her children’s school or reading.

Blog: http://authormicheleryan.blogspot.com/
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/michele.ryan.522
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/micheleryan2016/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MRyan_Author

Dena Garson
Dena Garson is an award winning author of contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance. She holds a BBA and a MBA in Business and works in the wacky world of quality and process improvement. Making up her own reality on paper is what keeps her sane.
She is the mother of two rowdy boys, two rambunctious cats (AKA the fuzzy jerks), and a loving Labrador. When she isn't writing you can find her at her at the sewing machine or stringing beads. She is also a devoted Whovian and Dallas Cowboys fan.

Website: http://www.denagarson.com/
Blog: http://www.denagarson.net/
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/dena.garson.7
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDenaGarson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DenaGarson
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/dgarson
Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/v7a2i6


With a sigh, Nathaniel straightened his mess and tucked his notebook away in the breast pocket of his coat. He reached for the lamp to douse the light but paused when something banged against the wall of the records room.
Most of the RIO staff had left for the evening. By now he should have the offices to himself, with the exception of the security officer who patrolled through the night. But he would have sworn he recently heard the officer’s footsteps echoing down the hallway.
As silently as possible he exited the file room. At the door to the records room, he paused and listened. There were shuffling sounds, like boxes being moved about, as well as odd clicks and whirls. Almost like a clock with a gear out of alignment.
“No, not that one,” someone whispered on the other side of the door.
Was that a woman’s voice?
“Hurry. We don’t have much time.”
Again, no response to the whisper, but the clicking sounds multiplied.
Nathaniel checked the lock on the door. It had been opened. The intruder either had a key or a considerable talent with locks. The locks used at the RIO were unusual and gave even the most experienced lock picks trouble.
He pulled his derringer from his pocket then as quietly as possible turned the door handle. The last click of the latch set off a flurry of activity inside the room.
So much for a stealthy entry.
He positioned himself against the wall, yanked the door open, and leveled his gun on whatever he found inside the room.
Some kind of insect jumped off one of the file cabinets onto Nathaniel’s outstretched hand and pinched him.
“Ouch!” He shook his hand and tried to dislodge the bug, but it moved too fast. “What the bloody hell?” He bellowed when the bug ran across his arm then down his chest and leg to the floor.
“Don’t hurt her. She won’t hurt you,” a woman called out from the other side of the cabinet. “Nid, get over here.” Papers were shuffled and more clicks came from that side of the room.
Her voice was familiar. Nathaniel lowered his gun but kept it at the ready as he made his way to the other side. As he crept forward he looked left and right for more bugs. “Who is that and what are you doing in here?”
More shuffling of papers. A drawer slammed shut. The woman whispered, “Squeaks. Hopper. Get in.”
Nathaniel stepped around the end of the cabinets and leveled his gun at the person crouched next to the cabinet. He blinked in surprise at the woman who looked up at him. “Trixie?”
Beatrix Wadeworth froze with her hand extended to two small creatures that resembled a toy mouse and small rabbit. “Nathaniel?” She started to stand, then paused and scooped up the toys and slipped them into her pocket. “I uh…” She glanced behind him toward the door.
He took two steps forward and grabbed her by the arm. “Don’t even think about it.”
“Wh… what are you doing here?” she asked breathlessly.
“I work for the Royal Intelligence Office so I’m allowed to be here but you’re not.” He tightened his grip on her arm. “What are you doing here?”
Two of the bugs ran up his arm. He tried to brush them off, but only managed hit one of them.
“Nid, it’s okay.” She nabbed the one shaped like a spider. “Come here.”
“What are those?” They looked like bugs, but the whirling noise and clicks gave away the fact that they weren’t.
“They’re my, well…” She shrugged and dropped the one she’d taken off his arm into the pouch at her waist. “They’re my friends.”
“Friends?” One of her other toys scratched at his pant leg as it tried to climb it.
“Oh, sorry.” She reached for the creature but stopped when her face drew too close to an area of his anatomy that no proper young woman should be near.
“I’ll get it.” He released her arm, slid his pistol back into its holster, then plucked the tiny mechanical insect from his thigh. He examined it for a moment then dropped it into her open palm. The strange assortment of metal gears and parts were shaped to resemble a scorpion.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
“How many more of those do you have?”
“I only brought five of them with me.”
He opened his mouth to say something then shook his head. “You can’t be here.”
“What the deuce is going on in here?”
Trixie’s eyes widened with alarm. Nathaniel groaned. Great, the security officer had found them.