The release date of Darkest Death is fast approaching and I am celebrating with special .99 cents pricing for both Darkest Valentine and Darkest Death. That’s right, both of these full length novels are only .99 cents for a limited time. That means you can own both of them for less than $2.00. Why not grab them both now?
And now for a special treat for you, an exclusive excerpt from Darkest Death!
Lord Archie stumbled as he tried to hurry through the hallway. Awoken late by the valet, his frustration had nowhere to go once he learned that it was Lord Downing himself who had instructed the man to wake him late. If he had known that the Lord Downing wanted the meeting later in the morning, he would’ve used that time to find out which room Lady Sarah stayed in, and perhaps left her a message to meet him for lunch. Even if she was a suspect according to Downing.
His jaw hurt from clenching it, and he tried to loosen it up. That time was lost now, so no point in berating the servants for being upset at the lost chance. Though it still stung that his employer thought to choose his waking hour and change his orders with his own servant. Or was he really pissed because of the debriefing?
He pulled his vest down smartly and took a deep breath. He needed to be calm before facing his boss and mentor. As he checked the cuffs of his coat, someone stumbled into him. Out of reflex, Lord Archer held onto the arms of the person who’d done so and studied them. “Sarah?” he asked.
At first, Lady Sarah’s countenance reflected joy, but then her eyes widened and fear entered in. “Sarah, what is it?” Even as he watched, her face paled to such a lightness, he feared she would faint. “Sarah? Talk to me. We have been friends forever. Are you in danger? Someone trying to hurt you?” He held her close to him and stared down the hallway looking for a would-be attacker, but he saw no one.
However, Lady Sarah stirred in his arms. It took her a minute to answer, which told him how upset she was. Lady Sarah hardly ever went without speech, particularly when something upset her.
Sarah stood back and straightened her shoulders, and said, “Lord Archer. Fancy meeting you here. I thought your schedule precluded you from coming with Hermione.”
Lord Archer tilted his head and gave her a once over. Though her clothing showed her usual brilliance in style and color, she shook from head to toe, and her tone of voice she directed at him caused him pause. He was about to suggest she come with him and meet his boss, when he remembered that she may be part of their operation. He stiffened himself and tried to act normal.
“Yes, I believed my work would lead me to the south of England, but instead, I find myself in Edinburgh, which, at the time, I believed to be a truly a happy happenstance as I am bound to be able to see my sister and our friends.” He emphasized friend to get a rise out of her, as she treated him as if he were the enemy. Was this more evidence that she could be involved as Lord Downing had insinuated on the trip here? He could not believe it even as Lord Downing suggested it. Lady Sarah would not be involved in any shenanigans involving hurting the monarchy or anyone for that matter.
He regretted his words and his tone as soon as he saw the flash of hurt in her eyes. But he could not take them back. What if she was working with the enemy, scheming to hurt the queen of the beloved country that he would give all for? Sadness trickle down through his body as if pouring its own rain. He really wanted Sarah for his helpmeet, his mate, a woman with strength and character to care for his kids and help take care of his estate while he worked.
His father thought him crazy for wanting a woman who understood numbers, who wanted more than to bear his children and wear frivolous frocks. He almost smiled. Well, she did like her frocks. “Lady Sarah,” he said, “I am quite sorry, Countess. I have not had a good morning, and, it would seem, neither have you. I have been and always will be your friend. If you need my help, please ask?”
She gave an almost imperceptible twitch of her eyebrows before saying, “Of course, Lord Archer. I shall call on you if I ever have need of your help.”
Did being a spy make you cynical of everyone? Somehow, he did not think she would be calling on him for help, and, the part which hit him in the gut, he sensed that she did not trust him. When did that happen? She used to call him Lord Archie, had, in fact, called him just that when picking up Hermione for the wedding trip, and now he was relegated back to being Lord Archer? When they had spoken of ways to help Hermione launch safely into society and out from under the cloud of suspicions, there had been a real camaraderie, a sense of something more about to happen. They’d held a common goal.
He had nearly kissed her that day. However, his father had chosen that moment to come see what they were whispering about, and made little remarks about propriety and wives. It had angered him, and it took away his feelings of pressure and the need to ask her immediately.
He wanted to hold her into his arms, even now. Even though he could not be sure she was not part of a plot to kill the queen. He wanted to pull her to him, comfort her, and tell her everything would be all right. Convince her to confide in him. But if she conspired to hurt the queen, that was treason, and nothing he had, nothing he could do, would stop the train of justice from hanging her, even if she was a woman.
Could his heart take it if she were such a treasonous person when his whole life he wanted to do nothing but serve the queen? It had been his biggest wish to serve the monarchy since a young child learning history from his tutor. He’d served first King William for a very short time while still alive, and now, his duty lay with Queen Victoria.
For as long as he could remember, it was his calling first. How could he have fallen in love with someone whose ideals were so far different than his own? Could he really? Or was he living in the past, living in the remembrance of who she was as a child, still seeing her as though through childish eyes?
Even as he watched her walk away, he knew something was wrong. For the first time, he questioned his life choices of being a spy. The hurt and sadness stayed with him the rest of the day. However, he had a job to do, and he would see it through, no matter the consequences to himself. Being in the presence of Lord Downing and learning from him was an opportunity he would take full advantage of while also watching for ways to prove Sarah’s innocence. For Lady Sarah must be innocent. His heart would not accept any other answer.
He finished the route to the dining room and searched for Lord Downing, and he saw him alone at the table near a pillar and strode forward with more confidence than he had left his own room with. He had a purpose and that purpose entailed protecting Lady Sarah while finding the truth. For as he walked, he realized he did know Lady Sarah. He knew her for as long as she had memories of, for their parents had been fast friends. She would never knowingly be a traitor. He absolutely believed that. Which meant someone either set her up to take the fall or were intent upon using her, not caring a whit what harm might befall her person.
A low, seething anger started at the thought that someone would use her that way. Would use any innocent that way. He tamped it down. He had work to do. And as skilled as Lord Downing may be, he was wrong about Sarah. However, Lord Archer would simply have to keep his own counsel.
For the first time in his career, Lord Archer kept a secret from his superior which may pertain to the assignment. But one thing he always did was follow his instincts. And, as he approached Lord Downing at the table, his instincts matched what his heart told him.
Protect Lady Sarah at all costs.