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Seasons of War 3-Book Bundle

Seasons of War 3-Book Bundle

Come Looking for Me / Second Summer of War / Run Red With Blood
edition:eBook
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Run Red with Blood
Excerpt

Prologue

The night shrouded the carriage in a suffocating darkness as black as the loam of a grave. The rain fell in torrents, pounding against the windows like the fists of a riotous mob. Pools of water had gouged the serpentine road, causing the carriage wheels to swerve and careen, and Emily’s head to repeatedly strike the inside wall. She screamed for the driver to stop, but it seemed the carriage had neither driver nor horses — headlong it hurtled along an unknown track, stoked by a ghostly energy of its own.

Across from her sat Lord Somerton in his sombre suit of clothes, his eyes lost in shifting shadows, his mouth nothing more than a grim slash across a pallid jaw. The pitching motion of the vehicle did little to disturb him. Aside from his finger-tapping on the head of his cane, he sat completely still.

“Where are you taking me?” Emily cried.

There was a slight curling of his lips, but silence was his answer.

The carriage escalated its reckless speed. Wet, shivering trees flew past in the darkness — the twisted fingers of their branches scratching at the mournful sky, searching for a way to escape the night. A set of iron gates suddenly appeared and opened like jaws, intent on swallowing them whole. As they passed through them, Emily grew cold and shaky. She recognized this place. She knew its twisting pathway and the grey, foreboding grounds heaving around it like an angry sea.

Hartwood Hall!

Frantically, she wrestled with the latch on the carriage door. Dear God, no! She had already fled from here once before, stolen away in the night when everyone was preoccupied with dancing and feasting and drinking — no one having seen her except for Fleda, who had wept at her leaving. She had gone looking for Leander and had managed to find him, somewhere near the sea.

The carriage came to an abrupt halt, and the leaden facade of the Hall filled its windows, formidable and startling as an enemy frigate slipping from a swirling bank of fog. Candles burned in the Hall’s sash windows, and scurrying figures poured forth from its doors, rushing toward her. Roughened hands dragged her out into the pelting rain; voices shouted: “Hurry! Hurry! You have kept them waiting.”

The shadowy molesters prodded her toward the house and into the front entrance where the lights flickered upon a hawk-faced clergyman in his black weeds and white collar. In his pious grasp, he carried the Book of Common Prayer. Bound in a tight semicircle around him was an assemblage of familiar faces, yet there was no happy welcome in their stares. The Duchess of Belmont exuded indignation; her heavy husband wheezed disinterest; Glenna McCubbin was a clucking hen of disapproval while Uncle Clarence’s mood was aloof and dark with bitter disappointment.

In his extravagant knee breeches and frock coat, Wetherell Lindsay paced with impatience, his high heels clicking upon the marble floor, reflections of candlelight playing upon his bald pate where his wig was normally affixed. Lord Somerton eagerly steered Emily toward him. Wetherell pulled her roughly to his stout side and attempted to lock up her hands in his, but she pushed away, shaking her head in defiance, refusing to participate in their mad conspiracy. Enraged by the rebuff, Wetherell stomped off into a subterranean passage of the house, instructing the wedding guests to follow him, leaving the servants to douse the candles and shutter the doors. Trailing them was Fleda, a haunting, dreadful sadness in her green eyes. As she walked away from Emily, the masonry and mortar of Hartwood Hall fell around her, disintegrating and then vanishing into the earth.

One wedding guest stayed behind. He stood like a scarecrow in the abandoned field where the house had been. The uniform of an American naval captain hung upon his gaunt frame, the wind trifling with the threadbare fabric of his jacket. The brim of his bicorne hat was cracked and moth-eaten. His feet were naked and bleeding; he possessed no mouth, and where his nose should have been there was only a skeletal cavity. He turned to face Emily. His eyes — cold, dark, and merciless — sent icy fingers scuttling down her spine while the distance between them loudly echoed a familiar word.

Pity.

Unable to move, she watched as he raised a black pistol, cocked the hammer back, and levelled it at her pounding heart.

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Harlequin Historical March 2018 - Box Set 1 of 2

From Governess to Countess\Rescued by the Earl's Vows\Lord Ravenscar's Inconvenient
edition:eBook
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