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Lady Wynwood's Spies, volume 4: Betrayer - Chapter 2a

I’m posting an excerpt of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer!

Part four in a Christian Regency Romantic Adventure epic serial novel with a supernatural twist

Beleaguered spies

Lady Wynwood’s team of spies are trying to heal from the physical and mental wounds recently dealt to them. However, their investigation into Apothecary Jack’s mysterious group has turned up only a few strange, disjointed clues, and the dangerous Root elixir continues to circulate in the London underbelly. It is only a matter of time before the Root is sold to Napoleon, which would give him overwhelming dominance in the war.

Sudden threats

Then Laura, Lady Wynwood, is unexpectedly attacked by a man she had trusted. Although Phoebe and her household staff manage to protect her, her life is now in danger and she must go into hiding.

Dangerous mysteries

Laura uncovers more secrets kept by her late husband that shed illumination on his enigmatic mistress, Bianca. In the meantime, the team follows the trail of Laura’s attacker, which might enable them to capture Apothecary Jack or his compatriot, the pale-eyed man.

All the while, they are unaware that the hunters have become the hunted.

PLEASE NOTE: Like the novels published in Jane Austen’s time, this is a novel in multiple parts. Each volume has a completed story arc, but this is NOT a stand-alone novel and ends on a cliffhanger.

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter Two


Laura rubbed her eyes. How strange, they felt dry and sandy. She stared blankly at the candle on the desk, wondering for a moment why it looked different, and then realized that it had burned down to a small nub.

She’d been too caught up in reading some letters she had received from friends. They were letters which she herself had written to them in the year before Wynwood died, and which she had requested they temporarily return to her. She’d been comparing the events in the letters with things jotted in her own appointment book and also Wynwood’s book, although understanding his cryptic phrases about his activities made her eyes cross more than once.

She set down her pen, only then seeing that she’d made a large ink blot on the paper where she’d been taking notes on the names of their acquaintance. So many people, who had all been in town for the Season that year, and yet none of them had struck her as strange or noteworthy. But perhaps she simply didn’t think with the suspicion of a spy.

She rose from the desk in the library, where she’d been working, and wrapped her robe more tightly about her. She hadn’t noticed the cold until now, but she hadn’t lit a fire when she snuck into the library. She shouldn’t have been up so late, but after Aya had gone to bed, Laura hadn’t been able to sleep, and so she’d crept down here to work on the letters she had received just this day.

Tomorrow she’d have to tackle Wynwood’s ledgers again, armed with a bit more knowledge of the events during that time period and the people they each had seen. She hated looking through the books, not because the numbers intimidated her, but because she wasn’t certain how to feel when she saw purchases that Wynwood most definitely hadn’t made for her.

In looking through the financial records during the time Wynwood had taken up with Bianca, it had been difficult to make out what his business transactions had been, exactly. She admitted that she also didn’t have a head for these sorts of things. For all his faults, Wynwood had taken excellent care of his lands and had a skill for making money, buying and selling properties and enterprises for great profits.

Yes, Wynwood had been many things. Excellent manager, savage bully, unfaithful spouse, and a traitor. Quite colorful.

She headed back upstairs to her bedchamber as quietly as possible so that Phoebe would not hear her wandering about. Sometimes, she could swear that Aya could hear her mistress sneeze two floors down from her own bedchamber on the top floor.

Laura crawled into her cold bed, blew out the candle, and quickly fell asleep.

She knew immediately that it was a nightmare, even though she was flying, which was usually a fun and exciting sort of dream. She was not flying very high. She could see the countryside, which looked familiar to her, but not enough for her to immediately identify where it was. There were no landmarks she could recognize, just trees, a few quaint houses. Then with that strange abruptness of a dream, she realized that the night sky was lit by a pale moon that was only a sliver more than half-full, occasionally hidden by drifting clouds, which was why she couldn’t see much beyond the tree line and the distant lights that may be a village.

She tried to fly toward a tree that stretched long branches toward her, but she was suddenly stopped. A man behind her grabbed her hand and brought her back to her feet. His face was hidden, but there was a giant plant on his shoulders, the roots digging into his flesh and wrapping around his neck, burrowing into his head and ears. The plant looked like a Goldensuit plant, except that instead of green leaves and stalks, it was colored blood red, and the roots were dripping blood. It was as though the plant were feeding off of the man.

A detached part of her mind knew that if Laura had been awake, she would be screaming in horror, but now she only looked at him with regret and pity.

Then suddenly behind the man there was a young boy, but she somehow knew that it was the same man when he was a child. She saw the boy being pitifully neglected and barely tolerated by a strict, unloving father. The boy was always alone, and he never cried.

Then the boy was abruptly a little older, perhaps thirteen years old. He was being held down on a bed by a woman as fat and lumpy as the Prince Regent, and she looked to be at least twenty years older than the boy. He was thin and small for his age, and although he tried to resist at first, the woman was too heavy and strong. The woman touched him, and he finally stopped resisting, but there was fear and revulsion in his face.

Laura felt the same revulsion, and stepped toward him to try to save him. But then the woman disappeared. The boy, filled with vengeance and ferocity, stood behind the man with the plant on his shoulders. The boy’s rage billowed off of him like smoke from a rampaging fire. The smoke-rage covered the man, and the weariness in his face melted away as his expression hardened. But his momentary resolve was quickly sapped away by the plant sucking the lifeblood from his body.

Laura shrank back from the man and the boy. She wanted to reach out to them, but the horrifying plant and the boy’s overwhelming wrath hissed at her, threatening to attack her.

And then she felt a cool, soft touch on her head, like the hand of her father when she was a child. She suddenly found that she could see dark spots covering the boy’s body. No, they were wounds—bruises, lesions, cuts, gashes. Some were still seeping blood, others were infected and oozing yellow fluid. Others were angry red scars that looked raw, only a step below an open sore.

They were not merely all over his body. She saw blood and dark blemishes covering a dimly lit form, shaped like an emaciated version of the boy, residing inside his body. She knew she was looking at his soul. His body and soul were injured, broken, bleeding.

The hand gently rubbing her head somehow seemed sad. She thought she felt the drip of tears falling upon her head.

She awoke when the bed moved.

Ten years—nearly eleven—of finally living without Wynwood had still not cured her of her sensitivity at night, fostered by the ten years she was married to him.

Except that Wynwood was dead. And yet the bed moved.

Her heartbeat sped up. She couldn’t remember the last time she had been so afraid. Even when Wynwood was at his worst, she knew that it would hurt, but she had become used to it. She knew what to expect.

But now, there was someone in the dark with her. Someone she didn’t know.

***


I’m sorry the excerpt stops there! Unfortunately, Amazon has a policy where I can’t post more than 10% of the text.

Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer will hopefully be published in the next month or so, as soon as I get closer to the end of writing book 5.

If you’d like to know when book 4 is going to be released, please join my Camille Elliot newsletter. After a few welcome emails, I only send 1 newsletter a month with a new release, a sale, or a freebie.


Start the series with Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer:
Part one in a Christian Regency Romantic Adventure epic serial novel with a supernatural twist

She met him again by shooting him.

After four seasons and unmarried because she is taller than most of her dance partners, Miss Phoebe Sauber receives the shocking news that she is being callously banished from her father’s estate because he is remarrying. Feeling betrayed by her father and by God, and wanting to escape her family’s presence, she attends an archery tournament with her friends.

But her perfect aim fails her, and her arrow hits a piece of paper held by Mr. Michael Coulton-Jones, whom she hasn’t seen much in society in several years. But strangely, her arrow tears a section of the paper with a partial symbol that looks eerily familiar to her.

He met her again while searching for a killer.

Michael had quit his work as a spy for the Foreign Office when his brother was poisoned. His search for the murderer leads him to Apothecary Jack, a criminal underworld leader with a penchant for poisons, who is gathering a powerful army through an alchemical potion that can give men supernatural strength.

But his path unexpectedly crosses again with Miss Sauber, who saves him from a trap laid by Jack. She and her Aunt Laura, Lady Wynwood, have found a vital connection to Apothecary Jack and the mysterious group he works for.

Now Michael, who had vowed to never again allow civilians to come to harm, must work with a nobleman keeping dangerous secrets, a human lie detector, a chemist, a fellow former spy, and the one woman he’s never allowed himself to get close to.

And it is only this ragtag group that stands against a traitorous organization that could enable Napoleon to conquer the world.

PLEASE NOTE: Like the novels published in Jane Austen’s time, this is a novel in multiple parts. Each volume has a completed story arc, but this is NOT a stand-alone novel and ends on a cliffhanger.

Kindle
Paperback

Don’t have a Kindle?

Unfortunately, the book will only be in Amazon for now. However, if you buy a copy on Amazon and would like to read it on your non-Kindle reader, forward the receipt of your purchase to me at camys.loft@gmail.com and I’ll have BookFunnel send you an .epub copy of the file so you can side load it onto your ebook reader. (If you have any trouble downloading your review copy, please click the help link at the top of the download page. The friendly folks at BookFunnel will help you get your book.) You might also be able to download a DRM-free copy from Amazon through “Your Content and Devices” page on the Amazon website.

Comments

  1. Just curious, how many volume's of Lady Wynwood's spies do you see this series having? Please tell me that it doesn't go on forever, and that somehow everything will come to a satisfying conclusion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’ve plotted the series out and it’s projected to be 10 books total. I personally hate it when series don’t have a firm conclusion so I certainly will make sure the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series has a firm conclusion.

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