Friday, December 12, 2008
DECEMBER GUEST, VICTORIA JANSSEN: CONTEST TIME!!
Amanda: It has been a delight to have you here this week, Victoria! We hope you come back for a visit soon! The doors to the manor are always open. (We can't seem to teach Lord Craven to shut them. It, of course, shocks the old widow across the street when he passes by the front door on his way to breakfast, since, well,Lord CM prefers to sleep au' naturale...but I digress...)
It HAS been a delight and we here at LIT, wish you all the best of the holiday season and good wishes for the New Year!!<><> clapping wildly!<><>
Without further adieu~here is a sneak peek excerpt from Victoria's upcoming book at Spice! We will post a set of questions shortly. The first to respond in the comments section with all the correct answers will win a wonderful prize from our guest!
This excerpt from The Moonlight Mistress is from the opening chapter. Germany has just declared war on Russia and Lucilla, who is English, is unable to leave Germany and go back home because the trains are not running. She’s returned to the research facility where she’s been working for the last few months, to see if she can obtain help there.
Sneak Peek Excerpt:
The tall iron gates were closed and chained; the gas lanterns to either side flickered merrily, mocking her.
Lucilla ran forward and grabbed the bars with her free hand. Someone would be within. She shouted. No one answered; not a blade of grass stirred. The windows were all dark. She was sweating in her sober wool suit, but her belly clenched cold with unreasoning terror. She shook the gate and shouted again. "Let me in!"
Lucilla whirled. A young man loomed behind her. She recalled seeing him at the Institute, marked by his height, his pronounced Gallic nose, and a truly spectacular air of untidiness, currently exacerbated by his dusty clothing; smears of dark grime marked his sleeve and his cheek, just to the left of his unostentatious brown moustache.
He was a visitor like herself, but she had never learned his specialty, or his name. He would know her name, because she was the only woman ever to study at the Institute. She took a steadying breath. "Where have they all gone?" she asked, in English.
"The entire faculty was summoned to a meeting at the gymnasium. My country being likely soon at war with their country, I fear I am not welcome there, nor are you," the young man said. He spoke English fluently, though with a French accent. From beneath the brim of his hat, he looked her up and down. She had an impression of grim displeasure, though nothing in his voice had revealed it. "You cannot stand here in the street, shouting."
"And I suppose you have a better idea?"
"I have retained an hotel room. I suppose you have not done the same?"
"Such deductive prowess," Lucilla muttered. Her hair was coming unpinned. She shoved curling strands away from her face, one-handed, and looked up and down the deserted street. She had to calm herself and think. "There must be another way out of the country."
"I do not wish to be shot in the dark as a spy because I am in the act of escaping," the Frenchman said. "You must accompany me. You will stay in my room tonight."
"I will do nothing of the sort. Mister--?"
"I am Fournier. Tomorrow we may consider our dilemma further. Come, we should go." He turned and began walking, not offering to carry her bag. She didn't want to release her bag anyway; it held her precious laboratory notebook as well as her glassware.
She should not go with him. It was quite improper. True, Fournier was younger than she by at least a decade and a half, so she did not fear he had designs upon her. Or not more than a basic level of caution would dictate. But it galled to be ordered about like a lab assistant.
Lucilla scurried to catch him up. "I will find my own room," she said. He could ruin her reputation, merely by his presence with her in a hotel.
Fournier snorted. "A woman alone, and a foreigner? Don't be foolish. No one will give you a room."
"A woman might," she pointed out.
"If she had a room to spare. Even early this morning, I had difficulty in procuring lodging for an additional period. You are not the only person who has just discovered there are no trains. Come, we should hurry."
He was correct. And after her long dusty walk to the train station, then her futile longer and dustier walk back to the Institute, Lucilla was in no mood to procure a newspaper, peruse its listings, and then perhaps circumnavigate the entire town, in the dark, alone and subject to male harassment, in search of a bed. "I wish you weren't right," she grumbled.
Fournier glanced over at her and smiled, a quick flash of white teeth beneath his moustache. For that moment, he looked no older than her baby brother, and twice as dangerous. Then he began walking even faster, and all her energy was consumed in keeping up. If she lost him, she would truly be in the soup.
Fournier ducked into a shop and she followed. He purchased cheese and biscuits, the only available choices. Lucilla realized she had forgotten all about food, but the need would soon become urgent. On the way out of the shop, she halted abruptly; a Polizist was demanding Fournier's papers.
She wasn't sure if approaching was the wisest idea, but Fournier was helping her, and she would not abandon him. She came up beside him just as the Polizist snarled something uncomplimentary and tried to seize her arm. Fournier swiftly intervened, but the Polizist wouldn't release her; she struggled in his gloved grip, dropped her bag, and heard the unmistakable shattering of glass.
Fournier shoved the Polizist, hard. "Run!" he said, so she grabbed her bag and ran, her heart pounding, hearing the scuffling behind her. She ran for perhaps a block, enough to soak her in sweat beneath her wool day suit, then flung herself around a corner and peered back. Fournier was fleeing down the street towards her, still clutching the wrapped package of cheese and tin of biscuits. His tie was jerked askew, his hat nearly falling off the back of his head. The Polizist lay curled on the sidewalk; she could hear him cursing.
"This way!" she said, grabbing Fournier's arm. He shook her off but followed her down several alleys. She had no idea where she was leading him, but quick action seemed called for. When she could run no more, she flung her back against a wall and gasped for breath. Fournier bent over his knees, panting.
"Are you hurt?" she asked. She felt lightheaded and exhilarated at the same time.
He didn't answer her. Eventually, he straightened and said, "This way."