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First Page: Unpublished Regency Historical Romance

First Page: Unpublished Regency Historical Romance

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


London, February 1822

Fianna Cameron—at least that’s what she was calling herself today—slipped a hand inside her pocket and curled her fingers tight around the barrel of her father’s pistol. Her long, hurried strides had sent it bouncing hard against her thigh, but even that pain had not been enough to reassure her the weapon hadn’t disappeared, that she had only imagined hiding it there after she’d finally tracked her prey to his lair. When the time came for her to act, would she not find herself confronting the man empty-handed, shaking in impotent fury as Major Pennington offered her a condescending smile and walked on, just as he had so many times in her dreams?

The bite of cold metal, and the memory of Grandfather McCracken’s soft, broken voice reading the Bible verses that had first inspired her—For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him who doeth evil— brought her back to her sense of purpose. She could not fail, would not fail, not now, not when she’d given nearly everything for this chance to bring her father’s killer to justice, and redeem the honor of his name. She’d risk her very life if it would bring a moment of peace to her grief-stricken grandfather, still mourning his beloved son more than twenty years after Aidan McCracken’s death. And to prove herself, bastard though she might be, worthy of her rightful place in the McCracken family.

The only family she had left—

Eyes darting between strangers and shop windows, carriages and carts, she searched the unfamiliar street for her destination. She’d feared—likely foolishly—she’d been followed, and had altered her path to throw any pursuer off her trail. But the evasion must have pulled her off course, as well; she’d come too far, missed Pennington’s reputed favorite haunt.

Retracing her steps, she discovered the Crown and Anchor Tavern lay not on the Strand itself, but behind that bustling street’s houses and shops. Stepping into the long, narrow passageway between two shopfronts, she forced herself to slow to a pace painfully at odds with the rapid beating of her heart.

The sight of the Crown and Anchor’s spacious stone-paved foyer brought her up short. In Dublin, no place this grand would ever be termed a mere tavern. Doric columns, conical skylights, a sweeping staircase ornamented with iron rails and what looked to be mahogany handrails—why, it seemed as elegantly-appointed as the Lord Lieutenant’s mansion. And so many people! How would she ever find her quarry amidst such a throng?

A man in dark livery broke through her dismay. “May I direct you to the Philharmonic Orchestra concert, ma’am? Or the temperance meeting? Both may be found on the floor above.”

Not just a tavern, then, this Crown and Anchor, but a public meeting hall of no small repute. What a lackwit, to call attention to herself by staring at its grandeur like the greenest bumpkin. Lucky, she’d be, not to be judged an impostor and thrown out on her ear.

Run! her body urged. Hide!

Instead, forcing her hand from the comfort of the pistol, she pushed back the hood that hid her face.

The footman took a step back, his eyes widening. How predictable, the catch of breath, the poleaxed, besotted expression. She’d long ago stopped wondering why God had cursed her with a face no man could pass in the street without falling guilty to the rudeness of staring. Lucky for her, men only seemed to care about the deceptive husk of her face, never giving a single thought to what ugliness might lie beneath.

First Page: Untitled Manuscript – Contemporary Romance

First Page: Untitled Manuscript – Contemporary Romance

Welcome to First Page Sunday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


“So, you drive really well, actually”, Chris said. He tilted his head back against the door, obviously cramped in her little 500. Lizzie flicked her eyes towards him and then back to the road, her arm and legs ever shifting, flexing, extending, twisting the little car through the traffic. She gunned it a little and took them sailing almost straight across the traffic circle and towards the river. A tap of the brakes and then they skittered into a right hand turn onto a narrow one way street no wider than a mousetrap.

Lizzie looked over at Chris and bit her lip. Smiling, she said lightly, “yeah, I told you, the class!”

“Sorry?”, he said.They were going much slower now, although really, not quite slow enough for such a tiny narrow, space, cars parked on either side of them. Out of the corner of her eye she could see his left foot clenching and relaxing, clenching and relaxing.

“Yeah, the driving class they make all dependants take when they get old enough — Offensive driving, or drive like an Assassin, or James Bourne, or whatever.”

“Seriously? It’s Jason Bourne, or James Bond, Lizzie,” he said incredulously, his eyebrows raised and waggling, a mixture of humor and disbelief. “And I bet it was defensive driving or something like that. Not offensive driving. Maybe special teams driving?”

And then he was laughing for real then, full out, and it caught her. His warm, golden eyes twinkled, his dimples popped, and she stared a little longer than she meant to, even when his eyes blurred away from hers. He was so American looking, with his light brown eyes, his dimples, his thick sandy blonde hair, and his, his, his tallness. No, that wasn’t right. Lizzie dated plenty of Italian men who were tall. Broadness. Yes that was it. But it was nice, muscled without being too bulky, confident and natural and a sort of strength that was used instead of made in the gym every day to make up for too many insecurities in the shower or the wallet.

Clunk

“Shit!”

“Uh, I think you just took off that guy’s sideview mirror– driving a little too close on my side, sweetness,” Chris said.

Shaking her head, Lizzie nudged the car a little to the left. Chris. Stupid fake spook. Sweetness? Musclehead. She pressed her lips together, suppressing her snort of annoyance at the endearment. Was that going to be his strategy?

The car steadied under her hands, and Lizzie blew out her breath in a long, low almost whistle.

“Collateral. It’s Italy,” she said. “ ‘Sides, I was trying to see what it would take to get you to grab the sissy bar.” She glanced up at the intersection, noting the street names. It was Italy, but she was an American. She’d come back later to check the window, fix it if she could, leave some money if she couldn’t. If she could find her punchdown. Was it in the black evening bag or the pink pucci print?

“I took a driving class too, you know,” Chris said, lightly. “It’s going to take a lot more than that to get to me.”

Lizzie slid a look at him as she turned right onto the Lungotevere, back into traffic. Crap. it was going to take at least 30 minutes to get to Piazza Santa Maria at this rate.

“Is that a challenge?”, she asked.

“What?” Damn it, the startled/caught unawares look was really cute.

“Yeah, you know, want to see if I can rattle you with my driving through Roman traffic? Actually, scratch that– even with that class I could rattle you with my driving pretty easily. Not a real challenge,” she chuckled a little, “or at least not one I’m up for– I’d be up all night repairing sideview windows.”

A slow smile started to slide across Chris’s face. His eyes warmed, and the muscles in his face softened. Less alert. “You’re trying to think of ways to rattle me? Don’t you remember our conversation from, I don’t know, 30 minutes ago? You’ve already got that one covered. For a lifetime.”