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First Page: Lord Sebastian’s Honor  – Historical Romance

First Page: Lord Sebastian’s Honor – 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.

Travellers Club
London, May 1851

“It’s a sure sign that I had too much to drink,” Sebastian said, “when I start imagining beautiful women coming into my bedroom and taking their clothes off.” The young woman did not reply. She merely let her chemise fall to the floor and stepped out of it.

Sebastian de Mornay had the feeling that he’d missed something. It was the same sensation he got when he been reading a book and skipped a page by mistake. Or, more accurately, as if he had been going down a staircase in the dark and missed a step.  The feeling of being caught off guard and coming to ground with a thump. Surely, he thought, he’d have remembered if he’d propositioned a woman tonight?

It wasn’t as if there had been many women in his life lately. He’d only arrived in England on the Marie Therese last week, eager to find his way back out of the country as soon as he could get another expedition funded. Which is what had brought him to the Travelers Club tonight in the first place.

He remembered a banquet room: brandy fumes, cigar smoke, and the sound of self-important men trying to out–bombast each other with their endless speeches. But not one beautiful woman, not even a single doe-eyed houri. You’d think that there would have been at least one, he mused, considering this was a club devoted to exploring the remote and exotic.

And this woman certainly qualified. Her dark eyes were as beautiful and mysterious as the nubile denizen of a sultan’s harem. She removed the last pin from her coiffure and her hair tumbled down around her. He had forgotten how beautiful a woman’s hair could look when it was unbound. Dark hair parted around a pale oval face and flowed down over bare white shoulders, a dark waterfall that provided entrancing glimpses of smooth white skin… It had been a long five months on that ship. If he looked at those curves much longer, he was going to forget the fundamental absurdity of this situation.

One moment he was sitting in bed reading, getting ready to go to sleep, and the next thing he knew the door handle had turned and a woman had walked into his room without a word of explanation. Perhaps it was the brandy that fogged his memory. He couldn’t recall ever seeing her before. She hadn’t been dressed as a servant; she had looked like a perfectly respectable young lady. At least, she had looked like a lady until she started taking off her clothes.

He should have paid more attention. Sebastian knew that now, as he watched her remove the last scrap of clothing and stand before him, cloaked like Lady Godiva only in her long hair.
She came closer. As she moved, the dark concealing waterfall of hair shifted, revealing the pale curve of a hip here, the stray glimpse of a breast there… Sebastian dragged his eyes away from her body as she drew back the bed covers. His hand shot out and grasped her wrist, stopping her. She regarded him without moving an inch. Her dark eyes were watchful. There was a kind of quiet dignity about her, which was more than Sebastian could say for himself.

“I don’t know quite how to put this,” he said, “but — have we met?”

First Page: Midnight Creek – Romantic Suspense

First Page: Midnight Creek – Romantic Suspense

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.

Justin Walker smashed his foot on the brake pedal, but the truck’s tires spun on the slick road. Muscles bunched in his forearms while he fought the steering wheel for control. Sweat beaded on his forehead despite the chill of the truck’s air conditioning.

Dense mountain foliage lined one side of the winding country road while a sheer cliff loomed in the darkness on the other side. Neither held much appeal for a place to stop, but with Newton’s First Law in charge, he was more or less along for the ride.

His heartbeat pounded in his ears. Hands white-knuckled around the steering wheel and the brake pedal wedged to the floor, a harsh expletive repeated itself over and over in his mind as the cliff drew closer and closer.

Lightning lit up the dark abyss of the valley below. Tall pines seemed to claw up at him like demons from hell scratching to rise to the surface. Or to pull him under.

Branches from a fallen pine scrapped against the metal of his truck’s front fender while the rain and wind whipped around him threatening to throw him over the ledge. Then like out of a movie, the truck slowed until, with only a few feet to spare, it slid to a stop at the edge of the deep void.

Eyes still transfixed on the black expanse before him, Justin released the shaky breath he didn’t realize he was holding. Prying his long, lean fingers from around the steering wheel, he willed his body to relax as well, but his relief was short-lived.

A bolt of lightning had given only a flash of warning before sending the tree tumbling towards the road. He’d caught the descent out of the corner of his eye, but the driver of the car in front of him didn’t appear to be as lucky. Throwing open his door, Justin ran towards the small sedan smashed against the collapsed tree.

The cold rain soaked his clothes and plastered his hair to his head. It streamed down his face, blurring his vision, but he didn’t care. Sprinting across the short distance between the stopped vehicles, he tore his attention away from the crushed passenger’s side of the car. Tree branches protruded through the car and out the broken front windshield while steam from the crumpled hood hissed in the cold and driving rain. It’d be a miracle if anyone survived that kind of damage.

Through the shattered window, he made out the slight form of a woman hunched over the wheel. Her hair shielded her face from his gaze, but did nothing to protect her in the collision with the tree.

Justin shuddered. Rangers knew what it meant when you weren’t properly protected and during his time in the desert, he’d seen the evidence of many soldiers’ misfortune too many times to count. The muscles in his stomach tightened as those ghostly images invaded his thoughts. Every muscle taut, vibrating with tension, he battled to keep them at bay, but the lingering smell of gunpowder assaulted his senses and the escalating sounds of the storm around them echoed with sounds of mortar fire.

Too late, his mind taunted over and over. The torment of another failure ripped through him like a machete slicing through the underbrush. His lungs ached with every breath he drew. His blood ran like icy sludge through his veins and shivers scratched with sinister claws at his spine.

“I’m so sorry.” As he whispered, he touched her forehead cautiously, but jerked his hand back when she cringed at his touch.