Published by: Swoon Romance
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal,
But then she discovers that Sebastian’s strange tales of special powers are actually true, and that Rose’s kidnappers have worse in mind for her than simply ruining her reputation. Surrounded by secrets, lies, and unprecedented danger, Evelyn has no choice but to trust Sebastian, yet she can’t help but worry that Sebastian’s secrets are the most dangerous of all…
Set up: Mr. Braddock has revealed that Evelyn’s missing sister has been seen in a dancing hall with a rather unsavory reputation. Evelyn insists on going to see for herself.
He crumpled the paper in his hands, registering how futile it was to argue. He returned to pacing the length of the small garden, shaking his head, and fussing with the seams of his cuffs.
“Very well,” he said. “Then I will be here this evening at seven.”
“Unnecessary. I shall be fine myself.”
“You will be eaten alive.” His voice rasped with scorn. “If you are going to be so foolhardy as to go through with this plan, then I will accompany you.”
“I don’t need a chap—” I automatically snapped, but the memory of the drunken men in the alley was too fresh. I stood up, unable to resist the wine any longer. I poured it into a teacup and ignored the snort behind me.
“Ah, so you know what to do when a man takes you for a doxy?”
Mortified, I felt my face flush, but somehow kept myself from spitting out the wine. “When a man takes me for a . . . doxy? So you see it as an inevitability—why, thank you.”
He prowled uneasily close to me, and I fumbled and dropped the cup. I only heard it shatter, unable to look away from the advancing oaf.
“Forgive me for sullying your innocent ears, but if you go to a dancing room unaccompanied, you will hear much worse. And you will inevitably be taken for that kind of woman even if you’re wearing a nun’s habit.”
“Ah, and you know this with all your infinite brothel experience.”
“Yes,” he said firmly, not acknowledging the insult. “Now, seven o’clock—I will be here. It’s no longer a question. Be ready and wear a plain, unadorned mask—the sort you might wear to a masquerade ball.”
Insufferable. I had nothing left to say to the obstinate man. “Fine,” I muttered. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have better places to search this morning.”
“Very well. But let me help—” he said, leaning forward to assist with the cup’s sad remains.
I blocked his way. “I will be quite fine.”
He nodded and drew back gracefully. “Do try to stay out of trouble today.” I could hear the smirk in his voice. He buttoned up his coat and opened the door while I knelt to pick up the shards of porcelain with as much dignity as I could muster.
“You too. Try not to pick a fight with Tuffins as he lets you ou—!” But the final word became a yelp as a sharp ceramic edge drew a ragged cut over my palm, blood pooling up over the torn flesh.
Mr. Braddock was gone. I stared down at the glassy red coloring my hand, both nauseated and abstractly intrigued by the sight of my own blood. It welled into a small pool and dripped onto the wine-stained dirt below.
I carefully wrapped a handkerchief around my palm and headed upstairs to wash the cut clean. But when I took it off mere minutes later, only smooth, unbroken skin stared back up at me. I began to wonder exactly how much wine I had drunk. It could not have been enough for me to hallucinate, could it?
I hastened to my reticule, wildly grabbing a card—Mr. Kent’s, actually—and sliced at my finger, causing a stinging paper cut. Though the graze still smarted, I watched closely as my skin knit itself back together in a matter of seconds.
The room spun. The blood on the handkerchief was all I could see, mocking me. I could no longer ignore the evidence.
I truly had the ability to heal.
Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.
Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.
- One (1) finished physical copy of These Vicious Masks. Open to US and Canada only.