Exclusive Excerpt: The Dead of Haggard Hall - Darke of Night, Book 1 by Marie Treanor
Get an Exclusive sneak peek into Marie Treanor's upcoming paranormal romance release.
Blurb: The Dead of Haggard Hall
Spirit possession is easy to remedy. Possession of the heart is another matter.
After vicar’s widow and natural medium Barbara Darke loses her respectable teaching position, she reluctantly agrees to become companion to her former pupil Emily, now the bride of young Sir Arthur Haggard.
Once settled at Haggard Hall, Barbara finds her friend is beset by ghostly voices and unexplained deaths. In a maelstrom of dark spirits and wicked emotions, Barbara battles to lay Emily’s ghosts to rest—both hampered and helped by Arthur’s skeptical cousin Patrick, who provokes and attracts her in equal measure.
It would be a mistake to trust a secretive, guilt-ridden man suspected of driving his wife to suicide, if not outright murdering her. And it could well be lethal to give in to her own desires, confused as they often are with the lusts of the dead.
But Arthur and Emily are in genuine physical danger, and suspicion is falling closer and closer to Patrick—the man who haunts Barbara’s sensual dreams. The man who stands to inherit Haggard Hall.
Warning: Contains a medium whose body is open season for spirit possession, and a scandal-ridden journalist who only believes what he can see—and touch.
EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT (Adult / 18+)
Inexorably, he came with me, and in truth I was glad of the extra light. And the company. I still wasn’t sure that my quarry wouldn’t leap out of one of the doors we’d already passed and attack me. “So how was it,” he enquired, “that you didn’t sense my decidedly wakeful presence in my bedroom?”
“I did. Why do you imagine I tried to come in?”
“I had hoped you sought my company.”
“No you didn’t. You thought I was a slut who imagined she could seduce you into a good opinion of her—or at least into dropping your opposition to my presence with Emily.”
“Slut is such an unkind word,” he complained.
“For what it’s worth,” I said with dignity, “I apologise for intruding. I thought such a door next to the stairs must be a broom cupboard or some such, where my quarry was hiding.”
“Maybe I’m your quarry. It would explain why we haven’t found him. Or her.”
“True. But you weren’t here when Emily heard these sounds.”
“Perhaps I have an accomplice.”
“I can’t imagine why. What reason could you have to frighten Emily?”
“Thank you for your unexpected defence. But what reason does anyone have?”
“I can’t think of one,” I confessed. “It seems pointlessly malicious.”
“And what will you tell Emily about this adventure?”
“Nothing. She’s nervous enough.” I caught on as he halted by the entrance to the narrow stone stairs and stared at him. I actually laughed. “You think I’ve gone to all this trouble to convince Emily how much she needs me?”
“How much does she need you?” he asked steadily.
“A little. For a little while.” I made to brush past him, but he entered the staircase first, lighting the way.
“And then what will you do?” Unexpectedly, he reached behind with his free hand to take mine on the narrow turn. I allowed it since it seemed churlish to refuse. Tingles from his strong, warm fingers scattered upward over my wrist, distracting me from his question, which I hung on to with difficulty.
“Seek another teaching post, probably,” I replied, after not too long a pause.
“Aren’t you tired of such respectability?” he asked casually. “Your name implies a hankering quite otherwise.”
“My name?” I repeated, frowning down at the top of his head with incomprehension.
“Mrs. Darke,” he mocked. My foot stumbled, and from the bottom step, he tightened his grip on my hand, steadying me. But he didn’t move out of the way. Instead, as my foot hit the bottom of the stairs, he dragged me against him. “Mrs. Darke, the spiritualist, the medium,” he uttered with scorn, staring down into my face with stony, insolent eyes. “Really?”
I said nothing, merely stared back, holding myself rigid in his grasp. In truth, trapped between him and the stairs in that cramped corner, there weren’t many places for me to go. His strength, his hardness, was all I had imagined, and a wicked surge of excitement spun through my belly and down between my legs. Worse, I could feel his erection growing against my hip, and try as I would, I couldn’t mind. The lust that had always lurked between us seemed to thicken the surrounding air, weighing me down, melting me.
“Mrs. Darke,” he murmured, much more softly, “widow of an east end vicar? My dear lady, please. Was there ever even a husband?”
I jerked involuntarily, stumbling with him back against the wall, where even twisting my head aside couldn’t hide my face, so I tried to spit scorn from my eyes instead. Certainly, I curled my lip.
His harsh eyes searched mine without blinking. “And there it is again,” he murmured, “a spark of raw, genuine grief. I’m inclined to believe in the husband, though his profession still leaves me sceptical.”
“You can’t begin to imagine how little your inclinations concern me.”
“Oh, I don’t know. A lady really should be concerned about the inclinations of a man quite so close to her.” He actually moved his hip for emphasis. If his erection didn’t quite grind against me, it certainly caressed, and I had to squash the instinctive tug of my own body towards it.
I swallowed. “At least you aren’t hypocrite enough to say ‘gentleman’.”
“I have few personal delusions.” His gaze dropped to the region of my lips. “And you are incredibly, temptingly beautiful.”
“How sad I can’t return the compliment,” I managed. There wasn’t much distance between our lips; it would have taken little effort to close it. The butterflies in my stomach dived. How would he kiss? Fiercely, as I’d imagined his more intimate lovemaking in my dream…or tender and sensual…?
Sensual, certainly. It was there in the curve of his mouth as my heart beat and beat and waited.
He said, “I’m told I have other charms that make up for my looks.”
Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.
Marie has published more than twenty ebooks with small presses, (Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press and The Wild Rose Press), including a former Kindle bestseller, Killing Joe. Blood on Silk: an Awakened by Blood novel, which won the 2011 Hollywood Halloween Book Festival prize for Fantasy, was her New York debut with NAL. Recently, she has also dipped her toe into self-publishing.