Today’s not just Tuesday, it’s the book birthday for my latest historical romance, The Search for Sam, part of the Enduring Legacy series! For the next month it will be available to buy on all platforms, possibly going into Kindle Unlimited after that. If you’ve forgotten what it’s all about (I know it’s been a while), here’s a reminder and another little excerpt.
Tilly Dallas and her grandmother Delphine live a quiet life creating herbal medicines and helping neighbors with their gift of Empathy, until Sam Beauvoir goes missing, the latest victim in a string of children’s disappearances.
Jacob Pierce, a talented detective tasked with finding the person behind these kidnappings, refuses to give up hope that he will be able to bring the children home alive. To do that, he’ll need Tilly’s help to convince the families of the missing children to trust him.
Searching for Sam draws Jacob and Tilly closer, but she finds it hard to hide her power from him and harder still to admit her feelings. She’ll have to embrace a new power in the wake of tragedy if they want to find Sam and the other missing children before witch hunters succeed in putting an end to the legacy of another member of the Dalais family.
The Legacy’s Origin is still available for free on Amazon, so you can read a little more about the original Dalais siblings before you read my book. It’s really good, if a heartbreaker.
It seemed like no time had passed at all when Tilly was suddenly woken up by a knock at her door. She opened her eyes slowly and sat up with a yawn, then rubbed her face. It was no surprise that her hands came back with black streaks on them from her makeup, and she sighed when she turned to see similar marks on her pillow. As tired as she had been the night before, she should have at least used some cold cream before she got in bed.
“Come in,” she said. Her grandmother walked in with a breakfast tray, a smile on her face. Immediately Tilly could feel that it wasn’t entirely genuine and she tried to shrink away from the sudden surge of emotion. It was completely unsettling, this new power she had to feel other peoples’ emotions, but she couldn’t stop her grandmother’s worry and fear from crashing into her.
“Good morning, my darling,” Delphine Dallas said. “I thought perhaps you would like some breakfast in bed. I made your favorite, crepes with strawberries and cream.” She set the tray on Tilly’s lap and went to the window, where the curtains were drawn. She swept them open and Tilly put a hand over her eyes.
“What time is it?”
“It’s almost afternoon,” Delphine said. “I let you sleep in, you seemed to have needed it.”
“Thank you,” Tilly said, her eyes adjusting to the brightness. It wasn’t the first time she’d come in late, but her grandmother usually woke her up at the crack of dawn anyway to help tend the plants and pick herbs. She picked up her fork and knife and went to work on the crepes, even though her stomach was turning from the night before. Not just from her indulgences, she felt hungover from the sudden blast of a hundred personalities at once. She felt drained, as if she could go back to sleep and spend the rest of the day in bed. Delphine came to her bedside and sat down so she was facing Tilly.
“Tell me what happened last night. You looked as if you’d had an awful scare.”
Tilly took her time cutting off a piece of crepe and putting it in her mouth. She chewed it far more than necessary, avoiding her grandmother’s gaze as she did. When she couldn’t avoid it any longer, she looked up at her. She could feel that Delphine wouldn’t leave her alone until she told her what had happened so she took a deep breath.
“I was at a club, and a man asked me to go outside with him. When I did, he tried to hurt me.” She pushed a strawberry around her plate. “There was something strange, too. He said his family name used to be Friseal, as if it was supposed to frighten me. I don’t know anyone with that name, though. And he had engraving on his lighter that he said was his coat of arms. Do you know anything about that?” Now it was Delphine’s turn to look evasive and Tilly could feel indecision radiating from her. “Grandame,” she said as calmly as possible, “I can feel that you’re not telling me something.”
“You can?” Delphine turned to Tilly and met her gaze with her clear blue eyes. “I was waiting for something like this to happen. It doesn’t usually take this long, though.”
“What doesn’t?” Tilly looked confused and her grandmother reached out to touch her face, then unbuttoned her high-necked collar and pulled it aside. She turned her back to Tilly, and the girl frowned. At first she wasn’t sure what Delphine wanted her to see, but there was only one thing it could be. On the back of her left shoulder was a strawberry birthmark, round with a point on the lower left corner. Automatically Tilly’s hand went to the back of her own left shoulder. She’d seen the same mark on her own body all her life, but she’d never known her grandmother had the same one.
“Centuries ago our ancestors had three children. Each one had a birthmark similar to this one, only with the points in different places. Sorcha had one that looked like ours.” She got up from the bed and picked up Tilly’s journal from the dressing table, along with a fountain pen. She opened it to the back cover and drew a circle and triangle intertwined. “When her brother and sister’s marks were combined, they made the sign of Triùir Mhòra – the Magical Three.” She handed Tilly back the journal and the girl looked at the symbol.
“Triùir Mhòra,” Tilly repeated, trying to wrap her mouth around the words. “What does this have to do with me?”
“Our ancestor, Sorcha, had the ability to feel emotions. She could tell what a person, animal, even a plant was feeling at that moment. She was an empath,” Delphine said, taking her granddaughter’s hand. “Just like you.”
“Is that what happened to me?” Tilly’s eyes widened. “It was so sudden! One minute I was perfectly normal, the next I could feel what everyone in the club was feeling at the same time. I felt like I was going to be sick.”
“You’re still normal,” Delphine said gently. “This is normal for us. Our family was blessed with these powers and they’re a part of us. It’s who we are. Give it a little time and you wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“Our family? You have this power too, Grandame?” Tilly’s eyes widened and her grandmother nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I planned to one day, when you were a bit more mature. As long as you were sneaking out to clubs and associating with strange men, I didn’t want to put our secret in your hands.” There was more than a touch of disapproval in her voice and Tilly’s face reddened. “Besides, I thought perhaps it had skipped your generation. It happens sometimes in such a long lineage. You bear the mark, so it was unlikely but not unheard of. Our ancestors passed their powers to their children but we’ve intermarried with others for hundreds of years so there are bound to be some who are, as you would say, normal.”
Tilly was quiet for a long moment. Her head was spinning from everything her grandmother had told her. If she hadn’t felt the rush of emotions the night before, she would have thought Delphine was having some fun at her expense. Now she had no alternative but to believe that she and her grandmother were witches. She gathered her thoughts and looked at Delphine.
“Were our ancestors really from France?”
“Not originally,” Delphine said. “Our three ancestors were from Scotland, but their families fled to France after they were killed by witch hunters.” She brushed a lock of hair behind Tilly’s ear. “Much like the one who tried to kill you last night. One of them was called Ellair Friseal.”
“That explains why he said I wouldn’t enslave anyone with my magic,” Tilly said. “I don’t understand, though. All I can do is feel emotions, I can’t influence people.” She frowned. “Can I?”
“Witch hunters have no idea how our magic works. They’re afraid of us, so they assume wild things about us and use them to make people as afraid as they are. The Dalais family has only ever used our powers for good.” Delphine smiled. “Don’t worry, my dearest. I’ll do my best to teach you how to use your power, and how to block it so you won’t be overwhelmed like last night. You must promise to be careful from now on, though. Understand?”
“Yes, Grandame.” Tilly looked down at her breakfast. She was still hungry but had never felt less like eating in her life.
“You don’t have to finish it if you don’t want to,” Delphine said, getting up from the bed. “You really should, though. After last night your body needs to recover. Just know that you are more special than you could have ever imagined, and that I love you with all my heart.”
“I love you too,” Tilly said, her eyes filling with tears. She blinked them back, then picked up her fork. She didn’t want to waste her grandmother’s beautiful breakfast, after all. Delphine paused at the bedroom door and turned back to her.
“We’ll be looking for a new place to live, of course. Now that we know witch hunters have found where we live, we can’t risk staying here.” She sighed. “Just when I finally got that moonflower to thrive, too. Those men are much more trouble than they’re worth.” She closed the door behind her and Tilly looked at herself in the mirror across the room.
A witch, she thought incredulously. I’m a real witch. Her grandmother had said that the Dalais family used their powers for good and she set aside her tray and got out of bed. She went to the dressing table and picked up the short black wig she donned when she went out at night. I won’t be needing this anymore, she said, dropping it into the trash on top of her torn dress. From now on, she was going to make her ancestors proud.
Buy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DT3SCVH/
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