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Authors: Jo Beverley

Lord Samhain's Night

BOOK: Lord Samhain's Night
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PRAISE FOR JO BEVERLEY

 

*New York Times bestselling author

*Member of the RWA Hall of Fame

Winner of two Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times.

Winner of five RITA awards.


Arguably today’s most skillful writer of intelligent historical romance.”

Publishers Weekly


One of the great names of the genre….”

Romantic Times

“Sublime!”

Booklist

“A delightful, deftly plotted exploration of social class, gender roles, and romance . . . Charming.”
 
Publishers Weekly (
An Unlikely Countess.)

“… keeps the reader well entertained in this captivating gem.”
Romantic Times (The Secret Duke)


A fabulous intelligent tale… Jo Beverley provides an amusing historical with a touch of suspense and a hint of scandal as you like it.”
Genre Go Round Reviews (A Lady’s Secret)


No doubt about it,
Lady Beware
is yet another jewel in Beverley’s heavily decorated crown.”
The Romance Reader (Lady Beware)


Beverley beautifully blends complex characters, an exquisitely sensual love story, and a refreshingly different Regency setting into one sublime romance.”
Booklist (The Rogue’s Return)

 

 

 

LORD SAMHAIN'S NIGHT

by Jo Beverley

 

A paranormal romance set in Regency times.

This is 9,000 words, so quite short.

The story was first published in 1992.

 

 

Copyright 2011 Jo Beverley

 

 

 

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Praise for Jo Beverley

 

Lord Samhain’s Night

 

A list of other paranormal romances by Jo Beverley

 

Flower Power, a short and odd SF story

 

An Excerpt from A Scandalous Countess (Penguin-NAL, February 2011)

 

 

 

 

LORD SAMHAIN’S NIGHT

This novella was published in 1992 in a hardcover collection titled All Hallows’ Eve. The print run was 1,000, so it’s always been hard to find, so I’m happy to make it newly available. I’ve made a few changes to correct period errors, but otherwise it is as written nearly two decades ago.

 

 

Halloween, 1813.

 

 The Tapestry Room of King's Chase was dark except for the light of the leaping fire and its ghostly reflection in mirrors and polished metal. It glowed on the faces of the three people sitting near the hearth, roasting chestnuts. Charlie Brewis, Earl of Kingsbury, owner of King's Chase, was telling a ghost story.

His audience was his brother and estate manager, the Honorable Rupert Brewis, and his god-sister, Phoebe Batsford. Phoebe was as close as any true sister, having been raised with the Brewis family since her parents' death when she was five.

"...and when she opened the box," concluded Kingsbury with relish, "the grinning head was there within!"

Phoebe did the expected and gasped, but rather spoilt it by immediately reaching with the tongs for another chestnut. She juggled it in her fingers as she flaked away the hot, crisp skin.

She knew Charlie wouldn’t expect true terror. She'd once won a guinea wager from him by spending the night in the church tower, which was said to be haunted by a demented bell-ringer. When he'd sneaked in at midnight to ring the bells, hoping to frighten her out of her wits, she'd been ready for him with a bucket of icy water.

"You don't have a scrap of sensibility, Phee," he remarked without rancor. He took the hot chestnut and skinned it for her. "How's a fellow to impress you if he can't even stir a shiver with a disembodied head?" He passed back most of the meat, but popped a small piece into his mouth.

Phoebe pulled a face at him. He might be a Great Man to his friends, but to her he was just Charlie, his hazel eyes full of fun, his unruly brown hair always escaping the discipline his valet tried to impress upon it.

She fished for another chestnut and dropped it in his hands. "If you want some, eat your own. Rupert?"

"No, thank you. And really, Charlie, you'd make a greater impression with originality. You tell the same story every year. That might work with your Melton cronies after the third bottle, but we’re all sober."

"Are we? I think we're drunk on atmosphere..."

Phoebe quickly said, "Do you have a new story then, Rupert?"

Rupert smiled at her, and his smiles could take her breath away. All the dramatic good looks of the Brewis family had been reserved for Rupert. His hair was darker and crisper than Charlie's, his eyes a deeper brown, and his features had a chiseled perfection. He seemed cast for a more noble role in life than estate manager, and yet he appeared content with that position.

"Yes. I, unlike my lazy brother, have a new offering." He dropped his voice to a whisper. "Let me tell you the story of Sweet Maud of Moberley, who came to a dreadful end through love..."

Phoebe listened to the story intently, for Rupert had a gift for drama. It was only slowly that she became uneasy. She glanced once at Charlie, but he was staring into the flames as he listened, and there was nothing to read in his expression.

Rupert's story was of a lady loved by two brothers. She chose the younger one, but on her wedding morn, the older brother stole her away and locked her in a secret chamber. He then went to lay a false trail, intending to lure his brother to a broken bridge where he would perish. Instead he slipped and fell to his doom himself. The bride-groom believed that his bride had fled with his brother, and in his grief he took his life. Many years later workmen found the secret chamber and the skeleton within, still clothed in the rags of a wedding gown.

It was a well-known tale but Rupert's version contained some interesting innovations. The bride was usually planning to wed the older brother, and the younger was not just thwarted in love but jealous of his brother's position. The change was all too pat, for Rupert and Charlie were now both suitors for Phoebe's hand.

Rupert had been wooing her since she returned from her first spring Season unwed and uncommitted. It was not for lack of offers; poor Charlie had had to deal with more than twenty suitors for her hand. Pretty heiresses, as Phoebe had remarked, were thin on the ground this year. But she’d not fallen in love and would not settle for less.

At first the notion of marrying Rupert had been startling, for he was like a brother to her, but the idea had grown more comfortable with time. After all, she knew him as well as one could know another person, and liked most of what she knew. He was inclined to be pompous at times, and a little too stern in his management of the estate, but he could also be kind and entertaining. He was honest, and would care for her property well. And he was very handsome.

Also, if Phoebe married Rupert she could stay at King's Chase, which was her beloved home, and would not have to learn to live with a new family.

She hadn’t been in any hurry to accept Rupert, but the idea had definitely been taking root. But then Charlie had turned up -- unannounced and unpredictable as always -- and sought out Phoebe. He'd found her on Twitcher's Hill, walking the dogs. The setters raced to greet him, and he pulled their ears and greeted them in return. Then he looked at Phoebe.

"A fine day for October."

"Isn’t it?" she said, smiling. She was always happy to see Charlie. Everyone was. "I wasn't sure you'd come this year."

"I try not to miss Halloween."

"It will be tame now the last of the girls is married."

They turned to walk back to the house.

"Except you," said Charlie. "I had a special reason for coming, Phee."

"Yes?"

"Yes." At the pause she glanced at him. Charlie was rarely at a loss for words. "When you were in London in the spring," he said, "it didn't seem the time to speak. You were so popular. I hardly saw you except to warn you of another conquest."

"Amazing what twenty thousand pounds will do," she remarked with a grin.

He shook his head at her. "And glossy curls, and blue eyes always full of laughter, and a manner free of simpering artifice. You've left a number of broken hearts, Phee."

"Have I? Then I'm sorry for it. What did you want to say? Never say I’ve received another offer!"

"In a manner of speaking." He stopped and turned to face her. "Phoebe, during the spring, I realized I'd like to marry you myself."

Phoebe was lost for words.

"You look horrified," he said with surprise and, she saw, some hurt.

"Oh, not at you asking," she said quickly. "I'm honored, Charlie. It's just..."

"It's just that you think of me as a brother?"

"No." She realized her denial was true. She could easily see Charlie as suitor rather than brother, perhaps because he'd been away so much. "It's just that Rupert's asked me too."

"Good God! But I thought..." He walked a few paces then turned back. "When I was here last, Rupert seemed bouleversé‚ by the delectable Nan Gresham."

Nan was the local beauty, a diamond of the first water. "I suppose he was. Then.”

"Have you accepted him?"

"No."

"Have you rejected him? Or is he waiting to apply to me, for deuce sake?"

Phoebe's lips twitched at his alarm. It was a ridiculous situation. "Neither. I have been judiciously weighing the matter."

He turned to continue the walk. "This is a little awkward."

She fell into step beside him. "Yes."

"At least you won't be swayed by my wealth and title."

"No, but why does that please you? They are your greatest assets."

He raised his brows and Phoebe colored. "Heavens, Charlie, I didn't mean that as it sounded..."

"Of course you didn't. It pleases me because I wouldn't want to compete with Rupert on unfair ground. I know you'll choose the man most likely to make you happy."

"It might be neither of you," warned Phoebe, and indeed at that moment marrying a third party was attractive.

"Of course it might. Don't worry. We won't enact a tragedy over it." He stopped again with a boyish, carefree smile that denied the very notion of tragedy. "Cheer up, Phee." He dropped a kiss on her lips. It startled, and even embarrassed, her. He'd never done such a thing before. "Just to announce the change in our status. A desirable woman rather than a foster sister."

BOOK: Lord Samhain's Night
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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