Read Magic in the Stars Online

Authors: Patricia Rice

Tags: #romance, #paranormal psychics, #romantic comedy, #humor, #astrology, #astronomy, #aristocrat, #nobility

Magic in the Stars

BOOK: Magic in the Stars
13.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Unexpected Magic, Book 1

Patricia Rice

Book View Café Edition
March 29, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61138-577-9
Copyright © 2016 Patricia Rice

Author’s Note

Those of you familiar with my magical Malcolms and
scientific Ives know that I’m playing with possibilities more than I’m using
magic. Centuries ago, flying airplanes would have been magic and a scientific
impossibility. Today, we know they aren’t magic at all.

So in Theo and Aster’s book, I’m playing with the
possibility of precognition or “second sight”—guided by astrology. Astrology
was considered a science for thousands of years and is still used today. The
records of second sight go back to the Dark Ages. The accuracy of either
astrology or the Sight has never been proven, but no one is working to disprove
it either. So why not throw a few new planets into the equation and see what

And just for the grammarians out there—as in the previous
series, I know the plural of Ives is Iveses, and I don’t care. If my family
refers to themselves as Ives in the plural, that’s how it comes out on the
page. My characters are dictators!


Early June 1830

Lady Azenor Dougall—Aster, to her family—clutched the onyx
brooch on her bodice, the one containing a lock of her much-mourned baby
sister’s fair hair. Even after all this time, the sorrow was a reminder of what
happened should she ever shirk her duty again.

“I must not doubt my intuition,” she muttered as the
carriage jounced in another muddy rut and rain blurred the windows. “I
believe in my gifts.”

“An instinct that takes you out in this storm is not very trustworthy,”
Aster’s companion intoned in her sepulchral voice. Clad in black, cloaked in
gloom, Jennet loomed large against the opposite seat. “We should turn back.”

Aster had chosen Jennet for her melancholy unlikableness.
She wasn’t likely to become too attached to a physical representation of
herself as a Prophetess of Doom. Or so she’d thought six months ago when she’d
agreed to train Jennet as a lady’s companion. But desperately missing her
faraway family, she’d even grown fond of Her Gloominess.

“Turning back would constitute shirking my duty. The
marquess could improve the future of thousands of poor children,” Aster said
steadfastly. “Even if I must make a donkey’s behind of myself knocking on his
door, he must be warned.”

“He won’t believe you,” Jennet insisted.

Few outside her family ever did, Aster knew, so Jennet was
being realistic, not pessimistic.

Unfortunately, because her family
have faith in her gifts, they’d been forced to cast her out of
the nest and send her off on her own. Aster had proved all too painfully how
correct her dire predictions could be. If only her gift would prove

It was beyond dreadful to know when something awful would
happen, and not be able to stop it. There were days when she feared everyone
was better off not knowing their fate.


Lord Theophilus Ives, heir presumptive to the 3
Marquess of Ashford, teetered dangerously on a once-elegant Louis XIV parlor
chair to adjust the settings on his latest telescope. The chair rested on top
of a table that slanted on uneven marble tiles, balanced by several volumes
from the library. The leaning tower of pieces tilted as he leaned over to check
the ocular.

The downpour that had driven him out of his roof aerie also
obscured any view through the three-story foyer dome.

“I need a tower,” he complained to whichever of his layabout
brothers followed the pack of spaniel puppies racing down the corridor.

“If you want a tower, go to Wystan.” Erran stumbled over a
puppy and grunted under the burden of the table he carried.

A black-haired Ives two years younger than Theo, his
barrister brother had the build of a young ox. This occasionally irritated
Theo, who was taller but lankier and possessed mouse-brown hair instead of the
distinctive Ives black. But Erran was the more social and civilized of his
brothers, while Theo preferred his quiet library, so he supposed Erran needed
his handsome looks.

“Wystan is filled with expectant females,” Theo grumbled, “or
I would.”

The marquess of Ashford, holder of this damp estate in
Surrey, was also the earl of Ives and Wystan. As earl, he owned land—and the infamous
Wystan tower—in the wilds of Northumberland. Theo’s glass manufactory might
have been suitable there, but all his allowance had gone into building it here,
so Surrey had to be his home. Besides, he still needed the notice of the
Astronomical Society to sell his highly-refined telescopes, and the Society was
unfortunately located in London.

“Make yourself useful for a change and stick another book
under the table leg, will you?” Theo called over the yapping of the excited spaniels.

“Get your own bloody book. Better yet, get the whole damned
library before the roof falls in,” Erran griped, backing around Theo’s chair
and dodging puppies to place a billiard table with the help of their
half-brother Jacques.

“The roof and the library are Duncan’s business,” Theo said
with a dismissive gesture. “Or maybe his missing steward’s. As the heir and the
spare, I needn’t bother with them.” Which had never been a sore point. Theo
wouldn’t have his brother’s title and responsibilities for all the women in the

“If he can’t even manage the library repair, we’ll never fix
that leaky pipe over the billiard room—unless I tear off the ceiling,” Erran

“Absolutely not!” Theo said. “Stick with the hay baler you
left strewn in the great hall. Lawyers should stick to wire and string.”

Finally giving up on the telescope, he frowned as his
younger brothers settled the billiard table in front of the front doors. “What
the devil are you doing?”

“The plumbing was dripping on the felt. We figured if you
could set up out here, so could we. It’s wasted space anyway.” From beneath a
mop of dark blond hair, Jacques flashed an impish grin remarkably similar to his
French mother’s. “And as one of the irresponsible bastards around here, I have
no other duty but beast of burden. Shall I start moving the library next?”

Knowing full well that Jacques was perfectly content with
his side branch in the family tree, Theo ran his hand through his thick mop of
hair. He winced, remembering he was supposed to have had it cut yesterday.
Blast it.

He glanced out the windows at sheets of rain and decided his
hair wasn’t going anywhere soon. His valet had left to visit his family and
never returned. Theo really hadn’t noticed his absence, except when it came
time for a haircut.

“It would be easier to repair the leaky roof than move the
library. Didn’t Duncan hire someone to work on it?” Theo climbed from the chair
and made a quick calculation in his notes. He shoved the stack of paper in his
waistband so it didn’t end up as puppy litter.

“The esteemed Marquess of Ashford claimed he did,” Jacques
said. “But then his doting fiancée sent a note asking for his opinion on the
summer fete, and he hasn’t been seen since.”

Studying the curved glass dome overhead, Theo surrendered.
Even his new telescope wouldn’t penetrate the thick clouds rolling in as they
had for months. He needed a desert for testing his glass magnifications. He’d
never persuade the Astronomical Society that there were many more moons around
Saturn than the six they knew until he could actually
them with his new glass.

“At least Margaret knows what she’s marrying into,” Theo
said philosophically. “She’s not likely to run out on Dunc anytime soon.”

Erran slapped Theo on the back, catching him by surprise and
nearly bowling him over. “You should have taken your lady to Wystan instead of
introducing her here, old boy. We’re really sorry about that goat race.”

Theo was really sorry about it, too. Celia had been tall,
blond, and even-tempered—his perfect mate. It had taken him forever to woo her
since they lived in different villages, and he wasn’t much inclined to social
occasions. But once she’d accepted his suit, he’d even sworn off mistresses in
anticipation of his nuptials, so he was just a bit testy these days.

He hated hunting for another available female, but he
supposed it was good to learn that Celia had been prone to hysteria
he married.

Wystan, however, was not the answer to anything except
Erran’s desire to shove Theo out of the house.

In retaliation for the unexpected slap, Theo caught Erran’s
muscled arm and twisted it behind his back, proving brains could beat brawn.
“It was the
that had her fleeing for her life, sapskull, not just
goats rampaging through the hall. You’re all a parcel of heathens.” He shoved
his younger brother toward the back corridor. “Move the library or fix the
roof. If you’re not in London studying, you have to earn your keep.”

Under Theo’s careless shove, Erran stumbled against the billiard
table, then tripped over Hog, his mangy bloodhound. He caught himself on a door
jamb, leaned down to scratch Hog in apology, then grabbed a billiard cue.

“Don’t you dare,” Theo warned. He was still hurting over the
fiasco with Celia and wasn’t putting up with more of his brothers’ antics.
“You’re five-and-twenty and should put that thick head of yours to better use
than a battering ram. When do you finish up your term at Chancellery? You don’t
want to arrive with a broken nose.”

Erran rubbed his already misshapen proboscis. “I’m due in
court next week. But I can’t afford lodging in London.”

Jacques hooted. “He spends all his funds on tailors and
can’t afford the
in London. Buy
him a rich wife. She’ll settle him down.”

Always ready for a brawl, Erran swung the cue at Jacques,
who was inches shorter and a stone lighter and not an adequate partner for
fisticuffs. Jacques retaliated by grabbing another cue, holding it like a
rapier. Hog yawned in complaint and lumbered to the side of the room. The spaniels
yipped in excitement and chased each other into the fray.

Through the tumult, a door knocker rapped authoritatively.
Startled, Theo dropped the puppy he’d been removing from under his telescope. Hog
howled his intruder warning, and the puppies proceeded to yap in enthusiastic

Jacques and Erran dropped their weapons to stare.

“Who the devil would be out in this deluge?” Erran asked,
grumpy at having his brawl disturbed.

“Normal people open the door to find out.” Since he was as
normal as any Ives got, Theo unbolted the massive carved door his
great-grandparents had installed in recognition of their new marquisate.


Moments earlier, Aster’s hired carriage had lurched up to
the tall portico of this massive country manor. Sheets of rain beat down too
hard to fully comprehend the size or state of Ashford’s gray stone fortress—but
the lack of welcoming light was not auspicious.

The driver had helped her over the river of mud running down
the drive between the carriage and the step. Aster opened her umbrella against
the drips through the portico roof and watched the driver pound the knocker a
second time.

Opening her own black umbrella, Jennet waited with her before
the enormous carved doors of Iveston Hall. Inside, a racket of howling hounds,
yipping puppies, and shouts of men rang over the rolls of thunder overhead.

“At least someone is home,” Aster said with as much optimism
as she could summon on this journey of doom.

“Savages, from the sound of it,” Jennet said glumly.

Aster had had all the miserable journey from London to
consider the difficulties presented by this rampantly male, officiously
obnoxious, and thankfully distant branch of her wide-spread family tree. She
was well aware of the futility of the task ahead of her.

BOOK: Magic in the Stars
13.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Hood Misfits, Volume 1 by Brick and Storm
Hit and Run by Allison Brennan, Laura Griffin
Waiting for Him by Natalie Dae
Lazaretto by Diane McKinney-Whetstone
Desert Gold by Zane Grey
Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop