“Dragons, blue frogs, and black cat sìths—Oh! My!”
ELEMENTAL STEAMPUNK TALES: A COLLECTION
PRAISE FOR A TRACE OF COPPER
“…a delightful blend of modern and mystical.”
“I can’t wait to read more from this series…”
“…the perfect mix of mystery, romance, science and steampunk.”
PRAISE FOR IN PURSUIT OF DRAGONS
“A dashing yet vulnerable hero, paired with an endearing spitfire of a heroine. Medical marvels taken from the controversial headlines of current research, blended with myth and legend from our deepest history.”
PRAISE FOR A REFLECTION OF SHADOWS
“will keep you up at night”
“heat, madness, and mayhem”
“never a dull moment”
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Excerpts from Elemental Steampunk Tales
A TRACE OF COPPER
Aberwyn, Wales, Spring, 1885
“It bit me,” the young woman informed Piyali, hiking her skirts and rolling down her woolen hose. “Right through my stocking.” Miss Price, the shopkeeper’s daughter, plopped down on a chair and propped her foot upon a stool, pointing. “And now it’s blue.”
Dr. Piyali Mukherji leaned closer. As insane as Miss Price’s words sounded, they rang true. Her ankle was indeed blue.
Well, part of it. There was a decided lesion approximately two inches in diameter above her fibular protuberance. Piyali pressed two fingers against the blemish. She would describe it as an infection. Except it didn’t appear inflamed, and it wasn’t hot to the touch.
And it was blue.
Unheard of. But that was why she’d accepted the Crown’s commission, taken on the added duties of a Queen’s agent. The Duke of Avesbury, the gentleman at the head of this small, select group, had offered her a chance to be on the forefront of investigations into strange and unusual medical conditions. This certainly fit the bill.
“A frog bit you.” Piyali’s eyebrows rose, hoping she’d heard wrong. “A blue frog. With teeth.” Did frogs have teeth? And frogs—at least in Britain—were supposed to be green. Or brown.
IN PURSUIT OF DRAGONS
Scotland, March 1885
“Luke Dryden.” Natalia’s voice sliced through the air.
With a final pat to the dragon’s head, he straightened and met her ice-blue gaze. Aether, he’d missed her. Though, judging from the grip she had on the swept hilt of a sixteenth century Italian rapier, she didn’t feel the same. Guilt tightened his chest. He’d been wrong not to say a proper farewell.
Her soft-soled, leather-laced boots didn’t make a sound as she descended the stairs into the courtyard, her dark scowl brightened only by golden hair that was swept back from her face, braided and tightly secured in a crowning circlet. About her neck, the ever-present scarf. A corset, cut and boned for ease of movement. Gone were her skirts, replaced by trousers that hugged her lean curves… in a manner that was going to see him killed.
He lifted his gaze and nodded, careful not to smile. “Lady Kinlarig.” The moment called for diplomacy. He was, after all, long overdue. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
She snorted. “Kinross’s death, though unanticipated, was not the least bit objectionable.” From the look on her face, his death would also be welcome. “I refuse to mourn.”
“Many apologies,” Luke began. “I did not intend to be away for so many months.”
“Months?” Her eyebrows rose. There was a sharp edge to her voice. “Two years have passed without so much as a skeet pigeon. After the actions of your department this past year, or lack thereof, I’m surprised you dare return.” She tested the weight of the blade in her hand, as if considering which body part of his to remove first.
A REFLECTION OF SHADOWS
London, February 1885
“Lady Stewart?” Incredulity laced his voice. “What are you doing here?” The beam of light lowered, and he dropped his hand from his hip, away from the TTX pistol hidden beneath his coat.
Adrenaline buzzed through her veins as the inevitable attraction flared. Impossible to leave now without playing their old game of cat and mouse. This time, however, if he let himself be caught, she had no intention of allowing him to slip away with a mere kiss.
Curving her lips into a smile, she sauntered back to the desk to lift her glass. “Enjoying a glass of whisky, neat. I’d offer you one, but you appear frustrated.” Smoothing a gloved hand over the curve of her hip, over her close-fitting trousers, she invited his interest. “As if satisfaction is just beyond your reach…” She let the suggestion hang between them.
“Are you offering to help bring my evening to an exciting finish?” His broad shoulders relaxed, and his eyes—a narrow rim of brilliant blue surrounding dark pupils—flashed. To his credit, only then did his gaze drop. “Or merely offering a professional consultation?”
Her answering laugh was low and throaty. Despite the gravity of his mission, Nick found it impossible not to respond to her teasing. Like him, Lady Stewart was garbed entirely in black. A hooded cape about her shoulders. A shirt beneath a buckled corset. Pouches hung from a low-slung belt. Leather gloves stretched to her elbows. Trousers hugged her hips and thighs. But the boots… As always, those held his gaze with the tenacity of a pteryform trap. Leather and laced, they rose from her trim ankles, sheathing her long and shapely legs before releasing their grasp a few inches above her knees. Those brain cells that had not entirely abandoned work noted the stitching at her calf. Since they’d last crossed paths, she’d added a long—and likely sharp—blade to her attire.
His heart gave a great thud, then took off racing while the room grew warmer by several degrees.
Aether, he’d missed her. Missed the bustled and skirted woman who wore tinted spectacles and hugged the walls at society events. Missed the leather-clad seductress whose amber eyes flashed as they glinted back at him across the dark room, daring him to—