I'm especially thankful for the success of this quirky blog over the past year and I have you, my faithful wonderful readers, to thank for that. As I've said in the past, I do it all for you and adore you all for your consistent patronage. You lend greatly to my enjoyment in doing this blog and keeping me going.
You've been my greatest support and your comments on my creative works has been such a boost to continuing my attempts at getting published.
Speaking of which, some of you already know that I participated in this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) event. I'm pleased as punch to tell you all that I have succeeded in reaching the goal of 50,000 words with 11 days yet to go. I wrote 50,000 plus words in 20 days - I'm still pinching myself. Of course, I am still writing as the novel is not yet finished but the end is in sight. Avon Romance is accepting any completed NaNoWriMo romance novels in their own National Romance Writing Month event. My new deadline is December 1oth! I plan to have it done. It may not be as polished as I'd like but there's time for revision later if they decide to publish it. Wish me luck, my dears.
My NaNoWriMo Novel is a historical romance titled - IN THE ARMS OF HER ANGEL - and to say thank you for always following, I'd like to share the first chapter with you. It's not polished but I hope you enjoy it.
EXCERPT FROM - IN THE ARMS OF HER ANGEL by Amy Valentini
South Carolina 1802
“Stop that filthy little bugger! He stole my purse!”
The Sea Angler Tavern was noisy and crowded with men tipping back tankards of ale and shots of whiskey after long hours working on the docks of the busy Port of Charleston. Many of them, already deep in their drinks, would probably have made a better target for Ginny Blackwood but when she spotted the portly man standing among his friends, his purse openly displayed on his belt which was slung below his belly, she knew she’d have no better chance. She had not expected him to be so alert to her hands at his side when she cut the purse free.
Now, with escape foremost in her mind, Ginny grumbled a curse through gritted teeth as she tucked her head. Pulling her oversized hat over her eyes, she kept her eyes on the floor just ahead of her as she moved quickly between the crowded tables. When a round bellied man reeking of sweat and whiskey stepped in front her, his gluttonous middle jiggling as he laughed at a humorous tale, she quickly changed her direction and skirted around another crowded table.
“Somebody do something - that wharf rat stole my money!” The shout went out again through the noisy room. Ginny silently prayed that no one was paying attention to the drunk’s alarm. Scrambling past another group of merry makers, she nearly sighed with relief when she noted that there was only one more table between her and the door to freedom.
Her heart pounded in her ears as she scurried past the last table, her hand clutching the stolen purse tight to her middle. Thievery was not her strong suit but Ginny was desperate for currency. She’d taken a great gamble pinching any purse but if she was going to survive alone in this city until she could gain passage home, she needed money. More than that, she needed to find the thing that would save her father.
The noise of the hot, crowded room seemed to fade away as the beating of her heart filled her ears. A satisfied grin teased at her lips when she saw the door to the street so close. However, when a large hand suddenly grabbed the front of her patched jacket and pulled at the dirty linen blouse beneath it, that satisfaction vanished. Yanked to a sudden halt from the side, she slammed against something hard. The air in her lungs exhaled in a great whooshing sound.
Caught red-handed, panic descended on Ginny as every sound disappeared around her. Fear forced her focus on the broad chest inches from her face. A hard wall of flesh over muscle covered in fine embroidered cloth and surrounded by soft, tanned calfskin. Her gaze slowly slid up the façade of the mountain of masculinity standing before her. The scent of sandalwood and soap filled her nose as her eyes caressed fine linen and a neatly tied cravat. Just above the edge of fine fabric, a strong jaw shifted and a full mouth curled slightly. Her eyes widened when a set of smiling dark eyes that looked like melted chocolate surrounded by thick curling lashes came into view. The full shapely lips beneath a straight perfect nose parted exposing straight white teeth. She fought back a smile when the tall man furrowed his black brow slightly before lifting one dark slash as if he was trying to resolve his curiosity about the creature he’d captured.
“What have we here?” The brick wall asked with a chuckle that sounded overly loud in Ginny’s ears. Heat flushed her cheeks and beads of sweat formed on the back of her neck and when a couple of drops slid down her back, she shivered. “Did you steal old Pete’s purse, poppet?”
Laughter from nearby joined the brick wall’s chuckles and for a brief moment, Ginny was tempted to join in with a giggle in response to the man’s use of so many pees. His voice was smooth, deep and strangely soothing. It sent a ripple of warmth through her body pooling in her gut. She almost relaxed against him for comfort but as the pounding in her ears began to wane, her panic and a desperate need to escape came rushing back.
In that moment, Ginny knew what she needed to do. She pressed her fists against a rock hard chest and pushed until she could swing up her right knee even as his grip on her clothing caused her blouse and ragtag jacket to climb over her ears. Her intended aim was for the softer parts of this tower of muscle whose firm hold on her kept her prisoner but his legs were so long that her knee connected with the man’s inner thigh instead. It mattered not, for her assault on his body was enough for him to react as any man would. The man quickly bent to protect his manhood and his hold on her clothing loosened.
Pain stung her knee on impact. She caught herself wondering if he had a wooden leg beneath those black britches. It mattered not for her maneuver had worked. With a loud groan and exhalation of air, the tall dark-eyed man with a captivating smile stopped smiling and backed away slightly. His grip on her clothing loosened just enough to give Ginny the edge. She yanked herself in the opposite direction. A ripping sound filled her ears. A moment later, she was falling away from the brick wall. Caught off balance, she quickly found her footing, raced for the door and into the street.
Rubbing the inside of his thigh where the curious urchin had caught him off guard and slammed him with his knee, Daniel Embry cursed under his breath. For all of his well-intended efforts, all he’d succeeded in doing was getting a bruised leg and a handful of cloth from the wharf rat’s filthy coat. He glanced at the piece of cloth in his hand. Something glittered in the glow of the hanging lanterns sprinkled throughout the rafters of the tavern. He looked more closely. It was slim gold chain.
“Old Pete ain’t going to be happy about you letting the brat get away, old man!” Finn McShane exclaimed, laughing heartily. The red-haired man slapped Daniel on the back nearly knocking the piece of gold from hand. The jolt caused something attached to the chain to drop and dangle just below his wrist - a delicate gold charm. Daniel eyed the elongated charm and thought it strange that a lad would be wearing such a thing. Then when the image of deep blue eyes the color of the deepest seas fringed by long dusky lashes flashed through his mind, he wondered if it had been a boy at all.
“You all right, Daniel,” Finn asked with a worried frown. For the first time, Daniel noticed weathered wrinkles had begun to groove his old friend’s forehead.
Daniel snagged the gold chain and its charm from the cloth and pushed it into his coat pocket. Turning to face his first mate, he grimaced at the tightness in his thigh.
“The bugger kicked me too close for comfort,” Daniel growled before raising his mug of ale to his lips. His gaze caught Finn’s puzzled look. Daniel grinned at the man whose bushy red hair glowed like blood-tinged cotton around his head. “Fortunately, all is well and intact.”
Loud shouts from the back of the tavern where some of his crew, including the victim of the urchin’s crime, had spent the last couple of hours drinking and eating drew their attention. Daniel recognized one of the men as his quartermaster who was standing over a smaller unknown man. The men were nearly growling in each other’s faces.
Finn McShane ran his thick fingers through his red mass of curls and groaned. “Want me to break that up?”
Daniel gave his first mate’s question some thought then smiled. His men deserved a chance to blow off some steam after a long day of loading cargo into the hold of the Falcon. Of course, he preferred they take it outside so that he wouldn’t have to bail them out of jail or pay for damages but he doubted that would happen as he watched the rest of his crew join the men intent on fisticuffs.
“If it looks like they’re going to bust the place up or kill someone - yes,” Daniel announced with a loud guffaw as he grabbed a nearby serving girl and switched his empty tankard for a full one. He winked at her, receiving a giggle and blush in return. “Otherwise, let ‘em be.”
Daniel and Finn watched the somewhat attractive young woman saunter away swaying her hips deliberately before glancing over her shoulder at them as she moved through the crowd.
“You need to get yourself a woman, old man,” Finn remarked leaning close so only Daniel would hear his words.
“Gad, man, you can’t go on mourning a woman who wasn’t even yours yet,” Finn groaned then immediately regretted his words when he saw Daniel’s eyes narrow and blacken. “I … uh … I just mean,” he stammered.
Daniel dropped his gaze to his tankard. Finn had touched on something that was too close to the mark. His betrothed died four years earlier in a tragic carriage accident leaving his heart broken and empty. It wasn’t as if Daniel had shunned women completely from his life for he’d partaken in the occasional tumble but with no promise of a future.
“Never mind, Finn,” Daniel said before taking a long draught on the tankard. “I’m tired is all.”
Raising his hand, he clapped it on the firm shoulder of his right hand man and friend. Finn McShane had been his friend since they’d played together as children at Green Mount Farm. Finn’s father worked with Jason Embry, Daniel’s father helping build his shipping business while his mother worked as one of the cooks at the Embry farm. When Daniel and Finn were old enough, the two lads went to work on the ships learning all they needed to know from their fathers. Several years ago, Daniel became the captain of the Falcon and he’d immediately named Finn his first mate. Daniel put his full trust in his old friend. He knew Finn would always put his safety and that of the crew before anything or anyone. He also new his old friend had his best interest at heart when he suggested Daniel’s pursuit of feminine companionship, even if only for a night. As a man, married to his first sweetheart, Finn suggestion was well intentioned but Daniel’s heart was still broken and filled with pain and betrayal.
“That sweet morsel over there is eager to make your acquaintance,” Finn murmured as he nodded his head in the direction of the serving girl who while delivering tankards of ale to a table of patrons, glanced over her shoulder at Daniel. When she noticed Daniel glance in her direction, she moved to the next table and while setting a tankard before a man who slid his hand along her backside, the girl bent low over the table, which allowed Daniel a purposeful display of her full bosom. “Very eager, it seems.” Finn winked at Daniel.
Turning his back on the girl’s obvious seductive pose, Daniel drained his tankard and set it down heavily on the table. “Like I said, I’m tired and frankly, not interested. You think her so delectable, why don’t you go for it, Finn?”
The red-haired man threw his head back with a loud guffaw then shook his head, his curls bouncing around his head. “My Molly would have my head on a pike if I were to even sniff after such a young thing.”
“Oh, so you’re saying she’d be okay with you tupping her if she were older?” Daniel teased his friend. At first Finn must have thought him serious for his laughter ceased and his brow furrowed into deep grooves. Then the man widened bright blue eyes and laughed again.
“Ha, she wouldn’t care the girl’s age! Molly would cut off my xxxx and feed it to me with biscuits and gravy,” Finn grumbled as he restrained his laughter but his twinkling red-lashed lined eyes belied his humor.
Daniel slapped his friend on the back.
“You’re right about that,” Daniel laughed along with his friend even as he envied him his loving wife and two little girls. If Christina had not died, he was sure they would have a family together as did Finn and Molly McShane. “I’m heading out. I’ll see you in the morning. I’d appreciate you keeping an eye on those fools, Finn.”
Finn glanced toward the men. They were no longer growling at each other but laughing as the quartermaster held the smaller man in a bear hug, bouncing him up and down. He rolled his eyes and smiled at Daniel. “Of course - get some sleep, old man.”
Daniel always got a kick out of Finn calling him old man since this red-haired son of an Irishman was one year older than his own twenty-six years. Daniel nodded his head, turned and strolled to the exit. The inn, where he’d taken a room while in the port of Charleston was just two blocks away. As he strolled along the street, his thoughts went to the wharf rat that had stolen Pete’s purse. His hand slid into his pocket, he fingered the charm secreted there, and his thoughts turned to wide azure tinted eyes and pale clear skin with a flush of pink riding high on delicate cheeks. A pink moist mouth that opened and pulled into a pucker as captivating eyes blinked just before the mischievous urchin kneed him in the groin. Was it possible that cherub face and this charm belonged to a boy? If it had then perhaps, Finn was right and Daniel had best see to finding some female company for an attraction to a lad was not something he wanted to consider.
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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone and Happy Reading!