WARNING:Scoundrel for Hire is a laugh-out-loud romp full of dastardly cons and naughty shenanigans! But who’s hoodwinking who?
Thank you, Readers, for making Scoundrel For Hire reign for five days at #1 on Kindle’s Western Historical Romance list. (Whoop! I love ya’ll, too! 🙂
For those who’d like a sneak peek of those notorious “shenanigans,” I’ve abridged one of my favorite scenes, the séance. Enjoy!
Scoundrel for Hire
Book 1, Velvet Lies
By Adrienne deWolfe
[Scene Set-Up: Despite the disheartening news that his beloved pet has escaped and remains missing, Rafe (our hero) agrees to attend a séance with Silver (our heroine.) The fortune-teller is an eccentric woman named Cellie. As the scene progresses, you’ll meet several spiritual seekers, including a cynical newspaperman (Buckholtz) and a gullible elderly couple (the Trevelyans.)]
Cellie began rocking. Bracelets jangled as she raised her arms, spreading her hands in a caressing motion over the crystal ball. When she began to mumble, she intoned syllables that, to Rafe’s mind, sounded like a bastardized version of the witches’ chant from Macbeth.
Cellie called out in a ringing voice: “Oh shadows biding in the night, Sweep clear the veil that dulls my sight! Reveal the secrets yet to be, Lost wisdom, ancient mysteries!”
The mist inside the ball began to spiral, deepening in hue, shooting flecks of pink and orange into inner space. Impressed, Rafe shot another speculative glance at Cellie. Just how did she do that?
“Spirit from the tribes of man Your presence here I now command! Nahele! Come forth and speak!”
A tendril of black materialized in the center of the ball, gobbling up the blues and pinks. Lengthening, fanning outward, it rotated clockwise until it slowly righted itself again in the shape of a feather—a buzzard feather. Rafe’s heart tripped. He knew he wasn’t imagining the phenomenon because Silver sat white-lipped and wide-eyed, her fingernails practically drawing blood from his palm.
Frowning, Cellie leaned toward the sphere, her features awash in a goose-pimpling crimson. The sides of the ball seemed to ooze with that crimson, and misty droplets whirled in the center. Every blue, brown, orange, pink, and black speck was sucked into that vortex until finally, only blood red remained.
“Much evil plagues a soul here,” Cellie intoned, sounding more like doom than a crackpot.
Guilt burned its way up Rafe’s neck.
“Is… is this soul in danger?” Daisy Trevelyan ventured to ask.
“Only if you believe this nonsense,” Buckholtz retorted.
The newsman’s cynicism helped to ease Rafe’s dread. Perhaps Cellie really hadn’t divined his identity.
A nerve-jangling thump interrupted Cellie’s mutterings. It seemed to come from the buffet area.
“Wh-what was that?” Edward Trevelyan asked, his eyes growing white around the edges.
“The spirits!” his wife squeaked.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Buckholtz said with a sneer.
Cellie held up her hands for silence. “I shall ask the questions. You will listen for answers. Spirits, is someone in this circle in danger?”
Everyone in the room jumped as an audible thud answered her query.
“Does one rap mean yes?”
A single rap answered, this time from the other side of the room.
“How will you answer no?”
Two raps sounded close to the window. So did a faint scratching noise.
“How the devil is she making those—”
“Shh!” This time, everyone joined the Trevelyans in glaring daggers at the newspaperman for interrupting.
“Is a man from this circle in danger?” Cellie continued, nonplussed.
“Will there be bloodshed?”
Silence rolled like a tangible fog through the semi-darkness. Five, perhaps six seconds passed before the answer finally knelled: One rap.
“For heaven’s sake, who is it? Who is it!” Daisy wailed.
“Spirits,” Cellie called, her voice rising in volume and power, “we seek the victim’s name. Kindly knock when I state the —”
A horrific crash drowned out the rest of her words. Rafe leaped to his feet. So did Silver.
“It’s the ghost!” Daisy shrieked, pointing at a renegade crab puff. It bounced from the appetizer table to the floor. Before everyone’s astonished eyes, the remaining china inexplicably toppled, shattering into a dozen pieces. Slowly, spookily, the tablecloth began to rise.
“Jesus ever-loving Christ,” Buckholtz choked, his eyes bugging out to twice their normal size.
The ghost gave a sleepy bark, and Buckholtz, heedless of chandeliers and human life, drew his .45.
“No!” Rafe shouted, lunging for the newspaperman’s arm.
The Colt fired; plaster showered from the ceiling; Daisy wilted in a dead faint, and the ghost yiked in terror, streaking out from the tablecloth to hide under Silver’s petticoats.
Scoundrel for Hire
Book 1, Velvet Lies
Raphael Jones is a Kentucky-born scoundrel, who has never played by the rules. When Colorado mining heiress, Silver Nichols, hires him to stop her precious daddy from marrying a golddigger, Rafe sets out to seduce Silver and win her fortune. But beneath Silver’s cool veneer, Rafe encounters a sweet vulnerability and an aching secret that threatens to send his whole world up in smoke. Now the wily scoundrel must choose: walk away or wager the one thing he can’t afford to lose—his heart. “Wickedly funny! This book sizzles with a scoundrel you won’t mind losing your heart to.” ~Christina Dodd, New York Times Best-Seller