We’re so pleased to have author Hayden Thorne back today with an excerpt and giveaway of her Young Adult Historical Fantasy Desmond and Garrick (Books One and Two). To enter for the chance to win an e-copy of BOTH books, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below after reading this little teaser.
from Chapter 11
He’d walked a short distance, pausing under the shadows of a small cluster of trees, when movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention, and he turned to find Desmond scrambling up the hill – appearing desperate to get back to the picnic area. Garrick narrowed his eyes as he watched the boy. The way Desmond practically flailed his arms in order to keep his balance, the way he almost stumbled a few times in his haste to get up the hill, the way his clothes looked suspiciously crumpled and his hair windblown and wild and his face taking on a decidedly unhealthy red hue for a vampire…
Garrick sighed, shaking his head, his gaze still fixed on the frantic figure. “Good heavens, Master Desmond,” he muttered, that familiar feeling of helplessness creeping up his spine. “What have you done this time?”
He shrugged things off and carried on, awash in contentment for another pleasant moment, this time humming to himself.
More movement caught his attention and, and this time he saw Phillip Priestley making his way up the hill as well, his appearance no less wild than Desmond’s. But while Desmond appeared to be fleeing the area and half-killing himself to reach the hill’s crest in the shortest time possible, Mr. Priestley appeared to march stiffly uphill, his disheveled appearance highlighting the anger that set his face in a rigid mask. Arms swinging stiffly at his sides, eyes fixed directly ahead, mouth pressed into a tight line, the young fellow was in grave danger of swelling up with all that collected rage before exploding in a dreadfully untidy way that only vampires could appreciate. The sinking feeling gave way to another familiar sensation: a dreadful chill that could only mean one thing…
“Ah, Mr. Mortimer,” a voice hailed him.
Garrick turned and found Mr. Sherbourne approaching, his hands clasped behind him, his hat still on his head, his clothes still pristine. He inclined his head at Garrick once he was near enough.
“Mr. Sherbourne,” Garrick said after a moment’s hesitation.
The gentleman flashed an engaging smile, his manner calm and casual. “Sir, I apologize for pressing you with such a remarkable request, but I’d be honored if you would come with me tomorrow morning and be my second.”
Garrick stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”
“I’ve been challenged to a duel, you see, and I’m afraid it’s simply beyond my control to walk away from it. Honor is honor, after all.” When Garrick remained mute, he added, “Pistols at dawn. You know what that’s about.”
Garrick continued to stare at him. “I beg your pardon?”
Mr. Sherbourne sighed, though his manner stayed calm. Almost indifferent. “I’m compelled to defend Desmond Hathaway’s honor, sir. While in the course of dispensing a duty that was entrusted to me by the good Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway, I chanced upon a scene of a – well – rather sensitive nature, and I took umbrage at the gentleman’s treatment at the hands of a scoundrel. I certainly would have challenged Mr. Priestley to a duel myself, had he not leapt upon the chance first and challenged me. Can you imagine the cheek, sir? He’s the villain, and he thought to challenge me.”
Garrick stared. Still. Somehow, some time ago, his brain had ceased its functions, and he felt as though he were standing before its sad remains, watching it slowly dissolve with every word Mr. Sherbourne uttered.
“Would you mind explaining yourself, sir?” he said after about twenty attempts at speaking something that sounded halfway coherent.
“My dear Mr. Mortimer, I don’t see how I can make myself any clearer,” Mr. Sherbourne said, looking tired and faintly irritated. Yet he stood before Garrick, hands still clasped at his back, posture straight, appearance very striking and handsome as only vampires could be striking and handsome. “I need you to be my second, sir, for dawn tomorrow. While I’d be quite happy simply giving Mr. Priestley a damned good thrashing, I’m afraid I’m rather stuck resorting to a duel and perhaps bloody murder to set things right.”
“Mr. Sherbourne, you do realize your challenger is sixteen years old and is quite incapable of sound thought – especially if he’s been sent down from Wyndham.”
“Seventeen and four months.” Mr. Sherbourne paused, looking sincerely surprised. “I took care to ask, Mr. Mortimer. Not that it made much of a difference, anyway, since a scoundrel is a scoundrel at any age, and if Mr. Priestley forced my hand into a duel, I’m not one to back away from it. If his age worries you, perhaps you ought to raise the matter with him, not me.”
“Are you drunk, sir?”
“Indeed, no. But I’ve never been to a duel before, let alone been challenged to one. I’m afraid my ignorance shows, though I do hope I’m still capable of defending Desmond’s honor when required.”
Blurb: As the vain and self-absorbed poets continue their campaign of destruction in Dryden Abbey, Garrick finds himself struggling in the classroom, with increasingly distracted pupils eroding all of his hard work and reducing him to using all things dead and decaying in order to keep Desmond and Lavinia’s minds on their lessons.
Meanwhile, with Phillip Priestley’s unexpected appearance, Desmond’s world unravels as infatuation, lust, confusion, and revulsion drive him into wilder mood swings. Mr. Sherbourne’s coldly distant yet attractive presence in Dryden Abbey further complicates things, prompting Desmond to do something he never thought he’d ever do: reach out to unlikely allies for help.
In the midst of the wild goings on around them, Garrick and Desmond will realize that the chasm separating them as distinct species will not only teach them important lessons of understanding and acceptance, but also forge a stronger bond of friendship than they expected.