Morning everyone!  Doomed to Torment releases on October 17th.  Gearing up for that, this week and next week I'll be sharing the opening scenes!

Doomed to Torment
Inherited Damnation, Book VI

Isolde McLaine left Hatherly Hall and its darkly handsome owner Angus Shaw to escape her incubus father's curse. But when word reaches her that Angus is selling the piece of British history, she returns to talk sense into him. Little does she realized that returning to England will throw her into her sire's vile world and leave her fighting not just her heart and the danger of falling in love but battling to save Angus's son's life.

For three and a half months, Angus has done his best to put Isolde and the one unforgettable kiss they shared behind him. Yet when she returns, scolding him for selling his deceased wife's estate, he's sharply reminded of the passion she awakens inside him. Yet as Isolde pushes for him to leave his son's legacy intact, their battle of wills provokes far more than just desire. His son's nightmares have returned. And Isolde triggered the hellish dreams.

Torn between protecting his child and the love he feels for Isolde, Angus must find the strength to trust in Isolde before her demonic sire claims his son.


Chapter One

Lush green meadows and swaying fields of heather whispered promises of death Isolde McLaine knew she couldn’t escape. She’d abandoned Hatherly Hall and left England for America in a vain attempt to try. Now it loomed around her. Watching. Biding its time. Waiting for her to succumb to the stirrings of love that forced her away.

She stared out the taxicab’s window at Hatherly’s skyward reaching walls of stone. Beyond that iron gate, within those chilly halls, lay everything that had ever mattered to her. Everything she couldn’t have, and everything she craved all the same. If Angus Shaw hadn’t decided to sell the gothic monstrosity, she wouldn’t be here now. But she’d returned to the employer who threatened her existence to stop that travesty. To talk sense into Angus before he destroyed his son’s only maternal legacy.

“Damn him,” she muttered as the taxi nosed through the iron gates.

Angry was better—at least if she let that emotion fester she couldn’t get caught up in the far more damning feelings Angus provoked. And, if she focused on how achingly blind he was being, she might be able to forget the mesmerizing feel of his soft lips on hers.

Not entirely likely, given that every time she’d been with her family and watched her brothers and sisters embrace their soul mates she thought of Angus. But with Beltane fast approaching, she didn’t dare get caught up in all the emotion that came with Angus and his adorable son Thomas.

“We’re here, Miss. Will you be needing a return trip after the two o’clock tour?”

For a moment, the cabbie’s question perplexed her. As she opened her mouth to ask his meaning, however, logic clicked. Just because she’d quit her job didn’t mean Angus hadn’t hired another House Manager, and that the afternoon tours would cease. Isolde shook her head. “No. I’ll be staying a few days.”

“Oh, you’re visiting friends then?”

“You could say so.” Something like that. Isolde fished into her small satchel for a handful of bills and passed them over the seats. “Thank you for the ride.”

“My pleasure, Miss.”

She grabbed her solitary bag and climbed out of the cab as a shuttle unloaded a dozen passengers. Isolde fell neatly in line behind the crowd. No sense drawing attention to herself first. She needed to see Nadine, the museum curator before she confronted Angus. And with one tour bus unloading, that meant the museum was currently full of visitors who would be departing.

Listening to the awed murmurs of the tourists who surrounded her, Isolde followed the small group inside. While they mingled in the grand hall, admiring centuries-old oil portraits of the Hatherly family, she lingered near the glass doors to the museum, eyeing Nadine as she pretended not to listen for Thomas’s cheery voice.

Even more than she missed Angus, she missed the adorable eight-year-old boy who had weaseled into her heart the day she first met him, four years ago. Right now, though, Thomas was the last person she wanted to encounter. She needed to talk to Angus first. Talk some sense into him when Thomas couldn’t hear what she intended to say.

“Thank you! Enjoy your stay in Sheffield!” Nadine called brightly as the last visitor filed out the doors.

A spark of excitement lit within Isolde. Unable to help herself, she smiled. Until right now, she hadn’t realized how much she looked forward to seeing Nadine again. Doing her best not to rush through the doors and hug her old friend, Isolde entered with quiet, controlled dignity.

Nadine remained behind the admissions counter, her attention riveted on a ledger that she scribbled in. Isolde used the older woman’s preoccupation to her advantage and approached quietly.

“So where is the infinitely stupid master of the house?”

With a startled gasp, Nadine jerked her nose out of the ledger and gaped at Isolde. Surprise gave way to recognition and her chubby face lit with a smile. “Oh my! Isolde! When you said you were coming, I had no idea you meant today.”

Isolde gave in to a grin. “You should have known better. How long did I fight to turn this place around and pull it out of the red? I’m not giving that man one extra day to destroy all my hard work. Did he convince you into giving the tours?”

“He guilted me into it.” Laughter brimmed in Nadine’s warm brown eyes. She reached across the countertop and patted the back of Isolde’s hand. “I think you just couldn’t stand to stay away.”

Despite her bravado, Isolde felt heat creep into her cheeks. Nadine knew. For that matter, the entire staff knew about what had happened between Angus and herself the week before she quit her job three and a half months ago. All thanks to one maid who found it necessary to gossip after walking into the library and interrupting the kiss that should have never happened. Thankfully, Angus had fired the young girl moments after the story reached his own ears. Embellished. Tenfold.

“Where is he, Nadine?” she asked more quietly. “I want to have this initial conversation over with before Thomas figures out I’m here. I won’t know what to tell him, until I talk to Angus.”

“In the cellar. He muttered something about separating the collectables from the personal items.”

“More things he wants to sell?”

Nadine winced, giving Isolde all the answer she needed.

Sighing, Isolde shook her head. “Did you inform him he’s behaving like a bloody fool?”

“No. I phoned you.”

Because Isolde was the only person brave enough to stand up to Angus Shaw. She nodded again, understanding what Nadine didn’t say. Wouldn’t say. “Well. I suppose I’ll go confront the dragon.”

“Shall I see that Enid sets a place for you at the dinner table?”

A frown pulled at Isolde’s brow as she considered. If Angus listened, if she managed to talk sense into him, she’d enjoy dining with her friends. If he threw her out—which he might well do given how irate he’d been when she quit—she’d be dining alone at an inn in Sheffield.

“Save that thought. I’ll get back to you on it.” Turning, she cut a path around the Renaissance statues the second Lord of Hatherly had imported from Italy and moved toward the exit.

“Good luck, Isolde. His mind is set.”

Isolde nodded. Of course it would be. Hatherly Hall represented everything Angus couldn’t stand to look upon. He was gone more than he was in attendance most years. He’d be glad to be free of the responsibility. Free of the memories he refused to confront.

She left her bag in the hall. At the top of the stairs that led into the dark, musty belly of the grand estate, Isolde paused. She’d rather confront her vile sire, rather stand toe-to-toe in combat against her incubus father, than encounter Angus. Her heart tripped unsteadily. Her stomach coiled into a tight ball of barbs. She wanted to see him…too much.

Pulling in a deep breath, she swallowed down the rising tide of awareness and murmured quiet words of magic designed to keep the dark half of her soul under control. It sensed Angus too. Knew he was her weakness. And it longed to see her falter so it could bathe in blood.

She took the stairs carefully and followed a faint flicker of light at the far end of the underground chambers. It glowed from within a room that had once held prisoners. Now, it held boxes and crates, things the Hatherlys had amassed through the centuries. Heirlooms that signified life gone by. Treasures Angus should cherish, as opposed to his conviction to auction off his deceased wife’s memory.

Isolde stopped short in the doorway, the sight of him temporarily rendering her speechless. Bent over a large crate, he rummaged through the contents. His usual suit coat lay on the stone floor in a forgotten heap, giving her a rare view of fine linen cloth pulled tight across broad shoulders. She’d felt those muscles there. Thrilled in the strength he cloaked away rippling beneath her palms. Worse, she could recall those tightly hewn cords so vividly the encounter might have well happened yesterday. The heat of his body, the possessiveness of his mouth, the dizzying scent of his sweet spice cologne…

Longing rose, and Isolde winced. She couldn’t get caught up in Angus Shaw. Not any more than she already was. Her sire’s curse hung over her head, promising if she allowed Angus room in her heart she’d kill him. Worse, it promised inevitable mortality. An escape her destiny wouldn’t allow. Swallowing down all the feeling that threatened to override her senses, she leaned a shoulder on the doorframe, folded her arms across her chest, and squinted at his dark head. “I do believe you’ve lost every bit of sense you possess. Just what do you think you are doing, Angus Shaw?”


Come back next week to see Angus' rection!


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1 Response so far.

  1. Oh this sounds great. Hurry up October 17th!

    Tracey D

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"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
(History Channel International)



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