Lady Lavinia Bramley is master of a Djinni.
Lavinia runs away from her husband to make a life with the djinni Yasir, but it’s not what she thought, not pearls and flying carpets and wishes come true . . .
Her desperate efforts to find happiness with Yasir are foiled by her husband’s reappearance, murder attempts by the jealous magician who cursed Yasir to the urn, and Yasir’s desire for revenge.
Lavinia finds love, and loyalty, are as ephemeral as ties of smoke.
Chapter 10: pages 1-2
She turned her head at a soft knock on the door, didn’t move until the baby quieted, then slipped from the bed and crept over.
“Who is there?” Lavinia said in a loud whisper. She stepped back, staring at the door. How could she have been so foolish? It could be the guards, ready to carry out whatever evil Rakhshan had commanded. Then she shrugged and, in spite of the fear enveloping her, laughed to herself. Most likely they wouldn’t knock.
“Mehadeh.” A deep silky voice answered.
A female voice. Familiar.
Mehadeh? She searched her mind for the familiar name, for someone to fit the voice and clamped her hand over her mouth. The fearsome dark lady from the garden.
So they had sent her. The cold of the tile floor shivered through her bare feet up her legs. She pulled her blue shawl tight and turned away. She did not have to speak with this woman, whoever she was, whatever she was. Lavinia swallowed, but her throat had narrowed into a tight dry tunnel, and she managed only a shallow gulp.
Glancing wildly around the room, she spotted a cloisonné candleholder, short and squat, She picked it up. Tapped it a few times against her palm. Heavy enough to discourage someone.
The knock sounded again and her heart pounded almost as loud. She wondered at the woman’s recklessness. The baby had frightened Mehadeh earlier this evening. Surely the woman had learned her lesson. Lavinia put her hand on the small bulge under her nightdress.
“I bring news.” Mehadeh’s tone was laced with alarm.
A ruse. Lavinia curled her fingers around the sturdy brass candlestick. She would go to bed, wake early and call Yasir with her ruby ring using the vision crystal. She twisted the ring on her finger. Would it work? The jagged crack running through the crystal grew even larger in her imagination.
“I can help you save your baby,” Mehadeh spoke through the door. “You want to save Yasir’s son, do you not?” She knocked once again, soft but insistent.
So the woman knew of Rakhshan’s plot. Did everyone know? Even Ya’Qub?
Claudia Herring aspired to be a baton twirler when she was five and an archaeologist at thirteen. When she became a graphic designer and an author of fantasy, she decided she'd hit upon the perfect compromise.
Along the way she worked as a gift wrapper, a server in a Mexican restaurant at an amusement park (where she rode the Black Dragon at midnight—an actual ride, not a sexual allusion) and an illustrator in medical graphics (where they featured videos on wound healing during lunch) at the Texas Medical Center.
Her novel, His Master's Bride, a historical fantasy with romantic elements set in Regency England, won first prize in the Houston Writer's Guild Novel Competition. Ties of Smoke is the second in the series The Djinn Chronicles.
When she's not delving into the world of the Djinn, Claudia is practicing yoga to go to that hushed space where she imagines and plots her next fantasy novel.
If you like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or Carol Berg’s Soul Mirror series you'll love His Master’s Bride and Ties of Smoke.
Claudia will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.