Tuesday, November 4, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Heather Gray "Queen"


You can't hide from the past.

Queen's world was shattered, and she was banished to a foreign land. Years pass before she dares to return, but what she finds is of little comfort. Greed and dishonesty have festered and grown in her absence. Embittered and cynical, Queen trusts few people.

Owen pursues a clandestine investigation and finds himself working side-by-side with a veritable ghost, an agent few have seen, a master of disguise known simply as Queen.  He craves her trust…but then uncovers a secret from his family's past that could destroy her.

Queen once sought refuge in America and now seeks it in disguise. Owen has always found his refuge in God, but will his faith be strong enough for the challenges ahead? Can he convince her to stop hiding, or is he doomed to become her most hated enemy?



Heather Gray authors the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order Man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series: His Saving Grace, Jackal, and Queen - plus contemporary titles Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.  Aside from a long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys are her relationships with her Savior and family.  She also enjoys laughter.  This theme is prevalent in Heather's writing where, through the highs and lows, her characters find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

You can find Heather online at http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting, http://www.twitter.com/laughdreamwrite, and http://www.heathergraywriting.com.  She can also be found most days at The Inspired Inkpot, a street team, prayer group, and all around awesome place to hang out - http://www.facebook.com/groups/theinspiredinkpot.



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Christmas Eve 1817

Owen crouched low and looked around him. At least four hale and strong men had given chase. He was nursing a bullet wound to his side and a knee expressing reluctance to cooperate.

The alley's darkness provided the illusion of safety. He might yet get out of this alive, if the clouds cooperated and kept the moon concealed.

Leather scraped on cobblestones to his right, and he pivoted, knife at the ready. An old man stumbled down the alley. His stringy grey hair was greasy and his coarse woven clothes tattered. He reeked of liquor, vomit, and… Owen wrinkled his nose as he fought the urge to gag.

The ruffians who'd been chasing him must have heard the old man, too. Or, worse, they'd heard Owen. They stopped their pursuit down the street and began backtracking to the mouth of the alley.

Drat. Owen slipped back behind some crates. He wanted to call a warning to the old beggar but couldn't risk giving away his position. Instead, he tucked his body as tightly together as his wounds would allow while he prayed.

"Did you hear that?"

"Someone's down there."

"Who's there?"

The old man shuffled his way, with a dragging hitch to his step, toward the street.

Come on, old man. Get out of the way. They're not looking for you!

"Never mind. It's a drunkard. Let's keep searching."

From his vantage point, Owen watched as one of the thugs shoved the beggar down onto the ground and then kicked him full in the ribs. He winced in sympathetic pain but dared not leave his hiding place yet. To reveal himself at this juncture would ensure a far worse outcome for both him and the old man.

The echo of footsteps faded and silence once again fell over the alley, broken only by the yowling of a tom cat. A few minutes ticked by with no indication the group would return. Owen eased himself out from his position, relieved to no longer be wedged between a slimy moss-covered wall and the dilapidated, rotting crates. Pain radiated up and down his side from where he'd been shot, and his knee burned with each step.

The old man hadn't moved since landing on the cobblestones. Stooping, Owen glanced at the man's hair-covered face. Age was kinder to some than to others. Between the faded moonlight and the excessive facial hair, Owen couldn't distinguish any features beyond the large bulbous nose. The poor gent could have used a little more kindness.

A slight movement of the chest caught Owen's eye, and he sighed with relief. Now to figure out how to move him…

The old man was bulky, and Owen was wounded. Could he rouse him? Would he be able to walk? Owen shook the man by the shoulders. His efforts elicited nothing but a high-pitched groan. Seeing no hope for it, he pulled the man over his shoulder and stood, keeping most of his weight on his uninjured knee.

No longer radiating, the pain in his side now pulsed with each beat of his heart, its intensity growing with his exertion. Getting the old man settled across his shoulder as best he could, Owen took a step toward the street. Dizziness swept through him, and he knew his knee was in worse shape than he wanted to admit. Three blocks would still be manageable. Wouldn't it? A back room in the apothecary's shop housed a clandestine meeting place for agents.

The apothecary was barely three blocks away…

Blast it, what had he been thinking?

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