Monday, November 14, 2005

Voting begins today!

The first round of the American Title II contest begins today! I'm nervous, excited and mainly just plain happy to be included with such a great group of talented writers. To vote please go to:

Here's a sneak peek at what happens after my first line.

The War Bride
by Maria Geraci

January, 1815
On the Coast of Northern Spain

Miles Mountkeefe had seen men die before, but that was on the battlefield where it was expected.

This was not.

He clamped his hand over the bullet hole in his partner's chest. Blood seeped through his fingers, covering his knuckles with its sticky warmth. He had arrived too late. Paul Beauchamp was going to die.

The realization snapped him out of the odd lethargy humming through his veins. He tore the cravat off his neck and bunched the silk strip into a tight wad, pressing it over the gurgling wound. “Who did this?”

“Please,” Beauchamp sputtered. “Tess, give her…”

The cravat, which only seconds ago had glowed white under the full moon, was now a dark crimson.

A slap of cold salt water hit Miles in the face. The wave smashed over Beauchamp's listless body. It soaked the cravat, washing a stream of blood back into the ocean. He grabbed Beauchamp under his arms and dragged him away from the shoreline causing Beauchamp to moan in protest. Damn it! He knew better than this. Moving his partner would only hasten the inevitable.

Miles gulped in a lungful of the sharp sea air hoping it would clear his muddied brain. A dark haze lingered on the edge of his vision. His mouth felt as if it was stuffed with cotton. What was wrong with him?

“Give Tess…” Beauchamp's words faded beneath the roar of the crashing waves.

Miles fell to his knees. “Give her what?” he asked, struggling to keep his voice from shaking. Miles had been scheduled to meet Rodriquez tonight--not Beauchamp. He glanced at the Spaniard lying a few feet away. Rodriquez had been shot once through the head. Dead, even before Miles had arrived.

“Mess… age.” Beauchamp dragged his hand inside the lining of his jacket. “Please, give…” His limp fingers fell away empty.

Miles reached inside Beauchamp's jacket and pulled out a folded sheet of paper secured with a wax seal. “This letter is for your wife?”

Beauchamp's voice rallied with a harsh strength. “Yes… but only you must deliver it. Tell Tess, I’m sorry… so sorry.”

Miles stared at the note in his hand. Blood had tainted one edge of the paper.

“Promise me, Mountkeefe.” Beauchamp’s final words faded into the wind.

Miles pocketed the note and crawled to the edge of the water. His fingers dug into the wet sand as the overcooked veal he had eaten earlier came up to revisit.

He waited for the dizziness to pass, then shoved his hands in the water, scrubbing them until the salt stung his flesh raw. He stood and dragged the sleeve of his jacket over his damp mouth.

He would give this note to Beauchamp's wife.

But not until he discovered who had betrayed them tonight.


Gina Black said...

Maria--you know I love this opening!

MariaGeraci said...

Thanks, Gina!

Remember helping me with it a long while back? Seems like eons ago!

I love your excerpt, too!

Lots of hugs going out to you today!!

erin said...

I'm totally hooked Maria!! ¿Cu├índo me dejas leer el resto?

Mel Francis said...

Hey Erin--I can tell you what happens :)

Jessica said...


I rec'd this through a fwd from someone who knows someone who knows you...make sense? I love historical romances!! How did you do it? What was the research like? How did you find the right words for the time period? I have started several pages of many different ideas I have had for my own book...but I get stuck on the details of the time period...The Ton, breeches, habits, etc...! I'd love to chat! My email is

Good work!

MariaGeraci said...

Thanks, Jessica!

I see from your email you're a fellow Nole! Look for my email message where we can talk some more.



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