Sea of Fire - Excerpt
Copyright 2018 Carol A. Caldwell All rights reserved.
    "Pardon for the intrusion.  I have been waiting a long time for your return.  
I'm Christian Corbett Traynor.  I understand you were the last one of late to
see my twin--my brother.
    "Adam?  Adam is your brother?"  She glanced at his dark hair and studied
his face.  "You look nothing like Adam."
    "Be God, I'll say ye don't," Hannah spoke out and added, "Yet ye're easy on
the eye, too."
    "Hannah," Elizabeth said and flushed.  "Please leave us.  We'll be in the
parlor.  Mister Traynor will be staying only momentarily."
Hannah nodded, but hesitantly left the entryway as they entered the parlor.  
    "We're fraternal twins."  Christian now appeared annoyed and abruptly got
to the point.  "I stopped at our family town house first.  The housekeeper said
she hadn't seen Adam for over two months.  Has he been residing here?"  He
eyed her from head to toe, and added, "as your guest."
    Had he not clarified the question, she would have personally thrown him out
the door.  "Sir.  He is not living here as my guest.  Odd as it seems, he hasn't
told me where he lodges nor have I heard so.  Perhaps you should check with
some other friends of his."
    "I already have, and I get the same answer.  No one seems to have seen him
for two months.  As luck would have it, I was at the Crow Street Theatre and
happened to ask a mutual acquaintance about Adam.  Walter Bloomfield
overheard us and suggested I talk to you.  He said you were friends with his
fiancee, Charlotte, and stated that Adam had been courting you for some time.  
The strange part about this whole conversation was that our mutual
acquaintance asked me and Walter Bloomfield why Adam kept the woman he
was courting such a mystery, and why he had chosen the same time to drop out
of the social circle."
    Elizabeth turned away from the handsome man's scrutiny.  It had disturbed
her that Adam had not wanted for them to participate in any social affairs yet.  
They attended suppers and small, private socials with Charlotte and her friends,
but not with any of his friends.
   "I saw your brother last night," Elizabeth said, "however, where he is now is
a curiosity to myself, as well."
    "Woman!  How can you court a man and know so little about him?  And
what of your father and mother?  Surely, your father would have wanted to
know more about him?"  Clearly irritated, he angrily fisted one hand into the
other and paced the floor before her.  "I'm sure Adam must have met with an
accident or has lost his memory.  Why else would he court you this way under
these conditions?"  He stopped pacing and waited for her reply.
    Outraged and stunned by the man's insult, Elizabeth immediately said, "We
had an agreement.  He wanted me to know him for himself before he shared
who he was.  Nay, I didn't question him.  I sensed he was in need of this time
before he shared his family and past.  He was always a gentleman, and I granted
this request.  My father knew his background, but said Adam wanted to tell me
about himself."
    Her anger reached its pinnacle.  She poked him in the chest.  "Perhaps you
can enlighten me.  Who are you Traynors that you must keep secrets?  Or, as
I'm beginning to wonder, are you all a bit loony?"
    Christian held his hands behind his back and was about to speak when
Hannah entered the parlor once more.  "Bethy, I must speak to you."
    "Perhaps now would be a good time for you to see yourself out the door,"
Elizabeth told him.
    "We're far from done."  He stood his grounds.
Elizabeth frowned.  She pulled Hannah a short distance away into the entryway
and whispered, "What is it?"
    "This came by courier earlier.  I was going to give it to ye after the man left,
but maybe this will help ye both."  She handed Elizabeth a sealed envelope.  
"Perhaps this is about your father, or from Adam."
    Elizabeth nervously opened the missive and silently read its contents.
Next instant, she flung the message aside and grabbed the object nearest to her,
which happened to be a crystal vase that sat on the entryway table, returned to
the parlor, and charged Christian.  He saw her unexpected wrath and the vase
come towards his head.  He captured her wrists and knocked the intended
weapon from her hands.  It missed the carpet and hit the wooden floor with a
crash before it shattered into pieces.
   "Dam you and your brother," she shrieked.  Tears started to pool in her
eyes, but she blinked them away.  She'd not let this man know the true extent
of her sudden pain.
    He dragged her by the wrists a few steps towards Hannah, who had picked up
the note.  "Give me the letter," he demanded of her.
    "Aye.  Please do, Hannah," Elizabeth said, holding back a sob.  "Let him
read for himself that his brother is not only a scoundrel, but a black-hearted
murderer as well."