Do bizarre and unusual mysteries only occur in imaginary tales? Amateur sleuth Winifred Merryweather, along with dashing newspaper reporter Remington Hawthorne, find themselves in the throes of a real life mystery when they're plunged in the bowels of a dark and ancient castle. Booby-traps abound with disappearing floors, hidden sliding panels, and spider-webbed shadowy corridors. Danger threatens to steal Winifred's very breath -- or is that the annoying allure of Remington's flirtatious charms?
The Miss Mae Site
She slumped against the wall, sucking down gulps of air. Leaning back, Winifred swallowed hard, her throat constricting. No sound reached her but the echo of her thundering heart vibrating against her eardrums.
Where am I? What is this place?
She forced herself to scan the narrow hallway from whence she’d come. Two small lamps anchored in garish wrought iron sconces warred to dispel elongated shadows. She looked in the other direction and saw the same view. Except at the very end of the murky corridor, a flash of gold color glinted off a brass doorknob.
Winifred pushed away from the wall. Her footfalls, though light and careful, amplified in the tunnel-like closeness. She paused and cast a wary look across her shoulder. Halfway expecting to glimpse a pursuer, she saw nothing but the length of the dimly lit passageway behind.
Fingers tightening round the brass knob, she flung the door wide. A windowless, unfurnished room lay before her, lit only by one hissing gas lamp. A repetitive ticking drew her attention to the far wall. About six feet above the floor hung a nondescript clock. Like all the rooms she’d already visited, it alone provided the only adornment.
“Am I going in circles?” she whispered under her breath. “Everything is the same. Halls that lead nowhere, empty rooms that contain nothing but this mindless, endless drone.” She looked again at the clock, slapping her hands over her ears to shut out its continual voice.
Get hold of yourself. Think logically.
A low growl whined from beneath her feet. Floorboards rattled. She leaped back, latching onto the wall to steady herself. The room door swung shut with a loud slam and the hall lamps flickered like an invisible gust of wind sought to extinguish them.
But I felt no breeze.
Before she could ferret out an explanation for the bizarre moment, the noise stopped as suddenly as it’d come. The floor’s vibration calmed and the lamps returned to their original low flames. She furrowed her forehead in thought.
Another question with no answer.
Crossing her arms over her chest, she drummed her fingers against her left elbow. Should she return back the way she’d come? But she already knew what lay behind. No option presented itself except to go forward. With a slight shrug, she reached again for the doorknob, halting in the open threshold. She blinked, narrowing her vision for a closer look at the wall clock.
I say. I’m positive that had a blue case. So why is it now green?
Frowning, she surveyed the room. Only a moment ago, it stood empty. Now, a pair of drapes covered a section of the far wall. Without hesitation, she crossed over and parted them. Her brow arched in critical speculation.
Curtains that conceal a doorway? As dear Alice in Wonderland would say, ‘Curiouser and curiouser.’
“Obviously, I’m supposed to go through here.” She gave a decisive nod. “So be it.” No sooner did she touch the knob than the door snapped open with an explosive pop. A man filled the frame, staring at her from a pair of the most beautiful eyes she’d ever seen.
“At last!” His voice jolted her with its distinctive deepness. Before she had time to wonder if maybe her corset’s tight lacing had burst a seam, he spoke again. “There’s a real human in this lunatic house.” His head lowered as he leaned swiftly toward her, his eyes—aqua blue, accented with the blackest of pupils—peering intently into her face. “Or am I meeting my abductor?”
Stepping back, she drew herself up to her best height that barely topped his broad shoulders. She tilted her head to look up at him. “Not at all, sir. By your exclamation, I’m led to believe you’ve been wandering these endless hallways for perhaps as long as I.”
He entered the room and glanced at the clock. “For an hour, yes. I woke up at half past six.”
“Woke up? As in drugged to sleep?”
He spun on his booted heel to throw her a hard stare. “And how do you know that?”
She gave a faint smile. “Thirty minutes ago I, too, woke up.”
“Ah.” Comprehension slid across his rugged features. “You’ve also been apprehended.”
“I have. The whole experience has left me with a distasteful bit of nausea, I might add.”
“Hmm.” After a slight hesitation, the man raised his hat, flourishing it in a gentlemanly bow. “Allow me to introduce myself. Remington Hawthorne at your service.”
The ease and grace that he exhibited, along with the sight of his attractive, closely cropped, sandy blond hair captured her undivided attention. Attributing her unexpected rush of faintness to the lingering effects of her drugged state, she lowered her lids and covertly studied his lean frame. The tailored cut of his black suede frock coat outlined the shape of his broad chest and the charcoal gray trousers fit snugly down a pair of long, well-formed legs.
He’s certainly up to date on fashion and shows manners characteristic of good breeding.
Settling his hat at a cocky angle over his right brow, Remington sketched an amused smile. “And you are?”
“Winifred Merryweather,” she said, narrowing her eyes in annoyance.
And he apparently believes he’s the devil of a charmer.
Copyright 2010 by Miss Mae