By Phoenix, via Shereen Vedam
Shereen Vedam is a good friend and fellow member of the local Vancouver Island Romance Writers. It’s my great pleasure to host her cat, Phoenix, from A DEVLISH SLUMBER, a book I highly recommend.
On a cool day in May, 1814, at the back of an alley next to an ale house in London, England, a young boy held me upside down, taunting a society lady who had been cuddling me earlier. Then the boy threw me hard to the ground at a mound of horse manure. I thought I was going die. I yowled in terror, but instead of hitting the hard pavement, I landed in the palm of a strong male hand
Terrified, I clambered up the man’s sleeve and huddled in the crook of his neck, inhaling his musky smoky scent and praying that I would be safe there. You see, people don’t like black cats, not even little ones like me. Moments passed and he talked to the lady in an angry tone. And then the lady took me back into her arms.
Though she was very nice, I had felt safer with the man. I enviously stared at his neck and shoulders as he walked down the street beside us. He looked strong and capable of protecting a little kitten. I wanted to be back up on his shoulder. It wasn’t until later that the lady thrust me at my rescuer and walked away. I quickly scampered up and plastered myself against his neck, and hoped he wouldn’t notice me. I tried not shiver but it was hard because I was so scared. To my shock, he let me stay and even took me home. That is when I claimed him as my new master.
Once we entered the house, the women there said I was filthy and full of fleas. Although I clung to my master’s jacket and waistcoat, they pulled me off and soaked me in a bucket of soapy water. I managed to escape and, for several hours, scurried into every dark corner of the home, from basement to attic, in search of my master. Everywhere I went, the women chased me. Then they lured me closer with a plate of fish. Before I’d swallowed a single morsel, I was back in the bucket of soapy water. I fought back ferociously. By the time my master and I were finally reunited, my attackers were wetter than I, and sported some seriously deep scars that they’ll not soon forget.
No one in that house touches me without permission anymore, and I ride proudly on Master Daniel’s shoulder. I trust no one, except Master Daniel. Trusting is dangerous when you’re a black cat. Most everyone assumes I’m bad luck if they see me cross the road, even though all I’m doing is following my master when he steals a ride on the back of a carriage. And don’t get me started on all those tall tales about witches having black cats for familiars. To be clear, Master Daniel is not a witch! He’s a fire-shifter. Though I’m not crazy about fire, I love it when he starts a flame in the hearth with a snap of his fingers to warm up our attic bedroom.
My life has never been so good. My master ensures I’m always fed, even if sometimes he goes hungry. And he takes me all across London, and I get to climb trees and play in the grass. Though he is definitely not a witch, I have to admit, on the day my master rescued me, I think he cast a spell on me. Because I would follow him anywhere.
How do you feel about black cats? Would you take one home?
One lucky commenter to this blog post will be randomly chosen to win an ecopy of Shereen Vedam’s recent release, A Scorching Dilemma, a Cinderella-inspired Regency paranormal romance.
PREMISE of A Scorching Dilemma
He’s not exactly Prince Charming…
Fire shifter Daniel Trenton has only nightmarish memories of his mysterious past. As an orphan, raised on the streets, he does not have much in the way of prospects, but he is fine with that . . . until he falls in love with the daughter of a duke. Unfortunately, pursuing her would mean her social destruction. So he promises himself to leave her alone for her own good. But when her safety is threatened, Daniel has no choice but to become the hero she so desperately needs.
Heiress Faith Rosemary Went always believed she would be given the choice of who to marry. So why is her father demanding she wed a man she’s never met, a man whose family terrifies her? But when she resists the match, her prospective bridegroom’s family kidnaps her and whisks her away to Gretna Green. Having no one but herself to rely on, she sets off to rescue herself before she’s ruined, or worse. Luckily, she discovers Daniel is already there.
Daniel’s investigation into Faith’s disappearance unravels two decades of lies, multiple murders, and a fire-shifting family history that spans three centuries. His newfound discoveries put him in the position to proudly and rightfully proclaim his place in society and, more importantly, proclaim his love for Faith.
But will he be able to prove the truth before Faith is forced to choose the wrong man?
EXCERPT from A Scorching Dilemma
As Faith took her place, her mother’s smile faltered. “My dear child, whatever has happened to you?”
Faith followed her glance to where the kitten had soiled her gown. And her pristine white shoes were now a grimy brown despite her avoiding the muck in that alley. This was why Mrs. Hutchinson had wanted her to change. She released a sigh. “I am sorry, Mama, but I found a tiny creature in need of rescue.”
Her mother shook her head, but with humor. “Faith, you cannot bring home every stray you find.”
“It has been that way since she was little,” the duke said, his eyes softening. “Faith, you are no longer a child. You cannot continue to run around like a hoyden rescuing puppies.”
“It was a kitten, Papa, and I did not bring it home. I met a kind gentleman who agreed to care for the animal.”
One of her father’s eyebrows shot up.
Faith understood his surprise. She was rarely forward with strange men. Her cheeks warmed at her parents’ silent study of her, and maybe a little from the remembrance of said gentleman.
The entire time Mrs. Hutchinson had been scolding her in the carriage, Faith had been envisioning her rescuer’s sparkling blue eyes and bravery with those young ruffians. And when he reached past her to catch that poor terrified creature in his strong gentle hand, her breath had caught in awe.
“This is reason enough to proceed with our plans,” her father finally said in a stern tone. “Talking to strange men in the street, indeed. And Mrs. Hutchinson allowed this?”
“It was not her fault, Papa.”
“Would you care to tell us about this gentleman?” her mother asked.
“He is irrelevant.” Her father glanced at her mother. “Would you care to give her the good news?”
Good news? Faith had thought something dire had transpired. “What has happened?”
“A very felicitous event, my dear,” her mother said. “Your friends will be jealous when they hear of it. Your father has received a proposal for your hand in marriage.”
Faith gulped as the shock registered. Feeling she was not yet ready for the trials of marriage, she had gone to great pains to dampen the enthusiasm of any gentlemen who courted her. With caution, she said, “From whom, Mama?”
“The Duke of Morton.”
Faith breathed in profound relief. She was not acquainted with this particular gentleman, though she had heard a great deal about him from her friends who had been swooning all Season at a duke coming into marriageable age. But he was not for Faith. Even if he was wealthy and titled, he was far too young. For a moment, her parents had frightened her. She did not even know Morton. “There must be a mistake then, Mama, for I have not been introduced to this gentleman.”
“There is no mistake.” Her father moved from where he had been standing by the window. He looked anxious, as if her response to this offer was of utmost importance.
Faith’s curiosity went on high alert. Her father had never intimated before this that her making a match was urgent. In fact, she had assumed he found her coolness towards her suitors amusing. “Is something the matter, Papa?”
“No,” he said, but skirted her gaze.
“But . . .” Faith protested, worry rising in her chest. Were they seriously considering this proposal?
“We have given you ample opportunity to make a match on your own,” he said, sounding long-suffering. “Two years we waited, Faith, while you smiled at every eligible gentleman but never encouraged one. Though, I might add, you sometimes did a good job of discouraging them.”
“None warranted encouragement, Papa.” Until now. How could she admit that she had finally met a man who commanded her romantic interest but that he was entirely unsuitable? Yet, his act of chivalry this morning marked him as exceptional.
Not only had he saved her kitten, he had then, despite his protests, agreed to take care of it. Faith’s heart warmed at that thought. Though her father had often scolded her about the strays she brought home, he would always turn around and convince one of his parliamentary friends into adopting it. She had thought no other man in this whole world could compare favorably with her father. Today, one had.
“Well, this suitor does merit consideration,” her father said, crossing his arms. “And we have accepted this match on your behalf.”
Accepted? Faith’s heart shuddered.
Writers and authors are also readers and I’m no exception. I read this book and loved it. This is the Amazon link.
Once upon a time, Shereen read fantasy and romance novels to entertain herself. Now she writes heartwarming tales braided with threads of magic and love, and mystery elements woven in for good measure. She’s a fan of resourceful women, intriguing men, and happily ever after endings. If her stories whisk you away to a different realm for a few hours, then Shereen will have achieved one of her life goals.
If you wish to learn more about Shereen’s very own black cat, check out her post on USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog: