Welcome back to our site to during the Halloween Character Booktacular celebration. OUaT's day to post is every Weds during October. You can follow the full schedule HERE. This event is hosted by A Book Lovers Review and Good Choice Reading.
Today's author that we are featuring wrote a book I just recently fell hard for. Elizabeth Richard and that book is called BLACK CITY. To stay in the theme of Halloween, Elizabeth wrote a special scene for her fans.
In her spare time, she ran a successful lifestyle website aimed at teenage girls, where she got to interview many of her favourite bands, go to gigs and basically blag loads of free swag all in the name of ‘research’.
Elizabeth lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with her husband. Black City is her debut novel.
Things that go bump in the night (Elizabeth Richards – Black City)
LADY OF THE MANOR
“Why didn’t you tell me I look stupid?” Day moans, as she checks her pumpkin outfit in the tarnished full-length mirror.
“I think you look cute,” I reply, trying not to laugh at her bright orange face.
She throws me a poisonous stare.
I sit down on the plush four-poster bed, sending a plume of dust into the air. Everything in the mansion is covered in a thin layer of ash from the air-raids that destroyed Black City last year, but even so the elegant bedroom still has a haunting beauty to it. On the dressing table to my right is a jewelry box, some phials of perfume, and a few other dust-covered objects including an ornate silver candlestick. My eyes are drawn to a large portrait hanging over the dressing table of a young woman with silken black hair and ebony eyes, wearing a scarlet dress. Even though she’s smiling, something about her eyes seems so sad.
Day sighs, looking at the woman in the painting. “It must be wonderful being rich.”
“It’s overrated,” I reply, plucking a loose black thread from my dress. “What time did the boys say they’ll get here?”
“Nine o’clock,” Day replies.
I check my antique watch. “They should be here any minute, then.”
“What?” Day says, alarmed. “I can’t let Beetle see me like this! I need to change.”
“Into what?” I say.
She waddles over to the ornate mahogany wardrobe in her pumpkin costume and throws open the cupboard doors. She lets out a squeak of fright as several moths flutter out. I giggle. Inside the wardrobe is an array of silken bustle gowns, their jewel colored fabrics glimmering in the warm light, cast by the crystal chandelier above us.
“The lady of the manor must’ve left them here when they were evacuated,” I say, joining her by the wardrobe.
Day pulls out a scarlet dress with a corseted bodice and long bustle train – the same dress the woman in the portrait is wearing.
She grins. “This is more like it.”
“You can’t take that!” I reply.
She rolls her eyes. “Oh come on, Natalie. It’s just a dress. What’s the worst that can happen?”
“You shouldn’t say things like that on Halloween.”
Day pretends to look scared. “Ooooh, the Lady of the Manor is going to get me.”
Day shuffles into the en suite bathroom, while I look through the rest of the wardrobe, running my hands over the expensive silk dresses. I’m surprised they weren’t taken – no typical Sentry woman would leave her designer clothes behind, even if the city were being bombed!
A pair of cool hands slips over my eyes, startling me.
“Boo,” Ash whispers in my ear.
“You scared me,” I laugh, spinning around.
He gazes softly down at me, his black hair spilling over his dark, glimmering eyes. My heart fumbles.
Standing beside him is his best friend, Beetle. He’s wearing our red-and-black school uniform, and his usually scruffy brown hair has been carefully coiffed, so he looks just like the head prefect in our class, Gregory Thompson.
“Terrifying,” I say to him.
Ash slides a hand around my waist, pulling me toward him.
“I missed you,” he whispers.
I roll onto my tiptoes and kiss him. The second our lips touch, a spark of electricity shoots into my heart, making my pulse flutter. I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to that!
“Urgh, get a room you two,” Day says, emerging from the en suite.
I reluctantly break our kiss and glance at Day. “We’re in a room.”
“Preferably one I’m not in, I meant,” she says. “You know I hate it when people get all smoochy in public.”
Beetle grabs her and kisses her on the cheek. She playfully slaps him away.
He whistles appreciatively at Day. “Woah, that dress is something else.”
“Do you like it?” She spins around, making the bottom of her dress fan out. “I’m the Lady of the Manor.”
I have to admit, Day’s the spitting image of the woman in the portrait, apart from the little smudge of orange face-paint still on her cheek. Beetle licks his thumb and rubs it off for her, grinning.
Out the corner of my eye I notice Ash lift something off the dressing table and slide it into his jacket pocket, although I don’t see what it is. I raise a questioning brow at him, but he just smiles innocently back at me. It was probably an old brooch or something that he hopes to pawn at Mr. Tubs’ shop. I don’t say anything. I know he needs the money, and I’d rather he gets it this way than dealing Haze.
“And who are you supposed to be?” Ash asks, eyeing my scarlet lips and severe black dress.
“My mother,” I reply. “There’s nothing scarier than her.”
I study his regular shirt and pants, frowning. “And you’ve come as…?”
“Me,” he says.”
“That’s cheating!” I say.
“No it’s not.” A smile tugs at his lips, revealing the tips of his fangs. “I’m the thing that goes bump in the night, after all.”
I shake my head, laughing.
We sit down in a circle on the rug in front of the four-poster bed. Beetle takes out a small bottle of Shine from his jacket pocket and passes it around the group. I only take a little sip, as I’m not supposed to drink because of my medication, before handing the bottle to Day.
“So, does anyone know any spooky stories?” Beetle says.
“Yeah, I have one about this very manor in fact,” Ash says, then adds in a low whisper: “Apparently this bedroom is haunted.”
“No it’s not,” Day says, edging toward Beetle.
“Why did you think I suggested we come here?” Ash says. “The Lady of the Manor and her lover were brutally murdered by her jealous husband, right where we’re sitting.”
Day eyes the rug nervously. “You’re lying.”
“No he’s not,” I say playing along. “I remember my housemaid Martha telling me all about it. It was terrible. The guy who did it used to work in the science labs with Doctor Craven.”
Ash gives me a secret smile.
Day passes the Shine to Beetle, who takes a long swig, already a little rattled, as Ash begins his tale.
“Miriam Greaves was a young, beautiful woman, who was beloved by all who knew her, apart from one man: her husband, Alan—a selfish and ambitious man, who only cared about wealth and accumulating more possessions,” Ash says.
“Sounds like a typical Sentry,” Beetle mutters.
I scowl at him.
“Heartbroken, lonely and angry at her husband, Miriam sought solace in the arms of another man—Alan’s younger brother, Edward,” Ash continues. “It originally started as a fling, but as the months drew on, Miriam found herself falling in love with Edward. She realized he was the brother she should’ve married all along.”
“Aw, that’s so sad,” Day says.
I stifle a laugh. Where does he come up with this stuff?
“But Alan was a violent and jealous man, and even though he didn’t love his wife, she knew he would never agree to a divorce,” Ash continues. “So one day, Miriam and Edward decided to run away together. She pawned her diamond engagement ring to get the money to pay for their train tickets to Centrum, and knowing her husband would be working late, told Edward to meet her here at nine o’clock that night.”
I look up at the portrait of Miriam Greaves and at the sadness simmering in her ebony eyes. I can almost believe Ash’s story.
“Unfortunately for Miriam and Edward, that same eve the government begun the air-raids on bomb Black City,” Ash says. “As soon as the bombs started to drop, Alan raced home—not to warn his wife, but to start packing up his precious belongings. He went straight to the bedroom to collect his wife’s diamond engagement ring, not realizing she’s sold it, and that’s when he saw Miriam and his brother kissing under this very chandelier.”
We all glance up at the crystal light. I small shiver runs down my spine.
“Alan threw into a violent rage and murdered his brother with a silver candlestick, before strangling Miriam,” Ash says.
Day eyes the candlestick on the dressing table. “Not that candlestick?”
Ash nods. “Alan rolled their lifeless bodies in the bed-sheets and threw them in the canal. When questioned where his wife and brother where, he claimed that they’d both tragically perished during the air-raids,” Ash says. “No one doubted his word, not even when their Darkling housemaid came forward and said she had witnessed the whole thing. No one believed her of course, but that’s how the story got out.”
“That’s terrible,” Day whispers.
“Every night since then, at exactly nine-sixteen—the time she was murdered—the ghost of Miriam Greaves returns this room, in the hopes that one day her husband will come back for her diamond ring, and she can enact her revenge,” Ash says.
I check my watch. “Ash…it’s nine-sixteen now.”
He looks at me with mock fear and I try really hard not to laugh.
The chandelier above us suddenly flickers.
I look up, alarmed.
“What was that?” Day says.
“Maybe it’s the Lady of the Manor’s ghost?” Beetle says.
“Yeah, she wants her dress back,” Ash teases.
“Don’t say that,” Day replies.
“There’s no such thing as ghosts, babes,” Beetle says, putting his arm around her.
The light dims again.
His face pales.
“The wiring in these places must be shot-to-pieces after the bombing,” Beetle says. “I’m sure it’s nothing.”
The lights turn out, plunging us into total darkness. Day lets out a squeak of fright.
“What’s going on?” I say, gripping Ash’s arm, genuinely afraid now.
“I don’t know,” Ash replies. “Maybe a fuse has-”
The lights suddenly flare on again, making my heart leap into my mouth.
“I want to leave,” Day says, standing up.
“Don’t be daft,” Beetle says. “There’s nothing to worry abo-”
All the lights in the room suddenly flash on and off.
“I’m getting the fragg outta here, bro!” Beetle says, darting for the door.
“Matthias Jones, don’t you dare leave me here!” Day says, running after him.
As soon as they’re gone, Ash turns around and bursts out laughing.
“What is it?” I say.
He takes something small and metal out of his jacket pocket.
A dimmer switch remote! So that’s what he took off the dressing table?
“It was you turning the lights on and off all along?” I say.
He smirks, standing up. “I had to get rid of them somehow.”
I giggle as he sweeps me up into his arms.
“How about we test out that bed?” he says.
“I thought you’d never ask,” I whisper. “Happy Halloween, Ash.”
“Happy Halloween, blondie,” he replies, kicking the bedroom door shut behind us.
Black City Chronicles #1
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Reading Level: YA
Release Date: November 13th 2012
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Available: Amazon • BN.com • IndieBound
Summary: A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.
In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
Yes your welcome, I know you all enjoyed the special treat for Halloween from Elizabeth. Let her know how much you love it on Twitter or Facebook. Read the rafflecopter terms and conditions below. Don't forget... you can also enter to win a Kindle + $25 Amazon gift card just for following the tour! Full details over at Good Choice Reading or A Book Lovers Review!
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