Here’s Chapter 1 of The Key with Hearts, available now at online distributors everywhere: Amazon / Kobo / B & N & many more.
Friday, 3 September 1813 ~ Myers Buckland manor and estate in Wiltshire, England
The little dog nosed along the edge of the bricked planters. His white tail wagged, excitement quivering through his whole body. He sniffed at every speck, whether dirt or leaf or twig. Brightly colored ribbons, tied tightly together to create a long leash, trailed over his back and the terrace’s paving stones.
His sniffing increased. He growled. His short nose swept across the slate-colored pavers. He retreated several steps as he tracked the scent, then followed it back to the grass. The clipped grass tickled his nose. He strained against the ribbon leash as he dug at the stones, as if the pavers were the edge of a cairn hiding a vicious rodent. Then his head popped up. Ears pricked forward. Dark eyes stared at the high hedge with its thick branches of boxwoods.
He glanced behind him at the woman holding one end of his tether. They had ended their walk by traversing the maze. Throughout their tour of the garden, she seemed distracted, barely attending to his tugs on the leash. Now her gaze focused on the drive that swept from the parkland. The gravel turned into a gentle curve as it approached the manor’s forecourt. The little terrier sniffed the air. Then he lunged forward.
The leash held him back. He strained against it then lunged again, but his paws didn’t find grass beneath him. His claws scrabbled on the pavers. He barked.