First Page Friday: Chills

There is never a good time to get bad news and my novel Chills, Book 1 of the Distinguished Rogues series, starts with bad news and goes down hill from there. Constance Grange gets the bad news of her impossible finances while visiting the Marquess of Ettington’s sister in London. I’m sharing my first page for your reading pleasure with a link to the full three chapter excerpt at the end. Enjoy.

Constance Grange tucked a stray, dark curl behind her ear and stared at the numbers on the page until they blurred into meaningless shapes. “This simply must be some sort of terrible mistake?”

She liked the indistinct blobs far better than the appalling amount of debt accumulated since her father’s death. No matter which way she looked at the single sheet, her small family was in a precarious position.

“As far as I can tell, this is the bulk of your extravagances,” Mr. Medley assured her.

Constance gripped the page until it bent to fit the contours of her fingers. Medley, her family’s man-of-business, had followed her to the Marquess of Ettington’s London residence to demand payments she did not have. She had come to visit Virginia, not to deal with another parental mess. She wished he had waited to deliver his bad tidings on her return home. Could he not have waited a mere six days?

He placed a leather-strapped box onto Constance’s lap without her pardon, smiling in a way that hardly reassured. It sat awkwardly on her knees, but she opened the lid to examine the untidy stack of papers contained within.

To Mrs. Peabody of Sutton Place, one thousand pounds, Faro. The bill dated February, 20.

She prayed the stiff paper would turn to dust once exposed to light. When it didn’t, she set the bill aside and read the next.

Mrs. Brampton of Currant Place five hundred and five pounds, Whist. This one dated January, 16.

Constance laid the promissory note atop the first and delved into the stack of papers. Aside from debts to her mama’s so-called friends, there were outstanding bills to almost every tradesman in Sunderland. The tally was a huge blow. Constance could not afford the luxury of visiting withVirginia now. At the rate her mama was going, they would need to sell their home to repay even half the debt. Thank heavens it was not entailed.

When she reached the bottom, Constance stared at the fine, timber grain before methodically returning each sheet of parchment. She closed the lid tight.

The embarrassment was overwhelming. She couldn’t meet Virginia’s gaze. “You said there might be more?”

To continue reading more from Chills, click the link for the first three chapters.

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