This Winter Heart was my very first steampunk story. I was ecstatic when it was selected for the Clockwork Christmas anthology. Critics complained there wasn’t enough Christmas in the story, which is kind of true. And is probably the reason why I followed it up with a free short prequel that was more Christmasy–and which featured cookies! Apparently, I write a lot of stories involving cookies. It could practically be my niche! Here’s an excerpt from This Winter Heart, which is available for only .99 If that’s a bargain, The Clockwork Christmas anthology–which is available for only 1.99–is an absolute steal. Links below!
Candlelight glimmered in the gold of his wife’s hair and Dario could not keep his gaze from straying down the length of the dining room table to where she sat, quietly chatting with her son over supper. He’d never expected to see her seated here again, presiding over his table as she used to do. Yet here she was once more, just as in seasons past.
How many nights had he sat here reveling in the sight of her—her exquisite beauty, her ineffable grace—anticipating the night to come, when he’d have her once more in his bed…
“And Papa said we might go riding together sometime too,” Arthur confided in eager tones. Dario started, his attention captured by the unexpected appellation.
“Did he now?” There was a distinctly hesitant note in Ophelia’s voice. She shot a fearful glance in Dario’s direction. Arthur appeared not to notice his mother’s concern.
“Yes, and I met his horse—Leveche—and he told me what her name means and…” His voice trailed off and then he, too, glanced nervously in Dario’s direction. “It is all right that I call you that, isn’t it, sir?”
Dario ground his teeth, uncomfortably aware of those two sets of eyes trained so anxiously on his face. Arthur’s eyes pleaded with him to say yes. What Ophelia’s eyes had to say about the matter he didn’t know, for he refused to meet them.
His initial instinct was to deny the boy’s request, to insist he address him more formally; but then he reconsidered. Where was the harm in it, really? As long as he kept them here on his estate, shielded from the busybodies and the gossips, why not indulge the boy?
“Certainly,” he said at last and hurriedly returned to his meal, unwilling to be drawn into any more of their conversations. He could not, however, resist taking one quick look at Ophelia’s face. The smile that curved her lips, the radiant gleam in her eyes as she gazed back at him caused his breath to hitch and his chest to grow tight. She’d always affected him like this and suddenly he wanted nothing more than to indulge himself, as well—to have his wife once more in his bed, to see if he could not give her cause to smile at him several more times before the morning broke.
Dario paused, shocked by the direction his own thoughts had taken. His wife? Could he even call her that anymore, knowing her for what she was? On the other hand, wasn’t that precisely how he did still think of her? Annoyed with himself, his appetite gone, Dario slammed his fork down on the table.
He should have divorced her long ago. Religion be damned. She’d been absolutely right to have questioned his motives this morning. He’d been lying to himself for far too long.
She was no one’s wife. He did not wish to bed her.
He groaned softly. It had been hard enough trying to pretend that was the case with her gone. Sitting here face to face, it was completely useless. No matter how many times he repeated the same empty lies, he still could not make his heart believe them.
The prolonged silence finally penetrated his confusion and he looked up to find two gazes trained upon him once again.
“Is there something wrong with the roast?” Ophelia asked after a moment, in a tone of polite concern.
Dario shook his head. His teeth ground together. He was happy to allow his anger to overpower the longing he felt for her; it was by far the easier emotion to deal with. Who was she to be inquiring into anything pertaining to his household? She was no longer the mistress here. She was nothing now but a…a casual dinner guest. He glanced at her almost empty plate. A dinner guest whose appetite was clearly unaffected by the awkwardness of their situation. For some reason, that angered him even more.
This Winter Heart
Eight years ago, Ophelia Leonides’s husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she was. Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to Dario for help raising the child she never told him about.
Dario is furious that Ophelia has returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son – after all, he thought his wife was barren. But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays at his villa. While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love him back.
But Dario is wrong: Ophelia’s emotions are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her. Unsure if she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature…
Buy Links at: https://www.pgforte.com/winter-hearts
This Winter Night
Newlyweds Dario and Ophelia Leonides are passionately in love. The only things marring their happiness are Lia’s homesickness and continued inability to conceive a child.
Dario would do anything to make Lia smile again. He’s hoping to use the miraculous technology his father-in-law has pioneered, combined with the magic inherent in his native land. But calling upon the forces of Kokopeli may have unintended consequences.
This prequel to This Winter Heart is available as a FREE READ. Click HERE for download.
We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.
Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi