This week’s guest post and book giveaway come from Daniella Burnett. For the giveaway, she’s offering a copy of her latest novel, Old Sins Never Die.
If you’d like to enter the drawing for a free copy of Old Sins Never Die, just email Daniella at DMBernett@yahoo.com with “Book Giveaway” in the subject line.
And you can sample her work right here and right now! Look below for the excerpt from the book.
Old Sins Never Die is about treason and blackmail. It’s set in London, the Lake District and Scotland.
In this scene, journalist Emmeline Kirby and her husband Gregory Longdon, a former jewel thief, are at a party where Lord Starrett will donate some jewels to a museum. Emmeline’s waiting to meet with Russian ballerina Anastasia Tarasova, who has promised to give her compromising information on shipping magnate Noel Rallis, who’s her sister Sabrina’s lover.
Emmeline kept peeking at her watch. Really, the hands were moving excruciatingly slowly this evening.
“Your husband appears to be drooling over the jewels,” a silky voice whispered over her right shoulder. “It’s rather unwise for Lord Starrett to have invited a thief into his home. All manner of things could go missing before the night is out.”
She knew, even before she shifted her head to look up at him, that it was Noel Rallis.
She cleared her throat. “My husband is the chief investigator for Symington’s. He’s here tonight to ensure that nothing happens to Lord Starrett’s jewels.”
Rallis threw his head back and laughed. His voice dipped an octave. “We all know what he is, no matter how much you turn a blind eye to the truth, Emmeline.”
Her back stiffened at sound of her name on his lips. “A man in your position shouldn’t cast aspersions.”
He leaned his head closer, his mouth curving into a lupine smile. “And what position would that be exactly?”
She took a step backward and felt her shoulder blades brush against the door frame behind her. She slid a sideways glance to her left. She saw Gregory’s gaze fixed on her and Rallis. Her husband gave an imperceptible shake of his head, but there was nothing he could do. He was trapped at Starrett’s side.
She returned her attention to Rallis. “A man on trial for murder should be more circumspect. Haven’t you already attracted enough negative publicity?”
“And whose fault is that? The Clarion is worst of the bunch. Your stories in particular, my dear Emmeline, have caused no end of trouble for me and my businesses.”
She smiled. “Have they? You were given an opportunity to tell your side of the story. You didn’t respond to any of my voicemails and your office said you had no comment. Since you’re here now and don’t appear to be in a rush—” She opened her clutch and drew out her notebook. She flipped to a clean page. “—Would you care to make a statement about your murder trial and recent rumors about criminal activity being perpetrated by your company?”
A dark shadow fell across Rallis’s face. “Listen to me, you nosy cow.” All pretense at charm was abandoned. “The trial is a farce. A waste of taxpayer money. The Crown has no case. The whole thing is driven by jealousy.”
Emmeline scribbled in her notebook. “That’s your statement? Surely the police and the prosecutor must have had some sort of evidence to bring the case to trial,” she replied in dulcet tones.
With one swift gesture, he swatted the notebook out of her hand. “I’m not making a statement. I’m telling it to you like it is. The case will be dropped because there is no evidence.”
She bent and calmly scooped up her notebook.
When she straightened up, she continued with her questions as if the incident hadn’t occurred. “So confident about the trial being dismissed? I wonder why that is.”
“You’d better stop wondering about me and concentrate on your own life. Haven’t you heard about the shocking trend these days? Journalists around the world are dying while on assignment. Such dedication to the job is admirable. It’s also foolish.”
Emmeline drew in a sharp breath. “If you’re trying to frighten me off the story, Mr. Rallis, you can forget it. I don’t scare easily.”
He clapped his hands together. “Such brave words. Do you rehearse them in front of a mirror to get the inflection just right?”
Emmeline closed her notebook and tucked it back into her clutch. “I see that this is an exercise in futility, since you still refuse to give a statement,” she said crisply. “You can’t very well have it both ways, Mr. Rallis. You can’t complain about the stories being printed, if you choose to remain silent. Or is that what your lawyer advised because he was afraid you might say something that could incriminate you?”
The smile on his lips didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m as innocent as a newborn lamb.” He leaned in close again, his warm breath brushing her cheek. “Mark my words. The prosecutor is going to regret bringing this case to court to his dying day.” Then, he drew himself up to his full height. “I can’t say it’s been a pleasure meeting you, but at least you know where we stand.” He paused, his smile widening.
She stood staring at his retreating back. She would not allow herself to cower in fear.
Right. She had a job to do.
Time to meet Tarasova to get the dirt on Rallis.
Emmeline backed away slowly, trying not to attract anyone’s attention as she attempted to make her escape upstairs. Her gaze roamed over the room. In the few minutes since Rallis had left her side, Gregory had disappeared. Probably he was with Lord Starrett. At least, she hoped he was with Starrett and not waiting for her in the master bedroom to confront Tarasova. She’d kill him if he were.
She slipped into the corridor. It was only a few feet to the staircase. She was about to make a dash up the stairs, when two middle-aged women chose that moment to pop out of the dining room. Emmeline hastily stepped in front of the mirror, pretending to pat a stray curl into place. Of course, this gave them an idea and they decided to check their hair.
Emmeline cast a longing glance at the staircase and groaned inwardly. Get a move on, her brain screamed at the women. But no, they lingered there in corridor gossiping about another guest.
Emmeline rolled her eyes at the ceiling and silently cursed them to perdition.
How could she get rid of them? An idea struck her. Somehow the contents of her clutch tumbled to the floor and pooled around their feet.
“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she murmured. “I’m terribly sorry.” She gave them a sheepish grin.
They returned her smile and stepped out of the way. “That’s all right, my dear.” And off they went, at last.
With one sweep of her hand, Emmeline stuffed her belongings back into her clutch save for her notebook and pen. She tucked her clutch behind a vase on the console table. She would retrieve it later. In the interim, she would say that she had mislaid it and went searching for it in case anyone caught her wandering somewhere she ought not to be.
It was now or never. She took the stairs two at a time.
She hesitated for a fraction of a second on the landing and tossed a furtive glance over her shoulder. But no one had seen her.
However, out of the corner of her eye she caught a flicker of movement. When she turned her head, she saw Sabrina, in a rustle of silk, slipping through the second door on the right.
What the devil was Sabrina doing up here?
In a lather of anger, irritation, and bewilderment at the lack of plausible answers, she tiptoed down the corridor.
She flung open the door to the master bedroom and collided with Sabrina, who backed into her.
Sabrina put a hand to her mouth. “Oh, my God.”
Emmeline followed her gaze. She stood transfixed, when it came to rest on the still form of Tarasova draped across the bed, her smoky blue eyes frozen open for eternity and her lips parted as if she were about to say something—but only the angels would hear her now. Or was it the devil?
Bile rose to Emmeline’s throat, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the lifeless body. By her side, Sabrina was trembling.
She and threw an arm around Sabrina’s waist. “Come on. Pull yourself together. We’ve got to—”
The rest of her sentence died on her lips and her mouth went dry. For the first time, she realized that they were not alone in the room.
Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America New York Chapter and the International Thriller Writers. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Lead Me Into Danger, Deadly Legacy, From Beyond The Grave, A Checkered Past, When Blood Runs Cold and Old Sins Never Die are the books in the Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure. Visit www.daniellabernett.com or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008802318282 or on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/40690254-daniella-bernett.