Mirror Mazeby Michaele Jordan
Jacob Aldridge is still utterly devastated by the death of his fiancée, when he suddenly encounters her doppelganger. Livia Aram’s uncanny resemblance to the late Rhoda Carothers so transcends coincidence that Jacob becomes obsessed with her. The intensity of his passion terrifies her until her compassion is roused by his desperate plight. A demon is
Jacob Aldridge is still utterly devastated by the death of his fiancée, when he suddenly encounters her doppelganger. Livia Aram’s uncanny resemblance to the late Rhoda Carothers so transcends coincidence that Jacob becomes obsessed with her. The intensity of his passion terrifies her until her compassion is roused by his desperate plight. A demon is stalking him, a succubus-like entity that feeds on human pain and desire. With the help of Jacob’s sister, Cecily, and Livia’s guardian, the mysterious Dr. Chang, they overcome the demon. Or so it appears . . .
Jacob, Livia, and Cecily are all victims of a single curse, a curse that entrapped and destroyed their parents before them. Now fate has drawn the unsuspecting descendants together, and the curse is playing out again. Nothing can help them, until Cecily’s husband returns from abroad. Colonel Beckford has been missing for years; he has seen strange things and acquired strange powers in his absence. Now he will do whatever it takes to free his wife and end the demon and its curse once and for all.
"Michaele Jordan has written a wildly impressive debut novel."
- Prometheus Books
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MIRROR MAZEA novel
By MICHAELE JORDAN
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2011 Michaele Jordan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe passing carriage took the corner a little too fast, flinging a great sheet of cold, dirty water into Jacob Aldridge's face. The shock woke him briefly from the vacant state of mind in which he walked. He glanced around, too melancholy even to protest the soaking but at least with his eyes fully open for the first time in the course of the day. A street vendor rolled her barrow nearby, hoarsely hawking her chrysanthemums. He almost lifted a hand to hail her. Rhoda loved chrysanthemums; he must get some for her. Then memory crashed down around him. He would never again bring Rhoda chrysanthemums.
He shivered and resumed plodding home. Dragging himself up the stairs to his flat, he dropped into his favorite chair and rang for tea. His head sank back into the thick velvet pile as if his neck had failed. The tea was forgotten before he had finished ringing.
The sitting room was gracious and fair-sized, representing as it did a closely calculated compromise between a modest income and a refined taste. In the end he had settled on a surprisingly spacious flat in a neighborhood poised uneasily between the prosperously bourgeois and the impoverished but sophisticated bohemian. The rooms included a studio with a northern skylight perfectly suited for painting, when the mood took him. He was an avid naturalist and frequently worked from sketches made while visiting with friends and relatives in the country. All in all, it was scarcely West End, but close enough to serve.
Only none of that mattered anymore. He had not paid a call on an acquaintance in months, or even entered his studio. Occasionally, like today, some minor business forced him out into the street. But usually he moved only from his chair—where he sat for hours holding a book while staring at the ceiling—to his desk, where he sat for hours holding a pen, staring at the floor. At intervals his landlady, a soft-hearted creature, brought him a tray of food and sat with him a while to make sure he ate—which was, indeed, the only reason that he did eat.
She came up now with the tea. She found, of course, that he had not troubled to draw the curtains or light the gas, although, despite the early hour, the November sun had dropped very low. She tutted and took care of it all. He was still wet from his mishap in the street, so she helped him off with his coat and cravat and into a comfortable smoking jacket. She watched while he drank his tea and nibbled politely at a scone. She reminded him of that hour when she invariably brought up dinner, and assured him that she would do the same tonight. He appeared not to have heard her. She sighed and brought him the book he was currently pretending to read, reminded him again about dinner, and departed. He resumed staring at the ceiling.
But he found himself no longer perfectly comfortable in his chair. Perhaps all the bustling about had irritated him. Whatever the cause, he determined it was time to go sit at his desk and stare at the floor for awhile. He rose and then he saw it. No, not it. Her. An unmistakably feminine form was seated on his least favorite chair, the one in the corner farthest from the lamp. He shook his head and looked again. There was a woman in his flat. She was sitting right there in the corner, with her head bowed and her skirt belled gracefully out around her chair.
He stared. He gaped. He opened his mouth, but his throat was dry with shock and nothing came out. At last he managed a faint cough—less than his intended query, perhaps, but enough to catch her ear. She raised her head.
It was Rhoda. There was no mistaking her. The light was not so dim that he could fail to recognize a single detail of her hair or smile. Her deep brown eyes regarded him with that perfect warmth that only she could project. She rose to her feet and reached a hand, her perfect little hand, toward him, slowly and tentatively as if—impossible thought—she was uncertain of her welcome.
For a heartbeat he stood paralyzed with amazement. Then suddenly—for he had no clear recollection of how he passed from one state to the other—he found her in his arms. He was kissing her again and again, at last. He tasted the salt and cream of her skin and inhaled her favorite jasmine scent. The starched lace of her collar scratched gently against his cheek.
He pressed her back just a little so he could look at her, and his starved eyes drank her in. "But ... but ..." Words bubbled up in his throat—one dreadful word in particular—but he did not dare to voice his thoughts, lest he bring back their awful reality and shatter the miracle in his arms. At last he whispered, "But what are you doing here?"
She smiled sweetly, tenderly, and stroked his face. "Why, what do you think, dear boy? I'm here to haunt you."
"Thank God, thank God." He swept her into a bruising embrace, releasing her at last only to fumble with the long line of tiny buttons.
Excerpted from MIRROR MAZE by MICHAELE JORDAN Copyright © 2011 by Michaele Jordan. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Michaele Jordan was born in California and raised in Cincinnati. She took a bachelor of arts degree from Bard College and an associate’s degree in programming from Southern Ohio College. She worked for years as an administrator before at last pursuing her early dream of becoming a writer. Mirror Maze is her first novel to appear in print, although her earlier work, Blade Light, was serialized in Jim Baen’s Universe. Visit her website at www.michaelejordan.com.
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In 1882 London Jacob Aldridge grieves the death of his beloved fiancée Rhoda Carothers. Everything he does requires him to push himself as he just wants to lie down and die. His kind landlady Mrs. Florence tries to help him with his depression, but neither her or his twin sister Cecily can do much for him. After being soaked by a carriage, Jacob comes home to find a woman sitting in his least favorite chair in his flat. She looks exactly like his beloved Rhoda; he becomes euphoric when she explains she came to haunt him. Concerned Mrs. Florence sends for Cecily because her renter was rude, filthy and profane. Cecily makes her sibling wash up and take a walk with her. They meet Livia Aram, who looks like the late Rhoda's identical twin. He obsesses over her, which frightens her. However, they learn the truth about their late respective fathers who were wizards who dabbled in the paranormal leading to a curse upon their families. Now the twins, Livia and her guardian Dr. Chang confront a demon who thrives on human suffering with Jacob his current sustenance. This is a superb Victorian fantasy in which no one is quite like they seem except in the dangerous Mirror Maze that connects the realms. The lead quartet are solid players who must face truths that are impossible for their rationale minds to grasp (except for Dr. Chang); while each step brings them closer to an all or nothing soul-saving vs. dying confrontation against a demon abetted by the horrific curse. Although the audience can become lost in the convoluted Mirror Maze, fans will still relish joining the fearsome foursome as they traverse a London filled magical horror. Harriet Klausner