A Pursuit of Home
In early 1800s England, Jess Beauchene has spent most of her life in hiding and always on the move in an effort to leave her past far behind her. But when she learns the family she thought had died just might be alive and in danger, she knows her secrets can only stay buried for so long.
Derek Thornbury loves the past, which has led him to become an expert in history and artifacts. He knows Jess has never liked him, but when she requests his help deciphering the clues laid out in an old family diary, he can't resist the urge to solve the puzzle.
As Jess and Derek race to find the hidden artifact before her family's enemies, they learn as much about each other as they do about the past. But can their search to uncover the truth of the past lead to a future together?
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Sometimes, despite time, distance, and a significant amount of ignoring it, the past never quite went away.
Over the past two days, everything Jess had run from had spilled over the wall of the past and covered her present like gravy. Lumpy, bitter, burnt gravy. Every emotion she’d worked
hard to bury had risen to the surface, making her mind a muddled swarm of incomplete thoughts and sharp colors.
After one sleepless night, she’d done what she did best: shoved every modicum of mind-numbing emotion into a trunk, locked it, and set about determining how to solve the problem at hand.
A second sleepless night allowed irritation to trickle out of the locked trunk and fill her until she wanted to stab something. Of all the feelings she’d felt over the past two days—elation, fear, grief, excitement, hope, despair, really any emotion that could be elaborately overdone in a gothic novel—irritation was the one she most knew how to deal with.
People were often rather irritating, after all, especially when you were trying to extract secrets from them.
What wasn’t so easily determined was what part of her current situation irritated her most: that someone had been able to locate her to deliver the letter, that she’d been able to decipher the old code without the slightest bit of trouble, or that she was going to
have to ask a very bothersome man for his assistance.
No, it was the last one. Definitely.
She’d known her days of hidden isolation were numbered, and no one could expect nearly ten years of living in the shadows of intrigue and danger to disappear with a few well-placed country breezes. Needing help was an annoyance, though.
Having to ask for it was an aggravation.
Having to ask him was almost nauseating.
There was nothing else for it, though. If the letter she’d received was true—and she had complete confidence in the man who’d written it, so she had to assume it was—then she didn’t have a choice.
She needed Mr. Derek Thornbury’s help.
To get it, she was going to have to ask him, which required talking to him, which required being in the same room with him without taking her knife from its hidden sheath and stabbing him in the leg. A tall order, as the man was simply too vexing
He was a walking, talking reminder of everything she wasn’t good at, and he pointed it out to her constantly. The man couldn’t open his mouth without making Jess feel like a veritable idiot.
Unfortunately, those skills were exactly what she needed.
He knew how to read and interpret old texts and he knew art. Jess knew tactics, strategy, and intricate disguises. Her current plan had her in the kitchen, preparing a tea tray with all his favorites. It had been a while since she’d cooked them, as she’d avoided making
any dish he seemed to favor.
Subtle, petty revenge was also a skill Jess held in great abundance.