Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.
Fleeing an unwanted engagement, a young harpist follows her music passion to London. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician may be more problematic than dodging her erstwhile fiancé, sleeping in the streets, or staying alive when a madman targets her for murder.
Susanna smiled. “Good morning, Mrs. Miller. It’s Susanna Dyer.”
Mrs. Miller’s eyes widened. “Well bless my soul, so it is. I haven’t seen you around much—I heard you were poorly.”
“Not as ‘poorly’ as my aunt and uncle would like you to believe. I have some things I need to sell.” She showed the woman her clothes, pins, and the miniature. “I’m not interested in letting go of the portrait, of course, but I thought perhaps the frame would be of value?”
Mrs. Miller looked them all over. Under the woman’s scrutiny, the articles Susanna had brought suddenly looked shabby and worthless. Kindly, the woman asked, “Why do you need money, Miss Susanna?”
“I need to buy passage on the mail coach.”
Mrs. Miller studied her. “I see. Your aunt and uncle aren’t treating you well, are they?”
Exhaustion and fear and uncertainty drained her composure. Tears pricked her eyes. She looked down to cover signs of her emotion. “Please, is any of this worth anything?”
“Is this your mother’s wedding band?” Mrs. Miller picked up the gold and sapphire ring and held it into the light. Tears escaped. Susanna hastily brushed them away and nodded. “It’s all I have of hers—and this miniature.”
“I think we can work out something.”
“Thank you. And please, if anyone asks, you haven’t seen me. They can’t know where I’ve gone.”
Mrs. Miller patted her hand. “I understand, my dear. You have my silence.”
Susanna left the shop with a lighter portmanteau and a few coins wrapped up in a handkerchief and tucked into her stays. A few hours later, Susanna sat atop a mail coach and offered a prayer that she would reach London safely, procure employment, and find a place to stay.
“And,” she added to her whispered prayer, “if it isn’t too much to ask, a guardian angel would be very helpful about now.”