Wednesday Special Spotlight
Book Title: Eros Element
Series Name: Aether Psychics
Author: Cecilia Dominic
Genre: PAW: Steampunk, H: 19th Century
Theme: Steampunk, Beta Hero, Suspense Elements, International, Psychics
Publication Date: August 25th 2015
If love is the ivy, secrets are the poison.
Aether Psychics, Book 1
After enduring heartbreak at the hands of a dishonest woman, Edward Bailey lives according to scientific principles of structure and predictability. Just the thought of stepping outside his strict routine raises his anxiety.
Adding to his discomfort is Iris McTavish, who appears at his school’s faculty meeting in place of her world-famous archeologist father. Worse, the two of them are to pose as Grand Tourists while they search for an element that will help harness the power of aether.
Iris jumps at the opportunity to prove her worth as a scholar—and avoid an unwanted marriage proposal—while hiding the truth of her father’s whereabouts. If her secret gets out, the house of McTavish will fall into ruin.
Quite unexpectedly, Edward and Iris discover a growing attraction as their journey takes them to Paris and Rome, where betrayal, blackmail and outright theft threaten to destroy what could be a revolutionary discovery—and break their hearts.
Warning: Allergen alert! This book was produced in a facility that handles copious amounts of wine, tea and baked goods. May contain one or more of the following: a spirited heroine, a quirky hero, clever banter, interesting facts both made-up and historical, and lots of secrets. It is, however, gluten free.
Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each. She also enjoys putting her psychological expertise to good use helping other authors through her Characters on the Couch blog post series.
You can find her at:
Web page: http://www.ceciliadominic.com/
Wine blog: http://www.randomoenophile.com/
To buy her books, you can get them in trade paper and all ebook formats from Samhain Publishing: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/author/1740/cecilia-dominic
Cecilia’s books are also available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, and anywhere else books are sold.
Eros Element Buy links:
Samhain Publishing: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5545/eros-element
From Chapter 5
“Big hairy ox’s bollocks.” Iris allowed herself to swear after the professor left the room.
“Miss!” Sophie looked at her with a shocked expression.
“I don’t know who to be angrier at, the ridiculous Professor Bailey or his friend who has gotten me into this situation.”
“Why are we here, Miss?” Sophie had been so busy packing their things for the journey that Iris hadn’t been able to fill her in on Bledsoe’s stealing the telegram.
But if I tell her he has it and we are revealed, she may refuse to come with me for fear of exposure, and where would I be? I would have to excuse myself from the trip because I couldn’t go unchaperoned. And we’ll all be poor and ruined.
“Because Professor Bailey needs our help packing for the sake of the entire party’s sanity,” Iris said. “As you can tell, he’s somewhat quirky.”
Sophie shot her an I don’t believe you glance but didn’t say anything. “It seems we should let him bring some sort of equipment to keep himself occupied on the trains and boats we’ll be on. And a book or two to keep him quiet.”
“Yes, that sounds wise.” It’s like packing for a child.
The child himself returned with a worried expression and picked up a pen to toy with. Iris thought he would be much handsomer if he would relax, then wondered where that notion had popped up from.
I have no desire to ponder whether Professor Bailey is good-looking or not.
“Oh, you’re still here,” he said, his tone indicating he did not find their continued presence to be pleasant.
“Yes,” Iris replied with a brightness she would use with a capricious toddler. “Perhaps you could aid us with your prodigious intelligence and let us know what would be most important for this particular journey. You can’t bring everything, I’m afraid,” she added before he responded that all of it was necessary.
The professor closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and looked around the office, anywhere but at her. “Well,” he said with the deliberate air of a man who picked his words from the torrent flowing through his brain, “we’re going in search of something that will help harness the energy of aether into power. It is difficult to determine since we don’t know whether we’re looking for a formula or an actual substance.”
“Is there something you could convert?” asked Iris.
Bailey shot her a withering glare. “My equipment is so specialized and aether so unstable it is difficult to convert or adjust anything.”
Iris stifled a sigh. This is going to be a long morning. “What about reference materials? Pick out your two or three most important.” She slipped one of her gloves off and grabbed the pen he’d placed back on the desk. It primarily gave her a sense of anxiety over the uncertainty of the whole adventure. Then there was sadness at having to leave his work and the sense of abandoning his responsibilities to his experiments, his life, and, with much lower priority, his students. She placed the pen back on the desk where she’d found it and hoped to appeal to his innate enthusiasm for his subject and desire to share the knowledge. Or show it off—she sensed pride in his work. Either would do. “Or how about this? Will you do a simple demonstration for me to show me why you want to bring everything?”
He gave her a skeptical look. “Fine, to give you some familiarity with my work and its importance.”
Ten minutes later, they met in a large room down the corridor. Several pieces of equipment Iris had never seen sat in neat rows along the long table in the middle and the counters around the edges, which were also stacked with books and journals. Everything seemed arranged with mathematical precision, and she felt round and messy…and intrusive.
“I’m going to show you a basic aether isolation and patterning,” Professor Bailey said.
“Would you mind starting with what aether is?” she asked. “I’ve heard the term, of course, but I’m not familiar with it.”
“The ancients called it the fifth element, or spirit,” he told her and lit a burner beside a glass apparatus with two globes, one copper and one glass, joined by a valve. He gestured to the shiny metal sphere. “This one has a small bit of liquid in it.”
“But the elemental science has been disproved,” she couldn’t help but say. “Now there are actual, you know, elements.”
He looked up with a startled expression, and she bit her tongue—no challenges to the fragile ego.
“Do you want me to show you or not?” he asked.
“Please continue.” She stood with her hands folded in front of her and hoped she portrayed an image of being an eager student.
He put a pair of goggles on and moved the burner beneath the copper globe. “Not that I fear an explosion, but we know so little about this substance it’s best to be safe. You have a pair on your side of the table. Now, this will boil the water and create steam, which will fill both chambers.” Indeed, the glass globe filled with white vapor. “As for aether, there are phenomena unexplained by elements such as the nature of light and how it travels. We’ve come to a more sophisticated understanding of aether as the substance between matter, and therefore what light travels through.”
Iris watched the glass globe through the goggles, which smelled of old leather and chemicals. The air inside the sphere was almost white by now. “Aren’t you worried it will explode?”
“It’s tempered, so if it does, it will cause minimal damage. But don’t worry. These experiments are simple ones with low risk. As I said, the goggles are a precaution against a low-probability occurrence. I’ve done this demonstration hundreds of times.”
Which makes a mistake more likely due to careless familiarity. But she didn’t say anything.
“Now I’ll shut the external valve, cool the copper globe, and create a vacuum in the glass globe, which I will isolate by closing this middle valve.” He reached below the counter and pulled out a carafe of water. “The University keeps ice on hand for us to keep our water cold.”
Iris watched as he poured the water over the copper sphere, and the vapor in the glass sphere disappeared, leaving it clean with a little condensation on the bottom. But that vanished in a moment, and he closed the connection between the two.
“So now you have a vacuum,” she said. “What about the aether?”
“As you can see, light passes through the globe, so there is aether present.” He picked up a tuning fork. “Passing waves through the aether will cause it to arrange itself into a visible form.” He struck the tuning fork on the desk and held it to the copper globe. “This way the waves get diffused and muted through the seal. It’s a delicate process.”
Indeed, something glowed in the middle of the glass globe, and Iris noticed the area around it became dark. She moved closer. “Where is the light going?”
“When you condense aether, it pulls from the surrounding area, which changes how the light travels,” he said.
Iris watched the glowing worm in the center of the glass globe with fascination. Not a worm, more like a snake biting its own tail and writhing in pain. It swirled with opalescent sparks, at times pure white and others breaking apart into colors. “Like a rainbow,” she murmured.
“Right. Your eyes perceive the colors as the light moves in different ways through the medium I’ve given it, like it does through the water droplets that lead to rainbows. I would love to do experiments such as this on an airship higher in the atmosphere, where aether and light are more abundant. Perhaps I could condense it and capture it there.”
“I see.” She straightened from her scrutiny, disconcerted by the aureole of darkness. It faded, as did the aether donut in the middle of the globe.
“I allowed the sound waves to die,” he said. “It works better with tones that reflect Pythagorean ratios.”
“So do you ever use two tones at once?”
He shook his head. “Early experiments tried and failed catastrophically. Hence why we wear goggles.”
“The mysterious music of the spheres keep their secrets,” Iris said. “My father studied some of Pythagoras’s writings to gain insight into the art and architecture associated with his cult.”
“Exactly.” He smiled, which did turn him into a handsome man. “So you see why I need to bring as much equipment as possible. If this journey is going to lead to the breakthrough we need to harness the power of aether, or alternately, capture it and distill it into a noble gas like hydrogen or helium, I need to have my tools with me. You wouldn’t go to a dig with only a shovel, would you?”
Iris had to admit he had a point. “No, but I am also able to pack lightly enough to travel. Has the University provided equipment for field work, say for those high-altitude experiments?”
The smile vanished, and the professor’s face resumed its irritable expression. Iris evidently hit a mark, and from Bledsoe’s description, knew Bailey wouldn’t lie to her.
“You do, don’t you? Perhaps while you pack that equipment, I can help you with your references since we have a point of commonality with Pythagoras.”
“Maybe.” He was obviously not convinced, but Iris put on her bravest smile.
Oh, it’s going to be a long, long morning.