Paranormal Historical Romance
Asylum Trilogy - Book One
October 31, 2012
1908, Simple, Colorado
Lilly Luna’s mother gave birth to her in an asylum for the mad. Growing up in an insane asylum exposed her to horrors few could imagine, and yet her compassion and ability to heal frightens the broken and the healthy alike. The town fears her. The sane shun her.
Morgan Healy’s father runs the creepy and rumor-maligned asylum. Morgan’s lineage is filled with insanity. Morgan holds together his crumbling family, hoping to escape his father’s legacy and the terrible secret it holds. When Lilly is hired as companion for Morgan’s sister, Morgan and Lilly form a reluctant alliance to corral the evil that seeps from Tranquil View and threatens not only the town, but also their growing love.
Someone was screaming. At first Lilly thought it was Patricia, but immediately realized her own raw voice crying out, high-pitched with terrible fear. And the crushing knowledge her dear friend was dead.
A few seconds later, her doorknob rattled and held. “Lilly!” She stayed frozen to the spot. Pounding rattled the door. “Lilly! Lilly open this door!”
Morgan. She raced to the door without thinking, unlocked it, and flung it open. Bare-chested, barefooted and wearing only trousers, he looked like a wild man. His hair was mussed as if he’d just crawled from bed. His chest heaved up and down.
He stepped into the room, forcing her backward. “What the hell is going on? Are you all right?” She tried to speak, but nothing came out. He reached for her, his eyebrows drawn together in concern. He cupped her shoulders. “Lilly.”
“I have to leave. I have to go to the asylum.”
“It’s Nurse Franklin. Something terrible has happened to her. I had a vision.”
His nose wrinkled up. “A vision.”
He wouldn’t believe her, and she should have kept silent. “She was just here. Her head was ....” She swallowed hard and through a blur of tears, she said, “Oleta Franklin is dead. She was here in the room with me. I saw the blood—”
She stopped, aware that her hands splayed across his broad chest, her fingers feeling the heat, the hair on his chest, the solidness of muscle. His stomach muscles, delineated and strong, rippled slightly when he moved. He was power and prowess, a strong male. She’d never seen a chest like this before in all her days, and it struck her dumb for one second.
He shook her lightly. “Damn it, Lilly. What foolishness is this? I heard you scream like you were being murdered.”
“What the devil is going on?” Dr. Healy’s voice came from the other side of the landing as he left his bedroom in a dressing gown and his wife followed behind him.
Morgan released Lilly. “Lilly had a nightmare.”
“No it wasn’t a nightmare.”
Patricia came up the stairs, her eyes filled with teasing and guile. “I thought I heard a scream. What’s going on? Is Morgan trying to break into Lilly’s room?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Morgan planted his hands on his hips and stepped away. His glance remained on Lilly, burning her deep.
“Morgan, must you be so harsh?” Constance said as she came to stand by her husband. “Are you all right Lilly?”
Tears still hovered in her eyes, but she swallowed them with effort and lifted her chin. “I am fine. I’m sorry to have disturbed you all.”
Dr. Healy’s dubious expression said he didn’t believe her. “I thought I heard you say something about Oleta Franklin.”
Dr. Healy walked toward Lilly and Morgan with a stern expression. Lilly’s apprehension heightened. She sensed the older man’s disapproval, and knew consequences would come.
“She just had a bad dream,” Morgan said again. Lilly wanted to yell at them all that she’d been wide awake.
“A dream?” Dr. Healy’s disgust sounded in is voice and his face. “About Oleta? What was it about?”
It seemed a strange question, but she answered it. “She was ....” Lilly glanced at Morgan, then at Patricia and Constance. They all waited patiently, but she could hardly get the words passed her lips. “Oleta was in a terrible accident and she’s dead.”
“Oh, my goodness.” Constance put a hand to her mouth. “How awful.”
Lilly glanced at Dr. Healy and thought she saw a flicker of discomfort. His mouth tightened.
“Distasteful.” Patricia’s voice seeped with sugar and lemon.
“Patricia, must you be so contrary?” her mother asked.
Dr. Healy found his voice. “This is all poppycock. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows dreams are balderdash.”
“Freud didn’t think so,” Patricia said as she twirled in a circle. Her filmy nightgown whirled out from her body in a frothy cloud.
Dr. Healy glared at his daughter, but then turned on his heel and stalked back to his room. He slammed the door.
“My dear,” Constance said just as her husband slammed his bedroom door. “Are you certain you’re fine?”
Lilly didn’t want any more prying questions. She couldn’t answer honestly. “Yes.” She gave a weak smile. “Yes.”
“Then let us go back to our rooms and prepare for the day, shall we?” Constance’s smile was brittle, a vein of disapproval heavy in her voice. “And Morgan, do put a shirt on.”
Constance returned to her bedroom and closed the door much more softly than Dr. Healy had.
Patricia watched them with a half smile. “Were you in Lilly’s room, brother?”
Morgan made a scoffing noise. “Of course not. Go back to bed Patricia or do whatever you do in the morning.”
“I was reading in the library. I couldn’t sleep.” The young woman’s cocky smile widened, but she didn’t argue as she went back down the stairs in her dressing gown.
That left Lilly standing in the hallway with a half-naked Morgan. She licked her lips when she scanned across his powerful form once more. His biceps rippled as he crossed his arms.
Before he could register the same disapproval the other’s had, she jumped ahead. “Do you think it was a bad dream?”
“What else would it be?”
“I need to go to the asylum this morning.” Tears returned with a vengeance, and this time she couldn’t stop them. She wiped at them with her fingers as the ache in her throat wound tight. “I need to make certain Oleta is safe.”
“Lilly.” He moved forward, and before she knew it, his body cradled hers. “I’m sorry.”
Shocked, she stiffened in his arms. But his grip tightened, one hand smoothing over her back, the other cupping the back of her head. She found her head pressed to his shoulder. Thought she wasn’t petite, he was over six feet tall. His arms enveloped her in warmth and protection and a comfort she’d never expected. Her palms moved over his chest and rasped over his nipples. He sucked in a breath.
She looked up and those deep eyes captured hers and held. Fire bloomed there and transferred straight to every untutored and tender part of her body. Something feral and amazing grew between them until it pulsed between her legs and in her belly. It felt primitive—as untamed as a lion in the wild. She wanted to seize the feeling and embrace it until it enclosed her in an everlasting sweetness. He smelled like leather and musk. Her senses whirled. What could she do but enjoy his touch, the comfort he offered, no matter how inappropriate? No, if she didn’t escape his unseemly embrace now and his father or mother saw them, who knew what would happen. The danger in this didn’t elude her, and she pushed gently at his chest. With obvious reluctance he released her. Her tears had dried the moment she realized their compromising position.