I am pleased to welcome my friend Rachael Stapleton to the site! Her first book, The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, is available now! But today we’re talking about the sequel, Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire.
Have you ever read about an ancient cursed artifact and wondered if it was true?
That’s just what Librarian Sophia Marcil did and then she inherited a gem set from her Great-Grandmother and was subsequently transported back in time. Now she not only knows that reincarnation is real, but so is the danger she’s facing. Just as she’s about to tell her boyfriend Cullen about it, he proposes with an engagement ring made from a piece of the very sapphire that’s cursed her. Reeling from the shock and surrounded by his family, she allows him to place it on her ring finger. As soon as it touches her skin, she feels herself being wrenched back in time.
Before she knows it, she’s wandering the hallway of an old Victorian house in the body of her great aunt. Unfortunately, her nemesis has also reincarnated in 1920—as one of her family members. Sophia struggles to locate the Purple Delhi Sapphire in time to prevent the deaths of those she loves, but she fails and returns to her present-day life, to the precise moment she left, with a deep understanding that her killer’s soul is also tied to the sapphire and every life she has, he is resurrected as someone close to her. Her stalker ex-boyfriend Nick seems like a prime candidate this time but she’s convinced she’s a step ahead of him, thanks to a tip from a medium, she knows that if she uses the magic of the stone correctly she can trap Nick’s soul in the sapphire and save herself. But when Nick is murdered, she finds evidence that has her questioning everything she thought she knew. Is Cullen husband material or is history doomed to repeat itself?
Pre-orders for Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire will be available February 2015.
While You Wait…
You can read The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, the first book in the Temple of Indra Series in e-book, print, or both? Available online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as Chapters both on-line and in select stores. The e-book is available on Kobo, Kindle and Nook. All links can be found at website www.rachaelstapleton.com. Or drop by Rachael Stapleton’s Facebook page and blog. Like her Author page and follow her blog and you could win a copy of The Temple of Indra’s Jewel.
Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Teaser
There once lived a princess in the Kingdom of Württemberg, named Sapphira Alexandrie de Monaco. She was gifted a seemingly ordinary purple sapphire capable of wondrous magic, but at a terrible cost—a curse. The jewel belonging to Indra, the god of war and thunder, had been stolen during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
What the fortune hunter didn’t realize was that removing it from the temple triggered the release of the devil’s dark and seductive magic. It captivated a greedy political advisor who coveted the princess and the throne, condemning him to reincarnate endlessly under the foolish notion that he would someday rule. As a result, the princess was forever cursed, tied to this dangerous man who would stalk her in every life and do anything to possess her stone’s magic, including murder.
Today I would tell Cullen the truth. I swirled the champagne in my glass in an agitated fashion. I would not allow myself to be distracted. I looked down in early defeat and noticed the dark limp waves cascading past my shoulders. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t even get ready for a dinner party without being distracted. All that work curling it, and then Cullen had walked in, glimpsing my lacy black bra, and poof, my hair was flat again. Twirling a strand around my index finger, I attempted to bring it back to life. If only the jewels could work their magic on my hair.
I spotted Cullen a couple of feet away, making his way over to me. He looked handsome in his sport jacket and tailored shirt. His hair, a coppery red with streaks of blond that looked almost golden in the sunlight, was slicked back so the ends curled at his neck.
I should be over-the-moon happy right now. I was sipping Dom Pérignon in an elegant restaurant surrounded by rustic stone walls, as a soft and whimsical Irish fiddle played in the background in honor of our one-year anniversary. It wasn’t technically our anniversary. He had playfully called it that when he’d invited me out to dinner with his family, but what he’d meant was that it had been one year since we’d met. Since that ill-fated day on the Lerins Island, half a mile off shore from Cannes, when I’d rejected the marriage proposal of that egotistical lunatic Nicholas Bexx and endured his wrath. Lucky for me, Cullen had been looking up from the deck of his family’s yacht and had seen Nick push me off the cliff. Cullen dove in and pulled me to safety, and subsequently into his life.
It was hard to believe that in a full year I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth: that the fall had sent me to another time and place and into the body of a nineteenth-century princess. But what sane person would believe what had been only seconds underwater to them had been another lifetime to me? I was the owner of the Purple Delhi Sapphire. I had time traveled into my past life and uncovered my destiny—had done so repeatedly—and was always reborn, only to be murdered by the same obsessed spirit, again and again.
“Sophia, ye all right?” Cullen asked, appearing suddenly at my elbow.
“No,” I said automatically and pushed away the bothersome thoughts.
“Gah. It’s the restaurant. It’s too fancy, isn’t it? I said so, but ye know Móraí.”
“What? I love this place.” The room buzzed with mixed conversation. “I just didn’t hear what you said.”
“Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth. I asked if ye were all right and ye said no.”
“I’m fine. I’m just soaking in the atmosphere. It’s so romantic in here.”
That was the truth. The place was intimate. A combination of comfortable leather and floral high-backed chairs surrounded the long table, and almost all of them were now full with Cullen’s family.
“It is getting loud in here. I thought this was just dinner, but it looks like you rented out the whole restaurant. Will this place hold your entire family?”
“Like that’d matter. Loud-mouthed arses. Let’s skedaddle and we can celebrate alone.”
I laughed as Cullen pretended to boot one of his cousins in the rear.
His eyes met mine, and it was just like that first day in the hospital after I’d awoken from the fall. There was no denying the attraction and it wasn’t just pheromones. It was as if my soul recognized his, which was exactly why I needed to be honest about the curse. I was giving myself an ulcer and all for what? I knew he felt the same way. For heaven’s sake, I’d overheard him tell his brother of his dreams, and they sounded suspiciously familiar. There were other clues. He shared a birthmark with Graf Viktor Ferdinand of Württemberg, who’d rescued me on three separate occasions when I was the princess, and of course his ancestor had been the one to sell the Purple Delhi Sapphire to my family.
Cullen bent his head toward me, his lips brushing mine, but at the last moment I turned my cheek.
“Cullen, your grandmother has arrived with your parents and she’s staring at us. It’s probably this dress.”
“Well now, she can be after findin’ her own frock, can’t she? ’Cause ye look bloody deadly in that one.”
He playfully tugged at the clasp centered between my breasts. He’d been the one to choose this low-slung, emerald-green dress. He said it reminded him of a shamrock, but I knew he really liked it because it provided a pretty little peek-a-boo if I moved just the right way. Truthfully, it was a little racy for this evening, but you only lived once. Well, maybe some people did.
His mother, Lucille, rushed across the polished wooden floor, playfully elbowing him out of the way in order to hug me.
“Ye best be behavin’ yerself, boy.”
She was a fine-boned woman with beautiful brown eyes and curly auburn hair. When they stood side by side it was easy to see he took after her with his ruddy locks, and lucky for him because she had great genes. His father—or Da, as they called him—wasn’t too bad himself. He had a charisma that both his sons carried.
My name was said in a strange, low whisper, and for a moment I froze as hands fell on my shoulders.
“Look at ye, lass.”
I smiled and turned to see Cullen’s brother with his dark, whiskey-colored eyes and raven’s-wing hair. A touch of gray at the temples made him look dignified. “Liam, I’m so glad to see you.” I hugged him back. He lived fairly close and was over for dinner at least twice a week.
“Aren’t ye a fine bit of stuff! For the life of me, I can’t be figurin’ why ye’re still with that gobdaw brother of mine.”
“Did ye hear that, Cullen?” One of the cousins, Ewan, called out. “Liam’s after ye’re wan.”
“Go ’way from her ye bloody jealous maggot, always after me scooter growin’ up too,” Cullen called back.
“Oh, here we go,” I said, preparing myself for their playful banter, most of which was lost on me.
Liam drew me in for a kiss on the cheek and lowered his voice, practically whispering into my ear. “I saw ye first.”
I smiled at the harmless peck. They were always teasing, although I couldn’t help but think sometimes Liam took it too far, especially for a priest. He let go and looked back at Cullen, who finished hugging his aunt on the other side of the table and strutted toward us.
“Hold tight. I’m on my way to rescue ye, luv.”
“No rescue necessary,” Liam said, grinning. “I’m a man of the cloth.”
“Bit of a holy joe is more like it,” Cullen slung back.
Ewan, the youngest of the three, jumped to his feet and pretended to step between them. Both Cullen and Liam gave their cousin a friendly shove, then gave each other a loving pat on the back as they hugged.
Cullen turned to me. “Ye sure ye’re all right, luv?”
“I’m perfect,” I said, finally beginning to relax. I’d made up my mind. I was going to tell him tonight, come hell or high water.
“Brilliant.” He kissed my forehead, his lips soft and warm on my skin. “I’ll miss ye next week. Ye gonna keep busy?” He fiddled nervously with his jacket pocket. It wasn’t like Cullen to fiddle; I gave his hand a squeeze. He was traveling to London tomorrow on business. He would only be gone four days, but he was never home long before he had to jet off again.
“I thought maybe I’d go to that fundraiser—see if one of your cousins wanted to tag along—and of course the bridal shower is the next day.” Maybe that was why he was so jittery. He knew I didn’t like being without him, and he’d mentioned once or twice the guilt he felt over leaving.
Someone clinked their fork off a glass and the musical tinkling made me look up.
“O’Kelley Clan, can I get yer attention up here for a moment?” Da called.
A champagne bottle opened with a satisfying pop.
“If ye haven’t noticed already, there’s a bit of the bubbly being passed about, so set aside the whiskey and grab one.”
The table quieted and we took our seats.
“I’d like to propose a toast to the lovely lass sitting at Cullen’s side.” Da raised his glass, and all eyes turned to me.
“Here here,” Cullen said. “To my Sophia.”
My glass clinked against his. “What’s going on?” I whispered.
He’d switched out my glass as the tray went by and now gave me his best I-have-no-idea look, extending an arm around my shoulders and pulling me in tight.
“T’was a year ago today she fell into our lives from Sainte Marguerite Island—or perhaps it was the sky, ’cause surely that one there’s an angel.”
“Quit stealin’ his lines, John,” Lucille chided smartly before he could go on.
The room roared with laughter.
“Aw sure look it. I did, didn’t I? Sorry, Son. Well then here’s another stolen line while I’m at it: to women’s kisses, and to whiskey, amber clear. Not as sweet as a woman’s kiss, but a darn sight more sincere! Anyway, Cullen, don’t run away now.”
“Yea, thanks, Da!”
The laughter faded as Cullen pushed his chair back and stood, pulling me gently to stand with him.
“Not sure how to follow that up, but how about: to passionate people, beautiful futures, and lovely lasses who fall from the heavens,” he said, knocking glasses with me. Clinks echoed all around, and I smiled as he set his flute down.
Then he lowered to one knee.
He grinned up at me—so charming and gorgeous. His green eyes, as always, were mesmerizing. They had flecks of gold in them that clung to the edges and danced in the center, like they were on fire. My heart beat so loudly in my ears that it almost drowned out the “awws” and “oohs.”
“Ye’re already mine, lass, in every way possible and I am yers, but I want the world to know,” he said, taking my free hand. Someone took the glass of champagne from the other one, as I was shaking so badly. The black velvet box squeaked open, and his aunts gasped in unison, as if on cue.
“Will ye make me the happiest man in Ireland, Aevil, and join our O’Kelley Clan?” He kissed my fingers as I stared down at him.
The marble-sized rock in the box swirled, and doubled in front of my eyes. Deep purple amethyst with a thin frame of diamonds, set in pink gold and accentuated with a slender shank and crescent details.
I looked past the ring, into his eyes, and found him still staring directly at me. He’d removed the ring from the box and was holding it out, ready to place it on my finger.
He cleared his throat. “It was my great-great-great-grandmother’s and I thought ye might appreciate it, since ye were so intrigued with her portrait.”
I nodded, trying to smile through the confusion, but my head swam with random bursts of chatter, the fiddle, and all the thoughts flooding me at once, mostly that Cullen had just proposed to me with the missing Purple Delhi Sapphire ring. A bead of sweat ran down the side of my cheek as the ring touched the tip of my finger.
Cullen’s face began to distort. A shimmery haze had fallen over the room as if the desert were closing in. The vibration from the ring traveled up my arm, and the room began to shift and blur at the edges. Another room, a darker room, was coming into focus. I could still hear Cullen’s aunt ordering someone to get me a glass of water.
There was something I should remember. Water. Rochus said water was necessary to ease the pain of time travel. Maybe this was what it felt like without. I tried to blink away the heat, tried to stop myself from going, but I couldn’t. The edges of the room were burning away fast now, like a Polaroid scorched by flames. I could hear the trickling of the fountain in the corner. I ran for it, or at least I intended to, but it was too late.