Vicar Michael Carroll of the Strangely Beautiful saga
by Leanna Renee Hieber
"A Christmas Carroll" featured in A Midwinter Fantasy (Currently available in digital format, coming in Trade Paperback this October)
"Greetings. It is the winter of 1888 and my life is at a precipice...
My name is Michael Carroll, the Heart of the Guard of London. I am in my late thirties, tall, sturdy and broad-shouldered. I have been told I am "affably handsome" - meaning I smile more than your average brooding hero might do. I am not like the leader of the Guard, Professor Alexi Rychman, all scowls and harsh glances, all in black like some Gothic painting come storming to life. I am the Heart. Which means I carry joy in my eyes, in my laugh, in every touch of my warm hands. I have the power to transform the misery of the restless dead into the peace of heaven. And yet, privately, my heart remains heavy.
I have loved Headmistress Rebecca Thompson since the day we met in 1867 on Westminster Bridge. It was a momentous day, that day, for not only were six mortals called to the task of the Grand Work; protecting the balance between the mortal and spirit world, but two souls fell in love that day. I fell for Rebecca, our second in command. She fell for our leader, Alexi.
Misery loves company and our motley crew, for some two decades, labored under the distant banner of Prophecy, battling ghosts and keeping order. Keeping lonely. Alexi waiting for some destined match to drop from the heavens, Rebecca gazing on hopelessly, I hopelessly on her in turn... all of it, quite ridiculous. Thanks to Miss Percy Parker who blazed onto our scene in a very odd mix of timidity and passion, Alexi was out of the way for good; besotted and married off to that strangely beautiful guardian angel. There was a war for the girl. A ghostly, terrible battle. We won.
Yet whether my heart, that instrument I am so renowned for, will win the day or no... My private victory remains to be seen. I have told Rebecca, at long last, how I feel. Amazing how sudden sight will shock the blind.
There are ghosts coming, ghosts who seek to scare us into our better selves... But I am not afraid.
If there is one thing I know, it's that I could never be frightened away. I know my stalwart heart is my best quality. That, and my smile, I know it has its magic. And my faith- I am a parish Vicar after all, what would I have if not faith? I'm far from sweeping drama and searing intensity, hardly dark and brooding, instead, I am the breath of fresh air. I am the rock upon which love shall forever stand."
More about Leanna Renee Hieber, her Strangely Beautiful saga and her upcoming Magic Most Foul saga at http://leannareneehieber.com - http://twitter.com/leannarenee - http://facebook.com/lrhieber
Winner's choice of a STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL book.
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