The Secret in Belfast

 

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Back Cover:

 

The city of Belfast in 1911 bustles with activity. The RMS Olympic is about to set out on her first sea voyage, and the RMS Titanic is sliding off her dry dock into the channel for the first time.
  
However, Lord Pirrie and Thomas Andrews have other things on their mind… a robbery without anything missing, a mysterious child with a sadistic gift, and a secret hidden for decades threatens to overshadow the success of the shipyard. And when a dockside accident amid the roar of the watching crowd reveals a greater threat among the workers of Harland & Wolff, they have no choice but to rely on an old friend for assistance.
   
Richard Pierce falls into an unimaginable world of spiritual intrigue and ghosts from the past that may force him to bring his own secrets to light, as he haunts the shipyard in search of answers, confronts the demons of his past, and faces an eventual journey across the icy North Atlantic.  

 

Author's Notes:

 

I’ve been obsessed with the RMS Titanic since childhood. I’m not sure what initially caused me to discover the tragic circumstances surrounding the greatest non-wartime maritime disaster in history, but at thirteen years old, I was knee-deep in everything I could get my hands on about the ship, its passengers, and the aftermath.
  
At fifteen, I wrote a book about the tragedy, an espionage novel that then sat on a shelf for fifteen years while I wrote other things. But I never quite forgot Richard Pierce, nor his trip across the Atlantic, and when at last I found an idea worth pursuing, I brought him out, dusted him off, and inserted him into a new adventure – of magic, faith, spirituality, and tragedy.
  
Soon, other historical characters evolved and took shape in my mind – the courageous and faithful John Harper stole away my heart, the fiery suffragist Margaret Brown (NOT “Molly”) developed unique abilities, and my beloved Thomas Andrews bid his farewell to the world in a truly heroic way. I’ve woven into these pages just enough truth to support the fiction; many of the details of the ship, her construction, and her passengers are correct, along with the various personalities that go along with them. It’s only the magic that isn’t. Or maybe it is. You never know what secrets history hides.
 

  

Excerpt:

  

Did you do it?

 

She stares at me in defiance but a trickle of fear enters the air. Her mouth forms the words but they don’t come out. No.

 

I slide the images in front of her, faces we’ll never see again. Her expression is blank but her emotions shift. Our minds connect, hers licking at mine with scarlet flames, hues of her Siren influence bleeding into the air. Are you sure about that?

 

Dim light surrounds us in that awful place. She doesn’t falter but her hands twitch in the handcuffs that chain her to a ring in the table. “I had nothing to do with it,” she says.

 

I catch hold of the ribbon of guilt hidden under her lies and pull it out. Her fingers flicker, yearning to grab me, to bring me under her influence. A faint smile touches her lips, a sad little upturn nearly lost in the gloom. “Your eyes change colors when you do that,” she says.

 

Pushing back my chair, I leave her there in the tiny cell deep under the earth. The door slams shut behind me. I look at her through the small window. Magic dances at her fingertips and fades. She can’t use it here.

 

Harper pushes away from the wall, pale in the torchlight. His eyes ask a question that can’t find his lips. Is she...?

 

“Yes, it was her.”

 

Discontentment shadows his face. “You’re sure?”

 

“I’m positive.”

 

Sighing, Harper nods. “I’m not surprised. Sirens tend to be more trouble than they’re worth. I’ll tell your father.”

 

We ascend winding stone steps, the air easier to breathe as we enter a small room behind the sanctuary. Harper pulls a lever and a cabinet slides over the entrance to the dungeons, sealing it from view. “He may want to speak with you.”

 

“I’ll be in the archives if he does.” I take my hat off the rack and go out into the rain. I walk the three blocks to the ancient, impressive, towering building adorned with gargoyles. Water drips off them as I enter a marble hall, earn a glance from the bored young man at the high mahogany counter, and push through the double doors. The club is mostly empty in the late afternoon, but a few newspapers rustle as I cross to the far door. Unlocking it, I stride past tall stacks of freestanding shelves. My footsteps echo in the shadows, the low-lit lamps on every table shining green through their shades.

 

“Back again, Mr. Pierce?” The librarian looks at me over his spectacles, a tome full of yellow pages open in front of him.

 

I smile and say, “Always. I’ll be in the back if he needs me.”

 

A slanted desk and chair await me. Shrugging out of my jacket and turning up my sleeves, I resume my usual work. Stacks of documents sit before me, all requiring my particular talent for discerning the truth. Occasional footfalls interrupt the quiet. The throbbing in my head increases. It always worsens after using my gift. I shut my eyes and rub my fingers in circular motions on my temples. The distant, dull ache won’t subside.

 

“Sir?”

 

His hesitation reaches me before his hand, light on my arm. I focus on him and the messenger boy hands over a slip of paper. Fear drips off him in tangible swirls. Nervously, he leans in to whisper, “I didn’t show the others.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

He scurries away again, relieved to go unnoticed by the front desk. Like most of the others, he’s afraid of the librarian. I unfold the slip of paper and read the hasty scrawl.

 

Richard, he’s back, you must come at once. TA.

 

I crumple the note in my hand and shutting my book, go to the fireplace on the far wall, a dismal flame flickering feebly in the ashes. I watch the fire lick hungrily at the telegram until it curls. My arm lingers on the mantle as I look to the painting above it, the fierce, dark eyes of Lord Irving staring down at me in disapproval.

 
“Can I get you anything, sir?” asks the librarian. I shake my head. His gaze wanders to the portrait and his mood darkens. I leave him there with his memories...
 

 

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