I appreciate that March’s spotlight is a little bit late. I can only apologise. Big thank you to the author who has been amazingly understanding. Today I am sharing an excerpt from her latest novel, Roots of Corruption,Wilde Investigations Book 3.
On the night of Samhain, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, and ancient magic runs wild in Old London.
When Lady Bergamon is attacked in her Ivy Street garden, Wishearth turns to Yannia Wilde for help. Who could have the power to harm Lady Bergamon in her own domain? While Yannia searches for the answer, nature herself appears to be killing Mages in Old London. Yannia and Karrion join forces with New Scotland Yard to solve the baffling Mage deaths. But wherever they turn, all the clues point back towards Ivy Street.
Yannia’s abilities are put to the test as she races to save Lady Bergamon’s life, and prevent further murders. But with the lines between friends and enemies blurring, she must decide who to trust and how much she’s willing to sacrifice for Old London and its inhabitants…
The third book in Laura Laakso’s brilliant Wilde Investigations series.
The First Hint of Rot
Lady Bergamon walked barefoot. The grass was wet, the moss soft as velvet. A full
moon cast swathes of light through the canopy, not that she needed it to guide her
steps. Here in her garden, she knew each tree, each blossom, each twist of the path
as well as she knew the contours of her own body.
Under the trees, the air was cooler, full of moisture. The wet chill of it swirled
around her feet, stroking her calves, soft as marigold petals. Beads of dew painted
the lace at the hem of her dress grey. She felt like a creature of water, and the
thought made her smile.
No man-made sounds could be heard in the garden. Here, the night’s orchestra
consisted of nocturnal mammals, owls and a faint breeze rustling the leaves. Her
passing was silent, and yet the inhabitants of the garden turned to watch her walk
by. She, the creator of this place, was universally loved and respected by all who
lived within its boundaries.
Her unhurried steps took her through orchards, meadows and woods until she
arrived at a spring that fed a forest stream. There she paused, toes on the edge of
the grassy bank. She could feel eyes on her, staring at her from the shadows on the
opposite side of the pond. Her patience was infinite, and it was rewarded when a
horse stepped out into the open.
The stallion was the colour of the moon, quicksilver, shadows cast on fresh
snow, and his skin was stretched tight over his muscular frame. Sea kelp and
mermaid’s hair were woven through his long mane and flowing tail. His dark unshod
hooves marked him separate from ordinary horses, for they pointed backwards. Red
eyes glowed in the dark, casting faint shadows on his cheeks.
Their eyes met, and her smile widened.
Long, slender fingers crept to the top button of her dress, and the small pearl
slipped through the buttonhole. The sides of the dress remained closed until the final
button. Only then did she straighten her shoulders and let the dress open. As the
light material slipped down her body, so did the years fall away. Her white hair
darkened until it was close to black, the lines on her weathered skin faded until her
face was smooth once more. A body shaped by a lifetime of manual labour
straightened, the aches and pains of age giving way to the vitality of youth.
The only part of her that remained unchanged was her eyes. They carried the
wisdom of a long life, of lessons learned and of experiences gathered.
She stood, naked, and they stared at each other. The quirk of a thin eyebrow
broke the spell, and she crouched on the bank before slipping into the deep pool.
Her hair fanned out, blending with the dark water until they merged and became
indistinguishable. She angled her chin up, head tilted in invitation.
Only then was it his turn to move. As the stallion’s backward front hoof touched
the edge of the water, it contorted and split into five fingers. The grey fur receded
into skin so pale it was translucent, while the mane contracted into a head of hair. He
reared up, tail disappearing, knees twisting to allow bipedal movement and back
hooves becoming toes. The last to change was the face, which turned into the
handsome features of a young man. His grey hair flowed down his bare back, still
tangled with seaweed, and his red eyes remained fixed upon the woman in the pool.
As he waded closer, swimming the final yards, she reached a hand out to him.
‘Samhain blessings to you, my love,’ she said.
‘And to you. Another year begins tonight, and may it be as blessed as those
that have come before.’
‘Every year we spend together is a blessing.’
‘You look enchanting,’ he said and pressed a kiss on her knuckles.
Her response was a smile as he pulled her into his arms. The warmth of his
skin was a shock after the coolness of the water, and she savoured that contrast as
she breathed in the scents of sea salt, spring water and rain. While he nuzzled her
neck, his strong arms braced her against the pool’s edge, and she tangled her legs
Their lips hovered millimetres apart, and her eyes closed in anticipation. He
was about to close the gap when his nostrils flared and his head twisted to the side.
A growl disturbed the night’s melody, and her eyes snapped open. It was not a
sound she often heard from her lover, and she felt the first hint of disquiet.
‘What is it?’ she whispered, lips close to his pointed ear.
He turned to look at her, eyes blazing red like lava, like freshly spilled blood.
‘There is an intruder in our domain.’
Casting her senses out, she searched for anything that might alert her to the
presence of an outsider. After a tense moment, she realised she was looking for the
wrong signs. There was no loud, destructive presence, nobody forcing their way into
the garden with brute force. Instead, she found the barest hint of standing water
turning stagnant, moisture rotting roots and fertile soil turning into sticky mire. With
her attention drawn to the right place, she detected the first tentative roots of
A strange consciousness touched hers. Encircled in the arms of her lover, in
what should have been the safest place in the world for her, Lady Bergamon grew
terrified for the first time in centuries.
About The Author
Laura Laakso is the author of the Wilde Investigations series; paranormal crime novels set in
modern-day London, but with magic, murder and general mayhem. Though originally from
Finland, she is currently living in Hertfordshire with her three dogs. When she is not writing,
editing or plotting, she works as an accountant. With two degrees in archaeology, she
possesses useful skills for disposing of or digging up bodies, and if her internet search
history is anything to go by, she is on several international watch lists.