by Stephanie Burkhart
It's 2011 and compressed natural gas has taken over from the coal producing steam machines of the Victorian Age. Alice Windsor, Princess of York, follows her mischief-making cousin, Edmund of Wales, back to 1851 where Prince Albert is hosting Britain's Great Exhibition.
Alice soon finds herself over her head in trouble. Edmund is determined to help Prince Albert build a dirigible and the prime minister appears intent in preventing her from stopping Edmund. Alice knows it's too early for the massive flying machine to take to the air. Complicating matters is the passionate Grayson Kentfield, Earl of Swinton. Alice can't stop her pulse from pounding when she's near him.
She nibbled on her lower lip, a curious habit she had. When she was indecisive, perhaps? Then she drew the necklace over her head, giving it to him. He placed the coin flat in the palm of his hand, and let the chain dangle through his fingers. It was bronze or brass, with a strange sequence of numbers and letters. He furrowed his brow. Alice bent over and used her finger to push her glasses firmly back onto the bridge of her nose.
"It's some type of alpha-numeric code," Grayson mused out loud.
Alice looked on, a murky expression on her face. "Perhaps."
Grayson looked up. "I've seen a similar code on the datamancers they introduced in Parliament."
"What's a datamancer?" she asked.
He tried not to get lost in those soulful cerulean eyes of hers. "You don't know what a datamancer is?"
"It thinks for itself--"
"Grayson, what's in your hand?"
Grayson and Alice turned in the direction of the door. Sir John briskly walked toward them escorted by a soldier and another gentleman Grayson recognized as the prince's secretary.
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Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After serving 11 years in the US Army she currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate, is addicted to coffee and enjoys early morning walks. She's also an assistant den leader for her son's Cub Scout den and is a Boy Scout mom. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children's books published with 4RV Publishing.
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