Title: Chasing the Green Fairy
Author: Melanie Karsak
Genre: Adult SteampunkReveal Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Chasing the Green Fairy The Airship Racing Chronicles Book II
A sabotaged airship.
A recovering opium addict.
A messenger with life-shattering news.
With the 1824 British airship qualifying race only weeks away, Lily Stargazer is at the top of her game. Sheâs racing like a pro, truly in love, and living clean. But on one ill-omened day, everything changes.
Pulled head-long into the ancient secrets of the realm, Lily soon finds herself embroiled in Celtic mysteries and fairy lore. And sheâs not quite sure how she got there, or even if she wants to be involved. But Lily soon finds herself chasing the spirit of the realm while putting her own ghosts to rest. And only accepting the truthâabout her heart and her countryâcan save her.
Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there wasnât much to do but read books and go for hikes. She wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. Today, Melanie, a steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.
Keep in touch with the author online. Sheâs really nice!
A chartreuse-colored leaf fluttered down onto the wheel of the Stargazer. It was early morning. The mist covering the surface of the Thames reflected the rosy sunrise. Yawning, I reached out to brush it away only find it was not a leaf at all. Carefully, I balanced the fragile creature on the tip of my finger.
âMorninâ, Lil. Hey, whatâs that?â Jessup called as he bounced onto the deck of the Stargazer.
Angus was cursing as he cranked out the repair platform below the ship. We were preparing for our morning practice run to Edinburgh.
âA luna moth,â I replied.
âI thought maybe youâd finally caught the green fairy,â Jessup joked as he climbed into the burner basket.
I grinned. The mothâs green wings, dotted with yellowish eyes, wagged slowly up and down. It was beautiful, but it was dying. âMy mother once told me that they are fey things, that they live in the other realm until itâs their time to die. Then, they come to humans.â
âWhy?â Jessup asked as he adjusted the valves. Orange flame sparked to life.
âShe said that even enchanted things want to be truly loved at least once.â
âDonât we all?â he replied with a laugh.
A harsh wind blew across the Thames, clearing the morning mist. It snatched the delicate creature from my hands. I tried to catch it, but the breeze pulled it from me even as it was dying. I lost it to the wind.
I sighed heavily as I picked up my tools then bounded over the side of the ship to the repair platform. I pulled out a dolly and rolled under, joining Angus who had fallen remarkably silent. The moment I saw the gear assembly on the Stargazer, I understood why.
âWhat the hell?â I whispered.
âJessup!â I shouted. âGet the tower guards down here!â
âWhatâs wrong?â Jessup called.
âThe Stargazer has been sabotaged!â
I stared at the mangled gears. From the saw marks on the gear assembly to the metal shrapnel blown around the galley, it was clear what had happened. I felt like someone had punched me in the gut.
Seconds later I heard Jessupâs boots hit the platform and the sound of him running toward the guard station.
âThey removed Salâs torque mechanism. Sawed the bloody thing right off,â Angus said angrily.
âBut . . . who?â I stammered.
âThe Dilettanti?â Angus offered as he strained to examine the rest of the assembly.
âNo,â I said as I touched the saw marks. The rough metal cut my finger. âThat business is finished. Byron saw to that.â I stuck my bloodied finger in my mouth. The salty taste of blood mixed with the tang of gear grease.
âSomeone who didnât want us to race in the qualifying. Someone who wanted to learn what had us running so fast.â
We were less than a month out from the British qualifying. While there were other good race teams in the realm, no one raced better than us. After all, we were the champions of the 1823 World Grand Prix. My stunt in Paris had brought us heaps of acclaim, but not all our British competitors were impressed. Envy had set in.
âGrant?â Angus suggested.
Julius Grant, whose team was sponsored by Westminster Gas Light, was our greatest competition at home. He hated us. He was annoyed that we were sponsored by Byron, annoyed that I was female, and annoyed that we were faster than him. Grant was the most likely suspect. But he was not the only one. âAlmost too obvious. What about Lord D?â I wondered aloud.
âHeâd love to, but he doesnât have the stones,â Angus replied. âMight be someone who doesnât want us in the Prix. If they take us out during qualifying, we arenât a threat abroad.â
âThat means it could be anyone.â
âHell, maybe one of Byronâs lovers took a stab at you.â
âBut Iâm not even romantically involved with him anymore.â
âThe rest of the world doesnât know that.â
I rolled out from under the ship. Leaning against the Stargazer, I wiped my hands. The cut stung as grease mingled with the open wound. I wanted to either beat someone to death or cry. I wasnât sure which. Maybe both.
Angus joined me.
âCan we get it fixed in time?â I asked him.
He wiped sweat from his bald head as he thought. âItâll be close. Iâll need Salâs help.â
âYou? Need Sal?â
âHeâs busy getting the factory ready, but heâll come.â
Jessup returned with Edwin, the stationmaster, and Reggie, one of the guards.
âWhere the hell were your people last night?â Angus demanded of Edwin. Weâd known Edwin for a long time, and we trusted the guards in London. Something wasnât right.
As Angus and Edwin discussed, a terrible ache rocked my stomach. I set my hand on the side of the Stargazer. Her honey-colored timbers shone in the sunlight. Just as sleek and beautiful as she was the first time I laid eyes on her, she was my pride and joy. My ship. My love. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
âWhat do you think, Lil?â Jessup asked.
Clearly, Iâd missed something. âPardon?â
âEdwin suggested we post a private guard,â Jessup explained.
I nodded. âWeâll sort it out.â
âLily, Iâm so sorry. Someone must have sneaked past us. I canât believe it,â Edwin said. His clear blue eyes were brimming with tears.
I set my hand on his shoulder. âWho was stationed on this end last night?â
I sighed. I wasnât one to point fingers, but that explained it. âWas he still drunk when he went home this morning?â I asked Reggie.
Reggie shifted uncomfortably as Edwin turned to look at him. âHe was,â Reggie answered after a moment.
âThat lazy, rummy bloke. Iâll kill him! Iâll kill him!â Edwin shouted, and in an angry huff, stomped back down the platform.
âSorry, Lily. Angus. Jessup. I wonât take my eyes off her,â Reggie said sadly then went to take a post near the Stargazer.
âWeâll sleep on the ship until we get a guard on board,â I told Angus and Jessup who nodded in agreement.
âA guard . . . but who can we trust?â Jessup asked.
âThe Stargazer is family. We need family to keep her safe,â Angus replied then looked at me.
âYou mean . . . Duncan?â About three years earlier, Iâd been, albeit briefly, in a relationship with Angusâ older brother Duncan. While Iâd fallen for Duncan the moment Iâd laid eyes on him, we were not suited for one another. Back then, I wasnât ready to give up Byron or anything else.
Angus shrugged. âI suppose heâs over you by now.â
âThatâs all well and good,â Jessup spat, âbut we need someone to look into this! Someone needs to be held accountable! We should send for the Bow Street boys.â
Angus shook his head. âOnly if we want everyone in London to know.â
âWell, we need to do something!â Jessup protested.
âLetâs keep it quiet. Iâll talk to Phineas,â I replied.
Jessup nodded eagerly. âYeah. Good idea.â
Angus frowned. âAre you sure about that?â
Phineas and I had a convoluted opiate history, but as Angus knew well, Iâd been keeping my habits in check. âItâll be fine. Iâll check in with Phin, go get Sal, and come back. We can head out to the league meeting together.â
âIf Grant looks even a wee bit guilty, Iâm going to squeeze his neck,â Angus cursed.
âIf he looks guilty, Iâll help you,â I replied. I set my hand on the Stargazer. It was so painful to see something you loved damaged.
âItâll be all right, Lil,â Jessup said trying to comfort me. âWeâll get her fixed.â
I smiled weakly at Jessup then turned to leave. I knew he was right, but it didnât make me feel any better.