There were times when Thorn McGillvary wished he could traverse the cosmos quietly, without gale-force winds and lightning. For Iron Will Darcy had given to him the task of summoning the Black Spinster, Elizabeth Elliot—a tricky procedure even in the best of times. This was not the best of times.
The Black Elizabeth was perhaps the most beautiful woman Thorn had ever seen, with weapons that could stop a man in his tracks. Oh, she could fight like the devil himself when she chose. But her weapons of preference were the Snub, the Cut Direct, and the devastating Come Hither glance. She had given Thorn the latter on their last assignment; he wasn’t sure if he would ever recover. In an instant his fondness for young Emmarude vaporized, and the Black Spinster came to haunt his dreams. And now he must confront her with a message he knew she wouldn’t like.
Thorn stood on the street gazing up at her Moscow pied-à-terre. He ran his fingers through his blond hair, checked the set of his cape, and brought his courage to the sticking place. One way or another he would see this through.
Inside he found Black Spinster finishing a manicure. The undersides of her nails, Thorn knew, were coated with poisonous venom. She could fight like a cat when cornered. Even so, Thorn was willing to take his romantic chances.
Instantly she dismissed the manicurist. “What do you mean, we are summoned?” she said, speaking in a voice that was both sultry and dangerous. “Does the Council not realize that I am on assignment? Tonight I attend a private dinner at the Embassy.”
Thorn noticed a black evening gown hanging on the wardrobe door. Even from a distance he could see that it was superbly cut…and would showcase Black Spinster’s shapely figure to perfection. This thought brought a smile.
Instantly her glacial calm snapped. “What?” she demanded.
Thorn saw her uncertainty; his confidence soared. Beneath this woman’s ruthless exterior beat a vulnerable heart! Indeed, he could feel her gaze devouring his splendid physique. How fortunate that his ancestry entitled him to such heroic garb! Still smiling, he set down his hammer and extended a muscular hand.
“Forgo the dinner, my lady,” he said, “and come away with me. Wear the gown if you wish.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” she said, and looked away. In an instant her gaze was back; from beneath lowered lashes she studied him. “I wonder that you consent to be Iron Will’s errand boy. He ought to have come for me himself.”
Thorn knew why, and he suspected the Black Elizabeth knew too. The Iron Lady, Darcy’s new wife, had a protective streak. Which was probably just as well, considering Black Spinster’s track record. To his surprise, she rose to her feet and placed her hand in his.
“To say truth,” Thorn confessed, “I need your help. Iron Will wants me to summon Bulk.”
“Bulk Hurst? That Neanderthal? What do we need him for?” She almost pulled her hand away, but Thorn kept a firm hold.
“When he’s in his right mind,” Thorn said, “he’s brilliant.”
“Ha! I’ve seen no evidence of his vaunted intelligence. And he’s worse than a child,” she complained, “for whenever we aren’t fighting he wants to play card games and gamble. And when he’s been drinking—” Black Spinster’s dark, expressive eyes narrowed.
“It is then that he becomes the most useful,” Thorn pointed out. Then he thought of something. “My lady, have you any more of that wicked plum brandy?”
“Slivovitz? But of course.” Black Spinster’s lips twisted into a smile. “Its potency is useful with clumsy oafs like Bulk.” She hesitated, gazing into his eyes. “And with others,” she added softly. “Do you drink, Thorn?”
“Not slivovitz,” he said decisively, and caught hold of his hammer. “Come, we must be gone. The Council is waiting.”
She sighed heavily. “And so is Bulk.” But she brought along a bottle of that plum brandy all the same.
With a clap of thunder, Thorn and Black Spinster disappeared into a whirlwind.
To be continued tomorrow…
Don’t miss our Book Giveaway!
Three prizes to three lucky winners.
Robin Helm is offering one (reader’s choice) of her Guardian Trilogy novels and Laura Hile, two copies of Mercy’s Embrace, Book 1.
It’s easy to enter, simply post a comment here. Leave your email address like this: “Laura AT laurahile.com.” Shipment is USA only. One entry per person.
Winners will be chosen and announced on October 25, 2012.
Are you unfamiliar with our books? Read on…
The Guardian Triology by Robin Helm
The powerful and imposing Xander, chief of all guardian angels, has protected exceptional humans from demonic forces over the course of ten millennia. In 1989, he receives an unusual assignment which will forever change his ordered existence. Will he lose the battle for his own heart while guarding supernaturally gifted Elizabeth Bennet from the evil which surrounds her?
Mercy’s Embrace by Laura Hile
Laura Hile’s joyous Regency novels feature Persuasion’s snippy Elizabeth Elliot and her desperate search for a husband. But she’s not as smart as she thinks, and that’s where the fun begins. Romance, adventure, and all your friends from Persuasion are waiting. And then there’s the dashing and dangerous Admiral McGillvary…
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Laura and Robin
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