Angel In My Bedby Melody Thomas
Angel . . . or the devil in disguise?
On one final mission for the Crown, David Donally is hunting for a missing treasure. His only clue is a dazzling, gem-encrusted earring, and it is leading him to the most desirable woman he has ever known . . . an enchanting thief he once seduced and betrayed in the name of duty . . . an exquisite/blockquote>/p>
Angel . . . or the devil in disguise?
On one final mission for the Crown, David Donally is hunting for a missing treasure. His only clue is a dazzling, gem-encrusted earring, and it is leading him to the most desirable woman he has ever known . . . an enchanting thief he once seduced and betrayed in the name of duty . . . an exquisite lover he'd believed was dead . . . his wife!
Meg Faraday thought her former life was behind her—until the night the treacherous husband she'd eluded suddenly appeared. By rights she should despise the handsome spy who had captured her heart, then shattered it. But the fire between them still burns, and what was once an irresistible passion has now become a dangerous game of betrayal . . .
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Angel In My Bed
By Melody Thomas
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Melody Thomas
All right reserved.
On a gust of biting wind, David Donally walked into the Wild Boar Tavern, his cloak swirling about his calves, a whisper of dead leaves trailing in his wake. The frigid weather was as volatile as his mood as he remained like a shadow in the arched doorway of the common room. His towering height gave him the advantage, and he surveyed the length of the room filled with smoke from a roasting pig sizzling over the open stone hearth. He felt the eyes of the patrons this night and let them look their fill, knowing most contemplated what wealth he carried on his person.
His sweeping cloak concealed his black trousers, shirt, and riding boots. A full cowl covered his head and face, his beard all that the eye could distinguish of his features. A cynical smile shifted the line of his mouth as his gaze moved over a room rumored to cater to murderers, smugglers, and thieves. A stiletto braced his calf inside one boot, a cutlass at his side, his weaponry no more than an extension of his own dangerous temper.
Tonight, he was the hunter.
And hunt he would.
"What be yer pleasure, guv'nor." A pale-haired whore slid one fingernail across his beard before he wrapped his black-gloved hand around her delicate-boned wrist. Her once pretty mouth slipping into a pout, she sidled against him. "I'll be whatever pleases ye tonight."
"Point me to Stillings," he spoke, making his disregard of her obvious as he returned his attention to the crowd. "I believe he is here."
"You've come to trade, 'ave ye?" She tossed her thick hair, for his dark eyes had fallen on her again. This time he let them linger. Caution seemed to replace some of the fire in her eyes. Nodding toward the man sitting in the corner watching David, she shrugged. " 'As soon throw ye in the river as trade anything ye got to offer."
David smiled crookedly from the shadow of his cowl and, pressing a half crown in her palm, leaned nearer to her ear. "I'll take that as a much-appreciated warning," he said with a hint of Irish in his voice.
She gazed up at him with the bluest of eyes. "In case ye be needin' a quick exit there's a door down that corridor."
Surveying the darkened hallway, he nodded. She squealed as someone behind her wrapped an arm around her hips and pulled her to a nearby table. David watched as two men fought over her. He began pressing through the unwashed bodies toward the back wall. The smell permeated every breath that filled his lungs. Disgust made him grimace. He had come to this tidewater town on the shores of the Cuckmere River for one purpose, and he was as unimpressed by the bloated show of force among the locals as he was by the depravity of their nocturnal habits.
Sipping froth from his ale, Stillings watched his approach like a military man who sensed a new enemy at his gates. Stillings wore a sleeveless leather vest over a blue woolen shirt unbuttoned at the throat. But for the narrowed eyes that took his measure, any naive fool might have considered the man's face friendly enough.
David came to a stop next to the table, blocking the light behind him, his height forcing the man's chin up. "Stillings, I presume?" He didn't extend his hand.
Shoving the toe of an expensive boot against the man sitting at the table with him, Stillings snapped, "Off with you, Franks. Can't you see we have a distinguished guest in our midst?"
David accepted the proffered chair and sat with his back against the planked wall.
"I'm the sheriff," Stillings said, leaning forward on his elbows. "Appointed by the most noble Nellis Munro himself, magistrate and protector of these humble shores. He owns most of the land in these parts. Or is about to." With a flick of his hand, Stillings brought a harried barmaid to the table. "Your pleasure, guv'nor."
It would please him to bathe the stench of this place from his clothes. David softened his next statement with a smile. "I believe we have business to attend. The sooner we finish, the sooner I can attend to my own pleasures."
"Naturally," Stillings complied, sending off the girl. "But a man like you wouldn't last five minutes in this town."
His slow grin affable, David took note of Stillings's men moving around the room. Though David kept his face void of expression, he had the distinct impression that the sheriff expected him to be afraid. "Why is that?"
"Because it's a dangerous place for outsiders," the man challenged with an air of amusement.
Only one thing had brought David out of retirement, out of seclusion, and back to England.
He slid a red velvet pouch from within his cloak. Drawing open the string, he dumped the trinket onto the table. A bloodred ruby and diamond earring rolled into the sphere of golden candlelight. Light glinted from the brilliant stones, an open invitation for every greedy eye in the room to stare.
"I've traced this earring back to here," David said. "I'm willing to pay a handsome sum for the necklace that matches this bauble."
"Forgive me." Stillings scratched at his chin. "Where did you say you were from?"
"The pawnbroker who had this earring directed me here." David leaned away from the candlelight, the hilt of a stiletto in his glove. "Claimed to do business from around Alfriston. Said if anyone would know about the bauble's previous owner, that man would be you."
"Did he now?" The sheriff folded his massive arms over his chest. "Why would I know such information?"
"You are the sheriff. He must have presumed that you knew everyone in this area. This particular earring came from an unsolved theft in India some years ago."
Excerpted from Angel In My Bed by Melody Thomas Copyright © 2006 by Melody Thomas. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Melody Thomas is a wordsmith, a creator of dreams, and a passionate believer in happy endings. A product of thirteen schools and twenty-two moves stretching across the United States and Europe, she is a self-proclaimed gypsy. Her fascination with historical romance began when, in her teens, she visited the Tower of London and learned that Henry the Eighth had beheaded two of his wives. This was great fodder for her teenage imagination and the start of a love affair with history, intrigue, and irresistible heroes.
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In 1873, David Donally is on his last mission for his country before retiring. He searches for stolen loot from a theft in India over nine years ago with the lone clue to its whereabouts a recently surfaced gem-laden earring. He questions Sheriff Skilling who sends his men to attack David. Afterward Skilling visits tall tough Lady Victoria Munro who realizes her past has found her. Instead of the booty he seeks, the earring leads David to the most beautiful woman he has ever known, his wife Meg Faraday, a woman he thought dead back in Calcutta. --- Meg cannot believe her luck that the man she has avoided for years has found her and believes others will follow. David demands the truth of why she faked her death while Meg believes he betrayed their love when he pawned her to get at her father, a smuggler. Both still feel the heated attraction, but neither trusts the other. However, neither realizes that if they want to live, they need each other as someone else has plans for the treasure and killing an estranged couple is not a problem for this avaricious assailant. --- ANGEL IN MY BED is an exhilarating Victorian romantic suspense tale starring two individuals burned by love as each assumes the other betrayed their relationship. The story line is action-packed as both struggles against their feelings while reluctantly joining forces to seek the jewels and to stop an unknown culprit from succeeding in putting them six feet under. Melody Thomas provides a fine nineteenth century thriller fueled by the distrustful lead couple needing one another to survive. --- Harriet Klausner