Rose Turner’s mother sent her to the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, to give her a better life. Raised with rowdy brothers in a notorious border clan, Rose has plenty of experience fighting and thieving—and practically none when it comes to matters of decorum and discretion. Without a single ally, she has little hope of making a good marriage to salvage her family’s reputation. But after overhearing several influential lords plotting to murder the King of Scotland, Rose meets a man after all: a handsome spy trying to shield her from danger.
As one of the Queen Elizabeth’s top agents, Will Sheffield has come up north to keep a close eye on the goings-on at Mary’s court. A consummate professional, Will notices Rose’s presence at the secret meeting . . . and he’s not the only one. The wild, naïve beauty has made a fearsome enemy—and only Will can keep her safe. But after an attempt on Rose’s life pulls them tantalizingly close, Will faces an agonizing choice between professional loyalty or powerful passion.
Look for all of Sharon Cullen’s delightful historical romances:
The All the Queen’s Spies series: WED TO A SPY | BOUND TO A SPY
The Secrets & Seduction series: THE NOTORIOUS LADY ANNE | LOVING THE EARL | PLEASING THE PIRATE | HIS SAVING GRACE | SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY | THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS
The Highland Pride series: SUTHERLAND’S SECRET | MACLEAN’S PASSION | CAMPBELL’S REDEMPTION
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Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland
“So, we are in agreement.”
“I see no other way.”
“Divorce is out of the question.”
The voices on the other side of the door were loud and clear, as if Will were standing in the same room with them.
The plan they were discussing had been a long time in the making, far longer than the idea had fermented in the conspirators’ small minds. In a way, the death of the queen’s husband, Lord Darnley, was inevitable.
So far, while standing with his ear pressed to the door, Lord Will Sheffield had been able to recognize two of the four voices. Lord Maitland, a confidant of the queen and a high-ranking Scottish noble, and Lord Moray, the queen’s half brother.
“Divorce would put into question the legitimacy of the prince.”
They were correct in that respect, which left only one option for the king of Scotland.
While silence hung heavy after that statement, a door that Will hadn’t even known existed opened. Like a fairy that the Scots were always talking about, a woman stepped through.
Fresh, cold air swirled in around her, chasing away the fetid, musty air that had been clogging Will’s throat. Weak sunlight spilled across the stone floor and mossy walls, causing him to shrink into the shadows like a beetle scurrying to the dark corners.
She quietly closed the door behind her and with a sigh pulled a peach-hued shawl off her head, shaking the snow from it and revealing thick, red hair half falling from its pins.
“There is only one solution to the problem of Darnley,” said a voice from the other side of the closed door.
The woman froze in the act of fluffing her skirts. Her head jerked up and her eyes darted around as if searching for the source of the voice.
Go! Run! Leave before they see you! Will’s mind was screaming but he kept the words in to himself for fear of revealing himself to her, but more important, for fear of revealing himself to the men in the other room.
Of course she didn’t run. She was like a frightened rabbit in the crosshairs of a hunter, frozen.
“The queen will never agree to a divorce,” one of the other men said.
Someone said something in a low voice but Will couldn’t hear what, and he was cursing the woman for making his heart pound so harshly in fear that he couldn’t hear the conversation on the other side of the door.
Will stared hard at her, willing her to leave, to go back out that door before she heard more. At any moment one of those men could leave the small room they were sequestered in and see her standing there.
If they were prepared to kill the king of Scotland they would not think twice about killing her.
There was an ominous pause from the other room. Will hoped that in the silence the lords were contemplating the enormity of what they were plotting. He prayed they would change their minds even though he knew there was a slim chance of that happening.
For the love of God, woman, leave!
“Then we agree that the king must die.”
The woman covered her mouth and stifled a shocked gasp, while inwardly Will groaned. She should have run when she first realized she was somewhere she should not have been.
With a shaking hand she reached behind her, quietly opened the door to the outside and slipped out just as Richard Kirkinny, earl of Lysle, stepped out of the hidden room.
Too late Will realized that the woman had dropped her shawl in her haste to leave.
Not seeing it at first Lysle stepped on it, stopped, looked down and considered the pale shawl for the longest time before bending to pick it up.
Thoughtfully he rubbed the silk between his fingers before slowly raising it to his nose to sniff.